Meanwhile, the…Emperor has set his own private army loose in Afghanistan. Yes, the pale riders of the CIA are back in the saddle again, operating under “greatly relaxed rules of engagement” as they do Bush’s covert bidding, the Boston Globe reports.

Bush is building a “shadow military organization” within the CIA, top US officials say – proudly. Like the “unlawful combatants” of Al-Qaeda, these troops wear no uniforms, are not bound by the rules of war like honorable soldiers under their country’s flag, engage in terrorist actions as well as combat, and answer to no one but their divinely-inspired leader.

Do these Osamic echoes trouble the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy and civilization? Not a whit.  ”If we didn’t think it was appropriate, we wouldn’t be doing it,” said a senior Bush official. “If the commander in chief didn’t think it appropriate, we wouldn’t be doing it. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Why indeed? After all, a similar set-up worked wonders back in Vietnam, where the CIA’s Phoenix Program murdered anywhere from 20,000 (the CIA’s own admission) to 70,000 people. But hell, they were just a bunch of commies, right? Or suspected commies. Or suspected commie sympathizers. Or their families. Or whatever. As one Phoenix vet told Congress: “Quite often it was a matter of expediency just to eliminate a person in the field rather than deal with the paperwork.”

Now those happy days are here again. ”We are doing things I never believed we would do – and I mean killing people!” enthused one of Bush’s new Praetorians.

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