Made In America

You Never Hear It Coming

Officers are concerned that public revelation of the CTC (Counterterrorist Center) program will seriously damage Agency officers’ reputations, as well as the reputation and effectiveness of the Agency itself . . .

According to a number of those [analysts] interviewed for this Review, the Agency’s intelligence on Al-Qa’ida was limited to prior to the initiation of the CTC Interrogation Program. The Agency lacked adequate linguists or subject matter experts and had very little hard knowledge of what particular Al-Qai’da leaders – who later became detainees – knew. This lack of knowledge led analysts to speculate about what a detainee “should know”, vice information the analysts could objectively demonstrate the detainee did know. . .

When a detainee did not respond to a question posed to him, the assumption at Headquarters was that the detainee was holding back and knew more; consequently Headquarters recommended resumption of EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques].

Those nuggets, buried within the released CIA IG Report, are all you really need to know. The rest is dressage. The Report like most well crafted government documents obeys certain forms and rituals. The damning truth above is embedded — like steganography; there was and is no professional intelligence justification for any of it. The Report also confirms what we’ve known, the Agency’s Office of General Counsel was an active participant in shaping and distorting information (such as hiding the SERE proponents’ lack of credentials or skills from the Agency’s Office of Medical Services, etc.) As a lurid distraction, we are also treated to the utterly disheartening spectacle of Agency officers or contractors role playing like unusually dim Chekists in Lubyanka’s basement.

Writing a report like this as noted is a stylized ritual like a waltz. Even with the black out this is an intricate and synchronized affair. Major FCC Orders recite a factual record similarly but on a more mundane level (and oddly are as opaque on pages as the black out).

The IG’s Office (and we’ve personally known and respected senior personnel in that office) weave a tapestry around the wreckage that shields but does not contradict this devastating, damning finding. For example, the Report notes that valuable information did indeed come from detainees while carefully noting the information obtained was not due to torture and emphasizing the disorganized program can not demonstrate any clear cut instance where the torture produced uniquely helpful information [we will eschew Cofer Black’s et. al preferred faux macho euphemism ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’].

The Scott Horton types justifiably will be up in arms about the human rights abuses and torture. There is also a more nuanced discussion to be had about the corruption of the intelligence product cycle, as well as continued human capital problems. And as you know, we continue to believe the Nation and currently serving personnel would be better off starting clean and letting CIA’s corpse be interred.

We can’t think of any platform where this more serious conversation could occur, especially sans tired culprits like John McLaughlin stroking The Beard in his comedic ‘Situation Room’. Perhaps Rachel Maddow can help out.

We doubt much will come from any of this (particularly the glaring collapse of congressional oversight). With Obama’s promise of non-prosecution for any officer or contractor who acted within the four corners of the absurd OLC memos Holder is free to go after the few, new Lynndie Englands. If they play their cards right, they will position themselves as martyrs, get book deals, air time on Fox and then become senior fellows with that titan of international policy analysis, Cliff May. Embedding the rendition and detainee program with Brennan in the White House would not have occurred to Terry Gilliam even with ether and a Samoan attorney.

Sad times for the Stiftung. We used to pride ourselves as being different. We *were* different. One more thing destroyed by Tenet, Black et al.


  1. Hunter says

    Been watching some furrin films, lately:
    The Baader-Meinhoff Complex
    The Wave
    Flame and Citron (the most spy-ish of the three, and quite good)

  2. Comment says

    As an American, we always have mixed feelings when Europe elevates embarassing and awful types like Griffen and Le Pen and that guy from Austria that died recently and Pat defended a while back.

    It sort’s good to feel smug and superior to those who would choose the foul path and give lie to the post-historical smugness of the EU elite. But on the other hand, it sort makes us feel too much kinship though not much kindship with the magazine conservatives who feats on EU hating as part of their own chickenhawk compensation regime.

