Former OLC head and Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith adds a useful wrinkle to the drone debate in his discussion of House Intelligence chair Mike Rogers’s appearance on Face the Nation this weekend. On the face of it, at least, Rogers noted several important things about the drone program:
- The ancestry of the recently released white paper/OLC memo on the legal justifications for the program may date to July 2008, towards the end of the Bush administration
- The Intelligence Committee (or at least its chair) has the chance to “review every single air strike that we use in the war on terror, both from the civilian and the military side when it comes to terrorist strikes.”
- Congress (or at least the Intelligence Committee, or at least its chair) received advance notice of “that first air strike that took Awlaki”; according to Rogers, “I supported it then.” (It’s not clear whether that support was required, or merely desired, but either way I did not expect to read of ex ante consultation. By the way, this may also be the first time a US government official has publicly confirmed US involvement in that air strike.)
- Thus, Rogers argues, “there is plenty of oversight here…. I think there has been some sensationalism…This is a serious matter, but I do think that the oversight rules have been…consistent.”
The full post is here.
ADDENDUM - on February 13, Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement more or less affirming Rogers’ comments, though suggesting that the oversight is ex post insofar as it relates to individual strike decisions: “The committee receives notifications with key details of each strike shortly after it occurs…” However, “in addition, the committee staff has held 35 monthly, in-depth oversight meetings with government officials to review strike records (including video footage) and question every aspect of the program.” She adds, though, that the Intelligence committees have been given access to only 2 of the 9 OLC opinions that relate to this topic.