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CIA Silent on Secret Plan Targeting al-Qaeda

Tuesday, 14 Jul 2009 07:54 AM

WASHINGTON – The CIA refused Monday to comment on reports that it had drawn up a top secret plan to kill members of the Al-Qaeda terror network, a program which was then halted by new CIA boss Leon Panetta.

"We are not commenting on the substance of the effort," George Little, spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, told AFP.

After reports over the weekend that former vice president Dick Cheney had tried to hide a secret CIA program from Congress, the Wall Street Journal alleged Monday that the plan was to capture or kill Al-Qaeda operatives.

Details remained vague, the Journal said, but funding had already been allocated to training CIA operatives before Panetta learned of it and pulled the plug.

"It was straight out of the movies," a former intelligence official told the Journal. "It was like: Let's kill them all."

He added that in fact neither Cheney nor former president George W. Bush supported such an operation, and the idea seemed to run out of steam after about six months.

The New York Times -- which first broke the story about Cheney's alleged role -- reported Panetta ended the program when he first learned of it on June 23.

Angry Democratic lawmakers on Sunday accused Cheney of abusing power by ordering the CIA to withhold information from Congress about the program.

But Little said that "a candid dialogue with Congress is very important to the director... and the agency."

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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