Sunday, July 12, 2009

Secret CIA Program - A Legal Not Political Matter

CIA Director Leon Panetta recently disclosed to Congress a secret CIA program authorized by Dick Cheney in 2001. By order of Dick Cheney, Congress was never briefed on the program. This act alone is a violation of federal law. If Cheney did not want Congress to know that the program existed then one can only conclude that Congress would not have approved of the program's activities because those activities also violate the federal law or international treaty.

The GOP would have us believe that an investigation of the secret program would only be motivated by politics for the purpose of damaging the GOP and members of the Bush Administration. They further claim that the investigation would embarrass the US and likely threaten US security. John McCain asked, "What's going to be the positive result from airing out and ventilating details of what we already knew took place and should never have? "And," added McCain, "we are committed to making sure it never happens again." McCain would have a stronger argument against an investigation if the guilty admitted their wrong doing and condemned their own acts. Without that the nation has not adequately admitted that wrongs were done, never should have been done and should not be done again. Without a full admission of guilt those who believe that wrongs were not done will commit, or permit others to commit, the same wrongs in the future.

I agree that a political motivation exists but politics must not also prevent the US from investigating criminal activity, especially within the government, and prosecuting those responsible for it. The US has already lost moral ground with other nations and the only way to recover it is to thoroughly investigate and prosecute these crimes. Finally, the only way to ensure that future administrations do not violate the law is to demonstrate that future violations will not go unpunished by punishing the violators within the Bush Administration.

I don't doubt that the country will be deeply split if the Department of Justice proceeds with this investigation but that is not a reason to ignore criminal acts. The country has been deeply split before and each time has risen from it a better country for fully enforcing our Constitution. The strongest example is the secession of the Southern slave states following the election of Abe Lincoln who campaigned against the expansion of slavery. The cost of doing the right thing was high but the need was greater.

Our Constitution is only as powerful as our commitment to enforce it. Enforcing the Constitution is not "politics as usual" it is a matter of Law and the survival of our Constitution.

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