President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA faces a confirmation hearing Thursday that will include questions about a policy allowing drone strikes on U.S. citizens allegedly involved in terrorism overseas
White House anti-terror adviser John Brennan is appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He is a strong supporter of the administration's anti-terror policies.
On Wednesday, an administration official said President Obama has ordered the Justice Department to give Congress classified legal documents justifying the drone strikes. Eleven senators had demanded to see the documents after a leaked Justice Department memo broadened the rationale for targeting alleged terrorists.
The administration has previously justified drone attacks if a terrorist strike is believed to be imminent. But the memo says an American citizen may also be targeted for being part of an ongoing terror plot.
Brennan has said the way in which U.S. forces use unmanned aircraft abroad is legal, ethical and highly effective. But some U.S. lawmakers, legal experts and civil libertarians criticize the policy as condemning an American citizen without a fair trial.
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.