Brennan: Drone strikes only used for imminent threats

Thursday - 2/7/2013, 6:38pm EST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nominee to head the CIA is telling senators that drone strikes are only used as a deterrent against imminent terrorist threats -- and not as punishment for previous attacks.

John Brennan's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee comes after the White House provided lawmakers with a classified memo outlining the legal rationale for strikes against Americans overseas.

The drone strikes and the interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects were part of the focus of today's confirmation hearing -- which was disrupted several times at the outset by protesters angry over the use of drones.

On the issue of waterboarding, Brennan said it's a reprehensible tactic that shouldn't be used on terror suspects, but he's refusing to call it torture. He said it will never be used under his watch if he is confirmed as CIA director.

At another point in the hearing, Brennan said he had no second thoughts about having opposed a planned strike against Osama bin Laden in 1998, a few months before the bombings of two U.S. embassies. Brennan said the plan was not "well grounded," and that other intelligence officials also recommended against proceeding. Brennan was at the CIA at the time.

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%@AP Links

279-a-17-(John Brennan, CIA director-designate, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee)-"action is contemplated"-CIA Director-designate John Brennan says he's committed to the drone program being run in line with the nation's values. ((note length of cut)) (7 Feb 2013)

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278-a-10-(John Brennan, CIA director-designate, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee)-"of such actions"-CIA Director-designate John Brennan says he knows people want to hear more about the administration's drone program. (7 Feb 2013)

<> 00:10 "of such actions"

276-r-21-(Sound of CIA Director-designate John Brennan and protester and and Senator Dianne Feinstein (FYN'-styn), D-Calif., chair, Senate Intelligence Committee, during hearing)--Sound of a protester interrupting CIA Director-designate John Brennan as he begins reading his opening statement, and Senator Dianne Feinstein ordering police to remove her. (7 Feb 2013)

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GRAPHICSBANK: John Brennan headshot, as Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Washington DC, on texture, lettering, JOHN BRENNAN, finished graphic (7 Feb 2013)

APPHOTO DCMC114: CIA Director nominee John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee'. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (7 Feb 2013)

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APPHOTO DCSA126: CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, right and other CODEPINK protestors, a group opposed to U.S. militarism, disrupt the start of the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing for John Brennan, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (7 Feb 2013)

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