February 06, 2013

Toward the World of Nightmare (I)

On the day the story of David Petraeus' resignation broke last November, I wrote: "[W]e can state with absolute certainty that he is not resigning because of an affair. For reasons we will probably never know, he had become an inconvenience or a hindrance in some manner to the administration's plans. As a result, certain parties decided to get rid of him." I've thought through the relevant issues a number of times since then, but I have never wavered in my certain conviction that the affair was merely the pretext offered to a shockingly gullible public. Every "dissident" writer that I read also viewed the affair as the actual reason Petraeus left office. The ruling class must be feeling extravagantly corpulent and complacent at the moment; there are many indications that is precisely their state of being. After more than a decade of spectacular lies on every subject of vital national import (so labeled for us by a marvelously considerate media which instructs us in such matters), the U.S. government can continue to trot out fables that would cause a bright ten-year-old to roll his eyes in amazed disbelief at the idiotic tales adults offer to him as the truth -- and adult Americans, including all our leading "dissenters," fall for it all over again. Offer the lies in an unexpected context, vary the specifics to make the lies seem new, and all the skepticism supposedly won at such great cost over recent years vanishes like the mist of morning. Forget a possible war with Iran (actually, don't); at the ever-accelerating rate of national mental disintegration, all of the United States, including every single citizen, will be enthusiastically mobilized to fight the evil forces of Iran, China, Russia, much of Africa and the incomprehensibly malevolent advance starships from the Shittheymadeup galaxy by August at the latest.

You can peruse the reasons for my complete rejection of the Petraeus cover story here, with some additional aspects discussed here. In the first of those posts, I offered two possible reasons for Petraeus' ouster. I considered the second of those reasons, that John Brennan was likely to be Petraeus' successor, to be unquestionably the more significant, as well as alarming in the extreme. About this second reason, which was only a possibility when I first raised it but is now about to become reality, I wrote (and I repeat this passage because of its importance to what follows):
If Brennan were to succeed Petraeus at the C.I.A., the White House would not only install Obama's first choice in that office, no small matter in itself. Of far greater importance is the fact that, aside from Obama himself -- and in certain respects, probably more than Obama -- Brennan is the single most critical person in the design and implementation of the government's Murder Program, as I recently discussed. If Brennan does finally head the C.I.A., do you think that would be a coincidence? I do not for a moment believe in coincidences of that kind, especially not with an administration as determined in its lethality as this one.

Think of it: John Brennan, who now is Obama's chief adviser on domestic security and counterterrorism goes to head the C.I.A. I'll tell you what that means to me: Obama and his fellow murderers are absolutely determined to bring the Murder Program home to America, and probably even more quickly than I had previously thought. I described the steps by which that might happen in the second half of the preceding post. The unfolding nightmare that I described might very well lie in your future, America -- and in the not too distant future at that. Do you care?

To be sure, the administration could achieve the same end with another candidate if it wished, Vickers for example. But to be able to unleash the Murder Program on an even greater scale with the man who knows everything about it, and from his lofty perch at the C.I.A. ... it's a dream come true for these bastards. And that may well be the reason they decided to get rid of Petraeus.
That was from early November of last year. Events this week provide an awful lesson in the logic and machinations of power politics -- and we can now see the administration's purposes more clearly. Brennan's confirmation hearing begins tomorrow; we are informed that he will face "tough questions" about two areas in particular: his involvement with torture during the Bush administration, and the Obama administration's Murder Program. But as the LA Times story and other reports make clear, any concern about Brennan with regard to torture is but a minor routine matter at this point: he was merely "an administrator," with no responsibility for originating policy. (Some of those convicted of war crimes in the past may be heard to register posthumous complaints about such mitigating ploys. Ignore them, for they lack our sophisticated understanding of the world.) So the tough-minded Senators will have a few questions about "mismanagement," the torturers' lack of good communication skills, and similar inquiries of monumental metaphysical weight.

As for the Murder Program: coincidentally -- just as coincidental as Brennan heading up the C.I.A. (the Obama administration is truly blessed by the gods, is it not?) -- someone just happened to provide a lengthy, confidential Justice Department memo setting out the administration's justifications for its assassination program to NBC News. Michael Isikoff dutifully wrote up the EXCLUSIVE story, and the yammering class exploded in an orgiastic frenzy of self-pleasuring. The memo refers to another, classified document "that actually provided the legal justification for ordering the killing of American citizens" -- but that is a distraction of little significance, as I discuss below. The crucial point is that the administration has provided the essentials of its argument in support of the Murder Program, and it has done so in advance of Brennan's confirmation hearing.

