A dear friend and former CIA colleague sent me an article from the New Yorker that, on first glance, appeared to be another example of the delusion that grips America. After reading it I realized it was great satire and did an admirable job of skewering an incompetent organization that needs to be put out of its misery.
The article pretends to offer a transcript from a guided audio tour of the C.I.A. Museum in Washington, DC. Here are some of the choice selections:
Track 006: For nearly two hundred years, the U.S. had no organized way of gathering intelligence overseas, other than catty diplomatic gossip. Then, in 1947, Harry S. Truman created the official C.I.A., solidifying him as the first-ever President to make a decision with no negative consequences. The C.I.A. has had a storied seventy-five-year history, in which the agency has done the brave and unthinkable to keep our country safe from foreign adversaries, like socialism and civil rights. If you’ve heard things like “The C.I.A. has failed so many times” and “The C.I.A. is evil,” just know that whoever said that was talking about the F.B.I.
Track 033: Notice a baggie of hair belonging to the infamous Fidel Castro. If you had told us that it would be so hard to kill an old guy in an Adidas tracksuit, we would’ve told you that the nickname Coconut Castro that we made up was not racially charged. Many are critical of our work in Cuba, but I want to remind you all that it’s a terrible, dangerous, anti-American place. I mean, you should see what we’re doing at Guantánamo.
Track 387: Across the ledge here, admire the various vials of poison that we’ve used throughout the years. Poison for cigars, poison for soups—you can try them all! Museumgoers are encouraged to sample them at the J.F.K. memorial buffet within the Bay of Pigs Trough café. Don’t worry—a lot of them haven’t worked.
Track 665: Mounted here is a portrait of the former C.I.A. director Torby Gluck, who was instrumental in developing the C.I.A.’s policy of protecting U.S. corporate interests abroad through a few teeny coups in Latin America and Asia and Africa. Sometimes I lie awake at night thinking about how some of those were a real snoozefest. But at least they still give me something to talk about when I guest-lecture at Harvard.
The war in Ukraine has exposed the CIA as a fraud. When I worked there in the 1980s, I sincerely believed that my responsibility as an intelligence analyst was to tell the President the truth, based on all source intelligence (i.e., human sources, imagery, electronic intercepts, State Department cables and open sources). I was surprised to learn that Presidents (regardless of political party) were not eager to hear unwelcome news, especially if it contradicted a policy they passionately embraced.
I had a conversation with the late Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was married at the time to my Career Trainee classmate, Valerie Plame, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He told me about what he had discovered after being sent to Africa to verify whether Saddam Hussein was buying yellow cake to restart his quest for a nuclear weapon. Joe told me he was worried that President Bush was being lied to and he felt an obligation to warn him. He was sincere in his concern. He naively believed that Bush was being kept in the dark.
When Joe wrote a NY Times op-ed, What I Didn’t Find in Africa, published on July 6, 2003, he became public enemy number 1 of the Deep State, which then decided to use his wife, Valerie, as a political football because he dared to expose the lies. Joe wrote:
Niger Yellowcake. “Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about SaddamHussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq?
Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.
Joe was right and the push back from the Bush Administration was ferocious. You get in trouble in Washington, DC if you tell the truth. It culminated in exposing his wife, who was a Non Official Cover Officer at the CIA, and as the media gleefully published damnable lies that she was an unimportant clerk. Those of us who trained or worked with Valerie knew better.
What happened to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame is relevant to what is going on now with respect to intelligence about Ukraine. There are analysts inside the CIA who know that the Biden Administration is lying. But they also know that they and their families would be destroyed if they dared to speak up and counter the propaganda that is flooding the media –i.e., print, electronic and social.
The Covert Action arm of the CIA is in control of the messaging and brokers no dissent or alternative view. While Hollywood has played a major role in perpetuating the myth that CIA covert action is effective and successful, an honest appraisal of those actions carried out over the last 60 years would show utter, abject failure. The actions in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and now, Ukraine, have not made the United States nor the nations of the world more secure. These actions have sowed chaos, terrorism and enormous human suffering.
The sickening truth revealed in the satirical piece in the New Yorker evokes horror and grief if one considers the millions of lives lost as a consequence of these actions. I can only pray that the current efforts underway in Ukraine will come to an inglorious end without plunging the world into a nuclear holocaust.