Politicians are people who not only live in the public eye but also encounter disapproval because of their decisions and actions. Hence, from time to time, the world is shaken by front-page news about the death or tragic demise of yet another prominent politician. It is also worth noting that an overwhelming majority of already solved political assassinations is linked to the United States. And nowadays, such a state of affairs is hardly surprising.
We can recall many famous American national politicians, i.e. senators, congressmen, district prosecutors, federal judges, governors and a director of the CIA, who were either killed or found dead under suspicious circumstances after they had raised issues of corruption or caused trouble for the leaders of the US oligarchy. And this has been the case since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Naming such victims clearly shows that any prosecutors, judges or politicians can find themselves in mortal danger when they go against the wishes of American political dynasties. Let us take an example of United States District Judge John Roll, who was shot dead in Tucson, Arizona, on 8 January 2011 soon after he had announced that he was about to rule against Barack Obama’s administration. In order to appease the public, a lone gunman and drug user was quickly identified as the culprit. He then “confessed” to his crimes “never to be seen again”. Media outlets practically “killed” this story. After all, its main aim was to intimidate all of the other U.S. judges by proving to them that they could be mercilessly killed and not many people would ever know the reason for their death.
There are other examples from America’s modern history that lend further proof to this theory. For instance, Thelma Colbert from the Justice Department (DOJ) in Fort Worth, Texas and Shannon Ross, the criminal chief of the United States attorney’s office in Dallas died under suspicious circumstances while investigating crimes linked to the Bush family. The two supposedly “committed suicide” within weeks of each other. Apparently, Thelma Colbert “drowned in her own pool” in July 2004 while Shannon Ross was found dead in her home on 13 September 2004. And the case against the Bush family was essentially “buried” with them. Any attempts by U.S. media outlets to discuss the story also suffered the same fate.
The last 10 Presidents of the United States were targets of political and character assassinations, aimed at replacing the leadership with more suitable individuals. Two Presidents have been shot at, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and in 1981, Ronald Reagan was wounded by a shooter with connections to then Vice President George H. W. Bush.
The “impeachment” of two U.S. Presidents was orchestrated by the CIA. The Watergate scandal in 1974 that helped take down President Richard Nixon involved “intelligence officer” Bob Woodward who infiltrated The Washington Post and worked as a reporter there. The second President to be impeached was Bill Clinton in 1990s. After the former U.S. President rejected plans to bomb Serbia thus avoiding thousands of deaths at the time, he was impeached with the help of “agent” Monica Lewinsky. Subsequently, Bill Clinton towed the line and ordered air strikes after his staged “acquittal”.
At present, we are witnessing similarly orchestrated attempts by U.S. intelligence agencies and rival political clans to impeach President Donald Trump, who stands accused of “betraying” the nation by abusing his high office and having ties to Russia (first and foremost, on Russophobic grounds). It is yet unclear what other steps will be taken to remove him from office.
Still, such developments are hardly surprising considering the fact that the tendency to attack U.S. Presidents is becoming a tradition. Let us recall not only the assassination of Abraham Lincoln but also the attempt on the life of Andrew Jackson in 1835 at the end of his presidential term.
However, U.S. intelligence services do not only target domestic politicians. We simply need to recall the famous Prime Minister and President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, who set a record by managing to survive more than 600 attempts on his life, many of which (especially from 1959 to 1962) were orchestrated with the help of the U.S. intelligence. U.S. spy agencies used highly unusual weapons to try and accomplish their goal, such as exploding cigars; pens equipped to shoot bullets; booby-trapped conches placed on the sea bottom of Castro’s favorite beach, and even poison that was meant to destroy his famous beard and cause baldness.
When discussing USA’s direct involvement in political assassinations of foreign leaders, one cannot but mention the removal of Muammar al‑Gaddafi from power. The process began during Ronald Reagan’s presidential term with the bombing of the leader’s palace aided by ships of U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, and ended with his assassination on 20 October 2011, greeted by great rejoicing from Hillary Clinton.
There are many other names we could mention in connection with persecution of leaders and activists. And we could learn more about them from the work of the U.S. committee headed by Senator Frank Church that investigated abuses by the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies.
In this context, we cannot help but remember the attempt on the life of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro with the aid of drones carrying explosives in August of last year.
It is also worth noting that with the development of technology, the means employed by U.S. intelligence agencies to plan and carry out political assassinations are noticeably changing and widening in scope (especially when it comes to drones). With this in mind, a recent report by the U.S. C4ISRNET media outlet is worth noting. According to the article, the United States Army is scheduled to test grenade launching drones, Cerberus, in 2020. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are light, they easily fit in a backpack, and have a user-friendly interface and are capable of shooting accurately. The website of Australian startup Skyborne Technologies, which designed the drone, confirms that the United States has shown interest in the Cerberus grenade launching drone.
In its article about Cerberus, C4ISRNET admits that similar drones have been used by “insurgent and irregular forces” for years, including by members of terrorist group Daesh (banned in the Russian Federation), who had employed quadcopters in the battle for Mosul. Incidentally, one of the first people to attempt an attack on the Pentagon and the Capitol using a drone in 2011 was a young “US-born citizen of South Asian background” from Massachusetts.
All in all, we will continue to follow the fate of the grenade launching drone Cerberus as U.S. armed forces continue to test it. And who knows, perhaps this unmanned aerial vehicle or another similar “invention” of the U.S. intelligence agencies will end up at the center of yet another political assassination in Washington.
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.