Not that it’s a surprise, but are we at the point now where we start talking seriously about prosecutions? Because it’s apparent that Cheney directed the C.I.A. to break the law by concealing information and if the guy can get away with anything as long as it was done for national security reasons, well, what kind of precedent does that set?
And I do believe this is different than warrantless wiretapping, waterboarding, etc. Because while many people were uncomfortable with those programs, at least our elected officials knew about them.
In any event, here’s the story from NY Times:
The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agencyâ€™s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.
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.
Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.
And here’s the kicker…apparently the program wasn’t that important…
Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the C.I.A. interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the C.I.A. shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year.
â€œBecause this program never went fully operational and hadnâ€™t been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial,â€ one intelligence official, who would speak about the classified program only on condition of anonymity. â€œThatâ€™s worth remembering amid all the drama.â€
Why did Cheney want to keep it so hush hush? Maybe to simply see if he could? A test case to see if the C.I.A. would keep its mouth shut?
Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough.