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Four months after he was sworn in, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta learned of an intelligence program that had been hidden from Congress since 2001, a revelation that prompted him to immediately cancel the initiative and schedule a pair of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill.
The next day, June 24, Panetta informed the House and Senate intelligence committees of the program and the action he had taken, according to Democratic and Republican members of the panels.
The incident has reignited a long-running dispute between congressional Democrats and the CIA, with some calling it part of a broader pattern of the agency withholding information from Congress.
Republicans could care less.
The program remains classified, and those knowledgeable about it would describe it only vaguely yesterday. Several current and former administration officials called it an “on-again, off-again” attempt to create a new intelligence capability and said it was related to the collection of information on suspected terrorists that was instituted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…
Current and former administration officials familiar with the program said it was not directly related to previously disclosed high-priority programs such as detainee interrogations or the warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil. It was a intelligence-collection activity run by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, officials said. It was not a covert action, which by law would have required a presidential finding and a report to Congress.
No surplus of honest men in this picture!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission
A former Bush administration hack said there’s no need to question honest men. I doubt if he’d know one if he fell over him. Not a risk in the former White House, BTW.
Another intelligence official said that the program was “sensitive” and should have been briefed to the committees, and that lawmakers had been told they had been fully informed on collection activities.
CIA officials brought the program to Panetta’s attention, and when he realized it potentially conflicted with what the committees had been told, he immediately went to Capitol Hill, according to officials who discussed classified material on the condition of anonymity.
When push comes to shove, your ass is best covered by going by the book. Of course, when you’re more of a crook than your advisers – like the former occupants of the White House – going by the book is a sin. Especially when the only question is should we ignore the Constitution or just discard it?