Spooks on the Loose

McCormack_Ken_opinionby Ken McCormack

This PeaceWorker focuses on spooks. The CIA and over 20 other such agencies are rapidly spreading our national disease — much more dangerous than the flu — diagnosed by doctors as “terminal hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy syndrome appears with two levels of truth. Truth one is public. You see it on C-Span, at rallies, conventions, speeches, town meetings, patriotic holidays and Super Bowls. It wears the glittering mask of innocence, and it’s the treat that sometimes has a hidden razor blade. Truth two is simply the dirty laundry. It’s the Frankenstein mask that occasionally shows itself in public by mistake as covert action, illegal surveillance, rendition, torture and slaughter of civilians.

Intelligence is Not Only Spying, it is Also Action

Because of the history of covert action, whenever I see scandalous destruction at a peaceful demonstration I suspect it might be the activity of an undercover government agent sent to discredit the event. The public should never forget that newsworthy crimes are often committed by a secret government — not only here but all over the world. Covert agents could, therefore, be the cause of lots of sensational terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere. Because our government is so good at keeping secrets (remember the Manhattan Project), we only know the tiniest bit of what is really going on.
Today, covert action and infiltration are being aimed not only at Muslims, but also at peace and other controversial organizations, especially environmentalists and animal rights groups who themselves have been designated as terrorist. A recent book, Operation Bite Back: Rod Coronado’s War to Save American Wilderness (by Dean Kuipers), describes how an undercover agent tried to persuade Bill Foreman of Earth First! to use a new kind of explosive. Had Foreman agreed, this particular chemical would have automatically triggered an investigation of his organization by Homeland Security. But, fortunately for his cause, Bill preferred to stick with old-fashioned dynamite.

Intelligence is a Foil for Overt Government

Intelligence agencies also often offer a convenient a way for government to engage in devious activity. Intelligence was manipulated to justify the Iraq war, for instance, and then blamed when it came to light that the war was based on lies. Privatization of covert government, moreover, adds a particularly sinister new dimension to spying. What a private business does is nobody’s business; it has no loyalty and its services are open to the highest bidder.

Bush Violated the Hypocritic Oath

The gentlemen’s agreement in the hypocritic fraternity is “you never, ever, under any circumstances, air your dirty laundry in public.” It simply wasn’t done. Until the Bush administration.

Bush colleagues were so self-assured they actually told the truth where no others had before. The President once acknowledged, for instance, that his constituency was the “Haves and the Have-Mores.” His administration also acknowledged and justified torture. We became officially and publicly a plutocracy of torturers and liars, and proud of it.

Will Something Happen,

or More of the Same Old?

What happens next will be very interesting. The Obama administration is less secretive than the previous one, but still seems to want to ignore the dirty laundry. There are mumblings, however, from his attorney general’s office. After all, crimes have been committed. The dirty laundry has been aired.

But it has been aired before.

I first became aware of Truth Two when Gary Powers was shot down in his spy plane over Russia. Of course President Eisenhower denied the spying. If you couldn’t believe the heroic liberator of Europe, whom could you believe?

alternativesLater, more dirty laundry revealed covert action directed against law-abiding United States citizens, such as civil rights and peace activists. “We the People” became the apparent enemy. Secret drug experiments on human beings, the mugging and murdering by agents provocateur in the COINRELPRO program, and other notorious misbehavior was eventually exposed by the Church Committee, which pushed Congress to pass laws against such activity. But this is the United States of Amnesia, and those laws already seem to have been ignored or reversed. Spying and covert activity have now been consolidated and intensified under the Gestapo-like Homeland Security.

Turn the Surveillance Cameras Around

There is nothing government fears more than simple exposure. Covert action can be destroyed simply by shining light into the dark corners. Concerned citizens need to constantly turn the surveillance cameras around and point them the other way. This happened at Abu Ghraib and with Rodney King with remarkable results. The arrival of the Internet makes such effective counter-surveillance even much more likely to succeed in the future.

This month’s PeaceWorker shines some light into those dark corners just in time for Halloween.Φ

Ken McCormack, a retired journalist, is a member of OPW’s Board of Directors and has volunteered to serve as The PeaceWorker’s Associate Editor.

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