  3. Comment says

    We think we pretty much agree – we did not see SaoF or Katyn (which we’ll have to get) – Liked Breach, but it had some uneven acting. We did like the 1st MI,, but we think that’s the end of his good films. We punted on Lies too and International. Liked Charlie Wilson – Hanks was just not credible in the role. Though Ok.
    Going thru the list we see that the reason we may have liked Bourne is that the competition is just worse, for the most part.
    re Quantum – yeah – 1st Bond film we just never bothered with,

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Recent Genre Films/Comedies in the Bunker

    Ratings are from 1-5 Leos. Punt can mean avoided by neglect or with deliberate premeditation.

    Get Smart – PUNT
    Quantum of Solace – PUNT
    Burn After Reading – Recorded on DVR then PUNT

    Jack Ryan

    HFRO – 3 Leos. Connery’s wig unintentionally funny. Lady with Stiftung wondered if producers had ‘personal issues’ by so many long shots dwelling on big cylinders chasing each other (theory advanced after communing with tequila in her defense and she was not a Permanent National Security State type). And you know, now that she raises it . . . we keed.

    PG – 2.5 Leos. Anne Archer is great. Tom Clancy fantasy that he as Jack Ryan saves the royal family and presumably Princess Diana . . . awkward.

    C&PD – 3 Leos. Strong supporting role character acting. Anne Archer again.

    SoAF – 1.5 Leos. Ben Affleck. Awful, just awful.

    Mission Impossible

    1 – 3.5 Leos. Surprisingly taught although completely juvenile Bondian absurdity of what goes on in Langley. Cruise at his least offensive in modern film.

    2 – 2 Leos. John Woo just can’t save awfulness even with a motorcycle death match close and AVID-paced editing.

    3 – 2 Leos. For Hoffman’s scenery chewing. Hard to believe Paramount was desperate to get this made. Movie is just set up for a series of stunt pieces.

    Charlie WIlson’s War – 3.5 Leos. Funny, ‘composite history’ of a little known corner of history. Hanks OK but bland. Easily re-watchable as background music/video.

    Body of Lies – PUNT

    The International – PUNT

    Breach – 3.5 Leos. A good chronological snap shot of Hanssen at the end although again not historically accurate. Made counter-intelligence concepts accessible to main stream audiences without having overhype too much. Chris Cooper’s performance stands out.

    Valkyrie – 2 Leos. Completely unnecessary film in all aspects. Besides, the 36 specials on History, National Geographic and History International Channels are often better factually and in re-enactments.

    Katyn – 5 Leos. Not a ‘spy movie’ at all but a gruesome reminder of what the Soviets and Nazis really were, and how their counterintelligence states after the war cost so much humanity.

    Did we miss any?

  5. Comment says

    Pat Buchanan has kicked up a storm again with his bizarre racism.
    He’s totally delusional on race – He totally erases blacks and Indiaans from the muddled mote in his mind’s eye.

    His nostalgie for backward Dixie is just a form of mental despair

  6. Comment says

    Speaking of spies etc – We are not really informed about this latest Nozette thing = Just the headlines and some of the story, but that guy has one hell of a resume. Shame he f–ed up.

  7. Comment says

    Is there anything more absurd than listening to right wing pols from South Carolina discuss economics? Perhaps that Jim DeMint “pennies” controversy. Our most backward state never disappoints. Obama should sign health care at Fort Sumter or Waterloo or maybe Appomatox just to stick it to him.

  8. Comment says

    We would council future spy genre writers to look to the BRIC countries for new story lines and exotic locales- India is thick with color and intrigue. The whole establishment shot of Muslim nations has become cliche.
    We thought Patriot Games was pretty stupid, but entertaining in a way – The IRA was probably grateful to be glamorized since they were basically dumb to the thuggish rump by that point

  9. Comment says

    Welles is great in Royale. The Master – we like his Macbeth too. He would have been great as Claudius in Hamlet.

  10. Comment says

    GS – we liked parts of it, but some things like Jolie having Allen Dulles’s wife’s nickname was just a bit too much – Also, the Protocols of Skull and Bones theme is a bit tired.

  11. Comment says

    If you can’t get the DVD or its just a hassle, we def would recommend Bourne on On Demand (a great thing it is).
    We think Franka Potente (who we once met before she got any role and was just a babe) was excellent in the first Bourne.
    The second two had a different Director – a Brit Greengrass – He did a better job, imo than the 1st. But they were all fun. The authenticity of the fights and stunts – quite good. The leftish story line was a bit reductive and dumb but somehow seemed to work anyway as an excuse for some good scenes

  12. Comment says

    Yes – Smiley is always amazing – Funny how those stupid dudes over at NRO seem so surprised that Le Carre was so anti Bush now because they just assumed that since he was not a communist during the cold war that he must be like Tom Delay with a British accent.

  13. Comment says

    We suggest you go to the library and take out Bourne on DVD – They were all pretty good – Granted, the story is ridculous, but the action and travelogue is very impressive – Esp the second two – Ultimatum and Supremacy. We were surprised by the entertainment value considering how dumb the story lines seemed. Lots of good Ronin-type chases – In fact, in the Ultimatum there is a chase in N. Africa that is better than the Ronin chase.
    Smarter than the recent Bond flics –
    re Syriana – So So, We hate to sound neoconish, but the story was a bit too empathetic to terrorists , imo and the plot just wasn’t there – That kind of movie, imo – needs lots of plotting and this director is just too hip for his own good. Clooney had some good scenes . The dialogue with many characters was poorly imagined – Christopher Plumber was excellent

  14. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Bourne, our answer should come on at least two layers. And the immediate answer is no, we’ve not seen them.

    One reason is a declining interest in that genre of international action/espionage/secret organizations. Clearly, the passively anti-American Le Carre works still stand out for excellence. We still watch Lacon stride aorund his estate with Smiley asking him to do it, sweep up, ‘it’s your generation after all, George’. Once every couple of months. Reilly also ranks up there – everyone is superb: Tom Bell as Felix, Sam Neil, David Burke as Stalin, etc. Cinematography and recreation of revolutionary Moscow and Petersburg.

    Those productions could afford fidelity in theme and emotional balance not just because they were BBC. They’re not of today and also they didn’t have the financial burdens any new entertainment product has – bean counters counting out the long tail merchandising and branding opportunities.

    So we are left mostly with spoofs and plain thriller types post 1991. We’ve discussed before Ronin as fairly well done. Given the director it’s no surprise the best element is the car chase. A number of movies appear to try for that same space — or so it seemed with the recent international bank thriller.

    Syriana had ambitions to be more and entertain as well as expose/educate viewers. The script got away from the director and Syriana is a mess. Of all the officers who ‘commercialized’ themselves under the Warlord, we’ve found Baer to conduct himself and offer his analysis better than the multitude who followed.

    Granted the script fell apart. We find Baer’s real contribution is to describe the human dynamic of a family caught up in that particular lifestyle. We are not wholly unfamiliar with those kinds of situations and believe Baer captured complex human dynamics with a plain honesty.

    We wanted to like the Good Shepherd. Within 10 minutes we became annoyed at its far too self-congratulatory and condescending name dropping childish inside jokes nd thrown away factoids out of context. All desperate efforts to proclaim we are serious men making a serious movie. Just stank like DeNiro et al.’s desperate efforts to be retroactively be part of Milt’s life and thus ‘made men.’ And for those who did know the history and the period the script made little sense – at once wanting to be taken seriously as ‘accurate’ and then when tossing a giant CF on the screen hiding behind ‘well, it’s all composite anyway.’ GS and ‘Valkyrie’ had interestingly shared qualities – to the detriment of both working as film.

    Again, like Syriana, we found the gem in GS during its examination of the human cost, even when shielded unknowingly. GS is a dense, compact experience. It could have been a great film. Btw, Alec Baldwin gave a great performance. What Syriana and GS touch upon here is worthy of its own exploration. Americans quite willingly drive the treacherous 2.75 miles in a Land Rover to reach a strip mall Starbucks show sacrifice with a window ribbon decal. Other families have paid and continue to pay equally heavy prices but in silence until the bulimia of 2001-09. Perhaps that’s a blessing. Perhaps.

