WASHINGTON — The White House nominee to run the CIA said setting up a special court to oversee deadly drone strikes against American citizens is worth considering but raises difficult questions over how much authority it would have in decisions currently made by the president.
Expanding on his testimony a week ago, John Brennan said the White House and other agencies had discussed the idea, when coming up with the process to determine which al-Qaida targets go on a capture-or-kill lists for the CIA and the military.
"It would raise some novel, and potentially difficult, questions and furthermore would grant courts authority over decisions that have traditionally been exercised principally, if not exclusively, by the executive branch," Brennan said. "Nevertheless, given the stakes involved and the consequence of such determinations...all options are worth considering."
His new comments were included Friday in written answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The panel is considering whether to approve Brennan's nomination for a full Senate vote.
Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has said she is considering legislation to set up a special court system to regulate drone strikes. It would be similar to the court that signs off on government surveillance in espionage and terrorism cases.
Brennan also said he believes the number of civilians killed in U.S. strikes targeting al-Qaida should be made public, and he described how the U.S. works to determine whether there were civilian casualties in drone strikes, drawing on "human intelligence, signals intelligence, media reports, and surveillance footage.
"In those rare instances in which civilians have been killed, after-action reviews have been conducted to identify corrective actions and to minimize the risk of innocents being killed or injured in the future," he wrote. "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."
Brennan repeated assertions made by President Barack Obama that drone strikes would not be used by American citizens inside the U.S., and that they are not used if it's possible to capture a suspect.
"This Administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so," he said.
Feinstein delayed voting on Brennan's post for roughly two weeks, at the request of lawmakers who want more information on the White House's legal policy governing targeted killing, and last year's terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Committee members have been given access to only four out of a total of 11 classified legal Justice Department memos justifying the use of targeted killing of terror suspects overseas. The White House would not comment on their request this week.
On the web:
Dozier can be followed on Twitter at . http://twitter.com/KimberlyDozier
Also on HuffPost:
STAYING: Joe Biden, Vice President
U.S. Vice President Joseph R. Biden speaks during an inauguration reception at the National Building Museum January 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
STAYING: Tom Vilsack, Secretary Of Agriculture
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary Of Commerce
Acting United States Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank smiles at a news conference for the opening of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's first satellite location in Detroit, Friday, July 13, 2012. No full replacement has been made since John Bryson's June 2012 resignation. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
LEAVING: Leon Panetta, Secretary Of Defense
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talks next to British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond (unseen) during a joint press conference in Lancaster House, central London, on January 19, 2013. (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
STAYING: Arne Duncan, Secretary Of Education
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announces that Miami-Dade County Public Schools won the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education on October 23, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Steven Chu, Secretary Of Energy
U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu speaks during a press conference at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit at the Coex Center in Seoul on March 26, 2012. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
STAYING: Eric Holder, Attorney General
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department, on December 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
STAYING: Kathleen Sebelius, Health And Human Services Secretary
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius speaks during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
STAYING: Janet Napolitano, Secretary Of Homeland Security
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks during a ceremony honoring Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Leiberman (I-CT) at the at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services December 19, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
STAYING: Shaun Donovan, Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, speaks about distressed home owners during a news conference at the Justice Department, on October 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Ken Salazar, Secretary Of The Interior
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar speaks during a tourism and conservation discussion with the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce on January 11, 2013 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Hilda Solis, Secretary Of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis speaks during a Urban Economic Forum co-hosted by White House Business Council and U.S. Small Business Administration at Loyola Marymount University on March 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Hillary Clinton, Secretary Of State
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to the press following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the State Department in Washington,DC on January 18, 2013. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Ray LaHood, Secretary Of Transportation
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood addresses the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior December 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LEAVING: Timothy Geithner, Secretary Of The Treasury
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner discusses the economy at Los Angeles World Affairs Council luncheon on July 31, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
STAYING: Eric Shinseki, Secretary Of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki speaks during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)