C.I.A. plotted to assassinate al-Qaeda figures

Cheney ordered the agency to keep the details of the secret program from U.S. lawmakers


Current and former U.S. government confirmed to the New York Times the C.I.A. had preliminary plans to dispatch paramilitary teams of assassins to kill al Qaeda figures around the globe. Despite running into legal, logistical and diplomatic obstacles, the spy agency reportedly kept the plans alive under pressure from the Bush administration. Current C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta shut the program down the day before he told the two Congressional Intelligence Committees it had been kept hidden from elected officials under orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney. The Times’ sources say no one involved with the program, which was devised in the wake of 9/11, ever submitted a specific operation for approval by the White House.

The New York Times

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C.I.A. plotted to assassinate al-Qaeda figures

  1. And this is news how?

  2. This has been the biggest dog bites man story I have seen in a long time.

    CIA keeps secrets! CIA wants to kill Bin Laden and other assorted bad characters!

    I would have been more shocked if they didn't have a program to try and assassinate bin Laden and his cronies.

  3. I see nothing wrong with a country wanting to kill an enemy that has declared hostile actions, particularly when that enemy is not a leader of a recognized country. The Obama has abandoned the security of the US (and by extension Canada and Europe) by playing into the Senate Democrats and their clearly partisan attacks. Thank you George Bush for the clear message you sent to terrorists and those who would put Westerns at risk. I certainly don't feel safe under The Obama

  4. The difficulty with assassination is that it opens up the door for similar tactics to be used on yourself, without any sort of moral recourse. In wartime, such as the US is right now with Al Qaeda, from what I have seen, it's only considered assassination if it's done using treacherous means, with a distinction between treacherous and surprising. So if we go about using assassination, we can't turn around and claim Al Qaeda is wrong for doing so themselves.

    Of course, complicating this is that it's against a U.S. executive order for them to be engaged in assassination at all. ie, Cheney's actions were illegal, and may be considered war crimes. I'm not addressing whether that's how it should be or not, but that is how it is.

    • "According to an October 21, 2001, Washington Post article, President Bush in September of last year signed an intelligence "finding" instructing the CIA to engage in "lethal covert operations" to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization." CNN, November 2 2002

      I was looking around to see what the exec order said exactly about assassinations and found a good CNN article that explains it. At the very end of the column is the paragraph above and it made me wonder if they are referring to the 'secret' program that we just learned about and was recently canceled.

      As for assassination, the exec order says: "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." I am guessing there will be disagreement about what 'political assassination' means but I am sure CIA/Bush would spin it as bin Laden is not a pol so he can be targeted.

  5. So Obama's okaying of Predator strikes against Taliban leaders in Pakistan is illegal under US law and a war crime?

    • No. It's well known by the international community that the US is at war with the Taliban.
      As such, attacks that involve surprise (such as Predators) are not illegal, it's considered part of the risks of being at war.

      In wartime, it is a treacherous targeted killing, such as having an agent disguised their cook poisoning their food.

  6. The scandal is that the program was SHUT DOWN before the thinking ever made it to implementation. Since September 2001 the plan has been to hunt down Al Qaeda leadership and kill 'em. It boggles the mind that the CIA was not actively participating in that program.

    And I am of two minds over the tell-Congress bit. The leaks this week just prove how untrustworthy many congresscritters really are. But the whining over "nobody told me" is a pathetic cover for Pelosi's lies over her enhanced interrogation approval years ago. It never made it to an operational level, so what exactly was there to tell them?