Besieged by leaks of several closely held secrets, the CIA has asked the Justice Department to examine what it regards as the criminal disclosure of a secret program to kill foreign terrorist leaders abroad, The Washington Times has learned.

Two U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because of the sensitivity of the case, said the leak investigation involved a program that CIA Director Leon E. Panetta told Congress about in June and that surfaced in news reports just a month later.

The vice chairman of the the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence declined to discuss any possible leak investigations but told the Times on Thursday that a growing number of disclosures of highly secret programs, tactics and other information had caused "irreparable damage" to the U.S. intelligence community.

"They foil our attempts to carry out classified missions," Sen. Christopher S. Bond said in an interview. "They tell our intelligence community: We don't have your back; we're stabbing you in the back. Our allies ask us, 'How can we trust you to deal in classified matters in private, when the details are leaked to the press?'"

Bond, a Republican from Missouri, said he heard this refrain in recent meetings with heads of European, South Asian and Middle Eastern allied intelligence services. "Nobody has told me they won't cooperate, but they are asking the question," he said.

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