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The Terrifying Background of the Man Who Ran a CIA Assassination Unit (theatlantic.com)
248 points by philco on July 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 120 comments

Having NGOs conduct killing on behalf of the government is a tried-and-true method of counterinsurgence (South American paramilitary death squads for example). The plausible deniability introduced by working through a proxy allows the government to conduct more politically risky operations (including false flag attacks if public support is waning). Criticizing the government becomes riskier. And, if not held in check, the paramilitary elements will inevitably use their power for their own objectives.

Well said - similar happened in Europe during the 1970s with people being classified as (left-wing) terrorists (and a few might have certainly been) and being "transported" between countries by so-called freelancers - TMK quite a few did not survive the travel and definitely no obituaries in the press.

It was also in the context of some European countries not co-operating with other countries to arrest/extradite terrorist suspects because they wanted a quiet life where terrorist groups didn't attack their interests.

There's a great movie set in this context, "Munich"

The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) was much better.


Ahhh .... yes I think that's actually the movie I was thinking of. Brilliant.

Can you enumerate a few examples, please?

What puzzles me is why the person delegating authority is not considered responsible for the actions of those whom authority has been delegated to. Authority was delegated, not responsibility.

Plausible deniability is a velvety layer of insulation between the people who carry out the acts and the person elected or appointed to take responsibility. By the time the denials, obfuscations, delays, hand-wiping, shoulder-shrugging and tied-hands miming is done, the guilty parties are gone and the trail is so convoluted that it becomes very difficult to prove that the leader was anything more than ignorant of what went on. That feigned ignorance, in turn, provides lots of grist for righteous indignation about unauthorized overreach by lone rogue actors, partisan charges that the opposition is trying to muckrake and blah blah blah.

Political abstractions may be leaky, but they hold water long enough to get the job done.

Right but if you create a layer of plausible deniability you are still responsible for the consequences. If the head honcho says "Yeah you can kill the people on the list I haven't seen" I don't understand why seeing the list is a requirement for them to be responsible. Otherwise, what is the point of them authorising the act? May as well not bother.

It's the difference between being held responsible (politically, maybe, eventually) for a botched policy execution and being held responsible legally for a criminal act. Plausible deniability shields you from the former for long enough that the political news cycle has stopped caring and shields you almost absolutely from the latter.

Because these actions are normally clandestine. Hence the plausible deniability.

That's quite a headline. But the article is mostly about delegations of authority (and that not in any real detail), a story of US contractors conducting assassinations, and one (1) corroborating opinion -- that corroboration in no detail, and almost certainly second-hand.

There's a paragraph about the "terrifying background", in absolutely no detail whatsoever.

This sort of thing has become a subgenre of its own, one where the documentation almost always falls well short of the promise.

People should think about what the cries of "Wolf!" are doing to our ability to spot truly documented and disturbing problems.

What do you mean? The "terrifying background" seemed pretty clear to me -- a federal organized crime task force believed that he was involved in seven murders as a drug enforcer in Miami before becoming a contractor for the CIA.

I fully agree. I got to the bottom and thought, "This is it?". There's absolutely no story about the guy. This article just serves to become more noise.

This. The title for this article is misleading.

The book on Blackwater written by the journalist Jeremy Scahill has a lot of interesting background on Prado. Also, "American Desperado" (great book, also by Evan Wright) talks about some of Prado's interesting involvement in drug importation into Florida in the 1980s.

Sounds like an interesting guy, but probably not someone you want to meet in a dark alley.


The Scahill book is http://www.amazon.com/Blackwater-Powerful-Mercenary-Revised-...

The Wright book is http://www.amazon.com/American-Desperado-Life---Soldier-Gove...

I've read both and highly recommend them.

That's an interesting expression. What kind of people would you LIKE to meet in a dark alley?

Friends. The principled and empathetic. Those who give one another the benefit of the doubt and default to altruism in the absence of specific threat.

Do you have friends which prefer meetings in dark alleys?

Perhaps someone with a projector that could show entertaining films against the brick walls on either side of us.

ice cream vendors, flower salesmen, flashlight dealers...

Yum, eating ice cream in a dark alley

pusher men

Well, prostitutes and drug dealers if you're into that kind of thing.

People who are much smaller and/or less threatening than me, I suppose.

(But even a mouse can spook a grown man when he's tense and anticipating bad things happening.)

Rule 307. Never ask a sarcastic rhetorical question on these boards unless you're prepared for a lot of takers.

Pretty ladies.

> Sounds like an interesting guy, but probably not someone you want to meet in a dark alley.

True, but definitely someone to whom you want to entrust the President's most extreme authority.

"The administration then awarded Blackwater (which is now called Academi) a $250 million contract to perform unspecified services for the CIA."

Your tax dollars at work.

Remember all the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in 2010? One of them revealed that DynCorp had been spending money on pimps to buy young boys as "entertainment" (prostitution) for Afghanis. The money came from U.S. taxpayers.

