September 22, 2017
photo above by Tom Thai | CC BY 2.0
WN: Welcome to America the Beautiful. As kids, my brothers and I loved the highlighted song, as sung by George Beverly Shea–who performed in front of more people than any other singer in history. We played it and all his songs on a record player until I’m sure we wore out the grooves. The refrain, that we Canadian kids felt fully part of, went:
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Like most white evangelicals, we thought Billy Graham was a kind of American evangelical pope. And for all intents, he was! Therein lay the problem; one explained brilliantly in Kristin Kobes du Mez’ Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.
This is the essential contradiction at the heart of America’s problems: if we were a democracy and if we truly enjoyed free speech, we would be able to study and speak about the CIA. We would confront our institutionalized racism and sadism. But we can’t, and so our history remains unknown, which in turn means we have no idea who we are, as individuals or as a nation.
Some prefer “America the Beautiful” over “The Star-Spangled Banner” due to the latter’s war-oriented imagery; others prefer “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the same reason. While that national dichotomy has stymied any effort at changing the tradition of the national anthem, “America the Beautiful” continues to be held in high esteem by a large number of Americans, and was even being considered before 1931 as a candidate to become the national anthem of the United States.
Regardless, both are about American Empire that must reign supreme worldwide. The “Beautiful” is American militarized capitalism at work to dominate the world.
As George Keenan said, America’s vast wealth, built for generations on the backs of slaves, is precisely what it aims to keep the rest of the world from ever catching up to:
In 1948, George Keennan, State Department Director of policy planning, noted that the United States then possessed “about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population.” The challenge facing U.S. policy makers, he believed, was “to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.” [1. PPS 23, “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” (February 24, 1948).] The overarching aim of American statecraft in other words, was to sustain the uniquely favorable situation to which the United States had ascended by the end of World War II. It’s hard to imagine a statement of purpose more succinct, cogent, and to the point.
Judged by this standard, the stewards of U.S. foreign policy down to the present day have done more than passably well… (America’s War For the Greater Middle East: A Military History, New York, Random House, 2016, p. 358)
And, as sociologists Charles Derber and Yale Magrass point out in Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society, the United States is the ultimate bully nation whose system of “militarized capitalism,” derivative from the horror of slavery, voraciously still seeks to suck the wealth from all other peoples and nations, in the end no differently from what it did to slaves in a bygone era:
Every society has a particular economic order, political structure, and culture that become part of what we mean by a “system.” In America, the system is militarized capitalism, and it extends its dominion throughout the United States, across the globe, and into the planetary environment. It is a system primed to create pervasive bullying that affects adults, children, and all species [35. Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), and Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (New York: Holt, 2004). It is also a system perfected throughout the American reign of terror perpetrated against slaves.]. Militarized capitalism is most fully developed in the United States, which is one of the reasons why we focus on our own society. By looking both at America’s history and its current function, we see how a bully nation can flourish, gaining enormous power and wealth as well as moral legitimacy.
Militarized capitalism is just one system of unequal power that can create a bully nation, but since America is the most powerful country in the world and promotes its system as a model for the world, it deserves our attention. Yet as we see when we discuss the military and militarism, we cannot think of bullying at a purely national level, for bullying operates as a foundation of the American global order [36. See Noam Chomsky and Robert McChesney, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011). See also Charles Derber, People before Profit (New York: Picador, 2003), and Derber and Magrass, Morality Wars [: How Empires, the Born Again, and the Politically Correct Do Evil in the Name of Good] (New York: Routledge, 2010), esp. chap. 3 on the US exercise of global imperial power.] (Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2016, pp. 24 & 25.)
One may also read in this post, Empire’s Religion: Arundhati Roy Confronts the Tyranny of the Free Market:
Perhaps the most revealing words on the topic of globalization in recent years came not from the pen of Thomas Piketty, nor were they written by Robert Reich or Joseph Stiglitz or Paul Krugman — rather, they can be found in the pages of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, written by the notorious New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
“The hidden hand of the market,” Friedman notes in a particularly telling fragment, “will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglass, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.”
We are told the world is being made “safe for democracy,” a trope that dates back to the days of the First World War. But “democracy,” in elite-speak, is code for capitalism.
