Exonerating the Spooks

Bush’s so-called independent commission looking into “intelligence failures” will be handpicked by the administration. It will be similar to the 9/11 investigative commission — that is to say it will produce results acceptable to Bush and the spooks. The chairman of the 9/11 commission is Thomas Kean.

Consider Kean emblematic.

“Thomas Kean is a director (and shareholder) of Amerada Hess Corporation, which is involved in the Hess-Delta joint venture with Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia (owned by the bin Mahfouz and Al-Amoudi clans),” notes Michel Chossudovsky. “In other words, Delta Oil Ltd. of Saudi Arabia — which is a partner in the Hess-Delta Alliance — is in part controlled by Khalid bin Mafhouz, Osama’s brother in law.”

You’d think concerned people would be up in arms over a commission assigned to investigate a terrorist incident blamed on Osama bin Laden with a director who does business with the main suspect’s family. And yet nothing said about it — at least nothing said by the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, otherwise known as Fox, CNN, and all the other alphabet corporate news agencies.

A so-called “news analysis” of the Bush commission published in the New York Times notes that another commission — one head up by Frank Church in the 1970s chaired to look into the dirty dealings of the CIA — “is remembered by many as an inquisition.”

Of course, the CIA and its apologists consider it an “inquisition” because it revealed the true nature of the intelligence organization: election rigging, assassination, staged military coups, and other covert dirty tricks.

Bush will hand his commission a big wide brush and a tub of white paint.

Intelligence “professionals” will run the show. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), a former CIA and Army intelligence officer, and currently the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “is among those who have argued that any new intelligence inquiry should look forward, rather than dwell on any past mistakes.”

In short, Goss will make sure the closet remains closed and the sacred territory of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) will not be trespassed. Instead, the CIA will be issued a mild rebuke and then it will be time to move on. For its effort, the CIA may even be rewarded.

“Mr. Goss and others will argue that an inquiry ought to lead Americans to understand that intelligence gathering and analysis is, at best, an imperfect science.”

Americans ought to learn one thing and one thing only — the CIA, DIA, NSC, and OSP are not open to public inquiry.

“We’ve been watching too many James Bond movies, to think it always comes out all right in the end. It doesn’t,” Goss excoriated the American people. In other words, the CIA (actually the untouchable OSP; in this instance the CIA is a momentary patsy) will not be held accountable for making up far fetched stories about Saddam’s illusory WMD, lies Bush used to invade a nation. Hey, we all make mistakes, right?

Let’s move forward.

Forward means invading countries more effectively. Both Goss and David Kay believe Bush’s invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do. The problem wasn’t Rumsfeld’s OSP and its unprincipled lies about Iraq’s WMD or Saddam’s imaginary connections to al-Qaeda, but rather the inability of the CIA to penetrate Saddam’s inner circle of thugs.

If Bush’s commission demonstrates anything, it will be that the CIA and other spook agencies need more power, not less. Less oversight, not more.

According to the Bushites and Goss, the CIA needs less political correctness and more understanding of why the US did business with the likes of the Shah of Iran, “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Sese Seko Mobutu, Vinicio Cerezo, Pol Pot, Alfredo Christiani, General Suharto, and a whole lot of other reprehensible dictators and sadists, including Sadddam Hussein.

Following the logic of Goss and Kay, the arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearance, and killings of political opponents in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the Philippines, Chile, Nicaragua, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Iran, and Iraq — all facilitated with the assistance and encouragement of the CIA and the US government — is nothing less than business as usual. Such behavior does not need to be modified. It only needs to be accomplished more effectively.

“One option sure to be addressed by the new commission is one already under review by the independent panel looking into the Sept. 11 attacks,” writes the New York Times. “The idea is to establish a single director of national intelligence, appointed to a fixed term of office like the current FBI chief, and give that director real authority over bodies like the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, which now remain under Pentagon control.”

But not the OSP, which remains unnamed. It will continue to crank out customized “intelligence” and feed it to Bush in preparation for invasions of Syria and Iran. In the future, if the CIA et al want to stay out of hot (actually lukewarm) water, they will make sure they are on the same page with Rumsfeld and the OSP.

Maybe the new intelligence czar will issue straight from the ranks of the OSP or Bush’s inner circle. Is it possible the grooming of Abram Shulsky or William Luti — both OSP hacks — has already moved forward?

Bush’s commission will not only mean a reshuffling of the deck, but a fresh influx of cash.

“[The] attention the inquiry will get may bring other help, like bigger budgets for agencies whose spending has soared since the Sept. 11 attacks but that plead for still more money for spies, satellites and other means of collecting intelligence.”

As it now stands, we don’t even know the numbers of the CIA’s budget. US District judge Thomas Hogan threw out a lawsuit in 1999 attempting to compel the government to tell the public how much it spends on intelligence. The CIA said the numbers are irrelevant. Hogan said revealing the budget would provide “too much trend information and too great a basis for comparison and analysis for our adversaries.”

Adversaries — like the American people.

“It is not a question of reluctance on the part of CIA officials to speak to us,” said Senator Leverett Saltonstall in 1966. “Instead it is a question of our reluctance, if you will, to seek information and knowledge on subjects which I personally, as a Member of Congress and as a citizen, would rather not have.”

Nothing has changed in the 30 odd years since Saltonstall made his comment. Congress does not want to know what the CIA or the OSP does — and they certainly don’t want you to know.

As Chalmer Johnson writes, the term “blowback” came to be “shorthand for the unintended consequences of U.S. policies kept secret from the American people. In fact, to CIA officials and an increasing number of American pundits, blowback has become a term of art acknowledging that the unconstrained, often illegal, secret acts of the United States in other countries can result in retaliation against innocent American citizens. The dirty tricks agencies are at pains never to draw the connection between what they do and what sometimes happens to those who pay their salaries.”

And that’s what Bush’s “independent” commission is all about — severing the connection between what the CIA and the OSP do under the cover of darkness and the outcome of their actions. It will serve as a grandstand not to reform the agencies, but rather increase their power and magnify the damage they inflict. It is a case of rudimentary physics: for action there is a reaction.

Bush and Congress have bunkers.

We’re expected to get by on duct tape.

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.

He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com



KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com