Heart of Darkness: The Deepest Secret of the CIA
Written by Chris Floyd
Tuesday, 03 July 2007
As the CIA pours a few old skeletons out of its closet – their dust helping obscure current malefactions – wise man James Carroll points us to the “darkest secret of all.” His chilling conclusion echoes the grim wisdom of another republic that once sold its noble birthright for a mess of authoritarian porridge: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves.”
You should read Carroll’s whole Boston Globe column – and his whole book as well, House of War, the history of the slow, inexorable, corrosive militarization of American society – but here are a few excerpts:
The nefarious activities of the national security apparatus have long been justified by their “realist” defenders as necessary to protect America from her enemies, but what if, instead of protecting the nation, this structure of criminality exists mostly to protect itself? What if this cryptic system’s true enemies are not hostile forces from abroad, but America’s own fancied traditions of decency and honor? What if the CIA, that is, has not been protecting us, but has been protecting itself from us?
Return to the beginning, which was not 1947, when the CIA was established, but 1953, when it was set loose. Its then-director, Allen Dulles, was the brother of President Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. Their peculiar ethos — a combination of personal moralism and public amorality — stamped the agency…
[President Eisenhower] appointed a secret commission to define the role of intelligence. Its chair, Jimmy Doolittle, the hero who had bombed Tokyo, issued his report in 1954:
“It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, longstanding concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage, and counter espionage services, and must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us. It may be necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand, and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.”
This vision was immediately embodied in covert initiatives…that haunt the United States to this day. A vast, hidden apparatus was put in place, and a most effective alliance was quickly established with its exact equivalent behind the Iron Curtain…. But that last Doolittle recommendation was never implemented — getting the American people to understand and support “this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.” Instead, the CIA’s culture of secrecy was programmed to hide as much from the US public as from any foreign entity, on the theory that the public would not tolerate unethical and illegal activity.
… The irony, of course, is that the CIA, which has almost always been wrong about America’s enemies, has been proven wrong, in the end, about the American public. When the national security establishment’s most heinous acts are laid bare — whether through the Church Committee Hearings in the 1970s or in the release of the “family jewels” last week — the revelations are greeted with a national yawn. The monstrous military establishment, which intelligence crimes protect, is not questioned.
Why are the congressional switchboards not jammed with angry phone calls of dishonored Americans? Except for an ineffectual, if passionate, minority of objectors, the people of the United States handle the knowledge of past and present crimes committed in their name quite nicely, thank you. Ah, but there’s the darkest secret of all.
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