Reyes to Launch Full Investigation Into CIA Program

Posted July 17, 2009 at 1:42pm

Updated: 4:45 p.m.House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) said Friday his committee will launch a full-blown investigation into how and why the CIA kept Congress in the dark on a program to assassinate terrorist masterminds — a probe that could involve a look at the role of former Vice President Dick Cheney. There will be “many meetings— at the full committee level and at the subcommittee level, Reyes promised. He would not confirm any details about the nature of the CIA program, though some have been revealed in media reports.The committee first got wind of the program in late June, when CIA Director Leon Panetta dropped a bombshell: In his first appearance before the panel, he testified that his agency has repeatedly concealed information and misled lawmakers since 2001. Since then, new details have emerged that suggest Cheney directed the CIA to keep the program hidden from Congress.Reyes said he wasn’t sure if the full committee would begin holding hearings before the August recess because the panel is still collecting documents. But the Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), can begin having hearings “whenever they want,— he said.Reyes said he is hoping for a bipartisan agreement with ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) on the parameters of the hearings. But if not, “I will make a unilateral decision,— Reyes said.Reyes later issued a statement specifying that the panel will look into possible violations of federal law, namely the National Security Act. The committee, he said, will look at the activities of the secret CIA program and “whether there was any past decision or direct to withhold that information from the Committee.—Hoekstra responded with an angry statement about Reyes moving forward with an investigation before the two of them could reach a bipartisan agreement on the scope of the review.“That we could not even agree on something as basic as issuing a joint press release despite my earlier, positive discussions with the Chairman does not give me much confidence,— Hoekstra said.“Republicans believe the CIA should be focused on countering threats and preventing the next attack, not fending off political attacks from Congress. We are willing to fully support any bipartisan review that is fair and thorough and will not become a distraction for the men and women of the Agency,— Hoekstra added.