Put a JSOC in It, AP
They are committing what we would normally call murder. They are young men that went into the Special Forces. The Delta Forces. Navy Seals. Highly specialized.
In many cases, they were the best and the brightest. Guys that went in to do the kind of necessary jobs that they thought was legal and was needed to do to protect America. And then they find themselves torturing and murdering innocent people. - NBGazette
The point is that the men doing their jobs often don't like what they're doing. They're professionals and are very skilled at what they do. Some are Navy Seals who have been trained to do underwater stuff. What are they doing running around mountain ranges hurting people? - Seymour Hersh to Gulfnews.com
For anybody who, God forbid, has been there before, watching a journalist the caliber of Seymour Hersh dancing around this unignited scandal is like watching someone play Blind Man’s Bluff. You want to yell out to him that he’s getting warmer or colder but, because of the classified nature of your knowledge, you know you can’t. So you’re content to just watch him fumble and to hope that he eventually stumbles across the right source who will finally tell him everything.
Or, because of the lack of media credentials, you wouldn’t have the chance of getting close to him much less given a fair hearing. Still, I hate reading stories like this, especially when they, once again, get the facts wrong. For days, the media have been reiterating the same old little-noted untruth that Dick Cheney’s assassination ring that was to take out al Qaida targets never really got off the ground when other news outlets have been saying the exact opposite since at least March of last year. And at no time is the acronym JSOC, or the Joint Special Operations Command, ever even uttered.
But I guess we're supposed to believe that the CIA and its overlord Dick Cheney had two different terrorist assassination programs running simultaneously, one being operational and the other not so operational.
Likewise, I guess we're also supposed to forget that just mid-March of last year, George W. Bush signed a yet another secret executive order authorizing our government and its agencies the right to assassinate officials and to destabilize Iran by sowing discord among Sunnis and Shias. Congress, in a rare show of bipartisan support and the blessings of the Gang of Eight, gave Bush $300 million to commit murder and mayhem in our good name. Seymour Hersh, writing about the same executive order, said that Bush wanted $100 million more. In fact, Hersh wrote:
Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since last year. These have included seizing members of Al Quds, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and taking them to Iraq for interrogation, and the pursuit of “high-value targets” in the President’s war on terror, who may be captured or killed. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded, according to the current and former officials.
I'd say that maybe Hersh is sandbagging us in his game of Blind Man's Bluff and is only waiting until someone palms the smoking gun in his hand because he is very right. Clandestine operations against Iran are not new. But they certainly go back much, much further than just last year.
Yet the assassination program "never got off the ground", according to the AP. Uh huh. Cockburn, in his Counterpunch article from last year, didn't once mention the CIA but he didn't have to. This is because the CIA is the only US agency that is invested with the authority to carry out assassination missions against terrorist actors. JSOC can only do it with the CIA's blessings.
JSOC has been in business since the early 80's, or specifically when I first left basic training. It arose from our failure to rescue the 52 US hostages that were taken by the Iranians at the start of their revolution after the Shah's abdication. Within our DoD JSOC alone has the power to ignore posse comitatus, or the law that prohibits the president from putting federal troops on American streets.
Only three Special Mission Units, or SMU's, have been leaked, and the Navy SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, was one of them. From 1981, SEAL Team Six hadn't existed until they were resurrected, Phoenix-like, as Red Cell in 1987. And SEAL Team Six, which was born at the same time for the same reasons as JSOC, wasn't the only SEAL team to work under JSOC's aegis.
Fast forward three decades later and I see that the CIA is still, incredibly, using the same playbook they were using in 1981, even down to using southern Iraq as a staging and insertion area to infiltrate Iran with the intention of assassinating people whom some empty suits at Langley and in the West Wing have capriciously deemed irksome. We're still targeting Quds Force officers, Iran's answer to our special forces commandos, except this time around, as opposed to my day, we're just a little smarter at it and try to extract intelligence from them before we murder them.
But before you let the AP and other news outlets fool you into thinking that Cheney's executive assassination ring was just a bad idea that never quite "got off the ground", listen to the voice of experience. I can't tell you everything I did unless someone else decides to divulge these details first. But trust me when I say that we have been a legal version of Murder, Inc. in the Persian Gulf long before Dick Cheney became a household word.
And it's true when Hersh and others say that committing murder takes a toll even on those who have been conditioned to kill in times of war, especially when we're not even officially at war in certain countries.