August 24, 2010

Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America's Military Strategy in the Muslim World

Greatly expanded U.S. military Special Ops teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins create a threat to our security

by Fred Branfman

The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America's military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more "enemies," as Gen. McChrystal suggests -- posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military's policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.

The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing -- though directed and financed by the C.I.A. -- has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.

What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims -- through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.

Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale "mechanized assassination." As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: "For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war."

This combination of human and technological murder amounts to a worldwide "Assassination Inc." that is unique in human affairs. . . .



Eric Margolis, "CIA Claims of Cancelled Assassination Campaign are Hogwash," Toronto Sun, July 19, 2009

Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe, "U.S. 'Secret War' Expands Globally," Washington Post, June 4, 2010

[ . . . the executive branch early this year announced that the Obama regime has given itself the right to murder Americans abroad if such Americans are considered a "threat." "Threat" was not defined and, thus, a death sentence would be issued by a subjective decision of an unaccountable official.

the next stage is to criminalize dissent and criticism of the government. The May 2010 National Security Strategy states: "We are now moving beyond traditional distinctions between homeland and national security. . . . This includes a determination to prevent terrorist attacks against the American people by fully coordinating the actions that we take abroad with the actions and precautions that we take at home."--Paul Craig Roberts, "Death of the First Amendment: The Nazification of the United States,", August 27, 2010]

"Rights Groups File Challenge To Targeted Killing By U.S.,", August 30, 2010

[ . . . just now Christian armies are busily annexing and wrecking Afghanistan and Iraq, having recently bombed Somalia? That they use robotic aircraft to murder Yemenis, that they hunt down Moslems in the Philippines (where after 1898 Americans engaged in atrocities that would win the admiration of the Japanese), encourage Israel to ruin Lebanon and to run a concentration camp for Moslems in Gaza, enthusiastically murder Pakistanis from the sky, and threaten Syria and Iran?

Those Moslems. Militant, they are. The bastards.

The Islamic countries listed above are only those currently attacked by America. Let us look at the matter in another way. I append here a list of all Christian countries conquered by militant Moslems since 1529:

Next, a partial list of Moslem countries conquered by Christians: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq (the first time), Iraq (again), Iran, Pakistan, East Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai.--Fred Reed, "A Requiem for Reason,", September 8, 2010]

[ . . . the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been conducting false flag terrorist attacks in Pakistan that are later blamed on the entity called "Pakistani Taliban."--Wayne Madsen, "Blackwater/Xe Terrorist Cells Conducting False Flag Terrorist Attacks in Pakistan," Wayne Madsen Reports, September 20, 2010]

[The US Central Intelligence Agency is running and paying for a secret 3,000-strong army of Afghan paramilitaries whose main aim is assassinating Taliban and al-Qa'ida operatives not just in Afghanistan but across the border in neighbouring Pakistan's tribal areas, according to Bob Woodward's explosive book.--Julius Cavendish, "How the CIA ran a secret army of 3,000 assassins," Independent, September 23, 2010]

Spencer S. Hsu, "Obama invokes 'state secrets' claim to dismiss suit against targeting of U.S. citizen al-Aulaqi," Washington Post, September 25, 2010

[During the Vietnam War, CIA created mercenary forces of Hmong and Meo mountain tribesmen (Operation Hotfoot) and ethnic Chinese Nungs to hunt and kill Vietcong cadres.

They formed part of CIA's notorious Phoenix Operation that reportedly assassinated some 26,000 Communist cadres and sympathizers. The head of this operation, William Colby, went on to become CIA director.

CIA mercenaries were also used during the 1980's in Nicaragua and El Salvador's brutal conflict between rightists and Marxist rebels. El Salvador's ruthless death squads were highly effective in liquidating leftists, as I saw while covering these conflicts

The model of El Salvador's death squads was transposed to Iraq, where mercenaries, criminals and renegades were used to liquidate Sunni resistance groups.--Eric Margolis, "Dodge City Meets Pakistan,", September 28, 2010]

[The self-serving claims of the Justice Department's briefwriters notwithstanding, the basis for the president's claim of legal authority cannot itself be a secret. . . .

When the executive claims the power to take the life of a citizen without recourse to law and legal process, and seeks to sustain that under vague claims of commander-in-chief authority, that claim is in its essence tyrannical.--Scott Horton, "The President's Power to Order the Extra-Judicial Execution of an American Citizen," Harpers, October 1, 2010]

[This military tradition has explicitly defended the selective use of terror, whether in suppressing Native American resistance on the frontiers in the 19th Century or in protecting U.S. interests abroad in the 20th Century or fighting the "war on terror" over the last decade.

