FIRST BLOOD; MIKE FLYNN

February 16, 2017

“…never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” – John Donne

Trump haters have drawn first blood. Michael Flynn was the first casualty. General Flynn could come back into the fold at some later date. Exile, followed by reprieve might be something Donald Trump would do.

Alas, for the moment, the President doesn’t look like he can take a punch. The entire “sanctions” kerfuffle, conversations with the Russian ambassador, is inside baseball stuff.  Nobody cares much about sanctions, Beltway candor or character anyway.

If every lawyer/politician in DC was fired for mendacity, Washington would be a ghost town.

Flynn was outed by a rabid press corps with a seditious agenda. Trump has been blooded. Sadly, Trump didn’t cut his losses. Like the man he replaced, the President simply folded like a cheap tent.

Adding insult to injury, Flynn, like Steve Bannon, is probably anathema to every Obama era hack hired by Trump to date. The establishment has no taste for parvenus.

Mike Flynn, of course, had his share of baggage, but if the truth be told, he was low hanging fruit, an exposed position that the new Commander-in-Chief chose not to defend. The tone is set at the top.

You can fib to anyone in D.C., but the home office. Being called to account for candor by the Washington Post or CNN is a little like getting a chastity pitch from one of Marion Barry’s hookers.

The so called “trust” issue is a hoot too. No soldier was more loyal to Trump in 2016. Indeed, Flynn was one of a precious few prominent Intelligence officials or flag officers, active or retired, to make Trump possible.

Fibbing is a venial sin. Support for Donald Trump is literally a mortal sin.

Flynn knows that the real threat isn’t Russia. Flynn knows that Islamism is the real danger. Flynn knows that Israel is our only reliable ally in a very nasty neighborhood. Flynn knows where the bodies are buried in a bloated and hostile US national security establishment, DOD and the Intelligence Community in particular.

Flynn knows too that the national security community has unsheathed the long knives. Leaked intelligence is a two way street. Oddly enough, Trump doesn’t seem to realize that he too, like Flynn, is on the regime change hit list after just a few weeks in office.

Political pathology at Intelligence agencies like CIA is not confined to domestic machinations.

Shortly after his anointment, Mike Pompeo rushed off to Saudi Arabia to give Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, an award for “counter terrorism.”  Ironically, the award is named after former CIA director George Tennent who you may recall was the author of the fake intelligence that underwrote two fake wars in Iraq.

If CIA can honor the ideological authors of 9/11 with a medal, the revised edition of Mein Kampf should be in the mix for a 2017 Pulitzer Prize.

Clinton, Bush, and Obama have had a quarter century to pack Washington sinecures with like-minded drones. Politically correct, largely liberal, District of Columbia zombies and media partisans will not go quietly into the night.

To such, Flynn was as dangerous as he was expendable. Indeed, the general is now an ugly precedent too, a loyal chump hung out to dry by Trump era Intelligence leakers.

Adding insult to bizarre injury, we now hear that David Petraeus is a candidate to replace Flynn. You might recall that Petraeus was the Obama flag who had a yen for bimbo subordinates. Before that, he was the intellectual godfather of three decades of losing strategy in the Ummah. Petraeus still believes that the global Muslim jihad is a basket of unrelated local insurgencies.

If any name says more of the same, it is General David Petraeus.

Back on team Trump, Steve Bannon is probably next on the hit list. If the new President is naive enough to expect a partisan CIA or FBI to be honest brokers in any leak investigations, he needs to go back to selling condos.

By any measure Donald Trump is an odd duck; not a lawyer, not a politician, and, apparently, not very savvy about the flora and fauna that breeds in the Washington swamp.

The General Flynn fiasco was never about Putin, Russians, sanctions, trust, or candor. The Flynn hit is merely the specter of Trump’s future.

Flynn, like Trump, was in the crosshairs from the very beginning because neither one of them wears a fuchsia pantsuit. The President won a hard election and now loses an easy round one to seditious Beltway louts who know how to hit below the belt. Hard to believe that even a novice CEO can be that naïve.

