How Assassination Became Policy at the CIA

Annals of the Covert World

Frank Church holds CIA poison dart gun at committee hearing with vice chairman John Tower on September 17, 1975 (Source: U.S. Capital Archives. Photo by Henry Griffin)

These American death squads were a particular favorite of Richard Nixon. After the My Lai massacre, an operation with all the earmarks of a Phoenix-style extermination, there was a move to reduce the funding for these civilian killing programs. Nixon, according to an account by Seymour Hersh, objected vociferously. “No,” Nixon demanded. “We’ve got to have more of this. Assassinations. Killings.” The funds were promptly restored, and the death toll mounted.

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Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

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