See I A Spy Betraying its own Government?

· Essay
Authors

A House divided against itself cannot stand.

Los hermanos sean unidos Porque esa es la ley primera; … porque si entre ellos pelean

los devoran los de afuera. – José Hernández, in El Gaucho Martín Fierro. (Have brothers stick

together, because that’s the first they gotta do, … because if they’re at each other’s throats,

outsiders are gonna wipe ‘em out. – Free translation by the present author.

 

As I write this, there is an attempt being made to find grounds for the impeachment of a president of the United States.  There is a subplot involved, involving a so-called whistle-blower. I say “so-called”, not because I want to doubt, but because I want to avoid the negative connotations of that word. Furthermore, the argument is being made – which may or may not be valid – that if the person were a valid “whistle-blower”, he would probably be held in contempt by those who are presently praising him.[1]  This is clearly not a valid point of view, because today’s celebrated whistle-blower could easily be despised in the future.  Is this not what happened to a famous “leaker” who currently sits in a British prison?[2]

The reader will note that I am not mentioning any name.  Apparently, some media believe that this is the correct policy to be following.[3]  While I am not under any corporate order to follow the same dictates, it would seem to be prudent to do likewise, unless some dam bursts, and everything which has been held back up to the present suddenly comes gushing out.

I will say that it is claimed that this unnamed individual, is, or was, of the C.I.A.  I was rereading a book in which there was a thin parallel to the current events, and this is what led me to write this reflection.

Before referring to the book, and based on my current knowledge about the impeachment hearings and the whistle-blower, I have the following observations:

  • If the individual intentionally listened to what should have been a private phone call by the President, then he was eavesdropping, or, in less elegant parlance, spying.
  • If he was spying in his capacity as a spook, his work in outing the president, according to some, was to prevent the president from working against the interests of the United States.
  • If he had been eavesdropping from other motives, and if he was still a C.I.A. operative, we would need to know if he could plausibly argue, in his defense, that the listening was nevertheless part of his job.
  • If he was not an official spook, than he was spying in a private capacity. He could still allege patriotism, even if we have some doubts as to what exactly would constitute such an honorable virtue in the case at hand.
  • Whatever he alleged to have heard, it seems, could be corroborated. If not, it would fall into the category of hearsay. We think that corroboration might exist, if the Trump presidency, as others, since the time of Kennedy – with a special mention of Richard Nixon – had the habit of tape recording conversations.  I do not know if this would apply to private telephone conversations to leaders of other countries.[4]
  • If such a recording exists, and if the conversation by the President was in fact meant to be private – and especially if there was nothing of explosive content in that communication, it clearly would not reflect badly on the President, but on the individual who more or less gave a verbatim description of privileged communications.
  • Now we get close to my observation from the book, which if it is true, suggest that the media want us to believe that this whistle-blower, or past or present C.I.A. operative was doing something extraordinary, when perhaps this was not so at all. This is what we will now consider.

In 1989, there appeared a Costa-Gavras film called Music Box.[5]  I was reading a French version of the book by Deborah Chiel, apparently written after the movie came out.  Very few pages of this novel deal with government, and none deal with officials, excepting lawyers from the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, and those wherein we find some glancing references to the former Communist government in Hungary.

The book is fiction, but it contains factual nuggets, such as the mention of John Demjanjuk, an individual accused of war crimes.  There seem to be some similarities between Demjanjuk and the fictional character Michael J. Laszlo.[6]

Any guesses as to the nationality of Demjanjuk, and how that relates to the phone call made by the U.S. president (and others, incidentally)?

Now, it so happens in the fiction named Music Box, that Laszlo’s daughter defended her father from the charges made against him.  One of her legalistic ploys was:

… a consultant for the C.I.A. testifying “against the American government” …

to the chagrin of the government prosecutor, Jack Burke. [p. 158, Ch. 13, French version].[7]

This leaves us with only one question, in order to wrap up our argument about the triviality of some of the media in criticizing the use of a potential C.I.A. agent in the White House – can we find this kind of event to have happened in the past?

At least two ex-C.I.A. agents were involved in some way with the Watergate affair.  This was in 1972.

More precisely, we find a freely-available document in Google Books, published by the United States Congress, House Committee on Armed Services Special Committee on Intelligence (1974). It refers to the agency’s support of Howard Hunt in 1971, and Watergate in particular.

A search for “C.I.A. in White House”, with a specification for “More”, and then for “Books” gives more results, but many of these may be considered too close to “conspiracy theories” to have them mentioned here.  Narrowing the choice down to free books, we find several government publications, but the useful material always seems to center around Watergate, but one reference to that affair would seem to be enough.

