Archive for February 2007

More On Narcissim Part 3

February 28, 2007

For many on the left side of the political spectrum, it is axiomatic that narcissism is inextricably linked to business, capitalism, individualism, and the pursuit of profit. The political left has idealized certain social and political systems because they suppressed the individual and elevated the state, insisting that individuals had no right to exist for their own selves, but only to serve others.

Executives, such as The Rigases of Adelphia Corp; Samuel D. Waksal, the socialite founder of ImClone Systems; Dennis Kozlowski, of Tyco International; Scott D. Sullivan of WorldCom; and Ken Lay of Enron, typify the ugly narcissist of the business world with his or her extreme grandiosity; selfishness of unbelievable proportions; and complete lack of empathy towards the people they cheated. While the majority of businessmen are ethical and honest individuals, only a few “bad apples” are needed to demonstrate the havoc that malignant narcissism in the business sector can wreak.

But what is not generally or readily seen (either on the left or right) is the flip side of “selfish” or “grandiose” narcissism– and that is what I will call narcissism rooted in idealism, rather than selfishness, or “idealistic” narcissism (discussed at some length here if you are interested). This second kind of narcissism (the flip side of the coin, if you will) is less obvious to an observer, since it is disguised with a veneer of concern for others. But it is equally—if not more—destructive and causative of human suffering, death and misery. Both kinds of narcissism are a plague on the world; and both are well-traveled avenues for limiting freedom and imposing tyranny. The “grandiose” narcissism is the stimulus for individual tyrants, while the “idealistic” Narcissism leads to groups imposing their will on others.

Pretty good stuff here, read the beginning

Oscars – Didn’t Watch it, Didn’t know about it

February 26, 2007

Nicole Kidman

Wider perspective.


Non available pic of Jack Nicholson

peter o toole

Reese witherspoon

Gwynneth Paltrow, interesting design for a dress. I know not what it signifies

A wider shot of Gwyn.

Now that is dark.
helen miren
It is a good thing I had coodclip to save my clipboard copy otherwise I might have just admitted defeat.

Tarawa and Saipan – Horror of War

February 24, 2007

I was reading blackfive’s post here and was looking for that incident I saw on the History channel concerning one of the islands, Saipan or Tarawa. The original story was that they were clearing out caves full of Japanese civilians. One cave or hide out they entered was with a white flag, but it didn’t stop the point from getting fired at. So the next hole they found, they threw a grenade in. But when they entered, they found only Japanese school children in there, hiding out.

So let’s start with modern history. A view of Iraq in 2003.

And some quotes from US military folks on Iraq here.

“It’s the cold, blunt truth. There was a little girl that died.”

There was a car bomb that — what happened was, there’s an Iraqi police station and right next to it was, like, a coffee shop, and a lot of the police officers would go there to get coffee in the mornings. There were a lot of civilians in that area. And a car bomb just drove up and just indiscriminately killed everybody there — cops and civilians. And these explosions that happen are just so enormous that body parts can fly up to a hundred meters away.

And so we got to the scene, we checked it out; we were trying to secure it. There was a lot of chaos, a lot of s — going on at the time. And I was in my truck scanning from my machine gun, and I’m scanning for anything that could happen because that’s part of the job, just sitting there scanning. And then looking over and on the side of the street there was — there was a little girl’s foot. Well, I think it was a girl because it looked like a little pink sandal, but there was a foot still in it. A little pink sandal with a little flower or something on it.

The shoe was so small I’m imagining the girl was no older than 6, and just the foot was still in it, smoldered, you know, burned and smoldered and just sitting there on the side of the road. The body parts … I don’t know. It’s not a video game. It’s very real. But you think about — this was a little girl. She was obviously innocent. No way you could accuse a child that young of being guilty. And her life was snuffed out in a second just from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There’s no way to get emotional about it. Like I said, you’re just numb to it, you know, and just, like, there’s no crying about it. A lot of soldiers joke about it. Look at that little foot and the bastard child that got blown up, but I guarantee that soldier thinks about it a little bit more deeper than that. I don’t really know how to explain it any other way. It’s just a great numbness that creeps over everybody. But you know, it did cross my mind later, like, well, that’s pretty disgusting, I should have been more grossed out. I hope I’m not f — up in the head. I mean, it’s just dealing with death every day.

— Jeff Englehart, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, February 2004-February 2005, Diyala province

“It is gruesome to just beyond the realm of a horror film.”

We had a lot of pretty bad IEDs (improvised explosive devices), but for me the one that really marked it was an army unit that got hit by an IED in a drainage culvert.

It was right on the outside of Habbaniya. They had filled a drainage culvert with explosives and blew up an armored personnel carrier. We knew we were in the s — at that point because when we drove up to the scene, the hole in the road was so big that an Abrams tank on the scene couldn’t drive over the hole; it had to go around it. … There were the remains of four or five guys spread out over 600 square yards. We had to walk a grid. It was just like a police scene.

We had different-color flags that marked personal belongings, whether it was a wallet or a picture or anything like that. We had to take photos of the scene so that if it ever had to be reconstructed, they could reconstruct it. It was so huge that when I stood up on the Humvee with the camera to take a picture, there are thousands of these flags in the field, and it’s just surreal knowing that all those flags represent something.

We had done some recoveries, and this was our biggest one the whole time we were there. It became the landmark event for us. Everything got treated as reverently as if it were a whole body. Even if it was just a leg or an arm or, God forbid, a hand or, you know, a torso … everything got treated the same. If you put four Marines to work on a body, then you had four Marines doing the paperwork on a leg, and it got its own body bag and its own tag, and it got carried onto the plane on its own stretcher just as a full body would be.

So if you got … you know, nine arms and 10 legs and parts of another one, those would all go in separate bags home. We’d get them all in the same plane so that they all would get home together at the same time, but every part got its own bag. The chaplain said prayers over the body parts. I don’t think he saw the s — in Vietnam that he got to see in our unit, but he was an awesome old man. He came over no matter what time it was.

If it wasn’t ashes blowing in the wind, we grabbed it. I mean, we recovered bodies out of a burnt helicopter that literally were just cremated. I mean, they were vertebrae and ribs, and the only reason we knew we had two was because we counted the vertebrae and there were too many vertebrae to be one. Our chaplain prayed over that. The sad part is it’s someone’s son and that’s all you’ve got left. … We were at one recovery scene and there was a piece of paper blowing around in the breeze, so we picked it up. It was a sonogram of a baby.

It was dated and that poor guy never saw his kid. He had it with him, but it was blowing around in the field, so we picked it up. I remember the chief warrant officer looking at me and he just couldn’t say anything at the time; I think we would’ve both lost it. He had the thing in his hand and we’re looking at it and we just looked at each other, put it in a box, and … decided to deal with it when we get back to base.

— Daniel B. Cotnoir, Mortuary Affairs, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, February-September 2004, Sunni Triangle, Marine Corps Times “Marine of the Year.”

“There’s going to be an uprising here soon.”

We knew there was going to be a civil war in November ’03. We said, “It’s coming. There’s going to be an uprising here soon.” And you could feel it in the streets. Muqtada al Sadr’s militia started these protests. … These guys were wearing masks all the time.

November ’03 was about the six-month period for us, and we hadn’t yet provided adequate water, sewage and electricity to the Iraqis. So, all of a sudden, we were no longer “America the liberator.” Now, we’re the invaders who can’t supply what we’re supposed to be giving them.

Their attitudes toward us changed. It’s hard to explain. It was more of a feeling. Examples: On a patrol in June of ’03, we drive on the streets, and you’d get around to neighborhoods where people would be out there clapping and cheering and giving you thumbs-up and saying, “Go, Bush,” and thanking you for what you’re doing. You could stop by, you could walk into a tea shop, and people would be more interested in what can you provide us than hating you.

By that November, we wouldn’t go into a tea shop without a force because we didn’t know what to expect. That first summer, I would walk around the schools, myself and my sergeant, while my guys were outside, having no fear at all and no worry that we were putting the kids at the school in danger just by being there. That changed. Once the Iraqis realized that we weren’t providing what we were supposed to be providing, and we started to be seen as the enemy, then going to the schools would put the children in danger.

It was weird, because the Iraqis weren’t hostile toward us one-on-one.

They never did that. Sometimes there was anger, but we were the guys with the guns. They weren’t the guys with guns, at least when we had them one-on-one.

— Jonathan Powers, “The Gunners,” 1st Armored Division, May 2003-July 2004, “Gunner Palace,” Baghdad.

Tarawa and Saipan’s horrors were well described by this post I found googling.

On Guadalcanal patrols often had utilized one or two members as “points of fire”, usually volunteers. Now every marine was a point of fire. The Jap snipers hidden in the rocks or trees, protecting the echeloned positions, were revealed only when they shot. Marines died alone, in the hot sun, to lie for hours on the cruel rocks, before their comrades discovered their bloated bodies.

These were no longer crack Marine troops, physically fresh and psychologically eager. They had been ashore twelve to sixteen days, always under fire and never out of the front lines more than a few hours. The original units making up the battalions had dwindled. Green troops were now thrown in with the veterans of Guadalcanal and Tarawa and death and carnage were everywhere. There had been no hot meals, nor even water for washing. The marines were wearing the same ragged board stiff uniforms in which they had come ashore, eating their dismal K rations all with the accompaniment of billions of flies. More than one Saipan veteran has mentioned the flies, big blue-green maggot hatched flies penetrating and permeating everything from wounds to open mouths.

By the beginning of July, the Japanese were beat down and were desperate. The 27th Army Division had fought it’ way through “Death Valley” and linked up with the Second Marine Division on it’s left. As the advance north continued and the island narrowed, the Japanese were considering their options. At this time, most of the major objectives of the battle for Saipan had been accomplished. Mount Tapotchau had been secured as well as the town of Garapan and assorted villages around the island. Many Japanese soldiers, along with thousands of indigenous natives of the island were now crowded at the north end of the island in a confused mass of humanity. The Japanese soldiers had told the civilians that the Americans would torture and kill them and their families if they were taken prisoner.

Hundreds of civilians with their children committed suicide by jumping off the towering cliffs at Marpi Point on northern tip of the island. Even the battle hardened marines were horrified to see women throwing their babies and young children over the cliffs to their deaths on rocks hundreds of feet below. The marines and naval personnel shouted in vane appeals through loudspeakers with interpreters trying to convince them that they would be unharmed.

War Story – Abu Ghraib

February 23, 2007

A weird but enlightening story.

Be sure to check the bottom for my comment which tries to tie in the story with events in the US propaganda war.

365 Days of pictures

February 23, 2007

A weird montage, which I post here for entertainment value. As a curiosity item.

Btw, you can see all of the 120+ pictures here. It also explains there the reasoning of the project.

[Since there's been a crackload of picture spamming bots here. I’ll set up a little something for them here.

Anti-Americanism

February 23, 2007

Someone was googling Eating Soup with a Fork and found my post that I wrote a while ago. Btw, there’s an amazon book titled something “Eating Soup with a Knife”. The point is, if you exert too much strength in an effort to complete the task, you might stab yourself in the throat. So the knife is both a tool and also a way to hurt yourself. Which translates into, don’t turn the locals against you, in an effort to stamp out resistance.

There was this original comment that I had forgotten about, that gave me this link

The Sorrows of Empire, Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic was an attempt to come to grips with our militarism. Now, I’m considering how we’ve managed to alienate so many rich, smart allies–every one of them, in fact. How we’ve come to be so truly hated. This, in a Talleyrand sense, is the sort of mistake from which you can’t recover. That’s why I’m planning on calling the third volume of what I now think of as “The Blowback Trilogy,” Nemesis. Nemesis was the Greek goddess of vengeance. She also went after people who became too arrogant, who were so taken with themselves that they lost all prudence. She was always portrayed as a fierce figure with a scale in one hand–think, Judgment Day–and a whip in the other. – Chalmers Johnson

I just realized something. There are too many links and quotes that I need to find, if I am to post all the things about anti-Americanism as I wish to post from faint remembrances. Oh well.

Somebody from usmc.mil was googling for novelization of Planescape Torment and found my little effort here at my old site. I hate digging up links like this. Takes forever. Even with multiple tab browsing…

Then there was someone from the Netherlands who came across a comment I left here concerning the Western-Muslim strategy of rape and intimidation. Not exactly anti-American per say, just anti-human.

Then there is this post at huffington was rather.. peculiar.

Whenever I visit this lovely blog, I usually run into someone – a “leftist,” if you will – who finds pleasure in things that make our country or the President look bad. I suppose I could say these angry types are no better than cheerleaders for terrorism. After all, both entities – the left and terrorists – seem to share the same desire: to put the US, humiliatingly, in its place.

But I would be wrong to say such things. Very wrong. Of course, “dissent is patriotic,” and the left is only critical of America because it simply loves our country much more than I do.

That’s why calling them terrorists would be intolerant and pretty shameful.

But what about “patriotic terrorists?”

That’s kinda neat.

What is a patriotic terrorist?

It is an American who claims to love his or her country while enjoying the enemy’s success against said country. It is a person who gets deeply offended if you question their patriotism, while also appearing to share the same ideals of the more spirited folk who like to blow up innocent people.

Oh btw, don’t miss this from the interview with Nemesis’ prey.

Johnson: There is indeed. You can understand why these guys do it. Richard Helms, the director of the CIA back in 1977, was convicted of a felony for lying to Congress. He said, no, we had nothing to do with the overthrow of [Chilean President] Salvador Allende when we had everything to do with it. He gets a suspended sentence, pays a small fine, walks into the CIA building at Langley, Virginia, and is met by a cheering crowd. Our hero! He’s proudly maintained the principles of the secret intelligence service, which is the private army of the president and we have no idea what he’s doing with it. Everything they do is secret. Every item in their budget is secret.

TE: And the military, too, has become something of a private army

Johnson: Exactly. I dislike conscription because it’s so easily manipulated, but I do believe in the principle of the obligation of citizens to defend the country in times of crisis. Now, how we do that is still an open question, but at least the citizens’ army was a check on militarism. People in the armed forces knew they were there involuntarily. They were extremely interested in whether their officers were competent, whether the strategy made sense, whether the war they might have to fight was justified, and if they began to believe that they were being deeply lied to, as in Vietnam, the American military would start to come apart. The troops then were fragging their officers so seriously that General Creighton Abrams said, we’ve got to get them out of there. And call it Vietnamization or anything else, that’s what they did.

I fear that we’re heading that way in Iraq. You open the morning paper and discover that they’re now going to start recruiting down to level four, people with serious mental handicaps. The terrible thing is that they’ll just be cannon fodder.

It’s not rocket science to say that we’re talking about a tragedy in the works here. Americans aren’t that rich. We had a trade deficit in 2005 of $725.8 billion. That’s a record. It went up almost 25 percent in just over a year. You can’t go on not making things, fighting these kinds of wars, and building weapons that are useless. Herb Stein, when he was chairman of the council of economic advisers in a Republican administration very famously said, “Things that can’t go on forever don’t.”

Whew. A lot to read eh? Hot stuff here. My response? Hrm, just that wouldn’t defeating militarism benefit from saving individual citizens instead of sending them into the meat grinder? How does sending in kids off the farm to the slaughter of war, going to check militarism? Heh, private army, get it. Mercenary time. The views of the Left have been static for awhile people. You just hadn’t noticed until now because they were trying to keep it under wraps.

Check out this wiki list of communist spies produced via Venona decoding of Soviet spy documents. You get the sense that I got, that there were too many mentions of “big oil” in the backgrounds of the agents?

The Futurist had a great post on anti-Americanism.

Notably this portion of a Daily Kos… um thingie.

Posting all of it for your convenience. No need for link trees.

“Why do you hate America?” This is a remarkably easy question to provoke. One might, for instance, expose elements of this nation’s brutal foreign policy. Ask a single probing question about, say, U.S. complicity in the overthrow of governments in Guatemala, Iran, or Chile and thin-skinned patriots (sic) will come out of the woodwork to defend their country’s honor by accusing you of being “anti-American.” Of course, this allegation might lead me to ponder how totalitarian a culture this must be to even entertain such a concept, but I’d rather employ the vaunted Arundhati defense. The incomparable Ms. Roy says: “What does the term ‘anti-American’ mean? Does it mean you are anti-jazz or that you’re opposed to freedom of speech? That you don’t delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias?” (I’m a tree hugger remember? I don’t argue with sequoias.)

When pressed, I sometimes reply: “I don’t hate America. In fact, think it’s one of the best countries anyone ever stole.” But, after the laughter dies down, I have a confession to make: If by “America” they mean the elected/appointed officials and the corporations that own them, well, I guess I do hate that America-with justification.

Among many reasons, I hate America for the near-extermination and subsequent oppression of its indigenous population. I hate it for its role in the African slave trade and for dropping atomic bombs on civilians. I hate its control of institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. I hate it for propping up brutal dictators like Suharto, Pinochet, Duvalier, Hussein, Marcos, and the Shah of Iran. I hate America for its unconditional support for Israel. I hate its bogus two-party system, its one-size-fits-all culture, and its income gap. I could go on for pages but I’ll sum up with this: I hate America for being a hypocritical white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

After a paragraph like that, you know what comes next: If you hate America so much, why don’t you leave? Leave America? That would potentially put me on the other end of U.S. foreign policy. No thanks.

I like how Paul Robeson answered that question before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956: “My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you. And no fascist-minded people like you will drive me from it. Is that clear?”

Since none of my people died to build anything, I rely instead on William Blum, who declares, “I’m committed to fighting U.S. foreign policy, the greatest threat to peace and happiness in the world, and being in the United States is the best place for carrying out the battle. This is the belly of the beast, and I try to be an ulcer inside of it.”

Needless to say, none of the above does a damn thing to placate the yellow ribbon crowd. It seems what offends flag-wavers most is when someone like me makes use of the freedom they claim to adore. According to their twisted logic, I am ungrateful for my liberty if I have the audacity to exercise it. If I make the choice to not salute the flag during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, somehow I’m not worthy of having the freedom to make the choice to not salute the flag during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. These so-called patriots not only claim to celebrate freedom while refusing my right to exploit it, they also ignore the social movements that fought for and won such freedoms.

There’s plenty of tolerated public outcry against the Bush administration and the occupation of Iraq, but it’s neither fashionable nor acceptable to go as far as saying, no, I do not support the troops and yes, I hate what America does. Fear of recrimination allows the status quo to control the terms of debate. Until we voice what is in our hearts and have the nerve to admit what we hate…we will never create something that can be loved.

Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

Notice how they complain about their speech not being tolerated as a defense for why they should not use the very freedoms they are given in America to destroy those providing such a freedom? Or how about this, that it is an inherently dishonorable method of warfare to say that you don’t like American foreign policy’s effects on the world, but wish to live in America so as to be immune from American foreign policy. The author states that quite explicitly. And they see no guilt, no dishonor, in it. To live in a nation that you wish to control, manipulate, and destroy, while at the same time benefiting from the system of oppression, as they might call it. Patriotic terrorists, remember posto n Huffington?

And now for the coup de grace that ends this post. A genealogy of anti-AMericanism.

America’s rise to the status of the world’s premier power, while inspiring much admiration, has also provoked widespread feelings of suspicion and hostility. In a recent and widely discussed book on America, Après L’Empire, credited by many with having influenced the position of the French government on the war in Iraq, Emmanuel Todd writes: “A single threat to global instability weighs on the world today: America, which from a protector has become a predator.” A similar mistrust of American motives was clearly in evidence in the European media’s coverage of the war. To have followed the war on television and in the newspapers in Europe was to have witnessed a different event than that seen by most Americans. During the few days before America’s attack on Baghdad, European commentators displayed a barely concealed glee – almost what the Germans call schadenfreude – at the prospect of American forces being bogged down in a long and difficult engagement. Max Gallo, in the weekly magazine Le Point, drew the typical conclusion about American arrogance and ignorance: “The Americans, carried away by the hubris of their military power, seemed to have forgotten that not everything can be handled by the force of arms … that peoples have a history, a religion, a country.”

Time will tell, of course, if Gallo was even near correct in his doubts about U.S. policy. But the haste with which he arrived at such sweeping conclusions leads one to suspect that they were based far more on a pre-existing view of America than on an analysis of the situation at hand. Indeed, they were an expression of one of the most powerful modes of thought in the world today: anti-Americanism. According to the French analyst Jean François Revel, “If you remove anti-Americanism, nothing remains of French political thought today, either on the Left or on the Right.” Revel might just as well have said the same thing about German political thought or the thought of almost any Western European country, where anti-Americanism reigns as the lingua franca of the intellectual class.

Venona and Soviet propaganda/spy operations

February 23, 2007

****************

One of the things I picked up about the time I learned that the Soviets and Nazis had proxy connections with the Islamic clerical leadership and ME region, was that the Islamic Jihad is using the propaganda apparatus left over from the Cold War. And probably a load of anti-semitism left over from the Nazi propaganda bureacracy. It just seemed like an obvious conclusion given the final ending of the Soviet union If Rome could leave Britain as a new seed of civilization, why couldn’t the Soviets leave the seed of their propaganda apparatus after the Soviet Union went kaput?

I am fully aware that the VENONA transcripts identified communist agents in the US government. Of course, there were also US agents in the Kremlin. But both sides occasionally found that having a spy in your midst presents an excellent opportunity to feed the other side bogus intelligence. I can’t speak authoritatively on this because I don’t know how many spies that were identified by VERONA VENONA were also working for the US or at least thought they were. But having a known foreign agent in your midst is not always a bad thing. Ideology as a motivating factor can only go so far if you are a spy – operatives can be flipped for something as crass as money, drugs, or sex. So the argument that the “liberals” in Washington didn’t want to get rid of them because they were soft on communism is a bit misleading.

That was from this post here. Link

Wouldn’t you have to be competent to be able to run counter-espionage in this fashion? It isn’t misleading, simply because there were no benefits that I can recall from disinformation given to the Soviets, probably because the amount of disinformation given was not high. And that was because a lot of high echelon positions weren’t feeding known spies disinformation, they were protecting them from exposure. In this light, it is related to McCarthy.

Venona had contributed to just one of these cases. Only a handful of American intelligence officials knew the truth behind the big spy cases of 1957: that US counterintelligence efforts against the Soviets, at least in the United States, had relied on volunteers since the Venona program peaked. This was not for want of trying. NSA had pored over the Soviet traffic and had kept its shrinking Venona team looking for additional leads. The FBI had penetrated the CPUSA and searched for illegals–but still did not catch Rudolf Abel for almost a decade. CIA divisions created clever but only marginally effective programs designed to establish coverage of Soviet installations abroad, to induce Soviet intelligence officers to defect (the REDCAP program), and to monitor the mail of Soviet illegals in America (HTLINGUAL). Despite all these efforts, the Intelligence Community’s most important counterintelligence leads in the late 1950s came from volunteers–both walk-ins like Hayhanen and KGB Maj. Peter S. Deriabin, as well as agents-in-place like Popov and Polish intelligence officer Michal Goleniewski.(71) American counterintelligence was once again, as it had before Venona, left to rely on voluntary sources.

Venona, according to US policy at the time, could only be shared with a small, witting cadre of senior American intelligence officers. The tiny fraction of Soviet messages that were read convinced the CIA and FBI that Soviet espionage, at least in the 1940s, was aggressive, capable, and far-reaching–and that at least some wartime spies and agents of influence remained unidentified. Nothing that the West learned in subsequent years suggested that Soviet intelligence had grown any less capable or aggressive. Senior American intelligence officers also knew how poorly American intelligence had fared in its efforts to recruit agents to report on Soviet intelligence operations in the United States. Direct approaches to Soviet officers and illegals in the early Cold War usually failed, and by the 1960s American intelligence was relying on voluntary defectors such as Anatoli Golitsyn and Yuri Nosenko, and defectors-in-place such as Aleksi I. Kulak and Dmitri F. Polyakov, for relatively recent information about Soviet intelligence services. The leads they provided were often valuable but sometimes troubling for Western counterintelligence officers. Remembering how many clues to Soviet penetrations had accumulated in the files before Venona finally provided incontrovertible evidence of espionage against the West, molehunters in the CIA and FBI privately resolved to leave no defector’s tip uninvestigated.

Only a short step led from this conclusion to a new concern among some, particularly in the CIA, that the Soviets might try to stage such defections to feed misinformation to American and Western intelligence services. While this possibility is now considered to have been remote, it could not be resolved beyond all doubt at the time. It was impossible to prove the negative and rule out the possible existence of Soviet misinformation operations designed to distract Western services from the most damaging penetrations in their midst. Even so, American counterintelligence services would spend much of the 1960s doing all they could to prove that negative, and to minimize the possibility of deception.

The extreme secrecy of the Venona information tended to ensure that any precautions would be viewed skeptically by some of the very intelligence personnel they were designed to protect. Only a handful of American intelligence officers had access to the Venona secret, and those who did not have such access had no way, in many cases, to judge the reliability of the evidence gathered against alleged Soviet agents in the 1940s. As a result, even seasoned intelligence professionals viewed the spy cases and internal security debates of the 1940s and early 1950s as McCarthyite hysteria. This attitude probably influenced some in the Intelligence Community as a whole to underestimate the Soviet espionage threat.

Elizabeth Bentley died in Connecticut in December 1963, long before the end of the Cold War she had helped to start. She never knew about the Venona secret, or about the way in which her testimony (among that of others) assisted the program. Before she died, she had been denounced as a traitor, a liar, and a criminal by everyone from her old comrades to a former President of the United States. The controversy over her testimony was only a skirmish in the national debate over the true extent of Soviet espionage, and over the federal government’s attempts to balance competing requirements of civil liberties and internal security. The declassification of Venona augments and clarifies the evidence in the public domain, and consequently should move the debate from the politics and personalities of those who testified in public to the capabilities and actions of political leaders and intelligence officers–both American and Soviet–who worked in many cases behind the scenes.

The US didn’t have much success at picking out spies and making them defect, to aid in counter-espionage. The Soviets were good at espionage and the US was good at signals analysis. Human agents vs cryptoanalysis. Makes sense, the Soviets after all had a totalitarian police state. you either got really good at dodging the informant cum friends around you or you got really dead.

I’m still trying to piece together what occured, from the sources at my disposal. I’m not quoting everything of note, because I’ve already spent an hour reading this material.

More leads dropped into the Bureau’s mailbox in August 1943, in the form of an anonymous letter drafted on a Russian typewriter and mailed in Washington, DC. This extraordinary note–the author’s identity still is uncertain–denounced Zarubin and 10 other KGB officers in North America, along with two of their assets.(30) Special Agents quickly concluded that the letter was genuine and largely accurate, although they gave little credence to its claim that the Soviets were passing secrets to Japan. The FBI subsequently increased surveillance of persons named in the letter and even doubled two agents recruited by one of them, KGB officer Andrei Shevchenko.(31) Nevertheless, the FBI did apparently not pass copies of the anonymous letter to other agencies until after World War II, nor did Special Agents try to recruit Soviet officers named by its author.

The actual letter in question is I believe this one. Part one and part two.

Q. Granted that congressional investigating committees can serve an important purpose, weren’t McCarthy’s methods terrible and didn’t he subject witnesses to awful harassment?

A. Now we’re into an entirely different phase of McCarthy’s career. For three years, he had been one lone senator crying in the wilderness. With the Republicans taking control of the Senate in January 1953, however, Joe McCarthy became chairman of the Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee. No longer did he have to rely solely upon public speeches to inform the American people of the communist threat to America. He was now chairman of a Senate committee with a mandate to search out graft, incompetence, and disloyalty inside the vast reaches of the American government.

