McCain threatens to block pick for CIA

2013-02-25T00:00:00Z McCain threatens to block pick for CIAKaren Deyoung The Washington Post Arizona Daily Star
February 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain on Sunday renewed his threat to place a hold on John Brennan's nomination as CIA director, saying his decision depends on Brennan's answers to his questions about the terrorist attack last September in Benghazi, Libya, and his knowledge of harsh CIA interrogation techniques.

"He needs to answer these questions," McCain, R-Ariz., said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I don't want to put a hold on anybody, but the American people deserve answers."

As the administration heads into a crucial week on a range of matters, including the looming deadline for budget sequestration, conflicts over the confirmation of Brennan and Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, appear far from resolution.

Hagel was approved in a party-line vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain said Hagel deserves an "up-or-down" floor vote, likely this week, as soon as additional "questions are answered" and barring "some additional revelation" about some of his long-ago comments regarding Israel and other matters.

The White House has said it has answered all pertinent questions and believes it has the votes for Hagel to be confirmed.

Brennan's situation remains complicated. In addition to demands by McCain and others for more information on Benghazi and harsh interrogation techniques that critics describe as torture, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has not yet voted on his nomination, have insisted that the White House provide them with Justice Department memos related to the legality of its targeted-killing campaigns against terrorist suspects overseas.

In a statement last week, a White House official said "we are having conversations with members of Congress about their requests" and repeated Obama's pledge to "ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and the world."

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