Democrats to investigate “secret” program reported by NYT in 2002
posted at 12:49 am on July 14, 2009 by Karl
Via The Hill:
With their Speaker behind them, House Democrats are pushing ahead with plans to hold a series of hearings investigating instances in which intelligence officials may have misled members of Congress.
Senior Democratic aides said that a major announcement could come by the end of week, but it was already clear on Monday that House Democrats are seizing on weekend news reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney hid information from Congress.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the CIA, under the direction of Cheney, developed a secret counterterrorism program and then was directed by the vice president to conceal it from Congress.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that the program was a classified initiative to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives.
Unfortunately for Democratic witch-hunters, their pals at the national security-defying New York Times apparently blew this secret back in December 2002:
The Bush administration has prepared a list of terrorist leaders the Central Intelligence Agency is authorized to kill, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized, senior military and intelligence officials said.
The previously undisclosed C.I.A. list includes key Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, the officials said. The names of about two dozen terrorist leaders have recently been on the lethal-force list, officials said. “It’s the worst of the worst,” an official said.
President Bush has provided written legal authority to the C.I.A. to hunt down and kill the terrorists without seeking further approval each time the agency is about to stage an operation. Some officials said the terrorist list was known as the “high-value target list.” A spokesman for the White House declined to discuss the list or issues involving the use of lethal force against terrorists. A spokesman for the C.I.A. also declined to comment on the list.
Despite the authority given to the agency, Mr. Bush has not waived the executive order banning assassinations, officials said. The presidential authority to kill terrorists defines operatives of Al Qaeda as enemy combatants and thus legitimate targets for lethal force.
Could it be that CIA Director Panetta does not have a good grip on the history of his agency’s post-9/11 efforts? Could it be that his Democratic colleagues have such a knee-jerk hostility to the CIA that they would jump on bad info to attack the CIA and Fmr. Vice-Pres. Cheney as a modified limited defense of Speaker Pelosi’s prior bogus attacks on the CIA regarding briefings on interrogation tactics? Could it be that the geniuses of the NYT forgot they already blew the program?
(Hint: Yes, Yes and Yes.)
Update: Here’s Guy’s take at NRO.