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The Hill

Rep. Eshoo Wants House Probe of CIA Program

Jordy Yager

WASHINGTON - A senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee (D-Calif.) is calling for a probe into a canceled CIA program kept secret from Congress.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said the Intelligence panel should find out where funding for the program originated and who directed the CIA not to inform Congress of its existence.

"We, by no means, have the full story," Eshoo said in an interview Sunday.

"We don't know who gave the order. We don't know where the money came from. We don't know all the people who were involved.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Democrats have been told by CIA Director Leon Panetta that former Vice President Dick Cheney called on the CIA not to tell Congress of the program.

"We need a full investigation," Eshoo continued. "My preference is that we hire an attorney to come in and run this, someone that is known for their prosecutorial knowledge as well as their knowledge of this particular area of the law."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also called on congressional panels to investigate the matter Sunday during an appearance on ABC's "This Week."

Details about the eight-year CIA program are unclear, as members are refusing to disclose specifics about it. Still, several have referred to it as a serious program, and members of both parties have said Congress should have been informed.

Eshoo would not confirm or deny Cheney's involvement, but called for a full prosecution of whoever was found to be responsible, saying that she hoped fellow members would not shirk the task for partisan reasons.

"Once facts are established, if in fact laws have been broken, then one individual or more should be prosecuted," she said. "I think Congress has to have the stomach for this."

Durbin also said it could have been illegal to keep the program from Congress. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Sunday that CIA Director Leon Panetta told members of the Intelligence panels that Cheney had told the agency not to inform Congress.

"This was purposefully concealed from Congress from 2001 to 2009, so it's not just the story that breaks, but the Congress has to have the stomach to do the right thing, regardless of who it is," Eshoo said.

Eshoo is one of seven panel members who sent a letter to Panetta last month asking him to publicly recant his previous statement that it is not the CIA's "policy or practice to mislead Congress" in light of his more recent testimony that revealed the CIA's concealment of information from members.

Eshoo said that her calls for an investigation were not simply to punish those in violation of the National Security Act, which requires the CIA to completely inform Congress. She said the CIA's actions had jeopardized her congressional responsibilities.

"This goes to the heart of the work of our responsibility on this committee," she said of not being informed by the CIA. "We can not do our work unless the Agency is forthcoming, the National Security Act calls for that to completely and fully inform Congress. Now, if you don't have the information, how can you shape policy?"

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