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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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Both a White House and a State Department official confirmed last week that the use of a covert hit team was still being debated. They indicated that if any effort was made, the CIA would probably not be involved and the action would be called and considered "military activity" or even a "commando strike."

See what happens when you put assassination policy in the hands of lawyers? It’s not even assassination anymore — it’s "military activity"! And terrorists aren’t political targets! And you didn’t support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, you supported the institutions that supported the institution of the presidency which decided independently of the institutions you supported to invade Iraq. Duh!

 

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Around this time, another revelation about Reagan and assassinations was discovered by the great investigative reporter Robert Parry working at the AP: A new CIA training manual for Latin American death squads, published in 1983, included instructions on various methods of murdering and torturing. Hundreds of thousands in Central America were butchered, disappeared, raped and tortured during Reagan’s tenure, by death squads trained up by our forces. All carried out under Reagan’s alleged "ban" on assassinations:

The House Intelligence Committee chairman Wednesday night denounced a CIA psychological warfare manual produced for Nicaraguan rebels as "repugnant" and a "disaster for U.S. foreign policy."

The manual advises U.S.-backed Nicaraguan rebels that some officials of the nation's leftist government can be "neutralized" with the "selective use of violence" and recommends the hiring of professional criminals to carry out "selective jobs."

...The manual suggests arranging a violent demonstration that will lead to the death of one or more rebel supporters and the creation of a "martyr." It also instructs the rebels in how to coerce Nicaraguans into carrying out assignments against their will.

Reagan’s people claimed that the AP got ahold of one of a handful of defective copies of the CIA manual, swearing on their grandmothers’ graves that the real CIA manuals distributed around Latin America made no mention of assassination.

But as soon as George Bush Sr became president in 1989, he dispensed with whatever remained of the charade with an "aw, fuck it" attitude — and that was that:

Administration Redefines Ban on Foreign Assassinations
The Bush administration, without changing an executive order banning assassinations of foreign leaders, has chosen to legally interpret "assassination" as referring only to premeditated political murder, according to a published report.

Unidentified administration officials quoted by the Times said the ruling would significantly expand the scope of military operations the United States could legally launch against terrorists, drug lords or fugitives abroad, the newspaper reported.

"None of the executive orders defined the term assassination, which created a lot of confusion," a Pentagon official said. "This ruling takes away the excuse for indecision.".

Did you catch that? Does it even matter anymore? You can already see where the real problem lies here — the complete absence of any politics, leaving American democracy at the mercy of lawyers and their various interpretations of "rule of law."

The Clinton years don’t bring any improvements — the best you can say about Clinton is that he didn’t escalate the Reagan-Bush national security state evils to new insane levels. Instead, he played the liberal by squirting a few for the hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans massacred under US supervision — then got his little wars on in Kosovo and cruise-missile attacked Saddam Hussein.

Ironically, during one of Clinton’s Baghdad-bombings in 1998, Republicans backed by all the armchair Machiavelli pundit class started making a bunch of noise demanding Clinton stop pretending once and for all that we don’t assassinate foreigners, on the theory that being "hypocritical" about assassinating foreigners is somehow a lot worse than tearing off our shirts outside the proverbial bar, screaming, "Yeah, we assassinate! Whatcha gonna do about it, huh? We’re here, brah! Not fuckin’ afraid to admit it, we assassinate, cuz that’s how we roll, brah!"

 
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