We here in America like to believe that our government and its agencies are dedicated to the preservation of our life, liberty, and happiness. At least we used to- who knows where we’re headed now under Agent Orange. But I digress. We have always thought, since the Founding Fathers first drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, that the government is here to serve the people. We have always believed that our government is by, for, and of the people. Hey, I’m not being naïve here- that’s what the laws say-it’s not like I’m making this up!
But what about those times when the U.S. government, and particularly the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), manage to commit crimes and even murder against American citizens? What about when U.S. troops open fire on U.S. citizens? That’s right, the military ain’t exempt from these crimes by a long shot- you do see what I just did there, don’t you? What about when POTUS himself has ordered the murder of an American? It’s happened before and I guarantee it will happen again. I told you I’m not naïve. I’m also a realist. Comb through the public record deep enough and you’ll find plenty of instances where the U.S. government killed Americans. That’s just true and truth is just truth; you can’t have opinions about it. In fact you don’t even have to look all that deeply to find examples. They are right there, waiting to be exposed.
Here they are for you then- 15 times the U.S. government attacked American citizens. Don’t expect to see anyone going to jail over these.
15. The FBI & The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Standoff
I told you we would get back to crazy “Militia” members, didn’t I? One thing seems for certain; whenever these guys get involved with the FBI, U.S. Marshals, ATF or any other federal government agency, bad things are bound to happen. This time, on January 2, 2016, a bunch of militiamen occupied the headquarters of a National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Their convoluted reason for doing so was to protest the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s administration of federal land. These guys, of course, believed that the federal government needed to give up its own land to the states. Unfortunately, things went south, as they always do in these situations; a leader of the “rebels” was shot down by the FBI and Oregon State Police while trying to evade a roadblock. When he exited his truck he appeared to make a movement toward a weapon at his side so the agents shot him. I’m not quite sure what else they were supposed to do after dealing with dozens of armed madmen who had “occupied” a wild bird refuge for almost a month but, of course, you can chalk up another death of a U.S. citizen to the FBI’s hitlist.
14. The FBI, The ATF, & The Branch Davidians
Those of you who remember David Koresh remember that he was a truly crazy individual. He was the leader of the Branch Davidians, an offshoot cult of the Davidian Seventh Day Adventist sect, themselves an offshoot of Seventh Day Adventists (who were already crazy enough, thank you). He took his cult to a compound in Waco, Texas after being accused of statutory rape. When the group refused to honor an ATF warrant to search the compound for illegal guns and explosives (they were there), the agents, with the FBI, tried to raid the compound. Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians were killed in a firefight. Then the FBI tried unsuccessfully to lay siege to the area, which resulted in someone (there is a lot of controversy as to who) setting fire to the entire compound. Koresh and 79 of his cult members died in the flames. Say what you will about the wacky Branch Davidians but the FBI has not been very good at overly long standoffs and sieges with extremists. This time they managed to kill 84 Americans.
13. The FBI Pressures MLK To Commit Suicide
OK, so this one didn’t actually happen but it damn well could have. Instead, Dr. Martin Luther King, the greatest civil rights leader America has ever known, was assassinated in 1968- supposedly by a garden variety racist named James Earl Ray but who really knows… However, the incontrovertible fact that the FBI would try to pressure MLK to commit suicide should illustrate pretty clearly how evil our government can sometimes be. It’s a well-known fact that Herbert Hoover, the head of the FBI in the ‘60s, hated King and thought he was a Communist. To that end he had the FBI engage in covert activities to discredit King and his followers. This included FBI agents anonymously sending MLK audio tapes of him being recorded having an affair in a hotel room in Washington, D.C. That was followed up by another anonymous letter urging King to commit suicide to avoid “embarrassment.” All of this was done by the FBI with Hoover’s full knowledge and was part of the agency’s shady and often illegal COINTELPRO (Domestic Counterintelligence Program), of which we will hear much more later on. It just goes to show how much we can’t trust the government sometimes…
12. Obama Drone Strike I: Anwar Al-Awlaki
The CIA has been launching drone strikes for years, as evinced by the Derwish death mentioned above. But during the Obama years the President really stepped up the use of drones as an instrument in the War on Terror. This is the same President who authorized SEAL Team Six to take out Osama bin Laden so it kind of makes sense he would be aware of and endorse the drone program. However, he may not have realized the fallout some of his strikes would generate. Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted for assassination by the CIA for his suspected involvement in Al-Qaeda. He was considered to be dangerous for his lecturing and publications as an American-Yemeni imam (religious leader) and some people even referred to him as the “Bin Laden of the Internet.” The American intelligence community considered this American citizen to be a severe and credible terrorist threat so they took him out. On September 30, 2011, two “secret” drones fired multiple missiles at his vehicle in Yemen, killing everybody aboard. They were the same type of both drone and missile used in the Derwish attack (hey, if it ain’t broke…). Al-Awlaki was the first American citizen specifically targeted for execution by a drone in the War on Terror.
