Oregon Senator Heads Group Looking Into White House "Kill List"

By Tom Bacon

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is spearheading a bi-partisan group of senators ratcheting up pressure on President Obama to reveal information about a secret White House "kill list." - specifically, the administration's justification for killing Americans in counter-terrorism operations.

Wyden has been after the information for years now, but has been rebuffed consistently by the White House and the CIA.  Just last month, Wyden wrote to John Brennan, the president's homeland security advisor who has been nominated to head the CIA, demanding that he explain the executive branch's authority to kill U-S citizens.

The Oregon senator said that for the executive branch to claim the authority to knowingly kill American citizens but refuse to give Congress legal opinions to back up the claim is flatly unacceptable.  Wyden is now getting support from other senate lawmakers, including Jeff Merkley, also of Oregon, and three Republican senators.

They told President Obama that legal opinions have been hidden from the public and the Congress by the Justice Department, thereby frustrating the oversight function of Congress. The group also darkly hinted that Brennan's nomination to run the nation's chief spy agency may be in jeopardy without some answers before his nomination hearings.

Wyden said the group understands that the government has the power to use lethal force against Americans in some circumstances, but he insisted that the limits and boundaries of that power must be understood publicly.

Wyden's campaign to spotlight the secret findings was spurred by the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born muslim cleric two years ago in Yemen.
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