Monday, July 20, 2009

Update on: The CIA and Dick Cheney

Didn't want to leave you hanging on some of the stories I've blogged about in recent weeks. This is the first update of several coming your way:

The CIA and Dick Cheney

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee announced that it would move forward with an investigation into charges that the CIA misled and/or lied to Congress about the existence of a covert program widely rumored to involve hit squads empowered to target members of Al-Qaeda on foreign soil. Dick Cheney, to no one's surprise, is alleged to be the man who insisted on Congress being kept out of the loop, a possible violation of the National Security Act. While it would be nice if this investigation could proceed in a non-partisan manner, that will clearly not be the case. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the committee who had previously indicated he would support such an investigation, now says, "At no time will the Republicans of this committee agree to or take part in congressional Democrats' efforts to tear down the CIA to provide cover for Speaker Pelosi. In the absence of substantiated facts, to even speculate on potential criminal behavior shows that this is little more than partisan, political theater and continues the politicization of important intelligence matters by Democrats."

Hoekstra seems to forget that the purpose of an investigation is to separate fact from fiction...something you can't do if you don't proceed with an investigation. There's little dispute that the CIA withheld information and that alone merits a fact-finding mission. What's in question is whether those actions constituted a criminal act, a question both valid to ask and important to answer. Both sides are posturing, but in the end it's patently obvious that a fact-finding investigation is the right way to go. This isn't exactly grasping at straws. There's a strong basis for pursuing this no matter what hidden agendas may or may not exist. The people of this country can ultimately conclude for themselves what's being politicized or not. They don't need the GOP to make that decision for them, and they certainly don't need them to block efforts to provide the facts upon which those decisions can me made.

Besides, the GOP doesn't have much to worry about. Here's how this will likely shake out in the end: the investigation will verify most of what's already been reported, but the question of its legality will be murky enough that some of the very Democrats who asked for this to be pursued will decline to press the matter as a criminal one. Also, it's just not very popular to prosecute someone over their plans to kill members of Al-Qaeda. That's a tough sell. It's like trying to convict a vigilante who went after child molesters. Good luck getting the average voter to bite on that. Failure to notify Congress is the issue, of course, but "killing Al-Qaeda" is all anyone will hear.

Republicans will claim victory, saying the investigation proves the Democrats were just trying to cover for Pelosi, while the Democrats will say their refusal to pursue a criminal complaint is not evidence that a crime was not committed. Cheney will laugh and celebrate by drinking goat blood. The best thing to come out of this, or so we can hope, is a serious discussion about how intelligence should be shared between the various branches of our government. The issue of transparency, especially in matters of national security, is a challenging one to address, but it's one we should address and not simply ignore. We all want to kill Al-Qaeda. It's the issue of how that needs to be front and center.


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