CIA Publishes Its Own "Assassin's Manual," Proving It Condones Killing Those Who Oppose U.S. Policy

The CIA 'Killer's Manual' was kept out of the public eye for years, but now we know it teaches the 'fine art' of assassination as if it was a mandatory college course.

8 Sep 2005

By Greg Szymanski

If there are any lingering doubts about whether the U.S. government acts like a bunch of mafia hit men, the following documents, classified for years, should clear things up.

And as the “CIA’s Killer’s Instruction Manual” points out remember that possibly the only thing separating the mafia from the U.S. government is that the thugs in the underworld are much, much smarter.

Never in a month of Sundays would mafia thugs ever think of leaving behind a paper trail, like the following CIA documents indicate, on how exactly to pull off the perfect assassination attempt.

But that’s exactly what the U.S. government did when the CIA distributed a training manual for would-be killers called “A Study of Assassination,” distributed to agents and operatives taking part in the agency’s 1953 covert coup in Guatemala, which ousted the country’s democratically elected President.

The killer’s training manual. hidden and classified until 1997, until  the National Security Archive, a Washington D.C. public-interest group, obtained a copy among roughly 1,400 pages found by the group concerning the Guatemala coup, in light of CIA statements that  it has destroyed all other secret files about the coup.

Since the release of the documents, however, their contents have remained virtually hidden from the public eye, the messy details of how to pull off the perfect assassination never making it into the mainstream press and only viewed by a select few elsewhere.

Presented by the CIA almost like a college course for future killers, the Department of Defense and CIA spokesmen this week denied knowing anything about the manual, adding they were not aware of any such teaching tool being distributed to agents or operatives.

As the manual verifies purely by its publication, the U.S. government is involved up to its neck in the killing business, the involvement going back to the early 1950’s  and most likely much farther back.

And it’s safe to say nothing has changed today, since reports by John Perkins in his latest book, “The Economic Hit Man” and other reports surfacing, seem to indicate the killing business is booming for the government.

Take, for example, the recent story told by former Army wife Kay Griggs of Virginia, who recounts how her husband for more than 10 years told her about his involvement with training and participating in government hit squads, knowledge of which leads to the doorstep of some of the most powerful leaders in our country, including the Oval Office.

Also, consider the recent stories coming out of Venezuela where democratically elected President Hugo Chavez is running for his life from the CIA after he publicly on numerous occasions has announced to the world that the Bush administration wants him dead for not cooperating with policies that would leave his country bankrupt and his people starving.

And in a sick, twisted manner, working on a theory that the end justifies the means, the CIA published it s killer’s manual, breaking down the art of committing the perfect assassination into eight major categories, including definition, employment, justification, classification, the assassin, planning, techniques and examples.

Here are the portions of the manual, the words taken directly from the CIA writers illustrating just how sick, twisted and distorted they really are:


According to the CIA, assassination is a term thought to be derived from "Hashish", a drug similar to marijuana, said to have been used by Hassan al-Sabbah to induce motivation in his followers, who were assigned to carry out political and other murders, usually at the cost of their lives.

It is here used to describe the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer, who is not physically in the hands of the killer, who has been selected by a resistance organization for death, and whose death provides positive advantages to that organization.


Assassination is an extreme measure not normally used in clandestine operations. It should be assumed that it will never be ordered or authorized by any U.S. Headquarters, though the latter may in rare instances agree to its execution by members of an associated foreign service.

This reticence is partly due to the necessity for committing communications to paper. No assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded. Consequently, the decision to employ this technique must nearly always be reached in the field, at the area where the act will take place. Decision and instructions should be confined to an absolute minimum of persons. Ideally, only one person will be involved. No report may be made, but usually the act will be properly covered by normal news services, whose output is available to all concerned.


Murder is not morally justifiable. Self-defense may be argued if the victim has knowledge which may destroy the resistance organization if divulged. Assassination of persons responsible for atrocities or reprisals may be regarded as just punishment. Killing a political leader whose burgeoning career is a clear and present danger to the cause of freedom may be held necessary.

But assassination can seldom be employed with a clear conscience. Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.


The techniques employed will vary according to whether the subject is unaware of his danger, aware but unguarded, or guarded. They will also be affected by whether or not the assassin is to be killed with the subject hereafter, assassinations in which the subject is unaware will be termed "simple"; those where the subject is aware but unguarded will be termed "chase"; those where the victim is guarded will be termed "guarded."

If the assassin is to die with the subject, the act will be called "lost." If the assassin is to escape, the adjective will be "safe." It should be noted that no compromises should exist here. The assassin must not fall alive into enemy hands.

A further type division is caused by the need to conceal the fact that the subject was actually the victim of assassination, rather than an accident or natural causes. If such concealment is desirable the operation will be called "secret"; if concealment is immaterial, the act will be called "open"; while if the assassination requires publicity to be effective it will be termed "terroristic."

Following these definitions, the assassination of Julius Caesar was safe, simple, and terroristic, while that of Huey Long was lost, guarded and open. Obviously, successful secret assassinations are not recorded as assassination at all. [Illeg] of Thailand and Augustus Caesar may have been the victims of safe, guarded and secret assassination.


In safe assassinations, the assassin needs the usual qualities of a clandestine agent. He should be determined, courageous, intelligent, resourceful, and physically active. If special equipment is to be used, such as firearms or drugs, it is clear that he must have outstanding skill with such equipment.

