Nightly News   |  February 07, 2013

Drone strikes memo raises more questions

It’s still unclear what the standards are for deciding who gets killed as a result of a drone strike, and what constitutes an imminent threat. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as andrea pointed out, it was our own michael isikoff 's exclusive reporting that revealed the obama administration's ground rules governing its use of drones. place the topic in conversation, michael was in that hearing today and is with us from capitol hill tonight. the question, mike, how much more did we learn about the president's drone policy?

>> reporter: is brian, if anybody felt we were going to learn more about targeted killings and drones today, they were disappointed in some respects. brennan said less today than he has already acknowledged in public speeches. i was listening very closely. the whole hearing. the word "drones" never left his lips. the big questions raised by that white paper are what are the standards upon which americans who are suspected of being al qaeda leaders can be targeted for killings. what constitutes an imminent threat? who gets to decide whether the secret intelligence is sound enough and whether there is any review. presumably, the memo that president obama let senators read this morning would answer some of those questions. but the memo remains classified, so the senators couldn't even ask any questions about it. a number of them, senator wyden, senator feinstein, did press brennan to be more open, and perhaps his most memorable line, he said i want to optimize transparency, but at the same time, i want to optimize secrecy. tonight, brian, secrecy won out.

>> government speaking for having it both ways. our national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff , who has led the way on reporting on this topic this week.