Top news: CIA Director Nominee John Brennan defended the Obama administration's drone program in his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, saying attacks are only carried out "as a last resort, to save lives when there is no other alternative." Brennan also stated that the administration needs to "acknowledge it publicly" when civilians are killed in drone attacks, something it has almost never done. He was noncommittal about the idea of setting up a special court to review drone strikes, calling it "certainly worthy of discussion."
The hearing for Brennan, a former CIA agent and currently the White House's top counterterrorism advisor, came shortly after the Obama administration agreed to allow the House and Senate Intelligence committees to review the classified legal memos used to justify the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen turned al Qaeda leader, in 2011. Brennan was criticized by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the intelligence committee, for the administration's insistence that the drone program remain classified. "Well I think that rationale, Mr. Brennan, is long gone," she said.
Brennan was also questioned on the CIA's past use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, which he declined to describe as torture, but called "reprehensible" and "something that should not be done." Brennan has defended these methods in the past.
The hearing was repeatedly interrupted by activists from the anti-war group Code Pink and at one point the committee room was cleared.
- At least 26 people were killed in bombings across Iraq.
- Syrian government forces battled rebels over sections of the Damascus ring road.
- Yemen is asking the U.N. to investigate a ship it seized carrying Iranian-made weapons.
- China has denied that one of its ships flashes its radar at a Japanese naval vessel.
- A Chinese court sentenced a man to 13 years in prison for inciting a monk to self-immolate.
- A bomb blast outside a mosque killed 10 in the Pakistani city of Kalaya.
- Malian government troops fought to put down a mutiny by paratroops in Bamako on Friday.
- A suicide bombing in the Malian city of Gao may have been the country's first.
- Gunmen killed nine health workers administering polio vaccinations in Nigeria.
- An investigation has found that a Mexican teenager was shot in the back by U.S. border patrol agents last year.
- Former Haitian leader Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier failed to attend a hearing at his trial for crimes against humanity.
- Mexican regulators have fined Carlos Slim's TelMex $52 million.
- EU leaders are meeting in Brussels to reach a budget deal.
- Vladimir Putin fired the vice president of Russia's Olympic committee over a behind-schedule ski jump.
- Eugene Delacroix's famous painting of "Liberty Leading the People" was defaced in the Louvre, reportedly with a graffiti tag referencing a 9/11 conspiracy theory.