Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Did Dick Cheney order Benazir's death?

An 'executive assassination ring', answerable only to former US Vice President Dick Cheney, played a role in the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, noted American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has alleged.

In a May 12 interview with Gulf News TV, Hersh claimed that Cheney ordered the hit on Bhutto because in a November 2007 interview with Al Jazeera TV, she had indicated that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was already dead.

Bhutto apparently added that it was Omar Saeed Sheikh, an Al Qaeda terrorist imprisoned in Pakistan for beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl, who murdered Osama. Speaking to the UAE-based Gulf News, Hersh opined that the Bush White House had Bhutto assassinated because it did not want Bin Laden to be declared dead, as such an event would seriously dent their credibility in continuing operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But the interviewer, award-winning British journalist David Frost, recently depicted in the acclaimed Hollywood film Frost/Nixon, removed her claims for the final edited version of the interview, Hersh alleged.

Hersh, a Pulitzer prize-winner who writes for the New Yorker and other well-regarded publications, is famous for breaking the My Lai massacre story, in which US soldiers massacred 347 to 504 unarmed citizens in a Vietnamese village; he also helped break the Abu Gharib prison abuse story in 2004.

In the interview, he also pointed to former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and a top Lebanese military officer as two more of Cheney's team's executed targets. Hersh said they were murdered for not protecting US interests and refusing to allow US to set up military bases in the country. Ariel Sharon, who at the time was prime minister of Israel, also played a key role, Hersh has alleged.

The man at the centre of these allegations, former US Vice President Dick Cheney, has spent the past few weeks in the public eye, as the debate over America's tactics in the War on Terror has intensified. Appearing on talk shows and in other interviews, Cheney has worked to justify using interrogation techniques widely considered to be torture, such as the controversial practice of waterboarding.

Interestingly, though he's become very forthright when speaking to the media now, during his time in the White House Cheney was often considered a shadowy figure and difficult to get on the record. Media commentators have attributed this recent about-face to Cheney's concerns that he and his peers may be prosecuted for their roles in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, specifically for their authorisation of torture.

Hersh too has been in the spotlight as of late. He recently gave a speech to the American Civil Liberties Union, wherein he accused Iraqi military personnel of sodomising children in front of their mothers in order to obtain information. What's more, he added, is that the US Department of Defence has tape of the incidents and were aware of such acts of barbarity.

Sources: (Did Dick Cheney order Benazir's death?)


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