Cheney, the CIA, and Congress: Now What?

July 13, 2009 "Daily Kos" -- The Cheneys seemed to have slithered back into undisclosed locations over the weekend, just when it might be kind of interesting to hear what Dick has to say about the latest formerly concealed from Congress secret Bush program.

We had to settle for McCain on "Meet the Press," talking about accountability:

SEN. McCAIN:  --we all know that bad things were done.  We all know that the operatives who did it most likely were under orders to do so.  For us to continue this and harm our image throughout the world--I agree with the president of the United States, it's time to move forward and not go back.

MR. GREGORY:  But where's the accountability?

SEN. McCAIN:  Well, the accountability, obviously, is that people's reputations have been harmed very badly.  The question is, is do we want America's image harmed more by dragging this out further and further? You've got to--what's going to be the positive result from airing out and ventilating details of what we already knew took place and should never have, and we are committed to making sure never happens again?

Yes, people's reputations have been harmed very badly, particularly those sacrificial soldiers at Abu Ghraib. And as if Dick Cheney gave two shits about his reputation.

Meanwhile, Senators are shocked, shocked I say, to discover that Dick Cheney directed the CIA to lie to them about a post-9/11 intelligence program. Certainly no one could have foreseen that.

"This is a big problem, because the law is very clear," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." "I think that if the Intelligence Committees had been briefed, they could have watched the program. They could have asked for regular reports on the program. They could have made judgments about the program as it went along. That was not the case because we were kept in the dark. That's something that should never, ever happen again."

Democrats pointed to the reports of Cheney's involvement as a clear violation of the legal authority granted to the vice president.

"You can't have somebody say, well, if you're vice president, you don't have to obey the law," Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) said. "But if you're the soldier out this in the field or if you're a civilian, you had better obey the law. You can't do that. Democracy can't do that."


"That's a serious breach," Sen. Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) [sic] said of the withheld information on CNN's "State of the Union." "Look, you can't gloss over it.... This is a question of whether something was not given the elected leaders of the Congress, which is required by law. That's a serious matter."

Not to minimize the seriousness of this breach, because the Vice President ordering an agency over which he--as Vice President with Constitutional authority over nothing--had no authority over, but where in the hell have these people been for the past eight years? This is the administration that tortured. That instituted illegal spying on who knows how many Americans for who knows what reason. Outrage now, while appreciated, is several years too late.

Hopefully there's enough outrage with this latest revelation, this one that made Congress look even more like Cheney's chumps, that maybe we'll see some real investigations. Yes, they're busy, yes, there are important initiatives that also have to be advanced, from the Sotomayor nomination to health care reform. But in the long run, the restored health of our Constitution, of our democracy, depends on Congress taking back its power. These investigations should have happened beginning in 2007, but better late than never.

And besides that, what other shoe is out there to drop? How many more Cheney administration secrets are hiding in executive branch closets? Better Congress be proactive in finding that out.


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