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The Assassins of Langley

The Assassins of Langley
  • On January 31, 2010

Last Friday President Barack Obama visited the CIA’s headquarters to attend a memorial service for seven of its operatives blown up in Afghanistan. Over 1000 CIA officers and family members were present, as well as staff from the White House, the Pentagon and members of Congress. In his address, Obama referred to the dead agents as “seven heroes”- by Richard Neville

This is bunk. Yet, everyone present at this memorial is likely to have endorsed Obama’s verdict. “Everything you instilled in them” the President told the families, “the virtues of service and decency and duty were on display that December day. And our nation will be forever in your debt.” While one can feel sympathy for the families of the bereaved and acknowledge the dedication of the agents, it is absurd to see them as heroes.

They were paid assassins.

Backed by the weaponry of the world’s most belligerent nation and quarantined from legal consequences, the role of the agents was to eliminate “suspected militants”, usually with drone strikes. According to Pakistani estimates, for every terrorist killed by drones, about 140 innocent civilians are slaughtered. This is not fair, it’s not smart, it’s not legal.

The first CIA air strikes of the Obama Administration took place in January last year – the President’s third day in office. According to the New Yorker, one strike targeted the wrong house, hitting the residence of a pro west, pro-government tribal leader. The blast killed the patriarch’s entire family, including three children, one of them five years old. In keeping with US policy, the strike was not acknowledged. Perhaps this is because in 1976 President Gerald R. Ford, signed an executive order banning American intelligence forces from engaging in assassination.

Such edicts are ineffectual, as the CIA is beyond the reach of the law. It operates in countries where US troops are not based, including Australia, where it uses the facilities of Pine Gap to blast away “bad guys”. Since the loss of their agents, the CIA has switched to deep revenge, unleashing squadrons of drones on “suspects” and their families in remote tribal areas. This will recruit new militants, as will the ramped up torture, renditions, secret incarcerations.

Considering its blood-drenched history and the multiplicity of its brutal and indiscriminate operations, it is stupid to pretend the CIA is an engine of freedom. It is a blot on America, a curse on humanity and it is the world’s biggest terrorist cell. Surely its time to freeze its funds and put the assassins out to grass.

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