McCarthy’s methods were no different from those of other senators who were generally applauded for vigorous cross-examination of organized crime figures, for instance. The question of methods seemed to come up only when subversives or spies were on the witness stand. And those who most loudly deplored McCarthy’s methods often resorted to the foulest methods themselves, including the use of lies, half-truths, and innuendos designed to stir up hysteria against him. What some people seemingly do not understand is that communists are evildoers and that those who give aid and comfort to communists – whether they are called dupes, fellow travelers, liberals, or progressives – are complicit in the evil and should be exposed and removed from positions of influence.

Traitors and spies in high places are not easy to identify. They do not wear sweatshirts with the hammer and sickle emblazoned on the front. Only painstaking investigation and exhaustive questioning can reveal them as enemies. So why all the condemnation for those who expose spies and none for the spies themselves? Why didn’t McCarthy’s critics expose a traitor now and then and show everyone how much better they could do it? No, it was much easier to hound out of public life such determined enemies of the Reds as Martin Dies, Parnell Thomas, and Joe McCarthy than to muster the courage to face the howling communist wolfpack themselves.

Again, recent history bears that out. Remember Senate interrogations of various organizations and people. Condi Rice and the Supreme Court justice nominations, remember those. That was sourced from this piece on a sort of Q and A rebutal of anti-mccarthy sentiment.

This piece The Hidden Truth, also explores McCarthy’s time in detail.

For generations of American students, the name Joe McCarthy and not Joe Stalin has been synonymous with evil. A practitioner of “black arts,” a “demon,” “ogreish,” and a “seditionist” are a few of the descriptions of him handed down to us from his first major biographer. The passage of time hasn’t tempered these hysterical reactions.

The late senator, the story goes, created a climate of fear in the early 1950s by conducting a witchhunt that called liberals “Communists” and Communists “spies.” We now know better. The witches were real. Today, even many of McCarthy’s most extreme and ridiculed statements—alleging “a conspiracy on a scale so immense” or lambasting “twenty years of treason” in Democratic administrations—seem, if anything, to understate the pervasiveness of Communist infiltration of the U.S. government and the enormity of its damage.

Documents from the Soviet Union’s archives, USSR spy messages deciphered by the U.S. government’s Venona program, and declassified FBI files and wiretaps all prove that hundreds of U.S. officials were agents of an international Communist conspiracy. If these previously inaccessible documents shed light on only a few of McCarthy’s specific charges, they certainly vindicate his general charge that security in the U.S. government was lax and that large numbers of Communists penetratedpositions of great importance.

Alger Hiss, Roosevelt foreign policy advisor and first secretary general of the United Nations; Harry Dexter White, assistant secretary of the Treasury and Truman’s appointee as director of the International Monetary Fund; and Lauchlin Currie, administrative assistant to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, have all been confirmed, among hundreds of others, to have been agents of the USSR. In addition to the multitudes of executive branch agents, we also know of at least three Congressmen working clandestinely for the Soviet Union during this time period.

The muggy Washington summer of 1948 grew even hotter when news media reported that a “blonde spy queen” three years earlier had given federal investigators convincing evidence of widespread Soviet espionage in America during World War II. In a few days the world learned her name–Elizabeth Bentley–and heard her and another ex-Communist agent, Whittaker Chambers, repeat their charges before Congress. Republican congressmen and candidates cited the stories as further evidence of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations’ softness toward Communism and neglect of national security. Outraged officials both in and out of government, as well as Democrats fearing a campaign issue that would sink President Truman’s apparently foundering re-election chances, insisted that Bentley and Chambers were peddling hearsay and innuendo.

Almost lost in the furor was one isolated recollection of Bentley’s that ultimately would provide a clue to the truth behind the charges and denials. Bentley, according to press reports, had told a federal grand jury that an aide to President Roosevelt had learned during the war that American intelligence was on the verge of breaking “the Russian secret code.” The aide, said Bentley, had passed this nugget to his Soviet contact. (1) For almost 30 years this fragmentary anecdote remained virtually all that the public would hear about one of the Cold War’s greatest intelligence coups.

Bentley’s charges, and the debates they fueled, typified the American experience with intelligence and related “internal security” issues in the era of totalitarianism and total war. For roughly 60 years the Western democracies struggled to preserve civil liberties and due process while ascertaining the extent of clandestine penetrations by the intelligence services of fascist and Communist regimes. At midcentury the Soviet Union’s main strength was “human” intelligence–the collection of information through agents with access to foreign secrets. Washington’s forte was “signals” intelligence–the procurement and analysis of coded foreign messages. At the beginning of the Cold War strength met strength in a struggle that still reverberates 50 years later. The tale of this struggle is the Venona story.

