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CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very serious" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky says.
July 10, 2009 10:15 AM   Subscribe

CIA Chief Panette ends "very serious" program hidden during Bush years from Congress CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very serious" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday. Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is considering an investigation. "The program is a very, very serious program and certainly deserved a serious debate at the time and through the years," Schakowsky told The Associated Press in an interview. "But now it's over."
posted by pallen123 (179 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmmm. Seems serious.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN- oh fuck it I quit
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is it aliens? Oh fuck I hope it's aliens.
posted by enn at 10:20 AM on July 10, 2009 [50 favorites]


I'm getting mighty sick of this 'it's over now, don't worry about it' meme the U.S. government is trumpeting since Obama was elected.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:21 AM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I applied to work from one of the CIA's "absolutely frivolous" programs, but I guess their budget got cut.
posted by GuyZero at 10:21 AM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


GuyZero, send a resume to the "sketchy and kind of scary and definitely over the line" department. They always have openings.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:23 AM on July 10, 2009


Hmmm. Seems serious.

Maybe it's the ironic kind of serious, if the press keeps putting "very serious" in quotes. Maybe Yahoo! News is being sarcastic: "Oh yeah, this is `very serious', alright." And then the journalists and editors in the back room start snickering.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


This should be a journalism student project: write 1000 words on a secret project about which no details are known.
posted by smackfu at 10:24 AM on July 10, 2009 [39 favorites]


Surely this...
posted by !Jim at 10:26 AM on July 10, 2009


It was serious, some say very serious. But now its over. The rest is classified.
posted by memebake at 10:26 AM on July 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


My first thought reading the text of this post was "oh no, a newbie has posted a link to an Onion article. I wonder why the mods haven't deleted already. Huh... pallen123 isn't a newbie." And then I noticed that he link goes to news.yahoo.com.

I still can't believe that's a real news report.
posted by Kattullus at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yay!
posted by grobstein at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2009


So Pelosi still doesn't get to tell the GOP to "suck it" just yet?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2009


You can't handle the seriousness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:30 AM on July 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


"We've done something horrible. Very horrible."

"What?"

"We can't tell you."

"Why not?"

"It's just too... horrible. Too horrible for words."

"So why are you telling me?"

"Oh, because we've stopped now. Don't you feel better?"
posted by absalom at 10:31 AM on July 10, 2009 [66 favorites]


Is it aliens? Oh fuck I hope it's aliens.

It seems to be Seriuns.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:31 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Carnivore 2.0

Has to be.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 10:32 AM on July 10, 2009


Vague speculation is vague.
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on July 10, 2009


Try back later!
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on July 10, 2009


"But now it's over."

oh good, now we can all stop worrying.

I'm having a really hard time putting my moral outrage into words.
posted by killy willy at 10:33 AM on July 10, 2009


Paging Jason Bourne to the white courtesy phone, please. Jason Bourne to the white courtesy phone.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 AM on July 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


Can someone explain this post using a long series of boxes?
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Its almost impossible to write a serious comment about this undoubtedly serious bit of news, due to a vagueness overload.
posted by memebake at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad we've stopped doing serious things and can now turn to the future with a light heart.
posted by DU at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm getting mighty sick of this 'it's over now, don't worry about it' meme the U.S. government is trumpeting since Obama was elected.

Well, this was always the poison pill that the Bush admin handed on to Obama. Personally, I'm rather sicker of the petulant whining from the left "why hasn't Obama simply pulled all the troops out without a second thought for the consequences; why doesn't he just declassify every single covert action the US Govt. has ever taken immediately; why doesn't he just let everybody in Guantanamo go immediately, no questions asked!" and on and on and on. The man's been given a series of problems from fucking hell. The solution to those problems is not to ensure a massive Republican tidal wave in 2010 and a Republican presidency in 2012.

Oh, and if you're itching to come back with "well, the solution isn't to just carry on the exact same policies as Bush!" please stop and think for just one second about what this news report is actually telling us, as well as what it isn't.
posted by yoink at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2009 [56 favorites]


Schakowsky, who chairs the Intelligence subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said in a Thursday letter to Reyes that the CIA's lying was systematic and inexcusable.
*gasp* NO!
posted by 256 at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2009


free the betelgeuse 6!!
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Was it a secret robotics program, code named "Caribou Barbie"?
posted by orme at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2009 [19 favorites]


Yeah memebake, seriously.

Oh wait! Just read this headline in the NY Times:

Doings Afoot in US, Other Countries

Could it be related?
posted by Mister_A at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sounds like they're "taking it seriously".
posted by Simon Barclay at 10:41 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, a forklift driver is transporting a large, sealed wooden crate to its final resting place in an impossibly large government warehouse filled with similar crates...
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:42 AM on July 10, 2009 [31 favorites]


Huffington Post has a few more details:

"It was a intelligence-collection activity run by the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, officials said. It was not a covert action, which by law would have required a presidential finding and a report to Congress."

"A Bush administration official told the paper he was certain that, if the nature of the program could be revealed, it would be seen as 'no big deal.'"
posted by memebake at 10:42 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The secret code word is "serious".

