Secret CIA program involved assassinations of suspects



Quoting “three former intelligence officials” The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the secret CIA program, which recently alarmed Congress, involved summary killings and assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives. Although the plan’s details remain highly classified, it appears that the CIA sought to set up specialized assassination squads, staffed with US Special Forces personnel, in an attempt to copy the Israeli Mossad Operation Wrath of God (also known as Operation Bayonet) of the 1970s. Wrath of God, which involved targeted assassinations of individuals allegedly behind the 1972 Munich massacre, was described by Canadian journalist George Jonas in his 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, which also formed the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich. The Wall Street Journal quotes an anonymous former US intelligence official who describes the CIA plan as coming “straight out of the movies […]. It was like: Let’s kill them all”. According to the paper’s sources, the CIA “spent money [–closer to $1 million than $50 million, according to Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)–] on planning and possibly some training” on the project, which never became operational. The paper states that it is not known whether a CIA plan to pair the 2001 US military offensive in Afghanistan with an earlier Bay-of-Pigs-style invasion by a small force, targeting the Taliban leadership (see yesterday’s intelNews update), was “an early part of the [same] CIA initiative”. The CIA apparently planned to brief Congress “if the preparations reached a critical stage”, said one source, but this policy was not sanctioned by the Agency’s new Director, Leon Panetta, who terminated the secret project late last month and briefed the Congressional oversight committees about it. Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal revelations bear significant resemblance to remarks made last March by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Hersh claimed he had discovered the existence of a US Joint Special Operations Command assassination team, which answered directly to –and was shielded from Congressional oversight by– US vice president Dick Cheney. Soon afterward, Hersh was ridiculed at some quarters for that unsupported claim, but several observers are now wondering whether he is busily preparing a major exposé that will shed further light on this entire debacle.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

3 Responses to Secret CIA program involved assassinations of suspects

  1. Chris says:

    These are not assassinations. These are targeted killings. Assassination would mean they are killing heads of state. For example, any president or prime minister of a country, foreign minister ,Secretary of State, or high ranking political leader. Killing criminals does not count as an assassination. They are just killing violent crininals.

  2. Fred says:

    It’s funny you should say that, since extra-judicial killings (or assassinations) of violent criminals are also criminal acts, based on US legal codes….

  3. Chris says:

    If you don’t get caught it’s not a crime.
    Not only that, I have two words for you Fred.
    Prove it.

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