How long does it take for the CIA to declare an operation infeasible? In the case of stealth assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, more than seven years did not suffice. As it turns out, the initiative's label as "sporadic" and "embryonic" is what justified it being kept secret from Congress. The plan involved spy-movie-style assassinations of al Qaeda big shots instead of Predator drone missile strikes, which have consistently killed innocent bystanders and caused public outrage. By law, Congress is supposed to be informed of all CIA operations and highly classified material can be revealed only to congressional leaders. When CIA Chief Leon Panetta learned of the highly classified operation he called an emergency meeting with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, apparently recognizing that he had on his hands an ineffective program that would be a major political liability.
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