Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

A Nation of Assassins


What do you call it when George W. Bush, without provocation and based on false pretenses, sends an army to invade a foreign nation; and then, without any attempt to negotiate a surrender, effect an arrest, or put this nation’s leaders on trial and present evidence of their crimes, instead puts multimillion dollar bounties on their heads, relies on collaborators and spies to track them down, and then corners them and blows them away in their homes, in their own country?

Do you call it what the Israelis, who lately have done it hundreds of times, call it? A targeted kill?

What would you call it if Saddam Hussein hunted down and killed George Bush’s daughters in Texas? Cold-blooded murder?

How about calling this sort of behavior assassination?

Why call it anything? A rose by any other name, right?

And don’t even ask if targeted kills, cold blooded murders, and assassinations are legal or moral. Who the hell cares?

They’re popular. It’s so much fun, you can even find death cards on the Internet, naming the people that Bush plans to kill in Iraq. It’s like a videogame, or that old Steve McQueen show, Wanted Dead or Alive.

Bush really gets into it too; “Bring ’em on,” he said, playing the role of Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel; and since then a couple of GIs have gotten killed every day. But what the hell, it’s a volunteer army, and it isn’t you or me. So they die for Bush’s vainglory. Who cares? It’s the vicarious thrill that counts.

Back when the CIA was assassinating foreign leaders all over the world, in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s, they secretly liked to call it Executive Action. Those were the bad old days, when the CIA had to secretly go about its dirty business of mass murder. Back then they had to resort to euphemisms to get the job done.

In the Republic of Vietnam, first the CIA called the mass murder of its enemies, in their own country, elimination. But that sounded too harsh, so it changed the term to neutralize.

In 1967 the CIA created the infamous Phoenix Program to neutralize — which meant to hunt down through informants and then kill, capture, torture and detain indefinitely — a revolving annual door of some 70,000 members of Communist and Nationalist insurgents, and anyone supporting them politically or administratively, in their own country.

The United States government admits that the CIA killed some 25,000 people through the Phoenix Program. It did successfully and gleefully neutralize some hundreds of thousands altogether. They know how to do it and they’re ready to cast the Phoenix spell worldwide.

Now we have it from Richard Perle — one of the corrupt cabal that rules the White House, and makes Israeli policy American policy in cahoots with the Bush oil régime, whose loyalty lies not to the American public but to its own self-enrichment — that America will not leave Iraq as long as some 30,000 members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, in Perle’s words, remain active.

So now maybe they’re gonna change the term to inactivating?

By inactivating, Bush, Perle, Wolfowitz and the other members of their criminal régime mean the planned mass murder of some 30,000 Iraqis in Iraq. If they do it the way they did it in Vietnam, just like Bob Kerrey’s little mission in Thanh Phong, they also plan to inactivate the families and friends of these 30,000 people.

You can’t terrorize insurgents into submission unless you do it this way, as the Israelis have taught us so well. You have to terrorize everyone. Just like the Israelis terrorized the Palestinians into a state of submission.

The newspaper and TV commentators applaud this Iraqi experiment in targeted kills and mass murder as boosting the morale of the American occupation army.

Just today the headlines hailed the inactivating of Saddam Hussein sons as a righteous act that was more than merely morally justifiable, but something akin to Divine justice.

And no one is astounded, because the vast majority of Americans were ethically inactivated a long time ago, through 50 years of government propaganda. In order to enjoy their SUVs and cell phones, they will rejoice while George W. Bush, in his role as God Almighty, cuts a swath of righteous savagery through the world, mass murdering everyone he and the cabal designate as their personal enemies — just like George W. Bush, all by his little lonesome, tried convicted and sentenced Saddam Hussein and his family to death, and then went out and killed them.

From now on, Bush alone chooses who lives or dies, and no one can stop him. It is the One Commandment that the American empire is based upon. And that’s how we have become a nation of assassins, void of conscience.

Call it Apotheosis by the Divine Right of Execution. Or call it what it really is: sick.

DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of The Hotel Tacloban, The Phoenix Program, and TDY. His new book The Strength of the Wolf: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1930-1968 will be published by Verso. Valentine was an investigator for Pepper on the King case in 1998-1999. For information about Valentine and his books and articles, please visit his website at

He can be reached at:

Valentine’s last article for CounterPunch was:
An Act of State: the Assassination of Martin Luther King


More articles by:

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

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation wasted $32.2 million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians