Secret CIA Program Sought to Find, Kill al-Qaeda Leaders

Cheney Ordered CIA to Keep Program Secret From Congress

Officials have revealed the details of a much speculated about secret CIA program revealed to Congress by director Leon Panetta last month. The program was evidently an effort to locate and kill al-Qaeda’s leadership at close range, in an attempt to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

The program was created in 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attack and was never able to turn up a single lead to any al-Qaeda leader. Panetta reportedly said there was nothing illegal or inappropriate about the program in and of itself.

The issue, rather, is that the program was kept secret by the Bush Administration, and never revealed to Congress as the law would require. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly ordered the CIA to keep the program from Congress.

Previous CIA directors reportedly agreed to keep the program a secret because its operation was “sporadic.” Though it likely was legally required to reveal the program to Congress, the revelation of the apparent futility of the program does somewhat vindicate Republican Congressmen who insisted that it wasn’t so much about withholding information from Congress, but that the program simply wasn’t worth telling them about.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.