October 01, 2003

Incipient Paranoia?

Billmon takes a train of thought I was following and leads it round the bend over the cliff and into the swamps of paranoia:

Whiskey Bar: The Looking Glass War: Brad DeLong raises an important question: Why has the CIA decided to go nuclear on the Wilsongate story?

The top echelons of the CIA have, by their leaks over the weekend, left themselves with no place to retreat if the current White House staff survives. Possibly they have concluded that they finally have the lever to evict key members of the White House staff--give our weak and underbriefed Sultan a new set of hopefully more competent and rational viziers. Possibly they have concluded that their chances of changing anything are small, but that in the final analysis they are not bureaucratic hacks but patriotic Americans, and that this current White House bunch has crossed the final line.

I cannot tell which: whether this is the opening shot in a campaign to replace the incompetent hardliners and political hacks ... or whether it is the hopeless final Charge of the Intelligence Chiefs.

Speculation is probably futile, unless you're one of the 20 or 30 people actually inside the decisionmaking loops out at Langley or in the White House right now. Certainly, as I noted some months back, administrations that mess with the agency usually do so at their own peril. But the urgency with which Tenet and Co. have pushed this scandal back up from the depths of the sea is still eyecatching.

Whatever role the CIA played in bringing down the Nixon White House, or in pulling the plug on the Iran Contra operation, was very much in the background -- a few secrets whispered here, a draft presidential finding there. The agency may have left fingerprints, but the fingers themselves were not visible until well after the fact.

Not this time. These guys almost literally detonated a bomb beneath the Justice Department -- then followed up with a coordinated campaign of press leaks apparently designed to flush the White House perps (and their journalistic contacts) out into the open. We'll see over the next few days how well that game plan works, but the fact that the CIA has been so obvious about executing it really gives me pause.

So why has the agency gone to Defcon 1?

I started out thinking this was just another round in the mother of all bureaucratic turf wars -- with Tenet striking preemptively to keep the White House and its congressional allies from tagging him with responsibility for the missing WMD debacle. And maybe that's it. Maybe this really is about nothing more complicated than one man's fight to keep his job.

But the more I watch the story unfold, the more I think something deeper and darker is at stake. It seems the top career elite at the CIA, plus Tenet, has pulled out all the stops to try to bust up the Rove machine. That suggests they're worried about something much bigger than just bureaucratic turf or the WMD blame game.

In fact, if this were a Third World country, I'd say we're witnessing the early stages of a coup d'etat -- or of a desperate effort to prevent one. But of course, those kind of things never happen in America.

It's still creepy, though. In a democracy, intelligence agencies generally aren't supposed to undermine elected governments. But of course, elected governments also aren't supposed to go around outing intelligence agents for fun and profit.

So should we make an exception in this case, and cheer for the spooks? Under the circumstances, it's hard not to. But it also suggests an argument for the creation of a Special Counsel that conservatives might want to think about. Because if this investigation remains with the Justice Department, and the spooks decide the fix is already in, how will they react? What else might they spill, and who might they spill it to?

Even thinking about these things puts us a long step towards Alice's looking glass world. But so have the events of the past few days. If the CIA and the White House really are going to duke it out here, it would probably be good for both sides -- and for the country -- if we at least had a neutral referee.

The problem is, as Teresa Nielsen Hayden has said, "I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist."

Posted by DeLong at October 1, 2003 09:53 AM | TrackBack


-- and, elected governments are supposed to be, um, elected.

Posted by: Matt on October 1, 2003 10:04 AM

Why do you hate America so much? ;-)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 1, 2003 10:10 AM

I agree that this looks like a surprisingly deliberate effort by the CIA to lash out at the Bush administration. But isn't it enough of a reason to say that they are tired of being kicked around by Rove et al? What better way to get them to stop abusing and damaging the CIA than to tell the White House that the CIA knows how to push back? I would believe that the CIA is genuinely angry about the Plame affair (on top of using Tenet as a scapegoat for the 16 words), and wants the White House to know that they can't do that sort of thing to the CIA. I don't think you need any more elaborate, devious, or paranoid stories to explain the CIA's behavior here.

Posted by: Kash on October 1, 2003 10:10 AM

Why do you hate America so much? ;-)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 1, 2003 10:15 AM

I hope you and Billmon are making nice, now. God, (sob), I love you guys. Bushco, but probably Roveorg, pride themselves on their hardball skills. Maybe they were just kidding themselves. When you have the executive, legislative, and court branches of government plus big and small media backing you up what seems like hardball might just be bullying. What they've lacked all along is Intelligence.

