A manufactured scandal

The scandal du jour in Washington is that the CIA contemplated — but did not act upon — a plan to assassinate top al-Qaida leaders after 9/11.

There’s reason to be angry. Like many Americans, we wonder why the plan was never put into action.

But that’s not what has Democratic leaders huffing like carnival hucksters trying to hustle customers for a sideshow.

No, the Democrats are supposedly upset that the CIA — perhaps at the direction of the much-despised Dick Cheney — didn’t tell congressional leaders exactly what it was planning.

Never mind that Congress was told of a Bush administration finding after 9/11 which determined that the United States needed to capture or kill top al-Qaida leaders. Representatives of both parties knew that al-Qaida leaders were being attacked and killed by air, even if they didn’t know of the proposal to use individual operatives to assassinate al-Qaida types at close range.

And never mind that there is no law that requires the CIA to notify Congress whenever the intelligence agency brainstorms about possible operations.

All of this comes as Democrats try to provide cover for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her disputed claims that she was never informed that waterboarding was used as an interrogation technique and later, that the CIA lied to Congress.

There may eventually be evidence that such lies occurred, but the nondisclosure of a nonimplemented program isn’t it.

The ironies here are numerous.

Since 2003, Democrats have accused President George W. Bush of focusing all his efforts on Iraq, while dropping the ball on efforts to get al-Qaida leaders such as Osama bin Laden.

Additionally, when Democrats under President Bill Clinton, had the opportunity to actually take bin Laden into custody prior to 9/11, they declined to do so.

Also, Democratic leaders have voiced no concerns about the Obama administration’s efforts to kill al-Qaida and Taliban leaders by sending unmanned drone aircraft to bomb suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan, even though Pakistan is supposedly our ally and Pakistani leaders have objected to the practice.

Congress has a legitimate responsibility, based on federal law, to oversee our intelligence activities and to ensure neither intelligence agencies nor presidents are attempting to make the CIA act like the KGB under Joseph Stalin.

But intelligence work can’t be micromanaged from committee rooms on Capitol Hill. And politicians who try to do so after the fact to distract from other issues are doing a real disservice to the agencies and to the security of this country.


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