Per the NYT’s Scott Shane, today:
. . .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 law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees “are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.” But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done “to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters.”
In addition, for covert action programs, a particularly secret category in which the role of the United States is hidden, the law says that briefings can be limited to the so-called Gang of Eight, consisting of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and of their intelligence committees.
The disclosure about Mr. Cheney’s role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general’s report underscored the central role of the former vice president’s office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency’s program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort. . .
A report released on Friday . . . makes clear that Mr. Cheney’s legal adviser, David S. Addington, had to personally approve every government official who was told about the program. The report said “the exceptionally compartmented nature of the program” frustrated F.B.I. agents who were assigned to follow up on tips it turned up.
High-level N.S.A. officials who were responsible for ensuring that the surveillance program was legal, including the agency’s inspector general and general counsel, were not permitted by Mr. Cheney’s office to read the Justice Department opinion that found the eavesdropping legal, several officials said. . .
I am truly hopeful, again, that Eric Holder will take aim directly at Dick Cheney’s lawlessness.
Disgusting. But nothing we didn’t already know — at least those of us who’ve followed it closely for the last four-plus years.
UPDATED @ 11:00 PM EDT:
The Los Angeles Times is running CIA quotes calling agency proponents would-be “Jason Bourne” types:
. . .Some former high-level CIA officials said they remained puzzled about which program could be at the center of the budding controversy.
“A lot of people thought they were Jason Bourne and came up with ideas,” said a former senior CIA officer, referring to the fictional super-spy. “There were programs that were kind of wild that were considered in 2001. . .”
It would all be rather droll, if we hadn’t tortured people over stuff like this; and lied our way into a quagmire in Iraq over it, as well.