If any moron at NSA or CIA can drop a dime to the Washington Post and get someone fired, team Trump is in for a thrashing.

Looming hazards to Trump are not so much his rubber knees or glass jaw as it is his future as a populist. The people are a fickle bunch. Early events suggest that Trump might not have anybody’s back but his own.

If loyalty is not a two-way street, then all bets on Donald Trump, or real change in the nation’s capital, are off

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For a more detailed analysis of the Flynn affair see Eli Hunt at https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/the-political-assassination-of-michael-flynn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Broken Arrow

March 22, 2015

Policy is a worldview, a kind of wishful thinking. Intelligence is the real world, a wilderness of untidy facts that may or may not influence policy. The policymaker thinks he knows the answer. The intelligence officer and national security analyst have the much tougher tasks of confirming or changing minds.

When Intelligence fails to provide a true and defensible estimate, a clear picture of threat, policy becomes a rat’s nest of personal and political agendas where asserted conclusions and political correctness become the loudest voices in the room.  American national security analysis has been poisoned by such toxins. An Intelligence report these days might be any estimate that supports the politics of the moment. Truth today is an afterthought at best and an orphan at worst.

Alas, corrupt Intelligence is the midwife of strategic fiasco. Four contemporary failures provide illustrations: revolutionary theocracy, the Islam bomb, imperial Islamism, and the new Cold War.

Back to Theocracy

The Persian revolution of 1979 was arguably the most significant strategic surprise of the last half of the 20th Century. Yes, more significant than the fall of Soviet Communism. The precipitous fall of the Soviet Bloc, however, was another bell weather event unanticipated by Intelligence analysis. The successful religious coup in Iran, heretofore an American client regime, now provides a model for all Muslim states where the default setting among tribal autocracies is now theocracy not democracy. In the wake of the Communist collapse, Fukuyama argued that the democratic ideal was triumphant, an end of history as we knew it, the evolutionary consequence of progressive dialects. Fukuyama was wrong, tragically wrong. History is a two-way street that runs forward as well as backwards.

The fall of the Soviet monolith was not the end of anything. It was followed by profound regression, an era of religious irredentism. Worrisome as the Cold War was, the relationship with Moscow was fairly well managed. Who can argue today that East Europe or the Muslim world is more stable or peaceful than it was three decades ago?

The Persian revolution of 1979, not only reversed the vector of Muslim politics, but the triumph of Shia imperialism blew new life into the Shia/Sunni sectarian fire, a conflict that had been smoldering for a thousand years or more. The theocratic victory in Tehran also raised the ante for Israel too, now confronted by state sponsored Shia and Sunni antagonists, Hezb’allah, Fatah, and Hamas.

Shia Hezb’allah calls itself the party of God! Those in the Intelligence Community who continue to insist that religion is not part of the mix, have yet to explain why God is only part of the conversation on the Islamic side of the equation.

Global Islamic terror is now metastasizing at an alarming rate. More ominous is the assent of the Shia clergy, apocalyptic ayatollahs, a lowering of the nuclear threshold in the Middle East. Sunni ISIS by comparison is just another tactical terror symptom on the Sunni side – and yet another strategic warning failure too.

Tehran is in the cat bird’s seat, on the cusp of becoming a nuclear superpower. Nuclear Iran changes every strategic dynamic: with Israel, with Arabia, and also with NATO. A Shia bomb is the shortcut to checkmate the more numerous, albeit more primitive, Sunni. Iran will not be “talked out” of the most potent tool in imperial Shia kit – and the related quest for parity with Arabian apostates.

The Islam Bomb

The Islam bomb has been with us for years, in Sunni Pakistan, although you might never know that if you followed the small wars follies in South Asia. The enemy, as represented by American analysis is atomized, a cast of bit players on the subcontinent. First, America was fighting a proxy war with the Soviets. When the Russians departed, the enemy became the murderous Taliban followed by al Qaeda. Both now make common cause with almost every stripe of mujahedeen today. In the 25 years since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has been reduced now to a rubble of narco-terror and tribalism. If we can believe bulletins from the Pentagon or the Oval Office, America is headed for the Afghan exit in the next two years – maybe. Throughout, the real threat in South Asia remains unheralded – and unmolested.

