CIA Sought to Launch Paramilitary Assassin Units

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2009 3:32 AM CDT
NATO troops observe an Afghan village during a search for insurgents.    (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
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(Newser) – The CIA program kept secret from lawmakers and canceled by Leon Panetta last month sought to establish paramilitary units to take out al-Qaeda leaders, former intelligence officials tell the Los Angeles Times. The officials say that while the program was never made operational, CIA chiefs continued to work on plans for it as recently as a year ago.

The program remained on the drawing board even after the Predator emerged as a potent weapon against al-Qaeda leaders, officials say. Panetta hasn't ruled out reviving the program or one like it, according to officials, but he will brief Congress before doing so. "He's an aggressive proponent of counter-terrorism, pushing tools and tactics that work and have the support to be sustainable," one official said of the CIA director. "This one didn't."