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If this were the democracy that the Founding Fathers thought they were creating, word from CIA Director Leon Panetta that his agency had lied to Congress and specifically that it had lied repeatedly from 9-11-2001 through the end of 2008 concerning an as-yet undisclosed secret program, would have virtually every member of Congress in a state of rebellion, demanding answers.
After all, the CIA is required by law to report to at least the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and to the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress about such things.
But not only did the spy agency not report on what it was up to; it lied about what it was up to.
Now, given what we do know about the Bush/Cheney administration—that it initiated a massive campaign of spying on Americans by the Defense Department, the FBI, and the National Security Agency, as well as other intelligence agencies, that it initiated a campaign of torture of captives, including American citizens, while asserting that the President didn’t even need to notify the courts or the public about the arrest, detention, torture or even execution of an American citizen if he, acting on his own, deemed that person to be an “enemy combatant,” and given that we also know that Bush and Cheney lied repeatedly about the justification for their invasion of Iraq, and refused to be put under oath in their “interviews” by the 9-11 Commission, you would think the members of Congress, which was railroaded into supporting everything from the USA PATRIOT Act to the Iraq War invasion based on all these lies and deceptions, would be demanding answers regarding this mysterious program.
Instead, we get vague expressions of concern, and promises of reform by congressional leaders like Rep. Steny Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and by CIA Director Panetta.
And no explanation of the program in question, even though Panetta claims it was never actually implemented.
Why, we should be asking, would the CIA have lied for eight long years about the existence of a program that it never implemented?
Anyone who believes that nonsense should be a prime target of one of those Nigerian internet scammers. There’s a lot of money to be made from such suckers.
My guess is that what is being hidden here was a massive spying campaign by the Agency against Americans and/or a dirty campaign of assassinations conducted on a national and international scale—one which would assuredly have led to many deaths of innocent people.
Given that we have learned, courtesy of the excellent reporting by New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh, is that Vice President Cheney personally oversaw the operation of a secret death squad operation, called the Joint Special Operations Command, allegedly led by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, now head of US operations in Afghanistan.
Given the timing of this big CIA lying campaign—it began immediately after 9-11, right when Cheney was saying that the US would need to turn to “the dark side”—it doesn’t take much imagination to suspect that this is what it is all about.
Take a bunch of power-drunk people in the White House and the Pentagon, and a cowering Congress and an American public being deliberately frightened out of its wits, a new set of laws and executive orders that give the president and his subordinates dictatorial powers that would have made Saddam Hussein or Joseph Stalin envious, and it’s a short step to a black campaign of terror, disappearances and executions.
All of this will eventually come to light, I am sure. But it is unlikely to come to light courtesy of the Congress, which is showing all the assertiveness of a field mouse. Nor is it likely to be exposed by the corporate media, which have long since thrown in the towel on serving as a Fourth Estate. And it sure won’t come from the Obama administration, which is even opposing timid calls in Congress for a broader future requirement for notification of Congress about CIA activities and actions. When it comes to exposing the crimes and abuses of the Bush/Cheney years, the Obama administration has decided it likes what it saw, and wants to continue with the new executive powers and secrecy that it inherited.
So we’ll have to wait for honest whistle-blowers and for the alternative media to find out the real story here.
Jefferson, Madison et all must be cringing in their coffins at the wreckage of their creation.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org