The New York Sun editorial board noticed the important revelation buried in David Ignatius's Washington Post column. Ignatius wrote:
Take the question of targeting bomb makers: There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled.
We see once again that lawyers are said to be dictating policy. A program which might have crippled the ability of the enemy to kill our soldiers (for whom the Left sheds so many tears) was nixed by lawyers. This is scandalous, and immediate presidential action is required.
The Sun posits that
it is not too late to get moving. If the authority for such an operation is indeed lacking, Congress or the president could move to rectify the situation by legislation or executive order - and they owe it to our GIs to do it, like, yesterday. Using legal pecksniffery as a reason not to act makes the Bush administration look like the Clinton administration, which, as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States recounted in its report, had the chance to act against Osama bin Laden but repeatedly flinched, in part because of legal concerns.
But Douglas Hanson wonders if leadership isn't also an issue:
Legal beagles at the CIA operate within the same framework as Staff Judge Advocates do in the services - they are there to support the commander and the accomplishment of the mission. They provide staff advice and recommendations to the boss, who in turn says yes or no. If this type of legalistic approach to warfare is continuing then the commanders are allowing it to happen, or in the case of the CIA and General Hayden, he isn't paying attention, or he has been cowed by the CIA's internal warriors, or he cannot make a decision that leads to victory, or all of the above.
Dennis Sevakis sees a background to the outbreak of legalism:
No wonder we have no time to fight a war. Everything but everything has become a legal issue.
Frankly, I'm more concerned about the "legal" moles planted throughout the Federal bureaucracy than the Ali al-Marris here in the U.S. The bureaucrat moles are laying in wait ready to spring stultifying legal opinions upon an unprepared and weak Administration. Deciding which side of the toilet paper to use seems to require a legal opinion before anyone in the government can act.
Just remember that lawyers have been allowed to cripple our ability to stop the killing. Where is President Bush?