[DEBATE] : Did newly announced top Afghan general run Cheney's assassination wing?
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Wed May 13 11:43:11 BST 2009
Did newly announced top Afghan general run Cheney's assassination wing?
It was reported on Tuesday that Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal
will be taking over command of US forces in Afghanistan, pending Senate
McChrystal is presently director of the Joint Chiefs staff, but from
September 2003 to August 2008, he headed the Joint Special Operations
Command (JSOC), which oversees such elite units as the Army's Delta
Force and the Navy SEALs.
Famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh recently described the JSOC
as an "executive assassination wing" controlled for many years by the
office of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Speaking to a University of Minnesota audience in March, Hersh called
JSOC "a special wing of our special operations community that is set up
independently. ... They do not report to anybody, except in the
Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office. ...
Congress has no oversight of it. ... It's an executive assassination
ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on."
Although McChrystal's efforts with JSOC were not widely reported at the
time, Newsweek did run a brief article on him in June 2006:
No one would have mentioned his name at all if President George W. Bush
hadn't singled him out in public. Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, West
Point '76, is not someone the Army likes to talk about. He isn't even
listed in the directory at Fort Bragg, N.C., his home base. That's not
because McChrystal has done anything wrong—quite the contrary, he's one
of the Army's rising stars—but because he runs the most secretive force
in the U.S. military. That is the Joint Special Operations Command, the
snake-eating, slit-their-throats "black ops" guys who captured Saddam
Hussein and targeted Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.
JSOC is part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he
said America would have to "work the dark side" after 9/11. To many
critics, the veep's remark back in 2001 fostered his rep as the Darth
Vader of the war on terror and presaged bad things to come, like the
interrogation abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. But America also
has its share of Jedi Knights who are fighting in what Cheney calls "the
shadows." And McChrystal, an affable but tough Army Ranger, and the
Delta Force and other elite teams he commands are among them. ...
Rumsfeld is especially enamored of McChrystal's "direct action" forces
or so-called SMUs—Special Mission Units—whose job is to kill or capture
bad guys, say Pentagon sources who would speak about Special Ops only if
they were not identified. But critics say the Pentagon is
short-shrifting the "hearts and minds" side of Special Operations that
is critical to counterinsurgency—like training foreign armies and
engaging with locals.
McChrystal, however, may not be quite as much of a white knight as
Newsweek made him out to be. A far less flattering impression of him is
given by an Esquire article which ran at the same time as the Newsweek
piece. This article details revelations by a military interrogator,
"Jeff," about the use of torture "at a secret camp used by Task Force
121, the ultimate Special Ops team, the elite titanium tip of Donald
It was a point of pride that the Red Cross would never be allowed in the
door, Jeff says. This is important because it defied the Geneva
Conventions, which require that the Red Cross have access to military
prisons. "Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. 'Will they ever
be allowed in here?' And he said absolutely not. He had this directly
from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there's no way that the
Red Cross could get in--they won't have access and they never will. This
facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army
Given Task Force 121's history, that was a remarkable promise. Formed in
the summer of 2003, it quickly became notorious. By August the CIA had
already ordered its officers to avoid Camp Nama. Then two Iraqi men died
following encounters with Navy Seals from Task Force 121--one at Abu
Ghraib and one in Mosul--and an official investigation by a retired Army
colonel named Stuart Herrington, first reported in The Washington Post,
found evidence of widespread beatings. "Everyone knows about it," one
Task Force officer told Herrington. Six months later, two FBI agents
raised concerns about suspicious burn marks and other signs of harsh
treatment. Then the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency reported
that his men had seen evidence of prisoners with burn marks and bruises
and once saw a Task Force member "punch [the] prisoner in the face to
the point the individual needed medical attention."
Fred Kaplan at Slate and Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish have already
noted Task Force 121's involvement in harsh interrogations and General
McChrystal's apparent protection of the abuses. Hopefully, these
questions about McChrystal will not be overlooked during his
-- Muriel Kane
The Raw Story » Did newly announced top Afghan general run Cheney’s
assassination wing? (13 May 2009)
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