Obama to give white paper on targeted killings to Congress
The U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle has been used to take out key targets in the war on terror.
February 6th, 2013
11:10 PM ET

Obama to give white paper on targeted killings to Congress

By Lesa Jansen

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning will receive a classified document that seeks to justify the administration's policy of targeting Americans overseas via drone attacks, chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said late Wednesday.

"I am pleased that the president has agreed to provide the Intelligence Committee with access to the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) opinion regarding the use of lethal force in counterterrorism operations," the California Democrat said in a statement.

"It is critical for the committee's oversight function to fully understand the legal basis for all intelligence and counterterrorism operations."

The announcement came shortly after an administration official said that President Barack Obama had yielded to demands that he turn over to Congress the classified Justice Department legal advice that seeks to justify the policy.

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John Brennan likely to face Democrats' scrutiny at hearing
President Barack Obama nominates chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to be CIA director on January 7.
February 6th, 2013
09:42 PM ET

John Brennan likely to face Democrats' scrutiny at hearing

By Barbara Starr and Pam Benson

As President Barack Obama's pick for CIA director heads to Capitol Hill Thursday for his confirmation hearing, some in the president's own party are threatening to hold up John Brennan's nomination.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told reporters he would "pull out all the stops" to get answers about the legality of targeting Americans involved with al Qaeda overseas. Wyden was not satisfied with a confidential Justice Department memo that was sent to key congressional committees last year but only became public on Tuesday.

The 16-page white paper indicated the U.S. government could use lethal force against an American citizen overseas if the person is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates and an attack is imminent. But it was a policy paper rather than the official legal document, which the American Civil Liberties Union says is 50 pages long.
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February 6th, 2013
10:16 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Panetta to recommend pay cut for military

By Barbara Starr

Just days before he leaves office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is recommending military pay be limited, effectively decreasing troop salaries next year.

Panetta will recommend to Congress that military salaries be limited to a 1% increase in 2014. The Pentagon has calculated that the Labor Department's 2014 Employment Cost Index is expected to be above 1% but wants to still cut back on pay because of "budget uncertainties," a department official told CNN. In 2013, a 1.7% increase was approved, based on the index, which has been the basis for military pay for the last several years.

Three Pentagon officials have confirmed details of the plan to CNN. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have also agreed to Panetta's proposed pay plan. Final approval for the pay would come from Congress in the form of the 2014 budget.

The recommendation is tied to the Defense Department's 2014 budget recommendation, which was expected to be sent to Congress this month, one of the officials said. But the officials acknowledge it is going to be seen as an effort to push Congress to stop the automatic budget cuts that could go into effect if no deal is reached on spending reductions. FULL POST

Benghazi forces security to the top of Kerry’s to-do list
Secretary of State John Kerry tours the Operations Center at the State Department.
February 6th, 2013
12:35 AM ET

Benghazi forces security to the top of Kerry’s to-do list

By Jill Dougherty

Secretary of State John Kerry will highlight the priority of protecting diplomats overseas during his ceremonial swearing-in on Wednesday.

The safety of America's diplomats has been scrutinized since Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terror attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, last September.

"This will be front and center as we move forward," agency spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Kerry will take the ceremonial oath at the State Department. He was officially sworn in last Friday.

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