Posted by: LowLife on October 1, 2003 10:18 AM

Something nasty IS going on. Larry Johnson on the News Hour last night and Mel Goodman at the Washington Post this morning were unequivocal in their hatred of this administration. That hatred was not limited to the leakers; it extended to the entire administration and the apparatus of the right wing echo chambers that would not acknowledge how bad this was. George Bush will not be reelected in 2004 if the CIA has anything to say about it and I think they are willing to make that a bipartisan effort on their part. This might be the thrust of Bush's "classified information" statement last night.

Posted by: elliottg on October 1, 2003 10:44 AM

Something nasty IS going on. Larry Johnson on the News Hour last night and Mel Goodman at the Washington Post this morning were unequivocal in their hatred of this administration. That hatred was not limited to the leakers; it extended to the entire administration and the apparatus of the right wing echo chambers that would not acknowledge how bad this was. George Bush will not be reelected in 2004 if the CIA has anything to say about it and I think they are willing to make that a bipartisan effort on their part. This might be the thrust of Bush's "classified information" statement last night.

Posted by: elliottg on October 1, 2003 10:45 AM

Something nasty IS going on. Larry Johnson on the News Hour last night and Mel Goodman at the Washington Post this morning were unequivocal in their hatred of this administration. That hatred was not limited to the leakers; it extended to the entire administration and the apparatus of the right wing echo chambers that would not acknowledge how bad this was. George Bush will not be reelected in 2004 if the CIA has anything to say about it and I think they are willing to make that a bipartisan effort on their part. This might be the thrust of Bush's "classified information" statement last night.

Posted by: elliottg on October 1, 2003 10:47 AM

Perhaps being this blatant is the CIA's version of "you're either with us or against us". A message to Bush Sr. and company not to come to Junior's aid. If so, it's a clever way to drive a wedge into the administration's power base.

Posted by: chris_a on October 1, 2003 11:14 AM

elliottg said it often enough to get me thinking...

Bush senior thinks Greenspan cost him the election. Clinton and now Shrub are very respectful of the Fed - no pressure - and the Fed is very accomodating. J Edgar Hoover had Washington under his thumb for decades. What if, faced with a general rotten treatment from the Bushies and a specific crime against a CIA employee and US national security, top CIA guys decided to really shift the political map? Not just push back this time, but change things to the Company's advantage for a long time. The CIA as Dirty Harry -- telling future presidents "go ahead, make my day" every time they get a clever notion about extra-ciricular uses of the CIA.

Posted by: K Harris on October 1, 2003 11:19 AM

Kash has it right.

It's difficult for outsiders (of which I count myself) to understand the depth of horror with which intelligence agents view the exposure of an agent. The agent herself may be in little danger-- but hundreds of informants, people in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America-- are now exposed. If they are killed, they will be extraordinarily hard to replace, not least because everyone will know that they were betrayed by the Bush Administration.

The sort of people who join the CIA tend to see the world in black and white. Many join as a chance to be one of the good guys. But a betrayer is automatically one of the bad guys.

There is one other feature that may figure into this. Analysts at the CIA are accustomed to parsing information to get at the essential truth. Ray McGovern, one of the CIA analysts who has gone public with criticism of the Bush Administration, stated in a John Pilger documentary that he thinks the United States has already passed through the pre-fascist state and entered a fascist one. If that is the conclusion that analysts at the CIA are arriving at, then they may be acting with extremely noble motives.

One final point: it's important to understand that the CIA has four (or more) elements. One is the gathering of field intelligence, now largely done by satellite, but also through people such as Valerie Plame. The second is the analysis. The third is "operations", such as the new CIA air force and the targeted assassinations being used nominally against Al Qaida. Finally, there is the administration, responsible for presenting agency findings to the president.

Of these, "operations" is and always has been a magnet for psychopaths. Because of their excesses, that division had been almost closed down before 9/11. When we talk about a CIA "blunder", we are normally talking about a failure in the administration. As in the FBI, where field agents desperately tried in the summer of 2001 to warn that an attack was coming only to be shushed by their superiors, the administration of the CIA has sometimes failed. (Not so in 9/11, where Tenet was probably the only person in the Administration who was talking about the threat).

