On The Edge of “The Intelligence Community”;
Intelligencers Seen From The Tall Grass
’74 and ‘75 were bad years for my professional life, for my disintegrating marriage, and, especially, for my finances… but worse years for The Intelligence Community. (I love and HATE that pompous money-squandering term, “The Intelligence Community”—the Gang of 42 or 72 or whatever, and their congressional friends.)
I call them “intelligencers”, and “espionagers” because that’s what they are. Look them up in a British dictionary.
Espionagers are easy but dangerous to spot–a little like looking for a transvestite’s Adam’s apple or the telltale teeth of a vampire—don’t get caught at it. Listen for a steady stream of World War 2 O.S.S. tales, CIA Cold War publicist’s bullshit, Apocalypse Now blah, and spy stories from the hooches of “Veet Nom”. And they all want a taste of dangerous victory. The funny thing was, they and the Gang of 42/72 “intelligence” agencies often didn’t get it. The Shah’s downfall, the U.S. Marines and CIA killed in Beirut, and many other major “intelligence” fiascos loom large.
The INTELS were still teaching civilians how to parachute out of airplanes although it is not 1944 anymore—something called radar detects unwanted airplanes and little blips popping out of the unwanted airplanes, so a proper welcoming committee can be assembled. Oh, but the jump was just to test courage? Well, I have a friend who does rattlesnake hunts. If you want, he will devise some lot cheaper tests of courage for your recruits.
ELINT, IMINT, HUMINT, Peppermint or Robert Redford?
1976 was when new technologies for ELINT electronic intelligence, IMINT imagery intelligence and SIGINT signals intelligence, were pushing aside too many of the old field agents still working out in the cold.
That disaster, trumpeted as a quantum improvement for information gathering, would haunt the intelligencers from the 1970’s to today and waste billions of dollars for useless information that had no human component.
Spy satellite photos. KH-11’s. [Mention KH-11 spy satellite at a noisy Washing-Dick cocktail party and the whole room hushed.]
Now picture suckup-boy in Guccis, chinos, blue shirt and yellow polka-dot bow tie, pipe firmly clenched in jaw, sternly approaching The Man: “Excuse me Boss, I thought you’d want to see this latest photo from CrackYurBackIstan; you can actually see Rushenko and Dushenko and Mushenko examining the SS-5 missile”.
Well, that’s great suckup-boy, “but DO YOU HAVE ANY PEOPLE ON THE GROUND TO TELL US WHAT ARE THEY SAYING?” I scream inside my brain.
Of course not. Too dangerous. Too many personnel losses. Better to sit safely at your desk in Washing-Dick, eating croissants and slurping tea from china cups, reading the Washington Post, doing employee performance reports on the other suckies and occasionally gazing at the 30 by 40 inch film positives placed on your light table. Now that’s spying.
Nobody had the balls to ask: “Is this a frigging photo gallery, or an intelligence–gathering outfit?”
The Business Of Spying: Fact Or Fantasy
If you want information (Godforbid “intelligence”) just read The International Herald-Tribune, The Gulf News, The Hindustan Times or The Jerusalem Post. Talk to the natives. Look. See. Go to the library and research a+b+n+z=C. Do a Robert Redford. But don’t call James Bond—unless you get a vicarious shiver in the partaking.
Does the U.S. need to spend $10,000,000,000+ [that’s billions, hey] each year to watch North Korea, Iraq, Syria, the Soviets, Iran, Israel and the militant Moslem interests, plus a few other players? No. Wasted billions for nothing.
Why? That’s easy. For empire builders eagerly puffing smoky fantasies up Congressional-wannabe’s-blowholes, the potential salary and pension rewards are enormous: Working assignments in Paris, Vienna and Hong Kong et al, scarfing local delicacies. No danger. All fluff for DC paper shufflers.
Then, after retirement, the quasi-governmental and private consultant double-triple-dipping rewards were even more delicious.