CIA Program Was Hidden from Congress

CIA Director Leon Panetta recently revealed to Congress that congressional leaders and members of the intelligence committees were kept in the dark about a CIA program to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda, although the program apparently never became fully operational.  Congress was kept uniformed for nearly eight years on the orders of former Vice President Dick Cheney.  Members of both parties are outraged that they were not told about the program sooner.

Although the CIA and the Bush administration should have informed select members of Congress about the program, as required by law, it is shocking that it never became operational.  The fact that the US apparently never tried to assassinate Al Qaeda leaders, aside from launching airstrikes from unmanned drones into Pakistan, demonstrates a failure to protect American national security interests.  Although certain governments might get upset, or pretend to be upset, if assassinations were carried out in their country if CIA involvement in the killings somehow became known, that is a risk worth taking if there is a significant change that Al Qaeda terrorists bent on attacking the US could be neutralized.  There is certainly historical precedent for such activity.  During World War Two, the British assassinated people in the US who they suspected of supporting Germany’s war efforts, including an American citizen, and the American government condoned those attacks.  Many friendly governments would not oppose CIA-sponsored targeted killings, especially if they were informed about the operations beforehand and they believed they could be kept secret.  The program should be reactivated immediately and made operational, but this time Congress should be informed about it.

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