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updated: 2/8/2013 4:29 PM

Lawmakers test legality of drones

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  • Associated Press/Feb. 7, 2013Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., right, welcomes CIA Director nominee John Brennan on Capitol Hill in Washington.

      Associated Press/Feb. 7, 2013Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., right, welcomes CIA Director nominee John Brennan on Capitol Hill in Washington.

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are considering whether Congress should set up a special court to decide when drones can kill American al-Qaida suspects overseas -- much like the secret courts that now grant permission for surveillance. It's another sign of the U.S. philosophical struggle over remote warfare, raised after CIA Director-designate John Brennan's vigorous defense of the drones at his confirmation hearing this week.

The idea is so preliminary that lawmakers who were interviewed could not yet say exactly how the process would work. In fact, most said the current process run by the White House, with targeted individuals approved by the president, works well.

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The new idea is drawing criticism from human rights and legal groups that contend such a court must allow someone to defend himself before being targeted.

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