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
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?
the CIA's mission change from intelligence to assassination at the public
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
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:
CIA Vision, Mission, and Values
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.
support the President, the National Security Council, and all
who make and execute US national security policy by:
Providing accurate, evidence-based, comprehensive, and timely
foreign intelligence related to national security; and|
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
Intelligence that adds substantial value to the management of
crises, the conduct of war, and the development of policy.
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.
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,
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.
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
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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