Economic Hitman Makes a Confession About America’s Biggest Threat

Confessions of an Economic Hitman author John Perkins has a virtual sit down with Patrick Bet-David. Order his book https://amzn.to/3iDb1nL (New Confessions of an Economic Hitman)

About the guest: John Perkins is an American author. His best known book is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, in which Perkins claims to have played a role in an alleged process of economic colonization of Third World countries on behalf of what he portrays as a cabal of corporations, banks, and the United States government.

Other books by John Perkins:

– Touching the Jaguar https://amzn.to/3kwtfsG
– Confessions of an Economic Hitman https://amzn.to/33SX5la

Recommended Videos:

1. China’s Unrestricted Warfare Could Lead to Collapse in One Year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXDiv…

2. China’s Silent Takeover While America’s Elite Slept
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8IEt…

About Patrick Bet-David: CEO, author and Founder of Valuetainment Media. Patrick has interviewed athletes, notorious individuals, politicians, authors and entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

Subscribe to Valuetainment for weekly videos http://bit.ly/2aPEwD4

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Music selection used through agreement with Epidemic Sound http://bit.ly/2B8DxK1

Joe Rogan | The Morality of CIA Assassins w/Annie Jacobsen

00:00
the Joe Rogan experience morality talk
00:05
to me about morality or talk about why
00:07
we can’t talk about certain things well
00:09
while we’re what you were saying before
00:11
about being a competitor the United
00:14
States is competitive obviously and when
00:17
you’re playing the ultimate game which
00:18
is war you have to be very careful about
00:20
what you reveal and what you don’t
00:22
reveal and this is where the
00:24
conversation about surprise kill vanish
00:26
comes in because the CIA using these
00:30
covert operations to assassinate people
00:33
and whether or not that should be
00:35
allowed or not allowed whether it’s good
00:37
or bad whether it’s necessary whether
00:40
it’s like if you want people to be safe
00:41
over here there’s certain people you got
00:43
to take out and sometimes you just can’t
00:45
follow the rules and why why are we not
00:48
supposed to know about that should we
00:50
know about that the way the story
00:51
started for me I’m at my house in 2009 a
00:54
source is you know calls me up he says
00:56
I’m on my way back from the Middle East
00:58
gonna pop by the house and say hi he
01:01
brings me a challenge coin that says
01:03
Kabul Afghanistan State Department I’m
01:05
thinking okay he is not a diplomat I
01:08
mean he’s weapons trained at the time my
01:12
boys were young there are lots of GI
01:14
Joes in the garden and they had little
01:16
weapons right and the source is showing
01:20
them about the weapons and they’re like
01:21
so into it cuz they know he’s military
01:22
trained and then he says if it’s okay
01:24
with your mom and dad I’ll show you some
01:26
weapons the boys are like please so he
01:29
sets up this sniper rifle in the living
01:31
room and I live up in the hills and you
01:34
can look across the canyon through this
01:36
scope he set up and I can see the veins
01:39
on a leaf
01:40
across the canyon and I thought okay so
01:43
now I know what he was doing in Kabul
01:45
Afghanistan he’s taking out al Qaeda
01:47
with this mm-hmm
01:49
there’s another case on the ground that
01:51
he never opens and when the boys go off
01:54
I say to him what’s in that and he said
01:57
he opens it up and inside there’s a
01:59
knife and it’s serrated and I said
02:02
what’s that for
02:03
immediately realizing you know my
02:05
naivete and he says to me sometimes a
02:08
job requires quiet so why that became
02:13
interesting
02:13
to me was because of my own thoughts and
02:17
perceptions about what he had told me in
02:19
other words I could I could deal with
02:21
him with a sniper rifle
02:22
I could me like okay that’s what he does
02:24
but the knife gave me pause I was like
02:26
is he slitting someone’s throat is it in
02:29
the ribs and I thought why is it that I
02:31
am willing to accept sort of the
02:35
clinical nature of of a sniper rifle but
02:38
I can’t I’m uncomfortable with that
02:41
close-up hand-to-hand killing and that
02:45
led me to surprise kill vanish because
02:47
that was the motto of the precursor
02:50
agency of the CIA it was called the OSS
02:54
the Office of Strategic Services their
