Shorter Question Everything
• John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, defended the Obama administration’s controversial drone policy during his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I never believe it’s better to kill a terrorist than detain him,” the veteran intelligence agent told lawmakers, pointing to the wealth of information a captured terrorist can provide. ”We only take such action as a last resort to save lives when it’s determined that no other action can be taken.” Brennan also disclosed that after reading a 6,000 page committee report, he is uncertain whether the enhanced interrogation technique known as waterboarding yielded valuable intelligence. “At this point… I do not know what the truth is,” he told the committee. He refused to give a yes or no answer on whether the practice constitutes torture, but declared that “waterboarding never should have been employed, and never will be if I have anything to do with it.”
• Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) cracked a joke about a Bush-era torture techniques during the confirmation hearing for John Brennan to become Director of the CIA, eliciting uncomfortable laughter and surprise from his Senate colleagues. BURR: I’ll be brief. You’re on your fourth glass of water and I don’t want to be accused of waterboarding you.
• Senate Republicans Don’t Realize The U.S. Military Isn’t A World ’911 Service’: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to give their long-awaited testimony on Benghazi. PANETTA: The United States military, as I’ve said, is not and frankly should not be a 911 service, arriving on the scene within minutes to every possible contingency around the world.
In other news
• The Senate of North Dakota approved a measure on Thursday that would outlaw abortion by defining a fetus as a person.
• Roger Stone is a veteran Republican operative who cut his teeth in the nastiest campaigns of Richard Nixon. More recently he founded a group to oppose Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign in 2008, that he called “Citizens United Not Timid,” or C.U.N.T. So it is not particularly surprising that Stone would resurface in order to take the side of the Tea Party in their war against Rove. Nor is it surprising that Stone would find the most disgusting way to articulate his support for the inexorable Teabaggers. He told TPM Livewire that… “These are the storm troops of the Republican Party. Don’t offend them.” The Tea Party is not the only new friend that Stone has made. Keith Ablow, the Fox News “Psycho Analyst,” was recently mulling a bid for the senate seat vacated by John Kerry. A couple of days ago he decided against entering the race and made this statement: Ablow: As I made clear, with the sprint to the Special Election in June, a primary fight was not in my blood. I have conferred with my chief advisor Roger Stone, who agreed with my assessment of a primary as an unwise choice for me.
• Heavy gunfire erupted in the west of Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday, as government forces exchanged fire with mutinous paratroopers, military sources and witnesses said. Government forces sealed off the area around the paratroopers’ base, as reinforcements arrived to quell the mutiny which was protesting disciplinary measures against some of the unit’s members.