How's that for your tax dollars at work?

I thought they had changed their name to Xe services. What sort of name is Academi for a private mercenary company?

Honestly, that's probably why they changed it again. Blackwater was a comically villainous name to begin with.

Not only is it comically villainous, it's the technical term for waste water from toilets. That is, sewage. Whoever is picking their names needs to be, uhm, shot.

It has nothing to do with sewage.

Blackwater got it names from the swamps surrounding the area: "the Great Dismal Swamp, a vast swamp on the North Carolina/Virginia border, now mostly a National Wildlife Refuge...There, he created his state-of-the-art private training facility and his contracting company, Blackwater, which he named for the peat-colored water of the swamp.[10]"

But apparently if Blackwater wanted to shot the person that named it they can do that.

Blackwater -> Xe -> Academi.

For trying to get away from the story book evil sounding-ness of an entity named "Blackwater", they sure didn't do very good with "Xe", which sounds even more mysterious and potentially evil-doing IMO.

Academi sounds a lot better though. And they do a lot US LE/gov't/etc. training which is probably what they would rather emphasize than their being a "private mercenary company".

They also run an online apparel business. I got an Academi T-shirt.

For a long time, they did run a lot of training as their primary business, too. (US Training Centers, in NC, is one of the best firearms/combat training centers in the world. They also make excellent reactive target systems.)

That's probably the point.

"Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA."

If you want to have a debate, lets talk about ending the various wars the USA is fighting in various forms around the world. Not whether a particular covert surgical tactic is being carried out by the correct kind of soldier.

Jesus Christ, think about it! a Blackwater employee killed your six year old son, but he turned out to be a wrong person. You have all the evidence in the world for justice to be served, and yet you get this: "oh, sorry, but this company and their employees have unofficially issued government license to kill. Neither your local sherrif office, nor police, nor your congressmen, people in congress, DOJ or Supreme Court alone can do shit about it".

And this happens on the soil of the United States of America!

Well, to be fair, every government uses or at least has plans for these kind of tactics. KGB/FSB, Mossad, MI6, DGSE, otehr variations of a DSS agency - you've got to be very naive to believe they don't conduct covert operations and planned assassinations themselves or through third parties. It's only shocking when it comes to light (or maybe because it comes to light, when it shouldn't?)...

There is an Epic Level difference between a government agency who is ultimately responsible for their conduct to their citizens, one way or another having a secret assassination program, and a government paying a 3rd party to carry out assassinations.

One particular way in which this is different, is that the CIA can't go out and decide that it (as an organization) wants to freelance for other nations or organizations.

Blackwater, once set up as a paramilitary organization who specializes in covert assassinations... who's to say they're not moonlighting for Zetas or the Russian mob? What's the ethical block stopping them? They're already secretly killing people for money.

They're not moonlighting for the Zetas or the Russian mob because if they were, they'd lose billions of dollars of CIA money.

If you were the government looking to hire a third party to do this kind of things for you, wouldn't you prefer someone with experience?

Yes, you could only hire people that went through your own training program, but hiring ones that went through other training programs would give more plausible deniability. It also could be an excellent Way to sow seeds of distrust between otherwise friendly parties.

Really. And do you think the CIA is auditing Blackwater's books, and tracking all of its operatives? Or are we just taking their word for it?

Count the number of shell corporations Academi (formerly Blackwater) has. I lost count at about 100 of them, and I'm sure there's many, many more.

Now, track what each shell corp does and who their customers are. I hope you have a vast team dedicated to sorting that out.

Academi is staffed by experienced, former CIA personnel who know the ins and outs of the trade.

And if you further need convincing, look at Air America and South American CIA operations where the CIA didn't even know what was going on under their OWN chain of command.

The CIA is (mostly) not some mystical, all-seeing spy organization. They suffer the same problems as any company/agency of their size. Bureaucracy, and especially PHBs.

Really? Sounds like a great opportunity to blackmail the CIA to me.

One of the disadvantages of committing illegal and morally questionable acts is that you become vulnerable to the consequences of the disclosure of those acts.

Half true, not every government and not these kinds of tactics.

The point is that when you move from dirty intelligence work to hiring mercenaries to perform large scale purges and intentionally make them unaccountable in order to shield yourself from war crime prosecution ... that's a level normally reserved for totalitarian states or exceptionally corrupt states.

Since the 70's and 80's these types of organizations have normally been called "death squads", most people have heard that term in connection to the violence in central and south america during that time.

You would have to be exceptionally cynical about the state of US democracy to not be a little shocked by the scale of this.

These aren't "large scale purges" or "death mobs", they're targeted assassinations. Blackwater, villainous as they may be, aren't killing indiscriminately to cause fear.

"deaths squads", and it's the exact definition of death squad. The fact that it fits a definition of a word isn't important anyway. The facts are.

