Friday, November 1, 2013

Spies Lie (And Why, When They Tell the Truth, No One Can Believe Them)  Today, We Are Seeing a Repeat of Professional Voyeurism by Our Nation's Spies On An Unprecedented and Pervasive Scale.   ALERT! Dick Cheney Calls for Iranian War (Again!)

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Millions facing food stamp cuts on November 1 
After unity, some Democrats push back on Obama
Russian lawyer says Snowden to start website job

Just For Her Protection, Of Course.

Fortuitously as I was beginning this post, I saw that my hero, Florida's uber-astonishing Congressman Alan Grayson, had just made public his impressive incisive dissection of the world of spying in which we are fated to reside if something is not done quickly to stamp it and its leaders out (and don't tell me you're terrified of the (MSM myth of the) al-Qaeda scary spy under every bed - Don't you know to watch NCIS for the comedy?).

In the face of all this massive lying, the fact that there were a few (lightly reported) early resignations stands out as a monument to what the USA used to proclaim as national virtue.

I can't say it any more plainly than Alan does although my essay that follows will attempt this feat.

Dear Cirze,

Here is Congressman Alan Grayson's commentary on domestic surveillance, from Friday's edition of the Guardian. Read the editorial, then share your thoughts at

In the 1970s, Congressman Otis Pike of New York chaired a special Congressional committee to investigate abuses by the American so-called "intelligence community" - the spies. After the investigation, Pike commented:

It took this investigation to convince me that I had always been told lies, to make me realize that I was tired of being told lies.

I'm tired of the spies telling lies, too.

Pike's investigation initiated one of the first congressional oversight debates for the vast and hidden collective of espionage agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA).  Before the Pike Commission, Congress was kept in the dark about them - a tactic designed to thwart congressional deterrence of the sometimes illegal and often shocking activities carried out by the "intelligence community". Today, we are seeing a repeat of this professional voyeurism by our nation's spies, on an unprecedented and pervasive scale.

Recently, the US House of Representatives voted on an amendment - offered by Representatives Justin Amash and John Conyers - that would have curbed the NSA's omnipresent and inescapable tactics. Despite furious lobbying by the intelligence industrial complex and its allies, and four hours of frantic and overwrought briefings by the NSA's General Keith Alexander, 205 of 422 Representatives voted for the amendment.

Though the amendment barely failed, the vote signaled a clear message to the NSA: We do not trust you. The vote also conveyed another, more subtle message: Members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, "oversight" has become "overlook".

Despite being a member of Congress possessing security clearance, I've learned far more about government spying on me and my fellow citizens from reading media reports than I have from "intelligence" briefings. If the vote on the Amash-Conyers amendment is any indication, my colleagues feel the same way. In fact, one long-serving conservative Republican told me that he doesn't attend such briefings anymore, because, "They always lie".

Many of us worry that Congressional Intelligence Committees are more loyal to the "intelligence community" that they are tasked with policing, than to the Constitution. And the House Intelligence Committee isn't doing anything to assuage our concerns.

I've requested classified information, and further meetings with NSA officials. The House Intelligence Committee has refused to provide either. Supporters of the NSA's vast ubiquitous domestic spying operation assure the public that members of Congress can be briefed on these activities whenever they want. Senator Saxby Chambliss says all a member of Congress needs to do is ask for information, and he'll get it. Well I did ask, and the House Intelligence Committee said "no", repeatedly. And virtually every other member not on the Intelligence Committee gets the same treatment.

Recently, a member of the House Intelligence Committee was asked at a town hall meeting, by his constituents, why my requests for more information about these programs were being denied. This member argued that I don't have the necessary level of clearance to obtain access for classified information. That doesn't make any sense; every member is given the same level of clearance.

There is no legal justification for imparting secret knowledge about the NSA's domestic surveillance activities only to the 20 members of the House Intelligence Committee. Moreover, how can the remaining 415 of us do our job properly, when we're kept in the dark - or worse, misinformed?

Edward Snowden's revelations demonstrate that the members of Congress, who are asked to authorize these programs, are not privy to the same information provided to junior analysts at the NSA, and even private contractors who sell services to foreign governments. The only time that these intelligence committees disclose classified information to us, your elected representatives, is when it serves the purposes of the "intelligence community".

As the country continues to debate the supposed benefits of wall-to-wall spying programs on each and every American, without probable cause, the spies, "intelligence community" and Congressional Intelligence Committees have a choice: will they begin sharing comprehensive information about these activities, so that elected public officials have the opportunity to make informed decisions about whether such universal snooping is necessary, or constitutional?

Or will they continue to obstruct our efforts to understand these programs, and force us to rely on information provided by whistleblowers who undertake substantial risks to disseminate this information about violations of our freedom in an increasingly hostile environment? And why do Generals Alexander and Clapper remain in office, when all the evidence points to them committing the felony of lying to Congress and the American people?

Representative Pike would probably say that rank-and-file representatives will never get the information we need from the House Intelligence Committee, because the spying industrial complex answers only to itself. After all, Pike, and many of the members of his special congressional committee, voted against forming it. As it is now constituted, the House Intelligence Committee will never decry, deny, or defy any spy. They see eye-to-eye, so they turn a blind eye. Which means that if we rely on them, we can kiss our liberty good-bye.

I've just finished reading (for the first time because I know it will rate several re-reads) Bob Shacochis' current opus, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, an epic tale of misguided humanitarianism detailing this aforementioned scenario and the conditions under which we struggle now (okay, the rich are not really struggling, but as they have no first-hand knowledge (unless they actually do some research) of what their venally wrong-direction leadership has wrought, they should be).

No kidding. this tome is loaded with glimmers into that unseen reality that are so blinding that they continue to wink at us in the pages of newspapers that never actually tell anything about events except that they happened and we are not to blame.

Forgive me, Bob, for quoting so many of your wondrous lines but your prose is so golden that you made me think we could relive the past and change it just by reading.

Not to even address trying to change the future.

Like an object snatched from the top of a junk pile, Haiti had been collected by the genteel world, the world of infinite possibility, turned over in its manicured hands, sniffed and shaken, and discarded back on the heap. . . . And then the idea behind the thing became unclear and atrophied and no matter who made it, a white man or a black man, every promise was a type of fantasy, if not an earnest lie, each hope an illusion, every sacrifice an act of unrequited love. Once again in Haiti there was no glory and too little honor and too much of God's indifferent truth. The army arrived in thunder and left in a foul haze of smoke, having performed a magnificent pantomime of redemption, and throughout it all Harrington carried on with his work, the many, many graves he was obliged to locate, some as fresh as his morning's breakfast but others grassed over and as big as swimming pools, his pursuit of the dead undeterred by futility until the day arrived when he, too, turned to walk away from it all.

. . . The Friends of Golf

They slipped Eville away from his unit in Haiti and brought him up to Miami for a few hours to caddy for Steven Chambers, the first of numerous occasions in the following years. Something Chambers said to him that first time put everything into perspective afterward. "We don't fly under the radar, son," he said. "We are the radar. We're not operating with situational values here."

. . .

What have you got for us, Sandy? said Sam.

Colman opened with a date of prime importance to the culture of his profession . . . Our interagency goals are best addressed when we allow the product to flow through a completed network . . . . He walked out of there trying to remember who said it, an aphorism he would never forget, first because he had always thought it was nonsense and then because he came to know it was wise. "War is but a spectacular expression of our everyday life." . . . . She explained to him that despite appearances to the contrary her professional relationship with her father was casual, advisory, and that her actual handlers, her case officer and the little group of people in the Ops Directorate who had been running her quite unnoticed from their closets had now flashed onto the radar of the potentates . . . they wanted her in from the field - not so cold anymore, is it? - secured behind a desk . . . fetching coffee. . . . What does your father say? This is internecine. He's against it, but I don't think he has the clout. It's all too straightforward and petty. Inside the building, no one knows he's really theirs, one of their own. More than one of their own, actually. Not just clan. More like a chieftain, you know, with his own faction. The guys on the summit with their oxygen bottles, two or three people - they know.
. . . the fate of societies left in the hands of a few men playing a round of golf, a few men drinking chai . . . hatching both sides of the same eternal plot, reversible good versus reversible evil, and God's way both ways, which was why, he had to suppose, God was a fucking mystery floating out there far beyond the binary.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dick Cheney Calls for War on Iran

"Cheney has wanted all these wars to be inevitable for other people, not for anyone in his circle. That's the way it's been for Cheney since he copped out on the war of his generation, getting five deferments from Viet Nam because he had 'other priorities' . . . ."

Over a decade of warmongering and only a couple of wars to show for it

Let's go make war on Iran!" said Republican Dick Cheney in somewhat different words on one of those silly Sunday shows October 26th.

This wasn't the first time Cheney had advocated for war on Iran. Or for torture. Or for assassination by drone. Or for any other war crime for which he is unlikely ever to be held accountable.

But in all fairness to the former vice president, this time he really only implied that war on Iran was inevitable. Looking at the record, however, it's hard to find any war Cheney hasn't found "inevitable," even if he had to lie to get it started, as he did with Iraq.

