So this week we learned that Vice President Dick Cheney created a CIA hit squad taking orders directly from his office — a little factoid which he happened to keep secret throughout the remainder of the Bush Administration. From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from the U.S. Congress about a secret counterterrorism program on orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, a senator said on Sunday as Democrats called for an investigation. … The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.
The Wall Street Journal said the secret initiative terminated by Panetta was an effort to carry out a 2001 authorization by then Republican President George W. Bush to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.
Let’s get some reactions from arch-liberal power-brokers Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein:
Feinstein and Democrat Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, insisted no one should go outside the law.
Asked about Cheney’s alleged involvement, Leahy told the CBS programFace the Nation:I’d like to know if it’s true or not. I mean, nobody in this country is above the law … You can’t have somebody say, well, if you’re vice president, you don’t have to obey the law.
Feinstein said Congressshould have been told.
This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shockafter September 11, she said on Fox.But … I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.
Oh, well. It was wrong because it wasn’t The Law.
So, just so we’re clear, if Cheney and Bush had gotten Congress to change the federal laws so that it would be perfectly legal for the Vice President of the United States to create unaccountable secret international death squads that take orders from, and report only to the highest levels of, Executive power, would that have somehow made it alright?