Saturday, 9 January 2016

essays on crime (3) Secret Intelligence Services

 Every nation has them. The SS and Stasi are some of the most notorious ones, but others that face much less scrutiny, belong to the modern “democratic state”. They have the same function of course, and like private power, they are an extension of democratic totalitarianism.  The reference of course is to secret intelligence services

Gordon Thomas is the author of the book, Secrets and Lies. In it details a terrifying account of the “Nazi witch doctors”, it is not, as the name suggests, anything to do with the National Socialist German Workers Party, but has everything to do with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  For indeed that is what the book is about.  In various chapters, it follows the debauched practices of Dr Ewen Cameron, who was quite different from a witch doctor.  His name is now synonymous with the Mk-Ultra program: brainwashing unsuspecting victims by an array of Kafkaesque methods. These included electro-shocks, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and playing voices back to the unsuspecting patients for hours on end in an attempt to brainwash them.  Many of these victims ended up dead or in mental institutions. 
 Of course, these witch doctors were medical men, Cameron was a Scottish psychiatrist, but it was not the Ewan Cameron’s who were responsible for the perpetuation of biological warfare, many of which were used in several adventures in Southeast Asia. Cameron, for his part, literally destroyed people, as Christine Hahn, the investigative journalist writes:

 Madeleine was rolled into the operating room on a gurney and prepared for surgery, her head shaven. A local anaesthetic was applied to a portion of her scalp. The surgeon cut away a flap of skin and drilled a hole through her skull. Wielding a spatula-type instrument, he made several sweeping incisions through her brain, slicing all the way to the back of her skull. While the surgeon worked, psychiatrist Ewen Cameron stood over the young woman, plying her with questions until he was assured the surgeon had achieved the desired result. When Madeline stared vacuously and could only grunt in response, the “surgery” ended. Madeleine lived the rest of her life an automaton in the confines of an insane asylum.

Madeleine Smith, a 28-year-old Canadian newscaster, was just one casualty of the ghoulish experiments conducted in the 1950s and early 1960s under Ewen Cameron at McGill University’s Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal.
 The experiments were part of the infamous “MK ULTRA” program conducted under the aegis of the U.S. intelligence agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, exposed in media and in hearings before the U.S. Congress in the 1970s. Cameron brutalized and maimed patients with drugs, shocks and lobotomies as he sought a means to “depattern” and program the human mind. Canadian survivors still able to seek reparation eventually obtained a $750,000 shared settlement from the U.S. government in 1988.

