March 23, 2009
Famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh ruffled a few feathers last
week with comments in Minnesota regarding an alleged "executive
assassination ring" — a squad of elite killers who have allegedly been
infiltrating foreign countries and murdering … well, officially,
nobody knows who their victims have been, really, but if this story
were officially acknowledged (whatever that means these days), we would
no doubt be told that the alleged victims of the alleged murders were
"the worst of the worst", without whom America will now be safer,
"Right now, today, there was a story in the New York Times
that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint
Special Operations Command — JSOC it’s called. It is a special wing of
our special operations community that is set up independently. They do
not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported
directly to the Cheney office. They did not report to the chairman of
the joint chiefs of staff or to Mr. [Robert] Gates, the secretary of
defense. They reported directly to him. …
"Congress has no
oversight of it. It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and
it’s been going on and on and on. Just today in the Times
there was a story that its leaders [sic], a three star admiral named
[William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many
"Under President Bush’s authority, they’ve
been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA
station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and
leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.
The article in the New York Times to which Hersh refers [or here]
was written by Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, and the admiral in
question is Rear Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander of the Joint
Special Operations Command (JSOC), former Commander of Special
Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) and the first Director of NATO
Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre (NSCC).
Operations", of course, is intelligence jargon for "high-deniablilty"
"clandestine" raids: sabotage, murder and other acts of what we would
normally call terrorism.
In order for an act of international
terrorism to have "plausible deniablilty", the perpetrators cannot
share their plans with the ambassador or the CIA station chief. So that
part of Hersh’s statement is not surprising.
Neither is this:
the NYT piece makes it very clear that the "stop" Admiral McRaven
ordered was temporary, limited, and local — and that it’s history. In
other words, the executive killing spree has resumed.
order applied only to Afghanistan, and apparently was largely a matter
of spin-control. The piece by Mazzetti and Schmitt is, as usual, full
of spin itself, but nonetheless it’s worth a look. It starts like this:
The commander of a secretive branch of America’s Special Operations
forces last month ordered a halt to most commando missions in
Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused
by American firepower are jeopardizing broader goals there.
The spun part here, of course, is the alleged context. The "broader
goals" mentioned by Mazzetti and Schmitt are only hinted at, but never
specified in any detail — not in the New York Times, at any rate. More………………..