11. Obama Drone Strike II: Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki
Something the Obama administration learned over time (and perhaps something the CIA has never learned) is that when you make a decision and act upon it there are always unintended consequences. Helping to drive that realization was another drone strike that occurred in Yemen just two weeks after al-Awlaki was killed. And by the way, what’s up with our activities in Yemen; we’re not even at war with the country, not even in the War on Terror! Anyway, Obama again ordered the CIA to launch missiles at an Al-Qaeda target, this time an Egyptian operative who was eating dinner in a restaurant. Unfortunately (and tragically ironically), al-Awlaki’s 16-year old son, Abdulrahman, was in the same place and was also killed, making him the second American citizen from the same family to be killed by the U.S. government in the span of just two weeks. Or maybe it wasn’t an accident. Maybe the CIA and the U.S. military knew what they were doing all along. Maybe Abdulrahman was poised to enact vengeance for his father. We will probably never know. As a former White House official said of the attack, “Maybe he should have had a more responsible father.” Maybe.
10. Trump Seal Team Six Strike: Al-Awlaki Family, Part III
And the nightmare continues for the al-Awlaki family. Remember, whether you believe that the father and maybe even his son were terrorists or not, these are American citizens being killed by the U.S. government and its agencies. So it should come as no surprise at this point to learn that the eight-year-old daughter of the long dead al-Awlaki just happened to “be in the wrong place at the wrong time” when the President Trump-authorized SEAL Team Six mission to capture Al-Qaeda computer files went horribly wrong on January 29, 2017. Nawar al-Awlaki was shot by the SEALS at a compound in southern Yemen (not surprising, really) as they stormed the site. A SEAL was also killed in the encounter. The girl is, of course, the 3rd member of the al-Awlaki family, all U.S. citizens, to be killed by the U.S. government in the past six years. Human rights organizations find the whole thing very interesting, as should you. Yes, the dad was a terrorist, but an eight-year-old girl? C’mon guys, get it together.
9. The FBI, The U.S. Marshals, & Ruby Ridge
We move back home for the next installment in our “what the heck did the government do this time?” series. Does anybody remember the “Militia” movement that started in the Midwest in the ‘80s and ‘90s? Basically a bunch of pre-Tea Party guys who were all survivalists, small government-backers and gun nuts built bunkers and strongholds out in the woods and said they would shoot back at any representatives of “The Man” (i.e. the Federal Government) that tried to stop them. Those guys and their followers have never really gone away to this day, as we will see. But back in 1992 Randy Weaver was one of the original militia guys and also a white separatist. He fled to his Ruby Ridge, Idaho home after failing to appear in court on ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) charges. When U.S. Marshals and the FBI confronted him outside the property on August 21, a brief gun battle ensued, killing an agent and Weaver’s fourteen-year-old son (the one who fired first). A standoff ensued and the next day an FBI sniper killed Weaver’s wife Vicki and wounded Weaver and a friend. He finally surrendered almost two weeks later. Two dead American citizens, “victims” of the FBI, were the result of this lunacy.
8. The National Guard & Kent State
Peaceful protest has always been a part of American life. Think about it; even before we were a country the colonists of Boston were being fired upon by British troops for congregating in peaceful protest. Crispus Attucks, a free black man, was the first American killed in what would become the Revolutionary War. During the 1960s and ‘70s American citizens, mostly college students and the “hippie” element of society, were again protesting- this time against the war in Vietnam. One such protest occurred at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Protest had already gone off without violence at the school over the previous weekend. But the governor of Ohio, with the full backing of President Nixon and the U.S. government, sent in 1,000 troops from the National Guard to keep order and prevent protesters from assembling. They still did anyway and around noon of that day jittery National Guardsmen opened fire on unarmed civilians. The end result was the killing of four U.S. citizens, the wounding of nine more and a place in American history.
7. The Rodney King Riots
The Rodney King incident became a worldwide example of police brutality when video of LAPD officers beating a helpless King while he lay on the ground became public in March of 1991. It was one of the first filmed incidents of police misbehavior anybody had ever seen and shocked the nation. When the arresting officers were acquitted at trial (even then-President George H.W. Bush said he was shocked at the verdict) Los Angeles erupted into an inferno of rioting for two days. It was so bad that the governor of California not only called out 4,000 National Guardsmen (three times as many as at Kent State) but also the U.S. Army 7th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division. 55 people were killed in the riots, including two who were shot by National Guardsmen (eight more were killed by the cops). Although the riots were seriously out of control, it’s always a shock when U.S. citizens are killed by members of the federal armed forces.
