Saturday, February 28, 2009

Show Trials

I noticed on Ace, a story about the upcoming investigation into the CIA - headline: "Senate to investigate CIA's actions under Bush". I see they are not investigating the CIA's actions under Clinton, though many of the same people were doing the same things. I also suspect they are not trying to discover who in the CIA leaked sensitive and classified information to the media, thus undermining the fight against muslim terrorists.

I don't know much about the CIA, but after thirty years of simply holding a job, I know a lot about how people in organizations act. I know the lessons I have learned are scalable - the same backstabbing that gets you ahead at McDonald's, gets you ahead at Microsoft, gets you ahead in politics, gets you ahead at the CIA. The difference is simply one of degree.

I know the CIA may always have been, but is certainly now, a political organization - the Church Committee used the crisis of confidence of the 1970's to give politicians in congress more control over intelligence operations. Whether done to make the CIA more accountable to oversight, or to carve out for the legislative branch a slice of power heretofore held by the executive, is irrelevant - the results speak for themselves, the CIA is both player and pawn in the Washington tug of war.

For the last eight years, some in the CIA were brave whistleblowers, exposing the excesses of the evil Bush administration, or they were sleazy double dealers selling their country down the river to curry favor with the leftist establishment - toe-may-to, toe-mah-to. For the last eight years, some in the CIA were dedicated civil servants doing their best under difficult circumstances to protect the nation from those who wanted to do it harm, or they were unquestioning fascist drones mindlessly following the orders of the sinister syndicate who controlled the White House - poe-tay-to, poe-tah-to.

The past doesn't matter, because what is being shilled as an investigation into the abuses of the neocon cabal, is really of course, a purge - the house, senate, and president want to make sure what was done to Bush is not done to them, so anyone who seems to harbor too much loyalty to the previous regime has to go.

There are a couple of things I know from watching innumerable city council, planning commission, and architectural review board show trials ... er, meetings: first, the issues are already decided before the show starts, and second, the first ones in the dock are the erstwhile allies of the new boss - every new boss with a modicum of sense disposes of old friends before going after new enemies. This does not bode well for last year's whistleblowers who are now looking to the new powers-that-be for rewards for services rendered. Any Joe Wilsons or Valerie Plames still working at the CIA should take note.

And finally, just to kill any optimism anyone might have - consider the implications of this snippet from the article:

The inquiry, which could take a year or more to complete, means the CIA will once again be the target of intense congressional scrutiny at a time when it is engaged in two wars and its ongoing pursuit of Al Qaeda.

That's certain to end well. Machiavelli put it best:

Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense; benefits ought to be handed ought drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more.

Translation: if you are going to have a purge, do it quickly, completely, and if possible, in one night - if you drag it out for a year, expecting your target to wait passively for the ax to fall, you are a fool, or a member of the senate intelligence committee.