Except in terroristic assassinations, it is desirable that the assassin be transient in the area. He should have an absolute minimum of contact with the rest of the organization and his instructions should be given orally by one person only. His safe evacuation after the act is absolutely essential, but here again contact should be as limited as possible. It is preferable that the person issuing instructions also conduct any withdrawal or covering action which may be necessary.

In lost assassination, the assassin must be a fanatic of some sort. Politics, religion, and revenge are about the only feasible motives. Since a fanatic is unstable psychologically, he must be handled with extreme care. He must not know the identities of the other members of the organization, for although it is intended that he die in the act, something may go wrong. While the Assassin of Trotsky has never revealed any significant information, it was unsound to depend on this when the act was planned.


When the decision to assassinate has been reached, the tactics of the operation must be planned, based upon an estimate of the situation similar to that used in military operations. The preliminary estimate will reveal gaps in information and possibly indicate a need for special equipment which must be procured or constructed. When all necessary data has been collected, an effective tactical plan can be prepared. All planning must be mental; no papers should ever contain evidence of the operation.

In resistance situations, assassination may be used as a counter-reprisal. Since this requires advertising to be effective, the resistance organization must be in a position to warn high officials publicly that their lives will be the price of reprisal action against innocent people. Such a threat is of no value unless it can be carried out, so it may be necessary to plan the assassination of various responsible officers of the oppressive regime and hold such plans in readiness to be used only i f provoked by excessive brutality. Such plans must be modified frequently to meet changes in the tactical situation.


The essential point of assassination is the death of the subject. A human being may be killed in many ways but sureness is often overlooked by those who may be emotionally unstrung by the seriousness of this act they intend to commit. The specific technique employed will depend upon a large number of variables, but should be constant in one point: Death must be absolutely certain. The attempt on Hitler's life failed because the conspiracy did not give this matter proper attention.

The techniques portion of the manual then went on to provide details about the particular effectiveness and use of an assortment of weapons, including all types of firearms, explosives as well as blunt and sharp-edged weapons. However, the most interesting assassination techniques recommended by the CIA were:

1. Manual

It is possible to kill a man with the bare hands, but very few are skillful enough to do it well. Even a highly trained Judo expert will hesitate to risk killing by hand unless he has absolutely no alternative. However, the simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination. A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice. A length of rope or wire or a belt will do if the assassin is strong and agile. All such improvised weapons have the important advantage of availability and apparent innocence. The obviously lethal machine gun failed to kill Trotsky where an item of sporting goods succeeded.

In all safe cases where the assassin may be subject to search, either before or after the act, specialized weapons should not be used. Even in the lost case, the assassin may accidentally be searched before the act and should not carry an incrimin ating device if any sort of lethal weapon can be improvised at or near the site. If the assassin normally carries weapons because of the nature of his job, it may still be desirable to improvise and implement at the scene to avoid disclosure of his ident ity.

2. Accidents

For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated.

The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface. Elevator shafts, stair wells, unscreened windows and bridges will serve. Bridge falls into water are not reliable. In simple cases a private meeting with the subject may be arranged at a properly-cased location. The act may be executed by sudden, vigorous [excised] of the ankles, tipping the subject over the edge. If the assassin immediately sets up an outcry, playing the "horrified wit ness", no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary. In chase cases it will usually be necessary to stun or drug the subject before dropping him. Care is required to insure that no wound or condition not attributable to the fall is discernible after death.

Falls into the sea or swiftly flowing rivers may suffice if the subject cannot swim. It will be more reliable if the assassin can arrange to attempt rescue, as he can thus be sure of the subject's death and at the same time establish a workable al ibi.

If the subject's personal habits make it feasible, alcohol may be used [2 words excised] to prepare him for a contrived accident of any kind.

Falls before trains or subway cars are usually effective, but require exact timing and can seldom be free from unexpected observation.

Automobile accidents are a less satisfactory means of assassination. If the subject is deliberately run down, very exact timing is necessary and investigation is likely to be thorough. If the subject's car is tampered with, reliability is very low. The subject may be stunned or drugged and then placed in the car, but this is only reliable when the car can be run off a high cliff or into deep water without observation.

Arson can cause accidental death if the subject is drugged and left in a burning building. Reliability is not satisfactory unless the building is isolated and highly combustible.

3. Drugs

In all types of assassination except terroristic, drugs can be very effective. If the assassin is trained as a doctor or nurse and the subject is under medical care, this is an easy and rare method. An overdose of morphine administered as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect. The size of the dose will depend upon whether the subject has been using narcotics regularly. If not, two grains will suffice.

If the subject drinks heavily, morphine or a similar narcotic can be injected at the passing out stage, and the cause of death will often be held to be acute alcoholism.

Specific poisons, such as arsenic or strychine, are effective but their possession or procurement is incriminating, and accurate dosage is problematical. Poison was used unsuccessfully in the assassination of Rasputin and Kolohan, though the latte r case is more accurately described as a murder.


Agents may be presented brief outlines, with critical evaluations of the following assassinations and attempts:

Marat, Hedrich, Lincoln, Hitler, Harding, Roosevelt, Grand Duke Sergei, Truman, Pirhivie, Mussolini, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Benes, Rasputin, Aung Sang, Madero, Kirov ,Abdullah, Huey Long, Gandhi, Alexander of Yugoslvia, Trotsky.


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