Nuclear Pakistan is one car bomb, or one AK-47 clip, away from another Taliban theocracy. This is not the kind of alarm that has been raised by the Intelligence Community. Hindu India probably understands the threat, Shia Persia surely understands the Sunni threat, and just as surely, Israel understands that a Sunni bomb is the raison d’etre for a more proximate Shia bomb. Who would argue that the Sunni Saudis need nuclear “power”? Nonetheless, Riyadh is now in the game too.  The most unstable corner of the globe is now host to a nuclear power pull.

The American national security establishment seems to be clueless on all of this. Indeed, when a unique democracy like Israel tries to illuminate a portion of the nuclear threat before the American Congress, the Israeli prime minister is stiff-armed by the Oval Office. If Washington failed with Pakistan and North Korea, why would anyone, let alone the Israelis, believe that Wendy Sherman is a match for the nuclear pipedreams of apocalyptic Shia priests.

Alas, the motive force behind a Shia bomb is not Israeli capabilities or intentions. Israel is a stable democracy where any territorial ambitions are limited to the traditional Jewish homeland. Israel is no threat to Persia or Arabia.  Pakistan, in contrast, is like much of the Sunni world today, another internecine tribal or sectarian wildfire waiting for a match.

The advent of the Islam bomb in Asia was not just a strategic surprise, but the step-child of strategic apathy. The folly of taking sides with the Sunni has now come home to roost. Iran is about to go for the atomic brass ring too, with the Saudis in trail, and there’s not much that America can/will do except mutter about secret diplomacy and toothless sanctions. Of course, there’s always the option of blaming Jews when appeasement fails.

Imperial Islam

The Ummah problem, the Muslim world, has now replaced the Soviet empire, as Churchill would have put it, as the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” There are four dimensions to the Islamic conundrum: the Shia/Sunni rift, intramural secular/religious conflicts, kinetic antipathy towards Israel and the West writ large, and the failure of analysis, especially strategic Intelligence, to unwrap the Muslim onion in any useful way. Imperial Islam, dare we say Islamofascism, now threatens secular autocracy and democracy on all points of the compass.

Islamic imperialism is a decentralized global movement. Nonetheless, the various theaters are united by tactics, strategy, ideology, and objectives. The tactics are jihad, small wars, and terror. The strategy is the imposition of Shariah Law. The ideology is the Koran and the Hadith. And the objective is a Shia or Sunni Islamic Caliphate – for infidels, a distinction without difference.

Muslim religious proselytizers and jihad generals in the field make no secret of any of this. The problem isn’t that some Muslims dissent from this agenda, the problem is that the West, especially national security analysts, cannot/will not believe or accept what Islamic imperialists say aloud, about themselves. The enemy is hiding in plain sight, yet the Intelligence Community doesn’t have the integrity or courage to make a clear call.

Noted British criminal psychiatrist Theodore Dahlrymple captures the bizarre logic of appeasement:

“Racial, religious and cultural identity are morally important in politics, precisely what so many people would like to deny because it can so easily unleash the vilest political passions. Something that is true, say our people of goodwill to themselves, could have nasty consequences; therefore it is not true.”

Propaganda provides many of the strategic “tells” in any conflict. The Nemstov murder in the shadow of the Kremlin provides an example. The knee-jerk reaction of politician and pundits in America was to implicate Russian culture, the Kremlin, or Vladimir Putin.

Contrast the Nemstov blame game with any or every recent Islamist atrocity and the nuclear race in the Ummah. With these, the knee-jerk reaction is to defend Islam, more concern for Islamism and the religious equivalence shibboleth than the nuclear threat or Jewish, Christian, and apostate heads that are now literally rolling on a global scale. In a recent US State Department brief, we are told by State Department spokesman Marie Harf that Islamic terrorism might be attributed to “unemployment” (sic).

