“That’s why my administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts,” Obama said. “Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts.”

That line surprised some counterterrorism experts who disagreed with Obama’s view that he has kept lawmakers in the loop. In at least one circumstance, the program targeted Americans affiliated with al-Qaida. And until recently, the Justice Department has even withheld detailed legal papers that justify the program. …

Before last week’s hearing for John Brennan’s bid to become the next director of the CIA, the administration finally gave certain members of the Senate Intelligence Committee the detailed legal papers. But direct oversight and certain judicial checks on the program do not exist. …

But Council on Foreign Relations fellow Micah Zenko called that “oversight through a soda straw.” One means of new oversight would be for administration, military, or CIA officials to not only provide off-the-record hearings with certain congressional committees to describe what strikes occur, but they could also brief lawmakers on how the strikes fit in with the broader foreign policy objectives of the U.S.