Spies are everywhere this week.
Over the weekend, the Washington/Hollywood axis graced America’s small screens with the truly wretched debut of a new television series, She Spies, that looks for all the world to be a cheesy rip-off of an earlier series that was already pretty damn cheesy to begin with: Charlie’s Angels.
Meanwhile, I made the mistake of going out to see a movie — something that I rarely do anymore, and I was quickly reminded of why I rarely do anymore: before the film even began, I was treated to trailers for no fewer than three upcoming releases that deal with the spy trade: I Spy, based on the television series of the same name; another installment of the highly-derivative Austin Powers series; and a truly godawful looking piece of work entitled, I believe, XXX.
All of this Hollywood, uhhh … ‘product,’ needless to say, was in production before September 11, and is just a continuation of the pro-military, pro-‘spy’ propaganda blitz that has been flooding America’s silver screens in recent months.
This week also marked the opening of the world’s first “International Spy Museum” — Washington’s latest attempt to glorify and romanticize the spy trade. With the primary benefactor of the museum being a career NSA operative, and the museum’s executive director being a lifetime CIA veteran, and with such luminaries as former CIA and FBI Director William Webster sitting on the board, there is no question that this museum is going to present a balanced view of the ‘espionage’ industry.
With all these romanticized visions of the spy trade floating around, it almost makes me want to run out and be a spy. It sure looks fun the way they portray it in the movies and on TV. Fast cars, faster women, non-stop adventure and thrills, romance and, through it all, the pursuit of the noble cause of keeping the world safe for democracy. Plus, you get to use all those nifty little gadgets that they have in the Spy Museum.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up?
Oh … never mind … I see here from all these frantic e-mails that have piled up in my in-box this week that I can sign up right away to join Operation TIPS. Hot damn, I’m going to be a spy! This is going to be great!!
The first thing that I’m going to do, after I have been properly trained of course, is to phone in a tip about that obnoxious prick at work who is forever talking about what a great job George Bush is doing and about how wonderful it is that someone has brought honor and dignity back to the White House. He looks like a terrorist to my trained eye.
Then I’m going to report that goddamn neighbor of mine who still gives me the evil eye every time that our paths happen to cross, ever since I was the only one in the neighborhood that refused to fly a flag during the period of mandatory national flag waving that occurred in the initial months after September 11.
Then I’m going to start turning in all of my fellow local TIPSters. Then I’ll probably start turning in tips on local police officials, judges, and politicians. They might have to give me my own hot-line phone number down at HQ, because I’m going to be one busy spy. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
If they don’t watch their asses (be forewarned that you are about to encounter an obscure reference that will only be understood by regular, and very anal-retentive, readers), I might even turn in Nancy and Harry.
Maybe all of you should sign up for TIPS as well. I can’t report all the bad guys myself, you know. I’m going to need some help. We can be, as the spooks like to say, ‘counterintelligence agents’ of the ‘enemy’ — which in this case happens to be the American people. The goal will be to infiltrate and co-opt their operation, filling their computer databases with reports on their own people.
If we have to, we can just make shit up. That’s perfectly acceptable in the spy trade. It’s pretty much of an “anything goes that you can plausibly deny” kind of world. So report that your neighbor is storing explosives in his garage. Or that the guy at work has a lot of Middle Eastern friends who are enrolled in flight schools. Whatever. Be creative.
On a more serious note, what are we to make of the TIPS stories that suddenly began circulating this week? And why did they arrive at the same time that that really cool Spy Museum was opening and the country was being deluged with another batch of Hollywood drivel purporting to depict the work of the spy trade?
That’s what Carl Jung would call ‘synchronicity.’ Of course, Mr. Jung was an avid Nazi propagandist, so it has long seemed to me that his ‘synchronicity theory’ was essentially an exercise in disinformation aimed at, at least in part, debunking fascist conspiracy theories.
As old Gustav would likely explain: “There is no conspiracy. Of course there are hidden connections between people and events that aren’t supposed to be connected, but that is because of synchronicity, not because of some kind of hidden agenda. So I repeat: there is no conspiracy. Decades from now, by the way, a rock band managed by the son of a legendary British intelligence operative, and featuring the grandson of that same superstar spook, will release an album and a song which will introduce my synchronicity theory to the youth of America, but that’s really beside the point.”
