Cheney’s secret CIA program seems to be unraveling in small threads, CIA Assassin Program Was Nearing New Phase – Panetta Pulled Plug After Training Was Proposed
The plan to kill top al-Qaeda leaders, which had been on the agency’s back burner for much of the past eight years, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of proposals to initiate what one intelligence official called a “somewhat more operational phase.” Shortly after learning of the plan, Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair said that it was the administration did the right thing by canceling the program because of it’s “effectiveness, maturity and the level of control.”Yet also claims that the CIA did not do anything wrong by not informing Congress. According to the Intelligence Oversight Act intel agencies are required by law to inform Congress of any covert operations and the Hughes-Ryan Act. The the WaPo goes on to report uncritically,
Republicans say the allegations of CIA wrongdoing are false and harmful, and some accused Democrats of raising the issue to deflect attention from recent controversies surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who was heavily criticized after accusing the agency of lying to Congress about its use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.
The only controversy surrounding Speaker Pelosi and the CIA is the wholly contrived conservative gambit that the Speaker might have known about the torture, that these same Republicans supported. The Speaker, through some bizarre logic is guilty of something for not screaming loud enough to stop it. That is not a controversy, that’s called a right-wing talking point, a misdirection. Nice to see the media still going along and assisting Republicans with that disinformation.
The finding imposed no geographical limitations on the agency’s actions, and intelligence officials have said that they were not obliged to notify Congress of each operation envisaged under the directive.
It would not have violated the law to send such teams into Afghanistan. Just speaking for myself I always supported the use of the CIA and Special forces to carry out surgical strikes against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Besides the tactical victories, such successful strikes would have had a demoralizing effect on the al-Qaeda. Though it has been against the law since the days of the Church Committee to start sending out teams of assassins. In a report from the L.A. Times,
According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the CIA spent seven years trying to assemble teams capable of killing the world’s most wanted terrorists but could never find a formula that worked.
[ ]…But officials could not solve daunting logistical problems, including how to get teams close to their targets while keeping U.S. involvement secret and being able to extract them safely if they succeeded in killing a terrorist.
In particular, officials said, ambitions for the program expanded to include creating teams that were made up not only of CIA personnel but counterparts from other countries, presumably Pakistan; and to be capable not just of killing high-value targets but also executing raids and other operations to gather evidence and intelligence that might lead to elusive Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.
In every report is the disclaimer that the program did not get very far, when obviously the concept had enough merit to be seriously considered over the course of seven years. Here a gin is the claim that it was about targeting terrorists on a sanctioned battlefield in Afghanistan. That would have been legal and hardly worth the VP of the U.S. to personally make efforts to keep the proper members of Congress from being informed. Without accountability and oversight we just have one or more people in a president’s administration in conjunction with the CIA carrying out a secret war. Iran-Contra redux. Only Congress has the power to authorize war, at least as far as the Constitution is concerned, even if our history has shown that has hardly stopped presidents from doing so.
One CIA official in the L.A. Times story mentions the Bourne movies. Its that aspect among the huge abuses of executive authority and secrecy that makes the story interesting. Republicans need not blow a casket worrying about any actual investigation. Even when we have had investigations as in the Iran-Contra scandal, many of those convicted : Admiral John Poindexter was found guilty of multiple felonies and was later hired by George W. Bush ( if the average citizen is ever convicted of a felony they become ineligible to work in sensitive government posts) and Elliot Abrams who plea bargained his Iran-Contra charges down to a fine and probation – also later hired to work for a time in the Bush 43 administration. While in recent history Scooter Libby was convicted on four federal crimes and soon had his sentence commuted by Bush. While former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards turned out to be a sleazebag in his personal life, no truer words were ever spoken when he said ( to paraphrase) there are two Americas. In one, average Americans have can have their lives ruined by stealing an apple, be arrested and thrown in jail for smoking a cigarette in a restaurant or be impeached for having an encounter with an intern. In the other America the elite can not only get away with grievous crimes against the American people, but be rewarded for it.
So, Maj. Cook filed a request to serve the Commander-in-Chief in Afghanistan on May 8, well after Obama had assumed the presidency, but now, about two months later, is claiming that Obama is not qualified to be president. And instead of going through the administrative process to revoke his orders, which would seem to be a pro forma matter, he sued in federal court.
Per Newshounds even some rightie bloggers have pointed out how deeply sleazy Maj. Cook is being. The unit he would have been with will now either be short one commanding officer or someone will get obscenely short notice to pack and go to take Cook’s place.