On Wednesday March 11, 2009, Eric Black reported on MinnPost.Com a stunning statement by investigative journalist/author Seymour Hersh (of The New Yorker):
At a “Great Conversations” event (MP3) at the University of Minnesota last night, legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh may have made a little more news than he intended by talking about new alleged instances of domestic spying by the CIA, and about an ongoing covert military operation that he called an “executive assassination ring.”
Hersh spoke with great confidence about these findings from his current reporting, which he hasn’t written about yet.
The evening of great conversation, featuring Walter Mondale and Hersh, moderated by [U of M Political Scientist Larry] Jacobs and titled “America’s Constitutional Crisis,” looked to be a mostly historical review of events that have tested our Constitution, by a journalist and a high government official who had experience with many of the crises.
Further into the article he writes:
At the end of one answer by Hersh about how these things tend to happen, Jacobs asked: “And do they continue to happen to this day?”
“Yuh. After 9/11, I haven’t written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven’t been called on it yet. That does happen.
“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, a three star admiral named [William H.] McRaven, ordered a stop to it because there were so many collateral deaths.
“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.
“It’s complicated because the guys doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It’s a very complicated issue. Because they are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces you’ve heard about. Navy Seal teams. Highly specialized.
“In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Really, no exaggerations. Really fine guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they think you need to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing people.
“I’ve had people say to me — five years ago, I had one say: ‘What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don’t get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?’
“But they’re not gonna get before a committee.”
The following two videos are from last night’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC.
In the first video, Keith talks to Howard Fineman about Sy Hersh’s claim that Cheney was running a secret assassination ring:
The CIA has denied the claims by Hersh.
“Utter nonsense,” is the quote from CIA spokester George Little.
Fineman points out “that even with the denials the CIA was not willing to dismiss Hersh’s claim out of hand. He also thinks this may give some more creedance to Pat Leahy’s call for a truth commission and find him some more support for it.”
In this next video, Keith talks to John Dean:
“It’s potentially a war crime,” Dean said of the reported assassination ring. “It’s potentially just outright murder and it’s clearly in violation of the Ford Executive Order.”
“If this is true you have to prosecute this. There is no way around this,” said Olbermann, noting the 1976 executive order of President Gerald Ford which explicitly outlawed the engagement of political employees in political assassination. Cheney was Ford’s chief of staff at the time the order was issued.
“By the time Cheney was back in the West Wing it appears that Cheney had forgotten his own boss’s executive order, or worse, he had decided to ignore it,” Olbermann said.
Dean told Olbermann that “the President’s the only one you can argue who may have the authority to engage in assassinations.