House Democrats, in an apparent effort to deflect attention away from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the CIA regularly lies to Congress, went ape last week after CIA Director Leon Panetta briefed Congress on a proposed counter-terrorism program that never got past the planning phase.
Reports indicate that the program was supposed to target top al Qaeda terrorists, but it was never operational. (Frankly, I had assumed the Bush administration was doing something along these lines. The fact that it never got off the ground is disappointing.)
So, Congress now insists that it be briefed on any idea discussed by two or three CIA analysts otherwise it is being “misled.” Are these people serious?
And the Democrats have summoned their all-purpose demon – Dick Cheney – to put the situation in the proper light, claiming that the former vice president specifically directed the CIA not to tell anyone. It’s a claim that is without merit.
Neither of the former officials who spoke to CNN would discuss the details of the program in question, but both said the CIA was developing a certain post-9/11 counterterrorism capacity.
As one official put it, "It should come as no surprise that we would go after the bad guys, the terrorists."
Both sources said the program that Panetta discussed fell under a presidential finding that broadly authorized covert counterterrorism activities. They said Congress had been briefed on that finding in the fall of 2001, and there was no requirement to brief lawmakers on a program that had not been implemented.
"When it goes operational, then you brief them," one of the former officials said.
The sources said the program was canceled several years ago -- but for reasons unknown to them, it was put back on the table though still not implemented. Panetta terminated the program when he found out about it last month.
Which begs the question, if this program is targeted killings of al Qaeda bigwigs, then why isn’t it on the table?