Speaking of debunking conspiracy theories, David Corn checked in with another in his continuing series of increasingly pathetic conspiracy debunking articles. This time, he allowed the targets of his derision to speak for themselves, which wasn’t really a very good idea, since they come off as more credible than Corn himself — though that isn’t really very hard to do.
Also checking in this week with a conspiracy bashing article was none other than Marc Cooper. His piece was a particularly offensive bit of reading which describes the scribe’s troubles as he ventured through Europe and had to deal with all those ignorant Europeans who insist that there are many unanswered questions surrounding the events of September 11.
As Cooper tells it, “… here in the Old World, from Rome to Paris to Madrid — and even out here in the provincial boonies near the Portuguese border — this excrement is being lapped up like one big creamy hot-fudge sundae. And it has achieved real currency. While our local L.A. conspiracy king — Michael Ruppert — is but a lowly exLAPD cop currently commanding only his own Web site, Mr. Meyssan is president of the Voltaire Network, a respected French think tank whose left-of-center research projects have, at least until now, been considered serious and credible. And his book, like a handful of similar works, is drawing bigger audiences on the Left Bank than a Jerry Lewis film festival.”
How does Mr. Cooper explain this widespread belief among the European population that there was a ‘conspiracy’ underlying the September 11 attacks? Glad you asked. As it turns out, he does so by slandering an entire continent of people, shamelessly belching out arrogant, ethnocentric rhetoric:
“Many explanations are possible for this mass European delusion. Any American who has experienced a week’s worth of abuse at the hands of Parisian café waiters might think all this to be this summer’s rendition of the usual infantilist-European anti-Americanism. After all, any collection of declining, postcolonial ‘middle powers,’ so openly resentful of modern U.S. hegemony, has to do something now and then to re-assert superiority.”
One explanation that Cooper didn’t consider is that Europeans, having the benefit of not being stampeded with a relentless barrage of disinformation and propaganda, have had the opportunity to actually think for themselves and critically evaluate the available evidence — in which case they couldn’t help but question the official story … and the blind acceptance of it by so many Americans.
I’m pretty sure that Cooper would appreciate these next two postings, which take a look at America through the eyes of a Canadian and an Australian, respectively. Both are scathing indictments of these United States. Consider the following passage from Steve Gowans:
” … the US government deserves to be called what it is. Not only the world’s greatest rogue, but also the world’s greatest killing machine; ugly, vicious, violent, a country that has slaughtered millions upon millions of the world’s poor and wretched for the crime of sitting atop coveted resources, for seeking to live free from subordination by colonial masters, for trying to achieve a measure of economic independence. There is no force in the world today more thoroughly corrupted by greed and lust for power, more capable of mass destruction, more inhumane, and few more retrograde, than the US government, the corporate interests it serves, and the cabal of political appointees who’ve decided that now is the moment to secure total control of the planet in the name of American dictatorship.”
I guess that is what you’d call an example of “infantilist-Canadian anti-Americanism.” I prefer to look at it though as a clear-eyed, uncompromising look at U.S. foreign policy — much more so than you would ever find in the writings of a co-opted hack like Marc Cooper. Consider also this searing passage from John Pilger:
“Perhaps the most important taboo is the longevity of the United States as both a terrorist state and a haven for terrorists … more terrorists are given training and sanctuary in the United States than anywhere on earth. They include mass murderers, torturers, former and future tyrants and assorted international criminals. This is virtually unknown to the American public, thanks to the freest media on earth … General Jose Guillermo Garcia has lived comfortably in Florida since the 1990s. He was head of El Salvador’s military during the 1980s when death squads with ties to the army murdered thousands of people. General Prosper Avril, the Haitian dictator, liked to display the bloodied victims of his torture on television. When he was overthrown, he was flown to Florida by the US Government. Thiounn Prasith, Pol Pot’s henchman and apologist at the United Nations, lives in New York. General Mansour Moharari, who ran the Shah of Iran’s notorious prisons, is wanted in Iran, but untroubled in the United States.”
I was just reading back over this newsletter and I realized that what I actually started to comment on was the TIPS program, before I got sidetracked with ranting about Carl Jung, of all people. So returning to my original question: what are we to make of the TIPS program?
