What is most interesting in the reports is the commentary that the prominent figures in the Republican House leadership, including Porter Goss, who later became CIA director, the chief Attorney for the CIA, John Rizzo, even Harriet Miers, whom Bush tried unsuccessfully to appoint to the Supreme Court, advised against destroying the videotapes, which was done anyway, possibly, according to present news reports, by decisions made by the Directorate of Operations, the CIA branch which has since the agency's inception directed its sabotage, assassination, and other "covert" actions of a criminal nature, as against its intelligence gathering and evaluation functions.
In countries which are semi dictatorships or moving in the direction of open dictatorship, such conduct is often standard. In Japan in the 1930s for example, lower factions of the Japanese military engaged in plots of their own to expand the Japanese Empire without the full knowledge of their superiors or for that matter the civilian government, most notably a provocation in Chinese Manchuria in 1931 which led to a Japanese military invasion and the creation of a Japanese puppet state.
Individuals in the government, which itself was embarked upon a policy of aggression in East Asia, who sometimes challenged militarist cliques, were often assassinated. In most instances, individuals who carried out these acts were not punished or punished lightly, as the Japanese Empire pursued policies that resulted in an alliance with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, a full scale war in China, and an eventual war with the the United States following the Pearl Harbor attack, actions that many Japanese, even those not opposed generally to the militarists, understood would lead to disaster for Japan, but were powerless to prevent, because a political culture of unchecked militarism enforced by terrorist tactics against its opponents made
rational policy decisions, even from a perspective that sought to advance the aims of Japanese imperialism, impossible.
The actions of the Directorate of Operations (if their leaders are really responsible) destroying these tapes against the recommendations of White House and Congressional leaders and the CIA top administration, is a step in the direction of an open dictatorship which the Bush administration, through its Patriot Act, its invocation of "Executive Privilege" to proclaim that the President of the United States has the right to circumvent the Constitution as he sees fit as part of the "war on terrorism" and its support of unchecked spying at home, has encourage.
The Directorate of Operations has assassinated political people abroad, used "disinformation" to destroy the individuals and political groups, aided directly foreign dictatorships in terrorist campaigns against political dissidents, particularly Communists and activists of the left throughout the world. What, given the present administration and the political atmosphere it has created, will stop it from engaging in provocations in the U.S. to serve as a pretext to an open dictatorship, using its extensive resources and "professional skills" to attack leaders of the Democratic party, the trade union movement, peoples organizations, at a level and with resources qualitatively greater than the Nixon administration used when it sought to use illegal wiretapping and "disinformation" in the form of forged documents to defeat the Democratic party and its major presidential candidates in the Watergate conspiracy in 1972?
As Senator Jay Rockefeller said, "whatever the intent, we must get to the bottom of this." I would add that we must act to punish the perpetrators and, most of all, elect a Congress and President in 2008 which will act to restore the Bill of Rights and the Rule of Law in the U.S. that the Bush administration has undermined over the last six years, if we are to preserve democratic rights in the U.S.