National Security Brief: Former CIA Director Backs Drone Oversight

Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden said on Sunday that he believes the Agency could work with some kind of legalized panel overseeing its controversial drone program.

On CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, when former Congresswoman Jane Harman, who was on the intelligence committee, floated the idea of a FISA-like court to oversee the drone program, Hayden said the he would accept that if he was still Director, but added, “I’m personally not comfortable with that, putting a judicial body between the president and any of his operating forces.” Instead, Hayden floated an idea of a commission:

I don’t think it’s a court, but some sort of review, a commission named by the president and Congress that doesn’t get in the chain of command, but reviews drone operations and reports to both of the political branches with very prominent and trustworthy Americans.

And trusted Americans on such a commission may give the kind of political sustainability that programs like this need over the long term if they’re going to continue.

While there are certainly valid concerns about the effectiveness of some of the proposed oversight measures, since more light has been shed on the Obama administration’s legal justification for its drone program, particularly that of targeting American citizens abroad, lawmakers have expressed more willingness to try to rein in and monitor the president’s power on drone strikes.

In other news:

  • The Washington Post reports: A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.
  • Chuck Hagel appears poised for confirmation this week. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who voted against a cloture motion to proceed to an up-or-down vote on the nomination, said on Sunday that he will likely be confirmed. “I do believe that elections have consequences,” he said.
  • USA Today reports: Attacks on coalition troops by allied Afghanistan security forces, which reached record levels last year, have declined dramatically so far this year, as coalition and Afghan commanders bolster security and improve screening of troops who might be a threat.
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