Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
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JULY 11, 2009 6:57PM

Cheney Made CIA Withhold Secret Program From Congress

Rate: 33 Flag

Big Cheney news this weekend [NYT]:

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The article goes on to explain that Cheney specifically blocked the CIA from informing members of Congress about the mysterious program, despite legal obligations for at least the eight big leaders to be informed.  This certainly lends weight to Democratic complaints (yes, I mean Nancy Pelosi) that the CIA, with an assist from the Bush administration, has been picking and choosing what to tell Congress for years.

No one (well, except Cheney and his CIA buddies, and now a few Congresspeople) seems to actually know what this program was.  There's speculation that it might have been the super-frightening assassin squad that Sy Hersh has alluded to; my vote, right now, is for some kind of Death Ray powered on the souls of helpless, adorable puppies.

By .klash

What's more disturbing, that the VP held back information from Congress, or that we still don't know what this secret program entailed?  I actually vote for the first, because the second is just a symptom of that.  It's nice to see the Democrats screaming bloody murder about all of this, even though it would have been much, much nicer to see them screaming it four years ago.  One must hope that, having discovered what a spine feels like, they'll keep it around long enough to do battle with the current administration over changing the law to make sure Congress gets better informed in the future.

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Here I must give credit to a small number of conservatives (like George Will) who bucked the Republican establishment during the Bush years and opposed the expansion of the executive branch vis-a-vis the legislative branch. This should be a non-partisan issue (but it's not, of course).
What a cesspoool. I do hope the new AG takes his position seriously
The ad at the bottom of your blog says it all, earn an intelligence degree with the CIA. Maybe some should be more interested in electing more intelligent politicians. I heard somewhere that they incorporate subliminal messages into vegetables and fruits, if that is the case, then maybe we all should wonder?
Go Saturn go! Hope to see more posts on the CIA. rated.
This is a non-partisan issue if you put some thought to it. If only people would entertain a broader scale of news networking. Panetta's disclosure should not be so shocking. Elder Bush, not Augie was CIA director after Watergate and deception is well documented throughout history. Try to remember he is a Dick, the New World Order poster child. Info that needs further scrutiny, but media has hands full with M. Jax . Good post! thanx
The Central Intelligence Agency is now officially an oxymoron. Rated.
in the absence of accountability/transparency, conspiracy theories thrive. sure, why not an assassination squad??
And we're supposed to be surprised?
the cia works for its master, as it should.

if you let politicians be that master, why the outrage?
Thank you for another excellent article. Your posts are a great service to all who read them.

The “revelation” that information has been consistently withheld from the legislative branch by appointees of the executive branch highlights the all too common assumption of those in power that the people and, more importantly, those they democratically elect to represent them are incapable of properly dealing with matters concerning national security.

By default this assumption says that only an elite inner circle has the right and the acumen to know and respond to matters of this nature.

In essence this destroys a government of, for, and by the people while creating, for all intents and purposes, a government within a government - one that wields real power and one that postures.

Rated and appreciated
I just read elsewhere that panetta CANCELLED the program in june, whatever the @#*%( it was
I'm not surprised. This is not news. This is something, which should be commonly expected. Do you really think that Congress ever gets knowledge about all cia operations?

There are too many people in Congress. They don't tell about all 'counter terrorism' operations to them. Somebody out there might be even against killing innocent people for getting people scared of 'terrorists'.

The other thing is that most of these things should be hided from the mass media, because some reporters there might even write the truth. Or all kinds of rubbish information should be created to cover the real story behind all kinds of crazy rumors.

Taxpayers are paying the bills of the wars and of killings of completely innocent people, they are paying the bills of torturing people in jails. Congress people have still got the power to stop giving money to the administration and common people can still influence Congress. The administration waging wars and arranging 'terrorist operations' through cia to scare people so that they would accept the wars. Common people get their information through mass medias, television and newspapers. Congress people have got the rights to get some other information as well, but that information channel can easily be controlled.

Democrats didn't do anything in Congress to prevent Bush starting his wars. Now they are again doing nothing to prevent Obama to start even more wars. They are only telling that something was wrong during the time of Bush. They don't want to see that the things are even worse now.

I just wrote in another place in my comment:

I just read a good interview of John Pilger, where is quite a lot information about the role of the media. I'm sharing John Pilger's view.

"All of this, it seams to me, has come together in the presidency of Barack Obama who is almost a creation of this media world. He promised some things, although most of them were more for us, and has delivered virtually the opposite. He started his own war in Pakistan. We see the events in Iran and Honduras in quiet subtlety, but very directly influenced in the time-honored way by the Obama administration. And yet the Obama administration is still given this extraordinary benefit of the doubt by people, who in my view are influenced by the mainstream media. It is a time when I think, where either we are going to begin to understand how the media really works, or we’re going to let that opportunity pass. Its almost a historic opportunity the we understand that the perception of our world is utterly distorted, most of the time through what are seen as credible sources of information."

here's my theory:

It was a blackmail scheme, using Patriot Act powers to collect info, aimed at American politicians, all Democrats and selected moderate Republicans (and anyone who didn't toe the line). Their worldview dictated that the evidence would show Democrats would (of course!) be cavorting with donkeys and sacrificing babies in pagan rituals. Etc.

