Source: Lawmakers to get classified drone info

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has directed the Justice Department to give Congress' intelligence committees access

to classified information providing the legal rationale for drone strikes against American citizens working with al-Qaida

abroad, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Several lawmakers have pressed the White

House for more information on how decisions are made to target U.S.

citizens abroad

follow the release this week of an unclassified "white paper" that

the Justice Department sent key lawmakers last year. The

unclassified memo says it is legal for the government to kill U.S.

citizens abroad if it believes they are senior al-Qaida

leaders continually engaged in operations aimed at killing

Americans.

The official said Obama made the decision to send lawmakers the classified rationale on Wednesday as part of his "commitment

to consult with Congress on national security matters." Obama directed the Justice Department provide the Senate and House

intelligence committees access to classified advice from its Office of Legal Counsel that the white paper is based on, the

official said.

Legal opinions produced by Justice's legal counsel's office are interpretations of federal law that are binding on all executive

branch agencies.

The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

Earlier Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay

Carney said Obama was engaged in an internal process deliberation to

determine

how to balance the nation's security needs with its values. He

said Obama was committed to providing more information to Congress,

even as he refused to acknowledge whether the drone memo even

existed.

"He thinks that it is legitimate to ask

questions about how we prosecute the war against al-Qaida," Carney said.

"These are

questions that will be with us long after he is president and long

after the people who are in the seats that they're in now

have left the scene."