6. The CIA & Kamal Derwish
As is always the case when the U.S. government and one of its agencies starts attacking American citizens, the Kamal Derwish story is full of accusations and counter-accusations, not to say outright lies. According to which side you come down on, Derwish was either an innocent civilian mistakenly targeted by the CIA or an evil homegrown terrorist who deserved death. As is even more the case when something like this involves the CIA, the whole truth will probably never be known. Derwish was suspected of being a member of a “sleeper” cell of American-Islamic terrorists in 2002 known as the Lackawanna Six, based out of Buffalo, New York. He and his friends had supposedly attended Al-Qaeda training camps in Yemen. Kamal was also suspected of being a top aide to the Al-Qaeda operative who helped mastermind the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole warship in 2000. So, when the CIA saw their chance on November 3, 2002, they used a drone to fire a missile at the car he and other supposed members of Al-Qaeda were riding it out in the Yemeni desert. His death is considered the first targeted drone attack in which an American citizen died (as opposed to “accidents” like Kent State). Personally, I’m pretty sure the guy was an evil b*stard but hey, that’s just my opinion.
5. The CIA & The Soviet Invasion Of Afghanistan
The CIA doesn’t always seem to have a real good grasp of reality- I guess that’s why they’re called “Spooks.” A case in point would be the behavior of the agency during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the ‘80s. While the Afghan War would end up being the U.S.S.R.’s Vietnam, an endless, unpopular war that the Soviets lost and which contributed to the downfall of Communism, the CIA didn’t exactly cover itself in glory. Operating under the precept that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the intelligence agency gave material support, including literally tons of weapons, to the Afghani freedom fighters. This support allowed them to successfully fight off the Russians. It also allowed them to set themselves up as the Taliban once they had their country back. One of the Afghan leaders who survived and thrived thanks to CIA intervention was Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing that killed six people and wounded thousands. So guess what, CIA? Those six deaths of American citizens are on you. Good going.
4. The FBI, The U.S. Marshals, & Wounded Knee
Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, is part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is notorious in American history for more than one reason. In 1890 the U.S. government sent the 7th Cavalry (Custer’s former command) there to round up suspected Indian “Nationalists.” Instead the troops managed to massacre over 150 Indians, most of them women and children. So the U.S. government killed a bunch of harmless Americans, even if they weren’t citizens. Then, in 1973, leaders of the American Indian Movement (AIM), a radical, 60’s-style social change organization occupied the area to protest conditions on Native American reservations. The FBI got involved and a siege soon began (shocking, I tell you). Starting on February 21, 1973, the siege lasted 71 days and during that time Indian occupiers and the federal agents took potshots at each other almost daily. Two Native American protesters were killed by the FBI. After the siege, during the trial of the leaders, it came out that the FBI had tried to manipulate and threaten witnesses- the judge threw out the charges against the AIM leaders. Yay FBI!
3. The FBI, The Chicago Police, & The Fred Hampton Assassination
I talked about COINTELPRO earlier, the FBI’s counter-intelligence department that tried to discredit groups and individuals that it decided were a threat to domestic serenity. They were at it again in Chicago on December 4, 1969, when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, with just a little bit of help and guidance from the FBI raided the home of Fred Hampton, a prominent Black Panther, and assassinated him while he slept. He never even woke up when the raid began as an FBI infiltrator in the Black Panther Party had drugged him at dinner. The immense amount of energy, time and resources the FBI spent subverting Hampton, a noted orator and political strategist, has come out over the years and in 1982 his family won a major civil lawsuit. It’s not enough, however, to wipe the black mark of the FBI’s permanent record and make you wonder just what the hell they’ve been up to all these years at the Hoover Building.
2. The CIA & The Bay Of Pigs
On April 17, 1961, President Kennedy authorized the CIA to launch its “Bay of Pigs” invasion, an attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro by landing almost 1,500 heavily armed Cuban and Cuban-American exiles on the coast of that country. Kennedy himself must have known what we all know now, that it was a very poorly planned operation, as he is supposed to have said of the invasion “It was too large to be clandestine and too small to be successful.” It was. The CIA’s troops were slaughtered (over 100 Cuban exiles died) or rounded up as prisoners- their mission was an abysmal failure. The worst part of this whole fiasco is that four American airmen, who were acting as support or search & rescue were killed in action. Castro also had many prisoners brought before the Cuban courts to be tried, convicted and executed. This included two American CIA agents, Angus McNair and Howard Anderson. So the CIA managed to kill Cuban loyalists, American military personnel and its own agents all in one fell swoop.
1. The FBI & Whitey Bulger
Everybody has heard of James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston Mobster who was Public Enemy Number One on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for years. If you really haven’t heard of him, check out Jack Nicholson’s performance in The Departed; he’s basically channeling Whitey. Anyway, Whitey was a real bad dude who was into just about every illegal thing mobsters are into: drugs, prostitution, money laundering, gun-running, theft and piracy. And of course murder, one of his favorite pastimes. You see, Whitey liked to be in control of his Boston turf. So much so that, if another mobster or criminal was giving him a hard time he would just off them himself. What makes this story one about the FBI killing American citizens is that Whitey was also, while being Public Enemy Number One, an FBI informant for years. In exchange for him giving up information about his competitors, the Boston Italian Mafia, the FBI gave him free rein to run his operations as he saw fit. That included killing at least 19 people. So yeah, thanks FBI, for letting a mass murderer of American citizens run free on your watch. The blood is on your hands.