House, Senate consider CIA probes

July 13, 2009 at 10:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. House Intelligence Committee is considering whether to investigate charges the CIA hid a spy program from Congress, congressional aides said.

Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, sent a letter Monday to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., the ranking Republican on the committee, asking his opinion on whether an investigation should be undertaken, Politico reported Monday.

The New York Times reported late Monday the program in question -- in development since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks -- would have had the CIA send small teams to other nations to kill senior al-Qaida figures. Citing present and former government officials, the newspaper said the plans were never specific and were never executed.

The push for a congressional inquiry comes after an article appearing in Saturday's Times that former Vice President Dick Cheney directed CIA leaders to withhold information from Congress. The newspaper said CIA Director Leon Panetta notified members of the House and Senate intelligence panels in June that Cheney ordered information about a surveillance program be withheld from Congress.

As Reyes considers whether to initiate an investigation, pressure is mounting among senators to do the same, the Washington publication reported.

"(The) failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees of the program prior to last month was a violation of the National Security Act," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday. "And individuals who ordered that Congress be kept in the dark should be held accountable."

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