March 19, 2009
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). 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. ...