The New York Times and the corporate media are all over a recent report that the CIA had planned to assassinate al-Qaeda leaders. “Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials,” Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane reported for the Times on July 13. “The plans remained vague and were never carried out, the officials said, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, canceled the program last month.”
|Corporate media spin on Cheney’s “private army” of assassins.|
Dick Cheney, who previously admitted to working on the dark side, hid a plan to assassinate (CIA created and spawned) al-Qaeda operatives from Congress. Bush had signed a secret order to hunt down and kill Osama and crew in the weeks following the September 11, 2001, attacks, but according to the official history now emerging this was never carried out. “It sounds great in the movies, but when you try to do it, it’s not that easy,” a former intelligence official told the New York Times. “Where do you base them? What do they look like? Are they going to be sitting around at headquarters on 24-hour alert waiting to be called?”
In fact, the CIA has a long history of assassination. In 2007, a glimmer of this macabre dark side was revealed in a 702-page collection of documents known as the “family jewels,” hand delivered by the agency to the National Security Archive after 15 long years of stalling in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
In addition to details on the widespread and illegal surveillance of journalists, covert mail opening, wiretapping, snooping on John Lennon’s anti-war activities, and other domestic activities — all illegal under the CIA’s ignored charter — the documents cast a light on the agency’s attempts to assassinate Congo leader Patrice Lumumba and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The CIA was successful in pulling off the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the bloody ruler of the Dominican Republic. According to author G. Pope Atkins, “the CIA arranged, planned and executed the assassination” using their elite paramilitary operations officers from the famed Special Activities Division.
“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,” writes author Douglas Valentine.
The CIA developed its assassination program in Guatemala. Following the agency’s covert 1954 operation that overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz, lists were drawn up of Guatemalans “to eliminate immediately in event of [a] successful anti-communist coup.” Planning for assassination included budgeting, training programs, creation of hit teams, drafting of target lists of persons, and transfer of armaments.
|The CIA’s success in crushing the peasant-based Huk rebellion in the 1950s made this operation the model for future counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and Latin America.|
“Killing a political leader whose burgeoning career is a clear and present danger to the cause of freedom may be held necessary,” a CIA instructional guide on assassination explains. “But assassination can seldom be employed with a clear conscience. Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”
The CIA was anything but squeamish when it came to murdering large numbers of people in Indonesia. After a purge of communists in 1965, Indonesian military officers led their forces to liquidate the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and eventually oust President Sukarno. The PKI was the third-largest Communist Party in the world, with an estimated 3 million members.
“The biggest part of this task was of course the elimination of the PKI and its supporters, in a bloodbath which, as some Suharto allies now concede, may have taken more than a half-million lives,” writes Peter Dale Scott.
“For the first time, U.S. officials acknowledge that in 1965 they systematically compiled comprehensive lists of Communist operatives, from top echelons down to village cadres. As many as 5,000 names were furnished to the Indonesian army, and the Americans later checked off the names of those who had been killed or captured, according to the U.S. officials,” Kathy Kadane wrote for South Carolina’s Herald-Journal on May 19, 1990.
The Indonesian mass murder program was based in part on experiences gleaned by the CIA in the Philippines. “US military advisers of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) and the CIA station in Manila designed and led the bloody suppression of the nationalist Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan,” notes Roland G. Simbulan (Covert Operations and the CIA’s Hidden History in the Philippines).
The CIA’s success in crushing the peasant-based Huk rebellion in the 1950s made this operation the model for future counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and Latin America. Colonel [Edward Geary] Lansdale and his Filipino sidekick, Col. Napoleon Valeriano were later to use their counterguerrilla experience in the Philippines for training covert operatives in Vietnam and in the US-administered School of the Americas, which trained counterguerrilla assassins for Latin America. Thus, the Philippines had become the CIA’s prototype in successful covert operations and psychological warfare.
Lansdale figured prominently in the CIA’s effort to assassinate Fidel Castro under Operation Mongoose. The CIA organized Task Force W was designed to engage in “executive action,” that is to say assassination (see Michael McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990). Mongoose operatives later worked with the CIA and the Mob to assassinate president John F. Kennedy.
[efoods]As former CIA employee Ralph McGehee documents, the agency fine-tuned this mass murder program in Vietnam. Under Operation Phoenix, the U.S. “neutralized” 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam members, including the assassination of 26,369 people (a Church Committee Report in 1976 put the number killed at 20,000; see McGehee’s CIA and Operation Phoenix in Vietnam). An ex-Phoenix operative told the Covert Action Information Bulletin in 1982 that orders were also given “from a higher authority such as the CIA” to kill U.S. military personnel who were considered security risks (see previous link).
In 1973, the CIA and master criminal Henry Kissinger engineered the overthrow and assassination of democratically elected leader Salvador Allende in Chile. Allende made the fatal mistake of nationalizing American-owned firms. The CIA replaced Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who tortured and murdered thousands of his own countrymen in a brutal military crackdown.
More recently, ace journalist Seymour Hersh revealed the existence of a CIA assassination program in Iraq, a fact lightly reported by the corporate media. “Hersh mentions that Israel is guiding the CIA’s Phoenix Program in Iraq, and as everyone knows, the Israelis are the world’s masters of assassination and terrorizing an entire people into submission. What Hersh doesn’t mention is that the blanket of censorship that prevents the American media from criticizing Israel for its war crimes has now been cast over Bush and the CIA, and all the people they use to conquer foreigns nations and assassinate people who never did any American any harm–until the Americans invaded their country,” explains Douglas Valentine, who authored a definitive book on the CIA’s Phoenix Program.
The New York Times assures us that Mr. Panetta has decided to cancel the latest CIA assassination program. “The C.I.A. never proposed a specific operation to the White House for approval, said the officials, who would only speak anonymously because the program had been classified,” that is to say the CIA “was not required to brief lawmakers on specifics of the program,” in other words they conducted the program covertly under the cover of what Cheney characterized as the “dark side.”