Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, told the Huffington Post that the 9/11 secret counterterror program that is being characterized as "non-operational" was much more than it's being made out to be.
The House intelligence committee's investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency, announced on Friday by Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), will include probes by subcommittee chairs to penetrate deeper into CIA behavior.
Schakowsky's subcommittee has been given the green light to investigate its legality and is already preparing a major document request.
"The program has been mischaracterized, in my view, as something that's barely come off the drawing board and that, you know, it was a little bit of planning, a little bit of training," Schakowsky said. "I don't know a whole lot more about it, and that's why we want to do an investigation, other than to say: It was more."
The secret program was started shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. When he learned about it last week, CIA Director Leon Panetta killed the program almost immediately and briefed Congress the next day, explaining that the CIA had failed to inform Congress of its existence.
The investigation will go beyond the program Schakowsky refers to, about which Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly ordered the CIA not to inform Congress.
"The investigation is going to focus, in the full committee, on the business of proper notification of the committee -- not just of this particular program but of so many others where the Congress has not been adequately notified," said Schakowsky. "We want to answer questions about what was the process for deciding to begin this program, what was the exact nature of it, how far did it get in terms of implementation, how'd it change over the eight years of the program, who was involved within the intelligence community and outside the intelligence community, that kind of very important information."
The subcommittee will also looking into the "Peruvian shoot-down in 2001," Schakowsky said. "This is a case where the CIA actually lied to the committee," she said, referring to the mistaken shooting down of a plane carrying missionaries. The CIA thought it was a drug plane -- and told the Peruvian Air Force as much. Ranking committee Republican Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) has long been a critic of CIA behavior in that incident and has called on its report to be declassified.
Crimes may have been committed by the CIA, Reyes said when announcing the investigation. "After careful consideration and consultation with the Ranking Minority Member and other members of the Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct an investigation into possible violations of federal law, including the National Security Act of 1947," he said.
Committee Democrats met Friday morning to make the decision, Schakowsky said, and consulted with Hoekstra. "I talked to him as well. We'll see what kind of cooperation we're ultimately going to get," she said. "I am very hopeful that I'll be able to work with (Rep.) Jeff Miller [R-Fla.], the ranking [Republican] on my subcommittee. We're going to be all about just getting out the truth of the situation. This is not at all political."
Schakowsky said she wants to make as much of the investigation public as possible. "I want to very self-consciously look for ways that we can have some public hearings or hearings that are public and then we go into classified settings to discuss the rest," she said.