Last month, former Army officer William Bennett was found murdered after being out with his wife on an early morning walk in a residential neighborhood in Lansdowne, Virginia. His wife Cynthia was badly injured but survived the March 22nd attack, which is being investigated by local and federal authorities.
In 1999, sources bring to our attention, Bennett was a retired Army lieutenant colonel working at the CIA on contract as a targeter during the 78-day NATO air war on Kosovo. He was one of the people, according to a former U.S. intelligence source, who was later found responsible by the Agency for feeding the target into the system that resulted in the May 7, 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
I normally scoff when people advance convoluted assassination theories to explain what could more easily be explained by ordinary street crime, but in this case I find an assassination plausible.
It has been pretty well assumed by many Northern Virginia dwellers - myself included - that a senseless and highly violent crime like this one is most likely to be gang-related. Surprising as it may seem, there actually are gangs, like MS-13, in and around Northern Virginia bedroom communities. See this WaPo story, for example. BTW, the machete swinging MS-13'er mentioned in the linked article, Hayner Flores, attended high school with one of my sons, so I can personally attest that they turn up in the unlikeliest of white bread places.
But the few known circumstances of the crime just don't fit the gang profile. Mr. Bennett and his wife were attacked while they were walking or jogging along a road in Lansdowne at 5:30 AM, which is a time and place when I wouldn't expect to come across meth-heads or crack addicts. For another thing, the only witness to any part of the incident said the attackers left in a white van, a type of vehicle that I also don't associate with gang-bangers out cruising.
Furthermore, Bennett was a former Army Special Forces officer. Retired old geezer or not, he certainly would have put up a hell of a fight when he and his wife were attacked by - as is reported - three men armed with blunt weapons. He might have been a match for three MS-13'ers, who typically are undernourished Salvadorean teenagers. Three professional thugs with baseball bats, however, would be a very different matter.
Would the Chinese actually track down and murder Bennett in retaliation for his accidental targeting of their Belgrade embassy? It seems so, well, Cold War-ish.