Washington • Utah’s two senators split over CIA nominee John Brennan, who secured his confirmation Thursday on a vote of 63 to 34.
Sen. Orrin Hatch and 11 other Republicans supported Brennan, who has been President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. He served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President George W. Bush.
Sen. Mike Lee voted against the nominee, a vote that had more to do with the administration’s drone program than any concern he had with Brennan.
Lee had participated in Sen. Rand Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster of Brennan’s nomination on Wednesday complaining that the White House hasn’t clarified its stance on using drones within the United States.
Attorney General Eric Holder responded to Paul on Thursday saying the president does not have the authority to kill an American who is “not engaged in combat.”
Lee doesn’t believe that goes far enough and has demanded access to the administration’s full justification for the potential use of drone strikes against American citizens the government considers enemy combatants.
Hatch said he understands the debate, but believes Brennan “will do a good job as the next CIA director.”
“I’m going to work with my colleagues to make sure he and the agency are accountable to Congress and the American people,” Hatch said. “I’ve known John Brennan for many years during my time on the Intelligence Committee and I know him to be someone who’s focused on protecting Americans within the confines of the Constitution.”