Cheney Wanted Tanks in Lackawanna

25 Jul

Remember the Lackawanna Six?

They’ll be out of jail sooner rather than later, and some of them will end up in the witness protection program for testimony they gave at military commissions in Guantanamo.

But the New York Times reports today that the Bush Administration – specifically former Vice President Dick Cheney – agitated for the government to send the US military to apprehend the suspects and declare them enemy combatants.

Tanks rolling down the streets of Lackawanna.  Troops marching down Ridge Road – not National Guard, but the actual full-time Army.  That would have been quite a sight.  A sight not seen on American soil since the Civil War, and probably violative of the 4th Amendment and the Posse Comitatus Act.

Still, at least one high-level meeting was convened to debate the issue, at which several top Bush aides argued firmly against the proposal to use the military, advanced by Mr. Cheney, his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials.

Among those in opposition were Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council; Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.

“Frankly, it was a bit of a turf war,” said one former senior administration official. “For a number of people, crossing the line of having intelligence or military activities inside the United States was not worth the risk.”

The cooler head of George W. Bush prevailed over Dick Cheney in that instance.

They were arrested in September 2002, just before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and people’s memories were still vivid and emotions very raw about jihadist terrorism at the time.  I’d go so far as to say that a majority of Americans probably wouldn’t have had a problem with any of this at the time.

But there are a few things I think have happened since that time.  I wouldn’t call it complacency, although some would.  Speaking for myself, living in fear of a terrorist attack hurting me or my family is something I don’t really feel like doing.  If something bad happens, it happens.  But I won’t let it overtake my thoughts or my actions.

Living in fear is a sucky way to live, and it sometimes makes you think and do dumb things.

In addition, I think that the military, law enforcement, and intelligence services have adjusted for this new world in which we live.  I wonder if in the era of the internet we still have spies doing dead drops in obscure Washington Parks or meeting in public places, greeting each other with code phrases.  It was a shift from cold-war era intelligence-gathering to contemporary counter-terrorism intelligence, a lot of which is done online.

But using the military against American citizens on American soil would have been going too far.  Kudos to Bush and those who agreed with him for killing this horribly misguided idea.  But it speaks volumes of Dick Cheney and his vision of a jackbooted America where fear trumps the Constitution and any civil rights violation is acceptable so long as it’s couched in the rhetoric of national security.

10 Responses to “Cheney Wanted Tanks in Lackawanna”

  1. mike July 25, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    Do you think they would of got to lackawanna via the skyway? another reason to keep the skyway never know when you may need to to crush the uprising.

  2. rastamick July 25, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    The cooler head of George W. Bush prevailed…Isn’t irony ironic ? When I suggested Darth Cheney may still get his a right wing friend’s answer was Oh yeah the stimulus isn’t working, Obama’s approval rating is down so let’s all go after Cheney…

  3. Ward July 25, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    I view the NYTimes the way Pundit apparently views all police reports–only one side of the story.

    Of course, as it turns out, it was neither Pundit nor Cheney, nor even the Times reporter who made up the nonsense about “tanks in the streets”. It was the risible ‘Wanna police chief.

    Anybody without his political or reportorial head up his ass would immediately detect a load of B.S.–but not in these parts.

    For those of us with a single clue, recall that Special Forces personnel tend not to advertise their intent by parading in on an Abrams A-1. Sheesh–go back to defending Skip Gates, would ya? (I hear the Boston cops wanted to call in a Stryker Combat Brigade, you know.)

  4. RaChaCha July 25, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I caught the Posse Comitatus Act at last year’s Infringement — megacool!

    If this had actually happened (tanks or no tanks), WNY would have been the poster child for post-911 hysteria, especially in conjunction with the Steve Kurtz persecution. From wide-right to far-right.

  5. pirate's code July 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm #

    Hyperbole, thy name is Pundit. Cheney was/is a tool, but no where in the Times piece did it say he wanted tanks in Lackawanna.

  6. al l July 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    talk about crossing the Rubicon.

    im pretty sure Pundits tank verbiage is not hyperbole but simply figurative. relax guys!

  7. Dave Allen July 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    If the government is going to send tanks anywhere, get them to Albany first – our elected officials are the biggest public threat out there right now.

  8. Ward July 25, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

    Ooohh–careful Dave.

    Pundit will drop a dime on you like he did on Bauerle for the “coup”.

  9. Brian Castner July 25, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Well. While tanks in Lackawanna is clearly a bad idea and overkill to pick up a couple deadbeats, lets not go overboard on the Constitutionality. The 82nd Airborne, “regular” Army, as Pundit likes to point, policed the streets of New Orleans after Katrina. Troops have been used plenty since the Civil War. The President clearly has the authority (Posse Commitatus says the US Military can’t be in charge, not that it can’t help – if the Lackawanna police chief had asked for “backup” this would all be good to go) – I’m just as happy he chose not to exercise it.

  10. Hank July 27, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Shorter BP
    “I think Cheney is a tool, a right wing nutjob, yada yada yada”. Should have been in Va Beach in 1989 when the Mayor called the Governor about disturbances on the Oceanfront during “Black Greek Week”. The State Police and the National Guard cleaned out the whole oceanfront using teargas and armored vehicles. No tanks Alan, sorry. Turns out the people doing the rioting weren’t the kids of wealthy black parents who attended Howard University and such, but local blacks, down to raise a little hell.

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