“Why would you cancel it?” asked Sen. Christopher S. Bond (Mo.), the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee. “If the CIA weren’t trying to do something like this, we’d be asking ‘Why not?’ “
Well, yeah. We don’t yet know what “this” is. But the preponderence of evidence so far is that it was an effort to kill members of al-Qaeda in baroque, Image Comics-like ways. If so, that would make it different only in degree from existing efforts that members of Congress do not find particularly controversial. One might fairly say that CIA trying to find new and better ways of killing al-Qaeda is exactly what you want CIA to be thinking about. If the effort is ultimately impractical, as appears to be the case here, then you scrap it and go back to the drawing board, to respond to Bond’s question. But the effort appears not to be — so far; and there’s a ton we still don’t know — any sort of strategic departure.
Inference is a crude and unreliable tool. It’s natural to infer that an illogical account is implausible. In this case, that cashes out to saying that members of Congress can’t be so exercised about a fairly-moribund effort to soup up an agreed-upon goal, and so there must be more here. Maybe so. Probably so, even. But maybe — just maybe — there’s less here than meets the eye. I’ve seen more members of Congress discuss with horror the fact that they were cut out of the loop rather than I’ve seen members alarmed at the program itself. I’m not drawing any conclusions — it’s way way way too soon for that — just adding a note of caution to everyone’s speculation.