The first thing that we know for sure is that, contrary to some hysterical reports, there are not 1,000,000,000 TIPS recruits already waiting to go into action. This program did not spring from the belly of the beast fully developed. In fact, the circulation of these initial, overwhelmingly negative, TIPS press reports is most likely a back-door effort to build awareness and begin a recruitment drive.
We also know that Team Bush doesn’t really need a TIPS program. They already have an extensive electronic surveillance infrastructure in place to gather information about you, and that beast is growing every day. Your e-mail is fair game, as are your cell phone calls (and, for that matter, your regular phone calls), your banking records, your spending and shopping habits, your credit history, and your reading preferences.
Your house is fair game as well. It can be searched without your consent and without your awareness. Federal agents can just come in and have a look around and then let themselves out with you being none the wiser. Or maybe they’ll leave you a calling card of some sort, as if Charlie and The Family had come through and “creepy crawled” the place.
Your banker is keeping an eye on you. Your employer may be keeping an eye on you. Your librarian is keeping tabs on you. Your computer may be keeping an eye on you as well — it is, of course, fair game as well for the creepy crawler crowd.
So Uncle Sam doesn’t necessarily need the TIPS program. That doesn’t mean though that he doesn’t want it. Rest assured that the program likely will take some kind of shape. But then again, just building awareness that it may be out there serves the agenda of the masters of reality.
Did I just say “the masters of reality”? I have no idea where that came from. I seem to be channeling someone here as I write this, so I take no responsibility for the content of this newsletter. I think maybe I’ve been watching too much “Crossing Over with John Edwards.”
So like I was saying, just letting people know about the TIPS program serves a major psychological warfare function for the Bush mob: it creates fear — fear of everyone.
Is your postman now an informant? Maybe it’s the UPS guy? Or maybe the cable installer? Could it be a neighbor? A coworker? Maybe it’s all of them! It could be anyone. It could be those people who are always trying to get you to read The Watchtower. You’d best not talk to anyone. And don’t let anyone in your house, because you don’t know who to trust. They could be all around you.
Control through fear and paranoia. It’s a time-honored concept. Charlie understood it. He once said that: “If you want to get to people and unlock their minds, the basic way you get to them is through fear.” And Charlie, needless to say, knew a little bit about controlling the flock.
But you don’t want to dwell on who may be spying on you, so to take your mind off that, here’s a fun game you can play on your computer. Go to this web site address (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/sfeature/mapablast.html), choose the type of nuclear device you want to set off, enter a potential target location that is somewhere near your home, and then click on “detonate.”
Well … did you survive? If so, check the fallout map to see how heavily contaminated you are. Then enter another possible target location near your home and try again. You’ll get the hang of it.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to move on to other matters. Take, for example, the request made this week by Donald Rumsfeld for sweeping changes in the operations of the Pentagon. Basically, Rummy doesn’t think that the military should be accountable to Congress, or to anyone else really.
It is apparently just too much of a hassle to have to be forever filling out all those forms accounting for what exactly it is that America’s killing machine is doing with our tax dollars and in our name. And the Pentagon restructuring, in case you were wondering, “is part of a grander plan that is very much in play–to relieve the Pentagon, and later other executive branch agencies, from oversight that Rumsfeld calls burdensome and inefficient, but which critics say is a necessary inconvenience of democracy.”
I’m sure that no one really expects our military, or any of the other “executive branch agencies,” to have to operate under any “burdensome and inefficient” oversight. But if there is no oversight of the executive branch, and hence none of the fabled ‘balance of powers,’ then hasn’t it really become more of a dictatorship than a presidency?
I can’t pinpoint exactly where that line is drawn, but I’m pretty sure that we have already crossed it.
“But,” you say, “surely Bush isn’t a dictator since he was popularly elected. OK … he actually wasn’t elected, but academia and the media and all the other co-opted institutions of the state insist that he was, and we’re all supposed to play along. And surely he will have to face reelection.”
Or will he? There is certainly no guarantee of that.
I believe that sometime soon, certainly before the 2004 elections, we may well see a disinformation campaign aimed at blaming America’s vulnerability to the attacks of September 11 on our much heralded ‘democratic’ transitions of power.
The attacks came, of course, just months into Bush’s term of office — at a time when Clinton’s allegedly Democratic appointees had been sent packing and Bush’s purportedly Republican replacements were settling into their assigned positions and making the necessary adjustments to their respective departments.