In summary, I believe that the CIA is, in the main, acting honorably in pushing forward the Plame case with the knowledge that treason by a high Administration official will and should bring down the Administration. And let's not fool ourselves. As Poppy Bush has rightly said, for an Administration official to expose the identity of a CIA operative is, without question, treason.

Posted by: Charles on October 1, 2003 12:01 PM

This discussion is getting into fantasy mode. Kash, see above, may well be right that Tenet is mad about Plame and about the 16 words affair. The CIA is not a secret all powerful governement anymore the the Trilateral Commiission or for that matter the eleders of Zion. People conspire all the time - it as Fourier pointed out one of life's great pleasures - but conspiracies are limited by counter conspiracies and usually have limited effect. The CIA in the sense of a unified all powerful group is a sixties fantasy just as the Communist Party (especially in the U.S.) was a pathetic fantasy, magnified into a powerful force by the right. Hey fellows, let's keep a sense of proportion.

Posted by: Daniel on October 1, 2003 12:02 PM

Can we stop quoting George H.W. Bush on what is and is not treason? In fact, exposing the identity of a CIA operative is not treason by any reasonable reading of the Constitution, which is where the crime is defined. I mean, Julius Rosenberg wasn't even convicted of treason, and it seems difficult to make the case that naming Valerie Plame as a CIA agent was, in any sense, even close to what Rosenberg did. What the administration officials did was appalling, and it was almost certainly a violation of the Intelligence Protection Act. But enough with the treason nonsense.

Posted by: James Surowiecki on October 1, 2003 12:38 PM

>"The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." ---Rush Limbaugh

The View From the Top

The thing you need to keep in mind about hierarchical bureaucracies--like corporations--but especially like government bureaucracies tasked with "sensitive" missions such as gathering intelligence--bureaucracies like NSA, CIA, FBI & etc.--is that information "produced" by the people at the lower levels of them flows, essentially unimpeded, to the very few people at the "apex" of the "pyramid". What this means in practice is that MOST people involved in the process don't know what the other people at their OWN "level" in their OWN bureaucracy know--the jargon for this feature of the process is "compartmentalized"--never mind what their "superiors" might be privy to. And just forget about what might be "common knowledge" in the other bureaucracies. This ALSO means that the onus of "putting the puzzle together" (and, NOT incidentally, directing and deploying bureaucratic efforts, assets and resources accordingly) falls upon the very few persons at the top--the "fortunate few"--who actually get to see everything that is produced by the various sections, branches and stations of the various intelligence gathering bureaucracies:

EVERYTHING depends upon THEIR competence and upon their "good faith".

If THESE people, for whatever reason, are disposed (or determined) not to notice (or do anything about) something peculiar, odds are that it won't be "noticed" or, if it is "noticed", it won't be investigated or disturbed or deterred or disrupted...

The spies who pushed for war

Julian Borger
Thursday July 17, 2003
The Guardian

As the CIA director, George Tenet, arrived at the Senate yesterday to give secret testimony on the Niger uranium affair, it was becoming increasingly clear in Washington that the scandal was only a small, well-documented symptom of a complete breakdown in US intelligence that helped steer America into war.

It represents the Bush administration's second catastrophic intelligence failure...

...The ideologically driven network functioned like a shadow government, much of it off the official payroll and beyond congressional oversight. But it proved powerful enough to prevail in a struggle with the State Department and the CIA by establishing a justification for war...

...The president's most trusted adviser, Mr Cheney, was at the shadow network's sharp end. He made several trips to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more "forward-leaning" interpretation of the threat posed by Saddam. When he was not there to make his influence felt, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was. Such hands-on involvement in the processing of intelligence data was unprecedented for a vice-president in recent times, and it put pressure on CIA officials to come up with the appropriate results.

Another frequent visitor was Newt Gingrich, the former Republican party leader who resurfaced after September 11 as a Pentagon "consultant" and a member of its unpaid defence advisory board, with influence far beyond his official title...

...In the days after September 11, Mr Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, mounted an attempt to include Iraq in the war against terror. When the established agencies came up with nothing concrete to link Iraq and al-Qaida, the OSP was given the task of looking more carefully.

William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Mr Cheney, runs the day-to-day operations, answering to Douglas Feith, a defence undersecretary and a former Reagan official...

...The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered conduit to the White House not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel Sharon's office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam's Iraq than Mossad was prepared to authorise.

"None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels," said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith's authority without having to fill in the usual forms.

