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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
Steve Horn
What Do a Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66
Brian Saady
Why Corporations are Too Big to Jail in the Drug War
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Peaceful Protest to Armed Uprising
Luke Meyer
The Case of Tony: Inside a Lifer Hearing
Binoy Kampmark
Adolf, The Donald and History
Robert Koehler
The Great American Awakening
Murray Dobbin
Canadians at Odds With Their Government on Israel
Fariborz Saremi
A Whole New World?
Joyce Nelson
Japan’s Abe, Trump & Illegal Leaks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump 1, Tillerson 0
Yves Engler
Is This Hate Speech?
Dan Bacher
Trump Administration Exempts Three CA Oil Fields From Water Protection Rule at Jerry Brown’s Request
Richard Klin
Solid Gold
Melissa Garriga
Anti-Abortion and Anti-Fascist Movements: More in Common Than Meets the Eye
Thomas Knapp
The Absurd Consequences of a “Right to Privacy”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail