IN an interview for an article about the machinations of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) one of the Washington Post’s sources described it as “one helluva killing machine”.

Then, according to the reporter, he “blanched” at his words and altered them to “one hell of an operational tool”. I think we’ll stick with the ‘killing machine’ depiction. The CIA’s drone attacks in Pakistan have killed a lot more innocent people than it does in more mundane day-to-day butchery, but the plain fact is that it has always been in the business of killing, and always will be. The double murder in Lahore by the CIA employee Raymond Davis was bizarre and outrageous but only a minor indication of its embrace of criminality.

Its loony tunes schemes to assassinate Fidel Castro were so preposterous as to be comical, in a sick sort of way, but they were perfectly serious. In 2007, the US declassified some documents, including “a memo that reveals that CIA director, Allen Dulles, personally approved a plot to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro”.

Many people knew about this, but we should remember that “in addition to Castro, proposed targets included Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican dictator”.

Of course, these assassination plots are old stuff. It’s probably too much to hope that even WikiLeaks might provide information about later schemes. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, an energetic nationalist detested by American business interests, has probably been a target, but it is unlikely we’ll ever know for certain — unless there is another trove of papers like the one discovered recently in offices in Libya.

The Libya documents make it clear that the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, enjoyed the comradeship of Muammar Qadhafi’s brutish spooks and cooperated with them in what is quaintly called ‘rendition’ of suspects for interrogation by torture.

Brits and Americans are not averse to torture, you understand, but they want it to be done by someone else so that they can look starry-eyed at the world and declare they would be shocked — shocked! — that anyone could imagine they would be involved. They wring their bloodstained hands in mock dismay — but this time they’ve been caught with their hands in the kill.

Britain’s prime minister says “Qadhafi was a monster. He was responsible for appalling crimes, and the world will be much better off without him”.

President Obama was better briefed and avoided personal comment, merely referring to Qadhafi as indulging in “repression to remain in power”. But both will try to justify the actions of their intelligence agencies by announcing that their cooperation with Qadhafi took place during the time of their dreadful predecessors and they would never dream of doing anything so dreadful.

In fact Britain’s foreign minister, William Hague, stated he had “no knowledge of what was happening behind the scenes at that time”.

So the British foreign minister has never had a briefing about Britain’s long-time intelligence cooperation with the Qadhafi dictatorship. He was never told that his intelligence service had provided information to Libya about anti-Qadhafi exiles in the UK, who could then be targeted.

He was never told that the British intelligence service was grateful to its vicious Libyan counterpart for “the remarkable relationship we have built over recent years”, as stated in a letter from a “senior UK intelligence official” to his Libyan buddy.

He was never told that UK intelligence operatives helped plan the CIA’s ‘rendition’ of suspects — and their families (“his pregnant [four months] wife”, for example) — for discussions with kindly Libyan interrogators.

And Hague was never told, poor duck, anything about the intelligence background that shaped the decision of his government to bomb the hell out of its former ally. No, of course not. And the moon is made of green cheese.

And as for the CIA, its spokeswoman pronounced that “it can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats”. She is justifying the fact that the US “sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture”.

How many people were killed or maimed by the Libyan partner of the ‘helluva killing machine’?

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, which found the documents, said it is appalling that the CIA “cooperated with these very abusive intelligence services”. But we know only the tiniest fraction of what has been going on.

All that is certain is that these British and American intelligence operatives are, the whole bunch of them, amoral and barbaric. The person who arranged ‘rendition’ for a “pregnant (four months) wife” to Libyan interrogators is perambulating filth.

CIA video-gamesters have killed over 500 Pakistani civilians in drone missile attacks. We shouldn’t be surprised that their colleagues collaborated so energetically with Libyan criminals. The killing machine had a helluva time, and will continue to do so.

The writer is a defence analyst.



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