CIA Assassin Squads: Who Is It OK to Kill?

Cheney's secret killers likely to wind up on wrong side of history
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 9:38 AM CDT
It's hard to imagine anyone would object to a plot to kill Osama bin Laden, but after him things get murky.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – It’s hard to imagine many Americans would object to their country assassinating Osama bin Laden, and Walter Shapiro of Politics Daily is no different. So why are he, and others, so queasy about the CIA hit squads that, we learned Monday, have been hunting terrorist leaders since 9/11? Because the CIA has a really lousy history when it comes to assassinations, targeting foreign leaders, like Fidel Castro, who were "strategic inconveniences for the United States rather than major-league war criminals."

The attempt to exterminate al-Qaeda resembles the disastrous Phoenix program in Vietnam, in which many people were tortured and assassinated based on often dubious intelligence. That kind of history demonstrates why America should almost never sanction assassinations away from the battlefield. “It is not enough for the CIA to triple check that the target is really the man with the blue turban,” Shaprio argues. “The real question should be: How will this killing look in 20 or 30 years?”