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Government Failure Is the New Normal: Blaming the Spies Means Never Any Accountability
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I find as a general rule that sweeping generalizations coming out of the media and punditry about anything are frequently wrong. As a former intelligence officer, I find it amusing to read articles in the mainstream media that blithely report how the latest international outrages are undoubtedly the work of CIA and the rest of the U.S. government’s national security alphabet soup. The recurring claim that the CIA is somehow running the world by virtue of a vast conspiracy that includes the secret intelligence agencies of a number of countries, while using blackmail and other inducements to corrupt vulnerable politicians and opinion makers, has entered into the DNA of journalists worldwide, frequently without any evidence that the current crop of spies which includes an increasing number of not-trained-as-spies paramilitary officers is capable or even interested in doing anything that complicated.

One might reasonably object that running the entire world, particularly on a coercive fashion, is a big job and nobody has the resources to address hundreds of “problems” simultaneously. But, nevertheless, any way you slice it, the myth of the Agency being all-powerful and also uniquely malevolent is pervasive, to include the tale that it and the other national security elements conspire to effectively control both American presidents and the mainstream media.

Non-Americans, if anything, are even more persuaded that America’s intelligence community knows all and is in a certain sense directly or indirectly responsible for whatever occurs worldwide. A highly educated Turkish diplomat who became a close friend insisted to me that there was a big computer located in Washington that had complete information on everyone in the world included in its files. Ironically, that observation was somewhat humorous in 1988, but it is closer to today’s reality of total government control and massive cyber intrusion conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency.

To be sure, one can and certainly should oppose the policies enabling regime change that the Agency has been associated with worldwide but there is a context to all the mayhem that must be understood. First of all, de facto regime change is now practiced openly by the U.S. government under the direction of the President of the United States and his close associates. Witness, for example, what took place in Ukraine and what is being attempted in Syria. State Department and USAID manipulations, unleashing of the allegedly non-governmental National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and direct military intervention are the preferred tools since 2001 and they all take place relatively transparently. One might say that what the CIA used to do is now being done out in the open.

Indeed, the various iterations of the Authorization to Use Military Force and also the Patriot and Military Commissions acts give the government a free hand in terms of how it responds to the rest of the world and also to its errant U.S. citizens, to include assassinations of names on lists prepared in the White House and death by drones in response to “profiling,” which overwhelmingly kills mostly innocent civilians. Recall for a moment how Senator John McCain and neocon State Department officer Victoria Nuland passed out cookies in Maidan Square in Kiev as part of a $5 billion dollar successful subversion program to overthrow Ukraine’s pro-Russian government. And Syria was a direct military intervention with the openly stated intention of replacing the Al-Assad government. It should also be noted that both interventions took place under the smooth talking Barack Obama, as well as the disastrous overthrow of Libya’s government, which turned one of Africa’s few prosperous regimes into a hell hole. And the exercises in regime change occurred even though none of those countries threatened the United States in any way.

Those policies and others are set by this country’s civilian leadership to include the president, secretary of state and national security council and, when necessary, they are imposed on CIA and other national security related government agencies by their own political leadership as most recent directors have been political appointees, not professional intelligence or law enforcement officers. The Agency, which bureaucratically speaking works for the president, does not hold stop to hold referenda among its employees to determine which foreign policy option they prefer any more than soldiers in the 101st Airborne are consulted when they receive orders to deploy. Nearly all current and former intelligence officers that I know are, in fact, opposed to the politics of U.S. global dominance that have been pretty much in place since 9/11.

Based on my own experience, the often-cited fundamental evil of the intelligence community was seldom visible, though that appears to have changed somewhat since 9/11, to include the enhancement of the organization’s paramilitary role, the creation of secret prisons and the use of torture. Given the CIA’s presumed invincibility and the taint surrounding how it operates, it has frequently become low hanging fruit for those in government and the media who want to find someone to blame when things go wrong. The problem with the criticism often being levelled is that it is far too sweeping and generic. In reality, there are two distinct CIAs. The first is the place where something approaching 20,000 intelligence collectors and agent handlers, analysts, technical officers and other support personnel work. They are career employees who collect and analyze the information which is then passed on to the consumers, most important of whom is the president and his foreign policy plus national security staff. Professional intelligence officers work hard to be objective, but those people surrounding the top officials are highly political and serve as filters for the information. They frequently ignore or otherwise reject intelligence if it does not fit their idea of what is important. It is that rejection that creates Vietnams, Afghanistans and Iraqs. Consequently, it is the divide between producer and consumer where there is most often a problem and when there is real corruption of the system it usually comes down to a few individuals who are politically motivated.

