I didn’t think Donald Rumsfeld could be any scarier but after reading this article in the Washington Post (reprinted in the Seattle Times) I’m ready for The Rapture. Apparently, our military doesn’t have enough reliable intelligence and Porter Goss in charge of the CIA hasn’t convinced Rummy that the situation is about to change.
“The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld’s written order to end his “near total dependence on CIA” for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary’s direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.”
Of course the real benefit to Rummy and the Bush administration is the “less stringent congressional oversight” said to be applied to the intelligence missions carried out by the Defense Dept. Because that’s what all Americans want – more places where Rummy is unsupervised carrying out the neocon agenda. After all, it’s going so well in Iraq.
“The Strategic Support Branch was created to provide Rumsfeld with independent tools for the “full spectrum of humint operations,” according to an internal account of its origin and mission. Human intelligence operations, a term used in counterpoint to technical means such as satellite photography, range from interrogation of prisoners and scouting of targets in wartime to the peacetime recruitment of foreign spies. A recent Pentagon memo states that recruited agents may include “notorious figures” whose links to the U.S. government would be embarrassing if disclosed.”
Like Pinochet, Noriega, the Contras, Hussein and Bin Laden were all notriously aided by US intelligence and military agencies in their immediate goals of either overthrowing socialist governments or fighting US enemies in a proxy war. It is obvious that these people are still willing to fight “the war on terrorism” with the same tactics employed in the Cold War. And we’ve seen how well that turned out. Yeah, sure, the wall came down and the USSR is no more but the downside of these tactics and policies have had many more and further-reaching negative impacts than I believe anyone thought at the time.
Let’s just take Bin Laden as an example of this. We aided OBL in Afghanistan when his crew was taking on the Soviets. They were ultimately successful with covert US help. We taught OBL how to recruit, discipline and train a militia to combat an identified enemy. Didn’t anyone foresee that we may one day become that enemy? Isn’t anyone afraid of the next friend-turned-foe that our government is cultivating in our “national interest?”
I could argue other unintended consequences like the loss of control over Soviet nuclear warheads and the continuing deterioration of African nation-states but the worst outcome for the US (and I think you all understand this) is with the absence of the Soviet Union as a superpower we became the only game in town. The vaccuum created by the fall of the USSR has allowed anyone with complaints, grudges and prejudices to focus on us as their primary, and maybe only adversary.
I know it’s an ugly world with harsh realities and many believe that we have to employ these tactics on an ongoing basis or be caught unaware of the next threat. I am not arguing that we were better off during the Cold War – MAD was a stupid policy. However, when will our government make positive policy decisions to undermine the tenets of terrorist organizations and the nation-states that are pursuing nuclear arms rather than exacerbate the situation by relying solely upon tactics that reinforce the worst beliefs of US critics and enemies (and empower those future, unknown threats.)
I don’t know, but I believe removing Bush and his neocon handlers from power would be a powerful first step. At the very least get rid of Rummy.