Moreover, it seems to be tendentious to speak of a C.I.A. person in the White House for other reasons: consider that George H.W. Bush was an ex-director of that agency, and that presidents do meet with the director of that agency. Just check this picture of Obama with the National Security Council, including C.I.A. director Panetta.

It is not only the director that meets with the President.  We have arbitrarily chosen the year of 9/11 as the date for a search for evidence of such encounters, – which are of course, we may believe, well known to White House insiders.

In our opening quote, we mention “a House divided”.  Has the reader who knows of the origin of this quote wondered why we have capitalized the noun?

In the context of current events, it is because we are referring to the House of Representatives at the same time as we give the original citation.  Lincoln was not the first to use it, – this 2000-year-old wisdom found in Christian versions of the Bible.

To sum up: it is a sorry spectacle one presents to one’s enemies when revealing through the media or elected representatives – or the edifice consisting of the entire population of the United States – an inability to have a unified position based on a cool-headed analysis of who or what a whistle-blower is, indecision as to what may be listened to by others in a room, what must remain secret or become public, etc., because:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose …. a time to keep silence, and a time to speak … A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. King James Version (KJV) Public Domain

Notes:

Sources given here are only to illustrate a point, and are not meant to show this author’s own inclinations. For this reason, one-sided opinions are not given, except insofar that we believe that the situation is/was scandalous.

[1] Here we need to start with the fact that the Republicans wanted him named: “Nunes Once Praised Anonymous Whistleblowers. Now He Wants Trump’s Exposed”, Sam Brody, Daily Beast, Nov. 7, Update of Nov. 8, 2019, #https://www.thedailybeast.com/devin-nunes-once-praised-anonymous-whistleblowers-now-he-wants-trumps-exposed.  The other side of the coin in what the Democrats want, as related in this highly ideologically-tinged source: “Democrats praise CIA whistleblower on Ukraine, persecute Manning, Assange and Snowden”, Andre Damon, 30 September 2019, World Socialist Web Site, #https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/09/30/pers-s30.html. The point we emphasize was made by a blogger ranking at the time of this writing as having a web-site almost among the 300,000 most-viewed: “MSM Defends CIA’s “Whistleblower”, Ignores Actual Whistleblowers”, Caitlin Johnstone, Sept. 27, 2019, CaitlinJohnstone.com, #https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/09/27/msm-defends-cias-whistleblower-ignores-actual-whistleblowers/.

[2] The person we allude to is mentioned in the second and third reference of footnote [1].

[3] “Yes, outing the whistleblower is against the law — but the law is toothless”, Harry Litman, November 6, 2019, Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/11/06/yes-outing-whistleblower-is-against-law-law-is-toothless/. The other point of view is found in the title here: “Can Trump Legally Out The Whistleblower? Experts Say It Would Not Violate Any Laws”, Bobby Allyn, November 6, 2019, National Public Radio, https://www.npr.org/2019/11/06/776481504/can-trump-legally-out-the-whistleblower-experts-say-it-would-not-violate-any-law.
[4] This is mentioned in: “Why U.S. Presidents Stopped Secretly Taping Their Conversations”, Marc Selverstone, May 23, 2017, The Atlantic, #https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/trump-tapes-comey/527655/. An additional article can be found here: “The Shadowy History Of Secret White House Tapes”, Domenico Montanaro, May 13, 2017, National Public Radio, https://www.npr.org/2017/05/13/528222995/the-shadowy-history-of-secret-white-house-tapes.
[5] “Music Box” (film review), Asaf Tal, n.d., Yad Vashem, https://www.yadvashem.org/education/educational-materials/film-reviews/music-box.html. The French version of the book seems to have been published simultaneously with the English version, place of publication was not given: Chiel, Deborah.  Music Box. Presse Pocket (France), 1989.
[6] While this was immediately obvious to me after reading about Demjanjuk in Wikipedia, the point is also made in the Vad Vashem movie review cited above ([4]).
[7] Although quotation marks were used here, it must be pointed out that these mark a translation from the French into English, and thus may not reflect the exact words in the original work, where the page number would also be different. The search terms “Chiel Music Box C.I.A.” under Google Books suggests the page number as 210, giving a snippet view which unfortunately seems to exclude the exact text desired, but what we found is close enough. The English version was published by Jove Books.

November 20, 2019.

© 2019, Paul Karl Moeller.

 

 

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