Senate Votes To Fund "Unnecessary" OBL Unit

The Senate today voted unanimously to allocate $200 million for the Osama bin Laden unit that the CIA closed earlier this year in a reorganization of its efforts against al Qaeda.

The CIA decision to close the unit did not stop North Dakota Democrats Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad from introducing the amendment to fund the unit geared toward hunting bin Laden and other high-profile al Qaeda targets.

The amendment received a unanimous 96-0 vote.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said the agency remained "fully engaged" in the hunt for bin Laden and that "more resources, not less" have been committed, with the "most experienced bin Laden experts at the CIA fully engaged." 

Mansfield said Alec Station had been closed as part of a "reorganization, not a reduction" of CIA resources.  He said the agency had to reorganize to take into account the many new groups that had aligned themselves with al Qaeda.

Speaking to reporters after the amendment passed, both Senators bristled at the question, "Why are you funding a program the CIA said this summer it no longer needs?"

"There are people in the intelligence community that disagree with that assessment, and we disagree with that assessment. The top leadership of al Qaeda is still out there," said Conrad.

"There is no question that you diminish the focus on capturing these guys when you dismantle the unit," said Dorgan.

"That is a canard," the CIA spokesman said.

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