02:57
motto was surprise kill vanish because
02:59
they would jump out of aircraft land
03:02
work with their French partners and kill
03:04
Nazis with a you know a knife to the
03:07
throat and I thought okay that’s
03:10
considered okay because they were Nazis
03:12
right but we can’t we’re not supposed to
03:14
do that anymore
03:15
in this world we live in why and I spent
03:19
the whole this whole book researching
03:22
and reporting is about that sort of
03:25
conundrum if you will that moral puzzle
03:28
you know why do we why do we
03:31
differentiate you know and who are they
03:35
willing to do that to where do they draw
03:37
that line like I’m sure you’re aware of
03:40
the story of Jamal khashoggi the
03:43
journalist who was assassinated by
03:46
someone some group of people and that
03:49
they entered into the Turkish embassy
03:51
and they whacked him and chopped him up
03:55
and carried him out in boxes and it’s an
03:57
international it was a huge incident
04:02
right this supposedly was ordered by who
04:07
was it supposed to order by the head of
04:09
Saudi Arabia yeah MBS Mohammed bin
04:12
Salman I mean that’s the idea is that
04:14
their head of state wanted him killed
04:16
because he was a threat because he was a
04:18
reporter because he’s writing some
04:20
things yeah and that they this is how
04:24
they did it yeah I mean and there’s
04:25
that’s a great question because what
04:27
yours
04:27
like okay so but we all think of that as
04:29
reprehensible right right right
04:31
why you know cuz cuz he’s a journalist
04:33
on our side he’s delivering information
04:35
to people but the government of Saudi
04:39
Arabia disagree they like that
04:41
information is our information he’s a
04:43
threat by releasing it yes he’s a threat
04:46
to our livelihood yes yeah and who
04:49
decides who’s a threat I mean a lot of
04:51
this book is about who’s on the kill
04:53
list right I mean there is an actual
04:55
killers they’re always husband and the
04:56
euphemisms involved I mean I write
04:59
history as I said so Eisenhower called
05:02
his assassination program health
05:05
alteration
I mean literally in the
05:07
declassified documents the Solaris
05:09
health all three she had a health
05:11
alteration committee whoa Kennedy had an
05:14
executive action committee that’s also
05:17
cleaner all right
05:19
guess what Reagan’s was called super
05:22
Wonder Boy power up close pre-emptive
05:27
neutralization preemptive neutralization
05:30
Wow why do they keep switching the names
05:32
for it they’re burying the information
05:35
right and they keep switching around the
05:38
they switch around who has authority to
05:43
you know say yes let’s go ahead and put
05:45
this guy on the kill list I mean that
05:47
was fascinating I mean I interviewed a
05:49
guy named John Rizzo who was a
05:51
decades-long CIA attorney I was stunned
05:53
that he was willing to talk to me and he
05:56
explained to me how a presidential
06:00
finding also called a memorandum of
06:02
notification works that gives the
06:05
president the authority to put an
06:09
individual on the kill list that job is
06:12
then given to the CIA’s paramilitary
06:14
army an operator or their assassins
06:18
because the CIA works under a code
06:21
called title 50 of so it makes it legal
06:25
whereas the Defense Department works
06:27
under what’s called title 10 so in other
06:30
words and they can’t their rules of
06:31
engagement are totally different so the
06:33
misnomer is like oh the SEALs killed bin
06:35
Laden well they were seals trained but
06:39
that was a CIA mission
06:41
hmm because Pakistan is a sovereign
06:45
nation and the military can’t kill
06:49
people in countries were not at war with
06:51
so those guys all became essentially CIA
operators for the night whoa right and
06:59
if you look at photographs as I have
07:02
seen you’ll notice that they have no
07:04
markings on their outfits so that if the
07:09
job went south it’d be like I don’t know
07:11
who these guys are and if you look back
07:14
at Vietnam photos of the Mac V SOG teams
07:16
which I also write about in surprise
07:19
kill vanish because that’s the precursor
07:21
of that you see no markings right that
07:24
way you can go into you can go behind
07:27
enemy lines you can go into Laos you
07:29
know in the Vietnam War you can go now
07:31
you can go into Pakistan what I learned
reporting this book is we’re in a
hundred and thirty four countries doing
title 50 operations think about that
government wants that to be kept secret
07:44