The exchange of information continued a long-standing relationship Mr Feith and other Washington neo-conservatives had with Israel's Likud party.

In 1996, he and Richard Perle - now an influential Pentagon figure - served as advisers to the then Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu. In a policy paper they wrote, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, the two advisers said that Saddam would have to be destroyed, and Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran would have to be overthrown or destabilised, for Israel to be truly safe.

The Israeli influence was revealed most clearly by a story floated by unnamed senior US officials in the American press, suggesting the reason that no banned weapons had been found in Iraq was that they had been smuggled into Syria. Intelligence sources say that the story came from the office of the Israeli prime minister.

The OSP absorbed this heady brew of raw intelligence, rumour and plain disinformation and made it a "product", a prodigious stream of reports with a guaranteed readership in the White House. The primary customers were Mr Cheney, Mr Libby and their closest ideological ally on the national security council, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's deputy..."



Friendly Fire

Book: U.S. Military Drafted Plans to Terrorize U.S. Cities to Provoke War With Cuba

By David Ruppe

ABC News

N E W Y O R K, May 1 [2001]— In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities...




July 9, 2003

9/11 Attack Investigators Complain About Hindrances. Bush team is dragging its feet on access to papers and is cowing witnesses, they say.

By Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer

LA Times.com

WASHINGTON — Leaders of a federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks complained Tuesday that the Bush administration has been too slow to provide access to key documents and is intimidating witnesses by insisting that CIA and FBI "minders" attend sensitive interviews...




July 19, 2003, 12:12AM

U.S. tallied up assets well before war

Documents list Cheney group's activities


Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- The energy task force led by Vice President D*ck Cheney was examining maps of Iraq's oil assets in March 2001, two years before the United States led an invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, newly released documents show...






Blood Money

By William Rivers Pitt

t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 27 February 2003

...Who is PNAC? Its members include:

* Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the PNAC founders, who served as Secretary of Defense for Bush Sr.;

* I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's top national security assistant;

* Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, also a founding member, along with four of his chief aides including;

* Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, arguably the ideological father of the group;

* Eliot Abrams, prominent member of Bush's National Security Council, who was pardoned by Bush Sr. in the Iran/Contra scandal;

* John Bolton, who serves as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the Bush administration;

* Richard Perle, former Reagan administration official and present chairman of the powerful Defense Policy Board;

* Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, who was Trent Lott's national security aide and who served as an advisor to Rumsfeld on Iraq in 2001;

* Bruce Jackson, Chairman of PNAC, a position he took after serving for years as vice president of weapons manufacturer Lockheed-Martin, and who also headed the Republican Party Platform subcommittee for National Security and Foreign Policy during the 2000 campaign. His section of the 2000 GOP Platform explicitly called for the removal of Saddam Hussein;

* William Kristol, noted conservative writer for the Weekly Standard, a magazine owned along with the Fox News Network by conservative media mogul Ruppert Murdoch.

The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call 'Pax Americana' across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms...

...Weapons of mass destruction are a smokescreen. Paeans to the idea of Iraqi liberation and democratization are cynical in their inception. At the end of the day, this is not even about oil. The drive behind this war is ideological in nature, a crusade to 'reform' the religion of Islam as it exists in both government and society within the Middle East. Once this is accomplished, the road to empire will be open, ten lanes wide and steppin' out over the line.

At the end of the day, however, ideology is only good for bull sessions in the board room and the bar. Something has to grease the skids, to make the whole thing worthwhile to those involved, and entice those outside the loop to get into the game.

Thus, the payout.

It is well known by now that Dick Cheney, before becoming Vice President, served as chairman and chief executive of the Dallas-based petroleum corporation Halliburton. During his tenure, according to oil industry executives and United Nations records, Halliburton did a brisk $73 million in business with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. While working face-to-face with Hussein, Cheney and Halliburton were also moving into position to capitalize upon Hussein's removal from power. In October of 1995, the same month Cheney was made CEO of Halliburton, that company announced a deal that would put it first in line should war break out in Iraq. Their job: To take control of burning oil wells, put out the fires, and prepare them for service.

Another corporation that stands to do well by a war in Iraq is Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Ostensibly, Brown & Root is in the construction business, and thus has won a share of the $900 million government contract for the rebuilding of post-war Iraqi bridges, roads and other basic infrastructure. This is but the tip of the financial iceberg, as the oil wells will also have to be repaired after parent-company Halliburton puts out the fires.

