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Obama’s secretive drone program

John Brennan, U.S. President Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), on Thursday defended the administration’s secretive drone program, but promised more transparency.

Brennan, who heads the drone program at the White House, was faced with harsh questioning from senators of both parties at his confirmation hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the panel, even said she would propose legislation creating a new court to oversee such strikes.

Brennan, in his turn, admitted in his opening statement there was "widespread debate" about the administration’s counter terrorism efforts. But he said the administration only used drone strikes as deterrent against imminent terrorist threats, not as a punishment mechanism for previous attacks.

The nominee made repeated pledges at the hearing to make the program more transparent, saying when drone strikes accidentally kill civilians, those mistakes should be made public. "We need to acknowledge it publicly," he said.

Brennan also said he wants to explain more to the American people about "the thresholds, procedures" employed in choosing targets of the attacks.

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