so in all those countries they’re doing
07:48
things that don’t fall under the normal
07:51
letter of the law not yes not under the
07:54
rules of engagement of the military but
07:56
the CIA works at the president’s behest
07:59
that that was one thing that really blew
08:01
my mind to report to research to
08:03
understand
08:04
I talked to forty two guys who have
08:05
direct access to this who are in this
08:08
world you know from the knuckle draggers
08:11
on the ground as they call themselves to
08:13
the lawyer at CIA senior intelligence
08:16
staff that’s the equivalent of a general
08:18
at the CIA
08:19
those guys explaining to me Annie this
08:21
is how it works you know and again to
08:26
your question well why why does someone
08:28
get to know that and why does the
08:30
government want why do they allow that
08:32
information out is super interesting and
08:34
I believe that has to do with a certain
08:38
climate we’re in right now about
08:40
military might right in other words what
08:43
the CIA does is called tercio up do it’s
08:45
the third option you’ve got the first
08:48
option is diplomacy second option is war
08:51
so if diplomacy is not working
08:54
and war is unwise you go to the third
08:58
option which is the CIA’s paramilitary
09:01
and they’re in a hundred and how many
country 134 do you well if you wonder
why the military budgets so big that’s
what it is folks kind of feed those
09:09
folks what work I mean what happened and
09:13
you as a competitor would be fascinated
09:15
by the kind of training they do and what
09:17
they do I mean so many of these
09:18
infiltration techniques are
09:19
mind-boggling you know they’ve got halo
09:22
jumping which you know about right where
09:23
they high altitude low opening so they
09:26
jump out they you know freefall down
09:29
terminal velocity pull the ripcord
09:31
really low so they’re not detected by
09:33
radar and then they meet up with a team
09:35
on the ground and go do what they do
09:36
then they also have hey-ho which is high
09:39
altitude high opening and that way you
09:42
can fly over airspace where we’re
09:45
allowed and float into let’s say a
09:49
country like Iran and land gather your
09:54
team and do what you have to do hmm but
09:56
like so much of what I report I get
09:58
information like that and then I ask a
10:00
million questions like you’ve asking me
10:02
and it’s like can’t talk about that
10:03
that’s classified hmm you don’t you
10:07
you’re a journalist so you’re trying not
10:09
to judge mm-hmm but is it your belief
10:14
that this is a good thing for America
10:18
meaning having a third option
10:21
whoa I mean I write in the book that
10:25
that’s in the prologue after I tell that
10:27
story about the source with a knife I
10:29
say I wanted to know in that exact
10:34
question like is this a good thing and
10:36
my answer at the end after it’s complex
10:40
not to be vague but it is really complex
10:42
is also that well if you’re gonna take
10:48
that pole position you must accept
10:54
rivalry right mm-hmm and also after talk
10:59
do I think it’s a good thing after
11:01
talking to a lot of 20-year old soldiers
11:04
who come back from the war theater miss
11:06
limb with intense PTSD and who
11:12
essentially serve as cannon fodder I
11:14
would say my opinion right for the
11:18
Pentagon that’s the second option or the
11:23
42 guys that I interviewed you know
11:26
they’re like send me they are a
11:28
professional they are Tier one operators
11:31
they’re Green Berets they’re seals their
11:32
Delta they retire they join the CIA yeah
11:36
so they’re like professionals at what
11:37
they do
11:38
and they’re saying I want someone has to
11:40
do this job we’ve been doing this since
11:42
the end of World War two I want to do it
11:44
so do I think it’s better I mean I think
11:49
that that concept speaks to choice right
11:59
because I’m not so sure that the 20 year
12:00
olds know what they’re in for
12:02
and the 40 year olds know what they’re
12:04
in for and are willing to do it so that
12:07
well also the difference between a
12:09
specialized trained individual with a
12:12
very specific task versus someone who is
12:14
sort of following orders and at the
12:16
front of the line yeah right I mean and
12:19
also has a you know a lot of times I
12:22
talk to these young kids who go to war
12:23
and they tell me one of the fascinating
12:27
detail is that they talk about movies
12:30
that they see and whether it’s Saving
12:32
Private Ryan or Black Hawk Down even
12:35
right where the outcome is not
12:37
