By Dave Lindorff
It's amazing to watch how shallow and self-censoring our corporate media can be. Take the remarkable interchange between President Donald Trump and Fox right-wing talkshow host Bill O'Reilly. In an interview that aired before the Super Bowl, Trump had responded to O'Reilly's question about how he could respect Russian President Putin, whom O'Reilly called "a killer," by saying, "There are a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What do you think -- our country's so innocent? You think our country's so innocent?"
Most news organizations reporting on this included the response of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Trump's comment, in which the Senate Majority Leader said, "Putin's a former KGB agent. He's a thug. "
Left unsaid was the fact that this country also once had a former intelligence agency "thug" as its president: George H.W. Bush. Bush was named CIA director in 1976 by then President Gerald Ford, and during one-year tenure as head of the Agency, he reportedly worked assiduously to protect it from post-Watergate investigations and reforms of its past dirty behavior by shipping agency operatives abroad and out of reach of investigators. Furthermore, as investigative reporter Russ Baker, author of a book on Bush called Family of Secrets, reports , Bush's connection to the CIA, kept secret for years, stretches way back to the days of its precursor agency, the OSS, and lasts at least through 1963 and the Kennedy assassination .
It was during Bush's tenure as CIA director that agents of Chile's intelligence service, the DINA, planted a bomb in the car of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier, then living and working in exile in Washington, DC. The bomb killed Letelier and an American assistant, Ronnie Moffet. DINA was very closely coordinated with the CIA, which had orchestrated the 1973 military coup that overthrew the elected Socialist government and murdered Chilean President Salvador Allende, for whom Letelier had worked, later becoming a chief critic of the subsequent military dictatorship. At a minimum, Bush's CIA appears to have known about the plot to kill Letelier, and he subsequently worked to cover up any links to either DINA or the CIA. Bush's CIA also helped coordinate a continent-side Murder Inc. project against leftists in Latin America called Operation Condor.
In any event one could even more properly refer to President Obama as a thug, courtesy not of any nefarious background as a former CIA operative, but in his role as murderer-in-chief with his Tuesday morning "kill list" sessions, where he would decide whom to target next for a drone attack. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, during his eight years in office, President Obama ordered 563 strikes at specific alleged terrorist targets. While it is unclear how many of those actual targets were successfully killed (many are known to have escaped), the BIJ claims that by its count between 384 and 807 civilians, including children, were also killed in the attacks. Other sources say the number of those "collateral damage" killings is actually considerably higher.
The charge is often made that several dozen Russian journalists critical of Putin and the Kremlin have died under mysterious circumstances, some by outright execution-style murders, which Putin critics then assert could not have happened without Putin's authorization. But there have been no clear links in any of these to Putin.
Meanwhile, there have also been a number of curious deaths of American journalists critical of the government and its leaders over the years. Take for example journalist George Polk, killed while covering the Greek civil war in 1948, in a case that many suspect was the work of the CIA, which suspiciously "lost" and "destroyed" its records relating to Polk.