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McCain: Drones should shift hands from CIA

McCain: Drones should shift hands from CIA
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney What's really going on down in Georgia Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday invoked the apparently accidental killing of two Westerners in a U.S. counterterrorism strike to argue that the U.S. drone program should change hands.

"I think it was probably preventable that there was an obvious breakdown in intelligence," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to the strike.

President Obama acknowledged last week that a U.S. counterterrorism strike had killed American aid worker Warren Weinstein and Italian national Giovanni Lo Porto, held hostage by al Qaeda.

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"We will renew this discussion within the administration, within Congress, on who should be running the drone operation," said McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain noted a "kind of internal struggle" within the administration and Congress on who should operate the program, saying it was "really not the job of the intelligence agency."

Asked specifically if the CIA should be running the program, McCain said, "I do not think so."

"The question is, do we continue these drone strikes, how important are they?" McCain asked, acknowledging he would have oversight of the program in his chairmanship role should it become part of the Department of Defense.

Another Republican agreed with the position in an interview aired Sunday on the same program.

"I don't think the drone program should be run by the CIA," said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a potential Republican presidential contender, adding it should be run "exclusively out of the Pentagon."