February 23, 2001
Strakon Lights Up, No. 98
The established media staffed mostly by the kind of folks I call Red Guards all seem to agree that, if FBI agent Robert Hanssen spied for Russia, that was a bad thing, and his arrest is therefore a good thing. How things have changed in 30 years! Back when the Guards were anti-Establishment leftists wandering around on the margin, their attitude was that no one really spied, not even the spies who had been caught red-handed; and if someone did happen to spy, the Left (both Old and New) wanted to know what the big deal was. The Soviets were still in business at the time, and most spies who were caught by U.S. authorities spied for the Soviets, and that had a lot to do with the outlook of the American Left. The New Leftists, at least, claimed to be anti-Stalinist, but they never got too worked up over any Soviet spy menace.
Though the Soviets are now defunct, the Hanssen case is complicated a little by the fact that he did spy for them (or so it is alleged) during the years of their last gasp. But that's not winning Hanssen any sympathy from media leftists, which brings us to another reason probably a more important one for the Left's change of attitude on this spying business. Back in the days of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, the little leftist lizards weren't yet sharing power and fortunes with the senior crocodiles of the ruling class. They were still outsiders, not insiders. They hadn't been given a stake in leviathan yet, so they didn't feel a responsibility to defend it and its precious secrets.
It makes me wonder what line today's established
media would take if a new Daniel Ellsberg were to
spill a new super-sensitive set of Pentagon Papers to
the New York Times documents dealing this
time with secret U.S. machinations in the Middle
East, say, or in Colombia. One thing's for sure:
Ellsberg II wouldn't immediately become a hero of
the trendy and progressive forces. It might even be a
story that, to play with Orwell's phrase, "the Times is
not authorized to report."
Those of us whose attachment to peace and freedom is independent of the interests of the ruling apparatus might want to think twice before joining the chorus of dismay over the Hanssen case. Now, I award espionage only two cheers because it is, after all, usually a government program, and I can't get into the business of endorsing government programs, even programs of foreign powers directed against the U.S. Empire. It would be much better for an employee of one government to resign altogether than for him to go to work for two governments at the same time! But I can't help applauding his betrayal of his first employer, in whatever context it occurs. I'd like to see not only the FBI but also the CIA and NSA and DEA and all the rest of the spook shops start to leak like sieves.
For most people most of the time, it's their own government that is the prime and immediate threat to their life, liberty, and property. That is especially so if they suffer under the heel of a great imperial state, as Americans do. (Even "our" Great Enemy of 1945 to 1989 the nuclear-armed postwar Soviet Union was in large part a creation of the U.S. Central Government during the years 1941 to 1945.) A state's secrets and its "bodyguard of lies" first disinform and deceive the people it rules; and that stands to reason, for that state is their first enemy. When American libertarians talk about "our enemy the state," the outfit run by Vladimir Putin is not the first state we think of.
Most spies aren't interested, of course, in exposing state secrets to the light of day. If their motives are ideological, they're not about to disrupt their new employer's master strategy, which normally depends on the secrets' remaining secret to most of the world. And if their motives are mercenary, they're not about to destroy the market value of the secrets by exposing them. What we really need aren't more Robert Hanssens but more Daniel Ellsbergs "private-agenda spies," so to speak. The emergence of a thousand such spies would be worth three cheers, not just two.
Wouldn't it have been something to have had such
principled private-agenda spies in action back in the days
when Washington was injecting people with
plutonium just to see what would happen, exposing
conscript soldiers to close encounters with the
A-bomb, and raining biological weapons on
American cities? Wouldn't it have been useful to
have them expose the crimes of COINTELPRO while
it was in full cry? Or release transcripts of FBI
investigative-strategy sessions from the weeks after
Kennedy's de-election in Dallas? How about tapes of
ATF planning sessions preceding the initial raid on
the church community at Mount Carmel? It might
also be interesting to have on the public record some
tapes of the secret debriefings that took place
after the Mount Carmel massacre.
When people think about spy secrets, they tend to think first in terms of secret military technology. There's an urgent need for private-agenda spies in that area, too. The United State is the prime enemy of the American people, but as the world's dominant empire it is also a dark and looming enemy of many other people people whom ordinary Americans have no imaginable reason to want to see it bomb, impoverish, starve, or poison. The U.S. imperial military is now equipped with technology so advanced that all countermeasures seem futile, assuming that news reports are accurate. Foreign tanks can't blow up U.S. tanks. Foreign helo gunships apparently have little chance of bringing down U.S. helo gunships. And foreign anti-aircraft artillery can't defend against U.S. cruise missiles and certainly can't hit U.S. stealth aircraft. The only regions now off-limits to casual bombing and blockading by the imperial military are those under the control of other nuclear-armed states. As matters stand now, the only way foreigners see to strike back against official U.S. terrorism is through terrorism of their own, often directed against civilians and civilian property.
As an American, I am disgusted and sickened that the United State conducts its own terrorism abroad in the name of America, all the while teaching foreigners to follow its wicked example. But the problem isn't limited to war crimes committed abroad. Technology pioneered by the U.S. military overseas can often be turned directly against the United State's prime enemy, the American people. Documentarians for the History Channel who gee-whiz about the ability of NSA spy satellites to read license plates from orbit always seem to assume that those license plates belong to suspicious foreigners. But NSA satellites originally developed for foreign intelligence have already been implicated in communications intercepts here at home. Moreover, thanks to electromagnetic-imaging devices first deployed in the Gulf War, leviathan is now equipped to conduct warrantless searches from helicopters for guns in people's houses. And let's not forget all that military hardware the state-security forces brought to bear against the Branch Davidians.
The fewer secrets about its technology leviathan can
protect, the more countermeasures we the people
here and around the world will have a
chance to develop.
Those coming to my writing for the first time may find it "unpatriotic" or "disloyal." If so, I would urge them to reexamine their categories, just as I reexamined my own some years ago. Leftists opposed the United State, during those periods when they did oppose it, because they were anti-American. I oppose it because it is anti-American. (That is one reason most leftists have now come to support the United State in all its power; they have done some reexamining of their own.) I am an American; I am not a United Statian. Up with America, my patria; down with the United State, her ravager.
The murderers, poisoners, and wreckers hired by the U.S. imperial military have surrendered their right to be considered our countrymen. Four cheers for any patriotic espionage that manages to stop those outlaws in their bloody tracks.
February 23, 2001
Postscript. When this column was published, a lady who was helping distribute my columns offered it as an op-ed to the editor of Human Events, an organ which at one time was a leading exponent of a noninterventionist foreign policy but which, sadly, is now degenerate. The editor replied that he wouldn't print it if she paid him. I wear that response proudly as a badge of honor.
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