Executive Assassination Squads

This is causing a bit of a buzz on Memeorandum right now (emphasis in original):

At a “Great Conversations” event at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.”
The evening of great conversation, featuring Walter Mondale and Hersh, moderated by Jacobs and titled “America’s Constitutional Crisis,” looked to be a mostly historical review of events that have tested our Constitution, by a journalist and a high government officials who had experience with many of the crises.

And it was mostly historical, and a great conversation, in which Hersh and Mondale talked about the patterns by which presidents seem to get intoxicated by executive power, frustrated by the limitations on that power from Congress and the public, drawn into improper covert actions that exceed their constitutional powers, in the belief that they can get results and will never be found out. …

At the end of one answer by Hersh about how these things tend to happen, Jacobs asked: “And do they continue to happen to this day?”

Replied Hersh:

“Yuh. After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen.

“Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently. They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of defense. They reported directly to him. …

“Congress has no oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times there was a story that its leaders, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths.

“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.

I don’t find this particularly hard to believe. Aside from the fact that I believe Dick Cheney is capable of almost anything, I am currently reading Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets, and although I share this reviewer‘s feeling that, overall, the book is too speculative to be accepted without further study and reading, still, his research and investigative skills are indisputable — and controversial theories are not always crazy. Some controversies are thus because they touch a serious hidden nerve in the public psyche — like Baker’s recasting of the JFK assassination as a plot carried out by a sinister nexus of wealthy oil and business interests, political figures, and covert intelligence operatives. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who still believes that the Kennedy assassination was planned and carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, is a shallow, naive thinker and probably not in the best of mental health, either.

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2 Comments on “Executive Assassination Squads”

  1. […] and Dan Collins, think Hersh is crazy as a loon while those on the Left, like Marcy Wheeler, Kathy Kattenberg, and “Jill Hussein C.” believe all this is not only plausible but […]

  2. […] and Dan Collins, think Hersh is crazy as a loon while most on the Left, like Marcy Wheeler, Kathy Kattenberg, and “Jill Hussein C.” believe all this is not only plausible but […]

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