Investigation of Secret CIA Program Turns Into Political Brawl

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports:

The CIA is so heavily investigated these days you wonder how much time they have for actual intelligence work.

The latest: The House intelligence committee announced a new investigation on Friday into whether the CIA broke the law by not telling Congress about a secret post-9/11 program to target Al Qaeda leaders.

In a written statement, committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) said the investigation will focus on "possible violations of federal law, including the National Security Act of 1947."

Republicans immediately denounced the investigation as an effort by Democrats to "tear down the CIA."

At issue is a secret program the CIA began planning shortly after the September 11 attacks but did not tell Congress about until June 24 of this year. The program never got beyond the planning and preparation stages.

By my count, this will be the fifth on-going investigation into the CIA counter-terrorism activities. Here are the other four (and their may be more):

- The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating the CIA's interrogation program- The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the destruction of the CIA's interrogation tapes- The Justice Department is investigating the destruction of the tapes, and- Attorney General Eric Holder is considering naming a special prosecutor to investigated whether CIA interrogators broke the law.

In his statement, Chairman Reyes said the decision to launch the investigation was made after consulting with the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). But Hoekstra put out his own statement blasting the announced investigation as "little more than partisan, political theater and continues the politicization of important intelligence matters by Democrats."

"The chairman and I talked about doing a balanced review of congressional notifications, an issue we both agree should be reviewed, " Hoekstra said. "Instead, they announced an investigation of 'violation' of the National Security Act when the current facts clearly do no support such an accusation."

Hoekstra went so far as to suggest that Republicans on the Intelligence committee may not cooperate with the investigation.

"At no time will the Republicans of this committee agree to or take part in congressional Democrats efforts to tear down the CIA to provide cover for Speaker Pelosi."

As for the CIA, the agency is trying to stay out of this political brawl, but is promising to cooperate with the investigation.

“Like Chairman Reyes, the agency’s goal is that this new investigation not become a distraction to the men and women of CIA, who have the vital mission of protecting the United States from foreign threats," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano told ABC News. "The agency will, of course, work closely with the committee on this review.”

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