by Duane Shank 09-07-2011

Two long pieces this weekend described “one hell of a killing machine,” and “the dark matter … that orders the universe but can’t be seen.” One is the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center, including its drones and paramilitary branch; the other the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Together, they are “an expanding netherworld between intelligence and military operations.” And together, they are part of what another story calls an era of endless war.

With little accountability and almost no transparency, the U.S. has trained, armed, and authorized secret death squads; free to assassinate those who are considered terrorists or insurgents. They are responsible for an unknown number of deaths, but numbering in the thousands. And both are growing.

It is eerily reminiscent of the Phoenix Program, run by the CIA and U.S. special operations forces during the Vietnam War. That operation killed at least 26,000 suspected members of the National Liberation Front of Vietnam. Two decades later, a civil war in El Salvador between a military-controlled government and a combination of left-wing militias flared into the open. The U.S. actively backed the government with military aid, including troops trained by the U.S., some of whom were also involved in death squads. These secret assassination teams killed thousands of activists, including Archbishop Oscar Romero, three American nuns, and a religious lay worker, among many others.

And now we’re at it again. Striking in the dead of night — either by drones from the sky or masked men in black kicking down doors with guns blazing. We continue to operate under the assumption that we can kill our way to peace; that covert assassinations won’t come back to haunt us in a new generation of insurgents, out to avenge their anger. We forget the words of the prophet Hosea, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” And, we forget the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We must discover that way to life, rather than continuing to bring death.

Duane Shank is senior policy advisor at Sojourners.


Posted on September 8, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. As Americans, we pride ourselves in being the SUPER POWER of THE WORLD! We’ve killed so many men, women and children, helped to create international incidents to topple leaders, judged what nations should become democracies and continue to proclaim that we are THE BEST NATION ON THE EARTH! What a tragedy, that those yearning to be free have become so deluded. I love the God given beauty of America as you travel all around our country, from coast to coast. I love the scores of givers and soft-hearted people everywhere. We must wake up from the lies that have been fed to us since we were young children. Are we really a great nation “under God”? The politicians of yesterday and today have determined what our country was and has become. If we take a close look at our constitution, is our government really ruled by the people,of the people and for the people? Can we determine our own destinies? I think not. Are we as a nation, by force, determining the destinies of countries around the world? I think so.

  2. Thank you Dennis for this on point article, especially in a time when the political climate is so polarized. This brief history lesson gives us a good snapshot of how our ‘christian’ nation operated in the past when there are those who are calling for this country to ‘get back’ to her ‘christian values’.

    The governments constant abuse of power and continued assault on innocents is sowing seeds that will grow into groups of peoples that will stop at nothing to evoke revenge.

    I pray that the people of this country wake up and call for an end to the violence. Death begets death, violence begets violence.

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