Maybe this is the dreaded "Project Yahoo Serious" in which we reprogram Australians to do covert Crocodile Dundee imitations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


OH GOD THE CIA WAS BUILDING IT'S OWN SEGWAY!!!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:43 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen, mistakes have been made. Things have happened. Some things were worse than others, while others were better than some. Nevertheless, things did happen. Serious things. Things which should have been taken more seriously but weren't.

As director of the CIA, it's my job to take those serious things and to give them the kind of serious attention that we may or may not give to other things which may or may not exist. Congress has some input on some of these things too. We will work with congress to pay close attention to some of these things in the future.

That being said, it is important as always to not dwell on the mistakes of the past but to focus on the possibilities of the future. As always, the CIA is first and foremost committed to protecting America against bad things created by other people. We take these threats seriously and sometimes it becomes necessary to make our own things to counteract the things of others. There is no doubt in my mind that through judicious use of things and their serious study, America will be defended from enemy things in the medium to near term.

Thank you.

[redacted]
Real Director, CIA.
posted by Avenger at 10:44 AM on July 10, 2009 [17 favorites]


Maybe it's a typo. Maybe they meant "very Sirius" (mind-control via satellite radio).
posted by amyms at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2009


There once was a man from [REDACTED]
Whose policies XXXXXXX enacted.
Through a [CLASSIFIED] clause
They [TOP SECRET] the laws,
And had all of their honor extracted.
posted by The White Hat at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2009 [175 favorites]


Some things were worse than others, while others were better than some.

Additionally, Agent Smiths noted that "Some girls are big than others. Some girls are bigger than other girls' brothers."
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not going to take direction from Bush administration officials as to what qualifies as 'no big deal'. For them to say they've terminated the program but not to announce what it is seems mighty strange. Intelligence-collection activity that they don't want to make public… systematic and intentional spying on Americans?

"Current and former administration officials familiar with the program said it was not directly related to previously disclosed high-priority programs such as detainee interrogations or the warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists on U.S. soil." That doesn't say unrelated, it says not directly related. Hmm.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 10:48 AM on July 10, 2009


"We can't tell you."

"Why not?"

"It's just too... horrible. Too horrible for words."


My great-grandmother was in the John Birch society back in the day. She came back from a meeting all charged up on time and told my mother all about what the speaker had said. He had gone on and on, apparently, about the "unspeakable things" the Soviets did to women.

"What sorts of things?" my mom asked.

"Unspeakable things!" great-grandma replied.

"Well, like what?"

"Unspeakable things!"

"Can you give me an example?" mom asked again.

"Well, no, he wouldn't speak about them."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:49 AM on July 10, 2009 [9 favorites]


OK, I'll collate some facts and we can start guessing:

- it was an intelligence gathering program
- it began after 9/11, so probably in response to 9/11
- it was on again, off again over the years, and "never really went operational"

Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?
posted by memebake at 10:50 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


why doesn't he just let everybody in Guantanamo go immediately, no questions asked!

As an Obama voter, and an Obama critic, I think you're being pretty deceitful, yoink. Has anyone here just said, for real, "just let them all go?" Most of us think that people should not be held indefinitely without trial, in accordance with the Constitution. There is a big difference between getting a trial and "just letting everyone go," and it's sad you feel the need to lie about people's opinions here.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:51 AM on July 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


First of all, you had the president that acted like a violent drunk on bender. Now we have the wife shushing the curious children, "oh, it's OK sweeties, it wasn't that bad. Stop bringing that stuff up honey, it's all in the past now. You want the future to be happy, don't you?"
posted by stinkycheese at 10:52 AM on July 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whatever this program was, it probably ended with Dick Cheney chortling and rolling around on a big pile of money.
posted by marxchivist at 10:52 AM on July 10, 2009 [18 favorites]


Maybe this secret program was a fourth season of Arrested Development. I demand it be unclassified immediately.
posted by snofoam at 10:54 AM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Operation XXXXX is getting serious.
posted by Mister_A at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Intelligence-collection activity that they don't want to make public… systematic and intentional spying on Americans?

In all seriousness: the tone of the article, the odd mention of it "not being a covert activity" (then why isn't it public? WTF?) and the quote from the Bush Admin official ("It's no big deal") lead me to believe that it was some kind of mass phone or internet-monitoring program which, by it's very nature, collected information on millions of Americans along with the swarthy foreigners.

The former Bush officials are going to argue that anything flying over the internets tubes is public information, akin to talking on a street corner, so that you can't really complain if The Ear intercepts every other email you send to check for shishkabob recipes or other signs of disloyalty.
posted by Avenger at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another post at the Huffington Post, and the first bit of speculation I've found anywhere ... they speculate it might be (a) Waterboarding or (b) an 'Executive Assasination Ring' reporting directly to Cheney.
posted by memebake at 10:56 AM on July 10, 2009


anyone else got any guesses?

Toturing people for info?

Like they said, no big deal.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:56 AM on July 10, 2009


A Bush administration official told the paper he was certain that, if the nature of the program could be revealed, it would be seen as 'no big deal.'"

