Michael Calderone reports: The New York Times reported across the top of Sunday’s front page that Congress is doing little to oversee the CIA’s targeted killing program. In the process, the paper identified three high-ranking CIA officials with key roles in secret drone operations.
The CIA asked the Times to withhold the names in its report, a request that executive editor Dean Baquet told The Huffington Post on Monday that he took seriously, but decided not to honor.
Baquet said the officials are not undercover agents carrying out clandestine operations in the field, but rather figures with significant roles in “one of the major issues in modern American warfare.” The CIA is now playing a “quasi-military role” through the drone program, a departure from its traditional functions that deserves scrutiny. In order to debate the program, he said, the public needs to know who is making key decisions. In addition, as the Times wrote in its article, the CIA officials’ “roles are known to foreign governments and many others.”
“It would have been weird to not name the guys who run it,” Baquet said. “They’re not undercover. They’re not unknown. They’re sort of widely known.”
A CIA spokesman declined to comment to The Huffington Post.
Baquet’s decision shows the news organization’s increasing willingness to push back against government requests to withhold information, unless officials provide specific reasons why doing so may damage national security. [Continue reading…]