Of Course They Ran Hit Teams
by Deacon Blues
Seymour Hersh put it out there last night, in a matter-of-fact way in response to a question at a University of Minnesota forum:
Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that the military was running an "executive assassination ring" throughout the Bush years which reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
I am not surprised in the least. Get real folks, if Obama was told that JSOC had a shot at Bin Laden or the Taliban leadership, he's going to green-light that operation, regardless of how many civilian collateral damage deaths there are.
I'm not going to go off on some Bush/Cheney hating rant here, because after the last eight years we all know how they dealt with opponents abroad and here at home. Sure, there was a hit team or teams running out of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and even the Agency, charged with killing terrorist leaders or even heads of state from objectionable countries. There still are. The JSOC has been around a long time, charged with the work of finding and eliminating foreign military or terrorist threats when possible. And we've all heard stories about the Agency killing foreign leaders who don't dance to our tune. There is nothing new here, except possibly that for the last eight years these things were done outside of any formal channel or notification process, managed by the Veep and colored by his worldview.
And it does not surprise me that this effort ran from Cheney's office around the SecDef or even the CIA director to the operatives' commanders. There is no way that any president wants to issue a finding to kill a head of state (authorizing a hit against suspected terrorist leaders is another thing altogether). And with a willing Veep and a president who is smart enough to have at least one degree of separation on this stuff (like Bush), this doesn't surprise me at all.
What does surprise me is that folks are talking to Hersh about it, that Hersh knows enough about it to be pulling together a book about it, and that he somehow thinks he'll be alive to see that book published.
Don't be fooled; other presidents did this too, probably with more secret formality and internal accountability than what existed for the last eight years.
But also don't be fooled into thinking that an administration which equated domestic political opposition to terrorist threats, didn't also use these teams or those of private contractors to suppress political threats here at home.
Raise your hand if you still think that Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash caused by ice.
Hat tip to Raw Story and Eric Black of MinnPost.com