Cold War Redux

The West can no longer take yes for an answer. The deliberate resuscitation of the Cold War midst a host of tactical defeats in the Ummah is probably one of the worst foreign policy choices on record.

The old Soviet Union: took down the Berlin Wall, relinquished former satellites, dismantled the Warsaw Pact military alliance, and purged East Europe of nuclear weapons. In response, America and the EU dismantled Yugoslavia, taking the Muslim side we might add, and aggressively expanded NATO up to the traditional Russian border. The “End of (totalitarian) History” as we knew it wasn’t enough. Any vestigial associations with Moscow were relentlessly undermined. The American sponsored coup, orchestrated by Victoria Nuland at the US State Department, with likely help from the CIA, in Ukraine is the best and most recent example.

The “regime change” strategy in Europe has degenerated into some petulant version of nuclear chicken with the Russians. The American embassies in Moscow and Kiev regularly host anti-Putin dissidents in Ukraine and Russia

Regime change folly has lowered the nuclear threshold in South Asia, the Mideast, and now East Europe. Sevastopol and Kiev are side shows. The real target for Brussels and Washington is Moscow – and the Putin regime. The idea that the Kremlin or Russians can be undone or manipulated by: black operations, cyber war, sanctions, propaganda, or provocations is naïve and reckless. Putin is not a Pahlavi, Gadhafi, Assad, or Yanukovych.

Russians were very helpful in ridding Syria of chemical weapons and clearing the Ukraine of nuclear weapons.  Moscow and Putin have the potential also to be very useful against terror, nuclear proliferation, and resolving the Levant lunacy too.

House of Representatives minority leader Pelosi recently lamented losing the “public relations” war with Russia. The American Secretary of State responded that Russian Television (RT) was responsible (sic). The more believable narrative spun by the Kremlin might be closer to the mark. Truth is a powerful ally, especially when it’s coupled with propaganda.

The origin of the new Cold War may have domestic origins. Neither major American political party has a clue as what to do with the metastasizing Muslim problem. Indeed, both sides gag on words like Islam, Muslim, or Mohammed. As 2016 approaches, both parties desperately need to change the subject and find a foreign policy to run on. Regime change in Russia seems to be the consensus choice for American demagogues, Right and Left.

The idea that domestic “politics stops at the border” was always honored more in the breach than anywhere else. The politics of personal destruction is a time honored tradition in America, especially on the Left. That standard has now been folded into the foreign relations bag of tricks. Henry Kissinger claims that “demonization” is not policy. That may be true in any real politic sense, but the Putin bogyman is an ideal straw man for the next American presidential election. Proxy war abroad seems to be the safe sex of domestic politics.

What Now?

The American Intelligence Community is now the largest (17 agencies and uncountable contractors) and most expensive data collection and processing complex in history. Unfortunately, this gold-plated leviathan is undone by inferior analysis; indeed, estimates and reports that are more political than prudent. Withal, existential functions like strategic warning may be in freefall.

The obvious solution would be to take the strategic warning and national estimative functions out from under the IC, and the Executive Branch, and give those tasks to some apolitical body, assuming of course that an impartial forum might be sustained beyond the control of any branch of government. Realistically, it’s hard to believe that any American political party would sponsor an independent and uncontrollable voice of candor or objectivity.

Nonetheless, there are small things that might be done to make a huge difference. During the Cold War, USAF Intelligence ran a service of common concern for the IC called “Soviet Awareness.” The purpose of that program at Bolling AFB was to educate novice intelligence officers and FBI agents about the Soviet threat. The program included Russian history, the rise and spread of Communism, Marxist ideology, and Soviet military capabilities.

Ironically, the inter-agency program that answered the question “why we fight” was discontinued by James Clapper when he became the USAF Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. Clapper is now the Director of National Intelligence. The Soviet Awareness resources were reallocated to the information processing function. Today there is no awareness program of common concern on Russian, Islamist, or any other threats.