“Across the world,” Roy writes, “as the free market brazenly protects Western markets and forces developing countries to lift their trade barriers, the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer.”
A fist has, of course, always been behind the market’s “invisible” hand. And whether in Iran in 1953 or Guatemala in 1954, whether in Vietnam or Iraq or the Dominican Republic, the fist often takes the lead role, smashing disobedient nations into submission, forcefully prying open previously closed markets, shaping the world in such a way that is amenable to the needs of the profit-seekers and the already powerful.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in No Future Without Forgiveness about White South Africa during apartheid:
The former apartheid cabinet member Leon Wessels was closer to the mark when he said that they had not wanted to know [about brutal repression of Blacks and Coloureds], for there were those who tried to alert them (p. 269).
Jesus had this to say (Matthew 23:1–36):
27Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of impurity. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. 30And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then,g the measure of the sin of your fathers. 33You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of hell?
34Because of this, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and others you will flog in your synagogues and persecute in town after town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
When I was doing evangelism in West Berlin1, a few times I asked older folks who had lived through the Nazi era:
Aber haben Sie nicht gewußt?–But didn’t you know?
Their voices said, “Nein.” But their eyes said, “Ja.” They knew. They knew. They could not not have known . . .
“Plausible deniability” about which you will read in the article in such cases, as during South Africa’s apartheid. They knew; They knew. They could not not have known . . .
What if we interjected “Americans” for “scribes and Pharisees“? And what if I took a liberty and rewrote verse 35 thus?:
And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Native Americans upon first contact, to the blood of millions of slaves, to the mass slaughter of black and brown bodies the world over, whom you murdered from sea to shining sea, and beyond–worldwide slaughter without end.
Please see too: U.S. Embassy Staffer Who Drugged, Molested Women on Video Was in CIA, Feds Say. We read:
A U.S. Embassy staffer accused of drugging and sexually assaulting at least 24 women over a 14-year period was in fact a longtime CIA employee, the FBI announced Monday, as the bureau urged any possible victims to come forward in the case.
Serial molester Brian Jeffrey Raymond, 45, was arrested Oct. 9, 2020, in La Mesa, California, where he had been staying with his parents after abruptly quitting his job at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. He pleaded guilty this past July to two counts of sexual abuse and one count of transporting obscene material, and will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life upon his eventual release from prison.
And this, October 26, 2021, : Colin Powell: Willful Victim of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Deceit.
Powell’s speech and the CIA were wrong on every aspect of Iraqi WMD—nuclear, biological, and chemical. Fabricated information and single-source intelligence were central to the process. The “Curveball” saga on non-existent mobile biological labs symbolized the corruption of the campaign.
In May 2004, I challenged Tenet at Georgetown University about his role in the CIA’s disinformation campaign. His response was: “When the facts are all in, we will neither be completely right nor complete wrong.” Several British and Australian intelligence officers resigned over their own governments’ use of this material. No one at CIA resigned, and Tenet and McLaughlin insisted that the “integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.”
In September 2004, following the retirements of Tenet and McLaughlin, the CIA finally conceded that the so-called labs were in fact mobile hydrogen units for weather balloons. This is exactly what Saddam Hussein claimed in his account of Iraqi weaponry in December 2002, an account that was roundly dismissed by the Bush administration and the CIA and also by Colin Powell.
There is also this The CIA Plot to Kidnap or Kill Julian Assange in London is a Story that is Being Mistakenly Ignored. We read:, October 5, 2021:
It was revealed this week that a year before the Khashoggi killing in 2017, the CIA had plotted to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who had taken refuge five years earlier in the Ecuador embassy in London. A senior US counter-intelligence official said that plans for the forcible rendition of Assange to the US were discussed “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration. The informant was one of more than 30 US officials – eight of whom confirmed details of the abduction proposal – quoted in a 7,500-word investigation by Yahoo News into the CIA campaign against Assange.
The plan was to “break into the embassy, drag [Assange] out and bring him to where we want”, recalled a former intelligence official. Another informant said that he was briefed about a meeting in the spring of 2017 at which President Trump had asked if the CIA could assassinate Assange and provide “options” about how this could be done. Trump has denied that he did so.
