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Listen To Omar

Via Justin Logan, Imperial Hubris author Mike Scheuer is speaking out again despite orders not to, and basically getting fired for his trouble. Like Jim Henley I can only assume that the looming "purge" played a role in his thinking, though Scheuer and Goss at least claim to both share an appreciation for the CIA clandestine service and a belief that it's been neglected lately. Be that as it may, of the many analysts who've spoken out of turn since 9/11, Scheuer has been the most prominent and the most out of turn, and Goss is the appointed executioner for such folk.

To essentially re-say something I said before, The Wire's Omar remarks in Season One that "if you come at the king, you best not miss." The CIA came at the king and they missed. Leaking just enough to hurt the Bush campaign and make it clear what they were trying to do, but not enough to bring him down. Could they have done more?

UPDATE: Brad Delong counters that this dictum derives from Alessandro Farnese who observed that "that Henri de Guise had never learned an old Italian maxim: 'He who draws his sword against the prince needs to throw away his scabbard.'" Fair enough. Brad also impugns Omar's strategic judgment in what is, I think, an unfair manner. I think Omar will come out on top in the end. If Stringer Bell were running the Barksdale crew in perpetuity that might be a different matter, but Avon strikes me as lacking in good judgment.

November 12, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Could they have done more?

Sure they could have... but then they would have to kill us.

I would have prefered an open rebellion to Goss. Massive resignations, leaked reports (not just rumors of pigeonholed papers), etc... It could have gotten very messy.

Posted by: def | Nov 12, 2004 1:25:16 AM

Look, NOTHING that is revealed about Bush hurts him. Not the Enron ties, not The Pet Goat, not the lies about Iraq. The fact that the responsible public servants of both parties were opposed to Bush meant zilch to the media, and therefore the public. You must have mistaken us for a reality-based country.

Posted by: Social Scientist | Nov 12, 2004 8:20:53 AM

Social Scientist above speaks the truth: the public knows all of the Bush lies and scandals and doesn't care. Educating them is coals to Newcastle. I've never seen the country act this way. I imagine it's like Germany after 1933. Jimmy Carter talked about a government (or president, I can't remember anymore) as good as its people. Well, we've got it now. Bush fits the people who elected him. He isn't an accident or mistake. His supporters aren't ignorant: they're as nasty and stupid as he is.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Nov 12, 2004 9:36:15 AM

Ummm...should they have done more? The CIA is not an independent organization, they're part of the executive branch. I can understand their frustration at Bush - I share it and wanted him brought down, too - but we can't have a secret service going rogue, even in a good cause.

Posted by: Tom Beck | Nov 12, 2004 10:05:49 AM

Yeah, it's a sad situation- lefties hoping OUR government will be the next one the CIA overthrows. Getting pretty close to "the living will envy the dead".

Posted by: serial catowner | Nov 12, 2004 11:30:08 AM

Given the CIA's track record, their analysts probaably had persuaded themselves that Kerry was going to win in a landslide, so they didn't need to compromise themselves & perhaps our security by leaking more than they did.

Best yet-unwritten review of a yet-unwritten book: Scheuer's review of Tenet's memoir. I hope S. gets it in the NYRB and has lots of room for detail.

Posted by: Anderson | Nov 12, 2004 11:31:48 AM

CIA *could* have done more - they have a Director of "Operations" after all. But I suppose that's not what Matt means.

Like most government bureaucrats, I assume they thought that if Bush was re-elected, it was more important that they be there to restrain him, lest Goss pack the now-empty cubicles with Heritage Foundation interns.

And after the attempts to discredit him seemed to do no harm, right wing media cast the CIA as a bunch of out-of-touch liberal softies like State. It's not as if any more resignations would have changed the minds of swing voters. Anyone who voted on Iraq/Terror for Bush was not going to reconsider just because the same pointy-headed ivory-tower-refugee intellectuals who missed the boat on 9-11 and WMD now say Bush is incompetent and dangerous.

Posted by: Silent E | Nov 12, 2004 12:43:39 PM

I assume Matt is talking about leaking classified documents that prove beyond doubt something or other nasty and embarrassing about Bushco. Well, former RAND Corp analyst and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg encouraged that very thing in a 9/28/04 Op-Ed in the Times. Guess he didn't convince anyone that it was worth the risk.

BTW, Ellsberg has a web site:

http://www.ellsberg.net/

I found this link to the aforementioned Op-Ed there:

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0928-08.htm

Oh, and JD, save your bitterness for the folks who deserve it. If anyone's to blame, it's the mainstream media, especially TV, that pretends to do journalism even though they can't differentiate between a verifiable fact and a blatant smear. Voters have to be able to depend on the media for straight information devoid of government or special interest spin, and right now they can't.

Posted by: Jon | Nov 12, 2004 3:29:54 PM

Here's the closing paragraphs of Ellsberg's Op-Ed:

All administrations classify far more information than is justifiable in a democracy - and the Bush administration has been especially secretive. Information should never be classified as secret merely because it is embarrassing or incriminating. But in practice, in this as in any administration, no information is guarded more closely.

Surely there are officials in the present administration who recognize that the United States has been misled into a war in Iraq, but who have so far kept their silence - as I long did about the war in Vietnam. To them I have a personal message: don't repeat my mistakes. Don't wait until more troops are sent, and thousands more have died, before telling truths that could end a war and save lives. Do what I wish I had done in 1964: go to the press, to Congress, and document your claims.

Technology may make it easier to tell your story, but the decision to do so will be no less difficult. The personal risks of making disclosures embarrassing to your superiors are real. If you are identified as the source, your career will be over; friendships will be lost; you may even be prosecuted. But some 140,000 Americans are risking their lives every day in Iraq. Our nation is in urgent need of comparable moral courage from its public officials.

Posted by: Jon | Nov 12, 2004 3:36:51 PM

"Ummm...should they have done more? The CIA is not an independent organization, they're part of the executive branch. I can understand their frustration at Bush - I share it and wanted him brought down, too - but we can't have a secret service going rogue, even in a good cause."

Yes, we can't have a secret service "going rogue" so to speak, and reprehensively showing loyalty to the nation, rather than to an individual. Wouldn't be befitting of a servant of the cult, I mean government.

Posted by: Lewis Carroll | Nov 12, 2004 3:46:30 PM

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