Udall presses Brennan at wild hearing, withholds support


The confirmation hearing of John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, was interrupted by protesters several times Thursday.

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During a wild confirmation hearing on Capitol that was interrupted by protesters, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall joined other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in pressing John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, on the agency’s controversial detention and interrogation program.

“Consistent with our national security, the presumption of transparency should be the rule, not the exception,” Udall said.

The hearing came a week after Udall met with Brennan and came away dissatisfied that he was unprepared to talk about the interrogation program.

“Not only was he not prepared to discuss the important findings, but he hadn’t reviewed the report at all,” Udall said in a statement following that meeting on January 30.

After Thursday’s hearing, Udall did not issue a statement. His office tells FOX31 Denver that he plans to wait until after a closed, classified hearing next week before announcing whether he’ll vote to confirm Brennan as CIA director.

“I never believe it’s better to kill a terrorist than to detain him,” Brennan said Thursday when pressed on the use of unmanned drones and interrogation.

Brennan is viewed as the public face and architect of the targeted-killing program, which has expanded under Obama.

The start of Brennan’s hearing was interrupted several times by protesters from Code Pink. Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein briefly suspended the hearing while the protesters were cleared from the room.

Brennan said he opposes water-boarding and would see that it’s never employed again; however, in 2007, Brennan told Congress he believed the controversial interrogation program had saved American lives.

Udall pushed Brennan on that assessment.

“Acknowledging the flaws of this program is essential for the CIA’s long-term institutional integrity as well as for the legitimacy of ongoing sensitive programs,” Udall said.

But when Udall asked Brennan if he would commit to working with Congress and the Senate Intelligence Committee to “correct the record”, Brennan hedged, saying that he looked forward to getting a final report.

“I will be getting back to you,” he said.

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