The Ignorance of
By Danny Schechter
Some years ago, I meet a major in American intelligence, a member of the "Red Cell Unit."
As he explained it to me, his unit was actually charged with assessing other spy shops by offering other views, critiquing intelligence estimates and perhaps even evaluating security systems like the specialists who test airport systems by probing for their soft spots and vulnerabilities, and seeing if they can beat them.
This soldier had been sent as one more gung ho officer into the war in Iraq only to return, like many, if not disillusioned, aware that all was not working well. He was actually involved in guarding so--called HVT's (High Value Prisoners) including Saddam Hussein himself, who he came to respect for his intelligence, before his untimely demise with a rope around his neck.
Saddam's many crimes and errors were soon dwarfed by our own.
The United States today has a vast intelligence apparatus, on the ground, in the sky and even in space. Technically it puts the old Soviet Union to shame, and sucks up millions of terabytes of data daily.
But, that doesn't mean that what is reported is understood. The analysts seek to make sense of it but the policy makers are often so locked into templates of action and pre-formulated strategies that insure the input doesn't lead to course corrections or changes in direction. They operate with a kind of intellectual "locked-in" disease that freezes out new ideas.
The system is manned by hardline ideologists and choked with dated ideology, constantly leading to so-called intelligence "failures' that fill many library shelves. Yet even when post mortems are filed, few in the commanding heights of our national security apparatus is willing to look back and draw lessons. They are too busy, lazy or just hacks (as opposed to hackers.)
One reason: so much money is invested in covert media operations that spin and distort reality that the people inside the "deception machine" believe the news that they themselves plant and fabricate. Perception guides reality more than reality guiding perception.
Media institutions play a big role in echoing embellished government claims often relying on leaks and plants that come from disinformation bureaucracies and their media assets,
The "uprisings by the "rebels" in Syria and Libra are cases in point. In both countries, discontent was mined, military units were recruited, trained, armed and deployed by foreign interests. Some are even working with the very Jihadis we have been denouncing.
The United States and Britain took the lead with an assist from the French and NATO. Countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia recycled some of their oil profits to fund these interventions while trying to keep a public distance. Ironically, some of the people they armed are in Al Qaeda- linked terror groups who have always been described as our "enemy." So much for consistency!
Years later, government hacks and historians write about these events, usually rationalizing the policy choices that drove US policy but sometimes critiquing it especially when it imploded. Noone in this world has yet to adequately explain Washington's biggest failure of all: how they "missed" the Iranian Revolution.
National Public Radio recently interviewed one such government historian,
David Crist, who has written a book called The Twilight War , detailing the "secret history" of America's 30-year conflict with Iran.