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Cheney Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

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Cheney Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

By SCOTT SHANEPublished: July 11, 2009

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President ####### Cheney, the agency's director,Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

Efforts to reach Mr. Cheney through relatives and associates were unsuccessful.

The question of how completely the C.I.A. informed Congress about sensitive programs has been hotly disputed by Democrats and Republicans since May, when SpeakerNancy Pelosi accused the agency of failing to reveal in 2002 that it was waterboarding a terrorism suspect, a claim Mr. Panetta rejected.

The law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees "are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity." But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done "to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters."

In addition, for covert action programs, a particularly secret category in which the role of the United States is hidden, the law says that briefings can be limited to the so-called Gang of Eight, consisting of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and of their intelligence committees.

The disclosure about Mr. Cheney's role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general's report underscored the central role of the former vice president's office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency's program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded had hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort.

An intelligence agency spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, declined on Saturday to comment on the report of Mr. Cheney's role.

"It's not agency practice to discuss what may or may not have been said in a classified briefing," Mr. Gimigliano said. "When a C.I.A. unit brought this matter to Director Panetta's attention, it was with the recommendation that it be shared appropriately with Congress. That was also his view, and he took swift, decisive action to put it into effect."

Members of Congress have differed on the significance of the program, whose details remained secret and which even some Democrats have said was properly classified. Most of those interviewed, however, have said that it was an important activity that should have been disclosed to the intelligence committees.

Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the C.I.A. interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the C.I.A. shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year.

In the tense months after 9/11, when Bush administration officials believed new Qaeda attacks could occur at any moment, intelligence officials brainstormed about radical countermeasures. It was in that atmosphere that the unidentified program was devised and deliberately concealed from Congress, officials said.

Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said last week that he believed Congress would have approved of the program only in the angry and panicky days after 9/11, on 9/12, he said, but not later, after fears and tempers had begun to cool.

One intelligence official, who would speak about the classified program only on condition of anonymity, said there was no resistance inside the C.I.A. to Mr. Panetta's decision to end the program last month.

"Because this program never went fully operational and hadn't been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial," the official said. "That's worth remembering amid all the drama."

Bill Harlow, a spokesman for George J. Tenet, who was the C.I.A. director when the unidentified program began, declined to comment on Saturday, noting that the program remained classified.

In the eight years of his vice presidency, Mr. Cheney was the Bush administration's most vehement defender of the secrecy of government activities, particularly in the intelligence arena. He went to the Supreme Court to keep secret the advisers to his task force on energy, and won.

A report released on Friday by the inspectors general of five agencies about the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program makes clear that Mr. Cheney's legal adviser, David S. Addington, had to approve personally every government official who was told about the program. The report said "the exceptionally compartmented nature of the program" frustrated F.B.I. agents who were assigned to follow up on tips it had turned up.

High-level N.S.A. officials who were responsible for ensuring that the surveillance program was legal, including the agency's inspector general and general counsel, were not permitted by Mr. Cheney's office to read the Justice Department opinion that found the eavesdropping legal, several officials said.

Mr. Addington could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Questions over the adequacy and the truthfulness of the C.I.A.'s briefings for Congress date to the creation of the intelligence oversight committees in the 1970s after disclosures of agency assassination and mind-control programs and other abuses. But complaints increased in the Bush years, when the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies took the major role in pursuing Al Qaeda.

The use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, for instance, was first described to a handful of lawmakers for the first time in September 2002. Ms. Pelosi and the C.I.A. have disagreed about what she was told, but in any case, the briefing occurred only after a terrorism suspect, Abu Zubaydah, had been waterboarded 83 times.

Democrats in Congress, who contend that the Bush administration improperly limited Congressional briefings on intelligence, are seeking to change the National Security Act to permit the full intelligence committees to be briefed on more matters. President Obama, however, has threatened to veto the intelligence authorization bill if the changes go too far, and the proposal is now being negotiated by the White House and the intelligence committees.

Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat of Illinois on the House committee, wrote on Friday to the chairman, Representative Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat of Texas, to demand an investigation of the unidentified program and why Congress was not told of it. Aides said Mr. Reyes was reviewing the matter.

"There's been a history of difficulty in getting the C.I.A. to tell us what they should," said Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat of Washington. "We will absolutely be held accountable for anything the agency does."

Mr. Hoekstra, the intelligence committee's ranking Republican, said he would not judge the agency harshly in the case of the unidentified program, because it was not fully operational. But he said that in general, the agency had not been as forthcoming as the law required.

"We have to pull the information out of them to get what we need," Mr. Hoekstra said.

Source

Edited by ~Flower~

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This comes as no big shock and amazement as far as I am concerned.


Blessed are the heart that can bend, they can never be broken - Albert Camus

Any comments, information and photos may not be reused, reposted, or republished in any way without express written permission from 100% Al Ahly Fan.

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What surprises me out of the two articles I posted on the former Administration is the complacency of the people. That executive branch has now been proven to have abused it's power and encroach on the checks and balances of our governmental system through totalitarianism means making us look like hypocrites to those regimes for years to come.


