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Tilting at Windmills

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February 14, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DEATH OF A TERRORIST....So who killed the Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh? Mossad? The Syrians? A rival faction within Hezbollah? Nobody knows, but Laura Rozen talked to some ex-spooks and came to at least one conclusion:

About one thing, the former CIA officer was sure: "I know goddamn well we didn't do it. Because it's too good of an operation. If we did it, it would be fifteen years in the making, and there'd be video surveillance from Washington....I'm serious."

Read the rest for a roundup of who the suspects are and what might have happened.

Kevin Drum 10:48 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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A cnn reporter with some experience speculates Imad isn't dead -- that this was a propaganda operation to provide a holiday celebration to counter Rafik Hariri's assassination.


" Hezbollah and Syria are now paying tribute to Mughniyeh and hurling blame at Israel for his death in a car bombing. I'm not declaring the story to be false and I'm not about to tell anyone it's the truth. I just keep remembering how much deception Mughniyeh employed in his life's work.

He was a founding member of Lebanon's Hezbollah and thousands of its supporters are expected to turn out in the streets of Beirut to remember him Thursday.

Thursday is February 14. It is the anniversary of the day in 2005 when Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated with a massive car bomb. Hariri's son and political heir, Saad Hariri, blames Syria and its Lebanese backers for the killing.

In what has become an annual ritual, tens of thousands of anti-Syrian protesters are expected to take to the streets in remembrance of Hariri.

Now, with planned demonstrations for Imad Mughniyeh, Syria and Hezbollah have a counterweight that could also become an annual commemoration and even a rivalry with Hariri protesters.

And can you imagine the coincidence that both should fall on the same day?

Like the photo of the hijacked pilot and the gunman, not everything is as it appears"

Posted by: jerry on February 14, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

All these bizarre, mysterious military and direct action events occurring in Syria. One might almost suspect a disinformation / false flag operation.



Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 14, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

I'd be concerned that Nasrallah's reflexive promise of vengeance against Israel could be something he'd feel bound to act upon, even if the Israelis weren't involved in this at all or only provided intelligence to the people directly responsible.

My understanding is that the proximity of the car bomb to the offices of Syrian security organizations would have made this a very difficult operation to carry out without any help from the inside of Hezbollah, or from the Syrians. But for reasons of face Nasrallah will not want to acknowledge this. The question is, what will he do about it?

Posted by: Zathras on February 14, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

If he is really dead, the range of suspects cannot exclude his cohorts in Syria, Iran, or Hezbollah. There comes a time when even the most avid militant operative outlives his usefulness to the forces around him.

Posted by: Otis on February 14, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

The Clintons did it, of course!

Posted by: thersites on February 14, 2008 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Sure we could do it. After all, we brought down the WTCs with our secret demolition charges placed under the eyes of tens of thousands of people. Piece of cake.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 14, 2008 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

IT WAS ME! I killed the bastard. I know some people, who know some people, who can get shit DONE. That's how I roll beeotches!

Posted by: Karl Rove on February 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

No thersites, the Clintons didn't do it. Although if Imad Mughniyeh's popularity had seen a 60% negative swing over the past six months, there may have been Clinton campaign officials tangentally involved in his movement.

C'mon, get real. Only Mossad seems capable of garnering such intelligence as to pull these things off.

Posted by: filmex on February 14, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"'If we did it, it would be fifteen years in the making, and there'd be video surveillance from Washington....I'm serious.'"

I'm OK with that! The US shouldn't be in the business of assassination.

Neocon people try and claim that the terrorist people are "mad" and "crazy" to imply that we will always need to apply what are and should be extreme measures to fight them. But building on what beowulf said in an earlier thread on ICU line checklists, the US needs to work on preventing the conditions in which "mad" and "crazy" people gain enough power to terrorize and kill people.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on February 14, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

I am not objective here. Not at all. I was an Air Force wife in the 80's. Back in the days when it was common for families billeting overseas to travel separately - because service personnel, required to fly in uniform, were targeted.

The terrorists succeeded in terrifying a whole lot of people - me among them. I feel no remorse - the opposite in fact - every time one of them perishes. If it's fiery and violent, I have no problem with that either. Sorry, but payback is a bitch. And so am I.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 14, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on February 14, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The spook's comment about "video surveillance from Washington" points out the downside for the CIA in the WH going from plausible deniability to active participant. There's a lot more CYA and a lot less freedom of action when you go from covert to public crowing.

Posted by: Tentakles on February 14, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State,

I see your point, and would never belittle the feelings that you and other family members have for the safety of your loved ones, nor your feelings toward those who might harm/terrify you.

I still don't think it should be easy for the CIA to assassinate someone, but I should amend my statement to say that as long as the US government feels a need for a heavy global military presence (and/or a need to apply it aggressively), then sure, the US shouldn't rule out assassination of people committing terrorist acts. I'd prefer live capture (as would the US on occasion, I guess) of suspects, but there we are. (Tentakles also has a good point at 12:37 PM.)

Ultimately, I prefer either a reduction in US military size, limitations on its scope, or both. It's obviously a long-term goal, and unfortunately, I don't know precisely how to go about it, I just feel that we need to for the sake of humanity.

Posted by: Aaron G. Stock on February 14, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK


It would be a piece of cake for an organization like Mossad.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 14, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Aaron, it is a quandry. I sure as hell don't have the answers. All I have is raw emotion - which is why, for the most part, I concentrate my attention on other issues because I lack the objectivity to deal with the issue effectively, or even fairly.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 14, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hyenas inhabit matriarchal societies.

Posted by: Lion on February 15, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK



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