CIA Assassination Program

tjwest

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This has been in the news for a week or so now, but the NYT just published the purpose of the CIA program that Panetta nixed last month.

NY Times CIA Article

I have mixed feelings on the whole thing, but thought I would post here to see what everyone else was thinking.
 
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7point62

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I don't have a problem with the gist of the EO in question, the targeting of our enemy's leaders during wartime. The biggest reservation I have about it is jeopardizing our highly trained operators on a dangerous infiltration into a sovereign foreign country where they risk capture and the subsequent propaganda bonanza an incident like that would be to our enemies, not to mention the painful images it conjurs up, like our dead being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.

I have enormous faith in the abilities and courage of our SOF and SOF-intel guys to put together and execute the mission...but the risks and alternatives should be carefully weighed. When in doubt, JDAM. My reservations do not obviously apply to theaters where we are already engaged in combat operations.

Unrelated to the ethical and risk issues is the political bullshit that's being stirred up about waterboarding, muhj atrocities, assassinations, all the post 9/11 wartime time implementations that are now being dredged up and waved around like Nazi war crimes to further discredit the former administration.
 

tjwest

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When I am in the grocery store, I just ignore the tabloids. Well for me, the actions of the past of the NYT, has reduced what ever that paper had to offer to tabloid status.


Ok, you're missing the point. Yes, the NYT has been reduced in stature in recent years because of bad journalistic decision. However, in this case conservative news outlets published the same story. See Fox News Story.

The real issue is, how do you feel about a program that

In 1976 President Ford issued Executive Order 11905, which prohibited the CIA from carrying out assassinations. President Reagan issued a second one, Executive Order 12333, in 1981 that reaffirmed this.

Following 9/11, both the Bush administration and the CIA put forth arguments that neither of these EO's prevent them from killing AQ leadership or operatives. Personally, I take everything that the Bush administration's crack(-pot) legal team put out during their tenure with a grain of salt, as the rule of law was never high on their priority list. Regardless, on some level I have never been entirely sold on EO's 11905 or 12333, and I think that some of the arguments I've read from DOJ and the CIA's general counsel make sense.

So it begs the question, assuming that the Bush administration was correct, and that it's okay to assassinate AQ leadership, is it okay to keep the program hidden from the select members of congress sit on the committee that provides the funding for the program, particularly in light of 1) the oversight laws that exist, and 2) the fact that members of congress that are part of the committee are subject to the same secrecy laws and regulations as anyone else with a similar level of clearance.



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fmrMTNsoldier

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I tend to support such programs as this, even though three Jason Bourne movies were more than I can handle, (which is how the media tends to describe said program) I still believe we as a nation should be actively targeting our enemies.

With that said I do believe in the need for oversite by congress, but in cases like this I think a limited panel should be informed. There was a report put out by the CIA stating one reason the then VP Dick Cheney wanted it kept out of congress's eyes was to limit the chance of some sort of media leak. This makes sense to me in light of what some politicians will do to improve their footing in the congressional body. In the end though each situation should dictate whether or not to using a surgical type action or turn his house into a parking lot.;)
 

SAWMAN

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Well, I have a particularly severe mindset on that kind of issue. My belief is that the need very much exists, but the critical factor is having the right people up and down the chain involved. It's no good having the best professionals in the world doing the "wet work" if they're undermined by weak-kneed politicians above them. If it's to be done, it must be done with the highest level of operatives and short chain of command.

Most just don't have the stomach for it. That program would have to be run under a particularly ballsy President, with just the right (hand-picked and very short) chain under him. As far as congressional visibility, I don't see any of the members of congress being able to understand that entire realm. It's just too severe for non-operators to comprehend in my opinion. It'd have to be completely black to allow any longevity, whatsoever.

As an operator, I'd saddle up for a run like that in a heartbeat. I know others that would, as well. There are just too many people in our country now who have no clue of what it takes to defeat a hardened, dedicated, well-prepared, radical, long-term enemy like we have now. Those same people just want to "feel good", so they expose programs they don't like the sound of, even though it's all in the good fight to keep Hadji away from our homes and families with his terroristic evil. }:-).

America is so divided these days with shockingly sheltered people who've never been out of Beverly Hills, but somehow have a political microphone, that we can't get much done without fighting among ourselves. United we stand, divided we fall. Apparently, not everyone can envision what would happen should we continue to dick around and lose...

That brings up another point. I don't hear any talk about how our economy is the target. Just like those who failed their duties at the top of the Federal Air Marshal Service. They didn't seem to have a clue that another U.S. flagged commercial airline attack would devastate our travel industry. So, they just sat around collecting their fat pay and chasing off all the operators who would be inclined to ask them why they weren't doing their jobs.

A country lulled into a stupor. How many kicks to the groin will it take to actually wake us up?...
 

JBS

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What is the difference between targetted assassination by some dark-side joes, and a "precision strike" by a drone?