I shudder to think what a "no big deal" is to Cheney. Or what, for that matter, would constitute a big deal.
posted by jokeefe at 10:58 AM on July 10, 2009


I think it was a secret plot to get H. Chavez to go hunting with Dick Cheney.

Operation: Shoot 'em in the face, Dick!
posted by Mister_A at 10:58 AM on July 10, 2009


This. Is. Sewious.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Maybe this secret program was a fourth season of Arrested Development. I demand it be unclassified immediately.

Or maybe the fourth season of Deadwood. What is David Milch's involvement in all of this? Why hasn't that been looked into?
posted by Falconetti at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2009


Was it the secret program to talk Michael Jackson into teaching W. how to moonwalk?

I thought everyone knew about that.
posted by silkyd at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2009


Eshoo said she could not discuss what was a "highly classified program." She did, however, note that when Panetta told House Intelligence Committee members what it was that had been kept secret, "the whole committee was stunned, even Republicans." A Republican committee member told Who Runs Gov's Greg Sargent it was something they hadn't heard before.

Interesting. Please let it be aliens walking amongst us.
posted by jokeefe at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


W hiding a "serious" program? I'm thinking: Tetris.

I mean, talk about taxing the man's limitations.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:00 AM on July 10, 2009


Executive Assassination Ring? Is that, like, a Green Lantern thing?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:01 AM on July 10, 2009


... or LOTR?
posted by joe lisboa at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2009


Eshoo said she could not discuss what was a "highly classified program." She did, however, note that when Panetta told House Intelligence Committee members what it was that had been kept secret, "the whole committee was stunned, even Republicans." A Republican committee member told Who Runs Gov's Greg Sargent it was something they hadn't heard before.

Was it a secret project to read the Constitution out loud? Sounds serious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's Treadstone, isn't it? Those BASTARDS!
posted by enamon at 11:02 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So seriously, WTF was it? Thanks Huffington Post, but "intelligence-collection activity" isn't so helpful. It's the Central INTELLIGENCE Agency. They've already been listening to our phone calls and wiretapping email. I'm thinking...mind control, LSD, or something.
posted by pallen123 at 11:07 AM on July 10, 2009


anyone else got any guesses?

It's pretty obvious, isn't it?
posted by philip-random at 11:08 AM on July 10, 2009


The man's been given a series of problems from fucking hell. The solution to those problems is not to ensure a massive Republican tidal wave in 2010 and a Republican presidency in 2012.

So, if Obama's administration were to announce that the government under Bush had been, say, using Carnivore, you think the result of such an action would be that the public would overwhelmingly vote Republican next time out?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:09 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh, because we've stopped now. Don't you feel better?"

"Kinda. Promise not to do it again?"

"No, we can't promise that, because we may seriously need this serious program again in a serious future."

"Well, that's not terribly helpful."

"How about if we tell when we stop doing it again?"

"Umm, no, no, I'm still not sure I like this."

"Did you look at the monkey?"

"What?"

"Look at the funny monkey. Isn't he a silly a monkey? Look at the silly monkey."

"I'm pretty sure you're just fucking with me now."

"Look at the pony. Forget the monkey. Do you like the pony?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:10 AM on July 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


You know who else was very serious, don't you?
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on July 10, 2009


We're through the looking glass, here, people. Seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?

One of the rumors I always wanted to see investigated was that the warrantless wiretapping program included members of the media when they were talking to overseas sources. Rumors flew that Christiane Amanpour and her producers had been bugged.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:13 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It wasn't covert! That would be illegal, since we need to get authorization for that. It's just secret and we just can't tell anyone about it."
posted by smackfu at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2009


Simon Barclay: "Sounds like they're "taking it seriously"."

I like that link if only for introducing me to the phrase disaster ketchup.
posted by JHarris at 11:15 AM on July 10, 2009


This is serious. We could make you delirious. You should have a healthy fear of us, 'cause too much of us is dangerous.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:16 AM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I bet they activated REX 84 that's what I bet
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:18 AM on July 10, 2009


Won't anyone take me serial?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:18 AM on July 10, 2009


Oh, and +1 to Leon Panetta, and -3 to the CIA's culture of secrecy. This lack of oversight is exactly how we got to funding MKULTRA and goat-starers.
posted by JHarris at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2009


If you ask me, it's kinda callous to refer to Michael Jackson as a "program."
posted by jbickers at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The solution to those problems is not to ensure a massive Republican tidal wave in 2010 and a Republican presidency in 2012.

Well can we at least ensure that justice is done and then use all this "national security" secrecy to ensure that the wingnuts never find out?

At least that way, national security might actually be being used to enhance instead of hurt the security of the nation, for a change.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:25 AM on July 10, 2009


Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?

Considering Congress seems upset about it my money is on wide scale wiretapping on congressional members. Gotta be something that involves them directly for it to be "serous".
posted by edgeways at 11:27 AM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's Treadstone, isn't it? Those BASTARDS!

The Treadstone Project has actually already been terminated. It was designed primarily as a sort of advanced game program. We'd hoped it might build into a good training platform but, quite honestly, for a strictly theoretical exercise, the cost-benefit ratio was just too high. It's all but decommissioned at this point...

Black Briar is a joint D.O.D. communications program that we really feel has good traction. It's got legs. It'll run and run.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:27 AM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


At this point, I wouldn't be too stunned if I heard they'd emptied out Ft Knox, but I suspect it'll be something more like further revelations on a massive surveillance of the media, probably federal employees, the military itself, and who knows, maybe even massive arbitrary lists of citizens (i.e., Democrats).
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:28 AM on July 10, 2009


Cheneys torture porn?
posted by Artw at 11:30 AM on July 10, 2009


I've got it!!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:33 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why do you hate America?
posted by univac at 11:34 AM on July 10, 2009


Why so serious?
posted by localroger at 11:39 AM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


A Republican committee member told Who Runs Gov's Greg Sargent it was something they hadn't heard before.

Or at least something they would like us to believe they hadn't heard before. "We had a program to [take over all the oil fields in the Middle East or make China implode or whatever]? No! You don't say! First I've heard of it!" Says the guy who ran the Republican committee to interface with the CIA on the secret program.
posted by pracowity at 11:39 AM on July 10, 2009


snofoam: "Maybe this secret program was a fourth season of Arrested Development. I demand it be unclassified immediately."

I have an anonymous source who says it was actually a second season of "Celebrity Family Feud," designed to be used as a last-resort interrogation technique at Guantanamo.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:43 AM on July 10, 2009


OH MAN THEY FOUND LIFE ON MARS AFTER ALL
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:44 AM on July 10, 2009


Considering Congress seems upset about it my money is on wide scale wiretapping on congressional members. Gotta be something that involves them directly for it to be "serous".

This is what it's going to be. Remember how Jane Harman went from staunch defender of illegal wiretapping to Defender of Our American CIVIL RIGHTS!!11 after it was revealed that she had been the target of a legal wiretap herself?

I've said for years that the Bush administration's bizarre actions with regard to the eavesdropping program really only make sense if you consider that they were primarily targeting political enemies, or even all political players on both sides.
posted by odinsdream at 11:45 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Two words:
Peek Freans
posted by Toubab at 11:47 AM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]



Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?


A combination of Dem's in Congress, democratic operatives and activists (from code pink to greenpeace), and media persons of interest.

Fits all the facts, including why a former Bushie would say it's "no big deal".
posted by anti social order at 11:51 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was covert eavesdropping on the strategy planning sessions of the democratic party congressional members.

It's not a big deal because no discernible plan was uncovered.
posted by srboisvert at 11:52 AM on July 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?

Considering Congress seems upset about it my money is on wide scale wiretapping on congressional members. Gotta be something that involves them directly for it to be "serous".


The "on-again, off-again" thing makes me think it was warrentless spying on and infiltration of groups opposed to Bush and the GOP, and it ebbed and flowed with the election cycle. That could include members of Congress. And Moveon. And the ALCU. Anyone, really.
posted by vrakatar at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2009


Tapping the phone of every Democratic pol.?
posted by R. Mutt at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2009


Violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a lot like losing your virginity, once it's done, it ceases being significant.
posted by tommasz at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Damn it anti social order, get out of my head.
posted by vrakatar at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2009


OH MAN THEY FOUND LIFE ON MARS AFTER ALL

They keep saying it's really just a god awful small affair
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Peek Freans are made of this.
Who am I to disagree?
posted by pracowity at 12:03 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's simple really- they've just revived MK Ultra. Around February 2003, a working group was formed at Langley comprised of members from several different...

I love to singa!
About the moon-a and the June-a and the Spring-a!
I love to singa!
About the sky of blue-a or a tea for two-a!
Anything with a swing-a!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:05 PM on July 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Maybe this is the dreaded "Project Yahoo Serious"

As opposed to the "Project Yahoo! Not-so-serious", also reported on news.yahoo.com.
posted by davejay at 12:11 PM on July 10, 2009


CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very trivial" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday. Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is considering a nap. "The program is a very, very trivial program and certainly deserved a pointless debate at the time and through the years," Schakowsky told The Associated Press in an interview. "But now it's over. Everyone go home."
posted by educatedslacker at 12:25 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a lot like losing your virginity, once it's done, it ceases being significant.

But it sure gets a lot more fun!
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2009


It was terminators. They've already gone back in time to kill important democrats.
posted by chunking express at 12:27 PM on July 10, 2009


Some sort of eavesdropping or surveillance of a controversial set of targets perhaps? anyone else got any guesses?

They created a program where they hired psychics to spy on potential terrorist cells, thereby eavesdropping on their minds.

(thereby ripping off Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles")
posted by Asparagirl at 12:28 PM on July 10, 2009


Considering Congress seems upset about it my money is on wide scale wiretapping on congressional members.

I agree that this is looking pretty likely, but it's only part of the story. Back in 2006, it took a leak for the American people to learn that the NSA had been listening in on US-to-US phone calls, without warrants. CIA director Porter Goss called for an investigation focused on identifying the leaks.

