LIAR, LIAR PANTS
The Plan was “Almost Activated”. Either it WAS ACTIVATED or it WAS NOT ACTIVATED. Since it was JUST a plan, then NO CRIME WAS COMMITTED, because there WAS NO ACTION TAKEN.
….top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, yesterday defended Panetta’s decision to cancel the program, which he said had raised serious questions among intelligence officials about its “effectiveness, maturity and the level of control.”
But Blair broke with some Democrats in Congress by asserting that the CIA did not violate the law when it failed to inform lawmakers about the secret program until last month. Blair said agency officials may not have been required to notify Congress about the program, though he believes they should have done so.
“It was a judgment call,” Blair said in an interview. “We believe in erring on the side of working with the Hill as a partner.”
The plan to deploy small teams of assassins grew out of the CIA’s early efforts to battle al-Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A secret document known as a “presidential finding” was signed by President George W. Bush that same month, granting the agency broad authority to use deadly force against bin Laden as well as other senior members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The finding imposed no geographical limitations on the agency’s actions, and intelligence officials have said that they were not obliged to notify Congress of each operation envisaged under the directive.
The CIA declined to reveal specifics of the terminated program. But agency spokesman George Little said it was “never fully operational and never took a single terrorist off the battlefield.” Since his appointment, Panetta has been “aggressively using the vast tools and tactics at our disposal — those that actually work — to take terrorists off the streets,” Little said.
Some U.S. officials familiar with the program say it never progressed beyond concepts and feasibility studies, but others described more advanced preparations, including selection of teams and limited training. All of the attempts ultimately had to be scrapped, often because of logistical difficulties or because the risks were deemed too great, said several officials who served in counterterrorism units or had access to top-secret files.
The program was active in fits and starts, and it was essentially killed in 2004 because it was deemed ineffective, former and current intelligence officials said. It reemerged briefly in 2005 but remained largely dormant until this year. Two U.S. officials with detailed knowledge of current CIA operations said the agency presented Panetta last month with new plans for moving forward with training for potential members of the assassination teams — activities that would have involved “crossing international boundaries,” in the words of a former counterterrorism official briefed on the matter.
“When a CIA unit brought the program to Panetta’s attention, it came with a recommendation to brief Congress since there was some thought being given to moving toward a somewhat more operational phase — that is, a little training,” said an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the events.
Despite the new activity surrounding the program, there were “concerns about its feasibility,” the official said. “If the country ever needs a capability like this going forward, smart minds will figure out a better way to do it.”
Blair said that Panetta told him in advance of the decision to terminate the program and that he supported the action as well as the decision to inform Congress.