Some people are talking about this as if there is a significant difference between bombing the hell out of someone in their little mud brick hideout while they are taking a shit, and sending a dozen high-n-tights into the front door to do the job in person.

Not that anyone is going to be surprised, but I say we should vaporize them any way we can; JDAM, 7.62, .50, HE, WP, etc., until they quit or there aren't any more of them left.
 

SAWMAN

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What is the difference between targetted assassination by some dark-side joes, and a "precision strike" by a drone?

Some people are talking about this as if there is a significant difference between bombing the hell out of someone in their little mud brick hideout while they are taking a shit, and sending a dozen high-n-tights into the front door to do the job in person.

Not that anyone is going to be surprised, but I say we should vaporize them any way we can; JDAM, 7.62, .50, HE, WP, etc., until they quit or there aren't any more of them left.

I'll take "Until there aren't any more of them" for 500, Alex. :D
 

AssadUSMC

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I only pray the CIA actually had the balls to contemplate this seriously... That would be a good sign IMO.
 

snake_doc

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I'm all for kill/capture teams! Let's give these guys no where to hide. With that being said, it would be difficult for the US to hide the fact that we were the ones responsible for any such mission that might take place. In addition, the more congressman we inform before the fact about these missions, the more leaks will occur.
 

JBS

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I'm all for kill/capture teams! Let's give these guys no where to hide. With that being said, it would be difficult for the US to hide the fact that we were the ones responsible for any such mission that might take place. In addition, the more congressman we inform before the fact about these missions, the more leaks will occur.

That's the real issue, in my opinion.

It isn't that we don't have finely honed arrows that can go in and do the job.

Its that any time Congress gets involved, we are likely to have reporters sitting at the ORP chewing on a snickers bar, thanks to their "unnamed source".

Or worse, said "unnamed source" that can't shut his fat fucking jowls somehow tips off haji, and he decides to scoot before he can be taken down. With the speed of the internet, these are very real concerns, when it comes to leaks.
 

Frank S.

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From a civilian point of view... I believe such a program should exist, and as SAWMAN pointed out, with the absolute shortest chain of command, maybe three links tops.
The president, the head of whichever agency/department would be selected and the team of assets.

I do not need to know about it, I do not want to know about it.

But I fervently think it ought to exist. I prefer this option by far to using JDAMs, drones or other means, unless of course they are safer to our guys and/or more expedient.
 

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7point62

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So it begs the question, assuming that the Bush administration was correct, and that it's okay to assassinate AQ leadership, is it okay to keep the program hidden from the select members of congress sit on the committee that provides the funding for the program, particularly in light of 1) the oversight laws that exist, and 2) the fact that members of congress that are part of the committee are subject to the same secrecy laws and regulations as anyone else with a similar level of clearance.


Your questions begs a few other questions. Like A) how bad do we want the target? and B) How far is the administration willing to go legally to bend the rules or find loopholes in the rules to omit informing select members of congress in the interests of national security? Lawyers can find loopholes in a loophole. And C) would public opinion be overwhelmingly supportive if it became known we whacked the guy?

Back in WW2 the US assassinated Admiral Yamamoto. There was some soul-searching done...I think FDR even consulted some clergymen--very generally--to cover his ass. And I don't know if he consulted anybody in congress. My guess is he didn't and even if he did he would not have gotten much opposition.

I think we all assume that our people have conducted missions like this from time to time. Legal? I would think it would depend on the spin your lawyers give it. Congress has forever bitched about being left out of the loop when it comes to top secret operations, so it's really nothing new.
 

snake_doc

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When congress gets a clearance and a need to know, perhaps they can be informed. Beyond that, they just need to get over the fact that they won't know everything that goes on in the world!
 

jtprgr375

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Here is what is ironic. They want to go after Cheney for trying to keep this program from being briefed to Congress. This WAS a TS program. Some people in the White House did not even know about it. After less than a week after good ol Leon Panetta testified before Congress, that this program existed, it was leaked. Whether or not it was declassified before hand I do not know, but there is a good reason they did not know about it. They do not need to fucking know. Life continues, our way of life continues, continue on with your lives and let the fucking people do their fucking jobs.
We all remember the feeling we felt as we watched those planes slam into the World Trade Center. Do we want that to happen again? Than shut the fuck up and let those who protect you do their job.
 

tjwest

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Your questions begs a few other questions. Like A) how bad do we want the target? and B) How far is the administration willing to go legally to bend the rules or find loopholes in the rules to omit informing select members of congress in the interests of national security? Lawyers can find loopholes in a loophole. And C) would public opinion be overwhelmingly supportive if it became known we whacked the guy?

