President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency had to deal with repeated shouts of protest from the gallery along with tough questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller was one of those with questions about drone strikes, so called “enhanced” interrogation techniques and leaks about covert operations.
“I’m going to pour out my frustration on dealing with the Central Intelligence Agency and dealing with various administrations about trying to get information,” he said. “Why was it that they felt we were so unworthy of being trusted?”
In recent years, Senator Rockefeller says the already secretive CIA has held too much back from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, limiting information to only certain Senators and leaving their staff members completely out of the process.
He says that needs to change if Brennan is confirmed, something he says he’ll support.
Senator Rockefeller says members of a Brennan-led CIA also needs to look closely at a 6,000 page report the Senate Intelligence Committee spent six years putting together, on its own, on U.S. interrogation techniques.
Brennan, who has served as President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, stopped short of calling those techniques “torture” when questioned.
He did say some of the information in the report was “disturbing .”
“There never can be that kind of situation again where we have to tell you what’s going wrong in your agency and, thus, demoralizing some of the people in your agency who want to be relieved of the burden and the taint of bad techniques in interrogation,” Senator Rockefeller told Brennan.
A lot of questions were raised about the use of drones, by the United States, for targeted killings overseas.
“The drones are going to grow. There’s going to be more and more of that warfare, not just by us, but by other countries,” Senator Rockefeller said. “So the protocol of that, insofar as it would refer to a particular agency is going to have to be exact and directed and of particular excellence and exactitude.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson Dianne Feinstein cleared the hearing room of spectators on Thursday after members of Code Pink, a group focused on peace and social justice, interrupted Brennan’s opening statement for a fifth time.
“Five times is enough,” Senator Feinstein said.