December 02, 2017

The "Intelligence" Fraud (1)

In a post earlier this week, I remarked that I'm working on a new article about the monumental fraud represented by "intelligence," a fraud that includes "intelligence" itself -- that is, the supposedly vital need for "secret information" about everything under the sun, to hear the so-called "intelligence" experts tell this fable -- to every aspect of the State's insatiable appetite for "intelligence," including all the operations of the "intelligence community." I've decided to start a series of posts documenting the endless "intelligence" failures of the State. Stories about these failures appear with stunning regularity, even in our gutless, monochrome, propagandistic news media.

I included links to earlier essays that explore this issue in detail. The second half of this article offers a good summary of the argument I've developed over a number of years. Two other articles I mentioned were this one and this one. (There are many, many more posts about this issue in the archives.) I can state my theme very briefly. Insofar as "intelligence" is concerned, such "secret information" is almost always wrong; on the rare occasions when it is correct, it is likely to be disregarded, especially if it goes against a policy that has already been decided. "Intelligence" is most commonly used as propaganda, to justify policy decisions that have already been made to an alarmingly gullible public.

A year ago in The Nation, James Carden examined how the media drove "itself into a self-righteous frenzy over what it perceives to be President-elect Trump’s grave show of disrespect to the CIA." I noted the article at the time and jotted down some thoughts about it, because it was one of only a handful of pieces to approach the question sensibly, which included, not incidentally, looking at the CIA's actual record. Carden wrote:
A democracy, it is true, cannot function if its elections are the target of outside powers which seek to influence it. To see what a corrosive effect outside powers can have on democratic processes, one need look no further than the 1996 Russian presidential election, in which Americans like the regime-change theorist Michael McFaul (who was later to become US Ambassador to Russia from 2012–14) interfered in order to keep the widely unpopular Boris Yeltsin in power against the wishes of the Russian people.

For its part, the CIA has a long history of overthrowing sovereign governments the world over. According to the historian William Blum, the CIA has “(1) attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically-elected, (2) attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries, (3) grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries, (4) dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries, (5) attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders."

Perhaps if it was doing the job of intelligence gathering rather than obsessively plotting regime change, the CIA would have amassed a record worthy of the establishment media’s incessant fawning.

But alas. Consulting the CIA’s historical record, one is confronted by a laundry list of failures, which includes missing both the break-up of the Soviet Union (during the 1980’s a CIA deputy director by the name of Bob Gates called the USSR “a despotism that works”) and the 9/11 attacks.

In the years following 9/11, the CIA has been caught flat-footed by, among other things, the lack of WMD in Iraq (2003); the Iraqi insurgency (2003); the Arab Spring (2010); the rise of ISIS (2013); and the Ukrainian civil war (2014).
An issue I will return to is whether the "failures" Carden lists are, in fact, failures. As but one example, "the lack of WMD in Iraq" was entirely clear to millions of people around the world before the invasion, including me and you (I hope). A great deal of evidence compels the conclusion that the Bush administration was also well aware of this fact. But the Bush administration was determined to have its war. It wanted a massive military presence in the Middle East for strategic reasons (including, but not limited to, access to natural resources), and nothing was going to stop it. This is a textbook example of the manner in which the "intelligence" does not matter. That is the central fact, which must never be forgotten:
You must never, ever argue in terms of "intelligence." That is playing the State's game, on the State's terms. Guess what: the State will win. You must always argue policy. That is all that matters. The Bush administration knew there were no WMD in Iraq. They didn't care. So much for the "vital need" for "secret information."

Here is Gabriel Kolko on this point:
The function of intelligence anywhere is far less to encourage rational behavior--although sometimes that occurs--than to justify a nation's illusions, and it is the false expectations that conventional wisdom encourages that make wars more likely, a pattern that has only increased since the early twentieth century. By and large, US, Soviet, and British strategic intelligence since 1945 has been inaccurate and often misleading, and although it accumulated pieces of information that were useful, the leaders of these nations failed to grasp the inherent dangers of their overall policies. When accurate, such intelligence has been ignored most of the time if there were overriding preconceptions or bureaucratic reasons for doing so.
Compared to these earlier "failures," today's example of the boondoggle that is "intelligence" seems almost minor. However, given the frenzied intensity with which the media has tried to convince us that hacking by "evildoers" will consume all the multiverses that exist, the advocates for massive "intelligence" gathering can hardly view it as minor themselves.

Consider this:
The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin's crosshairs, The Associated Press has found.

Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting.

"It's utterly confounding," said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. "You've got to tell your people. You've got to protect your people."

FBI policy calls for notifying victims, whether individuals or groups, to help thwart both ongoing and future hacking attempts. The policy, which was disclosed in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the FBI by the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, says that notification should be considered "even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation."
The full story offers many details about this "failure" to notify, but these opening paragraphs summarize the problem.

Not so by the way: "FBI spending in constant 2016 dollars has more than tripled since 1990, from $2.7 billion to $9.1 billion."

So what is the FBI spending all that money on? The basic answer lies in recognizing that the FBI's operations, as well as those of the CIA, the NSA, and any other agency you care to name, are directed toward what the State is doing to you, not what it claims to be doing for you.

And this is just the beginning ...