[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/13/obama.agenda.distractions/art.obamaserious.gi.jpg caption="President Obama is tackling a large domestic agenda at the same time as a new CIA controversy begins to brew."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Obama tries pressing ahead with his domestic agenda focused on health care and energy reform, several potential investigations threaten to steal the focus in Washington.
The most recent controversy: The revelation that Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta told House and Senate intelligence committees that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the spy agency to keep Congress in the dark for eight years about a still-secret counterterrorism program.
The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who confirmed she learned of the former vice president's order during a recent closed-door briefing by Panetta, expressed outrage.
"That's something that should never, ever happen again," Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, said on Fox News Sunday. "I think this is a problem, obviously."
A knowledgeable source familiar with the matter said the counterterrorism program in question was initiated shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The program, the source notes, was on-again, off-again and was never fully operational. Panetta has since put an end to the program, according to the source.
Efforts to contact Cheney for reaction were unsuccessful. CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano has declined to comment on the report.
David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, says that while this is the last thing the Obama administration wants to deal with, it's "starting to mushroom into a life form of its own."