The CIA’s Rogue Operation

Everyone is playing the guessing game regarding the secret program which the CIA hid from Congress.

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein is guessing that it is Cheney’s executive assassination squad. Yesterday, I guessed it might have been continuity of government plans.

But the Washington Post writes:

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,” the Post reporters added. “It was a intelligence-collection activity run by the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, officials said.

As the Post says, the program Panetta briefed Congress about was not “warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil”. And see this.

And it was long ago established that the government’s spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed here and here).

So it had to be some kind of program above and beyond those programs.

Indeed, a new report by the Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, CIA, NSA and the Office of Director of National Intelligence makes it clear that the program was not just the wireless surveillance program we already know about. The report also discloses that John Yoo – the DOJ lawyer who wrote the torture memos – also wrote memos defending this spying program, even though no one (even his boss) knew why he was given the job (isn’t it obvious? Yoo was a proven yes-man, who would write “legal justifications” for anything Bush and Cheney wanted).

So what kind of program could it be?

Well, since many reports say it shocked both Democratic and Republican congress members, as well as the CIA head himself, it must have been something pretty bad. Perhaps something like this.

Indeed, as described by AP:

Most of the intelligence leads generated under what was known as the “President’s Surveillance Program” did not have any connection to terrorism, the [Inspector Generals’] report said…

Very few CIA analysts even knew about the program and therefore were unable to fully exploit it in their counterrorism work, the report said.

If the spying program were really centered on counterterrorism, wouldn’t the information have been shared by the CIA’s counterrorism agents? Again, see this.

As House Intelligence Committee member Jan Schakowsky said today:

The systematic deception by the CIA is a possible violation of the National Security Act and, at a minimum, a blatant disregard of this committee’s oversight authority.

And as a former CIA agent says, the real question is who ordered the CIA to withhold the information from Congress. Bush apparently ordered the program, but it is not yet known who ordered the CIA to cover it up.

In a nation of laws, Bush, Cheney – or whoever in the White House ordered the cover-up of the operation – would be prosecuted.

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