Secret assassination squads?

Looks like legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh may have (inadvertently?) let the cat out of the bag, alleging that former VP Cheney was using the Joint Special Operations Command to terminate people on the presidential hit-list: “under president Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.” In theory, of course, the JSOC is under congressional oversight; Hersh’s allegation, though, is that Cheney was running select parts of it out of his own office.

There are a lot of things I could say about this; I’ll go where you might not be expecting me to, though, and say that the irony here is that targeted wet-ops campaigns are a damn sight more rational than most of the War on Terror strategies we’ve fooled around with. Hit-teams make a LOT more sense than invading and occupying real-estate.  Iran, for example—taking out the scientists working on the nukes would be a far better option than bombing the place (which is probably why those scientists never leave the thirtieth floor of the underground bunker they’re in). As to Al-Qaeda in general, by all means go after them Mossad-style, but don’t fall into the trap of occupying failed states to get at their operatives/operations.

From a tactical perspective, the real problem is keeping this kind of thing deniable.  This is an issue that I deal with a lot in MIRRORED HEAVENS, because as a problem in dirty politics, it fascinates me:  run them all through cut-outs and there’s that many more layers that might get interrogated by some pesky congressional oversight committee, but run them through you, and it’s really hard to maintain deniability.  Guess we’ve got yet another reason why Cheney was so adamant in destroying his files when he left office.  We’ll see what Hersh can dig up/prove.



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5 Responses to “Secret assassination squads?”

  1. Polter Says:

    I guess you are a bit more on my political side of the spectrum than I thought… so how could a guy that wrote that piece vote for Obama?

  2. David Williams Says:

    Because I don’t think McCain would have been able to resist any mano-a-mano challenge issued by any terrorist/third world rogue state leader. He would have been easy for them to bait, and would have just dragged us deeper into the current quagmire(s). McCain’s got the mentality of a fighter pilot, and I don’t think that’s what we need right now.

    And the Palin pick was a real non-starter. Not as bad as the left-wing made her out to be, but presidential material? . . . not even vaguely.

    But fundamentally, I don’t think right vs. left distinctions should apply anywhere near as much as they do. It’s too easy to tell what someone believes on issues X and Y, based on how they feel about issue Z.

  3. Joni Says:

    Death squads (in real life) sound a bit worrying. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable knowing that a team of SEALs were prowling the streets of my home city. On the other hand so far I believe that my country and USA are friends, so no worries there (well except if here are some terrorist cells in hiding).

    While thinking this through the most disturbing idea are deaths of innocent people. I think this is why Phoenix Program got so infamous. Still, it would be interesting to know how many innocent were killed by death squads compared to carpet bombings, napalm and mines. I am pretty sure that it is much lower. Same applies in Iraq.

    I am sure that if this kind of activity is going on, was planned or will take place it will be horrified. It will cause collateral damage but it should be put to perspective on the alternatives.

    So, rather than having a Predator firing Hellfire missiles in here (or in Iraq) I would prefer more precise teams on the ground.

  4. narciso Says:

    Yes, David the targets are AQ operatives, not political dissidents. A distinction that Raw Story (have they ever gotten a story right) wasn’t willing to make. Olbermann
    didn’t even know what the Special Forces Command, was. much less what it did.
    Honestly the irony on this site is remarkable, worrying about dictatorship while supporting a candidate supported by the oligarchy, (at least 100,000 contribution from AIG, along with Countrywide, Bank of America, Lehman, et al), who forced a stimulus package that directs government control on everything from health care to fuel (cap n trade) to farmer’s markets; on the spurious promise that it will fix the economy. As to Watchman, the book and specially the film, operate from a false premise, that it wasn’t the Red Threat that created the conditions of the cold war, just like AQ, isn’t responsible for the ‘special conditions’ today, by the way another irony, the DHS will have a new headquarters, on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital, you can’t make this up if one tried and why would one want to. Finally, cielos is skies, not heavens, not really the image you’re going for.

  5. Brian Says:

    Assassination squads have been a (not-so-secret) staple of government for a very long time. That a VP should have oversight seems logical. (Would congress really be better given the task at hand?) And let’s not forget the assassination squads of now and yesterday weren’t just looking for shits who play weekend-terrorist. They had a nice list of folks that were officials of other sovereign nations. Besides, what else do you think was in that man-sized safe of Cheney’s?

    @narciso, your humor is pretty entertaining. Stay after it.