Clapper threw the threat baby out with the Soviet bathwater. Indeed, in most service schools, discussing Islamic ideology or religion is off limits. If any soldier or Intelligence officer were to ask: “Why do we fight?” the answer today would have to be, “trust me.”

The real tragedy of Intelligence failure today is the burden born by American veterans, servicemen and women: the dead, crippled, and maimed.  “Why we fight?” is a leadership deficit, the forgotten readiness issue. Troops don’t have a clear picture of the enemy or the ideology in play in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Arabia, the Philippines, and Africa. They will know even less about the rationale for serving in East Europe should another conflict be engineered with Russia.

Indeed, the Pentagon and the Oval Office throw lives at small wars that generals and politicians have no intention of declaring, justifying, or winning – by their own admission.  The Commander-in-Chief says the he seeks outcomes where there are no victors or vanquished. Indeed!

Traditionally, we like to think of collection and associated clandestine operations as the sharp end of the Intelligence spear. In fact, analysis is the cutting edge. Unfortunately, that edge is gone today. You could do worse than think of Intelligence analysis as the Broken Arrow in the national security quiver.

We may not know why we fight today, but there is little mystery anymore about why we fail.

                                                                                       Epilogue

The importance of information is seldom self-evident. Even if significance were obvious, information is still not knowledge. And clearly knowledge is not wisdom. Just as surely, only conscience allows an analyst to know the difference. All key judgments must be accompanied by courage and conviction too; courage to communicate to policy mandarins, or voters, with enough force to prompt action. Repetition is often the midwife of acceptance.

Good data and good analysis might be necessary, but never sufficient. Bridging the gap between analysis and acceptance is often a bridge too far for the timid. The national security continuum is a perilous enterprise. The messenger is always in danger of being shot. Alas, truth is an equal opportunity offender. It doesn’t care who gets hurt.

Nonetheless, changing minds is the object of any good Intelligence. Policy and action is only stimulated by an altered consciousness about the subject at hand. Prudent policy is a function of correct data, honest analysis, moral certainty, and rhetorical skill – written or spoken.

Alas, none of these self-evident, common sense observations, with the possible exception of abundant evidence, play much of a role in American threat analysis these days. A very expensive and growing Intelligence Community  is now the weak link in the national security chain. Any speculations about the catastrophic failures of American foreign policy in the past fifty years should begin with the “wilderness of mirrors,” James Angleton’s metaphor for Intelligence praxis.

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  1. Murphy Donovan was the last Director of Research and Russian (nee Soviet) Studies at USAF Intelligence, the directorate that staffed the associated Soviet Awareness Program. He served under General James Clapper.

Images:

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Wrong Wars and Wrong Enemies

April 30, 2014

Freedom of the Press is at once a virtue and a vice. The virtue is underwritten by the belief that candor and an informed electorate make for honest government. Press freedom becomes a vice when journalists choose to be government surrogates; enablers of half-truths, evasions, or lies. There may be no better example of this dark side of the First Amendment than the ongoing CBS/CIA collaboration to spin the Benghazi fiasco. You might recall that, with Dan Rather on point, CBS was the network in 2004 that sought to discredit George Bush with fake records. Seems the Rather spin chair is now occupied by Charlie Rose, double-dipper extraordinaire for two networks; CPB and CBS.

If you want to understand how cozy American journalism and national intelligence has become, you might audit Washington’s newest odd couple: Charlie Rose of CBS and Michael Morell late of the CIA. Both seem to be “front running” for Hillary Clinton so that she is not damaged by fiasco Benghazi in 2016.

Michael Morell was a former deputy and sometimes acting director of CIA. He was also the Svengali of the infamous Benghazi talking points. Before his 2 April testimony before Congress, and the Rose interview  the next day, Morell was the invisible man in the cover-up. In fact, he was the go-to guy at CIA during the brief David Patraeus tenure and aftermath. Recall that the Petraeus sex soap opera overlapped the Benghazi charade and Obama’s 2012 campaign finale.

