Monday, July 13, 2009


I was a bit puzzled this morning when I read this admiring post from Spencer Ackerman:

All credit is due to The Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman, who provides the most thorough account so far of what the "significant actions" were that CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Congress about -- and stopped -- late last month. To make a long story short: the effort was apparently an on-again-off-again attempt to create an assassinations capability to go after al-Qaeda, following a post-9/11 presidential finding from George W. Bush....

Well, of course that story would go to Rupert Murdoch's flagship paper -- and I'm sure very little shoe-leather reporting was needed. Now that the existence of the program is out of the bag, and we know about the reaction of Panetta, it's natural that Bush-Cheney sympathizers with knowledge of the program would want to shift attention quickly, away from the administration's utter contempt for legal requirements on disclosure, and toward the notion that the program itself was neat and cool and something that would have been utterly uncontroversial to Joe Sixpack, had its existence been known -- but, bafflingly, liberals are upset.

And so on to phase two: Liz Cheney goes on the radio show of The Washington Times and says this:

There's this big piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning that says that it was a number of different concepts for ways that we could capture or kill al Qaeda leaders in the days after 9/11. I am really surprised that the Democrats decide that that’s what they want to fight over. I mean, if they want to go to the American people and say that they disagree with the notion that we ought to be capturing and killing al Qaeda leaders, I think it's just going to prove to the American people one more time why they can't trust the Democrats with our national security.

Steve Benen calls this "transparent hackery" and says,

even the most casual of observers can look at this and realize the controversy is about possibly illegal secrecy. Dick Cheney reportedly directed the CIA not to tell Congress about the program. It's one thing to be a mindless partisan shill, but can she name anyone, anywhere, who "disagrees with the notion that we ought to be capturing and killing al Qaeda leaders" because they think the CIA ought to follow the law regarding congressional notification of intelligence activities?

-- but Steve is missing the point: the subject now is not Bush/Cheney contempt for the law but, rather, Can you believe those Dems and libs? Bush and Cheney wanted to kill the bad guys and now those America-haters are pissed off. The pas de deux -- Wall Street Journal to Liz Cheney -- was so perfectly, swiftly executed, you'd almost think it was coordinated, wouldn't you?

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