Of all outlets the Wall Street Journal seems to confirm the speculation that Cheney’s little CIA project was some kind of “targeted assassinations” project that begin in 2001 aimed at al Qaeda leaders. It never really got off the ground. Reports that new CIA chief Panetta ended it means that all he actually did was kill funding for something that had accomplished nothing in seven years. For the president to order the military to track and kill combatants is legal. The problem is the Iran-Contra aspect; creating an obviously controversial secret program to pursue assassinations and do so through the imagined authority of Mr. 4th Branch, Liz Cheney: Investigating My Dad Would Prove Americans ‘Can’t Trust’ Democrats With National Security
Of course, Cheney is dodging the issue of whether Bush and Cheney fulfilled their obligations under the National Security Act of 1947, which says that congressional intelligence committees must be “kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”
Moderate American speak about the rule of law, obligations to inform its elected representatives and the questionable authority of the VP to have his own little secret programs and Republicans pull out their classic deflection responses. The fact is Liz’s poor old dad and that other guy had seven years to get Bin laden and failed because their urge to get their Iraq war on blinded them to more urgent and consequential matters. If Dick felt he needed to break the law and violate the trust of the American people the very least he could have done is accomplish something. Back tracking for a moment, the WSJ article might not have the whole story, New Info Brings More Questions On Secret CIA Program
Perhaps most importantly, a program, launched immediately after September 11 to capture or kill top al Qaeda operatives just doesn’t seem sufficiently radioactive to have provoked the kerfuffle it has. To be sure, Congress outlawed targeted CIA assassinations in the 1970s in response to the excesses of 50s and 60s, and the issue played a key role in the move during the same period to give Congress greater powers to oversee the agency. And if the program allowed CIA to act without the consent or knowledge of liaison services in the countries where the targets were located, that’s obviously a big deal.
Still, the US military has openly been trying to get Osama bin Laden and other top Qaeda leaders “dead or alive” since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Would CIA involvement in that effort be so explosive that it would not only need to be kept from Congress in the first place, but would also have been shut down by Panetta as soon as he learned about it?
As I said above its not illegal or reason to hide the direction of say Special Forces to hunt down combatants so why would a secret program be required. al Qaeda is estimated to have cells in 25 or more countries. If the secret program involved spiriting in agents to those countries, sans agreements with their government to start being judge, jury and assassinating squad – that would be illegal.
E.J. Dionne Jr. on the inevitable though ultimately lame rightwing attacks to be expected against Sotomayer, The Real Court Radicals
If you wonder what judicial activism looks like, consider one of the court’s final moves in its spring term.
The justices had before them a simple case, involving a group called Citizens United, that could have been disposed of on narrow grounds. The organization had asked to be exempt from the restrictions embodied in the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law for a movie critical of Hillary Clinton that it produced during last year’s presidential campaign. Citizens United says it should not have to disclose who paid for the film.
Rather than decide the case before it, the court engaged in a remarkable exercise of judicial overreach. It postponed its decision, called for new briefs and scheduled a hearing this September on the broader question of whether corporations should be allowed to spend money to elect or defeat particular candidates.
What the court was saying was that it wanted to revisit a 19-year-old precedent that barred such corporate interference in the electoral process. That 1990 ruling upheld what has been the law of the land since 1947, when the Taft-Hartley Act banned independent expenditures by both corporations and labor unions.
To get a sense of just how extreme (and, yes, activist) such an approach would be, consider that laws restricting corporate activity in elections go all the way back to the Tillman Act of 1907, which prohibited corporations from giving directly to political campaigns.
It is truly frightening that a conservative Supreme Court is seriously considering overturning a century-old tradition at the very moment the financial crisis has brought home the terrible effects of excessive corporate influence on politics.
In the deregulatory wave of the 1980s and ’90s, Congress was clearly too solicitous to the demands of finance. Why take a step now that would give corporations even more opportunity to buy influence? With the political winds shifting, do conservatives on the court see an opportunity to fight the trends against their side by altering the rules of the electoral game?
Such an “appalling” ruling, Schumer said in an interview, “would have more political significance than any case since Bush v. Gore.” He added: “It would dramatically change America at a time when people are feeling that the special interests have too much influence and the middle class doesn’t have enough. It would exacerbate both of these conditions.”
So when conservatives try to paint Sotomayor as some sort of radical, consider that the real radicals are those who now hold a majority on the Supreme Court. In this battle, it is she, not her critics, who represents moderation and judicial restraint.