Approximately one week ago news stations and blogs were obsessed by reports that the Director of the C.I.A. – Leon Panetta – had recently visited Congress and disclosed that for the past 8 years there had been a secret counterterrorism program that had intentionally been concealed from the Senate and House intelligence committees.
The NY Times July 11th article, “Cheney is linked to concealment of C.I.A. Project” implicates V.P. Cheney. The Times asserts, “The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.”
It turns out that the program was designed to target leaders of Qaeda, which I think most Americans (especially in the days that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) would favor. The Times issued a follow up story in their July 13th article, “C.I.A. had plans to assassinate Qaeda leaders”. The article indicates that “Mr. Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney,” again implicating former V.P. Cheney.
I know many people do not have a problem with the idea of taking out leaders of terrorist organizations, but that is really not the issue that makes me so uncomfortable. Rather it is the lack of disregard for the “checks and balances” that makes our Democracy work (and worthwhile) that time and again seem to have been completely disregarded in the Bush administration. This concept that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney knew what was best and could only be effective if they were allowed to operate without supervision and without having to answer for their actions leaves me sick to my stomach. What would be the reaction (I wonder aloud) if President Obama and V.P. Biden operated in such a manner? What if they acted with the best of intentions but refused to disclose information, respect other branches of government and twisted laws to find interpretations that suited their means?
In the weeks leading up to this controversy, V.P. Dick Cheney was on the proverbial war path asserting that President Obama was compromising the safety of the U.S. He made several visits to the Sunday morning talk shows (i.e. Meet the Press, Face the Nation, etc…) and his daughter, Liz, was almost a permanent fixture on MSNBC and CNN expressing her disdain for the new administrations’ actions.
However in the days that have followed since Panetta shut down the Bush era counter terrorism program, there has not been a single peep from anyone named Cheney. Why the sudden silence now? Silence is not an impartial judge, and I’m left to wonder if the former V.P. believes the public’s assumptions are preferable to his answering these accusations. Mr. Cheney are you even more evil and despicable than my assumptions would lead me to believe?