It’s been going, under President Bush’s authority, they’ve been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That’s been going on, in the name of all of us.
The remark, which came during a “Great Conversations” discussion with former Vice President Walter Mondale at the Ted Mann Concert Hall,Â was reported in the press, near and far — and denied by a CIA spokesperson.
Now it seems that Hersh was describing the CIA’s “secret counterterrorism program” that was not disclosed to Congress for eight years under Cheney’s direct orders, according to a New York Times report last week. The Times story stated that CIA Director Leon E. Panetta briefed House and Senate intelligence committees about the program.
There is a fairly major discrepancy between Hersh’s description four months ago ofÂ a fully operationalÂ American death squad being run out of Cheney’s office and theÂ recent reportage of a program that ostensibly never gotÂ off the ground. The Washington Post today noted that theÂ “plan to kill top al-Qaeda leaders, which had been on the agency’s backburner for much of the past eight years, was suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of proposals to initiate what one intelligence official called a ‘somewhat more operational phase.’ Shortly after learning of the plan, CIA Director Leon Panetta terminated the program and then went to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers, who had been kept in the dark since 2001.”
Hersh, who won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War,Â stands byÂ the comments he made at the U of M.
Benjamin Sarlin, writing in The Daily Beast this week, contacted Hersh, who is in South Asia.Â “I said what I said, they can always say what they say,” Hersh stated. “The last time they said the government doesn’t torture; this time it’s the government doesn’t assassinate.” — Mordecai Specktor
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