Blackwater didn't get that "villainous" reputation by being particularily targeted. I guess you could argue that the frequently reported "indiscriminate" firing was a different Blackwater/Xe/Acedemi department and you might be totally right.

And I guess that depends on when the number of extrajudicial killings by a funded group kept unaccountable specifically to avoid prosecution reaches a level that you would call "large scale". No one seems to know the scale, but it's certainly beyond what any historian is going to call "targeted assassinations" in the future.


As with many things, the slippery slope isn't apparent until you've started the slide.

The article says Obama approves the targets. So right there, accountability, Obama is 'owning' it.

Better maybe, but when the kill list is secret and the reasons are secret that's not exactly "accountability"

Maybe I've missed something here but how is this question relevent to hacker news?

See the guidelines [1]. One could argue that it "gratifies intellectual curiosity", and it is certainly "evidence of some interesting new phenomenon" (for varying values of new; it is nevertheless interesting new evidence).

[1] http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

>"evidence of some interesting new phenomenon"

Accountability hacking perhaps.

Belongs on Reddit along with the comments here... (including this one)

Dispatches from the twilight zone twixt sectors public and private. Highly relevant to hackers everywhere.

Typo. Belongs on whacker news.

If a dozen Americans killed by a whacko deserves to be on hacker news, the mass murder of Afghans and Iraqis also deserves to be mentioned. There have been no minutes of silence for the million+ Iraqis and Afghans, no American media outlet has run hours long stories about the victims, the survivors or their families.

Just another reason that withdrawing "official" military from Iraq is a farce of the same level as declaring victory.

We don't officially torture prisoners (anymore), but unaccountable private contractors can run wild, hidden from all that pesky human rights oversight.

Never mind conspiracy theory, we have evidence openly showing how our government is doing bad things for the "right reason".

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I'm sure the Spanish Inquisition had "good intentions" as well when they tortured the "heretics".

Governments can easily get out of hand if not vigilantly watched and stopped when necessary, or they will create situations where they can punish whoever they want for whatever reason they say.

I like to think of the current structures that define and drive of our 'civilization' as a legacy design that is very difficult to replace, sort of like PC and Von Neumann-ish architecture, or a giant Perl codebase.

I think that in this technological era, secret government (or private) killings, war, domination of resources by force, etc., is completely inexcusable. I think that the structures are unfortunately supported by primitive Social Darwinist belief systems.

I am actually optimistic that when violence and violence suppression really becomes an information technology (i.e., a non-wealthy person can run a program/device that fabricates and launches his own swarm of protective robots) that will lead to a more equal distribution of resources and generally less violence and coercion. May sound far-fetched, and maybe it is.. but things are so fucked up, I have to hope for some science-fictiony sounding solutions.

[quote] So there you have it: A former Air Force lieutenant colonel, speaking on the record and using the present tense, said in 2011 that "private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA." [/quote]

A journalist looking for any reference that would support his article. I'm not saying the US Gov. isn't contracting private security firms to carry some of their dirty work. But saying "Huh a former lt-col from the Air Force confirmed <whatever>" isn't worth anything. In fact, all it does, in my opinion, is uncover and expose how naive is the reporter.

A former Air Force lieutenant-colonel... is it supposed to mean anything? It's a claim to Authority, with a weak authority to bring forward.

It's almost ridiculous how some people get so indignant about CIA; I can almost feel their spittle as they shout at their computer screens. At the same time, people get equally outraged when terrorists kill people and then want to blame CIA for their failings.

It's a bad world. I am not sympathetic to the plight of those who associate with terrorists (even if they themselves haven't committed a terrorist act) and find themselves it Gitmo or dead. Are mistakes made? Of course, CIA has a long history of public f'ups, however their degree of success is noteworthy, though often unheralded. Bin Laden was found because of CIA, the Iranian and North K nuke programs have been slowed and countless people AREN'T dead because of CIA. The Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc was hastened due to CIA and Reagan forcing the issue by spending the Soviets into insolvency because of the arms race. Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton were avid weilders of covert action -- it's not a political party issue.

On the British side, MI6 is right there with CIA. The old Deuxiéme Bureau as well as German Intelligence is highly active in the black operations side of geopolitical affairs. This isn't peculiar to America, though in America, we have a (mostly) free press and a scandal-hungry populace that tends to sensationalize missteps or failures.

Let's not through the baby out with the bathwater. I'm far more worried about getting blown up on the PATH train than ending up in CIA (or their proxy's) crosshairs.

> I am not sympathetic to the plight of those who associate with terrorists (even if they themselves haven't committed a terrorist act) and find themselves it Gitmo or dead.

I see, you've fallen for the pro-U.S propaganda. Where random groups are designated 'terrorists' and thus deserving of your hatred.

> Iranian and North K nuke programs have been slowed and countless people AREN'T dead because of CIA.

100% pure speculation. Other countries getting Nukes (or nuclear energy) is non of the USes business, unless you accept other countries making attempts to disable american power as well.

