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AG says Obama planning to explain policy on drones

– Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told a Senate committee Wednesday that he expects President Obama to explain the legal rationale underpinning the use of armed drones to target and kill U.S. citizens overseas as a part of a wider administration effort to be more open about counterterrorism policies.

Obama said in his State of the Union speech last month that he would be more transparent about the targeted killing program, and Holder said the administration is struggling with the need to fulfill that pledge.

“We have talked about a need for greater transparency in what we share, what we talk about,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. He added that, with the release of more information, “there would be a greater degree of comfort that this government does these things reluctantly, but also in conformity with international law, with domestic law and with our values.”

Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni American born in New Mexico, was targeted and killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Drone critic holds filibuster

A Republican critic of the Obama administration’s drone policy mounted a self-described filibuster to block Senate confirmation of John Brennan to take over as director of the CIA.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the floor shortly before noon Wednesday with him declaring, “I will speak until I can no longer speak.” As of 10 p.m., with intermittent support from other conservatives holding similar views, plus Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Paul continued to hold the senate floor.

The Kentucky senator offered to cease if President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement assuring that drones would not be used in the United States to kill terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens.

Suspect arrested in deadly hit and run

A man suspected of fleeing the scene of a grisly crash in New York City that killed a pregnant woman and her husband was arrested at a convenience store in northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a friend arranged his surrender with New York authorities.

Julio Acevedo, 44, walked to officers waiting in cars in the parking lot in Bethlehem, Pa., and was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.

Acevedo allegedly sped down a Brooklyn street and crashed into a car carrying Nachman and Raizy Glauber. They died Sunday, and their premature son died Monday.

Judge instructs jury in cannibalism trial

A judge Wednesday was putting the finishing touches on legal instructions to be read to a jury deciding the fate of a New York police officer accused of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat women he knew.

Officer Gilberto Valle allegedly conspired with others on a sexual fetish website. His lawyers say he engaged only in fantasies. The judge reserved decision on whether the instructions should include wording to make clear that jurors must acquit Valle if they find he had no intention of carrying out the crimes.