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What surprises me out of the two articles I posted on the former Administration is the complacency of the people. That executive branch has now been proven to have abused it's power and encroach on the checks and balances of our governmental system through totalitarianism means making us look like hypocrites to those regimes for years to come.

Yep.

To Cheney and the Bush Administration, checks and balances was just bank talk.

Edited by Col. 'Bat' Guano

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Ok so tonight the television broadcast news networks picked up this story. It was the top story on the BBC news and the 4th on Al Jazeera English. IMO Al Jazeera English gave the better explanation of the two party politics and why Obama doesn't want a commission. The Democrats want a criminal investigation for the abuses by the former executive branch and the Republicans oppose it because they don't have all the facts on it right now. Both Obama and McCain see eye to eye in that they don't want to be digging up the past rooting out the corruption and igniting a feud between the two parties based on the past administration when the current administration is attempting to handle current issues such as the economy. However, Obama's hand may be forced to deal with it if the US attorney general assigns a prosecutor to investigate interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects by the former administration which would eventually lead to criminal inquiry into the treatment of prisoners by the CIA following the 2001 attacks in New York. The BBC's story explains that this is really a brewing feud between the CIA and Congress for sometime and also mentions that it has been suggested this is a deflection from the investigations on a particular democratic party member namely Nancy Pelosi and when she knew about the water boarding techniques being used.

Cheney has yet to tell his side of the story.

So now I have my answer as to why Obama doesn't want a commission on the past administration. Basically it is believed it would be an imploding nightmare for the many branches of the government.


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What surprises me out of the two articles I posted on the former Administration is the complacency of the people. That executive branch has now been proven to have abused it's power and encroach on the checks and balances of our governmental system through totalitarianism means making us look like hypocrites to those regimes for years to come.

True indeed, Olivia. Although I think "the people" are aware of the hypocracy in the U.S. government. This was not the first time that a presidential administration has "abused it's power" and I highly doubt it will be the last.


Blessed are the heart that can bend, they can never be broken - Albert Camus

Any comments, information and photos may not be reused, reposted, or republished in any way without express written permission from 100% Al Ahly Fan.

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Bill used to drop bombs in eastern Europe everytime the press got too interested in examining his Lewinsky connection. This administration uses Bush to obfuscate every chance it gets. I won't be surprised if later this report doesn't prove to be another example of sensationalist journalism and a diversionary cover for Pelosi's accusations against the CIA. When they say "Jump, people", don't ask "How high?"

Edited by Sofiyya

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What surprises me out of the two articles I posted on the former Administration is the complacency of the people. That executive branch has now been proven to have abused it's power and encroach on the checks and balances of our governmental system through totalitarianism means making us look like hypocrites to those regimes for years to come.

True indeed, Olivia. Although I think "the people" are aware of the hypocracy in the U.S. government. This was not the first time that a presidential administration has "abused it's power" and I highly doubt it will be the last.

This one is abusing its power every chance it gets. Read your Constitution to see what their powers are in contrast with what Barry's been doing (badly).

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Bill used to drop bombs in eastern Europe everytime the press got too interested in examining his Lewinsky connection. This administration uses Bush to obfuscate every chance it gets. I won't be surprised if later this report doesn't prove to be another example of sensationalist journalism and a diversionary cover for Pelosi's accusations against the CIA. When they say "Jump, people", don't ask "How high?"

I would love to agree with you, but then we would both be wrong. :whistle:


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Something is fishy about this story - no details have been offered about what this programme was or what it involved.

That's not to say it isn't true, but it is very odd (and very suspicious) that its been reported in the media with so little substance behind it, given the seriousness of the allegation being made.

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I love how the rationale for not delving deeper into it is because Democrats have done the same thing. No actual content thought is going into this. If the CIA is operating illegally, it needs to get taken care of. Period.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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The weird thing is that the CIA itself seems to have reported this, yet no details of the alleged programme have been provided to the press.

That makes me think that the programme itself may be far less salacious than headlines about government abuse of power, especially if it relates to something as mundane as not reporting expenses, for example.

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Something is fishy about this story - no details have been offered about what this programme was or what it involved.

That's not to say it isn't true, but it is very odd (and very suspicious) that its been reported in the media with so little substance behind it, given the seriousness of the allegation being made.

:secret: It supposed to be a secret!

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CIA Had Secret Al Qaeda Plan

Initiative at Heart of Spat With Congress Examined Ways to Seize, Kill Terror Chiefs

WASHINGTON -- A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter.

The precise nature of the highly classified effort isn't clear, and the CIA won't comment on its substance.

According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn't become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it.

In 2001, the CIA also examined the subject of targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, according to three former intelligence officials. It appears that those discussions tapered off within six months. It isn't clear whether they were an early part of the CIA initiative that Mr. Panetta stopped.

The revelations about the CIA and its post-9/11 activities have emerged amid a renewed fight between the agency and congressional Democrats. Last week, seven Democratic lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee released a letter that talked about the CIA effort, which they said Mr. Panetta acknowledged hadn't been properly vetted with Congress. CIA officials had brought the matter to Mr. Panetta's attention and had recommended he inform Congress.

Neither Mr. Panetta nor the lawmakers provided details. Mr. Panetta quashed the CIA effort after learning about it June 23.

The battle is part of a long-running tug of war between the executive branch and the legislature about how to oversee the activities of the country's intelligence services and how extensively the CIA should brief Congress. In recent years, in the light of revelations over CIA secret prisons and harsh interrogation techniques, Congress has pushed for greater oversight. The Obama administration, much like its predecessor, is resisting any moves in that direction.

Most recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a dispute over what she knew about the use of waterboarding in interrogating terror suspects, has accused the agency of lying to lawmakers about its operations.

Republicans on the panel say that the CIA effort didn't advance to a point where Congress clearly should have been notified.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said the agency "has not commented on the substance of the effort." He added that "a candid dialogue with Congress is very important to this director and this agency."

One former senior intelligence official said the program was an attempt "to achieve a capacity to carry out something that was directed in the finding," meaning it was looking for ways to capture or kill al Qaeda chieftains.

The official noted that Congress had long been briefed on the finding, and that the CIA effort wasn't so much a program as "many ideas suggested over the course of years." It hadn't come close to fruition, he added.

Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said little had been spent on the efforts -- closer to $1 million than $50 million. "The idea for this kind of program was tossed around in fits and starts," he said.

Senior CIA leaders were briefed two or three times on the most recent iteration of the initiative, the last time in the spring of 2008. At that time, CIA brass said that the effort should be narrowed and that Congress should be briefed if the preparations reached a critical stage, a former senior intelligence official said.

Amid the high alert following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a small CIA unit examined the potential for targeted assassinations of al Qaeda operatives, according to the three former officials. The Ford administration had banned assassinations in the response to investigations into intelligence abuses in the 1970s. Some officials who advocated the approach were seeking to build teams of CIA and military Special Forces commandos to emulate what the Israelis did after the Munich Olympics terrorist attacks, said another former intelligence official.

"It was straight out of the movies," one of the former intelligence officials said. "It was like: Let's kill them all."

The former official said he had been told that President George W. Bush and Vice President ####### Cheney didn't support such an operation. The effort appeared to die out after about six months, he said.

Former CIA Director George Tenet, who led the agency in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, declined through a spokesman to comment.

Also in September 2001, as CIA operatives were preparing for an offensive in Afghanistan, officials drafted cables that would have authorized assassinations of specified targets on the spot.

One draft cable, later scrapped, authorized officers on the ground to "kill on sight" certain al Qaeda targets, according to one person who saw it. The context of the memo suggested it was designed for the most senior leaders in al Qaeda, this person said.

Eventually Mr. Bush issued the finding that authorized the capturing of several top al Qaeda leaders, and allowed officers to kill the targets if capturing proved too dangerous or risky.

Lawmakers first learned specifics of the CIA initiative the day after Mr. Panetta did, when he briefed them on it for 45 minutes.

House lawmakers are now making preparations for an investigation into "an important program" and why Congress wasn't told about it, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, in an interview.

On Sunday, lawmakers criticized the Bush administration's decision not to tell Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, hinted that the Bush administration may have broken the law by not telling Congress.

"We were kept in the dark. That's something that should never, ever happen again," she said. Withholding such information from Congress, she said, "is a big problem, because the law is very clear."

Ms. Feinstein said Mr. Panetta told the lawmakers that Mr. Cheney had ordered that the information be withheld from Congress. Mr. Cheney on Sunday couldn't be reached for comment through former White House aides.

The Senate's second-ranking official, Democratic Sen. ####### Durbin of Illinois, and Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns and called for an investigation, an indication of how the politics of intelligence continue to bedevil the CIA.

Separately, Attorney General Eric Holder is considering whether to order a criminal probe into whether treatment of terrorism detainees exceeded guidelines set by the Justice Department, administration officials said.

President Barack Obama and Mr. Holder have said they don't favor prosecuting lawyers who wrote legal justifications for interrogation methods that the president and his attorney general have declared to be torture. They have sought to protect CIA officers who followed the legal guidelines.

"The Department of Justice will follow the facts and the law with respect to any matter," said Matthew Miller, a department spokesman. "We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124736381913627661.html

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The weird thing is that the CIA itself seems to have reported this, yet no details of the alleged programme have been provided to the press.

That makes me think that the programme itself may be far less salacious than headlines about government abuse of power, especially if it relates to something as mundane as not reporting expenses, for example.

Might be the case. There's a hodgepodge of politics along with more swaggering involved. The CIA itself for the most part has a reputation for operating under executive orders, specially the operational parts.

And more so the administrative parts.

Something is fishy about this story - no details have been offered about what this programme was or what it involved.

That's not to say it isn't true, but it is very odd (and very suspicious) that its been reported in the media with so little substance behind it, given the seriousness of the allegation being made.

:secret: It supposed to be a secret!

Even secrets are subject to law.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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