The US flat out lied about iraq, and was proved to have lied. Yet you believe them on North Korea and Iran... how about reflecting on facts, rather than propaganda?

There's nothing "random" about picking on Al-Qaeda. Also, the facts are that NK has nuclear capabilities. So yes, we believe the CIA about that.

Al-Qaeda isn't random, but a lot of the people in Guantanamo do seem to be pretty random, mostly low-level Taliban schmucks who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were inaccurately sold out by someone looking for a reward. Even the U.S. has admitted that in a few cases.

Iraq, and Afghanistan are also apparently "terrorist nations"... but not Pakistan? Or Yemen? (Despite Al-Qaeda having proven links to both).

But why is NK having nukes a problem? There is no proof they want to use them. Just posturing... Very similar to India and Pakistan.

Edit: Did the CIA get upset when France developed and tested nuclear weapons? Do some countries deserve trust while others don't? What has North Korea done, that caused the mistrust?

[Edit Typos]

This article might illuminate some of your questions:


The simple answer about France vs India and Pakistan is that France signed and supposedly adheres to the Non-Proliferation Treaty on Nuclear Weapons, but has joined as a 'nuclear weapon state', and are one of the five members of the UN Security Council. Being on the council means that they can have weapons, but agree to use them responsibly, and their adherence to the treaty means that they can verify the safety of their devices, that they are adhering to the treaty's requirements on inspection by the IAEA, and that they are abiding all disarmament requirements specified therein.

India and Pakistan, having not ever accepted the treaty in the first place, are in a different position. Their nukes are treated with skepticism naturally, but they haven't ever agreed to anything so are exempt from its guidelines.

North Korea is a unique case, in that it did sign the treaty, but later withdrew its acceptance and are now, as you say, 'posturing', after never having come into compliance when they were abiding the treaty and having acceded. That there are questions as to their governmental leadership, and that they are testing nuclear devices in secret only exacerbates that, at the very least, we need to keep our eyes on what they are doing.

Did the CIA get upset when France developed and tested nuclear weapons?

France at the time was a member of NATO. So, no, probably not.

Do some countries deserve trust while others don't?

I would rephrase it 'do some governments deserve trust ...


Intent matters. The UK is not possibly going to blow up New York City. For a while there in the 50s and 60s the same could not be said for the USSR.

What has North Korea done, that caused the mistrust?

In no particular order ...

Last remaining Stalinist regime in the world.

Kidnap foreigners for entertainment purposes.

Started a war in 1950. One that isn't officially over.

In that war executed tens of thousands of citizens of the country they invaded.

Once in a while they do insane stuff like shell their neighbor' land, blow up parts of their navy.

Constantly dig tunnels under their border with ROK in order to bypass border defenses.

As I've said in other threads. How about Israel, they do all of those things[1], have Nukes, and are massive aggressors in their part of the world.

[1](Except the Stalinism)

1. Israel is an ally of the US. 2. Intention matter. 3. So does governance. 4. Did you really compare North Korea to Israel, say they are comparable?

If Y there is no talking to you. Have a nice day.

What's North Korea's intent? (I thought unification)

What's Israels intent? (I thought unification)

Are they comparable? Seems, at face value, they are.

I'm not sure what you are getting at with the governance point.

> If Y there is no talking to you. Have a nice day.

Really? That's the position you want to take?

I'm not sure what you are getting at with the governance point.

Type of government - representative democracy versus totalitarian dictatorship.

That's the position you want to take?


I can't speak about everything because I don't keep up with most of this.

But frankly, the situation is shaky. Pakistan is fairly developed considering the region it's in. It's also unstable because of the military from what I can understand. So it's reasonable not to label them as a terrorist nation and possibly pushing them into a more unstable state. That's the analysis that I've heard, but I don't know much about Pakistan.

We have problems with North Korea having nuclear weapons because they are extremely volatile. Their interactions with the South prove it. Those tunnels into SK that they used to send commandos in an assassination attempt? Or maybe the sinking of the South Korean warship? The shelling of an island? The list is LONG and a cursory glance of their Wikipedia page will prove that. Can you honestly tell me that you'd feel safe if North Korea had nukes?

The issue with Pakistan is that there are a number of competing elements within the government and military. Some are sympathetic to American interests, some are hostile. Sme sympathetic to al-Queda, some afraid of radicalized Islam.

Parts of the ISI, their counterpart to the CIA, helped foster terrorist training camps in Afghanistan with the aid of American weaponry and money during our covert push against the Soviets. This was partly done so that fighters trained in those camps could then be shipped to Kashmir to do battle against the Indian army in that region.

Pakistan is a very difficult topic. I recommend two books by Steve Coll to understand it better, "On the Grand Trunk Road" and "Ghost Wars," two fascinating books on the recent history of this region. I recently read both and they're worth your time.

