Assassinations, Accountability and the CIA
The murky world of what the CIA should be doing has engaged our Readers Who Comment in a food fight this morning as they debate whether CIA Director Leon Panetta was right to cancel a CIA assassination program targeting al-Qaeda leaders but never revealed to Congress.
Joby Warrick reports that CIA officials were planning to activate training for the program, conceived during the Bush administration, when Panetta pulled the plug. Columnist David Ignatius, also a spy novelist who long covered the CIA as a reporter, writes that "The latest 'scandals' involving the Central Intelligence Agency are genuinely hard to understand, other than in terms of political payback."
While most readers seem to agree there should be limits and accountability for the CIA, they disagree on what those limits should be. Some applaud Panetta. Others invite us to recall the horrors of 9/11 and essentially say anything goes. All this being played against the discussion of whether there should be an investigation of Bush administration actions in the War on Terror.
First to the comments on the article:
We'll start with tmkwanwho wrote, "...The present administration was right to put a stop to this sort of thing the moment it learned of it."
But Rob_ said, "I thank God the Administration shut down the assassination program before it did something terrible like killing Osama bin Laden."
rkerg wrote, "Very smart of Panetta... now that the Repubs are out of office, their foot soldiers in the agency are willing to let it go operational now, so, when it blows up, Obama gets the blame for Cheney and Bushes harebrained scheme. It is just another example of the Repubs non accountability doctrine."
CharlesGriffith1 said, "...So, we're immersed right now in an actual shooting war, remember? New York, the Pentagon, that farm field in Pennsylvania...have they faded so quickly? Can you post-ers here face these family members with these comments? In war one kills one's enemies, right?..."
But troutcor wrote, "Assassinations, torture, secret prisons, kidnapping, indefinite imprisonment with no trial? All of this caused by, what, 100 guys in a cave in Afghanistan? No matter how spectacular Sept. 11 was, can we have some perspective? Is it worth trashing our supposedly most deeply held values to track down 100 nutjobs? Besides, wouldn't it help to find these clowns first before we set out to kill them?"
steve_k2 said, "I bet there's a different assasination program that is and has been in operation."
And Muley63 wrote, "I don't believe that's what Cheney is hiding. We're at war with al-Qaeda, so I don't think many Democrats would have been against killing our enemies. It's got to be something else. Domestic spying? Spying on allies?"
biglio said, "the republicans really need to get an education, study some history, law and the constitution. The point here is that this program is against two laws, one that mandates congress to be informed of something like this and one that prohibits CIA to set up assassination squads... And last but not least for all the people that say that osama needs to be killed, this is exactly what the ARMY is doing and the drones and our military in afghanistan, pakistan and Irak..."
dsrobins wrote, "Eight years of lies, concealment and dishonesty. That's neatly summarizes the GWBush administration. Now is clearly the time to call for a bipartisan Senatorial level investigation of all the crimes they committed while in office..."
pbeaverson said, "...There are too many holes in the present story. Perhaps the revelation of the program to Panetta was directed by Cheney as a red herring...a diversion from the truth...When will we ever find out the truth? So much simply doesn't make sense."
ankhorite asked, "How many felonies need to come to light before President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder decide they don't intend to become accessories after the fact?...Prosecution is a necessity to protect us from future Administrations assuming that they too will be immune, and never answer for their crimes..."
normanx wrote, "... this is a smokescreen to hide the obvious: That there was a fully implemented and executed program that went outside the laws of this land and the constitution. Dick Cheney was an architect of this program and must be called to task. All those who deceive congress should be jailed. It's the law."
gmclocks said, "...the discrediting of the CIA by the Democrats must have Bin Laden and his associates laughing their heads off. Obama is killing them from the air and a few locals along with them. A targeted assassination team can do the same thing and reduce civilian casualties... You defeatists, wake up and take a real stance against enemies of your country..."
Then there was this exchange:
ABethesda wrote, "Too much Jason Bourne, not enough Constitution..."
To which crazyeagle replied, "Don't forget 24"
All comments on the article are here.
Now to a few of the comments on the Ignatius column.
dboz1970 wrote, "I agree with David. The responsible thing to do for the good of the Nation is to forget it ever happened. I would even go a bit further and erase all records that it ever happened. We need to look to the future. Surely the knowledge that there were ALMOST consequences for committing these illegal and possibly treasonous acts is deterrent enough and will force future administrations to act within the law."
But blackmask said, "The problem with your defense of the CIA is that as long as we say one thing, and then do something different, that makes us...liars. Look it up. That is fine, if that is ok with you, but you CANNOT have it both ways. You don't maintain moral high ground if, in fact, you are doing all the secretive, un-legislated, un-discussed, actions such as rendition to secret foreign torture prisons, etc. Again, the actions can be defended on their merits, but you can't have it both ways. Choose one."
childressp wrote, "What we're really talking about here are limits. I don't imagine you are advocating a CIA which has none, and Democrats in Congress are not advocating dismantling our intelligence capabilities. That leaves what we find acceptable limits to the CIA's activities..."
likovid said, "The central question should be regarding the law. If people broke the law, they should be prosecuted, over and above political considerations."
And Toosoonoldtoolatesmart wrote, "Thanks to David Ignatius for accurately illuminating the competing forces in the ideological war to undermine U.S. intelligence capabilities."
All comments on the column are here.
July 16, 2009; 7:05 AM ET
Categories: CIA , Intelligence | Tags: Assassination, CIA, Intelligence, Panetta
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