When the august Senators question Brennan about the Murder Program, they will have more than enough information to frame their inquiry in a meaningful manner -- and they will have sufficient information to pass judgment on whether they consider the Murder Program legitimate, rational and legal. (In fact, all that was true long before this latest "white paper" was leaked, as I also discuss in what follows.) But the appearance of this latest document "justifying" the assassination program makes the point inescapable: whenever anyone objects to the Murder Program on the grounds that the executive branch implemented a campaign of limitless assassination entirely on its own, without input or approval from any other branch of government, Obama and his fellow criminals can truthfully say: "But Congress had all the information it needed to judge the soundness of our policy. They had the opportunity to question John Brennan about it -- and Brennan is, after all, the chief architect of the program. And they confirmed his nomination as C.I.A. Director!"

Barring entirely unexpected developments, Brennan will certainly be confirmed. And that is precisely how Brennan's confirmation will be viewed in the future: as Congressional approval of the Murder Program. That, I submit, is the prize the Obama administration was after. Appreciate how easily the administration will have achieved its goal: move Petraeus out, move Brennan in -- Brennan, who withdrew his name from consideration as C.I.A. Director four years ago because of "concerns" about his involvement in torture, and who today represents a program of unrestricted, worldwide murder. And the Senate will now confirm his appointment. Once Brennan is confirmed, the Obama administration is home free: it can expand the program as it wishes and employ it on a constantly increasing scale, eventually including assassinations within the United States. (Again, see the second half of this post for a description of how that is likely to happen.) Whenever people object, the administration can trumpet: "But Congress has approved all of this!" And they will be telling the truth.

At this point, I have no hesitation in saying that anyone who still believes that an affair was the actual reason for Petraeus' resignation is a fool, with very little understanding of politics, the operations of power, and psychology. I offer a caution in this regard, as I occasionally have in the past in similar contexts. I am not suggesting that the administration's plans with regard to Brennan and the Murder Program are some sort of "conspiracy" cooked up in a back room four years ago. That's not how such things happen. Those who are intent on power are always concerned with consolidating their power and expanding it whenever possible. Much of what they do will be in response to events, including the actions of other individuals and institutions. I'm reminded of the observations I offered in a post warning of the great danger Obama represented -- a warning which I wrote in May of 2008, mind you. I talked of "the inexorable development of the political system in the United States over more than a century: toward a corporatist-authoritarian state domestically, coupled with a militantly, violently interventionist foreign policy." I wrote:
This system as it exists today consists of innumerable interrelated, constantly moving parts. Countless agencies, commissions and bureaucrats act in concert and on their own to expand their power, and that of government generally. The system has a life of its own; it is its own reason for being. It sustains itself, and it seeks more and more territory for its dominance. The exercise of power and the acquisition of still more power are not directed at the improvement of the lives of "ordinary" Americans, whoever they may be; ordinary Americans are of no interest or concern to the ruling elites, except insofar as their labor and often their lives are necessary for the maintenance of the lives of immense comfort and privilege enjoyed by the powerful. Power is not the means to some other end, although that claim is a crucial element of the extraordinarily successful propaganda so willingly swallowed by the public. Power -- its exercise and maintenance, and the acquisition of still more power -- is the end.
Because of the number of players and institutions involved, there are constraints on everyone, including the president. In the drive to acquire more power, each person and organization is constantly testing the boundaries of what is possible; they are always determining what they can "get away with," which is sometimes limited in part by the actions of others. I consider it entirely possible that Obama was perfectly happy to have Brennan as his chief adviser on domestic security and terrorism four years ago, and wasn't particularly concerned with Brennan's future role. Then they were busy for several years with developing and implementing the Murder Program.

As the Murder Program became more significant in the Obama administration's plans, the administration arranged for stories to be published in major newspapers describing the Program -- primarily to find out what the public reaction would be. In this way, the administration could more accurately judge what else they could get away with. (I described this process here.) As we now know, there was almost no reaction at all. Almost no one cared. Nonetheless, there were still a few complaints about the Murder Program, about "unaccountable," "secret" executive actions and the like. That wasn't a major problem, but it would be helpful to be rid of the annoyance. The Obama administration wanted a clear field in which to make its future plays. So perhaps at that point, maybe about a year ago, Obama or some valued adviser (perhaps Brennan himself) thought: "Well, you had originally wanted Brennan at the C.I.A. They'd confirm him now, especially since his reputation has been rehabilitated in such sterling fashion. And Brennan is the person most closely identified with the Murder Program. So nominate him for C.I.A. now -- and when he's approved, that means they approve the Murder Program, too."

That is more likely to be the pattern of how this developed. But make no mistake: when Brennan's nomination is confirmed, the Obama administration will have won a victory of immense significance. As to how and on what schedule the Murder Program will be expanded, that, too, will depend on events to a significant extent. Since the administration is already expanding the number of strikes, there can be no question that they plan to rely on assassination more and more frequently. And if at some point there should be serious domestic unrest ... well, we might prefer not to think in great detail about what the administration's response is likely to be.

There are several other important issues I want to discuss about this latest "white paper," including why this "news" story is not news at all. I also want to explore some of the reasons for what I view as an extraordinarily bizarre aspect of the reaction to this story. But this is long enough for the moment, so I will address those questions next time.