My guess is that the CIA decided to use their electronic surveillance gear to conduct their own investigation... by wiretapping everyone who was aware of certain secret information and in a political position to leak it. That would include Congress and the DoD at the Pentagon.


But if I put on my tin-foil hat for a minute...

What if when CRG West (now called coresite, but always a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Carlyle Group) took over and modernized One Wilshire in Los Angeles, they did so not as an investment, but as a CIA contract.

One Wilshire is the second largest switching center in the US (#1 is still 60 Hudson, in NYC). However, it's widely believed that One Wilshire handles more purely Internet traffic, because of the incredible amount of voice traffic that flows through 60 Hud, and because of the higher number of public-facing servers that are located in the Western US.

Coresite, nee CRG West, i.e. Carlyle, still owns and operates the Meet Me Room at One Wilshire. This MMR is probably the largest exchange point on the Internet, traffic-wise. Most West coast internet traffic goes through this room at some point in transit. Virtually all trans-pacific data goes through it. If you are a major carrier of data in the world, you almost certainly have an ethernet or fiber connection in this room or at one of the satellite rooms that are one hop away.

If you own and operate the growing number of switches that connect all of these carriers, and encourage customers and non-customers alike to come use it, you are in a perfect position to tap all of that traffic.

"We've been analyzing and data mining every piece of Internet email that went through that facility, including everything to/from Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, and the 9th Circuit Court. And now, we are executing on plans to greatly extend our reach."

Perhaps John Poindexter's TIA isn't dead after all, even after Congress passed legislation that prohibited funding it.
posted by toxic at 12:31 PM on July 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


Whatever it was, it was serious enough that they killed Michael Jackson to prevent it from leaking.They may have thought he took that secret to his grave, but someone wants it bad enough that they're going to try to extract it from him after death.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:33 PM on July 10, 2009


We should probably waterboard them till they tell us what it was.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:36 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


I knew it. Bush not only choked on that pretzel. He died. They replaced him with a super-secret clone!
posted by ericb at 12:54 PM on July 10, 2009


Maybe they're shooting down more missionaries. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1300001.stm
posted by edmo at 12:55 PM on July 10, 2009


Russia Today says it could be the "executive assassination ring" that Seymour Hersh talked about, that may have been headed by none other than Dick Cheney, which may or may not be part of some future book by Hersh. Of course, the CIA turned around and said this was all "utter nonsense."

dun dun DUNNN!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


chunking express: It was terminators. They've already gone back in time to kill important democrats.

Oh God! I hope that nothing happens to both Presidents Kennedy!

I think I need to relax by putting on the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by Kennedys Forever.
posted by Kattullus at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Is it aliens? Oh fuck I hope it's aliens.



The government knows all
about 'em..... But they have decided to repress this information because of
the tremendous shock that it would cause to our antiquated systems.... So
now, the Venusians are meeting with people in all walks of life -- in an
advisory capacity."
posted by any major dude at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2009


How do you know the retrofit of One Wilshire was financed by the CIA?
posted by geoff. at 1:04 PM on July 10, 2009


They created a program where they hired psychics to spy on potential terrorist cells, thereby eavesdropping on their minds.

(thereby ripping off Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles")


Go and read "The Men Who Stare At Goats." Morrison's fantasies ain't got nothing on what the US armed services and intelligence agencies have actually funded.
posted by rodgerd at 1:06 PM on July 10, 2009


How do you know the retrofit of One Wilshire was financed by the CIA?

I don't. I'm speculating with a tin-foil hat on, which means I'm probably spouting nonsense.

Which part of "What if..." was unclear?
posted by toxic at 1:06 PM on July 10, 2009


In related news -- New Documents: Bush Authorized Surveillance Programs Beyond Wiretaps.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, people. How did you not know about the SECRET CHENEY DEATH SQUAD.

Fucking Duh.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:08 PM on July 10, 2009


One of the rumors I always wanted to see investigated was that the warrantless wiretapping program included members of the media when they were talking to overseas sources.

It's beyond rumor. Lawrence Wright was essentially told point-blank that they were listening to his phone calls.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:12 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


got any guesses?

Nine years ago, I would have gripped the edge of the table and said, slowly and quietly, "My God.... I think.. the Americans might actually have been torturing people".

But, you guys dropped that turd on the track, like, 80 laps back.

So now, what? The sponge is dry. All I can imagine involves little green wafers or space-borne parasites.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:12 PM on July 10, 2009


the odd mention of it "not being a covert activity" (then why isn't it public? WTF?)...
posted by Avenger at 1:55 PM


I was wondering about this too, but the SECRET CHENEY DEATH SQUAD link above explains this distinction from Seymour Hersh: “Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference.”
posted by marxchivist at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2009


Which part of "What if..." was unclear?

