The NYT’s Scott Shane presents what pretends to be a comprehensive review of the options for some kind of investigation into Bush era crimes. He reviews four options–a criminal investigation akin to Lawrence Walsh’s Iran-Contra investigation, a congressional investigation akin to the Church Committee, a bipartisan investigation akin to the 9/11 Commission, and nothing aside from currently investigations like the OPR review of Yoo’s and Bradbury’s advocacy on torture.
But there are two very disturbing aspects to his story.
First, in a review of options for holding what we all know to be Dick Cheney responsible for shredding the Constitution, why would you present such a selective picture of Dick’s own history with efforts to hold Presidents responsible for violating the law?
Many Republicans, however, say the lofty appeals to justice and history mask an unseemly and dangerous drive to pillory the Bush administration and hamstring the intelligence agencies.
That was precisely the view of an aide in Gerald Ford’s White House named Dick Cheney when a Senate committee led by Frank Church of Idaho looked into intelligence abuses in the mid-1970s. A quarter-century later, as vice president, Mr. Cheney would effectively wreak vengeance on that committee’s legacy, encouraging the National Security Agency to bypass the warrant requirement the committee had proposed and unleashing the Central Intelligence Agency he felt the committee had shackled.
But some Republicans saw Mr. Church as a showboat and his committee as overreaching. To Mr. Cheney, the Church legacy was a regrettable pruning of the president’s powers to protect the country — powers he and Bush administration lawyers reasserted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Shane’s claims about Cheney’s views are odd. He bases his characterization on no quote from Cheney, though many are readily available. And his first description–the claim that Cheney’s "precise view" of the Church Committee was that it was really about an "unseemly and dangerous drive to pillory the [Nixon?] administration and hamstring the intelligence agencies"–seems to contradict his later more accurate claim that Cheney believed the Church committee improperly constrained Presidential powers. Which is it? A personalized attack against one administration and the targeting of intelligence professionals or an attack on Presidential power? Or is Shane suggesting that Cheney’s view of any investigation now would be an attempt to pillory the Bush/Cheney Administration, which is a different stance than his prior position regarding investigations of Presidents?