Drones from the base are used to regularly carry out strikes in neighboring Yemen, targeting leaders of the local al Qaeda outfit, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The disclosure is likely to heighten congressional scrutiny over the administration’s use of armed drone strikes, in particular against American citizens abroad who are suspected of having terrorism ties.
A Justice Department white paper leaked on Monday outlined the administration’s legal justifications for using armed strikes against suspected terrorist targets, including citizens. According to the memo, if a suspect poses an immediate threat to national security and it is infeasible for the U.S. to capture the target, a drone strike is an available option.
But lawmakers are pressing the White House to release more information and are likely to use Brennan’s confirmation hearing to push for more answers. Brennan was one of the chief architects of the administration’s drone policies.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Tuesday demanded the release of the actual legal opinions justifying the targeting of American citizens.
"[The] analysis is now public and the American people can review and judge the legality of these operations ... [but] the committee continues to seek the actual legal opinions by the Department of Justice that provide details not outlined in this particular white paper,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
The White House has touted the effectiveness of the drone strikes, saying that they have decimated al Qaeda’s leadership. But critics say the strikes have led to unacceptable civilian casualties and question the targeting of Americans without trial.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday defended the administration’s policies, arguing that the strikes were “fully consistent” with the Constitution.
Carney added that the White House has no intention to release “alleged memos regarding potentially classified matters.”