> But why is NK having nukes a problem? There is no proof they want to use them. Just posturing... Very similar to India and Pakistan.

True that. I never thought about it that way.

> What has North Korea done, that caused the mistrust?

They're frickin nuts. They run horrific internment camps. Their ideology includes our defeat. (The western capitalist powers.)

Pakistan is a hodge-podge, which includes terrorist and islamist elements. I'm not up on the situation in Yemen.

This is absurd. A nuke can kill millions in one go. I'd sooner let Joe the Plumber have nukes than North Korea. "I won't use it, pinkies crossed" is no defense for such deadly weapons under any circumstances I can imagine.

> "I won't use it, pinkies crossed" is no defense for such deadly weapons under any circumstances I can imagine.

That's literally what the measure of allowing countries nukes is.

Though, granted, North Korea withdrew from the "pinkies crossed" promise. But there are other countries (India, Pakistan, Israel) that have nuclear weapons but haven't promised to use them responsibly. Which no one seems to phased about, so why North Korea?

You keep bringing this up and I keep answering you.

North Korea has repeatedly attacked its neighbours with no good cause. Those other countries haven't.

I answered you directly (where you brought it up).

Israel repeatedly attacked/s its neighbours (even occupying them). North Korea is timid in comparison.

Good cause is debatable (for both Israel, and North Korea).

Care to provide an example why North Korea has good cause to invade South Korea ?

You know they keep trying right ?

Much like the Israel/Palestine conflict. They believe the country is theirs. Hence why they want unification.

As I say, good cause is debatable.

You keep claiming they attack their neighbors. Which ones? They have two: China and Russia. They also share a border with the other half of Korea. This is similar to the Mason Dixon line. Both halfs are part of Korea. Do you also object to the War Between the States as unnecessary aggression of the North against the South?

North and South Korea are two separate countries and represent themselves individually within international institutions e.g. UN or WTO. Also by every measure they are separate.

US states have an overarching political, financial and political system that in some parts supercedes the rights of the states.

So I don't think the two are really comparable.

Can we agree that, contrary to your original claim that "repeatedly attacked its neighbours with no good cause", North Korea does not "repeatedly attack" Russia or China, with or without "good cause", these being their only two non-Korean "neighbors"? That leaves this to be only about possibly a single "neighbor", not multiple neighbors regarding claims of "repeatedly attacking a neighbor with no good cause".

So let's look at that one "neighbor". It's reasonable to consider whether that is truly a "neighbor", or is a split of an original united single nation that was split over ideological differences, exacerbated by foreign influences.

The american south declared independence from the american north. The north asserted the right to restore its country through military force and waged a massive destructive war to reunite the nation. This was facilitated by foreign governments supplying arms to both sides.

This is extremely comparable to the current N/S Korean schism, right down to the difference in philosophies regarding human rights by the two sides.

To object to efforts to reunify a split nation by force in one situation, one must object to efforts to reunify a split nation by force in the other situation, in order to remain ideologically consistent. This is why I asked "Do you also object to the War Between the States as unnecessary aggression of the North against the South?"

North Korea having nukes is a huge problem if you are South Korea or Japan or Hong Kong or anyone else in the region. They don't want a child dictator who is clearly bored and with a point to prove having nuclear weapons.

I just came back from North Korea and it is like stepping back 50 years. But one thing is very clear they very much believe in a reunified Korea under Kim Jong Un. And as has been demonstrated with their previous tunnel attempts under the DMZ they are willing to do this by force.

Show me where France has on repeated occasions attacked their neighbours and destabilised the region.

> North Korea having nukes is a huge problem if you are South Korea or Japan or Hong Kong or anyone else in the region.

I'm not sure I accept that premise. But the U.S isn't listed there? So where is the U.S interest here? Or are we going to go with "stability in the region is in the USes interest"?

North Korea, by and large, is a problem for South Korea. Just as Taiwan is a problem for China (or vice versa). Where does a country draw the line of "national interest"? Because it seems (in the case of the CIA) to have gotten out of hand.


> Show me where France has on repeated occasions attacked their neighbours and destabilised the region.

Substitute France with Israel then. There is no consistency with the U.Ses labeling of 'Evil'/'terrorist' regimes.

The US isn't within current strike range of NK. The other countries are. South Korea, notably, has its capital (and 25 million inhabitants) within 35 miles of the North Korean border.

There's some debate as to how much of the NK artillery force is capable of striking Seoul, but there's no doubt that at least some of it can.

And that's just conventional weaponry (explosives, possibly chemical and biological weapons).

Nukes are a completely different ballgame.

NK could disrupt affairs in countries in which the US has significant economic and strategic relationships. But its ability to directly affect the US is somewhat less. At least so long as you're thinking in terms of artillery and missile launches. A ship-board nuke could still make for a really bad day in New York, LA, Houston, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, or even Chicago or other Great Lakes ports.

http://www.businessinsider.com/map-of-the-day-how-north-kore... http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/rok/seoul-image...

