The Real Reason to Impeach Trump
- “clandestine” refers to the secrecy of the operation itself,
- “covert” refers to the secrecy of its sponsor; the action itself may or may not be secret.
“By now it is evident that the CIA and its cohorts were in fact responding to presidential orders.” — John Prados, “Safe for Democracy, The Secret Wars of the CIA”
Executives of all organizations, from a family owned businesses to the United States of America, manage a delicate balance between acting unilaterally and asking their boards for permission to act. This becomes a particularly delicate balance for the President of the U.S. when considering an “act of war”.Since 1945, developments in international law such as the United Nations Charter, which prohibits both the threat and the use of force in international conflicts, have made declarations of war largely obsolete in international relations. In an effort to avoid the legal implications of declaring war most nation states, increasingly, have come to rely on covert and paramilitary operations when they determine it is necessary to use force against an adversary.
“Deception…is the greatest of strategic tools. Because it…can make the weak strong, and make the strong unchallengeable. In a close contest it is the easiest way of tipping the balance.” — Angelo Codevilla, “Informing Statecraft”
In the case of the United States the need for covert or paramilitary operations has caused the President to rely on the services of the CIA or special forces instead of conventional military forces like the Army, Navy and Air Force to achieve military objectives. Russia’s paramilitary force is called the Spetsnaz and was frequently on display during Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. One of Isreal’s special forces is known as Mista’arvim, meaning “those who live among the Arabs” is commonly tasked with performing intelligence gathering, law enforcement, hostage rescue missions and counter-terrorist operations, that uses disguise and surprise as their main weapons.
When it becomes necessary for these paramilitary forces to undertake covert operations, which it frequently does, their oversight and control becomes particularly difficult because knowledge of their activities becomes severely limited to only those who have a “need to know”. This limitation on discussing work matters is not unlike the omerta one of the FBI’s Alec Station team member Mark Rossini described regarding the code of secrecy he experienced while working with the CIA.
So the dilemma becomes quite clear. How is oversight of secret paramilitary operations maintained if those involved in the paramilitary operation are prevented from having frank and truthful conversations with the overseeers? A bureaucracy is not a democracy. It’s the closest thing we have to a successful version of George Orwell’s 1984. The restrictive thought-collective is reinforced not only by a rigid hierarchical culture of obedience but also by carefully cultivated peer pressure like the CIA’s omerta. Someone who breaks out of this “box” and does so for reasons of conscience is a rare individual indeed.
Out of this emerges a “bureaucratic mindset.” The bureaucrat is supposed to think of his or her assigned task and how best to accomplish it. That is what is meant by “staying with the program.” The bureaucrat is not supposed to think why the task has been assigned or what its implementation might broadly mean. Like the task itself, thinking too becomes detached from any context but that generated by the bureaucracy. This attitude is reinforced by the fact that responsibility is also compartmentalized. As long as one pursues the task efficiently, according to prescribed procedure, one is acting responsibly. Through this approach, it becomes difficult to hold any particular bureaucrat responsible for the overall impact of a policy. The task of implementation is too fragmented.” “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die”.
When the CIA decided to bring members of al qaeda into the United States for training they could use as mujahideen fighters wherever the they thought al qaeda would benefit U.S. interests, CIA officials were more than likely acting in violation of U.S. laws. It’s not surprising, therefore, that these same CIA officials would work to severely limit knowledge of the presence of the same al qaeda members in the U.S. After all it’s almost impossible to imagine that anyone in the U.S. government every thought that the al qaeda terrorists intended to use commercial airliners as missiles to destroy the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
However, The CIA had already been through very difficult ordeals with the investigations of the Church and Pike committees which found serious abuses of power by the CIA and enacted legislation to curtail CIA paramilitary and covert activities.The real lessons of 9/11 are not about limitations on information sharing and the need to expand the capabilities of the CIA. They are about the way in which an insidious bureaucracy can extend its capabilities far beyond what those who created it ever intended and also about the extent to which that same bureaucracy can go to hide and conceal its efforts to grow.
These efforts to hide or disguise a bureaucracy can become particularly dangerous when the agency adopting the disguise is adept at doing it and in fact employs disguise as a core competency. The whole information sharing thing is disingenuous because the CIA didn’t even need to go to the FBI and get all entangled in the need for criminal investigations and law breaking. All they needed to do was get Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) involved to withdraw the passports and visas of the hijackers.
The success of the September 11 plot depended on the ability of the hijackers to obtain visas and pass an immigration and customs inspection in order to enter the United States. It also depended on their ability to remain in the U.S. undetected while they worked out the operational details of the attack. If they failed on either count — entering and becoming embedded — the plot could not have been executed.
No legitimate analysis of the events and intelligence failures surrounding the 9/11 attack should ever dare to imply the CIA or any U.S. government agencies were involved in any nefarious activities. However, that does not mean that issues related to the operations of the CIA and other agencies did not contribute to the inability of the U.S. to prevent the attacks. Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.
There’s little doubt that the CIA’s original mission “to correlate and evaluate the intelligence relating to national security, and to provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the government” crept, over time, to include paramilitary operations. Paramilitary operations have little to do with the creation of intelligence. They are undertaken to inflict damage and inflict harm on enemies of the U.S. but in a way that can be denied by a U.S. President who feels the need to order them. The CIA’s activities in Afghanistan and Laos are just two prominent examples.
Paramilitary activities become especially problematic for the CIA if they are carried out on U.S. soil where they are prohibited by U.S. law. Not only did the 9/11 Commission not tighten up oversight of the crucial area of covert paramilitary operations, but they effectively loosened it, creating the potential for serious problems involving covert actions over which Congress has no say or control. In all their recommendations about strengthening congressional oversight, the commissioners neglected to say anything about oversight of covert paramilitary operations.
CIA support for the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan and training of Mujihadeen within the boarders of the U.S. was clandestine and covert and likely illegal creating multiple reasons for it to be withheld from the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies. These are the real lessons of the 9/11 attacks. Not failures to communicate among bureaucratic organizations and until these lessons are addressed the chances of another catastrophic event arising from another mission creep is highly likely to occur.
The chance of a catastrophic event arising from another mission creep is especially likely to occur with Donald Trump as President. This is the most important reason he should be impeached.
- A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not included as part of a state’s formal armed forces.
- military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment.
- Code of silence
- Robert K. Merton, (http://www.sociosite.net/topics/texts/merton_bureaucratic_structure.php )
- Jones, Milo; Silberzahn, Philippe (2013–08–21). Constructing Cassandra: Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947–2001 (p. 1). Stanford University Press.
Originally published at neutec.wordpress.com on November 17, 2017.