FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

From Russia With Lovers

The Great Spy Swap is a done deal.  Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the 10 Russian spies U.S. officials netted last month had learned no state secrets and were exchanged for “four people in whom we have a great deal of interest” – Russians caught spying for our side. So there’s nothing to see here, move along, folks.

But wait: Should we have made this trade? My mind, programmed as it is to almost write “Soviet” whenever I mean “Russian,” is also programmed to worry about “national security.”  We released Russian spies!  They’ll tell their controllers everything, and Russia will attack us!

The deal sounds too good to be true.  It seems more likely that our leaders just wanted to avoid trials for the 10 spies, because trials would reveal just how badly the Russians had duped U.S. officials – perhaps, after all, these “sleeper agents” did gain classified information. “National security” be damned.

Shocked? Don’t be. This spy exchange isn’t the first time we’ve seen our politicians put their own interests ahead of “national security.” Recall these recent events:

CIA’s destroying videotapes of their interrogations of suspected terrorists (2005):  These tapes were destroyed to prevent prosecution of the interrogators for torture.  But look what was lost.  Guantanamo interrogations were based on a “mosaic theory” (as explained here by Joe Margulies in his excellent Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power (2006)), meaning that prisoners (assuming they’re terrorists) might have only bits of information, including bits that neither they nor investigators know are valuable.  The value might come to light only as other pieces of the “mosaic” appear.  Reviewing these tapes, even years later, could yield “new” information.  Protecting torturers was more important than protecting national security.

Releasing terrorist suspect Yaser Hamdi from Guantanamo (2004): This U.S.-Saudi citizen challenged his imprisonment without charge, and the United States Supreme Court ruled that he had to be given a hearing. In response, the government simply released him, deported him to Saudi Arabia, and forced him to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Why the release? Did it turn out, after all, that Hamdi wasn’t dangerous? Or were officials simply avoiding the Court-ordered evidentiary hearing, which probably would have revealed that our politicos had lied about Hamdi’s guilt – and that Guantanamo is a farce, an overreaction based on officials’ cowardice and sadism? Since then, hundreds of prisoners have been released, and hearings for others have shown that the government lacked evidence against them.

Leaking that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent (2003): After former Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote a New York Times op ed debunking President Bush’s claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger – an important fact in the president’s casus belli – the White House revealed that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative focusing on WMD. The revelation was a retaliation that not only endangered Plame’s life but also, and more importantly from the perspective of national security, likely impeded U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of WMD.

What should we take away from all this?  That “national security” matters only when it aligns with our officials’ personal or political interests.

So I’ve stopped worrying about “national security.” Our government’s behavior makes sense only if none of these “dangers” was really a danger. There’s no “Russian threat,” and we now know there was never a meaningful “Soviet threat.”  There’s no meaningful “terrorist threat.” (Either our officials are brilliant superheroes who’ve prevented attacks on the homeland since 9/11, or they’re exaggerating a minor threat to increase their own power – which makes more sense to you?) There’s no “WMD threat”: Any country trying to get WMD is doubtless just defending against the U.S., which regularly violates international and U.S. law by threatening war  – to wit, Iran and North Korea. (See UN Charter Article 2(4) – a treaty the Constitution makes “the supreme Law of the Land” (U.S. Const. Art. 6)).

The next time U.S. officials claim “national security” to justify war (murder) or Guantanamo (kidnapping and torture) or secrecy (cover ups, lies), we should just laugh – and ask about the Russian spies, destroyed CIA tapes, Yaser Hamdi, and Valerie Plame.

BRIAN J. FOLEY is a law professor and comedian. He’s not related to the swapped Russian spy who used the alias “Tracey Foley.” Contact him at brian_j_foley@yahoo.com

 

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Brian J. Foley is a lawyer and the author of A New Financial You in 28 Days! A 37-Day Plan (Gegensatz Press). Contact him at brian_j_foley@yahoo.com.

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael Duggin
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail