Saturday, May 13, 2006

Let's shut down the CIA

Amid all the bouhaha about CIA ineptness, General Hayden, and Rumsfeld's intelligence power-grabbing, is an overlooked fact: the CIA was always intended to be an end-run around Congress by the military-industrial complex with the connivance of the president.

But some people have a hard time giving up James Bond - not realizing that James is a British naval intelligence officer; a military spy, and a full commander, no less.

Anyway, here's a sample of the fretting about the CIA's hoped-for demise:

Curtains For The CIA?
John Prados
May 10, 2006

The auguries are dark for the people who do the hard work of intelligence at Langley, headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency. Don’t be fooled by the spin that the appointment of General Michael V. Hayden in place of suddenly-resigned agency director Porter Goss is a simple personnel replacement.

Hayden, currently the Deputy Director of National Intelligence, represents far more than a new man at the helm, and more too than the other line prevalent in the media—that the switch is merely a move in the subterranean war over control between Hayden’s boss, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rather, a Hayden stewardship will accelerate its integrative processes already underway at Langley. We may be witnessing the end of the CIA as we know it.

Mr Prados is sounding the death knoll of the CIA as if it mattered. He correctly notes in his article that the CIA has a couple of times come very close to being shut down: immediately after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and then later after revelations arose during Congressional investigations of CIA abuses in the 1970s.

But he writes with a tone that indicates that this might be a Bad Thing.


Let's get something straight: the CIA is a bastard child of the Cold War, designed to put intelligence in the hands of the wastrel scions of the Eastern intellectual establishment, the sons of the bankers and industrial czars, and thus remove it from the military, who since the founding of this country have shared intelligence duties with - wait for it - the Department of State.

John Foster and Allen W. Dulles, two of the sorriest jackasses that this country has had to put up with (with Truman a willing co-conspirator), helped invent the CIA as part of a little package of world-domination strategy that they were cooking up with the assistance of the heads of General Motors, Lockheed, Boeing and General Electric, et al, designed to bring about the American empire that had for so long eluded our grasp.

With the Soviet Union in ruins in the aftermath of the Second World War, and Japan and Europe in shambles, there was no one on the horizon who could challenge us militarily, not to mention economically.

But Big Business, paranoid as hell that the end of the war would bring about a drastic depression (historically, economic depressions always follow major wars, as the economy is a wreck), they wanted to avoid that scenario by keeping armament production going, and what better way to do that than by inventing an ideological war?

Thus, the Cold War was invented, the National Security Act of 1947 was passed, the CIA created, Communism was declared our Enemy, and we lived for fifty years under the threat of nuclear bombardment, and the End of It All.

What crap.

The CIA belongs on the scrapheap of history, along with World Domination Theories, interventions, exportation of democracy, and foreign aid to assholes.

The CIA was specifically designed to circumvent the rules that require military officers to be commissioned by Congress, thus making them subservient to civilian control. As CIA "officers" are not commissioned, they are beholden solely to the Executive, thus making them untouchable by Congress. Can we see the light dawning?

Historically, when not conducted by the military, intelligence was conducted by the State department. State's intelligence agents are under the control of the ambassador to whom they are assigned. Practically speaking, the ambassador reports to the Secretary of State, who reports to the President, but as he is a Cabinet-level official, he (or she) is subject to impeachment by Congress. Thus the control always goes back to Congress, if they will assume it. But with the passage of the National Security Act, Congress effectively lost control of the intelligence agencies.

Say what you will about Rumsfeld, he has the right idea: intelligence belongs in military hands; they're the ones who need to know where the shit is going to hit the fan.

As for the State department: as commercial representatives of this nation, they need to know and report the commercial intelligence of the foreign nations to which they are assigned.

This is not to endorse "covert operations" by the military at any time other than an actual state of war - military spies are shot without trial, for good reasons, and State and Defense need to co-ordinate intelligence, obviously. But to bemoan the loss of inept, crack-cocaine-smuggling, Air America eejuts is a waste of paper and ink.

Sack the bastards, or rehire them as cultural attaches for Latvia, but let's not cry over an agency that has proven itself to be moribund and almost certainly unconstitutional.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush translated

The president of a country, Iran, with a population of over 68 millions, and sitting on a huge lake of oil [and a country that's been around pretty much intact for about 4 thousand years], sends a diplomatic letter to the so-called leader of the free world, and what does he get? Basically, a slap in the face. So what was in the letter, you ask, some kind of insult?

Well, if you don't have access to the Internet, as more than half of Americans do not, then you'd never know what was in that letter that Condi Rice, for one, dismissed as "offering nothing new," one would be hard pressed to underwstand why Bush chose to ignore what is basically an attempt at reproachment.

Here's part of the text, translated by Agence France Press, and posted at Hindustani Times, of all places.

Text of Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush

Agence France-Presse

Washington, May 9, 2006

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was waiting for a response from US President George W. Bush to a surprise letter sent by the Islamic republic's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Here is the text of the letter:

Mr George Bush,

President of the United States of America

For sometime now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena -- which are being constantly debated, especially in political forums and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered. These have prompted me to discuss some of the contradictions and questions, in the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them.

Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God,

Feel obliged to respect human rights,

Present liberalism as a civilization model,

Announce one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs,

Make "War and Terror" his slogan, And finally,

Work towards the establishment of a unified international community -- a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern,

But at the same time,

Have countries attacked. The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the presence of a few criminals in a village, city or convoy for example, the entire village, city or convoy set ablaze.

Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years. At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women -- as occupation troops -- put in harm's way, taken away from family and loved ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that every day some commit suicide and those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of ailments; while some are killed and their bodies handed to their families.

On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.

Of course, Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal; nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of te imposed war on Iran, Saddam was supported by the West.

Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with. Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal, nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the ? war on Iran Saddam was supported by the West.


Mr. President,

September Eleven was a horrendous incident. The killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.

All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens. Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems -- and even hunts its opponents abroad. September Eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services -- or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren't those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?

All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For some years now, the people of your country and neighbors of world trouble spots do not have peace of mind. After 9/11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people -- who had been immensely traumatized by the attacks -- some Western media only intensified the climates of fear and insecurity -- some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?

American citizens lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?

Again I need to refer to the role of media.

In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets.

I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles.

Some believe that the hype paved the way -- and was the justification -- for an attack on Afghanistan. Again I need to refer to the role of media. In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of WMDs. This was repeated incessantly -- for the public to finally believe -- and the ground set for an attack on Iraq.

Will the truth not be lost in a contrived and deceptive climate? Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values? Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?

More at : LINK

Update: I've read some of the comments by our more cynical friends (LGF, et al), and really don't see where Prez A. is calling for Bush to convert to Islam, but maybe as a non-diplomat, I'm having trouble reading between the lines. Anyhoo, reader bothenook has pointed out that there is a more, ah, liberal translation available here.

The good news about commercial TV

Lost in all the noise about folks getting their daily fix of news from the Internet and the rise of blogging journalism, comes a report from Business Week that television viewing in general is heading south, in large part due to increased use of TIVO and similiar systems.

The news comes as advertisers are about to enter into their annual ad rate negotiations with the networks.

Of note is this gem: every 30-second commercial you see is costing the advertisers about 2 cents to beam at you, which is a damn sight more than I think they're worth in the first place.

Vaspers is two today

Our friend in bloggering, Steven Vaspers, is celebrating the two year anniversary of his first blog, Vaspers the Grate.

Steve is a PR guy and writes very trenchently on what are laughingly called corporate Best Practices, except when it ain't funny, such as the Wild West lawlessness of places like MySpace with its pederasts and other Lurkers.

Still, even if if you aren't a PR guy/gal, or a corporate yahoo trying to figure out how to make a buck in the blogosphere, you might want to say hi by clicking on over and goggling at Steve's special brand of sane insanity for a span. Don't forget to leave a comment.

Happy blogday, Steve.

USA Today Reports NSA Collecting Phone Records

he telecoms are finally fessing up, and have admitted that, yes, they have been turning over phone records, millions of them, to the NSA for years.

No big surprise here, except for for the sole holdout, Qwest, which was uneasy about the legal ramifications.

Well, duh.

The only good news here is that is it now a headline event on the only real national, non-liberal paper in America and CNN, ABC, and even Yahoo! News have slugged it #1.

Let's see if they keep it above the fold.

Update: President Bush went on TV this morning and claimed that "we are not listening to ordinary American citizens." Maybe yes, maybe, no, but they definitely are collecting your telephone logs. What the hell for?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Former NSA chief says get out now

Lt. General William E. Odom is the former chief of the National Security Agency, and worked in the administration of Ronald Reagan. Still, even such as he can see the writing on the wall. His op-ed in the LA Times is worth repeating.

Iraq: Get out now

By William E. Odom
May 4, 2006

WITHDRAW immediately or stay the present course? That is the key question about the war in Iraq today.American public opinion is decidedly against the war; even in the "red states," more than half of Americans want out. That sentiment is understandable.The prewar dream of a liberal Iraqi democracy friendly to the United States is no longer credible. No Iraqi leader with enough power and legitimacy to control the country will be pro-American. Still, President Bush says the United States must stay the course. Why? Let's consider his administration's most popular arguments for not leaving Iraq.

• If we leave, there will be a civil war. In reality, a civil war in Iraq began just weeks after U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein. Even Bush, who is normally impervious to uncomfortable facts, recently admitted that Iraq has peered into the abyss of civil war. He ought to look a little closer. Iraqis are fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That's civil war.

• Withdrawal will encourage the terrorists. True, but that is the price we are doomed to pay. Our occupation of Iraq also encourages the killers — precisely because our invasion made Iraq safe for them. Our occupation also left the surviving Baathists with a choice: Surrender, or ally with Al Qaeda. They chose the latter. Staying the course will not change this fact. Pulling out will most likely result in Sunni groups' turning against Al Qaeda and its sympathizers, driving them out of Iraq.

• Before U.S. forces stand down, Iraqi security forces must stand up. The problem in Iraq is not military competence. The problem is loyalty. To whom can Iraqi officers and troops afford to give their loyalty? The political camps in Iraq are still shifting. So every Iraqi soldier and officer risks choosing the wrong side. As a result, most choose to retain as much latitude as possible to switch allegiances. All the U.S. military trainers in the world cannot remove that reality. But political consolidation will. Political power can only be established via Iraqi guns and civil war, not through elections or U.S. colonialism by ventriloquism.

• Setting a withdrawal deadline will damage the morale of U.S. troops. Hiding behind the argument of troop morale shows no willingness to accept the responsibilities of command. The truth is, most wars would stop early if soldiers had the choice of whether to continue. This is certainly true in Iraq, where a withdrawal is likely to raise morale among U.S. forces. A recent Zogby poll suggests that most U.S. troops would welcome an early withdrawal deadline. But the strategic question of how to extract the United States from the Iraq disaster is not a matter to be decided by soldiers. Carl von Clausewitz spoke of two kinds of courage: first, bravery in the face of mortal danger; second, the willingness to accept personal responsibility for command decisions. The former is expected of the troops. The latter must be demanded of high-level commanders, including the president.

• Withdrawal would undermine U.S. credibility in the world. Were the United States a middling power, this case might hold some water. But for the world's only superpower, it's patently phony. A rapid reversal of our present course in Iraq would improve U.S. credibility around the world. The same argument was made against withdrawal from Vietnam. It was proved wrong then, and it would be proved wrong today. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the world's opinion of the United States has plummeted. The U.S. now garners as much international esteem as Russia. Withdrawing and admitting our mistake would reverse this trend. Very few countries have that kind of corrective capacity. We do.Two facts, however painful, must be recognized, or we will remain perilously confused in Iraq.

First, invading Iraq was not in the interests of the U.S. It was in the interests of Iran and Al Qaeda. For Iran, it avenged a grudge against Hussein for his invasion of the country in 1980. For Al Qaeda, it made it easier to kill Americans.

Second, the war has paralyzed the U.S. in the world, diplomatically and strategically. Although relations with Europe show signs of marginal improvement, the transatlantic alliance still may not survive the war. Only with a rapid withdrawal from Iraq will Washington regain diplomatic and military mobility. Tied down like Gulliver in the sands of Mesopotamia, we simply cannot attract the diplomatic and military cooperation necessary to win the real battle against terror.

In fact, getting out now may be our only chance to set things right in Iraq. For starters, if we withdraw, European politicians would be more likely to cooperate with us in a strategy for stabilizing the greater Middle East. Following a withdrawal, all the countries bordering Iraq would likely respond favorably to an offer to help stabilize the situation.

The most important of these would be Iran. It dislikes Al Qaeda as much as we do. It wants regional stability as much as we do. It wants to produce more oil and gas and sell it. If its leaders really want nuclear weapons, we cannot stop them.

But we can engage them. None of these prospects is possible unless we stop moving deeper into the "big sandy" of Iraq. America must withdraw now.

LT. GEN. WILLIAM E. ODOM (Ret.) is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. A longer version of this article appears in the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine,

We all know that General Odom isn't a blogger, but what do you think the odds are that this administration will pay attention to him? But what's even more annoying, is that the DLC is trying to keep us there, come hell or high water, even though both have come.

Cheney doesn't think Sadaam responsible for 9/11

Our friends back in the Old Sod (me gandda's name is Donovan) have quite the cynical eye for American shenanigans:

Today [March 29, 2006] Vice President Dick Cheney did an interview with talk radio host (and substitute Fox News anchor) Tony Snow. The transcript is a laugh if only because if you took out the labels for when a question is being asked or answered, it would be impossible to tell which is which. But then Tony set up the Veep with a straight-down-the middle fastball -- but Dick swung and missed:

Q: I want to be clear because I've heard you say this, and I've heard the President say it, but I want you to say it for my listeners, which is that the White House has never argued that Saddam was directly involved in September 11th, correct?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's correct. We had one report early on from another intelligence service that suggested that the lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta, had met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague, Czechoslovakia. And that reporting waxed and waned where the degree of confidence in it, and so forth, has been pretty well knocked down now at this stage, that that meeting ever took place. So we've never made the case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden [sic] was directly involved in 9/11.

Snow, or someone on his production team, was alert enough to catch it:

Q: Okay. A couple of things, I think a couple of minutes ago -- I want to make sure -- you said Osama bin Laden wasn't involved in 9/11 planning. You meant Saddam Hussein, correct? That Saddam Hussein was not involved in September 11th?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct. Yes, sir.

Q: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Thanks for straightening that out. I didn't realize I'd done that. (Laughter.)

Why would you have Dick -- it's second nature. And by the way, "THE PRESIDENT CHENEY" is exactly what the transcript currently says. It's gaffes all round today.
UPDATE: Even a day later, and with the visibility of links to us from Dan Froomkin and Firedoglake highlighting the mistake in the transcript, still no correction.

We have here a pretty good case for impeaching Cheney on grounds of plain old stupidity-in-plain-view (that would be a "misdemeanor").