Friday, July 17, 2009

House panel to investigate effort to conceal secret CIA program

From Washington, D.C., comes word that the House Intelligence Committee has decided to formally investigate the Bush White House's effort to conceal from Congress the existence of a secret counterterrorism program. The program, which is so secret that its purpose has still not been revealed even as controversy about it roils the U.S. Capitol, was made public last month in a briefing by Obama CIA Director Leon Panetta, according to Cable News Network (CNN). Panetta said he had ended the program as soon as he found out about it, and that he understood that the CIA withheld information about it from Congress under orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney. In a statement released today, the intelligence committee's chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) said the probe was intended to find out if information was deliberately withheld from Congress in violation of federal law. "I intend to make this investigation fair and thorough," the statement said, "and it is my goal that it will not become a distraction of the men and women of the CIA. However, in order to assist them fully and keep them well-resources, it is the responsibility of the executive branch to ensure that the committee is kept fully and currently informed of all anticipated intelligence activities. The CIA said Thursday that the program was never fully implemented and was not a significant part of the country's efforts to battle al-Qaida and other violent extremists, CNN said.

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