Should federal judges weigh in on a president's decision to pursue and kill terrorists overseas?
The suggestion, raised at this week's nomination hearing of John Brennan to be CIA director, goes to the heart of the debate on whether President Barack Obama or any U.S. leader should have unfettered power to order the targeted killing of Americans overseas who are al Qaeda terrorists.
Some Democratic senators argued there should be a check on the president's authority to use lethal force, particularly against Americans, as occurred in September 2011 when a CIA-operated armed drone killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
Al-Awlaki was a senior operational planner for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who had been linked to a number of terrorist plots against the United States.
One solution offered at the hearing was to create a new court to oversee such presidential decisions.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she would review ideas for legislation "to ensure that drone strikes are carried out in a manner consistent with our values," including a proposal to create "an analogue of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the conduct of such strikes."
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a top-secret body that reviews federal warrants to intercept electronic communications of suspected foreign agents and terrorists. One reason is to protect Americans from improperly or inadvertently having their communications collected.
Creating a similar type of court to oversee lethal actions taken overseas may be easier said than done.
The intelligence panel has yet to begin drafting legislation, a Feinstein aide told Security Clearance. For now, the panel was reading through proposals and suggestions by experts and commentators.
According to the aide, who spoke on condition of not being identified, writing a bill raised "a lot of questions to wrestle with." Consultations with the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees as well as the White House must occur before a final proposal can be developed, the aide added.