Saturday, November 13, 2004

Bobo Analysis: In which I defend the CIA

David “I sound rational, but I’m really a nut” Brooks’ column today is just astounding. You have to read it for yourself, but I was flabbergasted by his view of the CIA and his recommendations on what the president should do about them.

One of Brooks’ techniques is to sound reasonable and then drop the word bombs. For example, he will say: “The White House-C.I.A. relationship became dysfunctional, and while the blame was certainly not all on one side,” -- sounds reasonable enough, right? Then he finishes the sentence with this blast --“Langley was engaged in slow-motion, brazen insubordination, which violated all standards of honorable public service.”

Oh, so it is the CIA that is violating standards of honorable public service? Not the White House? That is rich.

For his readers he sets up the “correct” relationship between the two “At the height of the campaign, C.I.A. officials, who are supposed to serve the president and stay out of politics and policy, served up leak after leak to discredit the president's Iraq policy.

So, does serving the president mean ginning up intelligence that confirms his desire for Saddamn to be connected to bin Laden, or for WMDs in Iraq? This is doing a DISservice to the American people AND the president. So maybe David doesn’t have a problem with the CIA giving the president what he wants since intelligence isn’t an exact science. Maybe other CIA analyst’s opinions, no matter how out of the mainstream, might be valid. It appears his real problem is they are supposed to stay out of politics and policy. Hmmm. Even when what you have told the president and vice president time and time again is ignored, distorted and mutated?

I put myself in the shoes of some CIA analyst. Grade level GS-14 or GS-13. He or she believes in what they are doing, and what they know. They have presented data that has been ignored again and again. They can keep trying to find the imaginary information that the president wants but it just doesn’t exist. What does the White House say to this analyst? “Well if you can’t find what we want we’ll create another agency to find it. We will keep creating agencies until we find one that tells us what we want to believe.” You’re pissed you weren’t listened to, that’s personal ego and maybe not a noble emotion, but also there has to be some part of you that wants to do what is right for America and America’s soldiers. You strongly feel that people need to know what you have found out. I suppose some could say ‘What gives them the right to decide policy? They don’t know about the overarching goals of the US.”

But what these CIA analysts are tying to tell the American Public is, “Whether or not you agree with the policy is not the point. This policy is based on BAD INFORMATION! It is based on the opposite of what we told them. That is not politics, that is about the integrity of information and they are lying about what they say they know and knew. Wake UP!”

For the analyst(s) this is/was an ethical crisis as well as a political crisis and with the election looming it was a career crisis too. A bunch of people within the agency felt the same so they leaked something as an act of civil disobedience. Yes it is political, is it insubordination? It depends on who you really serve. The CONSTITUTION? Or the man elected to uphold the Constitution? You aren’t Daniel Ginsberg, but if you’ve ever listed to Ginsberg you know that he wasn’t some sort of pacifist loony. He was a smart thoughtful guy who was finally led to do the right thing for America, even if it was against the will of the current President.

Here’s the other thing about this article, it puts disagreement with the way the CIA information was used, abused and mutated into a military context of high crimes. I understand that there are rules in the Hatch act about supporting a candidate if you are a civil servant, but he fails to mention all the people who are on the president’s payroll who are publicly campaigning FOR the President. Also, suppressing the truth about the war in Iraq is an active benefit to the President.

Finally the punishment phase of the article which is astonishingly brutal in its suggested scope:

If we lived in a primitive age, the ground at Langley would be laid waste and salted, and there would be heads on spikes. (Gee, David don’t hold back, tell us what you really think they should do.)

Meanwhile, members of Congress and people around the executive branch are wondering what President Bush is going to do to punish the mutineers. (‘R matey. You’ll be swingin’ from the yard irons at dawn!)

It is time to reassert some harsh authority so C.I.A. employees know they must defer to the people who win elections, so they do not feel free at meetings to spout off about their contempt of the White House, so they do not go around to their counterparts from other nations and tell them to ignore American policy.

(David is pleading with the WH to show they have the phallus. “Come on Bushies, rub their noses in it! Make an example out of them! Obviously the CRIMINAL ACT of ratting out the identity of Valerie Plame and setting her up for possible murder wasn’t enough to punish these people for disagreeing with the President. Now is the time for the night of long knives. Better do it quick before some other uppity agency gets it in their head that they serve the American people first and have to answer to the constitution rather than who they really serve, King George the Liarhearted.)

P.S. In the event that some poor CIA analyst comes across this post doing a Google search, believe it or not I’m a sentimental patriot. The people in the CIA have been tasked to do some dreadful, horrific things in their history at the bequest of our Presidents. For those tasks you will still be held accountable to whatever moral authority exists in the universe, if not here on earth. But I do believe that there are people in your organization whose first choice is not to fight wars for the wrong reasons. That many believe that protecting your fellow Americans is a calling, not just a job. I appreciate you. I think that many of you sweat the means that might get you to the ends. It is a complex world out there and it is better when the greater good of the American people lines up with what you have to do. You have made a decision that the American people CAN handle the truth, since the President has shown that he can’t. I know who is keeping me safe. You folks are. But the President takes credit for it. You track down the connections; you spend the hours poring over the boring electronic traffic. You do it for me and the women and children who will never know you. You should be honored like the public warriors on Veterans Day.

This president has a streak of righteousness that will come crashing down on all who disagree in this term. He has even got his surrogates giving him permission to act, and suggesting he act harshly. Be prepared, good luck and here’s a tip from a media watcher as you go forward in your duty to the American public and the Constitution, “Live by the smear, die by the smear.”


ellroon said...

Wow! Well said! Thanks.

What the hell is going on with Brooks? Has he gotten worse since the election or is it just my imagination?
What is this about having to move in lockstep (or is it goosestep) with Dubya?

Does he really think if we close our eyes tightly and cling onto Bush's coat, he will lead us well and justly? George couldn't find his way out of a paper bag. Where did Brooks' desire come from to shut up those who question and doubt? What kind of journalist is he?
Or maybe I just answered my own question...

7:24 PM  
spocko said...

Thanks for your note Ellroon, I always like to hear from you.

Brooks is scary because he makes outragous things sound normal. I've watched him on NPR's News Hour and unlike Krugman, when he sees outragous stuff happening he makes up a plausible reason for it. When Krugman saw outragous stuff happening he sounded the alarm. Brooks figures it is his job to explain the outragousness as normal behavior.

This exercise of "Pundit makes up plausible reason for outragous stuff" has been going on for years. I think this White House takes advantage of it to help them refine and then sell their message. Rush and Hannity use their gifts in the service of actions and policies that are bad for lots of Americas. But the beauty of letting the pundit crowd refine and sell your message is that when they do a great job the people no longer associate the bad stuff with the people who caused it!

"Please Mr. Bush take away some MORE of my civil rights! Don't let those weak liberals make you water down your killing."

What is interesting about that article (and the Newsweek article) are the word choices. I'm curious if the White House actually ever used the phrase PURGE. They must know that it has Old-style Soviet implications. They are not above intimidation. They do it to the press all the time.

I was going to give Brooks credit for pointing out the Soviet language used by the adminstration to the CIA, but as I reread the article I determined it was BROOKS, who wanted them to be harsh. Also, as I found posted elsewhere by less windy bloggers, the intelligence workers swear and oath to the Constitution, not to the man.
There is a reason for that distinction. Brooks seemed to have missed that aspect of the CIA's job. Not to mention that loyality to a person over the law is exactly the opposite of what we as a country stands for.

2:09 PM  

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