Boomerang, Waas on Cheney's Karma
By: Mark W Adams

(UPDATE: Also check out Sidney Blumenthal's detailed analysis of the "fog of war" defense Libby has attempted -- instead of just cutting the deal to finger Cheney. Salon's Day-Pass is worth Libby's Cynical Defense.)
Murray Waas is writing THE history of Dick Cheney and intelligence leaks, and how the VP's strident attempts to make the Executive Branch impervious to interference by Congress or the press has come back to bite the Decider-of-Vice© on the ass.

Waas interviewed former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) for the National Journal, and explored how Cheney's obsession with intelligence leaks regarding NSA intercepts the day before 9/11 (that were not translated until 9/12), and the VP's demand that Congress be fully investigated, set in motion events that led to the Scooter Libby trial.  That trial has elicited evidence confirming prior speculation that Cheney's Chief of Staff was not some rogue actor, but he and others in the White House were following orders from the VP himself:
"They [the administration] would have had a certain exposure to hypocrisy if they hid behind executive privilege" when the Plame investigation began, or if they had fought the appointment of a special prosecutor, Graham said. "It made it politically untenable to avoid having a strong investigation, because they had demanded it of us. With us, they said we should call out the meanest, leanest dogs. The example that they set with us became the boomerang that came around and hit them."
Waas documents Cheney's obsession with clamping down on leaks back to his days in the Ford administration when he wanted to jail Seymour Hersh, while working for the NY Times, for exposing a spy program against the USSR.  Even then, Cheney was not above using an intelligence leak to thwart Congressional oversight -- then in the form of the Church Committee's investigation of the CIA's coups, assassinations and domestic spying.
When the Justice Department balked at prosecuting anyone, Cheney adroitly tried to exploit the news report for other ends. He wrote under the heading "Broader ramifications": "Can we take advantage of it to bolster our position on the Church committee investigation? To point out the need for limits on the scope of the investigation?"
Dick Cheney is the epitome of the mindset that places the whims of the White House above anything else -- a law unto itself.  This is a theory of executive omnipotence that has given us some 1,100 Presidential Signing Statements directly thwarting any legal checks on the administration's absolute authority, not to mention every major White House scandal other than the Monica Lewinsky saga.

We begin seeing this in the CIA's involvement in Watergate, and the Pentagon Papers exposing our secret, illegal actions in Cambodia and throughout SE Asia.  The Church Committee's investigation of these incidents and exposure of others led to more oversight of our clandestine services.  I submit that those checks on executive authority coming out of those investigations served us well, even at the height of the cold war during the Reagan/Bush(41)'s era -- a time no less dangerous, more so, than we live in today.

But even with stringent oversight, we saw the hidden black-box that is the intelligence services (How many agencies again? 16? 19? I've lost track.) resulting in negotiating with terrorist enemies -- giving them weapons in exchange for hostages, and the funding of full-scale wars in South America.

Based on this history, I have little doubt that the restructuring of our intelligence services by the current administration, and the concentration of so much of it under the Department of Defense, is merely a continuation of an effort to concentrate the real power in this nation, the unquestionable, unseen, unknown, very well funded, secret power in this nation in the hands of a powerful and ideologically "pure" group.

I know this smacks of the worst of conspiracy theorist thinking, but you cannot have lived the span of years I have, you cannot have been born the very day that the Vietnam War began in earnest under a "surge" ordered by JFK, lived through his and his brother's and MLK's assassinations, the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon, Oliver North, and the grandson and great grandson of a Nazi collaborator rising to the highest office in the land, one via detour through the CIA's directorship while Cheney was White House Chief of Staff -- and not detect an unmistakable smell.

Now let me be clear here.  Cheney's is an extreme, absolutist view.  There is a balancing act, and the security of the American people is more important than the protection of our intelligence assets -- that's just the way it is.  They are volunteering to protect us, and just as importantly, our way of life.  But their lives, and more importantly, their mission trumps any "need to know" by the public at large.

What is all too apparent in the revelations of the Libby trial is that the VP's priority is protection of the power structure that he represents, and is largely in control of.  To him, that is more more importantthen the lives and mission of our clandestine security forces.

Cheney never hestitated to use an intelligence leak to usurp the legitimate power of a co-equal branch of government in 2002, or 30 years ago.  Likewise he was unconcerned about the consequences of exposing an agent or her operation -- an operation tasked with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons -- an operation whose mission this administration has cynically championed to whip up public support for unnecessary wars against Iraq, and now Iran -- yet deliberately undermined to cover-up their misuses of intelligence for their own agenda.

Make no mistake, there is only one logical conclusion about Vice-Decider Cheney's true loyalties.  It is not the protection of our form of government.  It certainly is not the people risking their lives to protect that way of life -- nor is it the American people.  Dick Cheney is only interested in the consolidation of power in his and his personally selected fellow travelers' hands.

If he has deluded himself otherwise, if he thinks he is merely a dedicated public servant working only for the good of his fellow citizens, he truly is mad.

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