THE BLOG

Blame the Driver, Not the Car

05/25/2011 11:50 am ET
  • Ian Masters Journalist, commentator, author, screenwriter and documentary filmmaker

While the latest intelligence scandal adds to the historical catalogue of CIA crimes, much of the outrage over it does seems misplaced. Nobody wants to defend the indefensible and what can you say except that torture and genocide are bad. But the real question is, who authorizes and orders it?

That is where the rubber meets the road.

After the Bay of Pigs fiasco JFK vowed to "shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces" but instead, like all Presidents, he found it to be the favorite toy of the executive branch and used it with a vengeance trying to kill Castro, an obsession that perhaps led to Kennedy's untimely death. Jimmy Carter was elected in the wake of the Church Committee purge of the CIA, but his righteous indignation soon turned to micromanagement as he set the CIA loose in Afghanistan to taunt the Soviets to the point where they invaded, and the rest, as they say is history.

The reason for these sideshows was that Presidents throughout the Cold War had an ultimate choice between the useless and the unusable. The useless, a diplomatic letter of protest in response to Soviet misbehavior, and the unusable, the nuclear arsenal and thermonuclear war. Presidents soon found that the CIA filled up a range of options in between and they took out their frustrations through surrogate wars and shadowy misdeeds. Unfortunately Newton's law applied, and for every action there was a reaction, resulting in much of the sub-national and transnational "blowback" we are stuck with today.

The difference now is that this dangerous toy is in reckless hands. We have a President, and a Vice President, who feel they have a blank check to "let slip the dogs of war" following their declaration of a global war on terror in response to 9/11. The scope of previous clandestine activities pale beside the secret posses galloping forth around the globe today, smoking out evil-doers on classified orders from the White House.

You don't have to be "Deep Throat" to follow the money back to the Oval Office, it's flying out the treasury door in supplementals our gutless Congress doesn't even vote on. We all know that Halliburton is cleaning up in Iraq without oversight, but what do we know about the hundreds of contactors the CIA and DIA have taken on in the war on terror?

The "privatization" of national security is a recipe for disaster. If you thought Iran/Contra was amateurland, what do you think is going on in the shadows today? With secret contracts and huge rewards, retired "cowboys" are dusting off their resumes and burning through the taxpayer's grub steak like a stampede of pigs to the trough? Little wonder torture and rendition have become grist for the headlines as the underbelly of American foreign policy creates facts on the ground at the whim of an impetuous President, urged on by a gray eminence, the Godfather of the neocon amateurs out strutting their stuff on the world stage.

It will take a while for the dust to settle, but although we've already lost Iraq, Iran and Syria are in the posse's gun sights. It looks like we'll be circling the wagons for a while until the real world catches up on the gang that can't shoot straight. Meanwhile we should all stop whining and wake up. It's the President stupid! Blame him and take responsibility for what is done in your name. If you don't like it, find a new Sheriff to clean up Dodge. It's time for the good folks to saddle up and run these tin horn gunslingers out of town.