Putin’s Alleged ‘Kill Lists’: Evil, but Not Unusual

In the fog of war, it’s difficult to tell which claims are true and which aren’t. What are Vladimir Putin’s forces up to in Ukraine? Apart from some high points (real or media-manufactured), it’s often hard to tell.

Even when we think that the US government’s claims are true, they’re difficult to credit as uniquely damning, because they almost always refer to behaviors the US government has no problem with when it’s the one engaging in them.

“[W]e have credible information,” Bathsheba Nell Crocker, US Representative to the Office of the United Nations, wrote in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in February, “that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”

That sounds pretty bad. In fact, if true, it IS pretty bad. It’s also something the US military and intelligence establishments have done for decades … so much so that these days it doesn’t even really try to hide it.

As the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Jacob Hornberger points out, the CIA made use of “kill lists” at least as early as 1954 in Guatemala. They were secretive about it – they won’t even reveal the names on those lists to this day – but there’s little doubt such “kill lists” were provided by the CIA to paramilitary death squads throughout Central America at least into the 1980s.

Since 9/11, the US government hasn’t even bothered to keep its “kill lists” especially secret. They don’t always share the names, but “targeted killings” are an openly admitted element of US warfare, even if US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gets slammed for saying the quiet part a little too loudly (“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out”).

In 2003, the US Defense Intelligence Agency even had playing cards printed and distributed to openly and proudly publicize its Iraq “kill list.” Saddam Hussein (a head of state and thus as a matter of policy supposedly not subject to assassination like mere mortals) was the ace of spades. As of today, 48 of the 52 people on the “kill list” have been killed or captured.

The question isn’t whether Vladimir Putin should be ordering the murder or capture of Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other uses of “kill lists” to “de-Nazify” of Ukraine. Clearly he shouldn’t.

But from “kill lists” to cluster munitions and thermobaric bombs to outright invasions of other countries, the US regime should start meeting the same standards it’s demanding Vladimir Putin’s regime be held to. That seems like a low bar and easily gotten over.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

11 thoughts on “Putin’s Alleged ‘Kill Lists’: Evil, but Not Unusual”

  1. I seem to recall the US dropping a 500lb bomb on a restaurant trying to take out the Ace of Spades. He ended not being there and the news report didn’t bother saying how many were there. But yeah, the US certainly has a lot of gall to be calling out Russia on this issue. And yet once again based on “credible” information. “Credible” seems to be the main source in all these stories. I really enjoy those provided by the Pentagon. Always a good laugh when you’re feeling down.

  2. On the contrary, the evident point of Russia’s “kill lists” is to target the neo-Nazis in the regime and in the country. Pepe Escobar says Russia has a list of these guys totaling 5,000 names. More will be developed after interrogations of captured Nazis and examination of captured documents.

    I think Russia is doing what it must to eliminate Nazis in Urkaine. I see no basis for complaining.

    1. Of course not. Yours is the same holding as the US government’s: “When the guys I support do it, it’s fine. It’s only when the guys I don’t like do it that it’s wrong.”

      1. No. I’m saying I understand what they’re doing. And because that’s true for all parties, there’s no justification for virtue signaling. This is how things work. What I don’t like is the hypocrisy the US displays on the issue.

        Actually I don’t even care about that except for the fact that the US does it while being responsible for the reasons it’s necessary (US policy created the terrorists), while Russia is doing it because the US is responsible for the necessity since the US supported the Nazis, making them the problem Russia has to solve by these means.

        Actually if anyone should be assassinated, well, let’s not go there.

        1. “What I don’t like is the hypocrisy the US displays on the issue.”

          I’ve written several columns on that myself, including the one you’re responding to.

          I’m for holding the US to the same standards it tries to hold everyone else to, not for lowering the standards to whatever misbehavior the US engages in.

          If you’re making excuses for the (at this point, merely rumored) Russian “kill lists,” that’s exactly what you’r e doing — making excuses.

      2. Why are you taking on face value that the US government is telling you the truth about “kill lists”? The Ukrainian ultra nationalists have committed numerous atrocities and should be brought to book. Russian intelligence no doubt knows who the leaders are and will try them under international law like was done at Nuremberg.
        So far, the only extra judicial killing on record is the Ukrainian peace negotiator who was gunned down by the Ukraine’s SBU. The US government knows there are Ukrainian death squads and they have no control over them. They’re anticipating these groups will be out to get anyone who threatens their existence by settling with Russia, maybe even Zelensky himself, and need to pin the assassination on Putin.

  3. By the way, I see the front page is loaded with MSM news accusing Russia of shelling civilians, shelling hospitals, etc., etc. Don’t we get enough of that from the MSM itself?

      1. I’m saying there’s quite a bit of anti-war stuff floating around that might be reported on by, you know, a site calling itself “Antiwar”. Might want to start looking for it and not leave it to me to post links to it in the comments.

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