Tuesday September 22, 2020
Jul-11-2009 20:22TweetFollow @OregonNews
Ties to Illegal Assasins?
Tim King Salem-News.com
(SALEM, Ore.) - Sparks are flying over strong accusations linking former Vice-President Dick Cheney, to a band of CIA assassins who worked without the knowledge of Congress - because Cheney told them to.
The intelligence agency executed the ultra-clandestine operation behind the backs of Congress for eight years under Bush. Its new director learned of the existence of the program and put an end to it late last month.
Leon Panetta, who assumed control of the Central Intelligence Agency as its 19th Director on February 13th 2009, halted the controversial program on June 23rd according to the LA Times, when he first learned of its existence. Four months passed before his subordinates brought it to his attention. After Panetta found out what was going on, he asked for special sessions with the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Details are slow in coming. The LA Times reported today that the main sources are declining to offer details at this point, on the nature of the program. They did reportedly say that the CIA launched an internal inquiry in recent days. They are looking at the history of the program, while examining the reasons senior officials found it necessary to withhold knowledge about, it from Congress.
Sources report that the secret government counter-terrorism operation was launched shortly after the 9/11 attacks, but never went fully operational.
One senior congressional aide told the LA Times, that the magnitude of the program and the decision to keep it secret isn't an issue that should be downplayed.
"Panetta found out about this for the first time and within 24 hours was in the office telling us," the aide said. "If this wasn't a big deal, why would the director of the CIA come sprinting up to the Hill like that?"
Relations have been strained in recent months between the CIA and Congress, especially since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of lying to Congress over waterboarding.
There is wiggle room for clandestine U.S. programs & operations that are considered to be extremely sensitive, but the bottom line according to law, is that the Central Intelligence Agency has to notify congressional committee members and make sure they are "kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity."
One former U.S. intelligence official, Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, told the LA Times that he "did not think they were constrained from informing Congress about the program, but regarded the activity as falling well short of the threshold for congressional notification."
Another official told reporters that they don't "run to the hill" every time they want permission to do something, which now seems quite obviously to be the case.
Hayden is among other officials who did know about the program that Congress was totally ignorant of. Others named include Deputy Director Stephen Kappes and Michael J. Sulick. It is reported that they were kept up to date regarding the counter-terrorism program's progress.
One bright spot of news that accompanies this news, is the House Intelligence Committee's approval of new legislation that will make it much more difficult for the executive branch to keep information like this from Congress.
President Obama did threaten to veto the legislation.
Special thanks to Greg Miller at the LA Times