Morell was “retired” last June after the White House finally admitted that the former CIA deputy director had unilaterally altered the now infamous Susan Rice talking points just before the November election. Truth often makes a tardy appearance when it “doesn’t matter,” to steal Hillary Clinton’s sentiments on the subject.

Morell joined Charlie Rose at CBS News in January. Morell also collects a sinecure from Beacon Global Strategies, a revolving-door consultancy staffed largely by former Democrat Party appointees. Beacon Global is a likely bull pen for a Hillary campaign and/or regime staffers.

Those who insist that American Media outlets are politically neutral might also contrast the Sunday chat show coverage of Susan Rice’s Benghazi spin on 16 September 2012 with the Michael Morell’s tortured Benghazi confessions during the first week of April 2014. Rice appeared on most network Sunday shows prior to the election. Yet, not a single Sunday talk show, including FOX, mentioned the recent Morell confession before Congress and the subsequent Charlie Rose soft ball interview a day later.  Administration spin gets wall-to-wall coverage before the election; but, when mendacity or “mistakes” are examined after the fact, somehow political journalism is AWOL.

The original September 2012 Benghazi talking points were drafted by a CIA HQ analyst at Langley at the request of congressional Intelligence Committees because members needed some cover with constituents over the neglect and malpractice in Libya.

The neglect involved CIA and State Department failure to respond to field requests for improved security. The incompetence centered on the failure to respond to US agents in peril at two facilities in Benghazi as three sequential Islamist attacks were underway. Indeed, General Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon claimed he didn’t send military help to Benghazi because Hillary didn’t ask. The lying played out when previous security requests and even the word “Islamist” was stricken from the after-action draft that was supposed to chronicle the FUBAR fiasco.

Morell now admits that he altered, without consulting field agents or HQ analysts, as much as fifty percent of those now infamous Susan Rice talking points. Morell also admits that General Petraeus, upon seeing the bowdlerized report, concluded that it was useless.

Morell dispatched the talking points to national security principals anyway and Rice took them to the Sunday morning airways. Withal, Morell insists that the White House didn’t have anything to do with “substantive revisions.” We are supposed to believe that Rice led the Sunday damage control charge without Mrs. Clinton or Mister Obama approving the strategy or tactics of what was clearly a very sensitive political defense.

Throughout the Benghazi flail, Clinton and Obama behaved like cat house piano players, ignoring tarts and bouncing bedsprings alike. If adult supervision was absent that controversial September weekend, what specifically were the President and Secretary of State doing during the Benghazi circle jerk? We still don’t know.

Morel would also have you believe that anyone in the tedious and untimely Intelligence review and coordination chain can delete evidence or alter conclusions. It took the 16 agencies of the Intelligence Community a week and four lives to just admit that the tragedy was an attack and not a “demonstration.” Indeed, CIA Director David Patraeus, presiding over eleven versions of the talking points, concluded that the final memo was flawed, if not deceptive. Yet, it was disseminated anyway to a national audience. So much for candor and professionalism in James Clapper’s world.

This is not to absolve Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, or Hillary Clinton at Foggy Bottom. Clearly these women were push-back principals, the trio who in concert p***y whipped Morell, chastened him to extract any mention of previous warnings or obvious security negligence. Ultimately, defending the White House and State Department on the eve of an election came at the cost of what little was left of public trust in the American national security establishment.

The Dogs That Didn’t Bark

What was the purpose of those two clandestine compounds in Benghazi? What did Libyan Islamists know that the American national security community pretended not to know? Alas, those facilities in Libya were probably attacked because they were shipping Muammar Gaddafi era surplus arms to the anti-Assad Islamist “opposition” in Syria.  If the Libyan office of al Qaeda knew what the NY Times knew, then it’s safe to assume that even janitors at CIA were aware of the motives, opportunity, and inspiration gun running provided to Benghazi jihadists.

And today, much of Allah’s wet work in Libya and the rest of North Africa is yet to be done. After all, the African jihad needs weapons too.

