They have been far from "laissez-faire" in extending their mission beyond its brief and interfering with the fair and equal distribution of the DNS.
But when it comes to taking responsibility for the Agreements and Policies they've undertaken to construct, or to ensure the proper implementation of those agreements, they have been extremely laissez-faire.
Their attitude has been : we will create Agreements for Registries to kick them off and get them going, but after that we do not need to call them to account when the Agreements are abused, just as we ourselves do not like being called to account.
When consumers become the victims of our Agreements, and appeal to us for help, we will ignore them if we wish, or refuse to respond. Our "laissez faire" attitude will give our friends in the Registries and Registrars plenty of leeway to just go ahead and run the game however they see fit.
It is perfectly possible for ICANN to say, at the outset, "You want to run the Registry for .info, then not only do you have to pay $30000 application fee, you also have to agree that if Rule X, Rule Y and Rule Z are broken, your right to run the registry is forfeited..."
Furthermore, "You the Registry will impose Rule A, Rule B, and Rule C on your Registrars who want to deal through your Registry... and if those Rules are broken, those Registrars will lose their accreditation, they will lose their right to deal in .info names through the Registry, and if you - the registry - do not enforce those standards, then you the registry will forfeit your right to operate the registry."
ICANN has power, but does not want to exercise responsibility. It has a duty to consider the implications of its Agreements, and attempt to pre-empt potential harm to consumers, along with potential abuse by operators or registrars.
ICANN was responsible for the Agreements which resulted in NewTLD chaos, loss to customers, and widespread abuse of process by industry insiders.
But ICANN just wants to let it all roll along in a "laissez-faire" manner... and devil take the customer.
That seems to me to be fecklessly irresponsible and an abandonment of principle, worthy of the Worldcom or Enron culture, but wholly unworthy of a not-for-profit entity entrusted with the care of DNS resources for the whole world and millions of ordinary people.
So, no, I don't think I'm wrong to use and apply Dan Halloran's term "laissez-faire".