Thursday, December 15, 2005

A good five-cent cigar, among other things

What this country needs is a
really good five-cent cigar

Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice President of The United States, in the Senate in 1917

Marshall was right but he left out something that was and still is lacking in these United States that is far more important than a five-cent cigar. A decent spy agency. The one we've got ain't worth a nickel.

The Israelis say that Saddam Hussein sent his WMD arsenal to Syria
six weeks before we attacked. In spite of what the movies would have you believe, we have no way of confirming that (short of an invasion of Syria - in which case the WMD's of Hussein and Syria would no doubt get shuffled off to Iran - whack-a-mole, anyone?).

We've got satellite images of some 150-300 heavy trucks crossing the border from Iraq into Syria during that time, but what was in them? We've not the foggiest. Could've been WMD's, could've been cotton bales, could've been dancing girls. We have no idea. And we may never know. Because our spy agency, the CIA, doesn't know and can't find out.

We can't find Osama bin Laden. We can't find Ayman al-Zawahiri. We can't find Mullah Omar. When the USSR collapsed, the CIA's reaction was, "Huh? Oh yeah, we predicted that - in 1945." Our CIA can't fly an airplane across Europe without some previously unknown Norwegian reporter discovering that flight and a lot more like it, tracing it to the CIA and then telling us what, or rather whom was on board. The CIA launched a super duper double really secret invasion of Cuba and found the Cuban army awaiting them on the beach. In that same fiasco, the CIA assured president Kennedy that the Cuban people would rise up against Castro and instead they rose up saying, "There's two hiding over there and four more hiding under there," etc..

To be fair to the CIA, the agency has been emasculated by a series of presidents and the Congress for the last 40 years. We (our elected representatives, that is) have transformed it into a lumbering disloyal bureaucracy that long ago forgot the key ingredient of "secret", which is, "Don't tell anybody." Hey! That's just like the Congress and the White House.

Here's the deal on a spy agency:
It has to operate in secrecy. And then don't tell anybody.

It has to operate constantly at the edge of legality. And then don't tell anybody.

It will cross that line upon occasion. And then not tell anybody.

When the agency blows one, heads should roll and everyone associated with the business should be fully aware of this possibility, in advance, at all times. It's part of the game.

The agency must conduct internal analyses to determine what went wrong and change things so the error is not repeated. And then don't tell anybody.

The agency must be prepared to play just as dirty if not dirtier than the opposition, regardless of domestic or international law. And then don't tell anybody.

If the agency gets caught, heads should roll and prison sentences served and everyone should be fully aware of this possibility, in advance, at all times. It's part of the game.

The failure should be analyzed internally and action taken to forestall its recurrence. And then don't tell anybody.

The agency's purpose is to inform us, IN ADVANCE, of threats to the people of The United States and then preempt those threats by whatever means seem most expedient. And then don't tell anybody.
If the agency cannot perform the above, every time and all the time, it has no reason to continue to exist.

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