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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Assassination Capability

by digby

The Washington Times reports a little detail on Cheney's secret CIA program:

The official, who asked not to be named because of the classified nature of the program, said that the decision to keep the details of the program secret in the past was made in part because the program remained "in the capability stage," meaning it had been developed but not necessarily implemented.

"These activities lasted, if you will, for years," this official said. "There were other conversations about whether this should be taken to Congress. The same decision was made again by senior officials at the time."

The New York Times first reported on its Web site Saturday that the program was concealed from Congress at the direction of Mr. Cheney, who was and remains a strong proponent of harsh measures to prevent terrorist attacks. The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed source, reported that Mr. Cheney had directed the CIA not to inform Congress about the program.

An official told The Washington Times that Mr. Cheney "was one official out of a select few who was aware of the program." Mr. Tenet was another, he said.

The exact nature of the program remains a mystery. This official hinted that the secret program involved assassinations overseas but declined to provide further details.

Another intelligence official, who also spoke on the condition that he not be named, said the classified program was known as an SAP, or special access program.

SAPs are intelligence activities that are so secret that even officers with the highest intelligence clearances do not know about them, and their access is reserved for only the most senior officials and officers directly working on the activities.

I don't think the Washington Times is carrying water for liberal conspiracy theorists these days, so there's no reason to believe this report isn't accurate, at least to the extent that some officials did say these things. So the assassination squad story is actually looking like a real possibility. Even Pete Hoekstra now admits that it was something that would only have been approved in the immediate aftermath of 9/11(which reinforces the fact that we were being led at the time by a bunch of pants wetting panic artists) which only raises the question of why it was kept going, even in the planning stages, until this year.

And why did Panetta only learn of this in late June, especially if former chief Tenet was one of the few who knew about it? Are there any other super secret programs they haven't told the CIA chief about yet? Did his immediate predecessor know?

Update: The Wall St Journal is reporting some more detail on the story. Apparently, it was assassination plots to kill al Qaeda. Bsince ut it wasn't operational after eight years and was highly secret, I have to wonder if it wasn't some kind of kooky plan to kill from space or some shit. Why else would Pete Hoekstra say it was something that could only be hatched in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and wouldn't pass muster today? He and everybody else in Washington would think assassinating al Qaeda was a good idea if they came up with it this morning.

I'd be surprised if this is the whole story.