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Sat Feb 23, 2013, 09:21 AM

American Assassination History for Dummies


American Assassination History for Dummies
by Mark Ames | February 21, 2013 - 10:52am

Itís hard to have a serious conversation about Americaís drone assassination policy when no one seems to have a basic grasp of recent history. This cultural amnesia epidemic is starting to get me downó which is partly my fault for paying more than two minutesí attention to Twitter at a single go.

The problem starts with Reagan, as problems so often do. Most people on the left take for granted that Reaganís executive order 12333 "banned assassinations" ó which is not just a false interpretation, but really awful mangling of one of the dark turning points in modern American history.

That same ignorance of the history of assassination policy runs right through today, with the repetition of another myth: That President Obamaís extrajudicial drone-assassinations of American citizens is "unprecedented" and "radical" and that "not even George Bush targeted American citizens."

The truth is a lot worse and a lot more depressing.

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Reply American Assassination History for Dummies (Original post)
unhappycamper Feb 2013 OP
leveymg Feb 2013 #1
PufPuf23 Feb 2013 #2

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 09:50 AM

1. That's an excellent introduction to the topic. But, the author missed one important piece of the

puzzle: the privatization, outsourcing and offshoring of wet-ops and other black jobs by CIA Director GHW Bush as part of his "Safari Club" deal with heads of the Saudi General Intelligence in 1976. Please, see, http://journals.democraticunderground.com/leveymg/280

This part of the article, however, provides good context to that event:

In that atmosphere, in early 1976, President Ford issued executive order 11905 ó which has been wrongly described over the years as "banning assassinations," but at the time Ford signed it, 11905 was more properly understood as a window dressing largely designed to keep the liberal activist Democratic Party Congress from legislating changes to the CIA themselves. (Keep in mind, the Democratic Congress that swept into power after Watergate was, for a brief time, aggressively reformist and nothing like the Democratic Party of today.) Even Fordís language banning assassinations or CIA domestic spying left a lot to be interpreted ó a recurruing problem later on, with the exception of Carter.

Sen. Frank Church, who headed the Church Committee (sort of a "Truth Commission), dismissed Fordís "reforms" when they were first announced in early March 1976, as Newsweek reported at the time:

"Over-all, the Presidentís proposal is clearly to give the CIA a bigger shield and a longer sword with which to stab about," argued Sen. Frank Church.
["Fordís CIA Shake-Up", Newsweek, March 1, 1976]

Rather than creating conditions for greater accountability, Ford centralized power in the White House ó and as Newsweek reported, the biggest beneficiary of Fordís reforms (and likely its author) was none other than new CIA chief George H. W. Bush:

Ford's Executive order put its emphasis on a firmer chain of command - starting with the President - even though the investigations of most intelligence abuses have shown them to be the result of White House interference, not uncontrolled cloak-and-daggering. Might increased Presidential control lead to more abuses in the future?

"I would hope that the American people will elect a President who will not abuse that responsibility," Ford said. "I certainly don't intend to."

The biggest beneficiary of the new plan was CIA director Bush, who now will serve as chairman of the new Committee on Foreign Intelligence ... The committee will control the budgets for all the nation's foreign intelligence operations as well as the domestic counterintelligence activities of the FBI.

Finally, although Ford technically banned assassinations, his order left a giant loophole that could allow the CIA to spy on American dissidents all over again, as Newsweek reported:

Aside from the ban on assassinations, however, no new limits were set on covert operations overseas.

Ford did set some limits on surveillance, electronic eavesdropping and infiltration aimed at U.S citizens or groups. But [...] critics said his Executive order was ambiguous enough to open the way for domestic operations previously considered questionable or prohibited by law. The CIA, for example, illegally opened mail for twenty years; last week Ford proposed the agency be given authority to do so under appropriate court orders. Under Ford's proposal, a court order would also allow the FBI and NSA to bug U.S. citizens for intelligence purposes; at present, this can be done only in criminal cases.

But then something went wrong in Bush-Fordís plans ó the curse of the bumbling American fascist returned, in the form of Gerald Fordís 1976 campaign chief, Dick Cheney, who flubbed Fordís odds-on election victory simply by being there and putting in his two cents. That meant a do-gooder peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter was in control at the peak of the last gasp of Democratic Party liberal activism.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sat Feb 23, 2013, 11:07 AM

2. Excellent article all DUers should read.

Has this country and the Democratic Party ever changed for the worse since the post Vietnam glimmer of light and the FDR to Reagan Democrat ideals. Horrorible state violence and erosion of individual rights to privacy and thought has become normative.

Not enough people (note to self) read and comment on Good Reads.

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