Commenting on the CIA’s repeated attempts to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the Cold War, former President Lyndon Johnson bluntly observed that the CIA “had been operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean.”
For all his faults, Johnson got that one right. That is precisely what those repeated assassination plots against Castro were: attempted murder.
Oh sure, no one ever got indicted for the crime. And if some out-of-control federal or state grand jury had indicted CIA and other officials for conspiracy to murder Castro, every single federal judge in the land would have, immediately and without hesitation, summarily dismissed the indictment. That’s because ever since the U.S. government was converted into a national-security state after World War II, it has been established and accepted policy that the CIA and the Pentagon, as a practical matter, wield the omnipotent authority to take out any threat to “national security,” foreign or domestic, without having to fear any legal consequences for their actions.
Like the assassination plots against Castro, murder is precisely what the Pentagon committed with its assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani a few days ago in Iraq. Of course, like the CIA’s assassination attempts against Castro, no one will get indicted for the murder. Even if they did, the federal judiciary would immediately dismiss the indictment. No one is permitted to interfere with the omnipotent power of assassination that has been wielded by the CIA and the Pentagon since the latter part of the 1940s.
In fact, the national-security establishment’s power to conduct state-sponsored assassinations has become such an established part of America’s governmental structure that hardly anyone questions it anymore.
Just look at the “damned Murder Inc.” that the Pentagon and the CIA have been conducting for years in the Middle East as part of their forever “war on terrorism.” Assassinations by drone have become so ordinary and commonplace that hardly anyone gives them a second thought. The only reason that Soleimani’s murder has hit the front pages is because of his prominent position within the governmental structure of Iran, a country with whom the United States is not at war but that the CIA, Pentagon, and NSA consider to be a “rival” or an “adversary” or an “opponent” or an “enemy.”
During the Cold War, the justification cited for the conspiracy to assassinate Castro was that he was a “communist,” one who committed the unforgivable “crime” of establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union, including Russia (yes, that Russia!). That’s why the CIA repeatedly tried to murder him.
It was the same with Guatemala’s democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz. That’s why he had to be the top of the CIA’s still-secret list of people to be murdered as part of the CIA’s secretly orchestrated coup against him. It was the same with the CIA’s murder plot against Congo leader Patrice Lumumba. And don’t forget the CIA-orchestrated coup in Chile, where Chilean national-security officials attempted to assassinate the country’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, with missiles fired at him from the military’s jet planes.
Today, it’s no different. Oh sure, the term has changed from the “war on communism” to the “war on terrorism,” but the principle is still the same: murder. A “damned Murder Inc.” in the Caribbean and a “damned Murder Inc.” in the Middle East.
Four important points
There are four other important points to keep in mind about this sordid murder spree.
First, none of the people they have killed in the Middle East, including Soleimani, was invading the United States and trying to conquer America. Every single person they have murdered was “over there” — i.e., several thousands of miles away from the United States.
Thus, when U.S. officials claim that their assassinations are for “self-defense,” they are being false and disingenuous. Their “war on terrorism” murders are not defending the United States because the murder victims weren’t invading and trying to conquer the United States.
Instead, every single U.S. state-sponsored assassination in the Middle East has been to defend the “right” of the U.S. national-security establishment to engage in empire and intervention in the Middle East. That’s what all those murders are all about–the defense of empire and intervention, not the defense of the United States.
Second, we must never forget that the U.S. government’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was an invasion of a country whose government had never attacked or invaded the United States. The U.S. invasion was what was described by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal as a “war of aggression,” i.e., one in which one regime attacks and invades another country.
Why is that important in the context of the Soleimania’s murder? Because the events in Iraq that led up to Soleimani’s murder revolve around the 5,200 U.S. troops that are still in Iraq some 17 years after the initial illegal U.S. invasion of the country. It was recent protests by Iraqi citizens against the continued presence of foreign troops in their country that led to the current crisis, which culminated in Soleimani’s murder.
Assassination and the Constitution
Third, state-sponsored assassinations are not authorized by the Constitution, the document that brought the federal government into existence and that set forth its powers. One will search the Constitution in vain for any authority to assassinate people. In fact, on the contrary, the Fifth Amendment expressly prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of life without due process of law.
Due process means notice and a trial. The Pentagon’s and the CIA’s decades-long assassination spree, both during their forever “war on communism” and their forever “war on terrorism,” involves murdering people without notice and without trial.
Fourth, the federal judiciary has upheld the omnipotent power of the Pentagon and the CIA to assassinate not just foreigners, but also American citizens. In fact, assassination is a power that the national-security establishment has actually exercised against American citizens, something that people who are reveling in the murder of Soleimani don’t like to talk about. There is no way to reconcile the omnipotent power of a government to murder its own citizens with impunity with the principles of a genuinely free society.
It’s all just further confirmation of what the conversion of the federal government from a limited-government republic to a national-security state has done to our country. The conversion of the federal government to a national-security state, which is a totalitarian form of governmental structure, effectively nullified the Constitution, which the federal judiciary permitted to happen with its passive deference to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA on all matters relating to “national security.” That was when America embarked on the road to state-sponsored assassination, torture, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, and other dark-side, sordid practices that are inherent to communist and totalitarian regimes.
Unfortunately, President Trump, who has been a fierce advocate of the Pentagon’s and CIA’s assassination program ever since he became president, has been absorbed by the national-security establishment and its forever “war on terrorism.” By joining up with the Pentagon in its murder of Soleimani, Trump has shown that he has become part of the swamp he once decried.