But they closed it down because the majority were philandering RepubliClams. The only Dem they caught and controlled was Joe Lieberman. And all he did was eat a BLT.
Below is the blurb for a book out in 2007 that details what was happening and who was involed. Since Mayer is not an officer of any court, there is probably not enough in the book to have an indictment but perhaps it can still open up illegal actions operating by our leaders b ut details the way in which they were able to thumb their noses at our constitution.

>>The Dark Side: Jane Mayer on the Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
We spend the hour with New Yorker magazine investigative journalist Jane Mayer about her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. In the book, Mayer reveals a secret report by the International Red Cross warned the Bush administration last year that the CIA’s treatment of prisoners categorically constituted torture and could make Bush administration officials who approved the torture methods guilty of war crimes. Mayer also reveals that the Bush administration ignored warnings from the CIA six years ago that up to a third of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake.>>>
It hardly matters what or whether they knew since, apparently, they weren't allowed to do or say anything about it. THAT must be fixed first and foremost. However, I don't entirely buy the argument that security regulations prevented Pelosi and others from speaking out. The moral thing to do might have been to speak out (LOUDLY) and (if need be) go to jail for it. Civil disobedience may be useful in Congress, like anywhere else.

hit home to update page. Read away please. We The People needs to be more informed. you will be among friends here.
If Cheney knew, so did W....
In all of the actions Cheney took as VP, from holding meetings with oil execs (with the blessing of the SC) to "working the dark side, if you will," in all these actions I have never once seen a document that gives a Vice President the powers he assumed. So, regardless of what Cheney did, things done in the name of the Vice Presidency really were things done by the President, if they were not countermanded there.
Cheney is an easy pick, evil, with a built in sneer, a Darth Vader voice and a pedigree that runs to the Nixon Administration. So he is a good place to start to unravel the Gordian knots of the Bush years. But never doubt that unless you take this all the way to the top, you will never really materially change what the Presidency has become.
So much spin I'm dizzy, but being a planet you do go around something.

This program, one which never got underway, has nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi and her claim she was lied to.

Pelosi doesn't say anything about not being briefed. She said that they came in to the gang of 8 and point blank lied to them. Not misled, no failed to brief, but directly lied to them while giving a briefing on a subject.

This adds nothing to Pelosi's lie. Maybe everybody in Washington is lying?
My vote is for a program that used extraordinary rendition far more extensively than has been reported. I think years from now we're going to discover thousands of people "disappeared" under this program. And what's worse is we're going to find it was a very poorly kept secret and that a lot of Democrats knew about it and did nothing.

But, sadly, I think it's going to continue to be forgotten about by Congress and the American public, and certainly by the Obama administration. It's clear that not only do they want to sweep it under the rug, but find a way to make it legal. It'll be one of things like that gets brought up from time to time and then forgotten about.

That's my bet. But I'm not sure how and when I get to collect on it.
Good thing you live in Canada, Juliet - or you could be disappeared. Oh wait a minute, there's no place that's safe...

I suspect too it might be something like that - or an assassination program...
As I posted a few days ago, It might be an assassanation squad. In the Times today, and USA today, it's also reporting this "secret policy" that only reported to Cheney. Bush might have known the perimeters of the operation, but I bet he didn't know the full scope. Even he isn't that stupid, I think!!
Tip o' the iceberg, friends, tip o' the iceberg.
Juliet, it can't be something like that. They all say that it was a program that was never fully developed and never used.
i wish i could say that i was surprised.
This happens all the time. Just ask Bill Clinton. The only reason you people sleep safely in your beds at night is because you DON'T know what the CIA and other intelligence agencies know about our enemies. You might want to keep it that way. Besides, this thing never went operational anyway. Do you really think that Cheney is this stupid?
Catnmus. What exactly does not "fully operational" mean to you. To me it means semi-operational. They're also claiming that it was something "not out of the ordinary." So itbasically it was your standard ordinary, semi-operational, secret CIA program. That was never used...Or do them mean never used in the U.S.?
Not operational means, that the CIA and others make plans for things just in case they are ever needed. Do you think they are waiting to hear Iran has a nuke sitting on a launch pad aimed at us before they start to think about what to do? No. We had plans that would scare the pants off you if you ever heard about them, just in case.

This was one of those plans they designed, but never used. Not on them, not on us, nobody. Just like 1000's of others.
CatnLion. Just out of curiosity, how do you know this. According to the news stories, top CIA people are saying that this was something Congress should have known about. So where do you get the authority to say differently?
with all humility, i read somewhere you should never eat anywhere called "ye olde" anything, and never listen to ANYONE who says "you people". Cheney (and Yoo and Rumsfeld and all the neo-con evil squirrels) are among the most profoundly stupid autocrats-masquerading-as-public servants our country has ever suffered under. The question should be: what did they do that was smart?