Ironically, much of the damage comes when officials with access to intelligence and security resources go rogue. Recent claims of national security state interference in U.S. elections should be taken very seriously indeed, as they threaten the very basis of democratic elections, an issue that it unfortunately under siege coming from many directions. The recent coordinated attempt by John Brennan of the CIA that included the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence amounted to an illegal covert operation organized and executed by the top officials in the U.S. intelligence and national security community to defeat the Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump. Clapper, Brennan and former FBI Director Jim Comey appear to have all played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been explicitly authorized by the Clinton campaign and also by the then serving President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his national security team.

It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan had created a Trump Task Force in early 2016. This Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with Clapper, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell supported the effort with a New York Times op-ed which described Trump as a Russian agent, a claim that was supported by zero evidence and which was given credibility only by Morell’s headline boast that “I ran the CIA.” In other words, Morell was using his CIA credentials to validate a narrative that he surely knew to be a lie.

As a result, Trump and his staff were on the receiving end of a number of conspiracies, first to deny him the GOP nomination, then to ensure that he be defeated in the presidential election, and subsequently to completely delegitimize his presidency. Brennan even illegally approached foreign intelligence services in Europe to obtain dirt on Trump and the conspirators did not stop there, even paying for and disseminating a scandalous report by a former British intelligence officer referred to as the Steele Dossier after Trump was elected. The truly most devastating aspect of the entire affair is the likelihood that if President Obama actually was knowledgeable of what was going on it meant that an incumbent president was using his national security resources to destroy a political opponent.

It is important to recognize that it was not the CIA that sought to destroy Trump. It was one individual named John Brennan and a circle of other security service chiefs around and loyal to the president. That Obama himself and Brennan have never been questioned by the FBI over possible abuse of office is shameful, but more often than not, it is the intelligence agencies that are on the victimization end of political manipulation. The Afghanistan evacuation problems recently experienced are perfect examples of how intelligence can be abused or twisted. There is growing politically motivated commentary expressing the view that there was an intelligence failure, in that the White House and Defense Department did not know about the weakness of the Afghan Army and the strong possibility that the country’s government would fall quickly under Taliban pressure. Those allegations are a lie and everyone at a senior point in the system knows it, just as the George W. Bush administration’s claims that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had or was seeking weapons of mass destruction and was threatening the United States was a elaborate lie fabricated by the neoconservatives in 2002-3.

There is overwhelming evidence that the intelligence provided by the Agency, State Department and even the Pentagon, as well as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was unanimous when it arrived at the desks of the senior policy makers in Washington: the Afghan Army was riddled with corruption that no training could compensate for. It was plagued by desertions, with officers stealing payrolls, and by ghost battalions that had no soldiers but drew salaries for them. The government in Kabul was equally corrupt and had little popular support.

This message was delivered by the intelligence agencies regularly for the past fifteen or more years, but when it reached the level of the White House it was turned on its head. The press spokesmen told the media and the American people that everything was fine, progress was being made and the Afghan Army was being trained by NATO to become a fighting force that would defeat the Taliban. The national security and intelligence agencies were telling the truth but it was all converted into a lie to deceive the public. Indeed, it is now being reported that President Biden was himself intimately involved in the lie, having called Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and insisted that he say publicly that the fight against the Taliban was going well “whether it is true or not.”

So now the White House is again claiming “Mission Accomplished” on the evacuation from Kabul, something long overdue but which was executed disastrously, seemingly unplanned and unanticipated by a tone-deaf White House. It did not even get all Americans out of Afghanistan and any return by U.S. forces to take control of the airport again is unimaginable as the Taliban are substantially in control and thanks to Washington well-armed with heavy weapons.

So why do the government and media strut around suggesting how the CIA controls the world while at the same time accusing it of intelligence failures whenever something goes wrong even when the information provided was accurate? It is because the intelligence community can serve as a convenient punching bag since it does so much of its work in secret and is required by law to protect its sources, which means it cannot strike back when it is attacked. To blame it for the failures of others is plausible and doing so means that no one else is to blame, which appears to be the guiding principle of American government. No one important is ever to blame. Whistleblowers who reveal crimes are the only ones who are ever tried and convicted. When it becomes a crime to reveal a crime, you know that it is the criminals who are actually in charge.

Philip Giraldi, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
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  1. anonymous[385] • Disclaimer says:

    There’s a lot of bullshit packed into this blivet.

    Strawman 1: CIA is running the world. Nobody thinks CIA runs the world. the SCO and the UNTOC treaty parties are kicking the shit out of CIA.

    CIA runs the US government. Because they have impunity in municipal law. They can kill you and torture you and get away with it. If you’re a DEA agent like Kiki Camerena. If you’re the president. They killed JFK. They shot Reagan and turned him into a vegetable. They purged Nixon, Carter, and Trump, installed Clinton the comprador of Mena, DCI Bush’s spy brat kid, and third generation spook Obama. They pushed all these pukes around like puppets, and after stealing an election to purge Trump they installed the perfect puppet ruler, the bribed and blackmailed vegetable Biden.

    So cut the shit. CIA only runs the US government and stripmines its subject population, which is just slightly better than being Togolese president-for-life. Your crooked agency runs an underdeveloped shithole, that’s all.

    Strawman 2: That gumshoe CIA spies run the world. CIA, like all totalitarian states, is a top-down organization. Of course nobody gives a shit what grunts like Giraldi think. “A few individuals who are politically motivated” – that’s who runs CIA.

    Big Lie 1: CIA works for the president. CIA makes a fool of the president if they want (Remember Ike and Herter’s disarmament inititiative and the U2 Dulles crashed at Krushchev’s yard to wreck it?) CIA purges the president if they want. CIA fucking kills the president if they want. So cut the shit.

    Big Lie 2: Bad apples. Your bad apple is… Brennan. The fucking DCI. The fucking boss of it. The guy who shielded the hilariously conspicuous 9/11 hijackers from his post in Saudi. On that logic, the mob was spoiled by a few bad apples like Capone.

    Here is Phil’s fundamental kernel of bullshit. It wasn’t CIA, It was that bad apple who spoiled the barrel. While CIA may have impunity in legal pretexts including inter alia the National Security Act, the Central Intelligence Agency Act, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the operational files exemption, the political questions doctrine, the state secrets privilege, the utmost deference doctrine, the deference upon deference doctrine, FASAB Standard 56, NSC 10/2, the National Security Directive of December 19, 1947, the Rogers-Huston memo et seq. – that institution, with its dozen get-out-of-jail-free-cards, would never commit transnational organized crime – if it weren’t for those isolated bad apples like the guy who runs it.

    Phil. You worked for a criminal enterprise. Get the fuck over it.

  2. AaronInMVD says: • Website

    Aite, Cold War was a mistake. Shoulda let Patton run through the Soviet Union in summer 1945 with freshly equipped German POWs turned conscripts. Prevent the desire for a CIA while it was still just this provisional OSS thing.

    • Replies: @Mackerel Sky
  3. Big Lie 1: CIA works for the president. CIA makes a fool of the president if they want (Remember Ike and Herter’s disarmament initiative and the U2 Dulles crashed at Krushchev’s yard to wreck it?)

    For those unfamiliar with this sinister plot:

    • Thanks: carroll price
  4. @AaronInMVD

    Pure fantasy. Patton would’ve been whupped. You Americans could barely manage the few understrength Germans you’d been facing. You would have been crushed.

    • Agree: Realist, notbe
    • Replies: @Heymrguda
    , @AaronInMVD
  5. So Dr Phil is now claiming that the CIA is the whipping boy for government failure. I’ll be charitable and say there may be some truth in that.
    But the CIA is not simply an intelligence agency. Right from its inception in 1947, it has been in the coup, regime change and color revolution business. From Kermit Roosevelt and Rocky Stone onwards.
    Dr Giraldi makes no mention of this in his essay.

    If it were merely an intelligence agency, the misrepresentation of its reports by politicos for their own purposes might be deprecated. But its regime change activities are those which have caused the resentment and anger at the organisation, not only when successful, but especially when they fail ( Syria, Cuba )
    The CIA has been a paramilitary organisation from the start. For a long time, it has applied its regime change policy to the United States. Presidents they don’t like have been assassinated ( Kennedy ), deposed on trumped up charges ( Nixon ), or lose rigged elections ( Trump). Spying is now merely ancillary to its paramilitary function.