This, we will be told, creates a period of vulnerability and instability that was craftily exploited by those clever ‘terrorists.’ It was, you see, our cherished democratic traditions that left us vulnerable to attack. The problem is clearly too much democracy. And having identified the problem (possibly through the glaringly fraudulent Congressional investigations that are supposed to be taking place), the ‘solution’ will be rather obvious.
“That can’t possible happen here,” you say? Time will tell.
In any event, Team Bush isn’t done yet instituting police-state measures. Far from it. Boy George just rolled out a “broad new proposal for domestic security … [that] calls for sweeping changes that include the creation of a top-secret plan to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and a review of the law that could allow the military to operate more aggressively within the United States.”
The UK’s The Times described the plan as follows: “President [sic] Bush presented his long-awaited strategy to protect America from terrorism yesterday — a 71-page blueprint that includes controversial proposals to let the US Army impose quarantines during a biological attack, and the use of thumbprint and eyeball scanning for foreign visitors.
“America’s first National Homeland Security Strategy, eight months in the making, calls for sweeping new powers for the federal Government, new extradition and secrecy laws, the stockpiling of newly developed vaccines and the creation of federal ‘red teams’ that would dream up ways of attacking US targets to expose the nation’s weak points.”
Reuters reported, by way of the Times of India, that “US President [sic] George W Bush said he is mobilizing Federal, State and local governments for a total war against terrorism and will help foreign nations in their fight against the menace.”
These people clearly are not fucking around. The ultra-reactionary Patriot Act, the single most encompassing attack on democratic freedoms in the nation’s history, was only the beginning. The Bushwhackers are going to continue to gouge away large chunks of our remaining due process, civil, and privacy rights. They will not be deterred and they will not relent on the steadily building pressure being placed on the American people.
Of course, in order to fight a “total war,” manpower is required — which is probably why the New York Post reported that: “U.S. military recruiters have the authority to demand that education officials turn over the names, addresses and phone numbers of high-school students under a new federal law.”
Waging total war is also, of course, immensely profitable for some. Take, for example, Halliburton, “Oily Dick” Cheney’s last employer. They stand to make a fortune in the coming years off of Team Bush’s rampant militarism. And Bush’s Harken Energy has profited nicely from war and repression in Colombia, where 52 people were killed recently in a two-day orgy of violence.
Trading with purported enemies of the United States can be quite profitable as well, which is why at least 86 prominent American firms engage in such business ventures. The Bush regime, needless to say, isn’t likely to raise any complaints about this, seeing as how trading with the enemy is something of a Bush family tradition.
In other news, one of the most remarkable postings this past week was an op-ed piece that ran in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Air Force Dodges Sept. 11 Flak.” This is, as near as I can tell, the first significant questioning of the lack of a response by the Air Force on September 11 to appear in the American media, though it is of course presented with a heavy dose of disinformation.
The piece begins as follows: “The most amazing thing about the blame game now being played over who was at fault for Sept. 11 is that no one is pointing a finger at the Air Force.” So far, so good.
The article continues: “Amazing because it’s a lot easier to see why the FBI and the CIA were unable to connect a series of sometimes wildly divergent dots than it is to understand why the Air Force had no plan to protect the nation’s capital from an attack by terrorists in planes at a time when Washington was deluged with warnings of terrorist threats.”
All well and good, except that the problem wasn’t that the “Air Force had no plan to protect the nation’s capital”; the problem was that emergency measures that have been on the books for decades, and which are routinely followed when much lesser threats to national security arise, were simply not implemented.
In a none-too-surprising development, the Times piece next references the recent staged violation of White House airspace by a Cessna: “It is even more amazing that, nine months later, the Air Force still had no workable defense for Washington … Officials said there was no way the F-16s could have stopped the pilot from hitting the executive mansion had he wanted to.”
I hate to say “I told you so,” but regular readers will recall that I said in a previous newsletter, a few weeks ago, that the Cessna incident would be used in precisely this sort of disinformational way. These people are nothing if not predictable.
Easily the most amazing claim made in the Times article is the bold assertion that “on September 11 only 14 fighter planes at just seven bases in the entire country were on ground alert for air defense, according to NORAD spokesmen.” Imagine that! Only 14 fighter planes to guard every military installation in the country, every government office, every nuclear facility, every sensitive research facility, every dam, every major population center, every …. well, you get the picture.
