It's Time for a Special Prosecutor

The plot thickens, as they say. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been linked to a decision within the Bush Administration to conceal a still-unidentified CIA program from Congress. The New York Times has the story:

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency's director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

Leon Panetta was sworn in as Director of the CIA on February 20, 2009. Why did it take four months for subordinates to inform the CIA Director of an on-going program? While intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the CIA interrogation program and did not involve domestic intelligence activities, the exact nature and purpose of the program remains unknown.

Intelligence officials have said the program was started by the counterterrorism center at the CIA shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year. It remains unclear whether the program was conceived by the intelligence community or by the Vice President's office.

More from the New York Times story:

The law requires the president to make sure the intelligence committees "are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity." But the language of the statute, the amended National Security Act of 1947, leaves some leeway for judgment, saying such briefings should be done "to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters."

In addition, for covert action programs, a particularly secret category in which the role of the United States is hidden, the law says that briefings can be limited to the so-called Gang of Eight, consisting of the Republican and Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress and of their intelligence committees.

The disclosure about Mr. Cheney's role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general's report underscored the central role of the former vice president's office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency's program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded had hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort.

Four knowledgeable sources have told Newsweek that Attorney General Holder is leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate Bush-era torture policies and programs. The Attorney General may be in politically tough spot given the Obama Administration's penchant for looking forward and not backwards but the Attorney General also has the responsibility of enforcing the nation's laws. It's time for the Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Tags: Attorney General Eric Holder, bush administration, CIA, civil liberties, Richard Cheney, torture (all tags)



Re: It's Time for a Special Prosecutor

When will it be time to go straight to jail? Cheney's time is approaching fast. There is a related post at

by carlyt 2009-07-11 04:57PM | 0 recs
slight correction

It's past time for a special prosecutor to look into these abuses of power. But I totally agree with your post.

by desmoinesdem 2009-07-11 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: slight correction

Funny you should say that because as soon as I hit published, I thought that I should have said that it was long past due.

In reality, AG Mukasey should have acted during his tenure.

by Charles Lemos 2009-07-11 06:42PM | 0 recs
"psychic friends" again!

But Mukasey would never have been appointed if he'd been the kind of person to act on these abuses.

Yoo should be disbarred, if the California Bar Association has any principles.

by desmoinesdem 2009-07-11 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: "psychic friends" again!

Why? What did Charles ever do to you?

by Jess81 2009-07-11 07:01PM | 0 recs
no, John Yoo should be disbarred

Did you read my comment as telling Charles, "You should be disbarred"? That's not what I meant. I was talking about Yoo.

by desmoinesdem 2009-07-12 04:22AM | 0 recs
Yoo's on First Base, Nobody is watching the CIA

And  I Don't Know is playing every other base.

Gonzo and Fourthbranch, the new stand-up comedy duo.

by Bruce Webb 2009-07-12 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: no, John Yoo should be disbarred

It was a joke.  "Yoo should be disbarred!"  Less a joke than me just thinking it was funny.

by Jess81 2009-07-12 11:47AM | 0 recs
Oh I get it now

that's funny because at first that's how I read it and I still didn't get the joke.

by DTOzone 2009-07-12 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: It's Time for a Special Prosecutor

I'd love to be wrong about this, but I've said again and again that imperial powers don't prosecute their leaders for carrying out their imperial prerogatives.  Nixon would have been impeached for the Watergate burglary - a crime against another part of the American ruling class, but his greater crimes overseas were stricken out of the articles of impeachment.

Similarly, if this happens, it's going to be extremely limited in scope.  They'll investigate wiretaps of members of Congress, whether the Vice-Presidents office was running its own foreign policy in circumvention of the legislature, and domestic spying.  This is I think the broadest possible topic of what the Special Prosecuter will be able to investigate - remember, since the Independent Council statue expired, Special Prosecuters have to follow Justice Department guidelines and can't widen the scope of their original mandate.

Torture, cooking intelligence, assassinations, war profiteering - the big stuff - that's just what superpowers do.

by Jess81 2009-07-11 07:06PM | 0 recs
Don't waste your breath

NOTHING will happen. There is a long list of crimes that we knew and that are steadily trickling out, toture, the CIA stuff, warrantless and vastly expanded wiretapping, all of which was illegal and yet there is no accountability and WH is not even looking for any. Just more disclosure without any accountability.

by tarheel74 2009-07-11 08:12PM | 0 recs
probably the White House is not looking

but Holder has not ruled out appointing a special prosecutor to look into some of this mess. So I don't think you can say with certainty that nothing will happen.

by desmoinesdem 2009-07-12 04:24AM | 0 recs
Re: probably the White House is not looking

Oh but this is MyDD.  Obama eats kittens, also.

by lojasmo 2009-07-12 06:34AM | 0 recs
The smartest move

would be for the White House to back away, say "we're not interested in this, the DOJ can do what it wants, we want to pass healthcare" etc. and let the DOJ do it independently to avoid partisan bickering.

Otherwise this will become "Republicans won't vote with Democrats on healthcare, so Obama is putting them in jail"

by DTOzone 2009-07-12 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Time for a Special Prosecutor

Should not be hard to try to figure out the secret program: 1- CIA is required to work abroad- would they have breach they charter domestically? Also they are either passive or active. It would be an active plan that would create a stir-if we take the statements at face value that it was not torture, assasinations or eavesdropping (what the hell to spies do anyway)- we are left with an active operation on foreign soil involving another entity. I think the 'other' entity is key-are we passing secrets to Israel? Some GOP members thought the misconduct was no big deal- this would fit that- Thoughts?  

by RAULC 2009-07-12 05:40AM | 0 recs
Re: It's Time for a Special Prosecutor

Bad weekend of the Bush administration.time for justice. there is a related post at

by carlyt 2009-07-12 07:53PM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads