The CIA, Secrecy and Doom

How long do we have before we follow the Soviet Union into oblivion, turning the U.S. into an anarchic state ruled by gun-slinging plutocrats?  That is what happened in Russia, post-1991.  Are we due for the same experience?

Do you all think that is pretty insane thinking??

Well, how many of you were thinking in 1988 that by the end of the following year the USSR would fall apart?  Even if you were in the intelligence community, you missed all the signs.   Everybody did.

We all gave the CIA a pass then, didn’t we?  They should have seen things, with all their analysts that we pay a LOT of money to analyze such events.  How did they miss it?  Incompetence?  Did they get caught with their pants down?  Where were all their moles?  All their sources?

…I was going to train to be an analyst of electronic and voice traffic, about 40 years ago, before a disagreement had me and the Army Security Agency parted ways.  I lost that disagreement, and yet I won, since I didn’t go into that field, after all.  Thank Allah or God or Yahweh for that.  But I was around long enough to know how much effort is put into figuring out what is going on “on the other side.”  How they could actually have quality sources “over there” and still miss such a monumental moment in history still baffles me.  Not if they are even remotely competent. I have to think they are all running around with their heads cut off.

I do not jest in saying that.  I am dead serious.

This is a big deal, Folks.  What in the world goes on in Langley, if they can’t see one of the top five events of the 20th century developing?  it boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Now. . .among other things, I have to go here:

What makes you so certain similar signs aren’t all around US right now?  Which brings up the real question: What ARE the signs?  Could it happen here, too?

Back to the CIA, though… Isn’t that one of the underlying purposes of intelligence agencies?  To be able to foresee certain warning signs?  Isn’t that even more of their function than to get a leg up on the commies or terrorists?

At Reddit today there is this: The CIA has been incompetent since its inception, a quote by Jason Leopold from an Op-Ed piece at by Barry Eisler, entitled The Hippocratic Oath Applied to Intelligence. Jason is one of the best – and only one of a very few remaining  – investigative reporters in the US.  Jason has had his hits and his misses, but even his misses were out there, on the edge, taking chances and trying to find out what lies under the MSM blather, while trying to fight the good fight against the expansion of power by elements within and without the US government.  So I give Jason a lot of credit.

Here is the quote Jason posted on Reddit (taken straight from Eisler):

The CIA “has been incompetent from its inception. The roster of incompetence includes subversion operations that cost the lives of hundreds of agents and accomplished nothing; CIA-managed coups that backfired, the Bay of Pigs and many others. Even operations that ‘succeeded’ were pyrrhic.”

And here is my Reddit response:

Secrecy is the very antithesis of transparent government.  With our post-WWII move following England and the USSR into intelligence as a primary mode of operations, we promulgated an unsustainable form of government.  One of those three has already gone down, and the US and Britain are well on our way.

Democracy works through ready access to information, so that decisions are informed.  When actions in the far, dark corners are taken by agents who we (the People and the Legislature as the representatives of the Peoples of the several states) have no control over, then to that extent government is out of control, and will always lead to criminality.  “Out of control” means very much the same thing as “rogue.”

Those who cannot be controlled will always take actions outside the law – many of which are taken specifically to hide their criminal acts.  It is an escalating curve, and in the end bankrupts a nation, as the secrecy expands and corrupts, everywhere it touches officers and agencies.  Watergate was a small sample of that rogueness – a President, who thought that dirty tricks was part of politics, pushed the envelope, then had to go even more rogue to try to sweep his actions under the table.  In that case, it didn’t work.  But some people learned from his shortcomings and have learned to push the envelope well beyond what he tried to do.  Even that small escapade outside normality caused a serious constitutional crisis.  What level of crisis will happen when the shit going on now hits the fan?  The longer it goes un-dealt with, the worse it is going to be.

More than most can see, all that started with secrecy, with the idea that part of the government is entitled to hide what it is doing from the Congress and the citizenry.

The CIA was a bad idea to begin with, though few today can imagine a world without it.  On one side, there are the hawks who would argue that we won the Cold War on the back of the CIA, which was our first line of defense against the Commies.  On the other side are the rest of us, who have lived our whole adult lives in a time when the CIA was, well, the CIA – boys being boys, as it were. Would our lives have been more terrible or less, if the CIA had not existed?  We may never know.

IMHO, the only reason secrecy hasn’t taken down the US and UK like it did the USSR is that we had a lot of cushion built into our economic system at the moment we decided on this course.  How much cushion?  My guess is probably 50-75 years.  That would give us until about 2040-2065.  I could be wrong by 10-20 years on either end of that window.  At the rate we are going, we may not make it that long.  We are in bad shape.

Why does it lead to doom?  Because the secrecy and the Orwellianism it engenders accelerates and expands until there is ALL control, but OVER the citizenry, not BY the citizenry.  Impoverishment of the vast majority of the citizenry (while vastly enriching of the few insiders) is probably the barometer.  We are certainly SOME distance along that curve.  My guess above is really my guess as to how far along the curve we are.  At the end of the curve, a nation is too screwed up and too bankrupt to stand on its own two feet.  Moral bankruptcy leads to economic bankruptcy, which becomes – almost instantly – political bankruptcy and dissolution.  In other words, doom.

Then I went to the article on and read that, too, and had this comment:

This Op-Ed article seems truncated.  That was a terrible windup to what looked like it was going somewhere.  The Hippocratic Oath bit in the title was never fully developed.  It never got around to saying enough about what harm had been done and why and how abbreviating the CIA’s mission to only intelligence gathering would lead to “doing no harm.”

The doing of no harm was only suggested, when it should have been expanded.  Rather than get into the politics of considering shutting down part of the CIA, more points should have been made about the many harms that was only hinted at in the exposition of the article.

The article left me wishing he had laid out more facts, maybe tied in some links to some of the heinous things the CIA has done in our name, while only making matters worse.  That issue – making matters worse – is a damned important one, that was left out of the article for the most part.

9/11 was a MAJOR case of “making matters worse.”  Literally, after having read quite a bit of Noam Chomsky’s works, the morning of 9/11, my first reaction was, “No shit, Sherlock.”  (Appropriately for this Op-Ed article comment, that was followed by “Wow, heads are gonna roll at the CIA,” but of course that never happened).

9/11 was ALL about blowback, as Chalmers Johnson calls it.  Someone, sometime, somewhere was going to strike at the U.S, in retaliation for heinous things the CIA has done over the last 50+ years.  In its hubris, America had thought – and still pretty much does – think that it can do anything and not have any repercussions.  When you’re the baddest asses on the block, no one is going to stand up to you – or are they?  The CIA has been our agency of first resort when “anything” (read as murder, assassination, treachery, corrupting individuals, putches, coups, etc.) “needed” to be done.

The article should have brought in more examples of CIA interventions that went wrong, but 9/11 was a combination of things that went wrong and also intelligence information that was even more wrong.  Where is mention of the analysis in 1989 that completely missed that the USSR was going to collapse?  And where is mention of the WMDs in Iraq?

Compared to those two misses, the Soviet tanks in Afghanistan in 1979 is NOTHING.

We had more and better intelligence in the fall of 1941 – before the CIA existed – about the Japanese intentions in the Pacific than we had about 9/11 and WMDs.

The real issue isn’t paring back the CIA, or “doing no harm.”  The real issue is that second paragraph – that the CIA is incompetent.

Is it just the way the CIA did it?  Is that the real issue?  That is a direct equivalent of saying the Iraq war was not such a bad idea, but that BushCo just screwed it all up by not planning for after they won the war.

Or is it just that going the super secret route is just a bad idea, with the many elements of human nature that come into play?

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