CIA Launches Killing War
 CIA Launches Killing War--Does the CIA have the right to kill Terrorist suspects?  Where is the line between the military and intelligence?  Who authorized the CIA to hunt and kill Terrorist suspects?  Has the CIA usurped the power of the military to "take prisoners?"   As a former combat Marine, I resent the role of the CIA to hunt and kill Terrorists.  Isn't that the military's job?  Read and form your own opinion.   I have mine--Cliff McKenzie, Editor.


Tuesday--November 5
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 419
CIA Launches Killing War

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 5 --I didn't know the CIA was authorized to publicly kill people.  I thought it was supposed to be a secret intelligence gathering organization, not the new replacement for the US Marine Corps.
       Apparently, I was wrong.
       The once clandestine intelligence agency now comprises our country's Terrorist Assassins, obviously sanctioned to hunt down and kill suspected Terrorists without a trial, without arrest, without any form of due "enemy process."

        What's going on?  
         When did the CIA's mission change from intelligence to assassination at the public level? 
         Help me understand.
         Don't mistake my confusion.  I'm not naive.   I do understand the cloak and dagger tactics of the CIA, or, for that matter,  the former KGB.  In Vietnam I spent time with CIA assassins.  They would appear out of the jungle like ghosts, eat our food, kibitz with us, then slink back into the jungles to drag their knives across the jugulars of "selected targets."
         When I got out of the Marine Corps, I happened to work with a young attorney, a buddy, who had been recruited out of law school by the CIA to work covertly in Vietnam during the war.   His mission was to exterminate suspected communist leaders in villages.  He would slip into the villages at night and razor their necks, signaling to the village people if they sided with the Viet Cong their names would go on the "Black List" too.  That was a death list. 
         It was Terror fighting Terror.  Or, as some suggest, simple Terrorism draped in "war justification" clothing..  The Corps didn't relate to the CIA "killers.".  They were the mavericks, stone-cold killers of the night. They were loners.   The kind who would cut anyone's throat without a blink.
        As  U.S. Marines, we were trained as warriors not assassins.  We were indoctrinated with a "moral warrior" code that said we only killed those who were trying to kill us.   The rest we took as prisoners.   We weren't into slaying suspects.   In combat the rule was "kill or be killed," but we also knew that if we killed the enemy without provocation or justification, we could be brought up on charges for murder, a rare but still legal barrier to the wholesale slaughter of anyone for any reason.

Wreckage of car from Predator missile attack by CIA

       I guess that's why I was shocked to see the headlines this morning in the New York Times promoting how the CIA used an unmanned Predator aircraft to kill a senior leader of al-Qaeda and five low-level associates traveling by car in Yemen on Sunday (Nov 3).  The strike reportedly killed Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, aka Abu Ali, the senior al Qaeda operative in Yemen.   To call the kettle black, it was an assassination.
       The Predator attack was the first "official" covert military action outside Afghan battlefields.   "We're at war with al-Qaeda," a senior Pentagon official said earlier this year, the Times reported.  "If we find an enemy combatant, then we should be able to use military forces to take military action against them."
       Military action?  I didn't think the CIA was the military.  And I question the role of the CIA to usurp that role.   Why the CIA has opted to take credit for killing the enemy escapes me when we have  thousands of authorized military forces to do the job.   The role of the military is to "kill enemies."  The CIA's is to provide intelligence about where the enemy is located.   To assure myself I was right in my thinking, I looked up the CIA's mission on its website.  Here it is:

About CIA

CIA Vision, Mission, and Values

Our Vision

To be the keystone of a US Intelligence Community that is pre-eminent in the world, known for both the high quality of our work and the excellence of our people.

Our Mission

We support the President, the National Security Council, and all who make and execute US national security policy by:

bullet Providing accurate, evidence-based, comprehensive, and timely foreign intelligence related to national security; and
bullet Conducting counterintelligence activities, special activities, and other functions related to foreign intelligence and national security as directed by the President.

Our Core Beliefs and Values

What we stand for:

bullet Intelligence that adds substantial value to the management of crises, the conduct of war, and the development of policy.
bullet Objectivity in the substance of intelligence, a deep commitment to the customer in its form and timing.

       I fear we have just sanctioned a U.S. assassination team.  But I don't read that in the agency's Mission Statement.  I don't see "military" or "assassination anywhere, unless the words "special activities" is a ball of soft wax that can molded into any action, including military-type operations.

