The House Intelligence Subcommittee on Intelligence and Investigations will begin a full investigation into charges that the CIA misled Congress about a covert spy program for eight years – a probe which could put Vice President Dick Cheney front and center.
“The House Intelligence Committee will move forward with a full investigation that will explore certain CIA programs and the core issue of how the committee is kept informed,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairwoman announced in a statement issued Friday evening.
“My subcommittee will take the lead on significant portions of the investigation; we will explore instances where the Congress was not informed in a timely way and situations in which laws may have been broken.”
The investigation involves an issue that is politically loaded. Last week, the New York Times reported that Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the CIA to conceal a spy program – reportedly geared at eliminating Al Qaeda terrorists, and never in fact executed – from lawmakers.
The program supposedly came into existence in 2001 – shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. CIA Director Leon Panetta told lawmakers on the intelligence panel in late June that the agency had kept the program hidden from them – just a day after learning of the program himself, and canceling it.
"The program has been mischaracterized, in my view, as something that's barely come off the drawing board and that, you know, it was a little bit of planning, a little bit of training," Schakowsky said in an interview on Friday with Huffington Post. "I don't know a whole lot more about it, and that's why we want to do an investigation, other than to say: 'It was more.'"
Schakowsky promised Friday that her investigation into the program would be extensive and far-reaching – and she issued a warning shot to Cheney.
“We want to look very closely at every aspect of the notification process and various programs,” Schakowsky said in a statement. “If it is determined by this investigation that the Vice President of the United States ordered Congress not to be told about certain CIA programs, there is reason to believe that constitutes a significant violation of the National Security Act.”
Republicans had threatened to renew questions about what and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) knew about the CIA’s use of controversial water-boarding tactics had the intelligence panel decided to push forward with an investigation into the matter.
Pelosi came under fire earlier this year for asserting that the CIA had misled her about its use of the interrogation tactic.