On 12th July the C.I.A. issue took a new turn. The New York Times wrote that according to the statement of Leon Panetta, the Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counter-terrorism programme on the direct order of the former Vice-President Dick Cheney. As a result, chairmen of Congress committees are getting more insistent on their summons to conduct an investigation of the matter and to find out the roles of George Bush (former US President) and Dick Cheney in it.
According to The New York Times, one of the most reputed newspapers, Leon Panetta has admitted behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives that the C.I.A. concealed “significant actions” from the Congress from 2001 until April this year. The Democratic lawmakers' letter, which they sent to Mr. Panetta, asked him to officially confirm his statement. The Washington Times informs that Mr. Leon Panetta refused to do so, saying that he was not to judge the C.I.A. activity during the period preceding his directorship.
The experts say that the Republicans countered the Democrats’ statement, saying that the latter misinterpreted Leon Panetta’s statement. Peter Hoekstra, the House Intelligence Committee's senior Republican, explained that Mr. Panetta’s statement referred only to a few C.I.A. activities and plans - at the certain stage of those activities the CIA was under no obligation to disclose the information about them to the Congress.
This matter is currently the subject of heated discussions among the politicians of USA. POLITICO, a US information portal, stated that Thomas Whalen, an associate professor of Social Sciences in Boston University, confirmed that intelligence services spend billions of US dollars and nobody controlled the expenditure. John Hostetler, a former Republican Congressman, commented that the publications make a common reader believe that the C.I.A. had indeed lied to the White House long before the start of the operation in Iraq.
Elizabeth Sherman, a lawyer, considers that Mr. Panetta’s statement makes it necessary to conduct a special hearing to find out who ordered the C.I.A. to lie to the Congress. We owe a debt of gratitude to C.I.A. director Leon Panetta, she said, for bringing this matter to the attention of the public. Julian Zelizer, a profession in Princeton University, also said that the C.I.A. must not function without control. In his view, the Congress must conduct an investigation and take appropriate measures to prevent the repetition of such instances in the future. Lanny Davis, a Democratic Party consultant, believes it necessary to find out the degree of involvement of Vice-President Dick Cheney, and, perhaps, of President George Bush as well.
The Republicans took a different stand. Bradley Blakeman, a Republican Party consultant, gave an ambiguous comment saying that if Americans believe that the C.I.A. misled the Congress intentionally, then the Congress must arrange an urgent hearing on that matter and the Ministry of Justice should conduct the investigation.
Martin Frost, a former Democratic Congressman, probably in the attempt to support his people, insisted that it is in the interest of the Congress to know “the whole story”. In his interpretation, the C.I.A. does not tell lies, but it just does not disclose the whole truth to the Congressmen, unless asked.
Anyway, this issue might become another long-term scandal in American history, and perhaps the future generations will refer to it as the “Langley-gate”.