Rise up and Kill First

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By contrast, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States of America carried out 48 targeted killing operations, according to one estimate, and under President Barack Obama there were 353 such attacks.

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The most notable example was targeted killing. In Israeli law, there is no death penalty, but Ben-Gurion circumvented this by giving himself the authority to order extrajudicial executions.

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Among those provisions was a requirement that all print and broadcast media submit any reports on intelligence and army activities to a military censor, who vetoed much of the material. The state of emergency has not been rescinded as of the time of this writing. But as a sop to the hungry media, Ben-Gurion was shrewd enough to establish an Editors Committee, which was composed of the editors in chief of the print and radio news outlets. From time to time, Ben-Gurion himself, or someone representing him, would appear before the committee to share covert tidbits while explaining why those tidbits could never, under any circumstances, be released to the public. The editors were thrilled because they had gained for themselves entrée to the twilight

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realm and its mysteries. In gratitude, they imposed on themselves a level of self-censorship that went beyond even that imposed by the actual censor.

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Rotberg, a thick-necked and good-natured kibbutznik with a bushy mustache, was one of a small group, only a few hundred men, who took part in forming the original triumvirate of AMAN, Shin Bet, and the Mossad. In 1951, when Rotberg was assigned to a marine commando unit called Shayetet 13 (Flotilla 13), Israeli intelligence set up a secret facility north of Tel Aviv to teach “special demolitions” and manufacture sophisticated bombs. Rotberg, Flotilla 13’s explosives officer, was appointed to run it. Rotberg had a large vat installed in which he mixed TNT and pentaerythritol tetranitrate and other chemicals into deadly concoctions. But though his mixtures were designed to kill people, he claimed that he did not act with hatred in his heart. “You need to know how to forgive,” he said. “You need to know how to forgive the enemy. However, we have no authority to forgive people like bin Laden. That, only God can do. Our job is to arrange a meeting between them. In my laboratory, I opened a matchmaker’s office, a bureau that arranged such meetings. I orchestrated more than thirty such meetings.”