From this morning's Wall Street Journal:
The precise nature of the highly classified effort isn't clear, and the CIA won't comment on its substance.
According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn't become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it.
In 2001, the CIA also examined the subject of targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, according to three former intelligence officials. It appears that those discussions tapered off within six months. It isn't clear whether they were an early part of the CIA initiative that Mr. Panetta stopped.
Back in the day "they" hoped so too. Who are "they?" Let's have a look at a few examples.
- Former Senator Tom Daschle:
Now, addressing the "Where's Osama?" question, Daschle (D-S.D.) wonders "whether or not we are winning the war" on terror.
"We can't find Bin Laden" and "we haven't made real progress in finding key elements of Al Qaeda [either]," Daschle said yesterday.
2004 Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry:
Kerry has asserted throughout the campaign that U.S. forces could have run down bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountains in late 2001 if they had gone after him on the ground, and he has blamed Bush for the decision to let Afghan forces lead that chase.
"He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden," Kerry said in an interview with WISN in Milwaukee. "He outsourced the job."
- Senator Harry Reid:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House denied on Wednesday that the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden has been downgraded after the CIA disbanded a unit set up in the 1990s to oversee the search for the al Qaeda leader.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada had cited the disbanding of the CIA unit as an example of what he called misplaced priorities in the Bush administration.
Democrats are trying to raise questions about President George W. Bush's national security policies in a bid to overturn Republican control of the U.S. Congress in November elections.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
"The fact of the matter is that Osama bin Laden is still at large, able to taunt and instill fear," Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, said Sunday on ABC. "That is a failure of the Bush administration.["]
- Oh, and also then-Senator and candidate-for-President Barack Obama:
So how he describes the toughest security struggle he will face is important.
"I think it is a top priority for us to stamp out al-Qaeda once and for all," Obama told "60 Minutes" recently. "And I think capturing or killing bin Laden is a critical aspect of stamping out al-Qaeda. He is not just a symbol; he's also the operational leader of an organization that is planning attacks against U.S. targets."
This warning followed Obama's pledge in the Oct. 7 presidential debate: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national-security priority."
Congressional Democrats are up in arms because they hadn't been fully informed of the program. But here's the key phrase, from paragraph three in the first excerpt:
That's CIA director Leon Panetta, who became director in 2009. Also, there's this:
So, as I understand it, congressional Democrats are upset at not being fully informed about a secret CIA program that was not operational and which was designed to do exactly what almost all of them publicly espoused.
Have I got that right?
7/13/09 1235: DrewM. at Ace of Spades -
This seems like nothing more than a minor skirmish in the ongoing war between CIA and people like Nancy Pelosi. The thing is by over playing this, it seems like Panetta is taking Pelosi's side.
CIA spend a lot of time and energy warring with the Bush administration. Now it looks like they are going to be fighting it out with the Democrats and their own director.
Good think we aren't at war or facing a terrorist threat or anything so we have time for this crap.