Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Saturday, November 01, 2003

"Intelligence Community" Against The State

Sidney Blumenthal's article in the Guardian provides fuel for one of LJ's biggest gripes against other "libertarians" around the world: the idea that "the State" is an organism with a life of its own. I'm still certain that, at best, the libertarian theory of the State is incomplete and, at worst, it is highly flawed. Libertarians often complain about the success of clothing "the State" in a shroud of legitimacy, but at the same time they accept the appearance as real! Sid writes,

In advance of the war, Bush (to be precise, Dick Cheney, the de facto prime minister to the distant monarch) viewed the CIA, the state department and other intelligence agencies not simply as uncooperative, but even disloyal, as their analysts continued to sift through information to determine what exactly might be true. For them, this process is at the essence of their professionalism and mission. Yet the strict insistence on the empirical was a threat to the ideological, facts an imminent danger to the doctrine. So those facts had to be suppressed, and those creating contrary evidence had to be marginalised, intimidated or have their reputations tarnished.

Right here we can see the difficulty in labels like "the State" or "the government." In fact, there are a number of competing yahoos--the CIA, State Department, Pentagon--each with their own resources, overlapping authorities, and individuals running the show. Cheney tried to use his influence to relay a message to the CIA: "either you are with us, or against us!" With these organizations less willing to cooperate, the administration turned to "stovepiping" the desired intelligence data in order to serve certain ends, namely attacking Iraq. Blumenthal continues,

Then, according to former assistant secretary of state James Rubin, when Blix met with Cheney at the White House, the vice-president told him what would happen if his efforts on WMDs did not support Bush policy: "We will not hesitate to discredit you." Blix's brush with Cheney was no different from the administration's treatment of the CIA.

Now, postwar, the intelligence wars, if anything, have got more intense. Blame shifting by the administration is the order of the day. The Republican senate intelligence committee report will point the finger at the CIA, but circumspectly not review how Bush used intelligence. The Democrats, in the senate minority, forced to act like a fringe group, held unofficial hearings this week with prominent former CIA agents: rock-ribbed Republicans who all voted for and even contributed money to Bush, but expressed their amazed anger at the assault being waged on the permanent national security apparatus by the Republican president whose father's name adorns the building where they worked. One of them compressed his disillusionment into the single most resonant word an intelligence agent can muster: "betrayal".

Sounds like one, big political game occurring under the guise of the "U.S. government."

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