Great questions, and I totally understand where you're coming from in point "B." I am a lawyer and often times its my job to find ways to protect my clients' interests within the framework of the law. To find "loopholes" if you will. I think the bigger problem here is that I expect more of leadership. It isn't like the former administration needed anyone's permission to set up assassination teams to go after AQ. The EO's discussed above were not put in place by congress. They're orders that come from the oval office. If the president doesn't think they're good law anymore he can change or remove them at any time. It happens all the time. In fact, I really would have preferred that the administration had done this. As I mentioned above, I'm not really opposed to this tactic. But I really don't care for our leadership putting in place laws that really don't mean anything. If we're going to let the CIA assassinate bad guys, let's not pretend that we're not.

The bigger issue I struggle with is deceiving congress. On one hand, I think back to the 80's when congress and the CIA managed to cooperatively work together to fight a clandestine war in Afghanistan without it being on the front page. On the other hand, I agree with much of what has been said above in regard to the concern that congressional offices sometimes can't keep their mouths shut. This is even more disspointing than all of the shoddy legal work that came out of the Bush administration. The whole thing makes me wonder if there isn't a greater role for the IG when leaks do surface. It's such a shame that no one has been nailed yet for the Valerie Plame leak. I don't care if she was an actual operative as she claims or just sitting on a desk at Langley like some others claim. It ought to be a top priority whenever classified information of that nature is leaked, and the penalties should be severe. Normally I don't by very much into deterrance theories, but part of me believes that the leak problem would probably go away after one or two congressional staffers (or white house staffers - remember the Plame leak is believed to have come from the executive branch) were sent to prison for life.

Back in WW2 the US assassinated Admiral Yamamoto. There was some soul-searching done...I think FDR even consulted some clergymen--very generally--to cover his ass. And I don't know if he consulted anybody in congress. My guess is he didn't and even if he did he would not have gotten much opposition.

This is a less compelling analogy, but does illustrate a couple of key points. Not only was the law different at that time, but the circumstances were different. Neither EO had been issued until the late 20th century, long after WWII. Additionally, Yamamoto was a military officer for a nation-state that was overtly at war with the US, who died in an ambush conducted by the US Navy.

This is a bit complex, but there are serious questions that haven't been resolved yet in regard to how the current "War on Terror" can and should be fought under the law (can you tell yet that I'm a big Rule of Law guy?). Today, we are in a global fight with AQ, which is a group that is neither a nation or a state. Congress has given the executive branch a tremendous amount of authority to prosecute this conflict under, inter alia, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). In spite of this, there are huge problems because in some respect the language of the AUMF is so broad and ambigous that the government is still struggling 8 years later to figure out where the boundries of that authority are. In large part, this is an even more compelling reason why the Bush administration would have been in the green to go ahead with the assassination program in the absence of the EOs. So why hide behind lawyers?





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SAWMAN

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When a bus bomb takes out Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv, another top Hammas, or Hisballah leader gets hit. It usually happens within 72 hours.

All you hear from the lib media is crying about the unprovoked "murder" of the terroristic leader, not all the innocent families on the bus. I'm over it. The media has long ago lost its professional credibility.

The Israelis, however, are used to it. They swiftly hit their enemies and make them pay without a bunch of internal conflict, hand-wringing, whining, second guessing, or any other humiliating jackasserie.

Israel does what works because they must. How simple and functionally beautiful is that? I wish we would go back to doing what works, like we used to.

We've gotten so far from reality these days, due (in my opinion) to being so big and powerful for so long, many of our citizens simply can't imagine being without all the luxuries they've enjoyed for so long. Little do they know it's all already being undone right in front of them. One Trillion dollars at a time...

We should be on a world-wide extermination campaign. AQ is not a legitimate army, defending their homeland from us. They're radical, extremist murderers. They should simply be hunted down wherever they are and erased without apology. I think the rest of the world would understand much more than we think. They'd whine, but they'd at least know it made sense.

"Jump us and we'll f-ing hunt you down and crush you. Any questions?"

If only...
 

Mac_NZ

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How is it assassination when you are at war with them? Dropping a cruise missile on a terrorist training camp could be classed as assassination, it's not like the guy squatting over a hole when the blinding light of freedom turns him medium rear is an imminent threat to a Soldiers safety. He's a long term threat and it's justifiable to take him out.

War is a dirty thing, it's a street fight with broken bottles and biting a guys ear off. It's not a couple of upper class twats pairing off in the ring with gloves and head gear.
 

Centermass

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It's of major importance if I kill you with a 500 lb'er or a mini gun. :rolleyes:

We need to come up with a new show....say like "I'm a politician, get me out of here"

Next, everyone on the Oversight Committee who's been the most vocal while playing semantics, gets flown to the ME, transpo'd to poppy fields ground zero, given a set of instructions 8000 pages thick on how to request military help and assistance, and let it leak out to both Al Q and the Taliban via an unnamed source who wishes to remain anonymous, that these infidels can be located via long lat or grid at the following location.

Yeah, if only.
 
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