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Article posted Feb 20 2012, 2:22 AM Category: Commentary Source: Jacob G. Hornberger Print

Torture, Assassination, and the American Way of Life

by Jacob G. Hornberger

As most everyone knows, the CIA has been assassinating people practically since the time it was formed in 1947. By and large, however, the CIA kept its assassinations secret. Americans, for their part, had a feeling that such things were being done but didn’t ask any questions.

The system was almost in the nature of a secret, unannounced pact between the government and the people. As part of its job to protect “national security,” the government would have the omnipotent authority to assassinate people, but it would keep its assassinations secret from the citizenry. In that way, the citizenry would be shielded from the unsavory things that government would be doing in the name of “national security,” and citizens wouldn’t have to concern themselves with things like conscience.

The principle, of course, has been the same with respect to torture. For decades, the Pentagon was secretly teaching soldiers the principles of torture, including at its infamous School of the Americas.

Every once in a while, there would be some public disclosure regarding the assassination program or the torture program. For example, there was the infamous Phoenix program during the Vietnam War, where tens of thousands of Vietnamese people were tortured or killed. There were the CIA’s repeated assassination attempts against Cuba’s president Fidel Castro. There was the discovery of the Pentagon’s torture manuals that were being used at the School of the Americas.

When such things would become public, there would be tremendous shock within the citizenry, especially the mainstream media. Investigations would be called. Committees would be impaneled. Confessions and apologies and promises not do it again would issue. The citizenry would be satisfied. Everything would return to “normal.”

No one seemed to notice that through it all — from 1947 through the present date — the U.S. national security state was supporting and training the intelligence and military forces of foreign dictatorships that were brutalizing their own citizenry with things like arbitrary arrest, torture, and assassination. Look at Latin America, for example, where in the name of “anti-communism” and “national security,” both the CIA and the Pentagon were partnering with and training brutal dictatorships, especially military ones. Or look at the Middle East, where much of the same thing has been going on.

Why were the Pentagon and the CIA supporting, training, and partnering with such dictatorships? Because they believed in them! They honestly believed that such dictatorships were necessary to hold back the “communist threat” and to protect the “national security” of the United States. In fact, one of their models was the Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile, which they helped bring into existence, because it favored “capitalism” while, at the same time, arresting, torturing, and killing “communists” without having to deal with such judicial niceties as trials, due process, and the like.

Throughout the Cold War, the CIA and the Pentagon must have been envious of those foreign dictatorial regimes. After all, such regimes could exercise their powers openly and above board. They didn’t need to hide them. In Latin America, for example, death squads consisting of U.S.-trained soldiers and intelligence personnel were arresting people, raping them, torturing them, and killing them or simply assassinating them. And they were doing so openly to protect their “national security” from the “communists.”

Or consider the rendition/torture partnerships between the U.S. government and the dictatorships in such countries as Egypt, Syria, and Libya. There is a reason that the Pentagon and the CIA chose those countries to torture its victims — they’re good at it, and U.S. officials knew that there were good at it. This is especially true in the case of Egypt, whose military and intelligence forces have long worked closely with the U.S. national security state. Moreover, for decades the U.S. government has helped support Egypt’s military dictatorship with billions of dollars in money and armaments.

Of course, 9/11 changed all that. No longer would the Pentagon and the CIA have to keep secret their torture and assassination programs. Like their counterparts in Latin America and the Middle East, they could now be open and above board, at least with respect to wielding such powers, if not also the exercise of them.

The Constitution, of course, does not delegate to the federal government the powers to take people into custody, torture and abuse them, and kill them. There is also no power to assassinate people. In fact, the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits the government from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, trial by jury, right to counsel, and other such procedures. It also protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, especially without judicially issued warrants. It guarantees speedy trials and prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.

So, how did the CIA and the Pentagon acquire such powers? No, there was no constitutional amendment. They simply assumed the powers, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment. That was the secret pact between them and the American people during the Cold War. “We now wield these powers that the Constitution prohibits us from exercising,” U.S. officials effectively said, “but we must exercise them to keep you safe from the communists. Don’t worry: we will exercise them secretly and surreptitiously so that it will appear that nothing has changed in a fundamental way.”

Thus, throughout the Cold War Americans continued innocently believing that they were living in a free country, one in which the government’s powers were limited by the Constitution, even though deep down everyone knew that the government was now secretly wielding powers that were inherent to brutal dictatorships.

Then came 9/11, the critical event that enabled the secret arrangement to now be made public. The Pentagon and the CIA were now on the same level as the dictatorships that they had long supported and trained. Like their counterparts in those regimes, they could now be as open about their powers as their foreign dictatorships had been. 9/11 enabled the Pentagon and the CIA to not only openly disclose that they wielded such powers, it also enabled them to openly exercise them without any fear or concern that they might ultimately be held criminally liable.