necessarily great but they talk about
12:40
the romanticization of war and of
12:44
camaraderie and a brotherhood that comes
12:47
from that and then they have their
12:48
experience and some of that does give
12:51
them that sense but not always whereas
12:54
the operators are much more about you
12:58
know getting the job done that’s what I
13:00
was fascinated by I mean these guys are
13:02
really clear they’re their competitors
13:05
they’re like top tier competitors they
13:07
have a job they do it they get it done
13:09
and they ask for the next job so is the
13:13
oversight when it comes to choosing
13:16
whether or not this operation takes
13:18
place or not is it
13:20
do they have moral guidelines do they
13:24
have ethical or moral guidelines where
13:25
they say like this is the president is
13:29
requesting that this person get taken
13:31
out the Chiefs of Staff whoever it is is
13:33
that did they have to make a an ethical
13:37
distinction you mean or they like kill
13:39
him nicely like don’t make it over this
13:41
do they decide like does this make sense
13:43
or like what if the president is like
13:45
Rosie O’Donnell she’s been talking shit
13:47
take her out you know
13:49
well I mean that’s you know that’s a big
13:51
issue but what I try to write in some
13:55
what I try to report in surprise kill
13:57
vanish is the idea that the people we
14:00
take out may be our bad guys right one
14:03
one guy write about his che guevara okay
14:05
because che is often portrayed in the
14:10
press as you know this amazing hero and
14:15
that he and we you know I don’t know if
14:18
you know but he was he was killed by the
14:20
Bolivian Rangers but it was a CIA
14:21
operation and I interview the man in
14:23
charge of that operation in Surprise Cal
14:26
vanished his name was Felix Rodriguez ok
14:28
long-serving CIA paramilitary officer so
14:31
but I also report why the President to
14:36
your question wanted Che Guevara dead
14:40
you know he was really advocating for
14:43
nuclear war and I and I shared it yes I
14:48
mean he spoke publicly about you know if
14:50
if we have to have an atomic war the
14:52
Cuban but paraphrasing the Cuban people
14:54
will be happy to have sacrificed
14:55
themselves that I mean che was also che
14:59
killed anyone who betrayed him he killed
15:01
he writes about it in his Diaries as I
15:04
write in the book right so but on the
15:06
morality question who decides I don’t
15:08
have that answer but I will tell you
15:09
what I did I went with my main source
15:11
Billy hua who he’s a 89 now and he was
15:15
he’s been with the CIA for 60 years
15:18
okay I mean he went and he and I went to
15:23
Cuba for him to do a halo jump with Che
15:27
Guevara son so we were a guest of the
15:30
man whose father was killed by the CIA
15:36
okay and we had this really interesting
15:39
discussion in the cigar club where che
15:43
and Castro you know smoke cigars and
15:46
plotted the downfall of the United
15:48
States and that’s what I try to give
15:52
readers a sense of the long lens of
15:56
history how time changes all things and
16:00
maybe leave with them them with this
16:03
idea which they can come to their own
16:04
conclusions about what you asked me of
16:06
is it right or is it wrong because
16:08
really what you might ask is is it
16:11
necessary mmm right I mean I could
16:15
moralize right wrong but it would just
16:17
be my opinion but when you see I went
16:20
Billy wall and I also try out travel to
16:23
Vietnam because he was supposed to kill
16:25
he was tasked to kill the top commander
16:28
of the North Vietnamese Army a guy named
16:30
general shop and law didn’t kill shop
16:34
and we had this incredibly this terrible
16:36
mission that went awry that I write
16:38
about in the book in the Vietnam War so
16:40
50 years later while and I go to visit
16:43
the son of general giap are sitting
16:46
there in shops home talking about these
16:49
same issues right and my conclusion of
16:52
that again is not is it right or wrong
16:55
but is it necessary I mean we have these
16:58
wars we keep having these wars is it
17:02
necessary yeah what do you think well I
17:07
mean my opinion is that the Defense
17:11
Department is far too concerned with
17:14
vast weapons systems of the future which
17:17
is its mission statement of its science
17:19
department and so you create what some
17:22
at the Pentagon call a self licking ice
17:24
cream cone or the military-industrial
17:26
complex and there’s a lot built into
17:29
that there’s a lot to be said about
17:36
[Applause]