Nevertheless, the CIA, as we know, play a different role entirely.  William Blum wrote an important book in the 1990s called Killing Hope. The work itself, methodically well researched, details the often subversive and clandestine “work” the CIA have been involved in. From their links with the Nazis, most notoriously with Klaus Barbie and Reinhold Galen, and others, their crimes, according to the book and to history, these horrors carry on up until the Clinton administration when the book was written.  The way in which the organisation operates ought to concern us all. For they act with total impunity and with a vast degree of psychopathy; this is not so furtive.  There have been countless assassinations and assassination attempts against eminent figures.  It is not only murder and torture they use either; they use other methods, and appear to be schizophrenic to a very large degree.
In the 1940s alone, William Blum reports, citing vast amounts of documented evidence and facts, the CIA subverted elections in various countries in Western Europe after the second world war when the organisation were created. Just to take one example from these countries which highlight the level of depravity and criminality the CIA’s involvement in international terrorism.  Communists in Italy, during this time, were the favourites to win the election; celebrities like Frank Sinatra would send propaganda messages on the radio to Italy, warning them of the communist menace. To prevent this from happening the CIA first launched a propaganda war.  This was bad enough.  Then it escalated to a terrorist mission.
From that period onwards the CIA would use terror, torture, murder, propaganda, the subversion of elections abroad.  In 1953 Mossadegh in Iran was overthrown; in 1954, Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala was deposed; Karim Qasim of Iraq in 1961; the attempted overthrow of Castro.  In El Salvador, Chile, Brazil, Chile, Australia, Albania, Afghanistan, Panama, Peru, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Russia, Haiti, are just some of the countries which saw terror, subversion and propaganda on a global scale with full participation from the CIA.
All secret intelligence agencies are racist fanatics, and act with sociopathic behaviours.  The CIA are not alone in acts of extreme violence and terror on a mass scale.  The secret Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, are notorious for murdering and torturing people they do not like very much, and the M16, the external British intelligence are just as ferocious in their fanaticism.  However, I or anyone else can speak about their list of crimes forever and a day but a key question is why do these fundamentalist organisations exist in the first place?
These groups are, so we are told, intelligence gathering agencies; they are nothing of the sort. It is only these and not the national police or even the government that are able to use the rather feeble excuse of “national security interests” in assaulting and arresting people, as well as tarnishing their life for a rabidly sustained period. “Suspected terrorists” can be locked up for months, even years at a time on “suspicion” in pseudo-democratic states, in more totalitarian ones, they do not even need suspicions, and they just lock people up when they choose to do so. Yet their work remains so secret that any “leaks” of the activity would end up in years of imprisonment for that individual.
In so-called democratic societies, people would generally expect these organisations to have some transparency, and we would expect to know how they operate and conduct their practices. The answer is we do not know a single thing about them. People in all societies appear to be quite content of this fact. Why is this? It is simply because people are happy to have their liberties and freedoms liquidated for all perpetuity in the hope a quiet and wholesome existence.
“We do not behave like this”, says one nation, “neither do we”, says another, “and we don’t either”, says yet another. The truth of the matter is they all behave in this fashion. It is quite natural for people to defend their own countrymen, and to believe, quite naively, that their secret intelligence services are better than others. Worse, they often defend their clandestine activities because they are “patriots” and “nationalists”, roughly translated as: “must never criticise my country no matter how many people it kills, tortures and imprisons”. This is logical enough for people who know nothing concerning the workings of these agencies. 
Ian McEwan, the novelist, is vacuous enough to write about the secret intelligence services, so it would seem, to sell more copies of these books he writes.  Therefore, there is entertainment for less serious people, and it may surprise some that Mr. McEwan was not even paid off by the government or by the secret service branch themselves.  Nevertheless, he is not the only one.  There are others.  In these books then, these people go on exciting missions and are national heroes because they are saving their country from crazed lunatics, and we should all be thankful for being saved from international terrorists whose aim is to drop 22,000 nuclear warheads on every house in every village, town and city.  We ought to be thankful because we have been saved from a nuclear holocaust. This, surprisingly enough, is what some people believe.
Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, which fall under the heading of subculture, we may even be meaner and call them propaganda fairy tales. The main premise with these stories then is about a secret intelligence officer going abroad, to hunt down enemies, (usually Russians), to stop them from running the world with their evil ideology, or perhaps worse than that, they are intent on destroying the world so they must be stopped, and, of course, nobody else can stop this evil but 007.  Only can he save the world, and we must play along with this frivolous nonsense. 
 Therefore, we must worship these, as we are often told we must.  Never mind the murderous campaigns; worship them we must. Imagine if some writers started writing about how benevolent and benign Jack the Ripper was, and that he essentially was a good man, despite ripping a number of women to shreds, or perhaps they would write adventure books about other notorious figures in history. They could, if they wished, write about child-murderers, serial-rapists, and psychopathic and demented torturers.  Would people be so willing to read about the jolly adventures of these people?  Of course not.
The reason is refulgently clear, and has already been elucidated. If people were more realistic about these malevolent organisations they will say and repeat to themselves that they do not really care because   “it does not affect me”. People even say: “people who have done no wrong need not worry too much”.  If only life was as simple as that.
Mark Curtis, the social historian and fierce critic of British foreign policy is the author of a number of books.  His most important being Secret Affairs. In it, he describes the British intelligence agencies and their collusion with radical Islam. The book is an in depth, comprehensive study but it would be useful to discuss events from the 1980s.
In this decade, the M16 were infiltrating Islamic terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, and this is not as furtive as one may imagine.  Out of these links emerged the Mujahedeen, the terrorist group, their brutality even surpasses the Taliban. It was not just the Mujahedeen either; others involved the Taliban themselves, al-Qaeda and their former leader, Osama bin Laden. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar an abominable person was one such person they were fond of.  This man’s strong moral principles included throwing acid in the faces of Muslim women who do not wear the niqab; he also was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
One need not carry on documenting detailing a list of dreadful things these secret intelligence groups get up to. If one requires more details on their activities, books have been written detailing candid and honest accounts of clandestine and subversive activities within these organisations. However, these secret agencies, are not, so we are told, doing anything unlawful, because they are saving us from a nuclear holocaust.  There are all sorts of terrorists in the world: those who work for the government and those who work against it.  It should be clear which group these fanatics belong to.
The groups that are labelled terrorists by everyone including neo-liberal marketeers worked alongside the M15 and M16. There is no doubting these are terrorist groups, but working alongside them, donating funds, hold private meetings, does not necessarily make them terrorists at all.  However, consider what state law is in almost every country on the planet.  For an individual or a group of individuals donating money to a known terrorist organisation, discounting the government of course, the consequences for these individuals or groups involved is quite severe.  Nevertheless, for intelligence services, different rules apply. That is rather convenient. 
 If members of the public even considered carrying out these sorts of activities, and were caught, would, without question, spend the rest of their lives in prison.  Perhaps one day the activities of these groups will be revealed. The mass media give snippets of course, and even that, at times, elicits stern criticism. We are often told these are “bad apples”, or “isolated cases”. The government and media operate under this framework. This is to give the idea these groups, largely, act with the utmost integrity, they are moral, ethical and insanely benevolent. 
Alan Rusbridger, who, at the time was the editor if the Guardian newspaper, published a series of leaks concerning these intelligence agencies, not on their clandestine operations in terror operations but surveilling their own citizens, violating European and international law in the process; this ought to have been commended.  Instead, there were calls for him to be prosecuted by politicians, academics and so on.  Rusbridger was even asked by an MP at a select committee whether he loved his country.  The Guardian newspaper itself took up the story towards the end of 2013:


Committee chair, Keith Vaz: Some of the criticisms against you and the Guardian have been very, very personal. You and I were both born outside this country, but I love this country. Do you love this country?

Alan Rusbridger: We live in a democracy and most of the people working on this story are British people who have families in this country, who love this country. I'm slightly surprised to be asked the question but, yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can, in this country, discuss and report these things.

Vaz: So the reason why you've done this has not been to damage the country, it is to help the country understand what is going on as far as surveillance is concerned?

Rusbridger: I think there are countries, and they're not generally democracies, where the press are not free to write about these things, and where the security services do tell editors what to write, and where politicians do censor newspapers. That's not the country that we live in, in Britain, that's not the country that America is and it's one of the things I love about this country – is that we have that freedom to write, and report, and to think and we have some privacy, and those are the concerns which need to be balanced against national security, which no one is underestimating, and I can speak for the entire Guardian staff who live in this country that they want to be secure too.

Vaz: Thank you so much, that's very clear.


In the same article, they quote another passage with Rusbridger as the chief villain once again:


Conservative MP Michael Ellis: Mr Rusbridger, you authorised files stolen by [National Security Agency contractor Edward] Snowden which contained the names of intelligence staff to be communicated elsewhere. Yes or no?


Rusbridger: Well I think I've already dealt with that.

Ellis: Well if you could just answer the question.

Rusbridger: I think it's been known for six months that these documents contained names and that I shared them with the New York Times.

Ellis: Do you accept that that is a criminal offence under section 58A of the Terrorism Act, 2000?

Rusbridger: You may be a lawyer, Mr Ellis, I'm not.

Ellis: Now 58,000 documents were sent or communicated by you – as editor-in-chief of the Guardian you caused them to be communicated, and they contained a wealth of information. It was effectively an IT-sharing platform between the United States and the United Kingdom intelligence services wasn't it?

Rusbridger: I'll leave you to express those words.


Those who believe there will be some sort of “social revolution”, appear to me, to be rather naive. Only this churlish dream would reveal the true extent of these intelligence agencies but the likelihood of that happening is slim.  They will carry on waging their war of aggression against people of different varieties, perhaps one day democracy will be enacted and these agencies will be transparent. For now that idea sounds very Chekhovian. 

10-16th April 2014

This is the third essay on 'crime', the next one will be posted soon. The previous two essays are the last entries on my blog.






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