On this day: October 4th
Islamic Jihad announces execution of CIA Officer William Buckley —1985
William Buckley had been serving as the CIA Beirut station chief since 1983 when he was kidnapped by operatives with the terrorist group Islamic Jihad. He had volunteered for the assignment following the 1983 Beirut Embassy Bombing, which had killed eight CIA employees and was the deadliest attack in the agency’s history. After enduring 14 months of captivity by the terrorist group, Buckley is presumed to have died from a heart attack in June 1985, many months before terrorists had declared him executed.
Buckley had distinguished himself as a company commander in combat in the Korean War, and went on to become one of the first Special Forces soldiers, commanding a Special Forces team before the Vietnam War. He served with MAC-V in Vietnam as a Lieutenant Colonel, and began working with the CIA during the war. The CIA has said that Buckley helped develop the precursors to the Counterterrorism Center at the Agency, and served in a variety of assignments around the world before assuming the role of station chief in Beirut at a time of heightened security risks.
After his death, he was honored with a star on the Memorial Wall and with the Distinguished Intelligence Cross. Buckley’s capture and death had a profound effect on the Agency. His capture “set off one of the most grueling periods in CIA history,” the CIA said in a press release, but “His legacy of bravery and resolve has inspired Agency officers who have followed in his footsteps.”
He was symbolically interred at Arlington in 1988 until his remains were returned to the U.S. in 1991.
Wikileaks — 2006
The domain for Wikileaks, the infamous “leaking” organization founded and represented by Julian Assange, was registered on October 4th, 2006. The group claims it exists to bring important news and information to the public… One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, has called Wikileaks a “hostile foreign intelligence organization” due to its continued focus on releasing damaging information related to the United States national security apparatus.
Wikileaks was propelled into the international spotlight in 2010 when it began posting classified information obtained from then-U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning (now Chelsea). Perhaps most famously, it released gun camera footage from an attack helicopter which showed the killing of two Reuters journalists from July 2007. It has since gone on to release troves of private diplomatic communications and products from the U.S. intelligence community, prompting their labelling as a “hostile intelligence service”.
In 2016, Wikileaks played a prominent role in the 2016 presidential election when they released thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. President Trump famously said “I love Wikileaks” during the campaign as a result of these actions.
Death of Vo Nguyen Giap — 2013
Vo Nguyen Giap was the commander of Vietnamese forces which won significant victories over France and the United States across decades of war in Vietnam. Claiming to be a Vietnamese nationalist, Giap founded the Viet Minh, a guerrilla army which rose from only a few dozen people to a viable army which won a decisive victory against the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Eventually in charge of all Communist Vietnamese forces, Giap’s army suffered staggering losses against the United States during their involvement in Vietnam from 1955 to 1975.
With a notorious ego, Giap basked in Vietnamese adulation for his battlefield exploits, where he earned the nickname “Red Napoleon” and the dubious distinction as the first general to defeat American forces in combat. William Westmoreland once said that if an American officer had fought the way Giap did, sacrificing soldiers by the thousands to achieve nominal victories, they would have been fired instantly.
After maintaining a popular position in Vietnamese society, Giap died in 2013 at the age of 102.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia