Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Cheney and the CIA Plot! Plus more Birthdays.
Hey Vice-Precedence Blog readers! Well, over the weekend and in the last 24 hours there has been a lot of discussion about former Vice-President Cheney and if 8 years ago he illegally concealed from Congress and the American public a counterterrorism program the CIA was just starting.
New CIA Director Leon Panetta, who as I have already reported in this blog, has been very critical of the former VP's recent comments about how the Obama Administration is handling national security, put a halt to the program last month on June 23. The day after the program was dismantled, Director Panetta had meetings with both the Senate and House Intelligence committees who learned of the existence of this program for the first time and let them know that he had stopped it. This all is happening as the House is about to enter a debate into whether or not more government officials need to be informed about these kinds of secrets.
No one has yet revealed exactly what this program was meant to do or how it was going about it. It is known that the program was created very soon after the attacks on 9/11, at a time where a lot of ideas were being tossed around since no one knew if another attack was imminent and the general feeling of the country was-"Let's do something! Anything!"
Now some Democrats are calling for an investigation to decide if what VP Cheney did was legal. Of course there has been a lot of arguing along partisan lines on whether or not this deserves an investigation. I get the feeling that in a way, the Obama Administration almost doesn't want to dredge this up because it could damage their ability to work with Republicans on what they want to accomplish domestically in the economy, health care, and the environment. After all, this program was created 8 years ago, and never really got off the ground it seems. Director Panetta canceled it last month and Congress has been informed about it. It is over.
In fact, in an article in the NEW YORK TIMES an anonymous CIA officer says that no one in the agency protested against Director Panettas decision to terminate this program which is now causing all this debate.
“Because this program never went fully operational and hadn’t been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial,” the official said. “That’s worth remembering amid all the drama.”
So maybe this isn't as big a deal as some people seem to think it is? Or is that just naive?
Does the fact that Cheney gave direct orders to CIA directors to not let Congress know about this effort demonstrate how important it was to the White House? Or does it say that the Administration felt that this program was so small and insignificant, that they felt they didn't really need to let Congress know? Does any of this matter at all since the program is deader than a beheaded zombie? What do you think?
As of today, former VP Cheney and no one on his staff at the time have commented in any way about this new controversy. Cheney has a history of wanting to keep government secrets....well, secret. Even going to the Supreme Court over the issue. What happens now? Well, people have their opinions of course:
Conservative: National Review: Michael Goldfarb writes, “From what I can tell this Cheney scandal story . . . is the mother of all nothingburgers. It’s hard for me not to see it as a ploy by Democrats to distract from the fact that the stimulus bill is a dud, healthcare is going badly and cap-and-trade looks like a disaster. The base always enjoys beating up on Cheney and the press likes that stuff too.”
Liberal: First Draft: Liberal Blogger Athenae writes: “Even with this major scary new revelatory whatever, no matter what it ends up being about, in about two weeks we’re going to have a resolution declaring it’s all okay, and nobody needs to go to jail or apologize or anything. I’d love to be proved wrong, by the way, but I don’t think I will be.”
I wonder if since Cheney's not talking about it now, if he will in his book? Congressional hearings on secret CIA programs would be a hell of a way to drum up some publicity for the still unknown titled book-and that's a secret that he's done a great job of keeping.
Well, what do you think? Please let us know, and also, let us know about things you'd like us to address here on the blog-we value our readers.
On another note-HAPPY BIRTHDAY former VP and President Gerald Ford and more importantly-JASON KLAMM! Co-producer and co-writer of "VICE-PRECEDENCE:Being Number Two in the White House" the documentary film, the book, and of course, here on the blog. Imagine that-one of the producers of the first ever documentary on the Vice-Presidency sharing a birthday with a Veep. Thanks for reading folks.