POLITICS
02/08/2013 01:22 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2013

Drone Strikes White Paper Raises Legal, Constitutional Questions, Senators Say

WASHINGTON -- The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding that they also see the classified opinions that justify the White House's drone strikes on Americans, questioning the constitutionality and legality of such targeted killings.

The reasoning behind the drone strikes developed by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel was provided Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee, ahead of the committee's grilling of John Brennan over his nomination to head the CIA.

The Judiciary Committee had been seeking similar material for more than a year, to no avail, although Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the committee, and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said they got a white paper summarizing the OLC reasoning. They are now demanding that President Barack Obama make the more detailed information available to their committee, as well.

"The deliberate killing of a United States citizen pursuant to a targeted operation authorized or aided by our Government raises significant constitutional and legal concerns that fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Committee," they wrote in a letter to the president. "Indeed, the analysis in the Department's White Paper centers on core constitutional questions about the scope and application of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the possible violation of federal criminal statutes."

The White House did not immediately comment on the request.

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