As most everyone knows, the CIA has been assassinating people practically since the time it was formed in 1947. By and large, however, the CIA kept its assassinations secret. Americans, for their part, had a feeling that such things were being done but didn’t ask any questions.
The system was almost in the nature of a secret, unannounced pact between the government and the people. As part of its job to protect “national security,” the government would have the omnipotent authority to assassinate people, but it would keep its assassinations secret from the citizenry. In that way, the citizenry would be shielded from the unsavory things that government would be doing in the name of “national security,” and citizens wouldn’t have to concern themselves with things like conscience.
The principle, of course, has been the same with respect to torture. For decades, the Pentagon was secretly teaching soldiers the principles of torture, including at its infamous School of the Americas.
Then came 9/11, the critical event that enabled the secret arrangement to now be made public. The Pentagon and the CIA were now on the same level as the dictatorships that they had long supported and trained. Like their counterparts in those regimes, they could now be as open about their powers as their foreign dictatorships had been. 9/11 enabled the Pentagon and the CIA to not only openly disclose that they wielded such powers, it also enabled them to openly exercise them without any fear or concern that they might ultimately be held criminally liable.
For decades, Americans lived under the quaint notion that the national-security state would exercise such powers only against foreigners. With the arrest, torture, and assassination of Americans in the post-9/11 era, it’s finally starting to dawn on many Americans that they stand in no different position, in principle, from the citizenry in those U.S.-supported dictatorships in Latin America and the Middle East.
Read this excellent commentary by Jacob Hornberger here.