Free Markets, Free People


CIA, Cheney and Al Qaeda

Unlike the left, I’m having difficulty getting too excited about a CIA program that never got out of the planning stage. The NYT carries the story today. Essentially the gist is that the CIA, under the supervision of Darth Cheney, planned (for 8 years apparently) to deploy assassination teams to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives where ever they were to be found.

Certainly, had they actually done that and say “captured or killed” someone in a place other than Iraq or Afghanistan, I think there would certainly be legal questions (and problems) involved (assuming we did so without the knowledge and permission of the country in which the person targeted was to be found). But as is obvious in the NYT story, these plans were never executed and for all we know, it may be because of those concerns about its legality that it remained only a plan.

On the other hand, I can also understand the concern of those who say all such plans, by law, must be disclosed to the body charged with oversight, whether executed or not. That’s how rogue operations are prevented, and this non-disclosure, by definition, would make it such an operation. Oversight and disclosure are key to a free and open society, so I’m sympathetic to the complaint that this operation was hidden and that’s wrong.

But other than that, I’m not at all sure any investigation in this program is going to come off as anything other than a witch-hunt and find little sympathy for the investigators with the public at large. This, in the big scheme of things, is going to be considered slap-on-the-wrist stuff for most of the public. Al Qaeda is not a sympathetic organization and considering plans to take out their leadership isn’t going to be seen by the majority of Americans as a “bad” thing, especially when the plans in question were never executed.

What happened is UAVs provided a viable alternative. Putting these sorts of teams together presented all sorts of unanticipated problems which, in combination with the UAV option, quickly shelved the idea. Why the program continued for 8 years and why Congress wasn’t informed are legitimate questions that deserve answers.

Special prosecutors and a legal witch-hunt, however, will not shed any more light on the subject and will find a largely unsympathetic public quickly on the side of those who sought, however clumsily, to protect us and against those who push the prosecution.

~McQ

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17 Responses to CIA, Cheney and Al Qaeda

  • I spent the whole of those eight years listening to anti-Cheney types howling about how if a Democrat were in office, we’d be capturing or killing bin Laden instead of blah blah distraction FAILURE blah blah.
    I expect that at least half of the people “outraged” by this program have in the past been outraged that it wasn’t happening.
    Incidentally, I read (in these pages, in fact) a few weeks ago that Seymour Hersch was on Arab TV peddling a conspiracy theory about how Cheney had personal death squads who’d assassinated Rafik Hariri and Benazir Bhutto. It’s exciting to find that Hersch’s belief system, even at this late date, includes a few (scattered, decontextualized, transmogrified) particles of fact.

  • We are at war with al Qaeda. They have been at war with us since at least the first attack on the World Trade Center. In war, command and control, which includes leadership, is a legitimate target.

  • Why did the program continue for 8 years? Easy. It is a government program.

    QED.

    • Yep, we’re going to investigate a program that they talked about for 8 years but seems to have accomplished nothing (according to their reports).
      Boondoggle anyone?  And now we can boondoggle some more investigating in the boondoggle!

  • On the other hand, I can also understand the concern of those who say all such plans, by law, must be disclosed to the body charged with oversight, whether executed or not.
    Does specific operational planning really fall under the disclosure law when it is only conceptual though? The law says:
    The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity as required by this subchapter.
    Had they developed a workable program and were just awaiting the chance to execute it, then I think it would have to be disclosed. The story says “The plans remained vague…”, so it seems to me that they never got far enough to even anticipate using it. Or is that too narrow of a reading?
     

    • Like I said in reply to another comment, I believe the answer is yes if the project is a funded project and they’re spending money on it.

  • Oops, I hatched the block quotes there. Sorry about that.

  • I don’t think they’re required to inform Congress of every blue-sky idea they chase. There’s really nothing here except a chance for the left to get their hate on — again — with the words “Cheney” and “assassination”.
     

  • >>I can also understand the concern of those who say all such plans, by law, must be disclosed to the body charged with oversight, whether executed or not.>>

    They were informed.  So was anybody else who read the NY Times.  Pretty sad, eh?

    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/nyt-knew-about-cia-plan-in-2002

  • Probably no more than retaliation against the CIA for making Pelosi look stupid by inconveniently pointing out her fabrications.

  • Do you have a particular dollar amount or are we talking about anything beyond basic payroll?  I’m just guessing but i assume there are a lot of plans that don’t get beyond the powerpoint phase that involve travel and consulting fees.

  • Unlike the left, I’m having difficulty getting too excited about a CIA program that never got out of the planning stage. The NYT carries the story today. Essentially the gist is that the CIA, under the supervision of Darth Cheney, planned (for 8 years apparently) to deploy assassination teams to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives where ever they were to be found.

    ***

    Am I alone in  thinking that the real crime here is that they didn’t do the job?

  • I prefer the nation of laws.  However there should be a degree of certainty that a plan is going to move beyond the drawing board before congress is briefed.  About the only time i would say you need to brief them before that would be if it requires funding beyond what has already been authorized for such activities.

    • Possibly. But again, it depends on how the law reads. If they were required by law to brief if they spent any money (or if they were planning something or whatever that law says), then they should have done so. If there is no requirement, then fine. At this point, I’m not sure anyone knows where this falls. Regardless, the CIA has a Constitutional obligation, just like any other federal entity, to follow the law.

  • Why are people getting all upset over Cheney’s illegal death squads, illegal torture techniques, illegal NSA spying program, lets face it, nothing will happen to him, they might investigate, the justification will be 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 or you are only giving ammunition to our enemies and in the end nothing will happen, he is part of the ruling class. The chickens are coming home to roost from the operatives that stole the election for Bush/Cheney 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio. I love listening to Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, these chicken hawks on the War on Terror have become chicken little’s that the sky is falling when it comes to the economy, too funny.