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Blackwater's Unwritten Death Contract By Ray McGovern

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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:37 AM
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Blackwater's Unwritten Death Contract By Ray McGovern
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23341.h...

August 21, 2009 "Information Clearing House" -- Hats off to Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times for ferreting out what it was that sent CIA Director Leon Panetta scurrying over to Congress in late June. According to Mazzetti, Panetta's top lieutenants, many of them holdovers from the last administration, had just told him that, under President Bush, they had farmed out assassinations to their Blackwater subsidiary. I use "they" advisedly, since the CIA holdovers that had kept Panetta in the dark continue to function as Panetta's top managers. Panetta abruptly stopped the project and contritely briefed the intelligence committees. Until now, it was not clear what had prompted Panetta to set up hurried consultations with the intelligence "oversight" committees of the House and Senate...

Mazzetti quotes officials as admitting that "the C.I.A. did not have a formal contract with Blackwater" for a program with "lethal" authority. Putting out contracts on other people, I suppose you might call it, without a contract. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html?_r=2

What Mazzetti does not mention -- and what he, like the vast majority of Americans, may not know -- is that there is a one-sentence umbrella "contract" available for use as authorization for such activities. It creates a structural fault, so to speak, and a legal loophole through which Bush and Cheney drove a Mack truck of lawlessness.

Useful Ambiguity

Bush administration lawyers were not the first to read considerable leeway into that loophole created by just one sentence in the language of the National Security Act of 1947. The sentence can be (ab)used as authorization for all manner of crime -- irrespective of existing law or executive order.

A Cheney-esque "unitary executive" perspective and a dismissive attitude toward lawmakers reinforced the Bush team's predilection to exploit the ambiguous language, taking it further than it had ever been taken in the past.

The Act (as slightly amended) stipulates that the CIA Director shall:

"Perform such functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the National Security Council may from time to time direct."

There's the "umbrella contract." While more than one past President (I served under seven during my tenure at CIA) has taken advantage of that open language, the Bush administration translated the dodging into a new art form. This, in turn, was sustained by Frankenstein cottage industries like Blackwater to launch and operate the administration's own Gestapo. I use the word advisedly; do not blanch before it.

As for outsourcing, it is nothing new. The earlier Nazi Gestapo enjoyed umbrella authorization from the Fuhrer; they and the SS knew what was wanted, and famously "followed orders." There was absolutely no need to go back to supreme authority for approval to contract out some of their work. And German legislators turned out to be even more intimidated than ours -- if you can imagine it...

But the sine quo non for successful subversion of our Constitutional process is this: cowardly members of Congress so afraid of being painted pastel on terrorism that they abdicate their oversight responsibility. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney may have "misunderestimated" some things, but not Congress. They held it in scorn and contempt, and the Congress' behavior gave them every reason to believe they were right...

It is Congress that is collectively responsible for abdicating its oversight responsibility, while cheering creeps like Cofer Black, CIA's top counter-terrorism official from 1999 to May 2002 and now one of Blackwater's senior leaders.

On Sept. 26, 2002 in his prepared testimony to the Joint Congressional Inquiry on 9/11, the swashbuckling Black said this about "operational flexibility":

"All I want to say is that there was before' 9/11 and after' 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves came off. ... I know that we are on the right track today and as a result we are safer as a nation. No Limits' aggressive, relentless, worldwide pursuit of any terrorist who threatens us is the only way to go and is the bottom line."

What were those "gloves" to which you referred, Mr. Black? Do you mean that legal restrictions were gone? And "No Limits?" Is it the case that there now are no limitations on your pursuit of terrorists? Whence do you derive that kind of authority, Mr. Black? These are just some of the pertinent questions that members of the congressional panel apparently felt would be impertinent to ask.

And authorization? In the Bush/Cheney White House, all it took was a presidential signature, like the one appearing in broad strokes of felt-tipped pen under the two-page executive memorandum of Feb. 7, 2002. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB127/02.02.07.... )

Last December the Senate Armed Forces Committee, without dissent, concluded that this memo, "opened the door" to abuse by exempting al Qaeda and Taliban detainees from Geneva protections. Alberto Gonzales, in a felicitous but inadvertent blunder, released that memo five years ago. It is a smoking gun. Someone, please, tell the FCM.

As for assassinations, the special presidential memoranda (often referred to as "Findings") that authorized covert action like the lethal activities of the CIA and Blackwater have not yet surfaced. They will, in due course, if the patriotic truth tellers who have now discussed assassination with the Times and Washington Post continue to put the Constitution and courage above secrecy oaths. Such oaths are aimed at protecting secrets, not crimes....


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article appeared first on Consortiumnews.com.
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flyarm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. Thank you Ray McGovern for always being a truth teller! We need more men and women like him! eom
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flyarm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:49 AM
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2. and maybe if we could get some prosecutions we could get to more of the damn truth! eom
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The number, breadth, and severity of the crimes committed by the Bush
government are just astounding. Where were all of the gun-waving "Constitutionalists" while this was happening? Where are they now, when the crime is coming to light? I guess they were saving up all of their hated and anger for people who want Americans to have access to health care.
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justinaforjustice Donating Member (519 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
4. Carrying Out Neo-Con Privatization Policy.
Just as the functions of housing and feeding our troops, once done efficiently by the troops themselves, was transferred from the military to Cheney's KB&R and other private contractors, so our CIA "black ops" were privatized to Blackwater. Conveniently, it was the top officials in the CIA, like Cofer Black, who fed them contracts while he was in office and then took over Blackwater's management upon formally leaving the CIA. Thereafter his former subordinates and friends fed Blackwater the contracts. They took self-dealing to a high art form.

Here in Venezuela, the term "black water" (agua negra) refers to the shit that flows through the sewer pipes. The CIA's Blackwater contractor was aptly named.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Black Water means the Same in US
and gray water comes from washing machines, bathroom sinks and kitchen waste.
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