“How can that be?” you ask. “We have far and away the largest and most advanced Air Force in the world, with literally thousands of fighter jets at its disposal. How could there have only been 14 of them in position to guard all of the United States, when defending the U.S. from attack is, after all, supposed to be the primary purpose of the U.S. Air Force?”
The answer to that question is rather simple: it isn’t possible. It is an obvious lie, and a rather brazen one at that.
Strangely enough, on the very same day that the Times piece ran, the Boston Globe carried an interesting little story about how a passenger jet had been escorted to LaGuardia Airport the day before by not just one, but two F-16 fighter jets — for no more significant reason than that a passenger became alarmed because other passengers were allegedly passing notes.
The passenger alerted a flight attendant, who dutifully reported the passenger’s concern to the pilot, who then alerted the FAA, who in turn notified NORAD, who then ordered the scrambling of the interceptors. The total time that elapsed from when the flight attendant was notified by the passenger until the plane was actually intercepted by the military jets was, apparently, less than fifteen minutes.
Now that is a rather remarkable fact. Fifteen minutes for a military response to a passenger passing a note. Compare that with a one hour+ response time to four passenger planes being simultaneously hijacked, followed by two of them smashing spectacularly into the WTC towers, and a third allegedly plowing into the Pentagon.
Call me a skeptic if you will, but that just doesn’t seem right to me.
The Boston Globe article concludes by noting that: “Since September 11, NORAD has scrambled fighters or diverted them from other missions more than 400 times to assist civilian aviation authorities.” If you do the math, you’ll see that it is statistically a daily occurrence for fighter jets to be scrambled to address potential threats — except, of course, on September 11, when they were actually needed.
I suppose that is enough editorializing for this week, so without further ado let me get on to the rest of the articles of interest that came my way this past week.
First up is this report on the man Bush selected to head his financial crimes ‘Swat Team.’ Larry D. Thompson is, not surprisingly, himself a corporate criminal — and one who preyed on the least fortunate members of society.
Next is this report from the UK’s Observer that claims that there is in fact an Al Qaeda connection to Iraq, with training camps being operated on Iraqi soil. The odd thing is though that the camps are run by opponents of Saddam Hussein — the same opponents that some administration officials have suggested could play the same role in an attack on Iraq that the Northern Alliance played in the attack on Afghanistan.
From the Fresno Bee comes the revelation that there is at least one honest federal judge in America (http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/3556568p-4586054c.html), while from the nearby Sacramento Bee comes a report of a massive military training exercise that is soon to be conducted in California and Nevada.
The Federation of American Scientists offered this list, which is far from complete, of CIA ‘front’ organizations (http://www.fas.org/irp/contract/front.htm), while the New York Times offered this take on the CIA’s desire to recruit assets who have been “involved in human rights abuses or criminal or terrorist activity.”
The New York Post reported that a top Disney executive has left the company to work for the NSA: “The research chief at Walt Disney is leaving the Hollywood lot for a top post at the National Security Agency, Washington’s high-tech spy agency.” It might be more accurate though to say that Eric Haseltine will now be openly working for the NSA.
Next comes a trio of articles on the plea bargain deal that was offered to John Walker Lindh. Interestingly, the first of these three articles notes that Lindh has now become something of a ‘Special Agent,’ though one wonders if that is really a new development.
This next posting, from the School of the Americas Watch, reveals the fate of 43 individuals charged with various crimes for protesting the continuing operations of the world’s premier terrorist training academy.
BBC News checked in with a report on one of the Air Force’s newest toys — a robotic drone aircraft capable of carrying a payload of 3,000 pounds of bombs (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2124000/2124946.stm), while the Miami Herald informed us that the Bush operatives who played key roles in the theft of the presidential election have landed “plum D.C. jobs.” Now that’s a real shocker.
Meanwhile, I will continue to largely ignore the videotaped beating of a teenager by the Inglewood Police Department, which is notable only for the fact that it was captured on tape. Other than that, it was just business as usual in Los Angeles and its suburbs. I will note however, for those who are not already aware, that the man who shot the videotape has been arrested and imprisoned.
And that is, as someone used to say, the week that was. Until next week …