14 July 2009

Darth Vader Redux : Cheney and the CIA's 'Executive Assassination Ring'

President George W. Bush and George J. Tenet, then director of the CIA, meet at the agency headquarters in 2001, the year the secret program began. Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP / Washington Post.

Dick Cheney and the CIA:
The hits just keep on coming

By mcjoan / July 14, 2009
CIA linked to Bhutto's murder? Video Below.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the secret CIA program Dick Cheney ordered kept from Congress was aimed at capturing and killing al Qaeda members.
According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn't become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it.

In 2001, the CIA also examined the subject of targeted assassinations of al Qaeda leaders, according to three former intelligence officials. It appears that those discussions tapered off within six months. It isn't clear whether they were an early part of the CIA initiative that Mr. Panetta stopped.
Those discussions must have "tapered off" when Cheney decided that it was more important to start torturing detainees to get false intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq. And then of course, the actual invasion of Iraq, which pretty much ended any real effort to fight al Qaeda--the enemy actually responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

This report contradicts other reporting that the program was "an 'on-again, off-again' attempt to create a new intelligence capability and said it was related to the collection of information on suspected terrorists that was instituted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." If true, it goes far beyond intelligence collection. It also circles us back to the speculation that arose when the story first broke that the program might be related to Sy Hersh's allegations of an "executive assassination ring" that reported to Cheney.

That's one possibility, but it raises more questions, as Zachary Roth details. Would the reaction of Panetta and the Democrats be warranted by this program?
Perhaps most importantly, a program, launched immediately after September 11 to capture or kill top al Qeada operatives just doesn't seem sufficiently radioactive to have provoked the kerfuffle it has. To be sure, Congress outlawed targeted CIA assassinations in the 1970s in response to the excesses of 50s and 60s, and the issue played a key role in the move during the same period to give Congress greater powers to oversee the agency. And if the program allowed CIA to act without the consent or knowledge of liaison services in the countries where the targets were located, that's obviously a big deal.

Still, the US military has openly been trying to get Osama Bin Laden and other top Qaeda leaders "dead or alive" since shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Would CIA involvement in that effort be so explosive that it would not only need to be kept from Congress in the first place, but would also have been shut down by Panetta as soon as he learned about it?
By the same token, it was Democratic lawmakers who brought the issue into the news last week by complaining that they had for years been kept in the dark on the unidentified program. Would they have chosen to initiate that spat when it seems to allow them to be portrayed as opposing an effort to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists?

Or, was it something else entirely? TIME says maybe domestic spying:
[T]wo former ranking CIA officials have told TIME that there's another equally plausible possibility: The program could have required the Agency to spy on Americans. Domestic surveillance is outside the CIA's purview -– it's usually the FBI's job –- and it's easy to see why Cheney would have wanted to keep it from Congress.

Both officials say they were never told what was in the program, and that they're only making calculated guesses. But their theory gibes with other reports, quoting ex-CIA officials, that say the program had to do with intelligence collection, not assassinations.

"People may want this to be about hit squads bumping off shady Saudis in Geneva, but that's very unlikely," says one official. "More likely, it was a plan to spy on some suspicious American citizens or organizations, without telling the FBI."
The IGs' report released last week demonstrated that there was a greater CIA involvement in the NSA warrantless wiretapping scheme than was previously known, but did it go beyond threat assessments to its own spying program? You couldn't put it past either the CIA or Cheney.

Source / Daily Kos

CIA linked to Bhutto's murder?

Thanks to Carl Davidson / The Rag Blog

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