Daily Archives: Monday, 6 July, 2009

Beheading Revisited

Since my earlier post on beheading, I’ve found a new piece of information.

It is from Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. A guy named Cofer Black, who was the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) during the Bush years, was hugely enthusiastic about going to war and killing people. He also ordered CIA officers to bring him the head of Osama bin Laden. Literally.

Gary Schroen, one of the first CIA officers to be dispatched to Afghanistan, was among the earliest to sense the change in America’s posture. Before leaving Langley, he described a memorable meeting in Black’s office. “Gentlemen, I want to give you your marching orders, and I want to make them very clear,” he recounted Black as saying. “I have discussed this with the president, and he is in full agreement. Your mission is to find Osama Bin Laden and his senior lieutenants, and kill them.” Schroen says Black paused then to let his words sink in. “I don’t want Bin Laden and his thugs captured. I want them dead. Alive and in prison here in the United States and they’ll become a symbol, a rallying point for other terrorists. They have planned and carried out the murder of thousands of our citizens. They must be killed. I want to see photos of their heads on pikes. I want Bin Laden’s head shipped back in a box filled with dry ice. I want to be able to show Bin Laden’s head to the president. I promised him I would do that.” He paused again and then asked, “Have I made myself clear?”

Schroen recounted in his memoir, First In, that he and his partner glanced at each other and smiled. “Perfectly clear, Cofer,” they said. “I don’t know where we’ll find the dry ice in Afghanistan, but I think we certainly can manufacture pikes in the field.”

Schroen acknowledged that it was the first time in his thirty-one-year career at the CIA that he had ever been asked to kill anyone.

Not long after, the Russians warned Black in a secret meeting that Afghanistan was the geopolitical equivalent of quicksand. Black scoffed at their pessimism. “We’re going to kill them,” Black retorted. “We’re going to put their heads on sticks. We’re going to rock their world.”

Black savored the anticipated details of Bin Laden’s death in an interview with The New Yorker magazine, as well. “You’d need some DNA,” he said, to prove to the world Bin Laden was slain. “There’s a good way to do it. Take a machete, and whack off his head, and you’ll get a bucketful of DNA, so you can see it and test it. It beats lugging the whole body back!”

That was in 2001. Before Daniel Pearl was beheaded.

In case you want to know more about Cofer Black: for all his bloodlust, he never served in the military despite being just the right age to serve in Vietnam, he has the misfortune to look a lot like Karl Rove (with a head like a wet, softboiled egg), and he has been Vice Chairman of Blackwater USA since 2005. Also:

While assigned to Kinshasa, Zaire, Black was involved in the Reagan Administration’s covert action program to arm anti-communist guerrillas in neighboring Angola.

Wikipedia doesn’t say what role Black played in

South Africa during the National Party government’s’s war against guerrilla movements opposing the apartheid system.

I tend to suspect he wasn’t fighting against apartheid.

And Wikipedia provides no source for this assertion:

…toward the end of his tenure, he was targeted by Al Qaeda for assassination.

What a disappointment Wikipedia can be sometimes. Surely they have a citation or they wouldn’t have included it.


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