msnbc | February 07, 2013
>>> good morning. i'm thomas roberts . tolling our agenda today, game of drones. develops right now, nominee for cia director john brennan going on the hot seat in a matter of hours as the white house makes an about face on its controversial drone program and the targeting of americans overseas. the obama administration now breaking years of secrecy and handing over a confidential 16-page memo that justifies the targeting killing of u.s. citizens abroad suspected of being terrorists. this decision to release the document came hours before brennan was to face a serious grilling by lawmakers outraged over the program. the biggest critic, democratic senator ron wyden who says the president has been stonewalling congress for years and suggested blocking brennan 's nomination. president obama called wyden specifically last night.
>> clearly, the president's call to senator wyden so unusual and trying to ward off what could be a calamitous hearing today.
>> what standard will barack obama be held to after the pictures of the little children who were killed by his cone drone attacks are placed before the jury in the hague?
>> i was encouraged last night when the president called and he said as part of this effort, he is going to try to drive a more extensive discussion about these issues. every american has the right to know when their government believes it's allowed to kill them. i don't think that, as one person said, that is too much to ask.
>> so right now the senate armed services committee is holding a hearing on the response to the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. leon panetta testifying and likely to face tough questions. he started off by defending the military's response to crises around the world.
>> the united states military , as i have said, is not, and, frankly, should not be a 911 service capable of arriving on the scene within minutes to every possible contingency around the world.
>> so let's bring in our power panel. good morning to former democrat congressman and admiral joe see stack. perry bacon a political editor for the grio. susan dell pores yo, republican strategist and msnbc contributor. good morning to you all. perry, i want to start with you in regard to senator wyden and the phone call he received last night from president obama . he appeared this morning on the "today" show talking about what he's looking for today. take a listen.
>> i'm committed to making sure that we get all the facts. the president called last night, early this morning i'm going to go in and read the opinion.
>> how odd is it that the president reached out to wyden specifically?
>> this is very unusual, almost unprecedented for the president to call an individual senator before a nominee is going for a hearing. there was a briefing i have at here today, too. you can tell the white house is shifting from a view that they are just doing the right thing to a view in which they're trying to bring in more members of congress and the public and trying to really explain the drone program. they're also becoming more and more aware that it's not just president obama using drones, but they're setting a precedent for the future. i think you will hear in the hearing today they think they're setting the right precedent.
>> admiral sestak, i want to show everyone the temperature on drone strikes. support for drone attacks against terror suspects overseas. the approval through the roof, 83%. we look at drone attacks against americans suspected of terrorist activity . again it's through the roof here, approval at 79% .p does the white house have a lot to answer for when it comes to what type of program they've been running and the fact there have not been checks and balances in place for the last several years in regard to what some would say is an overused program?
>> well, i think the white house is correct in its drone usage, even against a u.s. citizen who has decided to turn his or her arms against us. as a matter of fact u.s. law permits the united states to take action and even kill that citizen. the issue here is that the rules of war a little different in terrorism because sometimes when you're planning something that will happen in a week or two and you have a fleeting moment to get that individual, then the question is do you still have the right to take him? i believe that we do, but the problem is that the white house has not been transparent in this. and when you are not transparent, particularly where congress has a constitutional duty to raise and organize armies, to declare war , then i think you do harm to what is necessary for the defense of america. so i believe that the white house should have earlier than this actually exposed the criteria and, second, i think there needs to be a post-ex review of stri kes to make sure nothing abusive and nothing is being steered wrongly as we continue on these strikes to defend --
>> again to the checks and balances. susan, i want to talk to you. there's a political whiplash going on because people you wouldn't expect to have the president's back on this do. senator lindsey graham coming out saying that he's totally supportive of this, the fact that if american citizens are going to be turned into al qaeda operatives, this is the right course. also john bolten saying it is entirely sensible that they should go ahead and have access to this type of program. is it surprising that republicans, especially vocal ones like a lindsey graham , john bolten, would support the president?
>> it's not surprising at all. smft they ran a campaign in 2008 or as late as 2009 criticizing the bush white house and a lot of the tactics that were used. the president learned unless you were sitting in that chair, you don't know what goes along with that territory. what's interesting is the backlash he is not getting so much on the left. there are some groups out there criticizing him for it, but they're largely silent, and it does make you wonder what would happen if this happened under a republican administration.
>> well, we're certainly going to find out what the -- john brennan has to say, the tough questions that are going to be coming obviously. this is going to be the most public, probably the most telling expose of the drone program, and brennan being considered the architect of it.