The American people are largely oblivious to this hidden tradition because most of the literature advocating state-sponsored terror is carefully confined to national security circles and rarely spills out into the public debate, which is instead dominated by feel-good messages about well-intentioned U.S. interventions abroad.--Peter Dale Scott and Robert Parry, "A Long History of America's Dark Side,", October 7, 2010]

James Risen, "Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing,", October 20, 2010

Patrick Cockburn, "Echoes of El Salvador in tales of US-approved death squads," Independent, October 23, 2010

[Ahmadinejad blames almost every national setback on the same culprits, but in this case there were no snorts of derision from the security analysts and intelligence experts in the west, but rather murmurs of assent.--Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, "Covert war against Iran's nuclear aims takes chilling turn," Guardian, December 5, 2010]

James Bovard, "Assassin Nation: Obama's 'don't ask, don't tell' test for killing Americans,", December 2010

[Mr. King's proposal comes amid signs that deep anxieties about Muslims persist in the United States nine years after the 9/11 terror attacks and an outcry this year over a proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York City.--Raymond Hernandez, "Muslim 'Radicalization' Is Focus of Planned Inquiry,", December 16, 2010]

[Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the 19th and 20th centuries, reappeared in the 1960s during the decolonization period, operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations, a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities.--Jose L. Gomez del Prado, "Beyond WikiLeaks: The Privatization of War,", December 26, 2010]

"2010, The Year of Assassination by Drones: Annual Report on CIA's Target Killing Campaign in Pakistan's Tribal Area," Conflict Monitoring Center (Pakistan), January 2011

[It began in the late 1970s, when the Washington-based software developer Inslaw pioneered people-tracking technology, designed to be used by prosecutors to monitor case records. Known as the Prosecutor's Management Information System (PROMIS), the software was developed under grants from the US department of justice. The US government, as it helped fund the creation of PROMIS, had been licensed to use the software on condition that it did not modify, distribute or create derivative versions of it. The government, however, did not stick to this agreement.--Ryan Gallagher, "Dirtier than Watergate: The Reagan-era espionage system that has managed to stay under the radar,", April 20, 2011]

[Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. . . .

The CIA presence in Mogadishu is part of Washington's intensifying counterterrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations.--Jeremy Scahill, "The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia," Nation, July 12, 2011]

Conn Hallinan, "Shadow Warriors,", August 18, 2011

[The president has also given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list - and then to kill, rather than capture, them.--Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, "'Top Secret America': A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command,", September 2, 2011]

Ralph Nader, "As the Drone Flies: War By 'Lethal Autonomy'," CounterPunch, September 27, 2011

Michael Ratner, "Anwar al-Awlaki's Extrajudicial Murder," Guardian, September 30, 2011

Luke McKenna and Robert Johnson, "A Look At The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Armies," Business Insider, February 26, 2012

"Licence to Kill: When governments choose to assassinate," BBC News, March 16, 2012

"Up to 27 people have died in strikes that began on Saturday as US shows no signs of bowing to Pakistani objections," Guardian, June 2, 2012

Tom Junod, "The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama,", July 9, 2012

[And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. "The move was historic," says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. "It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise."--Conor Friedersdorf, "The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit,", July 18, 2012]

Peter Koenig, "Assassination - The New Trend Weapon of the Elusive Mighty?,", August 15, 2013

[While SEAL Team 6 has received extensive coverage, what could be considered the military story of the twenty-first century, the massive, ongoing expansion of a secret force (functionally the president's private army) cocooned inside the U.S. military - now at almost 70,000 personnel and growing - has gotten next to none.--Nick Turse, "A Secret War in 135 Countries,", September 24, 2015]

[The Bush administration launched the assassination program in October 2001 in Afghanistan, expanded it in 2002 to Yemen, and went from there. Under Obama, with an actual White House "kill list," the use of drones has again expanded, this time nine-fold, with growing numbers of attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, as well as in the Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian war zones.--Rebecca Gordon, "An Illegal Military Strategy Disguised as Technological Advance,", July 18, 2016]

Bruce Fein, "President Obama's Protocols For Deciding Whether To Kill You: A Grand Illusion Of Due Process And The Rule of Law,", August 11, 2016

Ronen Bergman, "Rise and Kill First' Explores the Corrupting Effects of Israel's Assassination Program,", August 11, 2016

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