Eshoo calls for probe of covert CIA program

Says eight-year-old program was never disclosed to Congress

U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, Thursday called for an investigation of a covert CIA program that she said ran from 2001 to June 2009 without Congressional knowledge.

CIA Director Leon Panetta informed the House Intelligence Committee June 24 that he had just learned of the eight-year-old secret program, which had never been disclosed to Congress, Eshoo said. Panetta told the committee that he ordered an end to the program as soon as he heard about it, she said.

Eshoo, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said the program is "highly classified" and declined to disclose any details about it.

"The committee was actually stunned," Eshoo told Joe Scarborough, host of the "Morning Joe" program on MSNBC.

Eshoo's remarks followed her release Wednesday of a June 26 letter she wrote Panetta asking him to "publicly correct" his May 15 statement that "it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and values." The letter was cosigned by six of Eshoo's 12 Democratic colleagues on the Intelligence Committee.

Failure to disclose the secret program, Eshoo said, "flies in the face of that in a very, very serious way. They simply do not want to acknowledge that the Congress was not fully informed. And they have an obligation under the National Security Act of 1947 in a timely way to inform Congress. So this is as serious as it gets.

"I give Leon (Panetta) credit for coming up to the Hill and informing us. He had just been informed himself."

However, Eshoo later told the Weekly, Panetta's general statement that misleading Congress is "against our laws and values" does not excuse the inconsistency that actually took place.

"It's wonderful to have a mission statement, but you need to have the actions to back them up. Otherwise, what's on the piece of paper is meaningless. When you come in and tell us about the (secret) program, those words cannot stand. They did not stand when he uttered them because there were people there that knew (about the covert program)."

Eshoo said Panetta should "retract those words or restate something."

Asked whether her disclosure was an effort to vindicate her close friend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Eshoo told MSNBC: "I don't think this is about Nancy Pelosi at all."

Pelosi's statements in May that CIA briefers had lied to her about waterboarding and other interrogation techniques was undercut by Panetta's May 15 that the CIA does not mislead Congress.

Eshoo said the secret CIA program now warrants a full investigation.

"Who set up the program? How can it be that one CIA director after another, that are now retired, and others, never informed the Congress? The full committee was absolutely stunned when we were informed a program was in place from 2001 to 2009," she said, adding the Republican committee members expressed similar concerns.

Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, also a committee member, told MSNBC he did not share Eshoo's impression of the Panetta briefing.

"I don't know we can come to the conclusion that (we) were lied to and misled," Rogers said. "These are very serious allegations. I didn't walk away and thought that had happened."

The covert program "was not a program that was continuously operated. It was 'off again, on again.'

"I think this is a little bit of political theater. Attacking the CIA to make sure the Speaker (Pelosi) looks OK at the end of the day is not the best use of our time," Rogers said.

Eshoo said she waited two weeks before publicly releasing her letter to Panetta because it originally had been classified on the advice of the committee's legal counsel. When another committee member wrote a similar letter that was not classified, she successfully argued to declassify her own.


Posted by OLDPARES, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Nice try. Everyone knows it's to protect Pelosi. Gotta love politics.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Tyranny thrives when citizens blind themselves with petty politics so they can't see the real tyranny. Go for it, Anna.

Posted by abcnew, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 9, 2009 at 4:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

So, OLDPARES, the government has no right to any secrecy? Wait til your congressman responds to criticism by publicizing your medical record. When someone is briefed but does not understand, then the briefed was not the one to receive the briefing. On the other hand, with leaks like the Walker family, the Nicholson family and Robert Hanssen, perhaps we are foolish to think we have any secrets.

Posted by Call for probe of Page Mill Props!, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Anna needs to get back down to the planet the rest of us dwell on and pretend to care about local issues - even if they may be in conflict w/what her ex does or where her personal interests may lie. Anna - get a clue - you're losing your constituency over a number of issues that you're not handling.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Frankly, it would be surprising if the CIA did not mislead the Congress. It's pretty easy to fulfill the obligation to "inform" the gang of eight without being very specific or pointing out the consequences of programs. A nice Powerpoint bullet chart can do the trick very easily. When the informed cannot discuss the presentation with anyone, they could easily miss the finer points.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:17 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Since congress has, for the last quarter century, failed to punish its members for blatant "sharing" our military and diplomatic secrets with enemies, I can understand some discretion in that sharing.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 10, 2009 at 9:54 am

This is obvious cover for Pelosi, who made a major fool of herself recently trying to explain why she did not object to waterboarding a long time ago when she was briefed. Her own party member Panetta stated she was wrong.

This new tactic could backfire and bring all her foolish accusations back under scrutiny again.

Incidentally, since our representatives by their own admission do not read the very bills they vote on, isn't it conceivable that they don't pay much attention in briefings either?

Posted by rem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 10, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I love the following comment from 16 hours ago:::::

**""Anna needs to get back down to the planet the rest of us dwell on and pretend to care about local issues - even if they may be in conflict w/what her ex does or where her personal interests may lie. Anna - get a clue - you're losing your constituency over a number of issues that you're not handling.""**

GET BACK TO LOCAL ISSUES (That is where the votes are....)

**How about a Commissary and Base Exchange at Moffett**

It would be nice if The Bay Area Congressional Delegation (8th, PELOSI, NANCY/9th, LEE, BARBARA/12th, SPEIER, JACKIE/13th, STARK, PETE/14th, ESHOO, ANNA/15TH, HONDA, MICHAEL/16TH,LOFGREN, ZOE ) *CARED*…

IT would also be nice if our Senators CARED too…..

BUT Moffett Field is in Eshoo's and Lofgren's backyard so why should anyone else really CARE….

Please do something NOW.

At Moffett Field The Bay Area Congressional Delegation and our senatorial delegation needs to make a Base Exchange/Commissary combination their FIRST priority. The Bay Area Congressional Delegation needs to ask why is DeCA and AAFES not getting assistance in securing land on/at Moffett Field.

IT can be just one word – NOW.

It is time our (?) congressional and senatorial delegation get together…

Think of what the POWER of NINE people could do IF THEY REALLY CARED..

Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

"How about a Commissary and Base Exchange at Moffett"

Reading these threads can make one dizzy. This one morphed from exposing CIA misdeeds to demands for more pork spending in less than 25 hours.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

O.K., How about a CIA exchange at Moffett?

Posted by Perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2009 at 11:36 am

I love it..yes..please..I BEG you Anna, bring out all the CIA briefings from 2001-2008 ( careful..only want the ones when Bush was Pres!!)..then call for all of them from Clinton, and be sure to make them all completely open from Obama years!.

That will do SO much good for our country's security and make great incentives for our best and brightest minds in the CIA to brainstorm and use their best judgement and wisdom!

Just like the incredibly healthy "prosecute Bush legal advisors" push by Holder...which has shut down any serious legal advise coming in now for fear the NEXT admin will call for THEIR prosecution.

Just love it. The best politics and best ideas from around the world, brought here to the USA.

Can't wait to see where we are in another 3 years.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2009 at 10:38 am

I disagree with Perspective's total trust in big government. Governments exist by the consent of the governed; tyranny results when the government becomes unaccountable.

Bush went on record favoring a dictatorship before he was even inaugurated, and he and Cheney tried to create a big, unaccountable government. Fortunately for our democracy, they were too incompetent to accomplish more than creating a bigger government.

Posted by Dick, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 12, 2009 at 10:52 am

CNN report on CIA lying to congress: Web Link

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