A confirmation hearing for CIA veteran John Brennan, who could next lead the spy agency as director, got off to a rocky start, as protesters forced lawmakers to halt the hearing.
Several protesters were hauled out after they began to one-by-one interrupt Brennan when he began speaking. This left Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein no other option but to clear the chamber, forcing the hearing into a temporary recess. The protesters from advocacy group Code Pink were speaking out against the civilian deaths from drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen.
One protester complained that America is "making more enemies."
"Please remove that woman," Feinstein shouted. She then stopped the hearing and ordered the dozens of Code Pink protesters taken out.
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You can also watch the Politico video below to see how some of the action happened.
Brennan Affirms Objection To EITs
Senator Saxby Chambliss asked whether Brennan objected to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs. Brennan said he was aware of the program but had no oversight. “I had expressed my personal objections to some of my colleagues," Brennan said, noting he didn’t try to stop it, because it was being conducted by a different part of the agency.
A skeptical Chambliss then asked why Brennan was the recipient of 50 emails about progress on those techniques. He also pressed Brennan on whether it is his view that it’s better to kill with drones than detain terrorists. Brennan disputes that, saying, “I never believe it is better to kill terrorists than to detain them.”
Brennan later called waterboarding "reprehensible" and said "it is something that should not be done."
‘I Know The Importance Of Keeping Secrets Secret’
When asked about disclosing information to reporters, Brennan admits he has worked with reporters and editors but only to keep sensitive information from the public. Brennan added that he doesn’t believe it is ever appropriate to release details on covert operations.
“I would never provide classified information to reporters,” Brennan said, adding that he only engages with reporters about classified information that may have been leaked to them. “I know the importance of keeping those secrets secret.”
During the hearing, Idaho Republican James Risch accused Brennan of leaking sensitive information pertaining to Ibrahim al Asiri, an al Qaeda bomb maker. Risch said it seems to him the leak the Justice Department is looking for was in front him in the chamber.
"I disagree with you vehemently, Senator," Brennan replied.
US Should Publicly Acknowledge Civilian Drone Deaths
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden asked Brennan how the government should acknowledge those who are mistakenly killed in drone attacks. Brennan said those deaths should be acknowledge to the government in the respective countries and should be done “publicly.
"In the interest of transparency, I think the United States government should acknowledge it,” he said.
‘I Feel Jerked Around By The CIA’
Brennan seems to be taking a little bipartisan beating, as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., told Brennan that she feels she has been “jerked around" by every CIA director. In hopes to erase the trust deficit between Congress and the agency, Brennan assured her he will be honest, calling it the best policy.