Thursday, July 16, 2009
With the national and cable news cycle consumed by the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings and national healthcare, I expect this nugget from today’s Washington Post will likely go unnoticed. That’s a shame because it may very well illuminate what direction any investigation of former vice president and the secret CIA assassination program, which was concealed from Congress since 2001, will take.
According to the piece, the Obama administration is now defending the Bush-era program as legal. This position would put Obama at odds with powerful members of his own party like Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Russ Feingold who now publicly question its legality and want an investigation.
The Post piece centers around secret CIA al Qaeda assassination teams that were the brainchild of former vice president Dick Cheney. Newly appointed CIA director Leon Panetta promptly killed the program and informed the Congress of its existence which led to the current controversy.
Here’s what Obama’s director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, told the Post:
Blair broke with some Democrats in Congress by asserting that the CIA did not violate the law when it failed to inform lawmakers about the secret program until last month. Blair said agency officials may not have been required to notify Congress about the program, though he believes they should have done so.
“It was a judgment call,” Blair said in an interview. “We believe in erring on the side of working with the Hill as a partner.”
So, Dennis Blair is claiming it’s OK for the CIA to keep Congress in the dark on clandestine national security matters and essentially function like a shadow government?
The Obama administration appears to be sending a not-so-subtle message to Democrats on Capitol Hill: back-off, the CIA assassination program was legal and former vice president Cheney did nothing wrong.
Once again, the question begs, why is President Obama so heavily invested in protecting the previous administration?