Rand Paul threatens hold on Brennan's CIA nomination

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questions US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the September 11, 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2013.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., is threatening to delay a vote on John Brennan's confirmation for CIA director, he said today in a statement, and says he won't let Brennan's nomination go to a vote until the nominee "openly responds to the questions and concerns my colleagues and I share" with regard to the administration's drone policy.

Paul, who last night delivered a rebuttal to the president's State of the Union address on behalf of the Tea Party, said he has unanswered questions with regard to the administration's "power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil," and that he "will not allow a vote" until he has received answers that satisfy his curiosity.

"These issues must be discussed openly so that the American people can understand what constraints exist on the government's power to use lethal force against its citizens," Paul said. "Before confirming Mr. Brennan as the head of the CIA, it must be apparent that he understands and will honor the protections provided to every American by the Constitution."

Brennan's nomination to lead the Pentagon has drawn increased scrutiny to the Obama administration's controversial policy of targeted killings, over which Brennan has largely presided.

In his confirmation hearing last week at the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Brennan defended the policy, arguing that drones are only employed "as a last resort to save lives when there is no other alternative."

Paul's threat comes just a few days after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he would place holds on Brennan and Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, until he gets answers to his questions regarding the Obama administration's actions surrounding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.