I was thinking there were some weak, albeit actual, trail linking the CIA to One Wilshire. I've seen switching centers owned by private equity groups established for the sole purpose of financing the construction and then leased out to the Department of Defense. Not Meet Me Rooms, and I think the financing structure was to get around surety bonds (which the gov't requires on all projects above like, $1 mil). There's a couple of reasons to do this, especially for high tech multi-tier data centers and switching rooms, which are built to the same spec as far as construction is concerned.
posted by geoff. at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2009


President George W. Bush authorized other secret intelligence activities _ which have yet to become public _ even as he was launching the massive warrentless wiretapping program, the summary said. It describes the entire program as the "President's Surveillance Program."

If this is what is making Congress gasp in horror, does this mean we can finally put Bush and his accomplices on trial?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


My guess? The technology behind the program Woodward is talking about here combined with some kind of domestic assasination program.


" Woodward compared the development of these new capabilities to the multibillion-dollar Manhattan Project, the top-secret effort to create the first atomic bomb during World War II. He also gave the secret killings major credit for reducing the violence in Iraq, seeing them as more of a game-changer than the surge of 30,000 US troops, on which Senator John McCain has built so much of his campaign for president.

Refusing to reveal details, Woodward insisted that too much talk could compromise the program and "get people killed," a bizarre turn of phrase about a program whose purpose was to get people killed. In any case, Woodward would tell only enough to hype his book, and not a single word more. Such is the discretion required of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author permanently embedded in the Washington power structure. {...}

Even more to the point, the Pentagon has for years talked openly about the black arts that Woodward would describe only in a stage whisper. As early as the summer of 2004, the Defense Science Board called for a "Manhattan Project" to give the military 21st century technologies for identifying, locating, and tracking terrorists - both abroad and at home. More recently, the Pentagon's Special Operations Command posted online a September 2007 slide show on "Continuous Clandestine Tagging, Tracking, and Locating (CTTL)."
posted by aquafortis at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2009


Violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights is a lot like losing your virginity, once it's done, it ceases being significant.

Violating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is a lot like having sex: pretty much every politician has done it before and is going to do it again, but there's still a big difference between the ones who do it proudly with their wives, the ones who lie and scheme about it, and the ones who end up with a whole pile of naked and dead bodies at the end of it.
posted by roystgnr at 1:22 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Onion is going to have a field day with this...
posted by elder18 at 1:22 PM on July 10, 2009


Ok, at this point, I've got to figure they are just fucking with us.

"We were doing something really evil. Sorry bout that. No, no, we've stopped so it's all good. But hey, if you experience any headaches in the future, it might be because you've developed some new allergies. All we can do is assure you that it has nothing to do with chlorinated-sodium phenatol.

I've said too much."
posted by quin at 1:30 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Onion is going to have a field day with this...

"I'm sorry, this section is classified..."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:33 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread needs the 'serious' tag
posted by memebake at 1:34 PM on July 10, 2009


C'mon, guys, they were just trying to head off another Plame scandal. If nobody knows about it, they can't leak it to the press!
posted by Evilspork at 1:37 PM on July 10, 2009


Maybe this is just a coincidence, but it could be surveillance after all as Boston.com reports, there are more revelations on the way.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:38 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was thinking there were some weak, albeit actual, trail linking the CIA to One Wilshire

Well, the sheer presence of The Carlyle Group would usually suggest government involvement.

They are primarily a holding company for defense contractors, and they have a very interesting employee and ex-employee roster. Granted, they also own Dunkin' Donuts, but the great majority of their business interests are in some way related to Government work.
posted by toxic at 1:46 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


My guess is that this not about Cheney but Karl Rove. It's not about assassination but about interference with domestic political organization. This is the flip-side of the US Attorney firings and it's going to have Rove's fingerprints all over it.

Next shoe to drop - the IRS under Bush was ordered to perform political audits, which is how so many Obama appointees had been tripped up.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:47 PM on July 10, 2009


any guesses?

Resurrecting J. Edgar Hoover as the lich-king of Total Information Awareness?
posted by benzenedream at 1:47 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, you know after they started having all printers sneak tracking codes in anything you print maybe they decided to start tracking potential terrorists from birth - after all, you gotta get'em while they're young! No child left behind and all that!
posted by yeloson at 1:58 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Carlyle Group . . . Granted, they also own Dunkin' Donuts

OMG, you're saying they've got every police officer in America in their back pocket as well.

This is serious!
posted by flug at 2:07 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's ask the NY Times.

I'm sure several of their editors and reporters know about it already.
posted by kathrineg at 2:08 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Every time I hear about Leon Panetta I think of pancetta.

Succulent, delicious pancetta.
posted by slogger at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Awesome toxic!
thoughts running through my head...
- My Doughnut consumption sponsors secret clandestine operations? Wow... I thought they were just sugar coated with awesomeness, but now I know that they are even more awsome than before.

- I thought it was odd when I got munchkins recently and I had the choices of sugar, powdered and jelly filled as well as the new options of explosive, biological, and chemical - but I really didn't think anything of it at the time...