    ‘Entertainment’-wise the Michael Keaton version was more watchable. We did expect him to turn to the camera after letting a cigarette burn down and proclaim “I am Batman!” At least at first. His ‘Mother’ is what many wish were true. The screenwriters decided apparently historical facts are like notes from studio executives: to be read and disregarded whenever possible.

    Rebooting Casino Royale offered entertainment more like Ronin and the early Cruise MI product. Word among the grocery store check out line magazine cognoscenti is that Bourne’s success intimidated Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson into reducing the franchise to its basest core elements. A diverting action movie, but also generic one. An American could have played it. Even Willis in his prime with a yippie-kayeeah. ‘Bond’ meant nothing. A widget. We happily skipped the CR sequel.

    As far as parodies go, our heart probably always will belong to the famously flawed CR version with David Niven, Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, Woody Allen, the impossibly beautiful Jacqueline Bisset and Ursula Andress, too. We find a reason to watch every 6 months or so. Readers may have noticed nods here and there across the years to the movie in some graphic or other. Burt Bacharach’s sound track is the perfect twin for the complete, total breakdown in on screen narrative. We take that soundtrack when we are auditioning new audio or home theater equipment. In fact, it’s famous for this – something Stereo Review mag pushed in the 1970s. If you have the CD and take charge of the audition experience away from the sales drone flicking the switches behind you, we bet you’ll be surprised what you notice is and is not present with certain speakers.

    Readers may have noticed recent references to another 60s clamp classic, ‘In Like Flint’ by James Coburn. Everything about the movie elicits a smile. It captures the late 1960s for us as few films can, far more than the tedious ‘You Only Live Twice’. The original Austin Powers wears well for us because of Myers’ obvious love for the source material. Maybe he, like most SNL stars, didn’t know when a joke was done re sequels. But we loved the first one. You likely have a different take?

    As far recent international espionage films, the closest we could bring ourselves to watch is “In The Loop”, as mentioned here before, a very British, sly, acidic take on the Warlord’s Run Up to Iraq. If Peter Sellers were alive today with Terry Southern, some kind of Clouseau movie looking for WMD might be epic. Assuming the production company could obtain a judicial writ or restraining order banishing Steve Martin from at least 10 miles away from any shooting location.

    My turn to ask a question: is Bourne worth hunting for on On Demand?

  15. Comment says

    Leo – do you have any opinion of the Bourne movie tril or the movie Syriana? We’ll let you know our thoughts about them when we finish them today.

  16. Comment says

    There’s is no doubt Broder thinks a trial of Cheney is divisive – But it is objectvely less divisive than Clinton’s impeachment – which was rejected by solid majorities and almost the entire black race.

    Sociologically what is interesting is how middle of the road pundits and one time liberal entrenched interests sudddenly find themselves conservative and/or confused (ie Klein)

    Regularly is is written that Obama is controversial – when he is not – or that his moves on health care are unpopular, when they are not (to the extent they are understood). Oh did you hear Obama’s mid-east moves are unpopular, but actually are not.

  17. Comment says

    Broder’s punishment in the afterlife should be to have to listen to a Glen Greeewald mp3 chat about Broder’s bootlicking on repeat for one lightyear.

  18. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Senator Kennedy’s thoughtfulness and empathy deservedly merit memorializing. CNN featured a number of instances where only one without feelings at all would have a dry eye. It’s how the presentation by the network ‘talent’ frames the reminiscences. MSNBC as noted we just found over the top.

  19. Comment says

    Beside – Jack was too cool for Tweety and would probably regard him as clown. RFK might find him to be a useful twit.

  20. Comment says

    MSNBC is sort of Catholic baby boomer frat – They all up the cultural Catholicism to make up for being cafeteria – compensations – Pat aside – with his, er, Germanic obsessions.

    Ocourse – all of them conspicuously avoided military duty during ‘Nam and now try to bask in some presumed Irish toughness via ethnic cheerleading and pretending to be one with firemen and cops. But they’re more like facepainters in the bleachers at a hockey game.

