Guantanamo Bay contained "the worst of a very bad lot," according to Dick Cheney—and it was from this pool that CIA teams handpicked potential double agents, anonymous officials tell the AP. The program at Gitmo's "Penny Lane" facility, a secret cluster of eight cottages near Gitmo's admin offices, began in early 2003 and ended in 2006. Dozens of detainees were put up in Penny Lane's hotel-like accommodations (which came complete with TV, actual bed, and patio, and, upon request, porn) and screened for the program. Only a handful were granted entry: They signed deals with the CIA then headed home, where they were to attempt to restore ties to al-Qaeda and provide information to the US. Their exact pay is unclear, but as a group, the double agents were paid millions from a secret CIA account.
The program helped the CIA track down kill many al-Qaeda leaders, the officials say, though some of the double agents ended contact with the agency. Officials were willing to take the risk that those selected could end up killing Americans, the AP notes, though none of the officials who spoke to the AP were aware of any case in which that occurred. Still, as the report puts it: "At the same time the government used the risk of terrorism to justify imprisoning people indefinitely, it was releasing dangerous people from prison to work for the CIA." Click for the full piece. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)