U.S. House panel to probe into CIA's assassination program

July 17, 2009 10:13 pm 

WASHINGTON, July 18 — A U.S. House panel will probe into an assassination program against al-Qaida leaders which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been hiding from the Congress for 8 years, the panel's head said Friday.

Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat from Texas who chairs the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the investigation will determine if it was illegal for the CIA to conceal the program from the Congress.

He argued that according to the law, the CIA should inform both the House and Senate intelligence committees about significant intelligence programs like the assassination program.

The program was designed after the 9/11 attacks when then President George W. Bush signed a secret order authorizing the CIA to capture or kill al-Qaida members.

However, the Congress had been kept in the dark on the matter until the new CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed it to the Congress at a secret briefing on June 24.

Panetta himself only knew of the program on June 23.

Democrats in the Congress are furious that they had been kept in dark on the issue for so long and are even more furious that the CIA decided to conceal the program at the time under the instruction from then Vice President Dick Cheney.

Some Democratic lawmakers had threatened to sue those held responsible for the concealment. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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