And Cheney's fondness for "inevitable" wars relies not merely on dishonesty, but more importantly, on personal detachment. Cheney has wanted all these wars to be inevitable for other people, not for anyone in his circle. That's the way it's been for Cheney since he copped out on the war of his generation, getting five deferments from Viet Nam because he had "other priorities" that included cheering on the warmakers who were sending more and more of other people's children to suffer and die in Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, Cheney didn't call for attacking Iran with nuclear weapons the way Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson did a few days earlier at Yeshiva University. Cheney did not object to nuking Iran either. And he hasn't publicly disagreed with the octogenarian gambling mogul, so one suspects Cheney would be happy enough to see this particular smoking gun turn into a mushroom cloud.

Is nuking the Iranian desert really a smart move?

. . . Cheney didn't get his war, but at least he prevented peace

The best Cheney could do was to prevent a peaceful relationship from developing with Iran after the U.S. occupied Iraq in 2003. Iran sent a peaceful initiative that Colin Powell, then Secretary of State, wanted to explore. Cheney killed it.

In 2007, Cheney's plan was to persuade Israel to attack Iran's uranium enrichment plant. Then, when Iran presumably retaliated, the U.S. would bomb Iran to bits. Earlier in the year, Cheney's plan to bomb "training camps" in Iran met opposition from the Pentagon and didn't happen.
In 2008, Seymour Hersh reported about another war planning meeting involving Cheney earlier that year:

There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don't we build - we in our shipyard - build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives. And it was rejected because you can't have Americans killing Americans....
"I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues," Cheney admitted in 2009, expressing the same view Adelson holds now: "I thought that negotiations could not possibly succeed unless the Iranians really believed we were prepared to use military force. And to date, of course, they are still proceeding with their nuclear program and the matter has not yet been resolved."

It doesn't matter so much why you bomb, so long as you bomb

In 2011, after an American drone went down in Iran and the Iranians had it in their possession, Cheney told CNN that the best response would have been to bomb Iran: "The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it…. You certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground with an airstrike."

On CBS, when asked if that airstrike might not have started a war, Cheney chose not to answer the question, preferring to blame President Obama: "But the administration basically limited itself to saying, 'Please give it back,' and the Iranians said no."

Cheney continues to pimp for war on Iran, most recently on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, where Cheney first called for Congress to impose more sanctions on Iran, in addition to sanctions that have been in place for years. The Obama administration opposes new sanctions now, wanting to allow recently started talks to play themselves out with as little impediment as possible.

In that context, Stephanopoulos asked Cheney: "Did you think your administration should have taken military action against Iran's nuclear program?"

Cheney didn't answer the question directly, talking instead about Israel bombing a Syrian reactor in September 2007, and expressing regret that the U.S. hadn't done the job instead:

"And if we had taken out the Syrian reactor the way the Israelis did, and they wanted us to do it, we would have sent a clear signal about proliferation. We would have given substance and meaning to our diplomacy. The Iranians would have to look at that and say, these guys are serious about it, they mean business. And we'd be much more effective today negotiating with the Iranians if we'd taken out that Syrian reactor seven years ago."

And then the media-military-industrial complex revealed itself

Stephanopoulos immediately, leadingly, inexplicably asked an unprompted, unprincipled, softball question: "Is military action against Iran inevitable?"

"I have trouble seeing how we're going to achieve our objective short of that. And I doubt very much that the diplomacy will be effective if there's not the prospect that, if diplomacy fails, that we will, in fact, resort to military force," Cheney responded.

"Let's turn to politics," replied Stephanopoulos, as if floating a self-fulfilling prophecy designed to encourage Congress to improve the chances of pushing the country into another war weren't politics.

Going to war to hold people accountable for crimes they haven't committed - fantasy crimes - really isn't such a good idea. It's a lesson the past decade in Iraq should have taught us all without much ambiguity. So why do any of the mainstream media (like ABC, CBS, and CNN above) continue to give airtime to the warmongering opinions of unindicted war criminals? But that's not a question people like Stephanopoulos and his employers even ask, is it?

Uh, duh.

Wouldn't that be a lot like asking your boss why he doesn't take a pay cut in service to the higher goal of fairness to his employees?

Forget justice.


TONY said...

It occurred to me the other day that Ol' Elmer Fudd Cheney is about the nearest thing we have to a real life James Bond villain. Does he live underground on an island by any chance?

Cirze said...

Yes, he's been spotted several times walking around cheerfully in Hell.

Love you, T!