U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Friday he wants Congress to consider legislation that would check the president’s ability to determine whether the use of lethal force against a U.S. citizen on foreign soil is legal.

In a letter to the chair and vice chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence — King sits on the committee — he asks they consider a law change that would provide an “appropriate check on the executive branch’s procedure,” allowing it to employ the use of so-called “targeted strikes.”

The letter to Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, follows King’s questioning of John O. Brennan, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.  

Brennan, who faces a Senate confirmation vote, has been a supporter of the practice of using unmanned aerial vehicles to attack U.S. citizens deemed to be engaged in terrorist activities and posing a threat to national security outside of U.S. borders.

King suggests that a system that provides some independent judicial review, similar to the one in place for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, be created.

Under FISA, a special federal court determines whether the U.S. government can electronically eavesdrop on a U.S. citizen who is in a foreign country.

During testimony before the committee earlier this week Brennan indicated he and the Obama administration would be open to the idea.

“During the hearing, I expressed concern about the dearth of appropriate checks and balances in developing the legal framework for the potential use of lethal force against a United States citizen,” in part, King wrote. “As you know, the FISA court consists of eleven federal judges, designated by the Chief Justice, who review electronic surveillance applications while maintaining appropriate security measures. Such a model may be useful as we consider the debate over targeted-strikes.”


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