The Trump-appointed head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, said publicly that he would target Assange and WikiLeaks as the equivalent of “a hostile intelligence service”. Apologists for the CIA say that freedom of the press was not under threat because Assange and the WikiLeaks activists were not real journalists. Top intelligence officials intended to decide themselves who is and who is not a journalist, and lobbied the White House to redefine other high-profile journalists as “information brokers”, who were to be targeted as if they were agents of a foreign power.
Among those against whom the CIA reportedly wanted to take action were Glenn Greenwald, a founder of the Intercept magazine and a former Guardian columnist, and Laura Poitras, a documentary film-maker. The arguments for doing so were similar to those employed by the Chinese government for suppressing dissent in Hong Kong, which has been much criticised in the West. Imprisoning journalists as spies has always been the norm in authoritarian countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, while denouncing the free press as unpatriotic is a more recent hallmark of nationalist populist governments that have taken power all over the world.
Lars Schall: 70 years ago, on September 18, 1947, the National Security Act created the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. Douglas, you refer to the CIA as “the organized crime branch of the U.S. government.” Why so?Douglas Valentine: Everything the CIA does is illegal, which is why the government provides it with an impenetrable cloak of secrecy. While mythographers in the information industry portray America as a bastion of peace and democracy, CIA officers manage criminal organizations around the world. For example, the CIA hired one of America’s premier drug trafficker in the 1950s and 1960s, Santo Trafficante, to murder Fidel Castro. In exchange, the CIA allowed Trafficante to import tons of narcotics into America. The CIA sets up proprietary arms, shipping, and banking companies to facilitate the criminal drug trafficking organizations that do its dirty work. Mafia money gets mixed up in offshore banks with CIA money, until the two are indistinguishable.:2 in the Greater Middle East as only one example, which endures brutal will to domination and oppression at the hands of American Empire. I reflect on this in an introduction to a posting here. An expanding list of postings on American Empire may be accessed here.3
“The Truth Will Set You Free” as a CIA motto is surely among history’s greatest blasphemies.–Theologian Brad Jersak
Drug trafficking is just one example.
LS: What is most important to understand about the CIA?
DV: Its organizational history, which, if studied closely enough, reveals how the CIA manages to maintain its secrecy. This is the essential contradiction at the heart of America’s problems: if we were a democracy and if we truly enjoyed free speech, we would be able to study and speak about the CIA. We would confront our institutionalized racism and sadism. But we can’t, and so our history remains unknown, which in turn means we have no idea who we are, as individuals or as a nation. We imagine ourselves to be things we are not. Our leaders know bits and pieces of the truth, but they cease being leaders once they begin to talk about the truly evil things the CIA is doing.
LS: A term of interest related to the CIA is “plausible deniability”. Please explain.
DV: The CIA doesn’t do anything it can’t deny. Tom Donohue, a retired senior CIA officer, told me about this.
Let me tell you a bit about my source. In 1984, former CIA Director William Colby agreed to help me write my book, The Phoenix Program4. Colby introduced me to Donohue in 1985. Donohue had managed the CIA’s “covert action” branch in Vietnam from 1964-1966, and many of the programs he developed were incorporated in Phoenix. Because Colby had vouched for me, Donohue was very forthcoming and explained a lot about how the CIA works.
We imagine ourselves to be things we are not. Our leaders know bits and pieces of the truth, but they cease being leaders once they begin to talk about the truly evil things the CIA is doing.
Donohue said the CIA doesn’t do anything unless it meets two criteria. The first criterion is “intelligence potential.” The program must benefit the CIA; maybe it tells them how to overthrow a government, or how to blackmail an official, or where a report is hidden, or how to get an agent across a border. The term “intelligence potential” means it has some use for the CIA. The second criterion is that it can be denied. If they can’t find a way to structure the program or operation so they can deny it, they won’t do it. Plausible denial can be as simple as providing an officer or asset with military cover. Then the CIA can say, “The army did it.”
