Drones, cyber attacks & the new war on terror on "Face the Nation"


The consensus thinking appears to be that John Brennan will be confirmed as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, despite what was a rather long and at times arduous and challenging hearing this week. There have been a lot of questions this week on Capitol Hill about drones and cyber warfare and torture, and Senators were just determined to get some of these issues out in the open. They've been very frustrated running against a wall of secrecy - perhaps often justified silence, but secrecy nonetheless.

So this was a rough one. And in fact, a lot of news did come out of it yesterday. What are we going to do with these drones? The technology is unbelievable, but questions of when and how and against whom and the morality of using them have plagued the program and certainly had a lot of senators concerned. I think these questions will be around for a while, but the debate came out into the open a bit with yesterday's hearing and I imagine it will stay there for a while. They're big questions: if a U.S. Citizen is plotting against the United States, do we have the legal and moral authority to kill them without a trial? These are very big, complicated questions to answer.

With all of that said, I think Brennan will be confirmed and he'll be able to continue answering those questions and justifying U.S. actions while serving as director of the CIA.

I'm going to look at some of these questions on Sunday with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who's been a chief critic of the administration's handling of some of these things - and especially of its recent appointments of Brennan and Chuck Hagel to lead the Department of Defense. I'll also ask Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., a senior member of the Armed Services committee and a veteran about all of this. Rep. Mike Rogers, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee will also be on the show to bring us up to date on these issues and more.

We're also going to get into cyber warfare and the threat it poses. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said this week "cyber is now at a point where the technology is there to cripple a country, to take down our power grid systems, to take down our government systems, take down our financial systems and literally paralyze the country." That's a pretty scary thing, and I'd like to dive into that topic. Rep. Rogers will stay on with me as a panel joins us to discuss the topic. On the panel will be Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars director Jane Harman, a former Democratic representative from California, Center for Strategic and International Studies expert Jim Lewis and our own CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent Bob Orr.

Then we'll take a step back and look at the general political landscape with The New York Times' David Leonhardt and The Washington Post's Kevin Merida. We've got a big speech coming up next week, and I'm curious to hear what Merida and Leonhardt think will be in the President's State of the Union address.