Reid: Drone-memo author is a go

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he has the votes to confirm David Barron, the author of memos justifying drone strikes against American citizens, to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Reid said most of the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus were satisfied with the defense of Barron provided by White House lawyers at a private briefing last week.

“We’ll vote on the Barron filibuster, stopping that tomorrow. I think we’ll be OK,” Reid said at a Tuesday press conference.

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Reid needs a simple majority to quash a GOP filibuster of Barron that threatened to attract Democratic support.

Some Democrats had balked at Barron’s nomination because the Justice Department had refused to make public memos he had authored justifying the lethal drone strike against Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen living in Yemen who was suspected of terrorist ties.

The drone strike against al-Awlaki also killed Samir Khan, another American citizen, who published an online magazine promoting jihad.

The American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in strongly against Barron’s nomination and urged senators not to vote on him until it has researched his writings.

The White House has allowed senators to privately view his legal rationale for drone strikes against American citizens, but critics question whether lawmakers have been privy to all his relevant work.

Reid downplayed opposition to Barron within his own caucus as a “misunderstanding.”

“It was just some misunderstanding. Once everything was explained ... most everyone in our caucus was satisfied,” Reid told reporters.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), two critics of President Obama’s drone program, declined to say Tuesday whether they would vote for Barron.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an outspoken critic of the nation’s drone policy, has led Senate opposition to the judicial nominee.

Democratic senators discussed Barron with White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler and Neil Eggleston, her successor, Thursday afternoon in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility located in the Capitol Visitor Center. 

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