All countries need good intelligence officials and agents, not the buffoons, gangsters, sadists and killers who, in the name of national security, do us so much damage.
By Chris Hedges
There are two forms of government in the United States. There is the visible government—the White House, Congress, the courts, state legislatures and governorships—and the invisible government, or deep state, where anonymous technocrats, intelligence operatives, generals, bankers, corporations and lobbyists manage foreign and domestic policy regardless of which political party holds a majority.
The most powerful and important organs in the invisible government are the nation’s bloated and unaccountable intelligence agencies. They are the vanguard of the invisible government. They oversee a vast “black world,” tasked with maintaining the invisible government’s lock on power. They spy on and smear domestic and foreign critics, fix elections, bribe, extort, torture, assassinate and flood the airwaves with “black propaganda.” They are impervious to the chaos and human destruction they leave in their wake. Disasters, social upheavals, economic collapses, massive suffering, death and rabid anti-American blowback have grown out of the invisible government’s overthrow of democratically elected governments in Iran, Guatemala and Chile and the wars it fostered in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The United States and the rest of the globe would be far safer if our self-styled shadow warriors—who failed to foresee the Iranian revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 9/11 attacks or the absence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and whose widespread use of torture makes them the most potent recruiters for radical jihadism—were made accountable to the public and the rule of law.
“Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest? Pretty good stuff, Brudder!”
There are periodic glimpses of the moral squalor and ineptitude that define this shadow world, such as those provided by the 1970s hearings led by Sen. Frank Church and the leaking of photographs of prisoners being tortured at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. But those who attempt to defy or expose the pernicious inner workings, including Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, are usually discredited, persecuted, silenced and sometimes “disappeared.” The invisible government justifies its secrecy and criminality as necessary in the face of existential threats, posed first by communism and later by Islamic terrorism. The ends always justify the means. Anything, no matter how immoral or criminal, is permissible.
“An indispensable link in this grim chain.”
The best window we have into this shadow world comes with historical accounts of its crimes, including those in Stephen Kinzer’s new book, “Prisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control.” The black sites and torture techniques pioneered by the Central Intelligence Agency in the decades after World War II—developments that saw people kidnapped, tortured and often executed—were “an indispensable link in this grim chain,” he writes.
The medical experiments carried out by the Nazis in concentration camps and the Japanese in the occupied Chinese region of Manchuria elicited two responses after World War II. There were some in the visible government who sought to hold the war criminals accountable. But there were many in the invisible government who wanted to obtain and exploit the results of these experiments and recruit the war criminals who had overseen them to work for U.S. intelligence services and the military. …