>> I am not sympathetic to the plight of those who associate with terrorists (even if they themselves haven't committed a terrorist act) and find themselves it Gitmo or dead.

There is a view that the US actions are unfair and unjust. The delivery method is not terrorism but the end result is indistinguishable in terms of justness or fairness. For example, torturing a man not found guilty of any crimes.

With that in mind, you yourself would be a co-conspirator of the nature you mention your lack of care for above.

If A.N. Other opposing, aggrieved party was to become as effective as the CIA at culling people, such as yourself or your loved ones (in no way are you or your loved ones doing anything "wrong" although you do sympathise with the American unaccountable "bully" philosophy) i'm certain your view would change overnight.

>There is a view that the US actions are unfair and unjust. >The delivery method is not terrorism but the end result is indistinguishable in terms of justness or fairness. For example, torturing a man not found guilty of any crimes.

How is the delivery method not terrorism? If a guy named Muhammad kills 12 ordinary civilians he is a terrorist but if a guy named Andy/Joe/Steve kills 12 / 112 people in Iraq / Afghanistan by going on a shooting spree / dropping a bomb on a civilian home / aspirin factory / wedding and its not terrorism? There was a Muslimy-named guy who killed American soldiers (not civilians) at Fort Hood and he was labelled a terrorist. The guy named James who has killed 12 civilians is not a terrorist, he is a "suspect".

1998 Clinton knowingly bombed the aspirin factory that provided cheap medicines to millions of Africans:




<BEGIN QUOTE> In 1985, when I was the Deputy Director of the Reagan White House Task Force on Terrorism, they asked us—this is a Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism; I was the Deputy Director of the working group—they asked us to come up with a definition of terrorism that could be used throughout the government. We produced about six, and each and every case, they were rejected, because careful reading would indicate that our own country had been involved in some of those activities.

After the task force concluded its work, Congress got into it, and you can google into U.S. Code Title 18, Section 2331, and read the U.S. definition of terrorism. And one of them in here says—one of the terms, "international terrorism," means "activities that," I quote, "appear to be intended to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping."

Yes, well, certainly, you can think of a number of countries that have been involved in such activities. Ours is one of them. Israel is another. And so, the terrorist, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.


Muslimy named guy at Fort Hood? He is a Muslim!

According to eyewitnesses, Hasan had taken a seat at an empty table and bowed his head for several seconds when he suddenly stood up, shouted "Allahu Akbar!"

And you completed ignored my point that:

when an American (white Christiany) kills innocent CIVILIANS (whether American civilians in Colorado or Iraqi or Afghan civilians) he is not called a terrorist

but when an American (brown, Muslimy) kills SOLDIERS he is called a terrorist.

What is terrorism? Killing soldiers (who are trained to kill people) or killing civilians (who did not sign up for any murder and terror)?

Or is terrorism the act when non-white folks (Americans or otherwise) or non-Christians or non-Americans kill anyone? Apparently it's not called terrorism when Bush kills 1 million people or Obama kills Afghan women and children who are celebrating at weddings.

Timothy McVey was was most certainly labeled a terrorist. Violent anti-abortionists who randomly murder doctors are labeled as terrorists.

Killing unarmed soldiers doing administrative work in their own country when they are not on combat duty is terrorism.

Obama trying to kill a terrorist and then accidentally killing civilians is not terrorism.

It all comes down to intent, no?

If you can't see the hypocrisy of the media then please ignore my post and move on. Is it a bigger crime to kill civilians or to kill soldiers? Is James the dozen-civilian-killer a terrorist or not? Media calls him a "suspect", why was the Fort Hood shooter not called a suspect while he was being investigated? Can't you see the pattern that if the murderers is a European / white American he is a "suspect" and if it's a brown American (like the Fort Hood killer) he is a "terrorist". Did you see the sympathetic posts about the person who went on a killing spree in Afghanistan? The poor guy had issues so we wanna consider that rather than call him a terrorist, how about the brown guys killing civilians, maybe they had issues? Maybe they had trauma from their folks being murdered or tortured? I am not justifying any crimes, I am only highlight how the media is justifying some crimes and calling other perpetrators terrorist from the get go.

>Obama trying to kill a terrorist and then accidentally killing civilians is not terrorism.

>It all comes down to intent, no?

Oh yeah, when we bomb wedding parties out intent is good, when they killed civilians their intent was bad, that was simple, now I get it.


Clinton knowingly bombed Sudan pharmaceuticals factory (I have posted the link somewhere on this page) and killed half million infants by sanctions alone (1996 UN estimate of the period 1991-1996), Bush knowingly went to Iraq when there was no link to any attack on US, Obama went into Libya for no good reason (oil contracts), Obama has killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan with unmanned drone attacks and his latest piece of art is to label all adult males present in the site where he wanted to bomb as "militants".

