[ Sunday, May 09, 2004 ]
I know too much.
After thirty years of estrangement, my dad called me to his side in Reno, Nevada. He was dying. He had some stuff to get off his chest to me, his only son. (sort of)
He had not been an insurance or real estate salesman. He had been an employee of the CIA. Recruited by the OSS during WW2, he stayed with the agency well into the Cold War. He wanted me to know. He wanted me to know a lot of things, and he wanted me to know them very much.
The stuff my dad told me before his death can never be proved or disproved; I have to believe that stories told to a son by a father on his deathbed are mostly true.
No less than three different US Representatives and one US Senator have been told, upon following up on my inquiries, to leave it alone as it was too sensitive for release.
I can see that. His involvement with the OSS in Korea and China would still be a touchy subject today. His post-war activities suggest a side of our govenment few witness or experience, but all both benefit by and are responsible (ultimately) for. Our intelligence organizations are quite likely the best in the world, and it would be no small exageration to credit them with what liberty and justice we enjoy.
But nobody's perfect. No subject is simple. The events brought to light recently regarding American soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners (and one assumes, Afghani, Syrian, Saudi, et al) should serve to remind us that most of America's foriegn policy is manifested behind the scenes, behind closed and locked doors, in far-away places with few witnesses.
What America knows it that the CIA runs the interrogation and is probably involved in other subtle ways in the lives of the detainees. What most of us suspect is that the CIA's involvement is more involved than that, and could easily be characterized as front line. (and probably behind front line)
But that's about it, sports fans. Even that is conjecture. We know NOTHING more about the CIA.
They're involved in the hunt for Osama and the WMDs.
They're involved in the relationships we have with the other Arab countries in the area.
They're involved in the dealings with prisoners and "detainees".
But how or why is unknown, and probably will remain that way.
What I learned from my dad was that "the company" never does anything in straight lines. Everything's always inside of something else; deception, even of it's own personell, is commonplace. No one ever knows the score, all information flows upwards.
So what do I deduce from current events?
The POTUS is a puppet. Policy is handled by various committees, both visible and invisible. This is most visible in times of crisis, such as now. If he were a real president, he'd be all over this prisoner abuse thing. If he were a real president, his leadership in the "war on terror" would be visible and coherent, and as such would not need to be promoted. If he were a real president, he's react to events without waiting to be told how. Executive power is more about the party than the individual.
The reasons for the "war" are still hidden. Anyone believing the "democracy" line is delusional at best and dishonest at worst. Undoubtedly related to the 9-11 attacks and the US subsequently removing its military from Saudi Arabia, the results of the war are only beginning to be seen. The chess pieces in the middle east have been drastically shuffled. All old alliances are moot except for Israel. Everyone else is negotiable and suspect. The US, through Halliburton etc, now control the world's third largest oilfield. We also, for the moment, own the largest standing army in the middle east.
The other thing I learned from that grand two week catharsis in Reno was that the United States was bigger than its government. That the United States was, above all else, about survival. And that the CIA and like agencies are by necessity for all intents and purposes autonomous, pretty much isolated by their own security requirements. Presidents, representatives, senators, journalists all come and go, but the "company" and mission go on forever.
I can conceed that this continuation of powers thing makes sense.
But it poses the "cart before horse" arguement. Which brings me around to my final deduction. Now, this is only my deduction from data given, my opinion, so don't go all tin-foil-hat on me.
The CIA is the true US government. Unelected, unseen, unresponsive, what we know as the CIA represents the true power of America, both politically and militarily. It is the CIA that ultimately blesses our elections, and can quite easily influence same. For a presidency to get this blessing, it's party must convince "the company" that their missions are mutually inclusive. The nature of the relationship between the "intel community" and the political parties can only be guessed; no one is expected to talk about it.
I don't even want to argue the point. I've held the opinion for a long time; recent events do nothing but bolster my position.
No one talks about the CIA. The media, the press, the networks, all give fleeting phrases about the CIA's footprints here or there. They run the unmanned airplanes with missles, they run interrogations, they run behind-the-lines intel gathering hunts, etc. But never, ever any detail.
But that is where the action is. More and more, our policy is carried out, even made, by this hidden wing of government. I don't know how much we in Blogland are even permitted to talk about it. It seems like no one is willing even to take that risk. And the risk is substantial. Death is so real, and I don't think any of us "on the left" are under any illusions as to the relative value of our lives versus "the peace and dignity of the state".
As I finish this, CNN is announcing that the army plans to court marshall specialist so-and-so for the abuses shown in one of the photographs. Will this spec's sargent also get brought up? His looie? His captain? Will all these uniforms take the hit for the CIA opps that were and remain in charge?
We better get used to questioning the CIA. I personally am scared shitless. I do not know how far I'm willing to go in questioning and challenging myself. But that's where the Holy Grail is kept. A working relationship with the true organs of power is essential for this democratic republic to work. If "we" hold any hope of getting reins of government out of the hands of the republicans and into the paws of the democrats, and then maintaining any hold on those reins, we are going to have to come to grips with these people. We, the people, cannot let the CIA run our country free of constraint of supervision.
Fuck. I'll probably get disappeared for saying that.
(I'm not sure if that's a joke or not)
gonzoliberal [10:19 AM]