Articles

Investigate and Prosecute

In Bush/Cheney Administration, Commentary, U.S government, U.S History, U.S Presidents, war on terror on July 13, 2009 by Editor Z

Here is yet another disturbing, but not surprising allegation that former Vice President Cheney ordered that information on a secret CIA program ordered to kill Al-Queda terrorists, not be shared with members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, a violation of the law, so the legislative branch can have oversight and knowledge of the CIA’s activities.

The revelations were made regarding the program that even current CIA director Leon Paneta lacked knowledge of until June when he ended the program.

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from Congress about a secret counter terrorism program on orders from former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a leading U.S. senator said on Sunday.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told Fox News Sunday that CIA Director Leon Panetta disclosed Cheney’s involvement when he briefed members of Congress two weeks ago. She said Panetta told them he had canceled the program.

President Barack Obama appointed Panetta to head the agency early this year. The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

News of Cheney’s involvement, first reported by the Times late on Saturday, prompted an outpouring of criticism by Obama’s fellow Democrats and support by rival Republicans in Congress.

Now calls for investigations and possible prosecutions of officials in the small elite of the Bush/Cheney inner circle, regarding torture and wiretapping, could be reawakened after a period when such calls had begun to become more muted and Attorney General Eric Holder is even raising such possibilities.

Many Conservative critics worry this is politically motivated and that since those was a low level program that at least as far as was never “fully operational” or was employed, and if so would be utilized to target top Al-Queda Janissary’s, that this shouldn’t be met with such outrage.

However, National Security is a matter that the American people have the most at stake and that transparency to a certain degree is of the greatest value. That doesn’t mean the whole world should have knowledge of military troop movements, or much our intelligence, but that at least Congressional Intelligence committees can exercises oversight and ensure that any programs aren’t either laden with waste or used in a way that breaks laws, violates liberties of American citizens, and be employed in the most efficacious manner.

Rather or not the aims of this program were admirable or just is irrelevant. Since at least 2001 a deplorable and dangerous culture where legislative power is usurped routinely, judicial power is manipulated, oversight is not administered, and a small circle of elites surrounding the Executive Branch seeks to maximize its authority and powers in matters both salient and trivial, large and small. That has to end and oversight and a level of transparency must be reintroduced so that a government that is based not on rickety ideology, an avarice for power, and incompetence in policy execution can be concluded and condemned for being the abhorrence to our system of what it is.

This is just one in a long train of possible infractions of the law regarding in the amassing of intelligence as well as allegations of torture and civil liberties violations. The mantra of “look forward, not backward” have been iterated by those in both parties. That is tempting, especially as we find ourselves in such a grave and deeply involved in foreign policy, national security, and economic challenges. But if the law was broken we must find out. Not only because a law could have been seriously broken, but because leniency in acting to penalize such a crime would set a precedent that will be used by this and other future administrations to justify similar controversial policies and continue to cast aside the system of checks and balances that oversight by the other two branches of government provides that protects the American people from the dangers and excesses that can result from power.

Also whenever in the annals of History a wrong has been committed and then goes unpunished or unaddressed, it paves the way for what is at best a repeat of that wrong or the foundation for something far worse. In the 1838 there was ‘the trail of tears’ where by order of President Andrew Jackson (and in violation of a Supreme Court ruling) around 42 million Cherokee were unjustly removed and resulted in the deaths of numerous Cherokee Indians, about sixty years later we saw another atrocious episode towards the Native American with the massacre of Wounded Knee. We had slavery and the ineffectiveness in dealing with the strife and horrendous crime of slavery led to decades of Jim Crow segregation and violence directed towards African-Americans. We had World War I and the failure to address the postwar situation, paved the way for the craven brutality of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. We failed to penalize those responsible for the Palmer Raids and Red Scare of the 1920s, and we got McCarthyism and the red scare of the 1950s. We failed to effectively punish those in the Nixon administration who wronged this country in the Watergate Scandal and COINTELPRO and we got the possible violations of law and national principles that have come to surface as a result of the previous administration.

Inaction will be seen as a new standard of good and lawful policy, and in the future injustice or ineptitude is certainly set to follow in the near future. The steady stream of allegations and the alarming use of secrecy by the last administration needs to be investigated, penalized, and condemned as the violation of our national principles that it is.

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