More ominously is Brown & Root's stock in trade: the building of permanent American military bases. There are twelve permanent U.S. bases in Kosovo today, all built and maintained by Brown & Root for a multi-billion dollar profit. If anyone should wonder why the administration has not offered an exit strategy to the Iraq war plans, the presence of Brown & Root should answer them succinctly. We do not plan on exiting. In all likelihood, Brown & Root is in Iraq to build permanent bases there, from which attacks upon other Middle Eastern nations can be staged and managed.

Again, this casts Bush's speech on Wednesday in a new light.

Being at the center of the action is nothing new for Halliburton and Brown & Root. The two companies have worked closely with governments in Algeria, Angola, Bosnia, Burma, Croatia, Haiti, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Somalia during the worst chapters in those nation's histories. Many environmental and human rights groups claim that Cheney, Halliburton and Brown & Root were, in fact, centrally involved in these fiascos. More recently, Brown & Root was contracted by the Defense Department to build cells for detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The bill for that one project came to $300 million.

Cheney became involved with PNAC officially in 1997, while still profiting from deals between Halliburton and Hussein. One year later, Cheney and PNAC began actively and publicly agitating for war on Iraq. They have not stopped to this very day.

Another company with a vested interest in both war on Iraq and massively increased defense spending is the Carlyle Group. Carlyle, a private global investment firm with more than $12.5 billion in capital under management, was formed in 1987. Its interests are spread across 164 companies, including telecommunications firms and defense contractors. It is staffed at the highest levels by former members of the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. Former President George H. W. Bush is himself employed by Carlyle as a senior advisor, as is long-time Bush family advisor and former Secretary of State James Baker III.

One company acquired by Carlyle is United Defense, a weapons manufacturer based in Arlington, VA. United Defense provides the Defense Department with combat vehicle systems, fire support, combat support vehicle systems, weapons delivery systems, amphibious assault vehicles, combat support services and naval armaments. Specifically, United Defense manufactures the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the M113 armored personnel carrier, the M88A2 Recovery Vehicle, the Grizzly, the M9 ACE, the Composite Armored Vehicle, the M6 Linebacker, the M7 BFIST, the Armored Gun System, the M4 Command and Control Vehicle, the Battle Command Vehicle, the Paladin, the Crusader, and Electric Gun/Pulse Power weapons technology.

In other words, everything a growing Defense Department, a war in Iraq, and a burgeoning American military empire needs.

Ironically, one group that won't profit from Carlyle's involvement in American military buildup is the family of Osama bin Laden. The bin Laden family fortune was amassed by Mohammed bin Laden, father of Osama, who built a multi-billion dollar construction empire through contracts with the Saudi government. The Saudi BinLaden Group, as this company is called, was heavily invested in Carlyle for years. Specifically, they were invested in Carlyle's Partners II Fund, which includes in that portfolio United Defense and other weapons manufacturers.

This relationship was described in a September 27, 2001 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled 'Bin Laden Family Could Profit From Jump in Defense Spending Due to Ties to US Bank.' The 'bank' in question was the Carlyle Group. A follow-up article published by the Journal on September 28 entitled ' Bin Laden Family Has Intricate Ties With Washington - Saudi Clan Has Had Access To Influential Republicans ' further describes the relationship. In October of 2001, Saudi BinLaden and Carlyle severed their relationship by mutual agreement. The timing is auspicious.

There are a number of depths to be plumbed in all of this. The Bush administration has claimed all along that this war with Iraq is about Saddam Hussein's connections to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, though through it all they have roundly failed to establish any basis for either accusation. On Wednesday, Bush went further to claim that the war is about liberating the Iraqi people and bringing democracy to the Middle East. This ignores cultural realities on the ground in Iraq and throughout the region that, salted with decades of deep mistrust for American motives, make such a democracy movement brought at the point of the sword utterly impossible to achieve.

This movement, cloaked in democracy, is in fact a PNAC-inspired push for an American global empire. It behooves Americans to understand that there is a great difference between being the citizen of a constitutional democracy and being a citizen of an empire. The establishment of an empire requires some significant sacrifices....


Lest We Forget

By Laurie Manis

Apr 9, 2003

In Memory of Wladyslaw Szpilman

Nazism was a form of government that restricted personal freedom but permitted private ownership of property. It called for aggressive nationalism, militarism and expansion of Germany's spheres of control through military conquest.