So let’s reconstruct. With one voice, CIA and Morell tried to deny the role of Libyan Islamists in the killing of American agents. With another scheme, CIA was/is providing Libyan arms to Muslin jihadists in Syria. The boondoggle in Benghazi illustrates both the incoherence and the incompetence of foreign policy in the Obama era. Similar schizophrenic policy prevails at the Justice Department. The real enemy for the Obama national security team seems to be sunshine.

In short, Americans are kept in the dark by mushrooms like Morell at home while gasoline is thrown on narco-traffic, gun running, and global jihad abroad. You can’t make this stuff up!

Clearly, Michael Morell and CBS deserve each other. Morell cinched his place on the Washington walk of shame when he admitted to Rose that he dismissed key eye witness accounts from the field, even a video, from Benghazi in favor of spin from swivel-chair warriors, the ass-kissers that cluster inside the Beltway.

Two Heroines

However, there are some dim flickers of journalistic integrity midst the Obama era smog. The Media haze obscuring anything remotely critical of team Obama is penetrated at times, mostly by heroines.

Sharyl Attkisson is the former CBS reporter who did the investigative work on “Fast and Furious,” that gun running scheme in Mexico sponsored by the Holder Justice Department. Attkisson also provided refreshing candor on the Libyan fiasco. Alas, Sharyl resigned under pressure from White House and CBS flacks. She may have taken the last vestiges of CBS objectivity and integrity with her.

Nonetheless, Ms. Attkisson still provides the best dissection of  Morell’s tap dance on Capitol Hill. She knows ‘sources and methods’ bat guano when she sees it. Atkinson is now writing a book about Obama era adventures which, insh’allah, should appear before the next American election.

On another beat, Carlotta Gall has specialized in Muslim wars for a decade or more. Her latest book, The Wrong Enemy, breaks ranks with usual administration drivel about Islamist terror as a criminal enterprise with local motives. Ms. Gall calls a Muslim war a war – from Chechnya to Afghanistan. Finally, a serious mainstream journalist recognizes the global Islamist menace and the role that protected Muslim sponsors, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, play in war from South Asia to the Mediterranean.

The sopranos are hard to hear in Washington midst the bull frog chorus, but distaff dissonance might eventually change the national night music. When a ‘journalist with giblets’ award makes its debut, Attkisson and Gall should be at the top of the queue. Truth does not care whose feelings get hurt.

Recent crises reflect just how much partisan politics has corrupted national Intelligence and journalism. With the American Left, too well represented among government shills and Press partisans, truth puts sacred cows at risk; the Obama past and the Hilary future in particular. The thought that President Obama’s legacy is failure or that Hilary Clinton could be denied the presidency, again, seems to be a mainstream Media nightmare.

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Images:

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Rot and Rhetoric

June 9, 2013

I suppose you could argue that all language is political at least to the extent that writers or speakers do not necessarily share the same assumptions, or motives, as readers and listeners.  Then, of course, there is the problem of euphemism, a kind of polite mendacity. We seldom say what we mean for fear of being mean.  Phrasing like “politically correct” is at once a cliche and an oxymoron.  Things political are seldom correct.

And when political language becomes news; it’s a safe bet that the thought police have unleashed the howling dogs of rhetoric. Several recent examples come to mind.

Early in Barack Hussein Obama’s first term, John Brennan was unleashed to CSIS to lecture assembled scholars on the correct usage of language associated with all things Islamic. Any politician who aspires to cook the rhetorical books does well to start with the academy and government subsidized think tanks. Sympathetic Press coverage helps too. Redundancy is reinforcement.

At CSIS, Brennan sought to sever any linkage between Muslims, terror, and jihad in Washington – and elsewhere.  The then White House advisor actually argued that the very term jihad had many meanings, including ritual “cleansing.”  There was more than a grain of literal truth to the Brennan claim: the Arab attack on New York was indeed a bath, a bloodbath. The Brennan spin on the word “Islamist” was a kind of housecleaning too, an attempt to alter history and minimize future threats.

