Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to withhold information from Congress about a secret counterterrorism program for 8 years, CIA chief Leon Panetta has told congressional intelligence committees. The revelation, leaked by two intelligence insiders to the New York Times, serves the latest volley in the fierce dispute over how fully CIA officers briefed Congress on sensitive anti-terror operations.
Last month, Panetta ended the program, which intelligence and congressional officials insist wasn’t fully operational, and didn’t involve CIA interrogations or domestic spying. Cheney has been the Bush administration’s most ardent defender of covert government action, frustrating FBI agents and taking his fight to the Supreme Court. Federal law allows some leeway, but requires the president to inform Congress of intelligence activities.