by Michael Salla, Ph.D.
March 19, 2009

from TheExaminer Website

Prospects for the U.S. Congress launching inquiries into abuses by the Bush-Cheney administration have grown with a claim that Vice President Dick Cheney ran an assassination unit out of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).


Former Vice-President Richard Cheney - March 15. Photo: AP


Speaking at a conference at the University of Minnesota on March 10, respected journalist Seymour Hersh said that the JSOC unit, comprising special military forces personnel, reported directly to Cheney and operated without any kind of Congressional oversight. According to Hersh, even the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense were out of the loop on JSOC operations.


In comments that set Washington abuzz, Hersh concluded:

"It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.”

Hersh’s claims led to Congressman Dennis Kucinich on March 13 asking the Chair of a key House Committee to launch an investigation. Hersh's claims are also likely to boost efforts by Senator Patrick Leahy to create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate wrongdoing during the Bush-Cheney administration.

In 1976, President Ford issued Executive Order 11905 to clarify intelligence activities. Among the "Restrictions on Intelligence Activities," contained in the EO was a section entitled "Prohibition on Assassination."


Section 5(b) states:

"No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."

Curiously, at the time Ford issued his EO, Dick Cheney was his Chief of Staff. In 1981, President Reagan reiterated the proscription against political assassination with Executive Order 12333. No legislative act or executive order has since been issued to override Reagan’s EO 12333 which remains in effect.

Congressman Kucinich has called for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to inquire into Cheney's alleged assassination unit.


In a letter to the Committee Chairman, Edolphus Towns, Kucinich wrote:

"If substantiated, the allegation would have far reaching implications for the United States. Such an assertion from someone of Hersh’s credibility that has a long and proven track record of dependability on these issues merits attention. Mr. Hersh is within a year or more of releasing a book that is said to include evidence of this allegation.


However, we cannot wait a year or more to establish the truth. As such, I request that the Full Committee immediately begin an investigation to determine the facts in this matter."

If Vice President Cheney did authorize political assassinations using a special operations unit that reported only to him, then according to Kucinich in his letter, Cheney violated EO 12333.

Hersh’s claims also represent the kind of “executive override of law” contained in a petition launched by the office of Senator Patrick Leahy to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Launched soon after Leahy first proposed his Truth Commission on February 9, 2009 at Georgetown University, the petition currently has over 85,000 signatures.


It seeks the investigation of abuses that,

“include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.”

If the Senate Judiciary committee or the House Judiciary Committee decide to launch a Truth Commission, the mandate in Leahy’s petition would give it the power to investigate Cheney’s alleged assassination unit.

Kucinich has been unsuccessful in gathering sufficient Congressional support for impeachment charges against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.


This time he may gain more support if a reply from Towns is any indication:

"Mr. Kucinich raised a serious issue and I will work with him to look into it."

Despite Towns positive response, Kucinich does not have the same status as Patrick Leahy in persuading democratic colleagues to support his proposed investigation. Leahy heads the Senate Judiciary Committee which makes it more likely that his Truth Commission proposal will gather support as indicated in the March 3 Hearing he convened where a number of Senate colleagues and witnesses spoke in favor.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a broad mandate to investigate “executive override of laws” could unveil many possible abuses committed during the Bush-Cheney administration. in addition to the existence of an assassination unit, possible abuses include politicizing the Justice Department, the use of torture, and the firing of whistleblowers willing to testify about abuses they witnessed.


Also, a Truth Commission can address other even more controversial claims of executive override of laws such as unanswered questions over events on 9/11, and the suppression of information concerning UFOs and extraterrestrial life.


Hersh's claims about a Cheney-led assassination unit, if accurate, may prove to be the tipping point in the effort to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and other Congressional inquiries into executive abuses by the Bush-Cheney administration.





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