Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Unleashing the CIA?

by William Blum

The old joke goes that in the waning days of the Second World War, when Hitler was told of yet another defeat on the battlefield, he slammed his fist into his desk and declared: “That does it! No more Mr. Nice Guy!”

We’ve been treated in the past couple of weeks to one press story after another about how the Bush administration seeks to “unleash” the CIA from its restrictions concerning things like political assassination and dealing with “unsavory” characters. The nature of the September 11 attack was such, we are told, that we have to remove our kid gloves and put on depleted-uranium-tipped brass knuckles.

The policies whose “revisions” are being discussed and leaked are principally a 25-year ban on the CIA and other agencies of the government from engaging in assassination, and a policy of the past five years or so of barring the CIA from employing real nasty killers and torturers abroad, or at least not without express approval from high up.

Why are they telling us these tales at this time? Is it to comfort the American public into believing that the government is holding nothing back in its campaign of making us more secure? Or can they actually believe that such announcements will put the fear of Allah in the Taliban leadership?

The fact is that since Gerald Ford signed a presidential order in 1976, which stated that “No employee of the United States shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination”, the United States has plotted, on more than a dozen occasions, to administer what the CIA at one time called “suicide involuntarily administered”. The last known attempt was the firing of missiles into the home of Slobodan Milosevic in 1999; amongst other attempts during this period was the arranging by the CIA, in 1985, for a car bomb to kill one sheikh Fadlallah in Beirut; 80 people were killed in the explosion, the sheikh not being among their number.

Moreover, in 1984, President Reagan cancelled his own executive order, which had reiterated Ford’s, with a new order which was actually called by the press a “license to kill” — a license to kill anyone deemed a “terrorist”. After the Fadlallah travesty, the license to kill was cancelled, only to be reinstated a few months later following a hijacking of a TWA plane.

President Bush, the elder, added a new twist in 1989. He issued a “memorandum of law” that would allow “accidental” killing if it was a byproduct of legal action: “A decision by the President to employ overt military force … would not constitute assassination if U.S. forces were employed against the combatant forces of another nation, a guerrilla force, or a terrorist or other organization whose actions pose a threat to the security of the United States.” In other words, assassination was okay as long as we said “oops!”

It can thus be seen that all this talk we are being fed of late about giving the CIA “new” powers to engage in “targeted killings” is little more than spin, the native language of politicians.

The same can be said for the public now being told that because of the terrorist crisis, the CIA is going to be allowed to revert to the good ol’ days when they could cozy up to the most despicable human rights violators without getting permission from headquarters. It’s hard to imagine that in recent years that even if an Agency officer felt moved to ask for such permission that it would have been refused. A CIA officer could not have set foot in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Kosovo or Croatia without tripping over an unindicted war criminal-cum-US ally. As I write this, the Agency is sleeping with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan, a band of torturers, kidnappers and rapists so depraved that the people of Afghanistan at first welcomed the Taliban as heroes for conquering these worthies.

To top it all off, we are told that the finest legal minds of the Justice Department, State Department, Pentagon, etc. have put their fine minds together and have decided that the new marching orders are — will wonders never cease? — LEGAL!

All these announcements are designed not only to make Americans feel safer, but to give us a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling that our leaders are so honorable that they engage in protracted debates and soul searching before endorsing any policies not fit for our children’s schoolbooks.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail