When I heard Leon Panetta had canceled a CIA program that hadn’t been briefed to Congress, I assumed the program must have involved torture, renditions, domestic spying or worse.
Turns out the program, hidden from the Congress on Vice President Cheney’s orders, was aimed at finding and killing or capturing al-Qaida leaders at close range rather than targeting them with air strikes.
Now, I have often been critical of Mr. Cheney. I’ve even accused him of not being man enough to waterboard prisoners personally, and I’ve wondered what might have happened if Cheney and Bush had given that a try.
But I can’t fault Cheney for wanting to kill al-Qaida leaders at close range instead of with missiles. While we might avoid American casualties by using missiles, I doubt impersonal and indiscriminate killing does a lot for our reputation in the Muslim world.
I do have two questions, though. Why keep the program secret from Congress?
And why did Panetta kill the program? Why not brief the Congress and go ahead with it?