By Libby Lewis, CNN
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(CNN) - With the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director, the lid of secrecy on the U.S.’s targeted killing program has lifted a bit.
Brennan is a key figure in the secret drone programs carried out by the military and by the CIA. So his nomination sparked lots of questions, followed by some answers, in a leaked summary of the nation’s legal justification for including U.S. citizens – as well as foreigners – to be targeted.
Now, Congress is showing signs it wants more say in how the drone program operates, especially when it comes to U.S. citizens being targeted.
The House Judiciary Committee recently invited President Obama’s Justice Department to come testify on the drone program. But no one from the administration showed up. So the panel relied on a group of national security lawyers for advice, including John Bellinger:.
[1:35] "I do think it’s disappointing they didn’t send a witness. We’re happy to be your second string here – to try to help you out."
Bellinger was a key national security figure under President George W. Bush.
He and three other national security experts tackled a lot of questions from the lawmakers – questions that show how deeply messy this territory will be for Congress in its oversight role.
There’s a weird reality to it now. Today, the government needs court approval to wiretap a U.S. citizen suspected of terrorism overseas – but it doesn’t need one to kill him.
So there’s lots of talk, for instance, about whether Congress should ask the courts to play a role in the targeted killing program.
Republican Ted Poe of Texas, a former judge, said he didn’t like keeping the courts out of the decision about who to kill:
[3:38] "I’m troubled with the concept of – they’re put on the kill list, they’re killed and THEN we do a review. That doesn’t do the dead guy much (good) -when we find out, whoops we made a mistake here."