What's all this about a CIA assassination squad?
I've been re-reading James Bamford's A Pretext for War, published in 2004. He writes:
The Bush administration had approved a highly secret assassination program following the September 11 attacks. A formal document, known as a presidential finding, set out the legal and executive branch authority for the CIA to carry out the "targeted killings." Those high on the CIA's secret hit list include not only Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, but also many lesser officials, some of whom the United States knows little about.
President Bush hinted at this program in his 2003 State of the Union address:
All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries.
And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.
So, why is this suddenly news now? It's news, I suppose, that Congress wasn't notified, and that Dick Cheney was in charge. But what about all the current reports that the program was never implemented? The Washington Post reported yesterday that, according to "two U.S. officials"
CIA officials were proposing to activate a plan to train anti-terrorist assassination teams overseas when agency managers brought the secret program to the attention of CIA Director Leon Panetta last month, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The plan to kill top al-Qaeda leaders, which had been on the agency's back burner for much of the past eight years, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of proposals to initiate what one intelligence official called a "somewhat more operational phase." Shortly after learning of the plan, Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.
Somewhat more operational? Training? This certainly doesn't sound like what Bush was hinting at. And if Bamford is right, and no one has better sources, then what the hell were they doing for eight years after 9/11. Most Americans, including Congressional Democrats, would support killing al-Qaeda members and have probably asssumed that that's what we've been doing all these years.
There are reports that there was several assassinations, including an assassination in Kenya
, however the actual assassination may have been carried out by the military. It is reported that the assassination proved to be a "severe embarassment" and may have led to the program being shelved.
There's something screwy here but damned if I know what it is. My guess is that the Bush administration started an assassination program and screwed it up badly. But there's got to be more.