Cheney's "Executive Assassination Ring."
"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." - Seymour Hersh
In my novel, American Zen, the protagonist Mike Flannigan says, "There's an old saying in journalistic circles: If Seymour Hersh didn't know about it, it never happened." Mike was responding to the news that his old friend Billy Frazee, a former Navy SEAL, was doing just this in a certain country in which we didn't belong in 1981.
Billy's story was very similar to mine and I admittedly took a bit of a risk in writing about my exploits just on the astronomical odds some publisher would actually take a chance on it.
Well, it appears as if Hersh does know something. Different president, different time but same old shit. And probably in the same corner of the world.
Hersh's compassionate attitude towards those who'd once carried the long rifle and doing what they at the time thought was best are very much appreciated by me and, I'm sure, others who had been made to do these things. The special forces, including the SEALs, are very good at pushing your buttons, whatever they may be. For some, it's national security and patriotism. For others, it's xenophobia, racism, whatever. Everyone's got buttons that enable them to do what would be unthinkable in their civilian world. Before Hersh, no one had ever said this on our behalf.
But the collateral deaths and the occasional "Oops" moments that the CIA have begin to erode at your psyche because you're the one taking the shot because they didn't pancake the mission in time.
In the meantime, you don't know whether to feel guilt or pride for what you did or even what, exactly, you did. All you know is how you did it and why. Maybe you can take some pride in that, if not for what you actually did.
These psychological factors are never thought about at Langley, obviously, much less at the OVPOTUS, especially if the bottled spider occupying it happens to be Dick fucking Cheney. For Cheney, the Cold War never ended even after the Soviet Union fell and took most of Eastern Europe with it. Operation Phoenix, the assassination program the US military implemented during Vietnam (help me out here, Stevie) was axed by Congress in '76. No doubt it was beginning to sound to Congress a bit too much like Pinochet's Operation Condor, which pulled the same shit, only in Latin America (and Embassy Row that very same year).
In my case, the M14's range and power made it seem, mercifully, less real than it was. It's like a video game. You hear the crack of the NATO 7.62 mm round as it screams out of the muzzle at 2800 feet per second, the sharp butt against your shoulder. Then the target is gone from your crosshairs, all your guilt, if any, shared by no one other than your spotter. You have to remind yourself even after your debriefing of what you did. Or, you don't have to, if that's easier.
Of course, all of that is lost on geniuses like Cheney and the empty suits at Langley who throw darts at pictures on walls and decide who gets to live and who has to die. Operation Phoenix never died. All Congress did was force the CIA further underground and to be more resourceful. All they did was divert their funding from other programs and get the SEALs to do their dirty work for them so they'd technically stay within the letter of the law and to not engage in state-sponsored assassinations.
In my day, we were offing guys before they'd even had a chance to do anything, Cheney's 1% Doctrine already being taken out for a test spin. It was the real-life version of Minority Report, except in that movie people were only getting arrested and charged with crimes they'd yet to commit. They weren't getting executed.
Cheney, if Hersh's usually impeccable sources are to be trusted, apparently never gave a rat's ass about what was legal or illegal even in a technical sense. They never stop to think of the psychological aftermath that we're left to deal with. Hersh wrote in "The Redirection" that he was funneling through the OVPOTUS slush funds to three Sunni insurgent groups into Iran and other countries in order to sow discord among Sunnis and Shiites.
Instigated civil war. False flag ops that deliberately put Navy SEALs in harm's way. Bogus claims of nukes, alleged harassment on the high seas a la the Gulf of Tonkin. Anything to start another illegal war with another Muslim Gulf country.
Cheney's a supremely evil homunculus, the very embodiment of Shakespeare's "bottled spider" that described Richard III. I don't hold out any hope that Sy Hersh's book will result in people reaching for their pitchforks and torches and descending on Cheney's mansion paid for with blood money.
But I can hold out hope, can't I? And, maybe, hope that Hersh finds out about what we did on Ronnie Raygun's behalf back in my day.