Belaboring the Obvious

Monday, July 13, 2009

One of the curiosities about the assassination plot...

... hoopla is that everybody's guessing about what manner of fresh horror this is. They're guessing because our elected representatives can't tell us a goddamned thing about it.

Think about that one for a second. Cheney could have been dining on freshly-slaughtered Muslim babies for lunch every day and we can't know even the barest outlines... because it's classified. Sure, they can tell us they're shocked ("shocked, I tell you!"), but not why they've all got their knickers in a twist over this.

Y'know, you could be the sort of cranked-up, out-of-control person that could find something familiar about yourself on every other page of the DSM-IV and you still couldn't come up with a system as diabolical and fucked up as the one we've got in this country for determining what it is the government is doing--with both our reputation and our money.

And, just for review, it's not like we haven't been here before. It was thirty years ago or so that Congress got all excited about the CIA trying to assassinate foreign leaders, about domestic spying, and what we got from that were some hearings, a few long reports and the FISA, which everyone thought solved all the problems until we discovered that, well, no, it didn't. Reagan found ways to fight wars by proxy and finance it all with under-the-table arms sales and putting crack out on the streets and we probably never would have found out about that one if it weren't for a little story in a little newspaper in Beirut.

That the CIA had been in bed (strictly a business relationship of mutual interests, mind you) with the fuckin' mafia for years bothered Congress, too, but, just a bit. But, at no time did Congress get out the meat-ax, whack off the CIA's balls at high noon on the Capitol steps with the C-Span cameras running and tell them, "now, stick to what you were supposed to do in the first place--give us good intelligence, not worldwide embarrassments."

At the heart of the problem is that for the ops people in the CIA (and more than a few on the analysis side), the Second World War never ended--they just couldn't give up that stone high that the OSS had given them--and they very rapidly came to the conclusion that they were entitled to behave as ruthlessly as they imagined their principal opponent did, so, hell, why not hire a bunch of Nazis to advise us on how to deal with the Soviets? Why not use drugs and torture and biological agents to induce psychosis in people suspected of having information we wanted, and use unsuspecting targets for testing? Why not overthrow governments that might prevent our multinational corporations from maximizing profits? Why not embrace every right-wing dictator in the world just because they were anti-communist? Why not make friends with the mafia and pay them to do things we want them to do? Why not devastate entire countries by pumping money and guns to our hand-picked thugs? Why not spy on our own citizens and open their mail?

Why not? Because the world's not had a moment's peace since the creation of the CIA. Because that laissez faire attitude about how the CIA and Presidents directing it conduct business has led us to this point in time, where we're wondering, once again, "what the fuck were these people thinking?" Where we're seeing our own people practice every known variation on precisely the sort of human rights abuses we've publicly reproached other nations for doing--on the practice of torture, psychological and physical, to the point of murder, secret prisons, indefinite imprisonment without due process, state-sponsored kidnapping (oh, pardon for not using the more Orwellian "extraordinary rendition"), assassination squads, widespread domestic spying. Once again, we've got the stench of hypocrisy in our collective nostrils and, once again, we're told we're not allowed to know anything about it. Always, always, always the same lame excuse: our enemies might find out about it. Hell, the only people who don't know about it are the people that pay for it all with their taxes.

It's classified. It's a matter of national security, on a need-to-know basis. Just live with the stink. You'll get used to it.

[And, added on edit] Almost forgot. This assertion that we've got to accept this as a consequence of maintaining national security is, in most instances, just so much horseshit (I'm getting very, very tired of the old, hackneyed phrase, "sources and methods," when the sources are fuckin' Curveball and Abu Zubaydah and the methods are illegal fifty ways to Sunday).

But what's stuck in my craw at the moment is that there's a concerted attempt on the part of the gatekeepers to get us to ignore these gross acts. Take, for example, Glenn Greenwald's running battle to get NPR's ombudsman to actually debate NPR's policy on the use of the word, "torture." Making it even worse, NPR recently described the treatment of a journalist in Gambia as "torture," but, still vociferously defends avoidance of the word in connection with U.S. actions.

Like I said, better get used to the stink, because it's getting stronger.


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