The nominee for CIA director has allies in high places.
Several pundits have called for the confirmation hearing on John Brennan's nomination as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to be used as an opportunity to debate the vast expansion of targeted killings under President Obama. The reason is simple: given his current role as the senior White House adviser on all counter-terrorism and intelligence issues, Brennan would be able to clarify many of the moral, legal, and operational questions regarding U.S. drone strikes.
Alas, don't hold your breath. The hearings will be run by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is slated to remain chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Despite leaking information regarding covert drone strikes in Pakistan, the senator strongly endorses targeted killings -- and, more generally, executive branch secrecy-- and will assuredly place strict limits on the discussion of drones in open session. Although drones and targeted killings were never raised in the confirmation hearings for previous CIA directors Michael Hayden or Leon Panetta, they were during successor David Petraeus' testimony in June 2011. See below for the brief exchange between Senator Roy Blunt and Petraeus (where you read "(CROSSTALK)" that is Feinstein trying to interrupt the discussion.) Do not expect much more from John Brennan's confirmation hearing.