- Not only is the sugary doughnut potentially going to kill me with saturated fats that will clog my arteries but now it kills enemies of the state at the same time!
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:10 PM on July 10, 2009


Peek Freans: better than freak peens.
posted by oaf at 2:14 PM on July 10, 2009


"I AM SERIOUS NOW" (nsfw)
posted by furtive at 2:15 PM on July 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


If it turns out to be wiretapping, of anyone in the US, consider me Not Shocked and also, disappointed. Remember when that guy went on Keith Olberman and talked about how he had spied on Americans and journalists?

If that is what this turns out to be, and the congresspeople are saying it's something they "hadn't heard before" it will just be one more thing that they know less about than the American people.
posted by threeturtles at 2:24 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish it was the CIA randomly dosing people with acid again. I could seriously use some good acid. I mean, they got away with it the first time without consequences, and it was fun. Why the fuck not just make it SOP?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 2:24 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


OIA. When I was looking at what happened to the set of projects the Office of Information Awareness were told to shut down way back when, it looked like the projects weren't shut down, they were just moved to universities and private organizations. Not sure if any of those are related to this story, but it wouldn't surprise me.
posted by ryoshu at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2009


It's right in front of you people: Project Pit Bull With Lipstick finally got shut down.
posted by tkchrist at 3:04 PM on July 10, 2009


It's that thing where they turn everyone's cell phones into a giant camera that sees the whole city. But don't worry they stopped now and they'll never do it again.

And anyway they gave the only code to Morgan Freeman. Everyone trusts Morgan Freeman.
posted by The Bellman at 3:21 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


But Morgan Freeman lied to us about penguins!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:40 PM on July 10, 2009


Is it aliens? Oh fuck I hope it's aliens.
Close! Republicans.
posted by Flunkie at 3:56 PM on July 10, 2009


And anyway they gave the only code to Morgan Freeman. Everyone trusts Morgan Freeman.

I have bad news.
posted by EarBucket at 3:59 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and +1 to Leon Panetta, and -3 to the CIA's culture of secrecy. This lack of oversight is exactly how we got to funding MKULTRA and goat-starers.
I believe that the goat-starers were US Army, not CIA. I could be misremembering.
posted by Flunkie at 4:07 PM on July 10, 2009


Its TSA
posted by sfts2 at 4:11 PM on July 10, 2009


Wait. What? I meant that on-again off again data aggregation project
posted by sfts2 at 4:13 PM on July 10, 2009


Wolfram Omega
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's one of the following:

The War on Freedom

Operation: Kill the Brown-Eyed Man

Joe Camel

GPS chips in phones for TIA purposes

The release of intelligence that would lead to the impeachment of GWB, superfluous now that he's no longer Prez

This thing here.

Wow! This tinfoil hat stuff is fun!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:02 PM on July 10, 2009


Sentinels
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on July 10, 2009


Diebold a CIA front?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 5:25 PM on July 10, 2009


Popping in to say, I love Jan Schakowsky. LOVE HER. She was my Rep when I lived in Evanston, Illinois. She's not flashy or a media hound. She works her butt off for her constituents and IS the closest person to succeed Paul Wellstone that we've got at this point. During the time of the Bush Administration when I had had it up to my eyebrows with the fear mongering and was frustrated over the vote to go to war in Iraq (and divert troops from Afghanistan), I wrote a long and vent-y letter to her just so I could get a bunch of stuff off of my chest and send it out with the postman.

I didnt' expect a response.

I got a four page letter that was very, very specific to the points I made and the questions I had in the letter. It was signed by Rep. Schakowsky. I guess I may never know if she actually wrote it, but I was heartened by the sympathy of the response and the confidence that it is instilled in me that someone up there on Capitol Hill might be trying to work against the Bush Administration.

She is five star. Track record of writing laws to protect consumers, works hard to advance women's issues, and is a thorn in the side of Blackwater. She has guts. She rocks.
posted by jeanmari at 5:35 PM on July 10, 2009 [12 favorites]


The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.

Nice to see that even with a shiny new administration, bad news is still released on Friday nights.
posted by smackfu at 5:45 PM on July 10, 2009


Nice to see that even with a shiny new administration, bad news is still released on Friday nights.
What?

(1) A Congresswoman released this, not the administration.

(2) I learned of this this morning, not this evening.

(3) Specifically, what she released this morning was that Panetta terminated the operation. The existence of the operation was released on Tuesday.
posted by Flunkie at 5:50 PM on July 10, 2009


If it turns out to be wiretapping, of anyone in the US, consider me Not Shocked and also, disappointed. Remember when that guy went on Keith Olberman and talked about how he had spied on Americans and journalists?

You mean Russell Tice?
posted by homunculus at 5:54 PM on July 10, 2009


Flunkie, I was talking about the report from the inspector general's, which is where my quote is from. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by smackfu at 5:55 PM on July 10, 2009


And maybe Obama has nothing to do with the reports, but why does it take Congressional investigations to get any information out of the executive branch, still? Wasn't this supposed to get better with a non-awful President?
posted by smackfu at 5:57 PM on July 10, 2009


A Bush administration official told the paper he was certain that, if the nature of the program could be revealed, it would be seen as 'no big deal.'"

