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American Assassination History for Dummies

The idea that President Obama’s extrajudicial drone-assassinations of American citizens is "unprecedented" and "radical" is to ignore decades of recent history.

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To get a sense of how this developed, here’s a kind of timeline I put together:

March 10, 1981: "Reagan Administration Weighs Broader CIA Role in Domestic Spying"
The Reagan administration is considering a broad expansion of the CIA's authority to use break-ins, physical surveillance and covert infiltration of American groups and businesses, sources say. (AP)

June 15, 1981: "Recouping Under Reagan; CIA Is on the Rebound"
The Central Intelligence Agency, whose public image and private morale have been battered during much of the past decade, appears to be regaining some of its lost money, manpower and maneuvering room under the Reagan administration. (WaPo)

October 13, 1981: "Draft Order May Let CIA Resume Its Police Ties"
The Central Intelligence Agency, under a proposed administration order, apparently could resume many of its ties with local and state police agencies in addition to embarking on its own infiltrations of domestic organizations. (WaPo)

October 22, 1981: "Reagan Official Says Carter Overprotected Civil Liberties"

A Reagan administration official said Thursday a proposed order relaxing restrictions on CIA domestic activity is needed to strike a new balance between civil liberties and national security.

"President Carter went too far in protecting civil liberties. He erred in placing too many restrictions on the intelligence community," the official said at a briefing held on the condition that his name and position not be used. (AP)

In December 1981, Reagan signed the executive order 12333 undoing the previous decades’ reforms with the stroke of a pen. For cover, Reagan’s people planted fake scare stories through Jack Anderson about  non-existent Libyan assassination squads infiltrating U.S. borders, waterskiing their way across the Great Plains to spring John Hinckley and wreak havoc on the American Way of Life.

And that is the back story to Reagan’s executive order 12333, the one that allegedly banned assassinations and allegedly made him so much more progressive than Bush or Obama.

Reagan not only gave the CIA carte blanche in the US to spy, but he also massively expanded the powers of the FBI and law enforcement to spy on Americans domestically with another executive order in 1983, paving the way for a repeat of all the awful abuses uncovered by Sen. Church, which only started coming to light at the end of Reagan’s presidency.

As reported in the AP on March 7, 1983:

Rules Relaxed On FBI Surveillance
Attorney General William French Smith today relaxed the rules governing FBI surveillance of domestic groups that advocate social change through violence….

Specifically, the guidelines make these changes:

* Allow the FBI to use new informants and infiltrators during a preliminary inquiry, where there is not yet enough evidence to warrant a full investigation. Levi had restricted those techniques to full investigations.

* Specifically authorize the FBI to continue low-level monitoring through informants and other means of groups that have gone dormant and pose no "immediate threat of harm." The FBI had been closing such investigations when a group went one year without committing violence.

* Authorize, for the first time, full investigations based solely on public statements advocating crime or violence when there is an apparent intent to carry out the threat.

* Authorize the FBI to collect publicly available information that satisfies a law enforcement purpose but does not necessarily involve a group under investigation.

Cut to: 1988, and we’re on repeat from the 70s, like a bad sitcom, with scandals and exposes of police state overreach.

Here’s one example from the Chicago Tribune dated January 31, 1988:


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