President Obama administration officials are in talks with Republicans considering further information on the lethal attack last year on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, three Congressional staff members revealed to reporters.
The aim of the strategy is to produce a bipartisan majority vote for John Brennan in the Senate Intelligence Committee without providing its members with seven additional legal opinions on targeted killing sought by senators.
It would push Brennan’s nomination to the Senate even if one or two Democrats vote no to protest the refusal to share more legal memos, The New York Times reports.
Only after an unclassified Justice Department white paper containing the legal arguments was published by reporters earlier this month did the administration make two legal opinions on the targeted killing of Americans briefly available to members of the Intelligence Committees.
However, the documents were available to be viewed only for a certain time and only by senators themselves, not their lawyers and experts.
The arrangement frustrated members of the committee, who were prohibited to communicate the essence of the documents to their staff members to be studied.
But in the wake of public discussion rose by the nomination of John Brennan, Congress hope that the debate will continue even if he is confirmed.
The refusal to share additional opinions with Congress, or to make redacted versions of the memos public, comes despite a pledge of greater transparency by President Obama in his State of the Union address delivered last week.
“I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way,” the president said.
“So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.”
The news comes a few days after the appointment of Chuck Hagel as defence secretary was temporarily blocked by Republicans.
In the first ever filibuster of a nominee to the post of Defense Secretary, Republicans blocked the appointment of former senator Chuck Hagel for at least 11 day, while senior Democrats voiced their readiness to confirm Hagel on Feb. 25th after next week’s congressional recess.
GOP senators explained their decision to block the Hagel nomination as they want more time to debate and review the record of the Nebraska Republican.
“I really there is a coalescing around the idea that two days after committee vote is too soon for somebody this controversial,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “After the break, unless there’s some bombshell, I’d be prepared to move on to vote for it.”
Republicans are demanding additional information on speeches the potential defence secretary on the attack on the US consulate on Benghazi, Libya, last September, influencing U.S. foreign policy.
“Those kinds of things after a while get old,” said Graham, who added that he was not sure whether the account of the speech was true.