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Human Rights

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In addition, the new administration should also explicitly prohibit such actions as assassination plots, economic destabilization measures, and interference in election processes. Aside from questions of morality, a major reason for prohibiting assassinations is a practical one. It is something the United States does not do well. Between 1961 and 1965 there were at least eight plots to kill Fidel Castro. Yet the agency that overturned governments never came close to killing Castro. Such a task too closely resembles outright murder, which violates many CIA officers' sense of professionalism. That may be why the agency's plans to kill Castro relied so heavily on Mafia contacts.

Furthermore, nobody can be sure that what may come after a leader has been assassinated may not be worse. The death of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the then Republic of the Congo, was encouraged by the Eisenhower administration. That death enabled Col. Joseph Mobuto to consolidate his power and eventually take over as ruler. Mobuto may have the distinct privilege of being Africa's most corrupt kleptocrat. He runs a one-party dictatorship, has grown fabulously rich--his personal fortune is estimated at over $3 billion-- and has presided over a country that slipped into virtual bankruptcy.

Economic pressure is also suspect simply because there is little evidence it works.[55] Whether one points to U.S. sanctions against Nicaragua or against South Africa, the result is that such actions usually end up making the target country more self-sufficient and strengthen its resolve to carry out its policies.

Similarly, interference in elections often ends up making a bad situation worse. This interference happened in Vietnam when the United States upheld Ngo Dinh Diem's refusal to allow elections in July 1955. The elections were agreed to in the Geneva Accords and were to end French control in Vietnam. Upholding Diem's decision committed the United States to support an unpopular dictator--one so unpopular that America later supported a coup to remove him. U.S. interference in the Greek election of 1947 paved the way for the military coup in 1967, which left an enduring legacy of anti-Americanism.