Was America’s assassination of Qassem Suleimani justified?

A fierce debate swirls on its legality; and on whether it will be good for America

IT WAS, ACCORDING to David Petraeus, a former American army general and director of the CIA, “more consequential” than the killing of Osama bin Laden or of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Few bemoaned the demise of the jihadist leaders of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. But the killing on January 3rd by drone strike of Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, the foreign-operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has sparked a furore over the legality and the impact of his assassination.

The American authorities dislike the word “assassination”, because it implies a flouting of international and humanitarian law. Indeed, some human-rights lawyers see the use of drones to kill people as almost always unlawful. Agnès Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has argued that “outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal….lethal force can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat.” She has deplored the “kill lists” of what the Americans call “specially designated global terrorists” since they have no way of proving their innocence, and in effect face a sentence of death without due process of law. She has criticised the Trump administration for killing General Suleimani.

The Trump administration has argued that General Suleimani indeed posed an “imminent threat” but will find it hard to present evidence that satisfies its critics. It can also point as precedents to the activities of its predecessors. At the end of 2016, just before he left office, Barack Obama issued a report on the legal framework guiding the United States’ use of force (which had included a raid on Pakistani territory in 2011 without the local authorities’ knowledge to kill bin Laden). It says: “Using targeted lethal force against an enemy consistent with the law of armed conflict does not constitute an ‘assassination’.” Assassinations, it notes, are unlawful under an executive order signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981 (which updated those by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter). But today there is “a new and different kind of conflict against enemies who do not wear uniforms or respect geographic boundaries and who disregard the legal principles of warfare.” For the Trump administration, even though General Suleimani was an official of the Iranian state, the Shia militias that he oversaw and cheered on in Iraq and elsewhere fall in the terrorist category; in April the Trump administration formally designated the IRGC a “foreign terrorist organisation”.

The campaign against international terrorism falls in the grey area between policing at home and waging war abroad, with few of the well-established laws and norms that attempt to govern them. In the Pentagon’s latest rulebook, it lets armed forces operate as they do in conventional war zones and hit terrorist targets at will in places designated “areas of active hostilities”, including parts of Yemen, Pakistan and Niger, and all of Somalia. The Americans have unleashed hundreds of drone strikes, air strikes and ground raids.

