FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Pompeo, Power and Wikileaks

“Vested interests deflect from the facts that WikiLeaks publishes by demonizing its brave staff and me.”

— Julian Assange, The Washington Post, Apr 11, 2017.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s current director, Mike Pompeo, has a view of history much like that of any bureaucrat as understood by the great sociologist Max Weber. The essential, fundamental purpose of bureaucracy is a rationale to manufacture and keep secrets. Transparency and accountability are its enemies. Those who challenge that particular order are, by definition, defilers and dangerous contrarians.

On Thursday, April 13, Pompeo was entertained by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, an opportunity of sorts to sound off on a range of points.[1] Pompeo’s theme is unmistakeable, opening up with a discussion about Philip Agee’s “advocacy” as a founding member of CounterSpy, which called in 1973 for the outing of CIA undercover operatives.

Richard Welch, a CIA station chief working in Athens and identified in a September 1974 issue of CounterSpy, was duly deemed a victim of Agee’s stance.  “When he got out of his car to open the gate in front of his house, Richard Welch was assassinated by a Greek terrorist cell.”

Agee is then the mint and mould for the current WikiLeaks agenda, deemed by Pompeo to be compromised in “the harm they inflict on the US institutions and personnel”.  What bothers Pompeo is their zeal, their determination, even romance, those self-touted “heroes above the law, saviours of our free and open society.”

Pompeo’s methods are blunt, and shower generous disdain on the notion that free speech protections should extend to such an organisation as WikiLeaks.  “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

This is the language of fear about the fifth columnist, that WikiLeaks is mimicking the CIA, even surpassing it.  (Such flattery!)  The organisation “encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence.”  Gravely, claims the CIA director, “It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information.”  Never mind what that information actually revealed.

For the director’s myopic appraisal of the world, only the select should be in a position to steal.  “We steal secrets from our foreign adversaries, hostile entities and terrorist organizations. And we’re damn proud of it.”

These words are hardly going to fluster Assange, though they have provided the main front man of WikiLeaks food for thought about what individuals like Pompeo really think about democratic virtue, given the continuous insistence by US officials that they keep the sacred flame of liberty alive the world over.  The very defender of the US Republic is willing to ignore a fundamental feature of that Republic’s existence: the need for public debate about the limits of power.

Assange is aware of this, noting how the “American idea”, or the United States as “idea” throbs within his mind and body.[2]  It is precisely that idea that needs conservation, even purification.  What Pompeo is really bothered about is how similar the intelligence goal is for an organisation charged with the task of dealing in secrets, be it their theft and exposure, or their protection.

What matters in such information environments, and notably the one so currently crowded by a noisy battle between digital rabblerousers and orthodox followers of the closed society, is where they fit in holding the powerful accountable.  All positions ultimately turn on matters of power and how information is best wielded.

Assange uses his piece in the Washington Post not merely to rubuff the CIA’s position, but to reference the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address: “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

The motives, then, are “identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post – to publish newsworthy content. Consistent with the US Constitution, we publish material that we can confirm to be true irrespective of whether sources came by that truth legally or have the right to release it to the media.”[3]

Assange also reminds readers of an old, proposed taxonomy on the issue of how the fourth estate might function in terms of accuracy and content with President Thomas Jefferson’s own proposal.  An editor might wish to “divide his paper into 4 chapters, heading the 1st, ‘Truths.’  2nd, ‘Probabilities.’  3rd, ‘Possibilities.’  4th, ‘Lies.’  The first chapter would be very short, as it would contain little more than authentic papers, and information.”

The modus operandi is significant here: the exposure of truths deemed inconvenient, complicating, disrupting.  Reduced to that dimension, Pompeo’s supposedly patriotic bile seems one of simple objection, an age old struggle between those who wish to know, and those who prefer to keep ignorance central to the argument.  The ever tantalisingly relevant point remains: Who is so entitled?

 

Notes.

[1] https://www.csis.org/analysis/discussion-national-security-cia-director-mike-pompeo

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/julian-assange-wikileaks-has-the-same-mission-as-the-post-and-the-times/2017/04/11/23f03dd8-1d4d-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html?utm_term=.179da836a4b9

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/julian-assange-wikileaks-has-the-same-mission-as-the-post-and-the-times/2017/04/11/23f03dd8-1d4d-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html?utm_term=.179da836a4b9

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail