“I think the process set up internally is a solid process,” said Feinstein. “I think there’s an absence of knowing exactly who is responsible for what decision. So I think we need to look at this whole process and figure a way to make it more transparent and identifiable.”
Mr. Brennan, for his part, did not dismiss the idea. Under questioning from Sen. Angus King (I) of Maine about the process for targeting terrorist suspects who are US citizens, the current Obama counterterrorism adviser said a court might be something for the US to at least consider.
In a follow-up letter Friday to Feinstein and ranking minority member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, Senator King said that the FISA model, in which 11 judges weigh wiretap applications, might be a useful role model in this instance.
It could provide “an independent perspective” with regards to Americans who throw in their lot with Al Qaeda, King said.
However, whether such a court would apply only to US citizens, or to all potential targeted killing subjects, in practice it likely would function much differently than the FISA model.
As University of Texas law professor Robert Chesney writes on the Lawfare national security blog, it’s unlikely such a court would review actual decisions to pull a trigger. In that sense the analogy with FISA, which oversees actual wiretaps, would not hold.