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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail