The latest little touch of evil left over from Dick Cheney’s shadow administration was an alleged post-9/11 plan to rollback President Ford’s 1976 Executive Order prohibiting assassination (which President Reagan amended in 1981 to specifically include terrorists). Basically, Cheney wanted to be able to go kill foreign leaders deemed "bad guys."
According to a recent New York Times story, the CIA “developed plans to dispatch small [paramilitary] teams overseas to kill senior Al-Qaeda officials.” Which in theory would have cut down on civilian casualties and offered an alternative to drone aircraft strikes or “seizing suspects overseas and imprisoning them in secret CIA jails.”
Cheney never went forward with the revival and some say his plans were only revealed to deflect attention from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s squabble with the CIA over water-boarding briefings; but to think for one thrilling moment that Central Intelligence could have been restored to its former glory: the cloak and dagger days of exploding seashells and poisoned briefcase handles…
Why, that’s almost worth trampling the constitution for.
But even though we've been denied the thrill of murdering foreign leaders, we thought it an appropriate moment to look back at some of our better attempts to do just that.
The classic era of Central Intelligence — which, by the way, is the proper, professional, way to refer to the agency — began after WWII and continued until the mid-70s, when Congress spoiled the fun, investigating and insisting on oversight. And by then the best intelligence was coming from satellites and signal intercepts anyway. By 1989, they were so hobbled they failed to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But in the old days the CIA was completely unrestrained. They were Ivy League cowboys who toppled governments, forged banknotes, consorted with the underworld and spent billions on urine detecting sensors in the Vietnamese jungle — and assassinated with relative impunity.
Daniel James Murray was on a mission to kill President Obama. Thankfully, he's just one more in a long line of American failures.
Jun 8, 2009