Cheney's Secret CIA Program: Worse Than Foreign Assasinations?

News & Politics

Pretty much every news outlet has confirmed that the secret CIA program held from Congress by Dick Cheney concerned targeted assassinations of Al Qaeda members abroad, basically the "executive assassination ring" discussed by Sy Hersh earlier this year.


Dick Cheney, the former vice president, ordered a highly classified CIA operation hidden from Congress because it pushed the limits of legality by planning to assassinate al-Qaida operatives in friendly countries without the knowledge of their governments, according to former intelligence officials.


Former counter-terrorism officials who retain close links to the intelligence community say that the hidden operation involved plans by the CIA and the military to launch operations, similar to those by Israel's Mossad intelligence service, to hunt down and kill al-Qaida activists abroad without informing the governments concerned, even though some were regarded as friendly if unreliable.


The CIA apparently did not put the plan in to operation but the US military did, carrying out several assassinations including one in Kenya that proved to be a severe embarrassment and helped lead to the quashing of the programme.

I'd like to know more about that Kenya incident. Put it this way, when 15 year-old kids who committed no crime other than being valuable to an Afghan warlord seeking a bounty ended up at Guantanamo, I can only imagine what the fever dreams of Dick Cheney led to out in the world.

But something's not right here. Targeted assassinations of heads of state are illegal, President Ford signed that in 1975. But Peter Bergen explains that we have had assassination policies on Al Qaeda since before 9-11 and after.

Peter Bergen, a senior security analyst at the New America Foundation, said that the secret operation must have gone further than that to have created such a backlash in Congress: "If it's an assassination programme of al-Qaida leaders that is hardly surprising. Clinton had an assassination programme against bin Laden. There have been 27 drone missile strikes against al-Qaida alone this year."

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