The Note's Must-Reads for Friday February 8, 2013

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Carrie Halperin and Jayce Henderson

DRONES ABC News' Chris Good and Jason Ryan: " Brennan Interrupted by Protesters, Defends Drone Strikes at Hearing" John Brennan couldn't get a word in at first. When he did finally did, he defended the Obama administration's controversial drone program. As his confirmation hearing got under way before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, President Obama's nominee to lead the CIA was confronted by protesters for his role in overseeing the classified drone program that targets terrorists, including U.S. citizens. LINK

The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane: " Drones Are Focus as C.I.A. Nominee Goes Before Senators" Engaging a high-ranking Obama administration official for the first time in an extensive public discussion of the use of drones for targeted killing, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday pressed John O. Brennan, President Obama's nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, about the secrecy of the strikes, their legal basis and the reported backlash they have produced in Pakistan and Yemen. LINK

The Washington Post's Greg Miller: " Brennan defends drone strike policies" A Senate hearing on the nomination of John O. Brennan to serve as CIA director exposed deep skepticism of key aspects of the Obama administration's approach to fighting terrorism, including its unprecedented reliance on targeted killing and the secrecy it maintains around the exercise of that lethal power. Brennan, who served as the White House's top counterterrorism adviser for the past four years, was challenged in often blunt terms to explain why under President Obama the number of drone strikes has soared while captures of terrorism suspects have dwindled to single digits. LINK

Politico's Josh Gerstein: " 4 takeaways from Brennan's grilling" Bipartisan agreement isn't common on Capitol Hill these days, but John Brennan brought senators together at his CIA director confirmation hearing - to express their anger at years of intelligence stonewalling from presidents of both parties. Twelve years into the war-on-terror, a largely complacent Congress and its Senate Intelligence Committee finally seemed to have found its voice. Brennan had the misfortune of being the one on the other side of the table when they did. LINK


The Hill's "Russell Berman: " Colbert to address Dems on Friday" House Democrats will conclude their annual retreat here with a dose of levity: Comedian Stephen Colbert will speak to their caucus on Friday. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) invited the popular satirist, who plays a conservative commentator that regularly denounces Democrats and lampoons Republicans on his Comedy Central show. LINK

Bloomberg's Kathleen Hunter: " Biden Says Will Wait for Senate on Same-Sex Immigration" Vice President Joe Biden said the White House will "wait and see" what the Senate comes up with before determining whether to insist that equal treatment for same-sex couples be included in a rewrite of immigration laws. "We're going to wait and see what the Senate bill and the bipartisan group presents, and we'll make our judgments," Biden said in an interview today as he was leaving the Capitol in Washington. "We made it clear what we think should be done, and we'll see." LINK

Boston Globe's David Uberti: " Cowan sworn in as interim senator" After being escorted by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Secretary of State John Kerry to the front of the chamber, newly appointed interim Senator William "Mo" Cowan took his oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden Thursday afternoon. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick tapped Cowan as a temporary replacement for Kerry's seat last week after the 28-year Senate veteran was confirmed to head the State Department. Cowan took his oath on the Senate floor - left hand on his grandmother's Bible - before moving to the old Senate chambers for a ceremonial swearing-in with his family. LINK

FOREIGN AFFAIRS ABC News' Luis Martinez and Sarah Parnass: " Panetta Blames Time, Distance and Lack of Warning for U.S. Military Response to Benghazi Attack" "Time, distance the lack of an adequate warning" were some of the factors that prevented the U.S. military from reaching the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, before four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, had been killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a Senate panel today. Panetta testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that was investigating the U.S. military response the night of the attack. Panetta told the committee that "time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response" from U.S. military forces located in Europe and the United States. He also cited a U.S. intelligence "gap" that did not foresee the threat of an attack in Libya. LINK

The Washington Times' Guy Taylor: " Obama hands off on Benghazi action" Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Thursday revealed he personally broke the news to President Obama that the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, was under attack last year - but he and the president didn't speak the rest of the night as the assault on the compound unfolded. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Staff: " White House Blocked Rebel Arms to Syria" The Pentagon, CIA and State Department backed a plan to arm Syrian rebels, but the White House decided not to act, Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey disclosed. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " John Brennan Faces His Critics at CIA Nomination Hearing" LINK

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