Plausible denial is all about language. During Senate hearings into CIA assassination plots against Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders, the CIA’s erstwhile deputy director of operations Richard Bissell defined “plausible denial” as “the use of circumlocution and euphemism in discussions where precise definitions would expose covert actions and bring them to an end.”
Everything the CIA does is deniable. It’s part of its Congressional mandate. Congress doesn’t want to be held accountable for the criminal things the CIA does. The only time something the CIA does become public knowledge – other than the rare accident or whistleblower – is when Congress or the President think it’s helpful for psychological warfare reasons to let the American people know the CIA is doing it. Torture is a good example. After 9/11, and up until and through the invasion of Iraq, the American people wanted revenge. They wanted to see Muslim blood flowing, so the Bush administration let it leak that they were torturing evil doers. They played it cute and called it “enhanced interrogation,” but everyone understood symbolically. Circumlocution and euphemism. Plausible denial.
But people who go into law enforcement do so for the thrill of wielding power over other people, and in this sense, they relate more to the crooks they associate with than the citizens they’re supposed to protect and serve. They’re looking to bully someone, and they’re corrupt. That’s law enforcement.
The CIA is populated with the same kind of people, but without any of the constraints. The CIA officer who created the Phoenix program, Nelson Brickham, told me this about his colleagues: “I have described the intelligence service as a socially acceptable way of expressing criminal tendencies. A guy who has strong criminal tendencies but is too much of a coward to be one, would wind up in a place like the CIA if he had the education.” Brickham described CIA officers as wannabe mercenaries “who found a socially acceptable way of doing these things and, I might add, getting very well paid for it.”
It’s well known that when the CIA selects agents or people to run militias or secret police units in foreign nations, it subjects its candidates to rigorous psychological screening. John Marks in The Search for the Manchurian Candidate told how the CIA sent its top psychologist, John Winne, to Seoul to “select the initial cadre” for the Korean CIA. “I set up an office with two translators,” Winne told Marks, “and used a Korean version of the Wechsler.” CIA shrinks gave the personality assessment test to two dozen military and police officers, “then wrote up a half-page report on each, listing their strengths and weaknesses. Winne wanted to know about each candidate’s ability to follow orders, creativity, lack of personality disorders, motivation – why he wanted out of his current job. It was mostly for the money, especially with the civilians.”
In this way, the CIA recruits secret police forces as assets in every country where it operates, including occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In Latin America, Marks wrote, “The CIA…found the assessment process most useful for showing how to train the anti-terrorist section. According to results, these men were shown to have very dependent psychologies and needed strong direction.”
The CIA’s executive management staff compartments of the various divisions and branches so that individual CIA officers can remain detached. Highly indoctrinated, they blindly obey on a “need to know” basis. This institutionalized system of self-imposed ignorance and self-deceit sustains, in their warped minds, the illusion of American righteousness, upon which their motivation to commit all manner of crimes in the name of national security depends. That and the fact that most are sociopaths.
It’s a self-regulating system too. As FBN Agent Martin Pera explained, “If you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy.”
Cops are members of the Universal Brotherhood of Officers. They exist above the law. CIA officers exist near the pinnacle of the Brotherhood. Blessed with fake identities and bodyguards, they fly around in private planes, live in villas, and kill with state-of-the-art technology. They tell army generals what to do. They direct Congressional committees. They assassinate heads of state and murder innocent children with impunity and with indifference. Everyone to them, but their bosses, is expendable.
LS: Is the war on drugs also a war on blacks? Let me give you some framework for this question, because John Ehrlichman, a former top aide to Richard Nixon, supposedly admitted that: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” (1) And I can quote from H. R. Haldeman’s diaries in this respect, of course. In the early stages of his presidency, more specifically on April 28, 1969, Nixon outlined his basic strategy to his chief of staff: “[President Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.” (2) So, is the war on drugs that started under Nixon also a war on blacks? And if so, what does this tell us about the United States?
DV: America is a former slave state and a blatantly racist society, so yes, the war on drugs, which is managed by white supremacists, was and is directed against blacks and other despised minorities as a way of keeping them disenfranchised. The old Bureau of Narcotics was blatantly racist: not until 1968 were black FBN agents allowed to become group supervisors (Grade 13) and manage white agents.
