No Comment — July 15, 2009, 12:37 pm

More on Cheney’s Pet CIA Project

Here’s some more choice discussion on the CIA program that isn’t a program, certainly never was implemented, that Congress knew all about through some process of telepathic communication, and that has no relationship of any sort to Dick Cheney:

Time Magazine’s Bobby Ghosh:

Two former CIA officials tell TIME there’s another, somewhat less dramatic, possibility: a plan to conduct domestic surveillance. Spying on Americans is outside the CIA’s purview and would be highly controversial — good enough reason for Cheney to want it kept under wraps.

Seymour Hersh says “I told you so” in a discussion with Benjamin Sarlin at the Daily Beast:

“I said what I said, they can always say what they say,” Hersh told The Daily Beast. “The last time they said the government doesn’t torture; this time it’s the government doesn’t assassinate.” Hersh said that his words in Minnesota were exaggerated in the press, because he had previously reported on covert operations that he alleged were out of Congress’ view. In February 2005, he published a report that the president had authorized Donald Rumsfeld to organize special operations in South Asia and the Middle East without going through the CIA, and thus having to report them to Congress. In July 2005, he wrote that the White House circumvented Nancy Pelosi to organize covert operations led by retired CIA officers and non-government personnel to influence the Iraqi elections.

“In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush administration’s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals,” he wrote in the July 2005 piece. “This allowed the administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders.”

Newsweek’s Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball meanwhile portray the non-program in terms of an Israeli model that will be familiar to viewers of the Steven Spielberg film “Munich”:

Officials of the CIA’s undercover spying branch, then known as the Directorate of Operations, on and off over the last several years repeatedly floated and revised plans for such operations, which would involve sending squads of operatives overseas, sometimes into friendly countries, to track and assassinate Al Qaeda leaders, much the same way Israeli Mossad agents sent assassins to Europe to kill men they believed responsible for murdering Israeli Olympic athletes, the former official said. But several former and current officials said the highly classified plans, which last week provoked bitter argument between Congress and the CIA, never became “fully operational,” and CIA Director Leon Panetta put an end to the program in June.

And in an appearance on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff at the State Department, gives us the lowdown on how he and his boss slowly came to learn about the assassinations program that wasn’t a program:

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