Keeping Track of the Empire's Crimes

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If you catch
the CIA with its hand in the cookie jar and the Agency admits the
obvious – what your eyes can plainly see – that its hand
is indeed in the cookie jar, it means one of two things: a) the
CIA’s hand is in several other cookie jars at the same time which
you don’t know about and they hope that by confessing to the one
instance they can keep the others covered up; or b) its hand is
not really in the cookie jar – it’s an illusion to throw you
off the right scent – but they want you to believe it.

There have
been numerous news stories in recent months about secret CIA programs,
hidden from Congress, inspired by former vice-president Dick Cheney,
in operation since the September 11 terrorist attacks, involving
assassination of al Qaeda operatives or other non-believers-in-the-Empire
abroad without the knowledge of their governments. The Agency admits
to some sort of program having existed, but insists that it was
canceled; and if it was an assassination program it was canceled
before anyone was actually assassinated. Another report has the
US military, not the CIA, putting the plan – or was it a different
plan? – into operation, carrying out several assassinations
including one in Kenya that proved to be a severe embarrassment
and helped lead to the quashing of the program.

All of this
can be confusing to those following the news. And rather irrelevant.
We already know that the United States has been assassinating non-believers,
or suspected non-believers, with regularity, and impunity, in recent
years, using unmanned planes (drones) firing missiles, in Yemen,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia, if not elsewhere. (Even more
victims have been produced from amongst those who happened to be
in the same house, car, wedding party, or funeral as the non-believer.)
These murders apparently don’t qualify as "assassinations",
for somehow killing "terrorists" from 2000 feet is morally
and legally superior to doing so from two feet away.

But whatever
the real story is behind the current rash of speculation, we should
not fall into the media’s practice of at times intimating that multiple
or routine CIA assassination attempts would be something shocking
or at least very unusual.

I’ve compiled
a list of CIA assassination attempts, successful and unsuccessful,
against prominent foreign political figures, from 1949 through 2003,
which, depending on how you count it, can run into the hundreds
(targeting Fidel Castro alone totals 634 according to Cuban intelligence);
the list can be updated by adding the allegedly al Qaeda leaders
among the drone attack victims of recent years. Assassination and
torture are the two things governments are most loath to admit to,
and try their best to cover up. It’s thus rare to find a government
document or recorded statement mentioning a particular plan to assassinate
someone. There is, however, an abundance of compelling circumstantial
evidence to work with. The
list can be found here.

For those of
you who collect lists about splendid US foreign policy post-World
War II, here are a few more that, lacking anything better to do,
I’ve put together: Attempts to overthrow
more than 50 foreign governments, most of which had been democratically-elected.

After his June
4 Cairo speech, President Obama was much praised for mentioning
the 1953 CIA overthrow of Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh.
But in his talk in Ghana on July 11 he failed to mention the CIA
coup that ousted Ghanian president Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, referring
to him only as a "giant" among African leaders. The Mossadegh
coup is one of the most well-known CIA covert actions. Obama could
not easily get away without mentioning it in a talk in the Middle
East looking to mend fences. But the Nkrumah ouster is one of the
least known; indeed, not a single print or broadcast news report
in the American mainstream media saw fit to mention it at the time
of the president’s talk. Like it never happened.

And the next
time you hear that Africa can’t produce good leaders, people who
are committed to the welfare of the masses of their people, think
of Nkrumah and his fate. And think of Patrice Lumumba, overthrown
in the Congo 1960–61 with the help of the United States; Agostinho
Neto of Angola, against whom Washington waged war in the 1970s,
making it impossible for him to institute progressive changes; Samora
Machel of Mozambique against whom the CIA supported a counter-revolution
in the 1970s–80s period; and Nelson Mandela of South Africa
(now married to Machel’s widow), who spent 28 years in prison thanks
to the CIA.

Read
the rest of the article

August
7, 2009

William
Blum [send him mail] is the
author of Killing
Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
,
Rogue
State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power
, West-Bloc
Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir
, and Freeing
the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
.

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