Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheney/CIA: Blame to Spare and Blame to Share

It is a yardstick of the degree of paranoia in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s messiah complex that he ordered the CIA counter terrorism programme to be kept secret from Congress, let alone that he also authorised secret wire tapping in defiance of the law.

All the evidence suggests that if he had had the good sense to put them both in the USA PATRIOT Act, and who knows, the outing of Valerie Plame as well, they would have been passed into law on the nod from both sides of Congress whipped into authoritarian frenzy by the title Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

After all, few if any of the legislators who voted for this massive erosion of civil liberties, Democrats included, read any longer than the lengthy title. Russ Feingold was the sole Solon to vote against. While Democratic leaders are shouting loudly now, they were hoodwinked and stampeded like lemmings into the Aye lobby, goaded along by patriotism. Cheney of course was one of the herdsman for the lemmings, culpable on every level. Certainly the Congressional Intelligence committees would have been unlikely to blench at the idea of a program to assassinate Al-Qaeda leaders in a personal sort of way, when neither they nor their colleagues have shouted over-much about the use of drones and missiles with a proven record of “collateral” damage.

Quite apart from the moral aspects, the political fallout from the drone attacks suggests, as the French statesman said about one of Napoleon’s over-enthusiastic executions, they are worse than a crime, they are blunders.

John Nance Gardner, who served two terms as Vice President to FDR said the office was "not worth a bucket of warm piss." (The same spirit of non-boat rockery that led the lemmings to vote for the PATRIOT Act, transformed the “piss” to “spit”). But he was VP to Franklyn Delano Roosevelt. Cheney was VP to George W. Bush who proudly did not do “nuance” and who let him have a free rein, indeed a free reign, far beyond the very limited powers and prerogatives of the Vice Presidential Office. In retrospect, one can only be very relieved that nothing happened to Air Force One on 9-11.

Cheney’s behavior should certainly be the subject of a public investigation, and on the evidence available, there are prima facie arguments for prosecution. But the complicity of the Democratic leaders in this pattern of repressive actions probably inhibits them from following through. They certainly were prepared to blink, if not wink, when faced with evidence of water-boarding and other forms of torture.

They should follow the example of Senator Robert Byrd who lamented his vote for the PATRIOT act, which he described as “a case study in the perils of speed, herd instinct and lack of vigilance when it comes to legislating in times of crisis. The Congress was stampeded, and the values of freedom, justice and equality received a trampling in the headlong rush." Democratic leaders should ’fess up to their complicity: and go after Cheney with vigor.

And promise never again to let themselves be railroaded by spurious patriots, presidents, or vice presidents into surrendering their prerogatives as legislators and their ethics as politicians.

1 comment:

Rupa said...

Excellent! Cheney should be tried and put in jail ( not a special one... no privileges ).