Now It Can Be Told (revised)

Of course, Dear Reader, most of the ‘leaks’ from ‘informed sources’ about the latest congressional intelligence [sic] oversight [sic] pas de deux are kin to ‘news’ leaks from Michael Jackson’s parrot. Ferrets are more likely to launch out of Wolf Blitzer’s beard determined to beat down John King into a frenzied pulp. And then gang together to shred King’s refrigerator-sized Wintel magic computer thing-a-majig. But if one plays the odds . . .

_________press to start__________

A couple summary points:

(a) CIA, the Rotary Club, the Walt Whitman and Mclean High School Marching Bands have all been trying to kill Al Qaeda senior leaders even before 9/11. That’s the point of Clinton’s half-assed cruise missile attack the wingnuts claimed was to er, wag his ‘dog.’ Many underscore all this today rightly as a reality check against mindless gossip trafficking that this 2009 disclosure was ‘targeting Al Qaeda leaders for assassination’. (Update: Yet, reports continue that this apparently is exactly what panicked Panetta. One must sometimes just shake one’s head. And you watch out, John King!).

(b) Congressional oversight needs to be re-invented. Congress has no one to blame but itself. They cravenly abandoned their hard won rights. Forget oversight 2001-2009. They couldn’t even get authorizations together. And pity the desk drawer that took all that abuse from Rockefeller as he (we are sure) manly slammed his unsent letters to Cheney. Those posturing now on the Hill (Dem and Repub alike) are guilty of gross dereliction of duty and step up only now amid the institutional dead. Treason of a kind.

We’ve had structural congressional oversight only for 29 years, 8 of them a trivial formality (2001-2009). So a third of the 1980 Intelligence Oversight Act’s lifetime is a bitter joke. The mechanisms and framework created in 1980 relied on political compromise, ‘comity’ (with a ‘t’) and a willingness to use ‘checks (cheques) and balances’ rather than ‘separation of power’ legal formalisms. Congress knew oversight was always a few missteps from institutional capture or worse. This broader understanding of how intelligence oversight would function between the branches is a major reason for the different ‘notice’ regimes for certain special activities, collection, etc. In the end, the creators of the 1980 Oversight Act knew that ‘law’ would never settle matters – but ‘cheques’.

The constitutional, operational and political dimensions are matters we’ve written about at length elsewhere. We’d like to think our effort was part of the mix during the Dark Years. In fact, we’re fairly certain. This is mentioned to say that we’ve given the matter a great deal of thought. And just like CIA should be put down and greenfielded, we believe the 1980 Oversight Act is beyond repair. A new regime is needed for our current degraded political culture. No one from that time could have conceived of any Congress becoming a hollow Duma bowing year after year before the Executive Branch’s open contempt.

As an aside to the Concierge-of-the-Situation-Room, note *1980* and 21 (29 with an asterisk) years of formal oversight. The 1980 Act for statutory reasons amended the 1947 National Security Act. So get it straight. Sometimes we are just astounded how SAIS gives out diplomas.

(c) The Warlord has left the remaining legal institutions and precedents in chaos, meddling by ignorant-third-tier-law-schools-attached-to-TV-studios (yes, we are elitist on some matters), etc. All involved, most especially the American people, would benefit from a reset: from FISA and the Fourth Amendment, State Secrets, contractor reform and audit for past activity, etc. *That* would be audacious, which is why it will never happen. Does it really matter? If employee health care benefits are bolstered by more Chinese money we can’t possibly repay it’s all white noise anyway.

(d) Even with all of the above, there are still plenty of legitimate, non-nefarious reasons why an idea or exploration of a capability doesn’t get affirmatively put into interbranch discourse. What makes this particular instance peculiar is Cheney’s injunction against disclosure. Certainly that raises our eyebrows. But not everything Cheney said 2001-2009 was malefic. When he exclaimed ‘OH SHIT’ after shooting his friend in the face , can anyone doubt it was, um, ‘heartfelt’?


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    We’ll have something on the Administration’s predictably narrow and circumscribed tap dance re DoJ’s posture on torture investigation later today.

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Exhibit No. 1,495 why CIA is a late intelligence entity, met it’s maker. Now mind you, the Stiftung has been beating this drum about total language failure for 20 years — in the regular ‘mainstream’ press, on Capitol Hill, and even in OEOB. It’s not a joke anymore, nor tragedy, nor farce. It’s a corpse.

  3. Anon says

    Would make sense that the Xenu peddlers were going for politicians now, after the Hollywood crowd. Narcissism seems the same to me, and the pols have more power to protect the sect.

    My real worry is the Moonies, they are way more effective at global reach and covert manipulation. And they have already been in bed with politicians for more than a decade. And Bush and Laura are “Holy Families” for them…

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    That Alaska ritual is utterly bizarre. In feudal Japan, those allowed to wield a sword under the Bushido code were relentlessly focused on serving the Master unto death. To be without a Master (Ronin – the real kind, not DeNiro) a disaster before seppuku.

    Is Mr. Greta Van Sustren in the wings adding the legend of Xenu to the mix? Still say all of this just makes it doubly urgent that all right thinking Americans devote all their energies to ensure Palin is the 2012 nominee.

    Per Russell Crowe as Maximus: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED????” Just think of the spectacle.

  5. Anon says

    lol, yah, you will notice that they are again teaming up with churches and trying to get “Crusaders” for their cause. Crusaders with Katana swords, no less!

  6. Hunter says

    I re-watched Braveheart last night, and noticed that Edward Longshanks re-instituted Prima Nocta for his nobles to (1) breed out the Scots and (2) get ‘the right kind’ of English nobles to volunteer for Scottish postings. The more things change…

  7. Anon says

    Good points but don’t forget, statistics pretty much guarantee that some kids born of “pro authority” parents will be of the parallel / lateral predisposition. And while the king makers are keen on increasing birth rates, they aren’t that keen on ensuring the survival of those born to non-rich parents. The pro-authoritarian’s own greed and cult of the king makes them decrease the odds of survival of the future serfs. And increase the odds of revolt / desire for change for the serfs that do survive.

    At least that’s my hope. They can try to go “quiver full” but the society they create makes caring and providing for the “arrows” very hard on a serf’s budget. So there are fewer “arrows” created, and the ones that survive to maturity might turn around and bite them in the ass. It’s happened before, on this very day!

  8. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Hunter, re-linked the Feinstein article in the replacement piece. Thanks for the reminder.

    Monarchist/hierarchy/authority tones coming out of a Hiwatt double stack loud and clear. You may know of the various ‘studies’ (akin to ‘mesmerism’, perhaps) purporting to show genetic and brain bio-chemical predispositions to linear command order, structure and everyone in their place, etc. Versus say a more lateral, parallel distributed predisposition for information collection and challenging the status quo. Every once in a while a societally anointed ‘conservative intellectual’ furtively tries to raise these latest ‘scientific’ breakthroughs and convince us.

    Worth mentioning because these ‘intellectuals’ oppose abortion and birth control and cynically embrace other forms of Christian socialism believing the genetic authoritarians are and will continue to outbreed their effete, Uggs-wearing competition (presumably that means us). It’s a major reason why one needs to keep an ear open for dog whistles like oblique mentions to demographics, birth ratios, etc.

    We may well smirk and point out the obvious that if only it were so easy as to transplant a parent’s values or predisposition into a child. But in politics its about aggregation, odds and opportunity — and we are told time and again all of them favor the genetically authoritarian beating us at the baby-making game. Promiscuous meme propagation merely adds spice.

    All of which is a long way around to saying that Kyl and what he represents is already a large part of ‘us’. It’s not just politics. Think about the media’s ritual dancing for the cult of CEO. How many millions of Americans sliding backwards towards subsistence still rage at the idea of a CEO being subject to rules and regulations? Hunter, if you were given a TV show and interviewed Kyl and made your point to him respectfully but firmly we bet he wouldn’t flinch. It’s a belief system. And one can’t reason with belief.

    We hate to condemn an entire program based on a single slip up as Buck Turgidson reminds us. So perhaps there may be a legitimately researched, interesting paper about genetics and political predisposition. We haven’t seen it, yet. Otoh, we sure know Jerry Rubin went from tie dyes to successful businessman – without DNA treatments. Palin apparently laments her kids may want to start palling around with terrorists, too. So until convincing empirical evidence indicates otherwise, same as it ever was, same as it ever was . . .

    To reclaim the Nation from the Kyls of the world will require fighting for each young mind at a time. All the time. That, too, is audacious. And thus a non-starter.

  9. Hunter says

    re: the link previously posted…
    For reference, here it is.
    Moving on, the last five paragraphs (from where it started about McCain on) really stuck in my craw. First there was the annoying journalistic tic of getting both sides of a story that just doesn’t have two sides (not that any story ever does, but in this case the attempt to force the story into the mld is particularly grating). Second, McCain’s a pussy. Third, Kyl’s an idiot. To quote: “Look, the president and the vice president are the two people who have responsibility, ultimately, for the national security of the country.” Now, I’m all for taking responsibility and the buck stops thereism and power held to account and stuff, but we all know that Kyl isn’t talking about responsibility, duty, or obligation; he’s talking about authority. But if we ignore his inability to use the English language with any precision and grant him his meaning, he’s an even bigger idiot. I understand the notion and importance of the chain of command, but this is just nonsense. We have a bunch of giant overlapping bureaucracies constituting our government for a reason. No one or two people could possibly be ‘responsible’ “for the national security of our country.” Beyond the obscene monarchist undertones, there’s just a basic refusal to recognize the demands of reality there. Why do we put up with having these people in power?

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