The Nazis glorified Germany and its people, claiming that other nationalities were inferior. It promised to build a harmonious, orderly and prosperous society for the Germans.

Instead it brought terrorism, war and mass murder.

The Nazi agenda was largely based on the premises of Adolph Hitler's book Mein Kampf. In his book, Hitler stated his beliefs and ideas for Germany's future, which included plans to overthrow regimes of countries he perceived to be dangerous to Germany's security or had natural resources needed to fulfill its destiny as the most powerful nation on earth.

Nazism did not gain wide support in Germany until the worldwide business slump of 1929. Discontented Germans then turned to Nazism in increasing numbers because it promised economic help, political power and national glory.

The Nazis' organization, discipline and financial backing from wealthy industrialists, who feared Communism, soon made them a force with which to contend. Many upper-class Germans feared loss of power and property would be a result of the newly formed democratic government, which they suspected might levy taxes in order to redistribute wealth.

The farmers, middle and laboring classes were attracted to the promise of social reform, which they believed was badly needed after the excesses and moral lassitude of the Roaring Twenties.

Powerless people responded to their ideas of national superiority and strength. The military supported Hitler's ideas of discipline, order and increased funding through rearmament.

Hitler began to assemble some of the people who would help him rise to power. They included:

Joseph Goebbels, the chief Nazi propagandist who wrote: "We do not want a second catastrophe along the lines of (hidden date XXXX). We depend not on the grace of our enemy, rather on military might."

"He knows that we are waging this war for a better peace, that we are fighting for the happiness of people who have so often been oppressed by their governments."

"No power in the world will make us deny our duty, or forget even for a moment our historical task of maintaining the freedom of our people."

Hermann Goering, Hitler's second in command, who said: "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS who asserted: "Unconditional and highest freedom of will comes from obedience, from service to our world view, obedience which is prepared to render each and every sacrifice to pride, to external honor and to all which is dear to us personally, obedience which never falters but unconditionally follows every order which comes from the Fuhrer or legally from superiors...."

And Ernst Rohm, the chief of the SA who believed: "The people want wholesome dread. They want to fear something. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive."

In the July, 1932 election for the Reichstag (parliament) the Nazis received nearly 38% of the vote, making it the largest political party in Germany but not the majority party. Leaders of the other parties offered Hitler Cabinet posts in exchange for Nazi support but he refused to accept any arrangement that did not make him chancellor (prime minister) of Germany

The majority of the people did not want Hitler to become chancellor and had serious misgivings about him. But in June of 1933, President von Hindenburg was persuaded by his friends to name Hitler chancellor. Hitler, in turn, promised to act lawfully. He promised to restore the German economy; assure education and work for all; and lead Germany to greatness.

On February 27, a fire began that destroyed the Reichstag building. Many historians believe that it was planned by the Nazis. Although a full investigation was never conducted, the Nazis quickly blamed the Communists. A pro-Communist Dutch anarchist was found at the site and admitted that he had set it.

President von Hindenburg then signed an emergency decree that gave the government unprecedented power. The Nazis moved to control all police authority in Germany, including the right to arrest and hold people without formal charging on suspicion of treason, which served to erode German civil rights.

Hitler promised to rid Germany of Communists and other "enemies", such as the Jews, on whom he blamed Germany's troubles. "By defending myself against the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work", he wrote.

On March 23, 1933, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed a law "for the removal of distress from the people and the state". The law, known as the Enabling Act, in effect suspended basic civil and human rights in Germany. Hitler then began to destroy the Constitution through outwardly legal means.

By mid-July 1933, the Gestapo (secret state police) was hunting down enemies and opponents of the government. People were jailed or shot on suspicion alone.

The Nazis used the press, radio and films to flood Germany with propaganda praising the 'New Order', Hitler's term for his reordering of German society and for his plans to reorder the rest of Europe.

German citizens were kept in a constant state of fear that their country might be attacked by its enemies. Complete faith in the judgment of the Nazi leaders was the measuring stick of devotion to one's country and national pride was the noblest of virtues...


Posted by: Mike on October 1, 2003 12:43 PM

Do we know what kind of damage disclosure of Plame's name has done to U.S. intelligence operations on weapons of mass destruction?

The CIA is now conducting an assessment of the damage. Wilson has said, "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames."

Of course the CIA assessment will not be made public. Given 2 months, the assessment is likely well underway and reprisals may have already been dealt. If that is the case, reprisals against foreign assets as a result of the outing, then the CIA reaction is not only understandable, it would be dereliction of duty not to pursue the issue.

Posted by: bakho on October 1, 2003 01:02 PM

Jesus spammer Mike, get your own damn blog. Nobody needs to read your crap.

And about this not being treason. For no reason, other than differences of opinion, the right wing has been throwing around the word treason. The fact is that folks like Rumsfeld who state that folks are providing aid and comfort for voicing different opinions than the administration don't know actual bad behavior when it does happen. I believe that if this leak did result in CIA operations being compromised overseas the leaker is providing the infamous "aid and comfort." In my mind, on the fuzzy treason scale, that's pretty damn close to treason.

Posted by: Gideon S on October 1, 2003 01:10 PM

But this is exactly what I don't understand. Why would you want to adopt the rhetoric of Rumsfeld, et.al., or use terms like "fuzzy treason"? Treason has always been treated as a uniquely horrific crime by the U.S. What is gained, aside from scoring a few political points, by levying the charge in this case? Does any true democrat really want an expansive definition of "aid and comfort"? Because surely if blowing Valerie Plame's cover was treasonous, then so was the visit of every SDSer to Vietnam and so was the release of the Pentagon Papers and so, too, was going to Iraq to serve as a human shield before Gulf War II.

The other problem with relying on the "aid and comfort" clause is that it encourages a casual definition of "enemies," which fits all too well the "if you're not with us, you're against us" strategy the administration has adopted. Is any country that's trying to acquire a nuclear bomb automatically our enemy? Is any country in which we have undercover CIA agents -- that is, I assume, every country -- our enemy?

Posted by: James Surowiecki on October 1, 2003 01:29 PM

People should be far less fanciful about CIA motives and actions. The idea that senior CIA people are out to change the political equation is silly. The idea that senior CIA people have objectives and an agenda independent of the US political leadership is also silly. Just because you saw it in a movie once...

Agency professionals are no doubt, however, bone tired of leaks. They have been bone tired of leaks for a decade or more, and I suspect somebody finally decided to draw a line in the sand. About time.

It seems likely to me that senior Agency officials did not anticptae the extent of the public interest in this issue, and the associated press reactions, when they initiated their actions late last week. Nobody should assume that they perfectly anticipated how this would play in the media, that this was all set off with keen foresight; this is almost never the case. When I heard about the Plame affair last Friday, I had no idea it would unleash tyhis torrent, and I bet most others had no idea either.

Posted by: Jim Harris on October 1, 2003 01:35 PM


>Gideon S on October 1, 2003 01:10 PM

...get your own damn blog. Nobody needs to read your crap."

Posted by: Mike on October 1, 2003 01:56 PM

>>But this is exactly what I don't understand. Why would you want to adopt the rhetoric of Rumsfeld, et.al., or use terms like "fuzzy treason"? >>

Agreed. Isn't a clear violation of statute and the GHW Bush quote enough?

This isn't just any leak, or even just any leak of classified information. And it's much more specific than "aid and comfort."

Posted by: richard on October 1, 2003 02:07 PM

"Treason"? THAT'S an EEEEasy one....

Traitor List ™

Treason: Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.

Traitor: If you do not support our President's decisions you are a traitor.

Get to know your traitor!...


Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism

by Ann H. Coulter


Posted by: Mike on October 1, 2003 02:15 PM

James Surowiecki wrote, "What is gained, aside from scoring a few political points, by levying the charge in this case? Does any true democrat really want an expansive definition of 'aid and comfort'? Because surely if blowing Valerie Plame's cover was treasonous, then so was the visit of every SDSer to Vietnam and so was the release of the Pentagon Papers and so, too, was going to Iraq to serve as a human shield before Gulf War II."

In many ways I agree with you here. The problem is there's a prisoner's dilemma---a WH blow job (or immaterial lies in a judicial process instigated by a right-wing conspiracy) wasn't a "high crime or misdemeanor." While as you imply there's a downside to "defecting" in the prisoner dilemma, we can't continue to "cooperate" forever.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on October 1, 2003 02:20 PM

It's true that if your cooperation doesn't get reciprocated in the PD, you get exploited. But I think that this case can be pursued loudly and effectively without using rhetoric that does not, to be grandiose about it, serve democratic (small-d) purposes.