That's neat of Pres Obombya, Americans own the whole world; the Afghans, Somalis, Yemenis, Pakistanis just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so they are all terrorists. Let's kill them and call them militants unless proven otherwise (just imagine Osama using the same logic, oh there were bad guys in those buildings, the intent was to kill only those who were bombing Iraq).


The CIA was responsible, under Eisenhower's direction, for overthrowing Mosaddegh in Iran, leading to the Shah, and then the hostage crisis and the current regime. When you wave your hands and pretend to be adding up wins and losses like this, do you consider where the CIA is a net liability? How did their arming of the Afghans who would later become the Taliban work out, in your accounting?

I have to disagree with the word "responsible". There was a huge domestic opposition to Mosaddegh's rule in Iran. Did the CIA encourage this dissent? Yes. Did the CIA hasten the overthrow of Mosaddegh? Yes.

If the CIA had never gotten involved in Iran, would Mosaddegh have maintained rule? It's doubtful.


The CIA, in its own words, seems to feel that it was responsible for the "overthrow" of Mosaddegh, in a "coup" (their words).

At the time of the coup, Mosaddegh was more popular than before, enjoying majority support, and had just been granted emergency powers by parliament for six months, which then renewed them for twelve. I respectfully dispute your suggestion that, absent CIA interference, it's doubtful that he would have maintained rule.

A couple points:

1. The plot to overthrow Mosaddegh went off exactly as planned. Ignoring any moral factors, it was very a impressive operation. I wouldn't doubt that CIA took as much responsibility for it as they could.

2. It is true that Mosaddegh had broad popular support, but he was also opposed by a large fraction of the population (eg. the mass protests that called for his head).

I'll take back the comment that he wouldn't have been able to maintain rule (I'll readily admit I can't predict the future). However, my point is that the CIA didn't create a coup out of thin air.

What the CIA did in Iran was provide operational support for the anti-Mosaddegh forces. Not really all that different than what the CIA did in Afghanistan during the war with Russia.

Mosaddegh wanted to nationalize oil, are you telling us that BP (then APOC), the UK, the US were all happy about it and the Iranian public was furious to see the oil money coming back to their country?

What about the coups and assassinations in several dozen other countries? Chile 9/11/1973, Brazil 1964, Guatemala 1954, Venezuela 1992+2002, Haiti 1991+2004 (Aristide was forced to board a US military plane that took him into exile), Congo coup 1960 and Patrice Lumumba's assassination 1961?



I agree with your overall sentiment. However, you're not portrating the enemy nuke programs in a way that I think is appropriate. In actuality, US leaders allowing adamantly anti-western nations to make so much progress towards acquiring nukes is probably the biggest national security failure in US history, and an act of utter and complete cowardice of the highest degree.

Reading the comments here, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking we (the side of rational thinking and intelligence) have lost. The question you should ask yourselves is whether the CIA, or even a big chunk of our government are working to protect us or working to protect their own interests. They do these things in our name. Murder civilians and call it collateral damage. They make up fake dossiers and our media swallows it whole. What have we come to? We used to be the shining city on the hill. We didn't need to invade people to "protect" ourselves.

Personally, I'm more worried about getting blown up because somebody has ended up incorrectly killed by a government contractor.

  At the same time, people get equally outraged when terrorists kill people and then want to blame CIA for their failings.

It's almost ridiculous how some people get so indignant about about imagined pacifist dirty hippies; I can almost feel their spittle as they typety tap tap their anonymous comments. At the same time, those narcissistic people get equally outraged when their imagined political opponents don't actually hold those silly projected beliefs and then want to blame those opponents for not buying into their logical fallacies.

Blah, blah, blah. Insert filler nonsensical blather here. End with some mindless proclamation demonstrating my reasonableness and obvious moral superiority.

> It's a bad world. I am not sympathetic to the plight of those who associate with terrorists

So ... you are saying you are very much an anti-American. But your post indicates support for CIA, so I am confused.

Are you a real human being or a brain-dead bot...? So it is good when CIA goes and kills anyone thousands of miles away (whether you call them civilians or you consider them guilty by default), you're just not sympathetic with those people who are victims of CIA...? Aren't you associating yourself to terrorism (i.e. killing innocent civilians) even if you are not committing the acts yourself?

Was a good thing that CIA installed brutal dictators after toppling the governments of dozens of elected leaders around the world from Chile and Brazil, Cuba and Guatemala and Iran to Indonesia?


Is it terrorism when a guy named James kills a dozen Americans and injures 5 dozen? Would he be called a "suspect" or a terrorist if his name happened to be Muhammad?

Is it a good thing when an American soldier kills a dozen Iraqi civilians?



>It's almost ridiculous how some people get so indignant about CIA; I can almost feel their spittle as they shout at their computer screens. At the same time, people get equally outraged when terrorists kill people and then want to blame CIA for their failings. It's a bad world.