Thought police understand the value of consistency and repetition. Any lie repeated often enough, as Joseph Goebbels was fond of saying, assumes a life of its own. Truth is a function of retailing and retelling. When President Obama was asked subsequently about jihad in Mumbai, he almost quoted the Brennan CSIS pitch verbatim.

Still, John Brennan’s early assignment was more than a bit of a stretch.  Most terror, certainly the strategic variety, originates with Muslim groups or countries. Global terror is now accompanied by intramural carnage as the Arab “spring” morphs into an Islamic winter. The cold winds of irridentism, some say religious fascism, still blow across Africa, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Turkey.

Withal, you might think that any attempt to separate Islam from terror, or Muslims from backward looking Islamist, would be dead on arrival; a little like trying to reboot modern history, a little like painting Catholics out of the Inquisition or absolving German, French, and Scandinavian quislings for the Holocaust.

Never underestimate the power of persistent political spin and the capacity of fearful journalists to forget and conform.

There was a time when English language style manuals were confined to good usage not politics. The other day, the Associated Press (AP) issued a revised style manual which could have been written at the Executive Office Building – or at the CIA.  Two revisions prominently tack with political winds blowing from the White House and the Intelligence Community: revisions to terms such as “illegal immigrant” and “Islamist.”

AP will no longer use the adjective ‘illegal’  to describe immigrants who enter the country in violation of law, nor will the term be used to describe those who remain with expired visas. Thus the 9/11 hijackers, many of whom were visa overstays, might be described today as students, guest workers or martyrs, but not criminals.  After all, not a soul, no Arabs nor Muslims, have been convicted of anything associated with the Twin Towers massacre after ten years of diligent investigation. Arabs, especially Saudis, are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The word Islamist is also about to go the way of the Yo-Yo too. Apparently, such loaded language might suggest religious zeal; implying that imperial terror and global political crimes might be traced to prophetic admonitions, the Koran, Muslims, or political Islam. The logic of revision here is similar to the double-think associated with terms ‘illegal immigrant.’ Labeling any negative deductions about terror as presumption or guilt by association is a kind of rhetorical preemption.  

Surely genocidal terrorists, nee Islamists, have no more to do with intolerant clerics or religion than a stroke might have to do with brain damage. And why shouldn’t logic have the same elasticity as language? Truth is simply what you are willing to believe, isn’t it?

Rhetorical acumen is not without rewards. Brennan is now the Director of CIA, a position from which he may become Chef de Cuisine in the analytic kitchen too. Brennan is cut from the same cloth as his predecessor, David Petraeus. The erstwhile general was a reliable soldier in the appeasement wars until he literally stepped on his crank. Before Paula, there were hijabs, instead of helmets, on US soldiers in Afghanistan.

And Brennan is not without domestic institutional allies either. In January, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) petitioned AP to have the word “Islamist” stricken from the vocabulary of journalism. And now the AP style manual is revised to suit those religious sensitivities. Any organization with the hutzpah to merge adjectives like ‘American’ and ‘Islamic’ in their title is a force to be reckoned with. Secular America and theocratic Islam share values in the same sense that prey and predator share.

Surely the Brennan spin, the CAIR complaints, and the now revised AP Style Manual are cuts from the same cloth. Cause and effect for such cultural drift is seldom obvious. Yet, the substance and logic of all three arguments is remarkably consistent – and consistently wrong. Withholding judgment about theocratic political movements grants pernicious religion equal standing with secular democratic government.

But now it’s a done deal. So let’s give credit where credit is due. AP copy is used in 17,000 newspapers and by 5000 TV outlets worldwide. Their product services 120 countries. The Associated Press might be the most profitable non-profit multi-national wire service on record. Any victory there in the global war of words is a big win.

Corks are popping over at Langley and the fellaheen at CAIR are crowing over the AP capitulation. Words matter. Language is the vehicle for cultural values. And strategic mendacity, like truth, is a value of sorts.  John Brennan and the editors at AP would do well to remember that political decay begins when great nations stop doing all those things that made success possible. The rot begins with rhetoric.

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This essay appeared in the 9 June 2013 edition of American Thinker.