I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal. I know, I know. It's the official publication of the banksters. It's an apologist rag for the Trump administration. Certainly the editorial page is over the top in its support for a president whose policies even the Journal's editors struggle to explain and justify to readers. But I have a great friend who is a conservative, and he's always asking me if I have read this or that Journal article. And besides, it's important to know what the other side is thinking.
I actually enjoy the Friday and Saturday issues. There's a great real estate section on Friday, and on Saturday there are always several pages devoted to books and to the latest luxury cars. It was to the book section that I turned on Saturday, only to be enraged enough that I am now considering canceling my subscription.
The section contained an installment of its weekly article, "Five Best: A Personal Choice." Five Best is written by a different person every week, about the five best books he or she has read on a certain subject. The most recent article was by Joe Navarro, a former FBI counterintelligence agent and the author of "Three Minutes to Doomsday: An Agent, a Traitor, and the Worst Espionage Breach in U.S. History." It's an account of Navarro's case against a minor espionage target in the early 1990s, one in which the author repeatedly calls himself a "hero."
I have no problem with arrogant people. I live in Washington, the capital of arrogance. (And my wife says that I'm one of the most arrogant people she knows. That's not a compliment.) In any event, Navarro writes about his five favorite books on "spies and counterspies." He lists "The Sword and the Shield," based on a cache of KGB documents; "Merchants of Treason," about Americans who spied for the Soviet Union in the 1980s; "Traitors Among Us," an account of espionage in the U.S. military; "Wilderness of Mirrors," about controversial CIA counterspy James Jesus Angleton; and "The Codebreakers," about the role of cyphers and codes in the two world wars.
I've read several of these books. It isn't the books, or Navarro's love of them, that I object to. It's his description of the second book that really burned me. And it made me realize just how far freedom-loving people still have to go in this country.
In his review of "Merchants of Treason," Navarro begins with these words: "Before there was Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Robert Hansen, there was William Kampiles, Christopher Boyce, and Richard Miller." Whoa! Navarro is either utterly clueless as to the difference between traitors and whistleblowers or he's a malignant and malevolent force in the debate on government transparency.
Chelsea Manning clearly revealed evidence of crimes being committed by the U.S. military. Ed Snowden told the American people that NSA was spying on them, in violation of both the law and NSA's own charter. That's the very definition of whistleblowing: bringing to light any evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, illegality, or threats to the public health or public safety.
Hansen, though, was one of the most damaging spies in American history. The former FBI agent's treason was shown on the big screen in the film "Breach." Kampiles, Boyce, and Miller, like Hansen, were traitors who sold secrets to the Soviets for money. Period. Kampiles threw a top-secret spy satellite manual over the wall of the Soviet Embassy in Washington and offered more classified information if the Soviets wanted it. Boyce, half of the "Falcon and the Snowman" duo, met repeatedly with Soviet agents in Mexico City and provided them with innumerable classified documents. Miller was the first FBI agent ever convicted of spying for the Soviets. You can plainly see that there are literally no similarities between the traitors Navarro cites and the heroic whistleblowers he tries to attach them to.
But this is how the FBI does its business. I've written in the past about my own experience with the FBI. They ran an undercover agent against me to try to get me to commit espionage. But I kept reporting the contact -- to the FBI! They finally dropped the case. What was clear from this experience was that the FBI doesn't care about the truth or about justice. It cares only about making a case, even where one doesn't exist. It does that by tying whistleblowers and other freedom fighters to criminals. That keeps the FBI in the news. It makes it look like the Bureau is accomplishing something. And that's how the FBI gets budget increases on Capitol Hill and how its agents get promoted.
That's not justice. That's not fairness. The FBI will never apologize for ruining the lives of so many innocent people over so many decades. At the very least, though, Joe Navarro should apologize to Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden for besmirching them. And in the meantime, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
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