For one, not all here are Americans. Some of us are Europeans, and lots of those are from countries that the CIA has royally fu*d over in the past. Like establishing a military dictatorship in my country in the 70s.

Second, it's "a bad world" mostly in part because of certain superpowers abusing their power and money-resource-influence grabbing. From the colonial overlords of the not-so-distance past, to the post-colonial overlords of today, and from the cold war superpowers, to the "global cop".

Things like arab fanatics are a sick byproduct of those forces (not to mention being directly _armed_ by the CIA in the past, like the OBL ally or that Hussein ally).

>Reagan forcing the issue by spending the Soviets into insolvency because of the arms race

I agreed with most of what you said but you're wrong here, the Saudis forced the Soviets into insolvency because they didn't like the Soviet actions in Iran and Afghanistan. The Saudis were able to sell oil at a lower price than the USSR, took advantage of that and broke them. Any extra spending incurred by Reagan is a drop in the ocean compared the complete destruction of their revenue source.

"A central instrument for putting pressure on the Soviet Union was Reagan’s massive defense build-up, which raised defense spending from $134 billion in 1980 to $253 billion in 1989. This raised American defense spending to 7 percent of GDP, dramatically increasing the federal deficit. Yet in its efforts to keep up with the American defense build-up, the Soviet Union was compelled in the first half of the 1980s to raise the share of its defense spending from 22 percent to 27 percent of GDP, while it froze the production of civilian goods at 1980 levels."


Consider the other event that was contributing to that 20% increase in defense spending. (ie. the Afghanistan war)

Afghanistan was part of the Russian sphere of influence since the days of the imperial "Great Game" era. The Russians didn't invade Afghanistan because they got a kick out of tribal politics -- their sphere of influence was being threatened.

You, briandear, and refurb are painting with broad strokes where a more nuanced view might provide more insight. See the Reynolds, Kolodziej paper [1]. It was a complex situation with many factors.

I was curious about your claim, so I did some cursory digging to compare defense spend against potential oil export revenue. "Potential" because I can't find evidence the USSR exported before 1990.

According to some inflation-adjusted data I found [2], from 1980-1990 (approximately the period everyone is likely discussing here), in real terms the $/bbl dropped from $104.49 to $40.67. At this point the analysis of your claim becomes rather challenging. According to the US EIA [3], the USSR had no import/export figures to report prior to 1992. What we have left is to posit their total imputed revenue loss upon all production, and guess at their losses from various barter-like trades they performed for the oil. I'd appreciate it if anyone had more accurate data (unfortunately, Wolfram Alpha doesn't have this kind of data).

Assume for the sake of discussion you were right, and the Saudis pushed down the price of oil from 1980-1990. How much did this cost the USSR in lost oil production revenue? I pulled total production numbers from an US EIA spreadsheet [4]. By my calculations (I'll post the spreadsheet to a Google Docs if anyone is really interested in pursuing this), it is $2.2375E+12 USD in real terms, or $2.2T in round numbers. Even if the USSR consumed 50% and exported the rest in swap trades, that is still $1.1T over 10 years.

Taking refurb's numbers on defense spend and assuming an equal distribution across 10 years of $13.2B extra per year, or $132B over 10 years for the US. Even if we assume the USSR kept pace with that spending, or even doubled, you are right, the potential export losses on USSR oil dwarf the defense spending. If I were Russian, I'd want a Putin at the head of the table in a geopolitical climate that engineers that kind of machination, too. If this was engineered as some claim, it is one of the greatest untold stories of market manipulation and geopolitical chutzpah of astonishing scale.

Here is where it gets interesting and I can't connect the dots to tie up your theory. If you look at the US EIA figures [5], Saudi Arabian production dropped from 1980-1985. That is not consistent with the theory that Saudi Arabia pushed down prices during that period, as one would expect them to flood the market to accomplish a price decline.

I'm intrigued to hear other explanations of what caused that precipitous price decline in the 1980-1990 period that would be consistent with the available data.

[1] http://people.bu.edu/marek/FSU_Oil_Decline.pdf

[2] http://inflationdata.com/inflation/inflation_rate/historical...

[3] http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=RS&tr...

[4] http://www.eia.gov/ipm/supply.html

[5] http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=SA#pet

the USSR had no import/export figures to report prior to 1992

You are looking at the data for Russia. Which was a part of the USSR until 1992m hence there is no stats prior to 1992. This link will help [1]

[1] http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Oil-Prices-And-The-Fal...

So, we should all stop outsourcing and do our own dirty-work.

And then people ask: Why do they hate us? Nothing stays covert everywhere and forever.

I read Wright's book, How To Get Away With Murder. It's a quick read. It's not very focused and doesn't answer many questions. Ironically, there's very little focus on Ric Prado, who's the most interesting of the bunch.

also from the article:

"At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried."

If this is not rotten corruption and MOB in its pures form, then what is?

The privatization of assassinations is even scarier than illegal operations from the CIA.

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