FEINSTEIN-BRENNAN-HNS

FEINSTEIN URGES OBAMA TO KEEP INTELLIGENCE PANEL IN THE LOOP@

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm •  Published: March 7, 2013
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FEINSTEIN URGES OBAMA TO KEEP INTELLIGENCE PANEL IN THE LOOP@<

(For use by New York Times News Service clients.)@<

By CAROLYN LOCHHEAD@

c.2013 Hearst Newspapers@

Washington — Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that Americans have no reason to fear drone attacks from their own government, but warned the Obama administration that it must better inform the Intelligence Committees about its secret activities.

"I can tell you there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the aisle that the committee is not getting the information it needs" to conduct proper oversight, Feinstein said in a floor speech just before the Senate voted 63-34 to confirm John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The California Democrat chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"We have seen what happens when ... the committee doesn't have access to and full knowledge of intelligence, like with Iraq weapons of mass destruction before the war, or with the CIA's detention and interrogation program through the past administration," Feinstein said.

"When we are briefed, we can provide input and advice," she said. "We can work to put an end to ill-advised plans and we can give the intelligence community a measure of support and we can defend its actions."

Only this week did the administration show the committee the Justice Department's legal opinions supporting the targeted killings of suspected terrorists overseas, clearing the way for Brennan's confirmation.

Feinstein called Brennan a "straight shooter," but worried about the adequacy of Congressional oversight. She said members meet behind closed doors for at least four hours a week to pour over classified documents, and are not allowed to take notes or documents home. A 12-year veteran of th panel, she said it takes years for members to understand how the intelligence agencies operate.

Because of the secrecy, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees act as one of the few brakes on the administration, she said, because the press, outside groups and federal agencies such as the General Accountability Office do not have access to classified information.

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