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Secrecy Sucks: Spooky, Snoopy Spies Run Amuck

Tom Turnipseed

9/11, a collection of secret intelligence groups
called the United States
Intelligence Community (IC) has become a monstrous, overlapping
hodge-podge of spooks with some 850,000 people having top secret
according to the Washington Post.  
The clandestine tangle of CIA spooks and related "national
security" groups like military intelligence, civilian contractors and
mercenaries has grown so much that its actual cost, or size, is unknowable and
out-of-control according to the Post's
series of articles.  The
mainstream media icon is publishing Top Secret
after a two year investigation of the huge US
intelligence complex.  The
expose paints a troubling picture of turf wars in a disconnected
spy network that can't "connect the dots".   It is
especially disturbing because the Post
is an establishment and neo-liberal oriented paper.  It is usually
supportive of a rather hawkish foreign policy and expenditures for the military
industrial complex.   The
articles reveal a vast and unmanageable assortment of spooky, snoopy spies.

According to their websites the United
States Intelligence Community (IC) is a cooperative
federation of 16 separate US
government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities
they consider necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and the protection
of the national security of the United
States. Member organizations of the IC
include military intelligence, civilian intelligence and analysis offices in
federal executive departments. The
IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) who is said to be
subject to the authority, direction and control of the President and is
responsible for overseeing and directing national security by serving as the
head of the sixteen-member IC.

The DNI website says the Washington Post's   series of
articles "do not reflect the Intelligence Community we know.  We
accept that we operate in an environment that limits the amount of information
we can share. However, the fact is, the men and women of the Intelligence
Community have improved our operations, thwarted attacks, and are achieving
untold successes every day."  Actually, the fact is, spooky
infighting at enormous expense.

Obama's first intelligence chief was Admiral Dennis
Blair who had friction with the White House and turf fights with CIA Director Leon Panetta.  According to media
reports, one of Blair's senior aides said they were frustrated with a
lack of guidance from the White House and likened their situation to an
invisible dog fence. The aide and
Blair joked with each other that they never knew where the no-go lines were
"until we got zapped."

I don't know much about spooks thwarting attacks, or
their turf fights, but I did stand in a line of anti-war protestors and got
zapped for it by the spooks in 2004.  Dick Cheney came to my hometown of
Columbia, South Carolina
in 2004 to a fund-raiser for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign at the home
of an insurance company bigwig.  Along with about 30 other peace activists
I stood in a line across the street from the event holding a hand painted sign
proclaiming "Dick Cheney is a War Criminal."  Local police on
duty at the event who knew me were friendly, but I was photographed and asked
to identify myself by a grim-faced spook with Cheney's entourage.

About three months later my wife and I were waiting to board
a flight at the Columbia
airport when one of the security officers who was my friend told me he was
required to meticulously search through my baggage.   I asked him why
and he said, "You are on the search list".

Retired Air Force General
James Clapper has been nominated by Obama to be the fourth chief spook since
the DNI was established.  Pledging to increase trust with Congress,
Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would be candid with
lawmakers, if confirmed as the next director of national intelligence.

Senators at Clapper's confirmation hearing voiced skepticism
about the ability of the next overseer of the nation's 16 spy agencies to
manage the sprawling intelligence community which the last three directors
struggled with, mainly because of turf fights between the National Security
Council and the CIA.

Clapper insisted he would be able to exercise the necessary
authority using the powers the DNI already has, rather than "going through
the trauma," of another reorganization and "would not agree to take
the position if I was going to be a titular figure or hood ornament."

During his confirmation hearing he also said his 46 years'
experience working in the intelligence field makes him uniquely qualified for
the job

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California praised Clapper after the
hearing.  Feinstein is the committee chairwoman and said she thought
Clapper would be "a strong DNI...whose will was going to prevail."
She also said Clapper's friendship with CIA
Director Leon Panetta meant clashes between the two were less
likely.   I reckon we should clap for Clapper, a spook for 46 years
who learned how to lie with a straight face a long time ago.

Democracy dies when government lies.  Secrecy
sucks.   How many of us are on the lists of suspects with so many
spooks and spies running amuck? 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is

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