That aide? That was Lauchlin Currie.

Philby probably reported nothing at that time about American efforts against the Soviet messages. (US analysts did not begin to collaborate with their British counterparts on Soviet communications in general until about August 1945.) Nevertheless, senior KGB officials may have become worried when White House aide Lauchlin Currie apparently told Soviet contacts (possibly in spring 1944) that the Americans were about to break a Soviet code. Currie had access to signals intelligence at the White House and could have heard overoptimistic rumors that Arlington Hall would soon be reading Soviet messages. Currie’s tip probably was too vague to have alarmed Soviet cryptographers, but it might have worried higher-ups in Moscow. Indeed, the only change observed in the characteristics of the Soviet messages around that time appeared to be a cosmetic correction implemented to please higher authority. On 1 May 1944, KGB code clerks began using a new message starting-point indicator for telegrams–a change that ironically would make work easier for Arlington Hall crypt-analysts.(22)

The sheer amount on this subject via the various websites is overwhelming. I can only narrow it down a few specific instances concerning McCarthy and the time in question.

All this is of course designed to be explore comment 36′s topic here at this post of Don at Bookworm.

Narcissism Part 2

February 21, 2007

What do you know, I found another boatload about this most peculiar of human behavior.

I’ve been looking for Kathy’s OperationDoubles blog, and it is a rather humorous location simply because OperationDoubles is a …. tennis blog about professional tennis. And it is also about professional writing… and some psychological analysis as well. You get the picture now? 5 separate blogs by mostly one author, although it is kind of hard to tell which is which considering certain mislabelings.

On another note, here’s a good example between what people think they know and what the truth really is. It may apply to fighting, war, diplomacy, spycraft, tradecraft, as well as such things as professional tennis tips and Bookworm’s post on conventional wisdom concerning current events.

Tim Larkin talks about this a lot. In the sense that there are a lot of baggage and preconceptions people have with them as they grow older. The newer generation usually is ignorant but because they don’t know the limitations everyone else knows (the volk wisdom), this means they experiment and dare to try out new things. Sometimes succeding.

An interesting balance between youth, knowledge, age, and wisdom. Whoever wins is whoever is left standing.

Narcissism

February 21, 2007

I was always interested in psychology. If only because I was intensely curious about humanity and why humans did the things they did. Perhaps it was a quest for knowledge or maybe it was part of an insatiable curiosity to know that which I did not know. One concerns itself with usefulness, the other with simply data. But with war, came purpose. For what better than to find how what makes men tick in war than psychology.

This post by Shrink on narcissism on the Baby Boom genesis that I came across today is a pretty good connector piece to all the other pieces on narcissism I have read about.

I came across it from his Abortion post.

To which I left this comment.
The certain strains of fanaticism around abortion reminds me of the Middle East. The ME people know that they are to a certain extent, unable to influence their leaders and the law, with the only choice to obey. So if they have to obey laws which they don’t like, they might as well take those laws to its logical conclusion. Which is rather extreme all in all.

Because the legislation concerning abortion was overriden in America, it has sort of bypassed entire generations. Which is unlike even black equality, because they at least had the Civil Rights Act. A matter of law and persuasion, not one of SC fiat. So it is like a never ending holy war. Since the power is in the Supreme Court… and not with the people, it doesn’t matter who you convince, it only matters if you can exert the necessary power to get the people you support onto that court… which is an interesting way for the SC to maintain impartiality, by making it necessary for others to impart their partiality upon the courts one way or another. Very ironic. That was how it worked and how the systems were geared towards. Because certainly if it was a matter of law, it would have been settled all ready one way or another and people would be arguing about the law. But that is not what they are arguing about because in a sense they know that the SC can override any law, so they might as well get to the SC first and forget about the law.

I knew to a certain extent that the WWII generation was rather over-protective of their children, wishing for them to be spared the horrors that they themselves had seen. However, every action has a consequence. Almost like a self-fullfilling prophecy in a way. They sought out to do good, but ended up not doing good. Trying to protect a child so much that the child was smothered. Figuratively speaking.

But Shrink added something more to that mix. All these psychologists or psychiatrists are not politicians or warriors in the sense that they fight for an army, and yet their knowledge is useful in figuring out what path to take with domestic and foreign enemies of the United States.

One cannot defeat an enemy without understanding how that enemy thinks. There is always a danger in that, but the danger of not doing so is absolute.

The Glory of Life

February 13, 2007

Well that’s what I think about it when I see this.

I could say the fire of God but that sounds like a weapons system. Keep that in wraps for now.


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