Just so we're clear on this, the very programs which had to be kept secret under the Bush Administration as a matter of national security are now no big deal when Obama can take the fall for them. Sounds like how an Iraq withdrawal date can be "responsible" when Cheney's in power and the very same date is a national security gamble when he's out of power.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:53 PM on July 10, 2009


Smart Dalek: OH MAN THEY FOUND LIFE ON MARS AFTER ALL

The Whelk: They keep saying it's really just a god awful small affair

Only to the girl with the mousey hair.

(Hillary Clinton?)
posted by Pinback at 7:06 PM on July 10, 2009


I did hear that the pentagon is considering making the military a smoke free environment.
posted by Sailormom at 7:15 PM on July 10, 2009


I've watched this ten times or more.
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 PM on July 10, 2009


Is it aliens? Oh fuck I hope it's aliens.

For the Bush administration this means Mexicans rather than Silurians I presume.
posted by juiceCake at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2009


Listen, (ooh wah ooh)
Do you want to know a secret? (ooh wah ooh)
Do you promise not to tell?
whoa oooh, oh,
Closer, (ooh wah ooh)
Let me whisper in your ear (ooh wah ooh)
Say the words you long to hear...
I'm [CLASSIFIED]*

*but... don't worry about it. it's over.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN- oh fuck it I quit

Dick Cheney? Is that you?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:21 PM on July 10, 2009


PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN- oh fuck it I quit

Dick Cheney? Is that you?


No, it's her.
posted by Rykey at 5:35 AM on July 11, 2009


Considering Congress seems upset about it my money is on wide scale wiretapping on congressional members. Gotta be something that involves them directly for it to be "serous".

That's some brilliant political insight you've got there. You're absolutely right. The only time any of the 535 members of Congress disagree with the Executive branch is when they're personally affected by some policy.
posted by Garak at 6:20 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


...when they're personally affected by some policy.

It's just an effectation on their part.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


No one has mentioned Iran or Honduras as speculative places where this "very serious" program could have been operating? It's not at all likely, but..
posted by xorry at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2009


Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project
The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.
posted by oaf at 3:26 PM on July 11, 2009


Well, this was always the poison pill that the Bush admin handed on to Obama. Personally, I'm rather sicker of the petulant whining from the left "why hasn't Obama [...] why doesn't he just let everybody in Guantanamo go immediately, no questions asked!" […] The man's been given a series of problems from fucking hell. The solution to those problems is not to ensure a massive Republican tidal wave in 2010 and a Republican presidency in 2012.
Right, right. What could be more ethical then keeping people in prison without a trial or even any evidence that they're guilty for political reasons, even though most Americans oppose preventative detention? There are still some who are for it! And don't their votes count too!? Besides, everyone knows that prosecuting bush administration people and letting everyone know what they did would cause a massive amount of sympathy and swing the election there way, because if there's one thing Americans like to do, it's vote for convicted criminals.

Rather then setting up a system to enforce laws and constitutional rights, we should instead break them to avoid the other side from getting elected. Which would be horrible. Because the other side breaks the law!

Anyway, we'll all get to find out about this in 50 years along with everything else, just like that time the CIA used prostitutes to test LSD on unsuspecting Americans.
This is what it's going to be. Remember how Jane Harman went from staunch defender of illegal wiretapping to Defender of Our American CIVIL RIGHTS!!11 after it was revealed that she had been the target of a legal wiretap herself?
Has she actually done anything on Civil Rights since that happened?
My guess is that the CIA decided to use their electronic surveillance gear to conduct their own investigation... by wiretapping everyone who was aware of certain secret information and in a political position to leak it. That would include Congress and the DoD at the Pentagon.
Sure, because if you found out the U.S. government was running a massive dragnet phone tapping operation, the first thing you would be to talk about it on the phone. Also, this started in 2001, before the leaks.
posted by delmoi at 4:36 PM on July 11, 2009


Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

In other news, bear linked to shitting in woods; Pope allegedly Catholic.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:43 PM on July 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


GOP Responds To Cheney’s Concealment Of CIA Program With Strawmen And Shrugged Shoulders.
posted by ericb at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2009


A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter. (WSJ article)
posted by sarahnade at 12:04 PM on July 13, 2009


From Juan Cole
What if Cheney, who notoriously disliked the CIA, decided to give the assassination missions to the military special ops, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as detailed by Seymour Hersh, instead? That is, the program Panetta closed down may not be the one that went operational. Who is in charge of JSOC now?
posted by adamvasco at 12:16 PM on July 13, 2009


Is that assassination team the secret? Because that doesn't sound as astonishing as the story proclaimed at first.
posted by graventy at 7:34 PM on July 13, 2009


The Bush administration took the position that killing members of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that has attacked the United States and stated that its goal is to attack again, is no different than shooting enemy soldiers on the battlefield. from.

Then how the HELL were they different than enemy soldiers in the prison? Hypocrisy doesn't even cover it.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:45 PM on July 13, 2009


The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins. Now, he talks to The Daily Beast about the next shoe to drop.
posted by homunculus at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2009


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