Your Lying Eyes

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14 January 2006

CIA Sharp as a Marble

The CIA's inability to kill Al Qaeda's Number Two despite killing 17 villagers reminds me of one of the great Bill Buckley lines. Commenting on a failed grenade attack on Indonesia's leftist leader Sukarno, he observed: "The recent assassination attempt on Sukarno has all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed - except Sukarno."
(Disclaimer: quote from memory - unable to locate source in attic.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, let's say I have two job options. The first option involves the following: Leave your family and go to a severely underdeveloped, mountainous portion of the world where, chances are, you'll stand out like a sore thumb. You'll chase one of the most elusive targets in the history of mankind, in an area overwhelmingly conducive to individual concealment. You'll deal constantly with people who would shoot you in the back if you turn that back at the wrong time. You have no chance of achieving individual wealth unless you are either corrupt or you are one of the few who documents your daring endeavors in a manner which coerces people to read about them. When the time comes to strike, you may succeed but if you don't, your mistakes will be magnified and ridiculed by a basically thankless public back home.

Option #2: you sit in a comfy chair and read about the events of the world. Chances are when it snows, you complain about going outside and shovelling (or snowblowing, whatever). With zero personal risk involved, you offer sanctimonious criticism of those agents acting in your nation's interest, seemingly indifferent to the difficulty of the job they do.

Hmmmmmm, I wonder which option I would choose.

And then there's the guy who posts derisive comments on a very good blog where the blogger obviously puts in a noble effort to stem a tide of negative trends.

But how realistic is it to expect truly gifted Americans to put their lives at risk in a godforsaken region of the world? It's far more likely that the most able Americans will choose a path in finance or law over the impossibly difficult tasks that face those in the special services.

January 15, 2006 11:57 PM  
Anonymous daveg said...

Yes, people don't want to fight overseas or spend lots of money to have others do so.

So, we should impement security policies that don't require such actions, such as expelling (virtually) all foreign nationals from mid east countries.

No one gets physically hurt. No American citizens get hurt at all. Very little money is spent.

But Bush is too stupid to implement such an easy policy?

Why? Lots of reasons. Bush has Saudi Friends. It wouldn't help Israel.

But, until they start implementing common sense policies like this I have little sympathy for mistakes and bungles of the current misguided policy.

I also note that I am not asking anyone to go overseas and fight and then refusing to do so myself.

You, Mr Anonymous, are doing exactly that.

January 16, 2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Fair enough.
I guess my reason for referencing the Buckley quote was to show the continuity of the "hapless-CIA" meme over 5 decades. Buckley, of course, was in the CIA for a brief time and left, I believe, because he was bored, but went on to use his time in a manner so influential as to be unparalelled in modern American political history.
Those who become CIA operatives are surely no ordinary talented people. I don't think that it's likely there's much direct competition between those who decide to be investment bankers and corporate lawyers and those who even consider being an undercover operative. I'd imagine this is mostly a younger person's game, and they count on getting a good paying job down the road via the contacts they make, which presents concerns about corruption, a concern that becomes more real the less good jobs in mainstream US business there are available.
I certainly recognize the difficulties our agents have in tracking down these guys, as I discussed here. And my criticism here was certainly not "sanctimonious" - snarky, perhaps, but not sanctimonious. But you make good points, and I appreciate your comments - but would it kill you to provide some sort of identity?

January 16, 2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

Ziel, I know you have been a Buckley fan since you were a kid, but "so influential as to be unparalelled in modern American political history." ?

Winchell, Murrow,etc.? I guess it depends on what you mean by modern and by what kind of influence.

January 16, 2006 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually tried to secure an identity a couple of nights ago - and failed! Guess the CIA won't be recruiting me anytime soon.

January 16, 2006 10:27 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Jimbo, I was thinking in terms of one person essentially founding - or being primarily responsible for promoting - an entire political movement in the mid-50's leading to a sea change in the nation's political landscape in the last two decades of the century.
I just can't think of anyone who fits that profile, thus I literally meant "unparalelled" in that sense. Not that no one else was as or more influential, but not in that way.

January 16, 2006 11:09 PM  

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