Durbin: Cheney’s Secret Program ‘Could Be Illegal’

By Jennifer Parker

Jul 12, 2009 10:06am

Pretty startling allegations in this morning’s New York Times.

The NYTimes reported former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the C.I.A. to withhold information from Congress about a secret counterterrorism program.

Today on “This Week,” Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., argued the Senate Intelligence Committee should “absolutely” investigate the matter. 

“The executive branch of government should not create programs like these programs and keep congress in the dark,” Durbin told me. “To have a massive program that was concealed from the leaders in congress is not only inappropriate, it could be illegal.”

However Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., argued against any investigation just yet.

“I don’t think we should be jumping to any conclusions,” Kyl told me. “The Republican leader on the intelligence committee in the House, described this certainly not as some kind of massive program but something that was on again off again…never got off the ground.”

I pressed Kyl on whether claims that Cheney ordered the program to be kept secret should be investigated.

“Look the president and the vice president are the two people who have responsibility ultimately for the national security of the country. It is not out of the ordinary for the vice president to be involved in an issue like this,” Kyl said. “What if it’s a top secret program? Of course he and the president would both be responsible for that. Let’s don’t jump to conclusions is what I’m saying.”

–George Stephanopoulos

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