I interviewed former FBN Agent William Davis for my book about the FBN, The Strength of the Wolf. Davis articulated the predicament of black agents. After graduating from Rutgers University in 1950, Davis, while visiting New York City, heard singer Kate Smith praising FBN Agent Bill Jackson on a radio show. “She described him as a black lawyer who was doing a fine job as a federal narcotic agent,” Davis recalled, “and that was my inspiration. I applied to the Narcotics Bureau and was hired right away, but I soon found out there was an unwritten rule that Black agents could not hold positions of respect: they could not become group leaders, or manage or give direction to whites. The few black agents we had at any one time,” he said bitterly, “maybe eight in the whole country, had indignities heaped upon us.”
Davis told how Wade McCree, while working as an FBN agent in the 1930s, created a patent medicine. But McCree made the mistake of writing to Eleanor Roosevelt to complain that prosecutors in the South were calling black agents “niggers.” As a result, the FBN’s legal staff charged McCree with using FBN facilities to create his patent medicine. McCree was fired with the intended ripple effect: his dismissal sent a clear message that complaints from black agents would not be tolerated.
WN: NOTE–please see as well: Sex and the CIA.
Please click on: The CIA: 70 Years of Organized CrimeFootnotes
- See my coming-of-age novel about this: Chrysalis Crucible
- See an instance of planned high stakes kidnapping and murder: High Court Should Consider U.S. Plans to Kidnap and Assassinate Assange
The indictment against Assange stems from WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 revelations of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. They included 400,000 field reports about the Iraq War, 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians, and evidence of systematic torture, rape and murder after U.S. forces “handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad,” the documents reveal. They included the Afghan War Logs, 90,000 reports revealing more civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had reported. And the Guantánamo Files contained 779 secret reports revealing that 150 innocent people had been imprisoned there for years and documenting the torture and abuse of 800 men and boys, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Perhaps the most notable release by WikiLeaks was the 2007 “Collateral Murder” video, in which a U.S. Army Apache helicopter gunship in Baghdad targets and fires on unarmed civilians. At least 18 civilians were killed, including two Reuters journalists and a man trying to rescue the wounded. Two children were injured. A U.S. Army tank then drives over one of the bodies, cutting it in half. The video depicts three separate war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Army Field Manual.
It was WikiLeaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools known as “Vault 7,” which the agency called “the largest data loss in CIA history,” that incurred the wrath of Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Vault 7 materials revealed electronic surveillance and cyber-warfare by the CIA.
In 2017, Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and CIA and government officials hatched “secret war plans” to abduct and kill Assange, according to a stunning Yahoo! News report. Some senior CIA and Trump administration officials requested “sketches” or “options” for ways to assassinate Assange. Trump “asked whether the CIA could assassinate Assange and provide him ‘options’ for how to do so,” according to the report.
Pompeo advocated “extraordinary rendition,” which the CIA used in the “war on terror” to illegally seize suspects and send them to its “black sites” where they were tortured. The scenario was that the CIA would break into the Ecuadorian Embassy in which Assange was staying under a grant of asylum and clandestinely fly him to the United States to stand trial. Others in the agency wanted to assassinate Assange outright by poisoning or shooting him to avoid the hassle of kidnapping him.
See too: An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. Of it we read:
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis supporting a workers’ strike. By nightfall, army snipers were in position, military officers were on a nearby roof with cameras, and Lloyd Jowers had been paid to remove the gun after the fatal shot was fired. When the dust had settled, King had been hit and a clean-up operation was set in motion-James Earl Ray was framed, the crime scene was destroyed, and witnesses were killed. William Pepper, attorney and friend of King, has conducted a thirty-year investigation into his assassination. In 1999, Lloyd Jowers and other co-conspirators were brought to trial in a civil action suit on behalf of the King family. Seventy witnesses set out the details of a conspiracy that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, Memphis police, and organized crime. The jury took an hour to find for the King family. In An Act of State, you finally have the truth before you-how the US government shut down a movement for social change by stopping its leader dead in his tracks.
- Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on “Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
- See Wikipedia article too.