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @animalogic
  6. Realist says:

    Great comments. To get a great perspective on the CIA, one could not do better than read the book: The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

    Two nasty bastards…especially Allen.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @TomSchmidt
  7. Heymrguda says:
    @Mackerel Sky

    Maybe, maybe not. That has been the subject of a lot of debate among military historians thru the years. But one thing is certain the huge military aid given the USSR during the last two years of the war, coupled with all the technology transfers would have played a big role in any Soviet success.

    • Thanks: AaronInMVD
    • Replies: @notbe
  8. This is the argument given by people who lived as long ago as Plato, that Democracy is not a good system because, for one reason, under its cover, no one can be held accountable for anything. It’s always shared responsibility and head shaking, which doesn’t fix a thing. For example, Rand Paul has Dr. Fauci’s number. He knows he’s been lying to the American public. Rand has called for his arrest and the rest of the goons Rand has to work with, both democrats and republicans don’t see the seriousness of the situation. What did Fauci know about the design of the virus in his supporting the “gain of function research with millions of Americans dollars? Who was involved with him. Who was involved with him? He should be grilled to well done on these questions. Yet the dumb shit congress and senate won’t move. How many of them are bought off by China? Time to grow up now.

  9. Aw. The poor CIA. I really pity them. They dindo nuffin. Give them a huge tranche of handouts. Maybe that will cheer them up.

  10. AaronInMVD says: • Website
    @Mackerel Sky

    If he did get whooped that also could have been for the better. Let the war grind to an ugly conclusion instead of a century of stasis and bureaucratic capture.

  11. notbe says:

    Patton would’ve been whupped-no need to debate or analyze this one, its clear as rain

  12. Anon[291] • Disclaimer says:

    ‘….. Nearly all current and former intelligence officers that I know are, in fact, opposed to the politics of U.S. global dominance that have been pretty much in place since 9/1…….’

    Why no mass resignations in protest ?
    Why essentially only silence ?

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  13. @Realist

    “For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” wrote former president Harry Truman in the Washington Post on December 22, 1963. It was exactly one month after the assassination of President Kennedy.
    “It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas,” Truman wrote.

    Already Soviet bloc news outlets were speculating Kennedy’s murder—and the murder of the only suspect while in police custody—pointed to U.S. government involvement in the assassination.

    Truman addressed the allegations obliquely.

    “This quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and subject for cold war enemy propaganda,” Truman wrote.

    Truman called for the CIA to be limited to intelligence gathering and analysis. I’m sure Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon would have concurred. As a mere intelligence agency, it might leak or divulge information or disinfomation that might cause severe embarrassment or difficulty, but little more than that.

    • Thanks: Realist
  14. anon[372] • Disclaimer says:

    Failing to ratify the Rome Statute means never any accountability.

    Fixed it for ya!

    If you guys are all such outraged blameless Boy Scouts, you should be fine with complementarity, Right?

  15. @Realist

    You might also peruse:

    Written by a Leftist opposed to the originally “right wing” CIA, but now obviously only an arm of the NSC state. One fact out of the book: when Oswald went hunting in the Soviet Union he was such a notoriously poor shot that companions gave him a killed rabbit so he wouldn’t feel so bad. Undermining the magic bullet from the depository is one thing, but the information that Soviet peasants had guns to go hunting was entirely new.

    At this point, the only prospect is the utter collapse of the Federal state, which can only happen when they lose access to the printing press that funds them. Soon, we can all hope.

    • Thanks: Realist
    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  16. @Anon

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

    Maybe they don’t understand?

  17. @TomSchmidt

    but the information that Soviet peasants had guns to go hunting was entirely new.

    The reliability of this story must be open to question. Gun ownership was tightly controlled and the .
    penalties severe.

    Whatever illumination Talbot sheds on Allen Dulles must be counterbalanced by his complete omission of Jews, Zionists, the state of Israel and the forerunners of AIPAC. No surprise there.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  18. Antiwar7 says:

    When it becomes a crime to reveal a crime, you know that it is the criminals who are actually in charge.

    So true!

  19. Anon[401] • Disclaimer says:

    This is all the work of Brennan. You are welcome to specifically point out which parts you disagree with.

    This is all Brennan as well.

    This is Brennan as well.

    This is Brennan as well.

    This is DEFINITELY all Brennan.

    You are defending a man that was sued 4000 times before entering office. He also regularly uses his real estate to bill the secret service for guarding him. Yet you are the ‘objective’ fact checking agent?

