TODAY

TODAY   |  November 27, 2013

Canceled secret CIA program brought to light

A controversial secret program by the CIA that was canceled would have used alleged terrorists to work undercover for the U.S. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>> revelations about the war or terror and the government's use of detainee. andrea mitchell has this story. good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah. it's a rare insight into how desperate the cia was after 9/11. a secret program in how to turn the hardcore guantanamo prison into secret agents for the u.s.

>> i have plans for you. much bigger than you spilling a few state secrets .

>> what plans.

>> i'm going to play you back into iran. now you work for us.

>> reporter: the aim, sending alleged terrorists back home to work undercover for the u.s. if it worked the pay off would be huge, penetrating al qaeda .

>> intelligence and military organizations are going to look at every individual they capture to fully understand how that individual can be exploited.

>> with a flair for irony the cia code named it penny lane after the iconic beatles song. just like strawberry fields . to tempt the prisoners, the cia offered perks, real beds and mattresses, private kitchens and showers even pornography for those that asked and they were paid millions of dollars from a secret cia account code name pledge. they got out unlike 164 detainees still imprisoned there. many far less dangerous than those sent home.

>> they're languishing in guantanamo who others are released regardless of how dangerous they want to be.

>> we know we have close to a 29% reengagement rate from those that have been released from guantanamo who we know has gotten back in the fight against us. i think it was a very ill conceived program.

>> the cia declined to comment on the program which was killed in 2006 when the flow of new prisoners slowed down dramatically and congress was taking a closer look at the tactics. savannah and matt.

>> that's an interesting one. thank you very much.