By Tom Engelhardt
June 25, 2007
It’s fitting that, as part 3 of Roger Morris’ monumental portrait of Robert Gates, the CIA, and a half-century-plus of American covert action comes to a close, a CIA document dump of previously secret materials from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s has put the years when our Secretary of Defense first entered the Agency back in the news. Assassination plots against foreign leaders, kidnappings, warrantless wiretapping of reporters, the illegal opening of American mail, illegal break-ins, behavior modification experiments on “unwitting” citizens, illegal surveillance of domestic dissident groups and critics of the Agency — it seems never to end.
And yet, you have to read Morris on Gates to realize how much this list still lacks when it comes to the acts of the CIA. It is, after all, one of the ironies of our moment that our (relatively) new secretary of defense now travels the American world — to Kabul and Baghdad in particular, where he frets about Tehran — only to find himself, in essence, confronting (though our media never bothers to say so) the consequences of the misdeeds of his younger self. It’s a grisly record and, not surprisingly, a grisly world has been its result.
If you haven’t read bestselling author (and former National Security Council staffer) Roger Morris’ first two parts on Gates and the CIA — “The Gates Inheritance” and “The World That Made Bob,” then do so and prepare yourself for the mayhem of the world Gates helped make when, in the 1980s, he came into his own. That this is the man meant to save us from the disparate fundamentalisms of Bush the Younger and Dick Cheney tells us a great deal about just how low we’ve sunk. Tom
The Rise and Rise of Robert Gates
The Specialist (Part 3)
By Roger Morris Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, March 8, 1985, an Islamic Sabbath — In Bir El-Abed, an impoverished, crowded Shiite quarter in the southern reaches of the Lebanese capital, Muhammad Husain Fadlallah stops on the street to speak to an elderly woman; and so, the revered 51 year-old cleric, delayed momentarily, will not be home at the usual time when a car bomb explodes at his apartment doorstep with a force felt miles away in the Chouf Mountains and well out in the Mediterranean.
“Even by local standards,” reported the New York Times from car-bomb and shell-shocked Beirut, the explosion “was massive.” Eighty-one people were killed — men, women, and children — and more than two hundred wounded. Fadlallah, the target of the attack, was unhurt. The next day, a notice hung over the devastated area where grief-stricken families were still digging the bodies of loved ones out of the rubble. It read: “Made in the USA.”