  20. @Verymuchalive

    Actually, your link makes the story about Oswald being a poor shot even worse:

    “After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the USSR saw a small wave of liberalisations for civilian gun ownership. Soviet civilians were allowed to purchase smoothbore hunting shotguns again, even without mandatory submission of hunting licenses. However, this lasted for not more than six years. The buyer again had to pre-register in the Soviet Society of Hunters since 1959.”

    So, he was trying to shoot rabbits with a shotgun and missed? That’s bad shooting.

    Why would Israel want Kennedy dead? Revenge for Suez?

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @animalogic
  21. @TomSchmidt

    You are obviously new on this website. Read any of the Laurent Guyenot articles on this website concerning the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Israel. They have been publicly endorsed and supported by Mr Ron Unz, the website’s owner.

    The gist of the articles is this: Kennedy wanted to prevent Israel obtaining nuclear material from America and becoming a nuclear power. He saw this as making the Middle East and the World an even more dangerous place. He wanted the forerunner of AIPAC declared a foreign agent under FARA. This would have exposed Jewish influence and control of the MSM, as well Zionist agencies.
    So they killed him, then his brother.

    Don’t take my word, read the articles. You will be convinced.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  22. @Verymuchalive

    I’m unfamiliar with the cia-watergate-Nixon connections. Could you point to some evidence etc?

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  23. @TomSchmidt

    I don’t know know anything about Soviet gun possession…. But I do find it passing strange that out of the 10’s, if not 100’s of millions of small arms produced during the Patriotic War that apparently so few found their way back home. I wonder how many M1 Garands (& auto Colt 45’s) went home with their possessors after WWII & Korea….?

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  24. @animalogic

    Briefly, there are a number.

    OPPORTUNITY AND METHOD 1. The extra microphones in the White House had been installed by CIA operatives. recordings went straight to Langley. They knew precisely what was said and what excerpts to leak.
    2. The leaks were published by the Washington Post, then as now, a CIA asset.

    MOTIVE 3.The CIA were deeply disturbed by Nixon’s policies of detente with Russia and opening up to China. Rightly, they regarded this as a very serious threat to their funding, power and status. They had a very strong motive to want Nixon removed as quickly as possible.
    The Deep State, generally, needs a powerful enemy to justify its budget and size. Hence, Trump’s rapprochement with Russia was bad for business as it could be used to justify much less spending on the national security state. Therefore Trump had to be attacked and destroyed. Rigged election, job done.

    FURTHER 4. The Pentagon Papers were leaked by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg and published by the New York Times in 1971. Ellsberg had been employed by the RAND Corporation, which has very close links to the CIA, as does the NYT. The aim was to blame not only the Johnson Administration, but the Department of Defense, for the Vietnam debacle. That’s why the Papers are called the Pentagon Papers, not some other name. In this aim, they were successful.

    FURTHER 5. After Hoover’s death in 1972, there were a lot of unsavoury -and true- details revealed about Hoover’s mismanagement of the FBI as well as his private life. Some of this material came from CIA sources. The aim was to discredit and undermine the FBI. It worked. Cui bono? The CIA, of course.

    By the late 1970s, the CIA had brushed aside its rivals in the Deep State by undermining them or blaming them for debacles. Watergate enabled it to depose a President who threatened its interests. It was now the American Empire’s Praetorian Guard.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  25. @animalogic

    The Wikipedia article on gun control states that Soviet citizens were to turn over to the government any arms left, eg, by retreating Germans. Under Stalin, you can be sure people were shot. Could you keep one you found? Sure, and maybe use it once.

  26. @Verymuchalive

    I’ll have to take a read. Thanks.

    Fascinating is that NOBODY buys the Warren commission version.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  27. @TomSchmidt

    A good place to start is at the beginning. Kennedy’s father, Joseph P Kennedy, was the US Ambassador to Britain immediately before WWII. His efforts to prevent the War raise the ire of American Jews. John Kennedy is very supportive of his father, if you read the article carefully. This is contrary to the standard Liberal narrative.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  28. @Verymuchalive

    Thanks very much for your detailed & very thought promoting reply.

  29. @Verymuchalive

    Yes, I had read that article. It was one that helped either change my opinion or open my eyes. Despite running on the “missile gap,” Kennedy does not strike me as a warmonger, the way a grunt who served in a war would be. I suspect we’d have avoided the MIC spendfest in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated.

    There’s no grift in peace: that’s the common theme in all the people who had motive to kill him.

    Thanks for the welcome guidance.

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