drones

It sounds like an Orwellian idea from a futuristic sci-fi movie. Government officials gather in a secret courtroom, poring over documents and weighing whether to approve the fly-by killing of a suspected terrorist.

If the judges say yes, the target dies. If not, the target lives.

But U.S. senators are now floating the idea of an assassination court as a way to rein in the ever-expanding drone program — a secretive operation that, as it is, sounds like thriller fiction, but isn’t.

The idea was bandied about during Thursday’s confirmation hearing for CIA director nominee John Brennan, who fueled the talk by saying he thinks the concept is “worthy of discussion.” The nominee, as a vocal supporter of the targeted-killing program, has come under scrutiny for what some lawmakers see as the administration’s unchecked power to kill, even if the target is an American citizen.