Sympathy for the Devil
I had no love for J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Nor the Agency. Hoover used the FBI for political purposes. Spied on citizens in the Civil Rights, Free Speech and Anti-War movements. Reagan was the recipient of information that he used to become governor of California. The CIA was also engaged in lots of ugly stuff abroad. In Indochina, Central and South America and who knows where else. It’s politicization came later. With GH Bush and Carter. GHB, and by extension the GOP, was a friend of the Agency and Carter cleaned house, leading to the resignations of some of the nastier pieces of work who continued their activities in the private sector, most notably in Central America. “Happy days are here again” for The Agency with the election of Reagan/Bush.
If it wasn’t bad enough that The Agency was damaging the face of America abroad, it wasn’t all that skilled at collecting and analyzing information. They missed the fact that the Soviet Union was crumbling from within just as Reagan reinvigorated the arms race. They didn’t even need secret intelligence to have figured that one out. God only knows what they were doing during the 1990’s, but whatever it was, it didn’t equip them to see 9/11 coming and prevent it. The whole raison d’etat of the CIA, the reason it was established fifty odd years ago, was to stop another Pearl Harbor before it happened. What a monumental waste of funding for decades.
Neither the FBI or CIA were all that competent when it came to discovery a spy in their ranks. Both Hanssen and Aldrich Ames operated undetected for years. Both recognized that human assets had been compromised and some killed. Their inability to find the spies in their houses demonstrates a level of institutional dysfunction. Dysfunction is never limited to internal operations and should have been seen as signs significant cultural problems that demanded major institutional/organizational changes. Instead they circled the wagons and wrote off Hanssen and Ames as a couple of bad apples.
Notwithstanding my opinion of either organization, I had no difficulty recognizing that Hanssen and X were traitors with blood on their hands. Willing to sell others out for money and also sport in the case of Hanssen. They violated their oaths of office; oaths that nobody forced them to take. Others were harmed or put into harms way by these two vermin even if their acts did not impact US National Security one way or the other. They deserved the same fate as McVeigh -- and I’ll never understand why this country treated Hanssen and X differently from McVeigh. (As an opponent of the death penalty, I would have locked up all three for life.)
In the lead up to the Iraq invasion, many saw through the smoke and mirrors of BushCo’s propaganda for war. We also knew that Colin Powell and CIA employees knew that BushCo’s claims were a bunch of garbage. This led some to postulate that maybe Powell or some in the CIA would step forward with the truth and put on end to Bush’s nonsense. My response to that was “it’s not gonna happen.” Powell is a GOP toady who doesn’t deserve his reputation (and it probably pisses Cheney and Rumsfeld off that Powell is so respected ). When push comes to shove, the CIA falls in line with the GOP because they think their bread is buttered better by Republicans. While more convoluted, the Agency was more treasonous than X. The harm done to the National Security and people with the invasion of Iraq was far more extensive than what X wrought.
Who did The Agency think they were striking a bargain with? GHB? The Honor Among Thieves guy? Who could they turn to when the trapped devil turned on them? First on one of their own and then The Agency as a whole. Their Sympathy for the Devil kicked in. They limited their response to the smaller issue and sent a message to the devil not to o that again by turning the matter over to one of the devil’s little helpers, not expecting him to do much about it. Otherwise, they remained silent and content with their bargain with the devil.
What nobody would have predicted is that the first rat would jump ship with the CIA referral. Who knew that any friend of Rove had a shred of decency? That there was a line that he wouldn’t cross? Who would not be to Bush what L. Patrick Gray was to Nixon? I don’t want to give Ashcroft too much credit. He was more like Pontius Pilot washing his hands and not interfering than he was an officer of the law. Still, his recussal could not have endeared him to his boss.
It remains to be determined how far Fitzgerald got in his investigation by August 2004 when Cooper and Miller decided to stall for the benefit of BushCo. Given the current behavior of the WH, it appears that they might have been the last to recognize that Fitzgerald was zeroing in on some of them. Did others see this coming last year and removed themselves from the line of fire? Or were they only responding to the WH war against the CIA on the horizon? Or maybe that war began years ago. Why was BushCo ignoring and marginalizing the CIA before 9/11? Is it plausible that BushCo turned on the CIA because of the 9/11 failure; a failure that benefited them so much? Why would BushCo formally marginalize such a loyal ally after the 2004 election when they had one of their own running it? Or perhaps I read too much in all of this.
It’s interesting that only now are we beginning to see some pushback from the CIA. Former CIA officers are stepping into the fray. Larry Johnson reminds us that the WH claim about Plame setting up Wilson’s Niger assignment for partisan purposes could not have been true because in February 2002 the WH had yet to disclose that a war against Saddam was in the planning stages. Much less that they would make use of spurious claims of yellowcake purchases. Yet, where were they two years ago when the National Security damage was done? When Bush could have been held politically liable for this act? Have they been emboldened to speak up now that we can all sense that Fitzgerald is getting “to the bottom” of this? Or have the renewed attacks on the Wilsons caused them to finally say to the WH, “Have you no decency?”
How odd is it that the war and national security yahoos are lining up with Bush/Cheney/Rove and against the CIA? Can we please stop pretending that any GOP member of Congress has any decency or respect for the rule of law? It is easy for me to line up with the Wilsons and other decent people that work for the CIA and against Busy/Cheney/Rove on the narrow issue of outing a NOC. It is also easy for me to prefer the CIA to whatever replacement organization that Bush/Cheney are constructing. However, this liberal doubts that on balance this country has been better off with the existence of the CIA than we would have been without it. Better than the NSC, but that’s a low bar. Sadly, on this I’m out of step with the Democratic Party. The Party that has been the cuckolded spouse to the CIA. But I can’t say that I’m not a bit amused to watch the CIA’s GOP lover bare its fangs and suck. Devils, vampires and succubi; just a few evildoers among friends.