The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to send the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director to the full Senate, as we knew they would. After sparring with the Obama administration over how much information the Committee would be given on the U.S. drone program, they got some, though the public did not.
What the public got was a statement by Attorney General Holder, in response to an inquiry from Senator Paul of Kentucky which says that in an “entirely hypothetical” situation, the president could authorize the military to use lethal force within the U.S., presumably by drone. The Huffington Post reported that:
The Obama administration, Holder said, rejected the use of military force where “well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.” But in theory, it’d be legal for the president to order such an attack under certain circumstances, Holder said.
Brennan answered Paul’s inquiry with a statement that the CIA, unequivocally, “does not conduct lethal operations within the United States, nor does it have any authority to do so.” Adam Serwer, in Mother Jones, reported:
Holder’s answer was more detailed, however, stating that under certain circumstances, the president would have the authority to order lethal attacks on American citizens. The two possible examples of such “extraordinary” circumstances were the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Which leaves the U.S. military, which specifically is now authorized to operate in the United States via the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012.