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WMR has learned from U.S. intelligence veterans that the secret intelligence operation run by Vice President Dick Cheney was not under the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency but was a component of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Department of Defense.
The JSOC unit carried out assassinations of foreign individuals, including politicians in countries friendly to the United States, under the direct orders of Cheney. One former intelligence official described the operation as a new “Phoenix Program.”
During the Vietnam War, the CIA’s Phoenix program, carried out, with the cooperation of U.S. Special Operations forces, identified key Vietcong leaders in South Vietnamese villages and towns and later assassinated them. What the CIA was involved with from the days subsequent to the 9/11 attacks was a similar operation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that identified key leaders of “Al Qaeda” and the Taliban and planned their assassinations.
However, what the CIA abandoned was Cheney’s use of the operation, in part organized under then-CIA director George Tenet’s “Worldwide Attack Matrix” or “WAM,” to target real or perceived political enemies in other countries, possibly including individuals in the United States. CIA director Leon Panetta officially terminated the CIA’s residual role in the assassination program after an eight-year involvement and informed Congress that they had been misled about the nature of the program.
The only actual part of the CIA that worked with the Pentagon’s assassination unit under JSOC was the Special Activities Division (SAD) of the CIA, itself largely comprised of former U.S. Special Operations personnel, including a number of former Delta Force members.
Far from being concerned about revelations about the program, WMR has learned that rank-and-file CIA officers are ecstatic about the revelations concerning Cheney’s operations. In knowing that most in the CIA, perhaps with the noted exceptions of deputy director of the CIA, Stephen Kappes, and acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, were not involved in Cheney’s assassination ring, which is considered by many CIA officers to have been illegal, there is a certain amount of glee in realizing that Cheney may soon face the legal music on ordering illegal assassinations.
One retired CIA officer who was involved in the original clandestine targeting program before it was altered by Cheney, believes that the CIA has Cheney “by the balls” over the new revelations about the death squads.
WMR has been told by a U.S. intelligence source that the one person who poses the greatest threat to Cheney is former CIA director George Tenet, who claims that Cheney’s operation was so secretive he was not aware of its details. Tenet has been described as having few friends from the Bush-Cheney administration and has nothing to lose by making public what he knows about Cheney’s role in the assassination operation. Although the Cheney/JSOC operation continued under CIA directors Porter Goss and General Michael Hayden, neither are considered particularly vulnerable, except for their possible testimonies under oath before congressional committees.
The most high-profile target of the secret Cheney assassination squad, according to high-level CIA sources, allegedly was former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, the heart of Pakistan’s military and intelligence community.
WMR reported the assassination as follows on December 27, 2007: “Bhutto was reportedly first shot in the neck and chest and then killed in a suicide bomb blast at a campaign rally. Bhutto’s closest advisers immediately suspected the involvement of Pakistan’s military and intelligence complex in the assassination, an event which is thought by many to strengthen the hand of Musharraf and Pakistan’s dictatorship. The global corporate media, in practical unison, began echoing the tired tripe that ‘Al Qaeda’ was responsible for Bhutto’s assassination. However, ‘Al Qaeda’ was fostered by Pakistan’s military and intelligence community with large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”
According to our CIA sources, Cheney decided that every effort should be made to ensure that his friend, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, remain in power in Pakistan and not be replaced by Bhutto. Cheney allegedly authorized his secret assassination unit to hit Bhutto and then maximize his political gain by blaming the attack on “Al Qaeda.”
Cheney’s alleged hit on Bhutto also involved U.S. and Pakistani electronic surveillance of her communications. On February 21, 2008, WMR reported: “The late former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto knew that all her phone conversations and e-mails were being monitored by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and ‘other intelligence agencies,’ according to her long time friend and co-author Mark Siegel. Siegel made his comments last night in a speech at the National Press Club highlighting ‘Reconciliation,’ a book he co-authored with Bhutto shortly before her assassination. Siegel said he and Bhutto were convinced that during her five years of exile in Dubai that all their phone calls between Washington, DC, and Dubai were being monitored by ISI. Since ISI does not possess its own significant eavesdropping capability in the United States, Bhutto’s reference to ‘other agencies’ is an indication that the US National Security Agency (NSA) was eavesdropping on Bhutto and passing some of the intelligence to the ISI and the government of Pakistani dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf.”
The House Intelligence Committee is promising to investigate the details of the program and on July 12, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he believes there will be additional revelations forthcoming about the super-secret Cheney program.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2009 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report