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Cheney's Secret CIA Program Revealed
Covert program raises more suspicions about Bush administration
Ludwig De Braeckeleer (ludwig)     Print Article 
Published 2009-07-15 11:31 (KST)   
Former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA Director not to reveal to Congress the existence of a highly secret program.

During the last eight years, the CIA concealed the existence of a counter-terrorism program from Congress at the request of Vice President Cheney. Consequently, the Bush-Cheney administration may have broken the law.

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On June 23, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta ended a secret CIA counter-terrorism program.

"When a CIA 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," a CIA spokesperson told the New York Times.

The next day, Panetta briefed the House and Senate intelligence committees about the mysterious program in separate closed sessions.

Under US Law, the President has a duty to insure that both intelligence committees "are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity."

Although the nature of the program remains unknown, it does not involve extraordinary renditions, enhanced interrogations or domestic activities.

Former CIA operative Robert Baer told the author that he did not about the existence of this mysterious program.

The counter-terrorism branch of the agency initiated the secret activity in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

According to a CIA source, the program was limited to planning and training and never went operational.

This information is however contradicted by FBI agents who complained that they had to act on tips provided by the program without knowing the details of the source.

Richard Marquise is a former Chief of the Terrorist Research and Analytical Center at the FBI Headquarters.

Marquise told the author that he was unaware of this program but that he suspects that post 9-11, in an effort to thwart further attacks, some officials in Washington felt that the government should be doing more.

"If the information developed from the program then resulted in FBI agents having to follow up on information obtained from it, I can see where there was frustration when perhaps only part of a story could be shared or the agents might be unaware of what else was said," Marquise added.

The CIA has opened an internal investigation aimed at reconstructing the time-line of the program. The inquiry will also examine the decision of various senior officials to conceal its existence from congress.

House Democrats are asking for an investigation which would address at least the following questions. What was the nature of this program? Why did Cheney order the program to be concealed from Congress? And, last but not least, how was it funded?

Besides Hayden, Deputy Director Stephen Kappes and Michael J. Sulick, the head of the clandestine service, were among the very few kept apprised of the program. Kappes is an expert on Iranian affairs and speaks fluently Farsi.

The program is rumored to have involved both foreign intelligence collection and covert actions intended at influencing events overseas. It is also believed that the program would have been a major source of embarrassment for the US administration if it had surfaced in the public domain.

There may be another question worthy of attention. If Leon Panetta learned of the program on the first day at the helm of the Agency as a senior congressional aide claims, why did he wait four months and the outcome of the Iranian Presidential election, before shutting it down and brief the intelligence committees?
Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. Ludwig teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost" Ludwig can be reached at: dr.ludwig@hotmail.com
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ludwig De Braeckeleer

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