President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA, John Brennan, says the United States has a "rigorous" process when deciding to use lethal force against terrorists.
Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Obama insists that any action in which lethal force is used is backed by the law, intelligence and a thorough review.
During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Brennan said the U.S. remains at war with al-Qaida and that terrorists seek to carry out deadly strikes against the U.S. and its allies. He said the fight against al-Qaida has included the use of lethal force outside of Afghanistan.
The confirmation hearing was briefly recessed after protesters denouncing the drone attacks interrupted the proceedings several times.
In a written response to the committee, he said that drone strikes "are conducted in full compliance with the law" and carried out to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and save American lives. He said no new legislation is needed to govern them.
Brennan is a strong supporter of the administration's policy allowing drone strikes on U.S. citizens allegedly involved in terrorism overseas. He is facing tough questions from both Republicans and Democrats.
The Senate panel was given access Wednesday to classified legal documents justifying the drone strikes.
Brennan acknowledged the CIA is "not immune from scrutiny." He said he welcomes discussion of the agency's past and current activities, including its former rendition, detention and interrogation program, which included now-banned harsh interrogation techniques.
Brennan's confirmation is expected, despite the controversy.
The rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday said the president must ensure that the government's use of lethal force fully complies with international law. It accused the Obama administration, as well as the Bush administration before it, of ignoring international human rights law in its counterterrorism efforts.