  21. Comment says

    Yeah – we basically never watch msnbc on tv – just clips online – We find Tweety and that whole crowd kind of depressing. Most cable news sucks.

  22. Dr Leo Strauss says


    MSNBC’s incestuous, self-congratulatory, self-referential coverage was too much for us; we killed the MSNBC cable feed when green bilge overflow began oozing through our sound system. Watching a series of marginal personalities tripping over themselves to boast when they got a call from the Senator because of their hangnail or the Senator [‘s staff] wrote them a signed [by the robopen] letter when their family welcomed their first hamster into the house — all too much.

    One expects such coverage in part when a large meme passes. Genuine sentiment exists, too.

    But the permanent apparat at MSNBC is just too sloppy in their insular ‘we’re all made men’ mutual stroking. Frankly am surprised in the few moments we risked exposure to MSNBC the collective anchors and usual circle jerk of ‘reporters’ on the roundtable live from Boston didn’t come out and just say:

    ‘The greatest Kennedy legacy is us, so there. Here we are, just regular lunch pail Joes, who fought and clawed our way past every prejudice and oppression (cue theme music, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot) and made it the top. We’re like Jack. We made it despite all the (WASP) oppression and now are extremely wealthy, successful, Catholic white men. We’re what Bobby wanted to be: Players. But we never forget the streets we clawed our way out of or the hardships our families endured. We are like Teddy, too. We survived the Establishment’s dissolution in 1968. Now we have 6 Supreme Court justices. And one WASP. HA!’

    (Pat, who pretends to be Irish but is actually of Germanic descent smiles and laughes along, the others clueless about the glint in his eyes. Scarborough says nothing as well because he was, after all, 5 years old at the time).

    To us there is too much of an immature fraternity feel to the MSNBC coverage, like the old Imus show at his worst. The speeches have been excellent and the mourning *there* dignified and appropriate.

    All in all, we are still rooting for the netroots to stay on target and purge the Democratic Party of the dead underbrush — including the circle jerk of anchors and commentators on Kennedy like Shrum, etc. Senator Kennedy was many things but it seems to us at this remove he was also a Man out of this particular Time. To his credit.

    CNN offered we believe a more restrained, appropriately subdued and often silent coverage.

  23. Comment says

    We have to say Teddy Jr. gave an amazing eulogy for his dad:
    But we note that Chris Matthes managed to sully the affair afterward by saying RFK was unlike snobby liberals like Ribicoff in that he would talk to cops.

    Ribicoff – a very decent man (our folks knew him) from humble orgins who did well be his constituents – Is neverthless treated as posthumous punching bag by that pathetic slob Tweety – unfit to tie Abe’s shoes.

  24. A Random Quote says

    “Suppose Queens had been overrun by a gang of terrorists, a gang sworn to eradicate Manhattan … Would Manhattan be justified in pushing the gang back to the Nassau County border? Of course it would – and no one would question the morality of Manhattan’s action.”
    ~Michael Kramer
    New York Magazine 6-21-82
    Israel’s Dream For Lebanon

  25. Comment says

    We had to laugh and wonder if Ignatias at WaPo outdid Pat Buchanan the other night on the NewsHour – He is always carrying water for Langley in his self-styled establishment manner, but he was really silly when he said the Agency real feeling is “let the cup pass from me” re interrogations and let the cops deal with it. After all, it’s just causing them headaches etc.
    So we think it’s interesting that he likens Jesus statement in Gesthemene – prior to persecution to that of an Agency interrogator feelings about having to interrogate with torture.

  26. Anon says

    Yet another proof those guys were too crazy to govern. Even if you agreed with their goals, the way they went about it was crazy, shortsighted and corrupt. I doubt they will ever get the reins thrust in their hands again. We should be glad they were so inefficient. A well managed reign by the Movement would not have crumbled like the Warlord’s reign did.

    I have my own personal suspicions that authoritarianism always yields those corrupt and inefficient structures. Seen it happen so many times that now I think the very structure that puts power and loyalty above all else makes corruption and inefficiency thrive.

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