In many ways, America is following the precedent set by Israel, the state that over the past half-century has surely most actively pursued a policy of hunting down and killing foes abroad—not least when it sought to exact retribution against those responsible for the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. According to Ronen Bergman, an Israeli journalist whose history of the subject, “Rise and Kill First”, was published in 2018, Israel’s security services have carried out some 2,700 assassinations. The killing of Palestinians suspected of planning or perpetrating violence against Israelis has been relentlessly conducted also in the West Bank and Gaza, territories controlled by Israel that seek to become an independent Palestinian state.

The Israelis were at first criticised by Western governments for violating international and humanitarian law. But after al-Qaeda’s attacks on America in September, 2001, the American administrations of both George Bush and Mr Obama, and more recently the British and French governments, followed their example in tracking down and killing enemies abroad, sometimes including their own citizens, by using drones.

Particularly in the past decade or so, the Americans (and their Israeli allies) have sought to apply more elastic rules, while broadly invoking the principle of “self-defence against non-State actors on the territory of another State.” Due process, it is argued, cannot be applied when responding to an imminent attack or when the capture or extradition of a suspected enemy is not feasible.

Definitions of “self-defence”, “active hostilities” and “imminent” are endlessly argued over. Philippe Sands, a human-rights lawyer who has charged both the American and British governments with violations of the laws of war, has argued that it all hinges on whether a situation of armed conflict (war) exists. “If it doesn’t, extrajudicial executions are a total no-no in all circumstances. If armed conflict exists, then every case turns on the facts.” So each case must be judged on its merits. The snag here, in the Israelis’ view, is that they are locked in “an armed conflict short of war”, that their survival as a nation cannot depend on the niceties of the law, and that in any case the situation in Gaza and the West Bank in legal terms “falls somewhere in the middle”. The Americans may apply a similar fuzziness to the state of animosity between the US and Iran, seeing that General Suleimani’s men—including elite units sent abroad, undercover agents and proxies—have been held responsible for numerous attacks on Western and Israeli targets, as far afield as Argentina and Bulgaria.

But does it work?
If the legality of assassinations is endlessly debated, so is the question of their effectiveness. Clearly a successful assassination works in one sense, of doling out retribution and punishment. But, to use General Petraeus’s term, how “consequential” is it in deterring and defeating the enemy? In the long and varied history of assassination, the results have often been disputed, and the consequences unintended. It is generally accepted, for instance, that a bullet fired by a Serbian nationalist started the first world war and even paved the way towards the second, though the bonfire which this ignited in 1914 was ready to be lit.

The killing in 1961 of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first prime minister, often blamed on the CIA, helped set that country on its post-colonial path to mayhem. The murder in 1966 of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first prime minister, led to a dreadful civil war. And the killing in 1994 of Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana, set off Africa’s worst genocide.

In the Middle East, similarly, assassinations have also changed the course of history. The killing of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat in 1981 chilled the peace that he had negotiated with Israel. The murder of Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, by a Jewish fanatic in 1995, severely dimmed the prospect of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

More recently the Saudis and the Iranians have both made clear that they will kill perceived enemies of the state at home or abroad: witness the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist who was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul because of his criticism of the country’s crown prince, Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Israeli governments remain wedded to the idea that assassinating their enemies keeps them on the defensive and disrupts their plans. That, too, must be the understanding of Mr Trump. But the result has not always been what was desired. Israel’s botched assassination on Jordanian soil in 1997 of Khaled Mashal, who went on to become leader of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group that has carried out myriad suicide attacks, was a costly fiasco. The killing of other Hamas figures, including the movement’s founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, has had little obvious impact on the movement’s popularity or capabilities.

After the Israelis assassinated Abbas al-Musawi, leader of Hizbullah, the Lebanese Shia movement in 1992, he was succeeded by the cleverer Hassan Nasrallah, who has been even more of a thorn in Israel’s flesh—with the encouragement and close-co-operation of General Suleimani.

Yet the idea of organisational decapitation remains seductive to would-be strategic assassins: cut off the leader and watch the body twitch through its death throes. In a book published last November, Jenna Jordan of the Georgia Institute of Technology examines more than 1,000 cases involving the killing or capture of leaders of terrorist or insurgent groups. She says three factors contribute to a group’s resilience afterwards: its degree of

  1. bureaucracy,
  2. ability to draw on local resources and
  3. ideological zeal.

These qualities ensure that its mission does not depend on a single leader.

The death last October of Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of Islamic State, who blew up himself (and two of his children) to avoid capture by American forces in Syria, has disrupted IS, but perhaps not in a lasting manner. IS ranks highly on all three of Ms Jordan’s factors. It has kept meticulous records and exported its procedures to international franchises that can apply them independently. Though it no longer pulls in $1m a day, as it once did, it still has deep pockets, and is likely to benefit from local Sunni disaffection in Syria. Its ideological purity resonates independently of Baghdadi, to whom a successor was named within days. It has proved its resilience before. It is notable that Mr Baghdadi rose to the top because two predecessors were killed in American strikes in 2006 and 2010.

General Suleimani will no doubt be hard to replace. He was the right-hand man to the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and no obvious candidate can take that role. But like Baghdadi, he had created something much bigger than himself that does not depend on him alone. His network will still have much the same capabilities as when he was alive. And because it has been so active across the Middle East, says one former British security official, the Quds Force has “a pool of talent…a battle-hardened cadre” of people used to waging asymmetric campaigns. And for a while at least, outrage in Iran at the assassination is fuelling a thirst for revenge and has drowned out anti-regime protests.

Then there is the impact on Iraq. The killing of General Suleimani at the country’s international airport plainly flouted that country’s sovereignty, enraging many Iraqis who had previously welcomed American troops on their soil. If, as some fear, the jihadists of Islamic State revive in Iraq in the absence of American forces that had previously beaten them down, the new balance could tilt against America. And if the Iraqis do kick the Americans out, summarily or under a more sedate timetable, his assassination will have produced just the result that General Suleimani would have hoped for.

The CIA has a long history of helping to kill leaders around the world

According to North Korea’s ministry of state security, the CIA has not abandoned its old ways. In a statement on Friday, it accused that the CIA and South Korea’s intelligence service of being behind an alleged recent an assassination attempt on its leader Kim Jong-un.

Killer Politicians

What rulers crave most is deniability. But with the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government, the poisoning of former Russian spies living in the United Kingdom, and whispers that the head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, may have been executed in China, the curtain has been slipping more than usual of late. In Riyadh, Moscow, and even Beijing, the political class is scrambling to cover up its lethal ways.

Andrew Jackson, was a cold-blooded murderer, slaveowner, and ethnic cleanser of native Americans. For Harry Truman, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima spared him the likely high cost of invading Japan. But the second atomic bombing, of Nagasaki, was utterly indefensible and took place through sheer bureaucratic momentum: the bombing apparently occurred without Truman’s explicit order.

.. Since 1947, the deniability of presidential murder has been facilitated by the CIA, which has served as a secret army (and sometime death squad) for American presidents. The CIA has been a party to murders and mayhem in all parts of the world, with almost no oversight or accountability for its countless assassinations. It is possible, though not definitively proved, that the CIA even assassinated UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.

.. Many mass killings by presidents have involved the conventional military. Lyndon Johnson escalated US military intervention in Vietnam on the pretext of a North Vietnamese attack in the Gulf of Tonkin that never happened. Richard Nixon went further: by carpet-bombing Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, he sought to instill in the Soviet Union the fear that he was an irrational leader capable of anything. (Nixon’s willingness to implement his “madman theory” is perhaps the self-fulfilling proof of his madness.) In the end, the Johnson-Nixon American war in Indochina cost millions of innocent lives. There was never a true accounting, and perhaps the opposite: plenty of precedents for later mass killings by US forces.

