Sy Hersh: Cheney Ran Secret "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad"

04/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Minneapolis, MN -- Speaking Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota's "Great Conversations" event, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh made news by letting slip allegations that the Executive branch has been running a covert military operation independent of Congressional oversight, code-named "The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad." In response to a question from a student in the audience, Hersh said, "Yuh. After 9/11, I haven't written about this yet, but the Central Intelligence Agency was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state. Without any legal authority for it. They haven't been called on it yet." Hersh said of the secret kill team, "Congress has no oversight of it. It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on."

When pressed for details, Hersh said that his sources described the program as consisting of between 5 and 6 female agents who worked solely under the Vice President's authority performing hits all over the globe. "They've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us...I have sources that tell me they've done everything from hitting an entire wedding party, and killing everyone, to the wholesale slaughter of an entire Yakuza syndicate." The all female assassination team is made up of women trained from an early age--possibly somewhere in the far East--in the deadly arts of kung-fu, knife-fighting, long-distance sniping, and most of all Bushido, or the samurai "way of the warrior." Indeed, though no link can as of yet be made, authorities in Japan believe the recent murder of a Yakuza boss and eighty-eight of her body-guards was done with a single sword. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Tokyo police detective stated, "forensics determined that a single sword killed nearly a hundred men," he also noted that the blade would have to have been of the most superior craftsmanship and quality to have done the kind of work they encountered at the crime scene.

Kill Dick, Vol. 2.

Hersh said the name of the covert operation comes from the strange code-names given to the operatives, who work under aliases chosen for different kinds of venomous snakes, " I can't write about this yet," Hersh said, "but I believe agents code-named: Cotton Mouth, Copperhead, and Black Mamba have all been used in assassinations carried out under the direct authority of Dick Cheney, who used the codename, Bill, when ordering these murders."

The practice of targeted killings is controlled by Executive Order 12333, issued by President Reagan in 1981, which provides "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." However in certain cases, the executive branch, by special action can order an assassination in the interests of national security. Hersh closed by saying, "It's complicated because the people doing it are not murderers, and yet they are committing what we would normally call murder. It's a very complicated issue. These aren't worker bees, they can't disguise themselves in the hive forever, at the end of the day they are renegade killer bees."