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Senate panel likely to vote Thursday on CIA nominee Brennan

Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be the Director
Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his nomination to be the Director

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee plan to hold a vote on Thursday on the confirmation of White House aide John Brennan to become director of the CIA, congressional officials said.

The officials said some members of the committee are unsatisfied with White House responses to requests for documents on drone policy and the attacks on U.S. installations in Benghazi, Libya, last September 11, but the panel still expects to call a vote on Brennan later this week.

If the committee clears the nomination, which congressional officials say is expected, then Senate Democratic leaders hope to hold a final Senate floor vote on Brennan's confirmation next week, the officials said.

Still, some Republicans and even some Democrats on the intelligence committee could vote against Brennan, two congressional officials said.

Some committee Republicans were disappointed with what they regard as Brennan's evasive answers to questions about what he did when he learned that the CIA under the George W. Bush used "enhanced interrogation techniques" on captured Islamic militants. Human rights activists say the activity was torture.

Brennan was a high-level CIA official at the time.

Some committee Democrats, most notably Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, have expressed concern about the administration's refusal to turn over a full set of classified legal documents outlining the administration's legal justifications for launching unmanned drone strikes.

Lawmakers have been seeking more information about the rules the administration uses for conducting "targeted killings" against suspected militants, including American citizens.

The administration has allowed committee members to review four such documents but committee officials believe that at least seven more are being withheld.

On Tuesday, the White House tried to take some steam out of Republican opposition to the nominations of both Brennan and Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel by allowing some legislators and staffers access to documents and emails related to the attacks in Benghazi.

The White allowed access to emails charting the evolution of controversial "talking points" which U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and other administration officials used in the days following the September 11 Benghazi attacks.

Only a handful of aides were allowed to see the material, and the White House refused to leave copies on Capitol Hill.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball)

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