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Mar 6, 2013 3:34 PM

Paul begins lengthy debate blocking vote on Brennan nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) - Efforts by Senate Democrats to win a speedy confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director have run into a snag.

Majority Leader Harry Reid was hoping to get a confirmation vote by the end of the day, so senators could make travel arrangements amid a winter storm in Washington.

But Republican Sen. Rand Paul has begun what he calls a filibuster of Brennan's nomination. His remarks have been centered on what he says is the Obama administration's refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes inside the United States against American citizens.

In a letter earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder told Paul that the government hasn't conducted such operations and has no intention of doing so. But he also wrote that he supposed it was possible under an "extraordinary circumstance" that the president would have no choice but to authorize the military to use lethal force inside U.S. borders. He cited the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks as examples.

In a letter sent yesterday to Paul, Brennan said the CIA doesn't have authority to conduct lethal operations inside the United States.

The nomination won approval yesterday by the Senate Intelligence Committee after the White House agreed to give lawmakers access to top-secret legal opinions justifying the use of drone strikes against terror suspects overseas.

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