I also think that the treason charge is a non-starter politically, too. There's simply no way that most Americans will ever find credible the idea that George Bush or any of his officials is a traitor. For that matter, does anyone really think that the leakers meant to give "aid and comfort" to our enemies? Of course, you can say that objectively, that's what they did, but again, there's little doubt that objectively, anti-war protesters give aid and comfort to our enemies, too. Calling any act that harms our national security treasonous is just the wrong path -- wrong as a matter of principle, wrong as a matter of politics -- to go down. What the administration officials did was criminal, and the WH has made it worse by covering it up. Hammer them for that, not for betraying the U.S.

Posted by: James Surowiecki on October 1, 2003 02:49 PM

Mr. Surowieki is suddenly solicitous that we refrain from branding Bush's treason for what it is. But he is wrong in claiming that betraying the name of an intelligence officer-- and by extension, her network of informants and contacts-- to reprisal or even assassination, does not merit the strongest opprobrium.

Treason has rarely been prosecuted, because the burden of proof is so high (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article03/24.html). But let's be clear. Just because a crime is difficult to prove in a court of law does not diminish its severity. The name of Valerie Plame went directly from Robert Novak's pen to Al Qaida's intelligence service, as the White House surely knew it would. The White House further knew that as a direct result, the lives of dozens if not hundreds of American- and foreign- informants and associates were placed in danger. The only valid reason to argue that this was not an act of treason is that there is no real war underway.

I would accept that argument. Any other is hypocrisy.

Posted by: Charles on October 1, 2003 03:16 PM

Where is the hypocrisy? What's hypocritical about arguing that publicly disclosing a CIA agent's name is not treasonous?

More important, if you accept the argument that we are not at war in a constitutional sense, and that therefore the disclosure of Plame's name is not treasonous, why keep calling it treason?

Posted by: James Surowiecki on October 1, 2003 03:54 PM

Steve Guilliard at his blogsite puts this move by the CIA down to longstanding hostility/resentment on the part of the CIA professional bureaucracy to the PNAC crowd,- (going way back- remember Team B? Same perps.)- and, of course, there must be widespread resentment in the intelligence community over how the Bushies cooked the books on Iraq, just as there is in the U.K., as well as, among the higher-ups, how Tenet and his gang were made to take the fall on WMD and may still be made to do so with the Kay report due. I don't think there is any greater level of "conspiracy" than that.

Of course, one of the standard features of political scandals is the resort to rhetorical overkill, and we can look forward to the rather amusing spectacle of role reversal in this one, with the liberals in a high dudgeon, shouting "Treason!", even as conservatives coolly attempt to minimize any connection between morality, politics and national security. And of course, the function of political scandals is to divert attention from larger public issues of onerous implication and responsibility and channel them onto the political superstructure, wherein all the standard operators can plot their moves and maintain their positions, a game of musical chairs, even if Wagner is playing in the background. And of course, this all is necessary because it is assumed that such little dramas are all the public is capable of understanding, thankfully.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 1, 2003 05:18 PM

I don't see why it's "silly" to propose that the big guys in the CIA, people who have overthrown governments in their day, have objectives and an agenda. Sounds like an empirical question to me -- either they are, or they aren't. And LOTS of bureaucracies (e.g. the Army Corp of Engineers) have agendas independent of elected government officials and any of their other supposed bosses.

Posted by: Zizka on October 1, 2003 06:20 PM

Mr. Surowiecki asks >>Where is the hypocrisy? What's hypocritical about arguing that publicly disclosing a CIA agent's name is not treasonous?>More important, if you accept the argument that we are not at war in a constitutional sense, and that therefore the disclosure of Plame's name is not treasonous, why keep calling it treason?<<

As soon as the Administration admits that we are not at war, I will stop saying they have committed treason.

Posted by: Charles on October 1, 2003 07:49 PM

Billmon takes a train of thought I was following and leads it round the bend over the cliff and into the swamps of paranoia:

I'm only following your lead, Brad.

Posted by: Billmon on October 2, 2003 01:54 PM

The left-liberal view of the current political situation, of which Paul Krugman and Brad deLong are enthusiastic endorsers, can be summed up as follows.

(1) Bush has an irresponsible fiscal policy.

(2) No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

(3) Somebody is the White House made an illegal leak.

Therefore (4) Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda deserve to win and western civilization deserves to be destroyed.

Forgive me, ladies and gentlemen, if I fail to follow your logic.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on October 3, 2003 12:35 AM
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