The nomination of John Brennan as CIA director is getting lost in the controversy over the Chuck Hagel nomination for defense secretary. Brennan’s reported support for Bush-era torture programs — which he has denied — and his oversight of President Barack Obama’s drone program are causing ripples, but mostly within rarefied precincts on the left.

The nomination, however, creates an opportunity. What if senators use his confirmation hearings to force a public debate about the legality and transparency of Obama’s drone-strike program and the need for meaningful congressional oversight? A hearing could initiate discussion about torture, the Bush war on terror and continuity between the two administrations on civil-liberties issues.

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