     Maybe the CIA has established the world as a "free fire zone."  I fear the idea of a "free fire zone."  In Vietnam certain sections of the country were termed "free fire zones."   The rule within them was-- "if it moved, kill it."  In such zones we lifted the restriction of seeing weapons, or selecting targets based on whether they appeared to be military or civilian. We fired freely, as though the moral requirement that we kill only combatants was lifted, and the jungles became a shooting gallery.  The "free fire zone" was also a way to exonerate us if we happened to kill women, children, innocent old men and crippled young men.   Even Viet Cong with their hands in the air waving white flags could be shot and killed with immunity in those situations.  But we didn't shoot those trying to give up.  We wanted the intelligence they could offer.  We wanted to question them and find out where the others were.   Killing them silenced them.  I wondered why the CIA would kill a top Terrorist rather than capture and question him.   I smelled a rat.

"Carnage"  the Beast of Terror

       In my experience--over 100 combat operations--every free fire zone resulted in needless killing.  When the ban on "target selection" was lifted, the Beast of Terror ruled. 
      Inside us all is a primal thirst to destroy anything that moves when we are threatened.  It triggers a kind of shark's feeding frenzy that sweeps through the mind and body and drives one to blow anything to pieces.  Faces of children and women blur, and the only thing that matters is seeing bodies fall and blood gush out.

       But afterwards, once the adrenalin has stopped pumping and you pick through the carnage and start rifling through the dead bodies for papers or signs of weapons, you feel sick.   You look hard at the faces of the dead.  You see those who were decimated that have no weapons.  Blank staring eyes drill through you as you check out the body for intelligence.  You see the gaping holes in chests or stomachs or heads, and wonder if that was your bullet that killed them.    Sometimes you puke your guts out as the Beast of Terror slinks down inside your being, replaced by the more human part of you that shames you for killing the innocent--the ones without guns, the ones caught in the crossfire, the women, the children, the young..
      Then, you pull a shell around you.  You become a turtle to the hail of guilt and remorse beating at the doorstep of your soul.  You try and stuff the faces of the dead deep down in the caves of the Beast of Terror, hoping they will not be exhumed by guilt and shame that you were not a warrior in an honorable battle, but instead a slaughterhouse killer--an assassin.  

 Predator is a long endurance, medium altitude, unmanned aircraft for surveillance and reconnaissance missions;  a satellite data link  provides over-the-horizon mission capabilities.

       The CIA's Predator attack Sunday on the al Qaeda suspects driving in a car in Yemen reminded me of the "free fire zone mentality" of Vietnam--"if it moved, kill it."
       But what disturbed me most was the lack of face-to-face military action.  That made no sense. I wondered why we didn't drop in a Special Forces team to take the suspects prisoner rather than blow them to kingdom come. 
       Now, we have no intelligence.   The dead can't tell us anything.
       We have no way of finding out from the top leaders who and what they know.  We have no chance of "turning" them into informants, or to make the "roll on" others as we can so deftly do in any interrogation.
       The CIA's attack was in Yemen, a country which supports U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, especially after the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. If the CIA is about gathering intelligence, why blast the suspects to eternity with a Predator, and then brag about it in the headlines.  Why did the CIA go public about doing what it did?   Why did they preempt military action?
       I am filled with lots of questions about the attack, troublesome questions.   On the surface, it appears as a PR effort to show the CIA is doing something.  It's as though the CIA was seeking votes in an election.  But its tactics were totally anti-military.
       I'm a hand-to-hand combat guy who believes that nations ought to fight out their battles with swords, pitting their best against their enemy's best, and the winner take all.  And I think it much more demoralizing to the enemy to take prisoners than to kill them.

       I was trained to kill by looking the enemy in the eye.   Marines are the last bastion of feudal warfare, taught to use the bayonet as the primary tool because when bullets fail, its you and they enemy, one on one until death does you part.
       The idea of a Predator hovering overhead, following a car traveling down a road in Yemen, and some CIA agent on a computer panel pushing a button that obliterated the vehicle and occupants, angers me.  
        It suggests we have now turned killing over to the technocrats, the spies, the furtive who never show their faces, who surreptitiously  prowl about in the darkness of the night slicing throats.  
              I fear we might be becoming the Terrorists we hunt.

Nov 4--War Crimes of Henry Kissinger

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