As Republicans prepare to take leadership over the Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel's oversight work will shift from spending considerable resources to ensure the release of the backwards-looking torture report to a committee that incoming Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said will deliver oversight in "real time."
"We are not going to be looking back at a decade trying to dredge up things," Burr said about his future on the committee, just before Feinstein released her report.
Members of Congress are divided over whether the president's highly secretive drone-strikes program needs more congressional scrutiny. Some criticize the program's legal rationale, while others have concerns about killing combatants who may have valuable information.
"I was not satisfied with the legal analysis that I read in the classified document by the Department of Justice," says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is on the Intelligence Committee. "To me, when an American is involved, it raises very different questions then when we are striking a foreign terrorist." Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who had worked with al-Qaida, was killed in a 2011 drone strike under legal authority the administration derived from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Details about how drones are used to kill terrorists remain unknown, a fact leaders on Capitol Hill harbor concerns about. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is in line to be the next Senate Foreign Relations chairman, said it's an area ripe for oversight.
"I have always wondered why there isn't more concerns about how that is carried out, but I don't think anyone would want to do that as retribution," for the torture report's release, Corker said. "I think people genuinely want our country to be secure, but at the same time it is pretty amazing that those kinds of decisions are made amongst such a small group of people."
In recent years, Obama and his allies have fiercely defended the drone program, but its efficiency and its reported propensity to incur civilian casualties remain shrouded in secrecy.
During a press conference Thursday, CIA Director John Brennan said that drones had "done tremendous work to keep this country safe."
The drone-strikes program, which began under the Bush administration but was expanded wildly under Obama, still remains classified. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism released statistics in May estimating that between 2004 and 2014, the CIA had conducted 405 strikes in Pakistan alone, which led to the deaths of between 2,400 and 3,888 people, 416 to 959 of whom were considered civilians.
The U.S. has also conducted drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia, but the number of strikes there appear to have been on a much smaller scale. In Yemen, for example, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported the number of drone strikes was somewhere between 72 and 84. In Somalia, the number was estimated to be less than 10.