July 16th, 2009
10:27 AM ET
9 years ago

CIA claims disputed program was 'never fully operational'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A counterterrorism program the CIA concealed from Congress was never put into full effect and played no significant role in the conflict with al-Qaeda and other extremists, the CIA said Thursday.

"The program (CIA Director Leon Panetta) killed was never fully operational and never took a single terrorist off the battlefield," CIA spokesman George Little said in a written statement.

"Those are facts he shared with Congress. We've had a string of successes against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, and that program didn't contribute to any of them."

At issue is Panetta's testimony in June to a congressional committee that he was told former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the intelligence agency to withhold information about the secret program from Congress. Several key Senate and House Democrats have argued Cheney acted inappropriately in issuing such an order.

Panetta terminated the program when he found out about it last month.

Panetta briefed lawmakers on June 24 on the unspecified program, according to a publicly released letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta. The June 26 letter characterized Panetta as testifying that the CIA "concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week."

The letter contained no details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed or how they purportedly misled members of Congress.

–CNN's Pam Benson contributed to this report.

Filed under: CIA • Congress • Leon Panetta
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Hypothetically speaking, how would you react if BIDEN is doing the same thing?

    July 16, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. jrzshor

    obama should enlist us all into the cia. that way, everyone can be informed. we won't need congress to tell us.

    July 16, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. Mike in MN

    What a lame attempt to try and protect Pelosi. Even if this had been operational it would not clear Pelosi on terrorist interogation briefings.

    The only way for Pelosi to be cleared is to release details of exactly what see was briefed by the CIA and when. My guess the details would expose her as a lying.

    And the fact that the counterterrorsism program was never operational fails to make a case by Pelosi that the CIA lied about any activity it was involved in that was in fact operational.

    July 16, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. AlwaysThinking

    Nationalism is our answer!! It all comes down to trust, and I didn't and don't trust the CheneyBush Admimistration as far as I can throw them.

    – They lied to take us to war;
    – They held secret meetings with energy companies to create national energy policy
    – They called anyone who disagreed with them traitors and un-American
    – Tthey presided over the worst economic collapse in American history
    – Tthey touted "family values" while activiely promoting division and hate
    – They gave Medals of Freedom to incompetent ignoramouses (Tenant) and nicknames to inept nincompoops (Heckuva Job, Brownie!)

    We need to get to the bottom of all the messes Cheney and Bush created, in an effort to keep it all from happening again.

    July 16, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  5. AlwaysThinking

    Baffled: Catch a clue. The program was illegal – period. It doesn't matter if it was "fully-operational" or not.

    And, BTW, if you posted comments that didn't devolve into your paranoid rants about our country "going Islam," maybe people would actually give your ideas some serious thought and not just fall over laughing.

    July 16, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. AlwaysThinking

    So the program was illegal, it was never fully-operational and never brought in any terrorists.

    Sounds like something Cheney would cook up ... moron!

    July 16, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    The question is was it operational at all?(more or less fully?) What then did the current CIA Director stop?What does the law say about it? What exactly are the Repubs trying to hide?

    Besides what constitutional rights did Cheney have to give orders to the CIA? Yea,so many questions to answer.

    July 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. In her first policies response, Sarah palin flip-floped her position on "cap and trade" during the campaign and now.

    You are a liar. The story you told yesterday about a major of the U.S Army refusing to go to Afghanistan is a complete lie. The guy volonteers to go to war,and it's the only reason the Pentagon let him go after the lawsuit. He got kicked out of his job as a contractor for the pentagon because his actions were politically motivated.
    We are here for accurate information, if not we would be watching fox liar news.
    Dick should be investigated and sent to jail, period.

    July 16, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Torch


    First of all....YOU don't need to know.

    Second of all, Congress, especially Democrats, cannot be trusted with secrets of any kind. See Nancy Pelosi.

    This do nothing Liberal DEM Congress has no right to any info.

    This is nothing but a diversion tactic because Obama and his administration is an abject failure.

    July 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. Girogeezer CA

    You can divert, rationalize, convolute, and obscure the minor details to your heart's content but one irrefutable fact remains: Cheney misinterpreted the powers of his office and directed officials of the CIA to illegally withhold crucial operational information from Congress.

    July 16, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. GOP = Party of Tolerance

    Cheney's illegal secret assassination squad was a complete failure. Not a single terrorist was taken out. This is undisputed fact.

    July 16, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Cindy

    This country is based on the rule of "LAW". We have laws,rules and regulations, to ensure the seperation of power among the three divisions of government, this is supposed to make sure this type of situation doesn't occur. This country was hijacked for 8 years, and ultimately had a dictator running it, without the oversight of the Congress, or anyone else.. If we continue down this path, of disregarding our laws, we will become a third world country. If you allow the Congress, President, Cia, etc... to disobey the laws, you then open the door for the police to detain, torture, search etc,,, without following the law..... For goodness sakes America, wake up and smell the fear......we are losing our freedoms when we allow anyone to disregard our laws!!!!

    July 16, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Billy Ray Valentine -- Capricorn

    What's sad is, the Bush Administration tried to politicize every aspect of our government and it's like they're getting a free pass. Where was the cry for tyranny and socialism these past eight years? Oh, I forgot, they had everyone preoccupied with war propaganda.

    We lost what America stands for during the Bush Administration, politics as usual.

    July 16, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Steph

    Cheney lied to congress about a program that killed people and wasn't effective! Enough said. Hey, where is that guy who was on every news program defending his policies and telling us that our current president isn't keeping us safe?!?! Hmmm, why is he making his daughter defend him? Coward!

    July 16, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
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