Precious little.

The neo-con insurrection tried to FORCE liberalism and progressivism to be seen an abject failure. They scored some fair points (and progressives improved as a result, becoming more pragmatic for Obama's sake).

Neo-conservatism earns it near-utter and quite abject failure honestly, on its own merits.

i'm just saying.
catnlion, I think you're cherry picking. In one of the letters from last week, they did not simply say that Congress was misled but that it was also "affirmatively lied to".

Also, Juliet asked you what not "fully operational" means, and you chose to drop the "fully" in your answer. "Not fully operational" does, as Juliet stated, imply that the program was partially operational. A statement using the term "not fully operational" leaves a lot of leeway--the program could have been 99.9% operational and the statement would techincally be true. To assume that the program was "not operational" is to willfully misread the statement.
Woah, not only was this on the Big Salon front page, but they used your purple Saturn icon instead of the Open Salon icon. You've really hit the big time now!
I don't think Cheney was this stupid, but I do think he was this arrogant.

It's pretty simple to me: if the CIA withheld info from Congress, they broke the law.

This issue is never going to go away. Better to fully investigate. Otherwise we can look forward to years and years of this drip-drip-drip of revelations.
Why would anyone believe anything a pathological liar like Dick Cheney said about anything? And of course, the same R's that bitched about CIA lying in the past our now hypocritically defending the CIA simply to dump on Pelosi.

ATTENTION JOHN BONER: The CIA lies for a living.

Anyone stupid enough or brazen enough to deny that should be run out of DC on a rail, but like Boner, they'll be re-elected by the same mindless robot-zombies who re-elected the fool who wanted to be king.
It's truly terrifying for me to think how close we came to losing our freedom under the Cheney Administration. I feel it very likely that if another major terrorist attack had occurred on his watch, he would have suspended the Constitution, turned this country into a dictatorship, and launched a war against the entire Muslim world.

P.S. Who knows how many other secret programs Cheney instigated and are still operating today.
Cheney should be in jail.
I've been predicting for years that once the Bushies were out of power, all kinds of shit was going to slowly come out about stuff they did that was even worse than what we knew, and perhaps worse than what we feared. It begins....
I'm not sure I can even catch up with all these comments, folks! But thanks for the lively discussion.
Today's news are telling that it was probably against the law what Cheney did. So it might now become an issue.

I think that everybody should press her/his Congress representative so that they would press hard on the matter that they would get the information they should get.

I agree with BBE about Obama. Obama is along the path of GWB and Cheney. But some dems now disagree with Obama.

Some hopes are now Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Dick Durbin and Attorney General Eric Holder.

They are speaking about Holder's ideas of even opening a criminal probe of possible CIA torture.

Please see today's yahoo news:

It will be indeed interesting to see what Holder does. What has gotten lost in this debate (as usual) is that Obama has no business even weighing in on this matter -- by doing so he is repeating the sins (and possibly the violations of the law) of his predecessor. And if he opens his mouth about the matter if and when an investigation begins, he will be violating the law by interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation.

The decision to pursue and possibly prosecute those who engaged in or aided and abetted or authorized torture is NOT this President or any other President's to make. That decision ultimately rests with the Attorney-General who is sworn not to obey the President, but to defend the Constitution. While he is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the President, he is not the President's employee; he is employed by the people of the United States.

Unfortunately, there are far too many of those people who prefer to remain blissfully ignorant of the evil that was done in their name by the previous administration. That is of course another of the problems with a democracy, even a representative one. The people's elected representatives do all too often represent their constituents all too well in one way; they represent their ignorance and indifference.
So, um, does the death-ray take away the whole puppy…or just their souls, leaving a puppy-bag behind?

I’m glad you’re on our side, Ms. Smith. (You know, as opposed to the dark one).
This is a planned "distraction" to save Pelosi. The Dems would not be able to recover if she was publicly forced to apologize or resign. It's CYA as usual. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to make an enemy out of the CIA.
In other words- Pelosi was absolutely right when she said "They lie to us all the time". All those moron repblicans feigning shock ('There is gambling going on here? I am shocked, shocked') wil have to eat crow now.
Go to my latest posting as to how this relates to Obama's stand on preventative detention.
You have to have oversight; I am with Steve Blevins on this one.
But I do think it was not a death ray, but killing people, which in itself one could argue about.
In other words, is unloading a 2000 lb JDAM on a hut in Afghanistan more or less humane than having an operator use a knife.
I vote like John Paul Vann for the knife, but only if the Legislative and Executive branches are on the same page.
Not sure where the cuteness crept into a story on Cheney. Talk about dissonance. Probably there was a remark by someone that Cheney was a poop or was being poopy, and you somehow heard pup or puppy in the back of your mind... The kind of trick your mind plays on you if you've been mentally dogging someone for too long.
Panetta cancelled a program that never happened?
Only in the CIA.
I'm not so sure they've discovered the joys of vertebrate living. More likely the wind shifted a bit and their flags are fluttering in the direction of the latest breeze.