For decades, Americans lived under the quaint notion that the national-security state would exercise such powers only against foreigners. With the arrest, torture, and assassination of Americans in the post-9/11 era, it’s finally starting to dawn on many Americans that they stand in no different position, in principle, from the citizenry in those U.S.-supported dictatorships in Latin America and the Middle East.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Posted: Feb 22 2012, 9:19 AM

98230 With friends at the infamous NSA they tell me that since the NSA managers' grossly incompent mishandling of evidence that would have completely prevent 9/11 - and hence, our trillions of dollars of war debt and near economic collapse, that NSA has in turn, perverted their Security group "Q" into a jack-booted, thug organization that breaks not only Federal regulations, but every basic law in order to intimidate, stalk, harass, vilify, slander, libel any employee who dares to believe the "No Fear Act" and actually report someone -usually a manager- for fraud, waste, or abuse.... Abuse of power, position, authority to give contracts to pals and get kickbacks, rewarding sexual favors with promotions based on work stolen from other workers, coercing or threatening young women AND men to provide sexual favors to degenerate management, hiring highly suspect people with criminal records or obvious ties to Muslim terrorists or the Chinese government, etc. Anyone reporting behavior that BY DEFINITION is supposed to be reported to internal authorities, such as Security, the Inspector General, the General Counsel, the EEO... Find themselves attacked instead. Psych Services in Q Group work in tandem with Security goons to ovwrtly harass and slander the person with co-workers, supervisors, and even neighbors and social contacts as a means of utterly ruining the person so that the TRUTH of their story will not be believed and the guilty parties at NSA will escape punishment. Millions of dollars are squandered by NSA brown shirts protecting a traitor class of managers running NSA in a way to enrich themselves and have a private pool from which to pick their sexual victims. I'd say NSA's budget could be slashed 90% and the USA would lose nothing from traitors not doing their jobs anyway.

Posted: Feb 22 2012, 9:59 AM

174252 While several good points are made, we have to keep a few facts in mind. First, the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land... THIS LAND. Get convicted of a drug offense in Nigeria or Turkey and try filing an appeal that you weren't properly "Mirandized", or that the evidence was obtained by an illegal search and seizure. They will openly laugh in your face and remind you the you aren't IN the United States anymore. So how on Earth can we operate against our enemies overseas if we hobble our intelligence troops by making them abide by rules that never were meant to apply beyond our own borders? How do you serve an arrest warrant against a suspect like Bin Laden, who was at the time enjoying the protection of the Taliban government in Afghanistan? How do you detain someone like Anwar Al Awlaki, who was wanted by the Yemeni government in their own country, but THEY we're powerless to catch him? I fully agree that the recent legislation signed by Obama, expanding the 'balttlefield' to cover the 'homeland' and allowing the warrantless detention of Americans on American soil is a heinous abrogation of the Constitutional rights of American citizens. I especially loved the lengthy signing statement in which he derided it and stated he would never put it into practice. I wonder then, why his administration then were the ones that insisted to the Senate that that language be inserted? All of the programs cited: Phoenix, Rendition, etc. were all carried out in foreign lands, against (mostly) non-American citizens. How about we recognize a simple truth in the extremely rare case of American citizens being targeted by these programs, if you knowingly and intentionally take yourself beyond the REACH of the laws governed by the US Constitution, you also knowingly and intentionally take yourself beyond the PROTECTIONS of the US Constitution. The internal corruption addressed by the previous poster is beyond the scope or knowledge of this post, but as to legality there has to be some common sense applied. At what point is a foreign citizen, who has never set foot in American territory eligible for American Constitutional rights? Especially when it has been demonstrated (in the case of the global communist movement to which the Viet Cong targeted by Phoenix ascribed, or the Global Islamist Sharia Caliphate sought by Al Queda targeted by Rendition) that the fall of our Constitutional Republican government is their goal? This is Viet Nam on the global scale, allowing those leading the plots to destroy us to plan unthreatened in any safe haven they choose.

Posted: Feb 22 2012, 11:51 AM

70234 Yet, all Americans act very shocked by the actions of this administration now. Why? Unaware? Ignorant? Just uninterested in the future of our country? I believe the latest information about the FEMA camps that are prepared for the citizens that "do not agree" with the their loss of free speech or religion is getting worse by the this government expects riots..and will react to this with tanks and armed service members ( even from NATO troops) to round all of them up and deliver them to those camps. Very similar to Hitlers plans.

Posted: Feb 23 2012, 12:50 PM

America ,as a nation of peace,is a lie. The Treaty of Paris, signed at
the end of the Revolutionary War, between England and America was a lie.
Americans, had human beings, in certain states held as slaves. The
definition of a Constitutor at the time, was one who was a " DEBTOR."
In other words " America " started off being a nation of lies, and not a
nation of laws. Contradiction is now catching up with our so-called,great
nation. We turned a bland eye to lychings in the south. We allowed the
CIA to not be questioned about its activaties in foreign countries. Everything
bad in this hemispere has been caused by America an its alpabet agencys.
Now these same agencies are coming after the very people that they
claim to protect. The sad part about this whole situation, regarding the CIA,
is that these agencies are controlled by foreign bankers who claim to own
America. Because of the Bankrupty of 1930. We are their slaves and we
don't even know it. We pay taxes to keep the International Bankers rep-
resentives in office. We pay taxes to send our sons and daughters to fight in
wars to benefit the bankers. The NWO is run out of the U.N and we
don't even know it. The CIA is just a part of the problem. The new big
problem is that " WE THE PEOPLE " know that our nation is being destroyed.
But we are watching sports on TV and getting all excited about the Navy
Seals newest adventures on foreign soil. As Americans are we stupid or
just afraid to see that America is a Corporation run by foreign International
Bankers and there Zionist cronies. We need help as a nation. And we
need the courage to protect our families from the government that says it
represents us. And we must educate ourselves to learn how our country
got tricked into American being a nation run by the United Nations.

Posted: Feb 23 2012, 8:40 PM

7536 Dead men elect officials and bond measures in the USA, and are responsible for our unconstitional government. I stopped voting for our government officials long ago because they did not represent me, but themselves. Really, our only protection is our guns. There has been reported already two attempted assination attempts on Obama. What is the penality for assignating a none natural born citizen sitting in as president? Will the courts even care? If America should fall, will our leaders be punished, or rewarded?
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