Hey Mr. Cheney, What About Those 'Executive Assassination Squads'?
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An elite assassination squad run out of the vice president's office?
That certainly sounds like an interesting point at which to begin an official inquiry.
And since the vice president is so willing to talk about his time in office -- as evidenced by his recent media appearances--why not invite him up to Capitol Hill to engage in it?
Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has a suggestion that might get the ball rolling.
Kucinich has asked New York Congressman Edolphus Towns, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to begin an immediate investigation into Hersh's allegations.
Here's Kucinich's letter to Towns:
As you may already be aware, recent media reports indicate that investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, while answering questions before a public audience at the University of Minnesota divulged information about what he calls an "executive assassination ring" operating under the George W. Bush Administration.
If substantiated, the allegation would have far reaching implications for the United States. Such an assertion from someone of Hersh's credibility that has a long and proven track record of dependability on these issues merits attention. Mr. Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation. However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth. As such, I request that the Full Committee immediately begin an investigation to determine the facts in this matter.
Mr. Hersh made the allegation before an audience at the University of Minnesota on Tuesday, March 10, 2009. He stated, "Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving."
Mr. Hersh continued, "It is a special wing of our special operations community that is set up independently," he explained. "They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office... Congress has no oversight of it."
If true, these operations violate longstanding U.S. policy regarding covert actions and illegally bypass Congressional oversight. Current statute governing covert action (50 U.S.C. 413b) requires a presidential finding and notification to the appropriate congressional committees. Additionally, Executive Order 12333 clearly states that "no person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination."
I urge the Committee to explore Mr. Hersh's allegation.
Kucinich is right.
The charges against Cheney demand an inquiry.
It ought not be delayed.
And it should be presumed that Dick Cheney, who is so very willing to discuss his tenure in the White House, will testify.
John Nichols is The Nation's Washington correspondent.