Today, the New York Times named, against the CIA’s wishes, Michael D’Andrea, the former chief of the agency’s counterterrorism center, in a story about support in Washington for the lethal drone program. The Washington Post reported on D’Andrea’s reassignment last month without using his name, which Gawker then published.
“The C.I.A. asked that Mr. D’Andrea’s name and the names of some other top agency officials be withheld from this article,” the Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo write, “but The New York Times is publishing them because they have leadership roles in one of the government’s most significant paramilitary programs and their roles are known to foreign governments and many others.”
The story is pegged to last week’s drone strike that killed an American and an Italian being held hostage at an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan. The Times names D’Andrea as a key figure in cultivating support for the drone program—support that took the form of relatively lax oversight:
In secret meetings on Capitol Hill, Mr. D’Andrea was a forceful advocate for the drone program and won supporters among both Republicans and Democrats. Congressional staff members said that he was particularly effective in winning the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who was chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee until January, when Republicans assumed control of the chamber.
Last month, D’Andrea was replaced as head of the drone program by Chris Wood, a former CIA station chief in Kabul who most recently supervised all operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Times reports. After the 9/11 attacks he held leadership roles at Alec Station, “the group that led the hunt for Qaeda suspects and was central to the interrogation program.”
In 2013, the Times reports, Dianne Feinstein was asked why she was so willing to trust the CIA with the drone program even as she accused the agency of lying about its torture program. “That’s a good question, actually,” Feinstein said.