.. The mass killings in Iraq under George W. Bush are of course better known, because the US-led war there was made for TV. A supposedly civilized country engaged in “shock and awe” to overthrow another country’s government on utterly false pretenses. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died as a result.

Barack Obama was widely attacked by the right for being too soft, yet he, too, notched up quite a death toll. His administration repeatedly approved drone attacks that killed not only terrorists, but also innocents and US citizens who opposed America’s bloody wars in Muslim countries. He signed the presidential finding authorizing the CIA to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in overthrowing the Syrian government. That “covert” operation (hardly discussed in the polite pages of the New York Times) led to an ongoing civil war that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and millions displaced from their homes. He used NATO airstrikes to overthrow Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, resulting in a failed state and ongoing violence.

.. Under Trump, the US has abetted Saudi Arabia’s mass murder (including of children) in Yemen by selling it bombs and advanced weapons with almost no awareness, oversight, or accountability by the Congress or the public. Murder committed out of view of the media is almost no longer murder at all.

When the curtain slips, as with the Khashoggi killing, we briefly see the world as it is. A Washington Post columnist is lured to a brutal death and dismembered by America’s close “ally.” The American-Israeli-Saudi big lie that Iran is at the center of global terrorism, a claim refuted by the data, is briefly threatened by the embarrassing disclosure of Khashoggi’s grisly end. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ostensibly ordered the operation, is put in charge of the “investigation” of the case; the Saudis duly cashier a few senior officials; and Trump, a master of non-stop lies, parrots official Saudi tall tales about a rogue operation.

A few government and business leaders have postponed visits to Saudi Arabia. The list of announced withdrawals from a glitzy investment conference is a who’s who of America’s military-industrial complex: top Wall Street bankers, CEOs of major media companies, and senior officials of military contractors, such as Airbus’s defense chief.

.. Political scientists should test the following hypothesis: countries led by presidents (as in the US) and non-constitutional monarchs (as in Saudi Arabia), rather than by parliaments and prime ministers, are especially vulnerable to murderous politics. Parliaments provide no guarantees of restraint, but one-man rule in foreign policy, as in the US and Saudi Arabia, almost guarantees massive bloodletting.

Richard Rohr Meditation: Persecuted for My Sake

Today Óscar Romero (1917–1980) will be named a saint by the Catholic Church. As Archbishop of San Salvador for the last four years of his life, Romero was a strong, public voice for the many voiceless and anonymous poor of El Salvador and Latin America. When he preached in the cathedral on Sunday mornings, I’m told that the streets were empty and all the radios where on full volume, to hear truth and sanity in an insane and corrupt world.

Here is a man who suffered with and for those who suffered. His loving heart shines through clearly in his homilies:

The shepherd must be where the suffering is. [1]

My soul is sore when I learn how our people are tortured, when I learn how the rights of those created in the image of God are violated.  [2]

A Gospel that doesn’t take into account the rights of human beings, a Christianity that doesn’t make a positive contribution to the history of the world, is not the authentic doctrine of Christ, but rather simply an instrument of power. We . . . don’t want to be a plaything of the worldly powers, rather we want to be the Church that carries the authentic, courageous Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, even when it might become necessary to die like he did, on a cross. [3]

In his homily on March 23, 1980, the day before he was murdered, Romero addressed the Salvadoran military directly:

Brothers, we are part of the same people. You are killing your own brother and sister peasants and when you are faced with an order to kill given by a man, the law of God must prevail; the law that says: Thou shalt not kill. No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. And it is time that you recover your consciences. . . . In the name of God, then, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise up to heaven each day more tumultuously, I plead with you, I pray you, I order you, in the name of God: Stop the repression! [4]

The next day, following his sermon, a U.S.-supported government hit squad shot him through his heart as he stood at the altar.

Only a few weeks earlier, Romero had said:

I have often been threatened with death. I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. I say so without boasting, with the greatest humility. . . . A bishop will die, but God’s church, which is the people, will never perish. [5]