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‘Killing Terrorists-Gate’ and Phony Outrage

House Democrats are in (cynical, calculated) high dudgeon after a shocking “revelation” was made public this week.  Brace yourself, because this bombshell isn’t for the faint of heart:  After 9/11, the Bush administration considered a CIA program designed to target and kill top al-Qaeda operatives. Gasp. It gets worse: Some members of Congress now say they weren’t sufficiently briefed on the then-nascent secret program (which was never actually implemented), and it’s even possible that Vice President Cheney intentionally kept lawmakers in the dark about the preliminary plans (which, again, never became operational). Once you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, take a look at the Wall Street Journal article outlining the latest creation of the Left’s outrage machine:

A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter.

According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn’t become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it. 

These allegedly startling developments (I’m sure someone, somewhere is “gravely concerned” about them) have provided something of a political opening for Nancy Pelosi, who is still reeling from her comedic, escalating series of lies regarding her knowledge of enhanced interrogation techniques being employed against terrorist detainees. She claims she wasn’t briefed that certain EITs were being used; virtually everyone else says the opposite. Pelosi’s foolish game of chicken with the CIA isn’t going especially well for her. Now that Democrats detect a faint whiff of a chance to provide cover for their embattled speaker, they’re pouncing:

With their Speaker behind them, House Democrats are pushing ahead with plans to hold a series of hearings investigating instances in which intelligence officials may have misled members of Congress.
Senior Democratic aides said that a major announcement could come by the end of week, but it was already clear on Monday that House Democrats are seizing on weekend news reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney hid information from Congress.

With their Speaker behind them, House Democrats are pushing ahead with plans to hold a series of hearings investigating instances in which intelligence officials may have misled members of Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday signaled that she would give the House Intelligence Committee a green light to investigate incidents in which the CIA misled or lied to Congress, including times when Cheney was supposedly involved.

Why, of course she would!  Why wouldn’t she? Evil Dick Cheney (who’s been kicking their tails in the national-security debate) might have withheld “crucial” information about executive branch attempts to kill terrorists seven years ago. If that’s not a Grade-A scandal, I don’t know what is. Thank heavens Leon Panetta put an official end to this dormant program, and finally told Congress about it. If Panetta hadn’t blown the cover off of Killing-Terrorists-Gate, perhaps nobody would have ever known about it.  

Oh wait.  Andrew Breitbart’s Twitter feed  directs us to this New York Times story from December, 2002:

The Bush administration has prepared a list of terrorist leaders the Central Intelligence Agency is authorized to kill, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized, senior military and intelligence officials said.

The previously undisclosed C.I.A. list includes key Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, the officials said. The names of about two dozen terrorist leaders have recently been on the lethal-force list, officials said. “It’s the worst of the worst,” an official said.

Mr. Bush issued a presidential finding last year, after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, providing the basic executive and legal authority for the C.I.A. to either kill or capture terrorist leaders. Initially, the agency used that authority to hunt for Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. That authority was the basis for the C.I.A.’s attempts to find and kill or capture Mr. Bin laden and other Qaeda leaders during the war in Afghanistan.

Hmm. The outline of this program — described for all the world (including House Democrats) to read in 2002 — sounds a heck of a lot like the bombshell/revelation over which House Democrats are wetting themselves in 2009. Curiouser and curiouser. And if that’s not enough to prove how thoroughly phony their supposed indignation and demands for “truth” commissions are, check out paragraphs 11-12 of the WSJ piece linked above:

Republicans on the panel say that the CIA effort didn’t advance to a point where Congress clearly should have been notified.

One former senior intelligence official said the program was an attempt “to achieve a capacity to carry out something that was directed in the finding,” meaning it was looking for ways to capture or kill al Qaeda chieftains.

The official noted that Congress had long been briefed on the finding, and that the CIA effort wasn’t so much a program as “many ideas suggested over the course of years.” It hadn’t come close to fruition, he added.

Let’s review.  

1. Democrats are “furious” that the Bush administration didn’t tell them about a never-instituted CIA plan to eliminate top terrorists, and want to use the CIA director’s formal cancelation of the program last week as an opportunity to back up the speaker’s reckless and slanderous claim that the CIA lies “all the time.”  

2. But the “secret” program in question was described by The Paper of Record seven years ago, and contemporary reports on the matter include quotes from intelligence sources who say that Congress had “long been briefed” on the original presidential finding that spurred the abandoned CIA strategy.  

I’m beginning to suspect that some Democrats in Congress may not be all that serious about national security.

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