Great Spark Hunt
By Raul Groom
feel like the peasants with torches and pitchforks. The robber
barons aren't going to be allowed to get away with this."
- Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst, referring to the Plame
It was a big week for beasts rising up to devour their masters.
Seigfried and Roy's tiger finally got fed up and took a swing
at the silly magicians who've been parading him around in
a demeaning outfit for years, sending one of them to the hospital
with serious injuries. Gray Davis, poster-child for New Democrat
milquetoast inoffensiveness, went gurgling out of the Governor's
mansion in California on a wave of dissatisfaction so colossal
that it swept into office a ridiculous babbling man-mountain
who quite clearly has absolutely no idea about much of anything
Another guy with no idea is George W. Bush, who summed his
presidency up with uncharacteristic eloquence yesterday, observing
astutely, "I don't have any idea." It was a moment
of rare candor for the president, coming no doubt after a
period of deep self-reflection, and we all should applaud
him for finally having the courage to face reality.
Unfortunately for Dubya, he's apparently also about to have
to face a bunch of peasants with torches and pitchforks. Larry
Johnson, along with several unnamed CIA sources, took to the
pages of the Washington Post recently to declare open
war on the Bush administration. In reality, Johnson's semi-metaphorical
vow to make the robber barons pay greatly understates the
real-life danger to Bush and his cronies – it is most certainly
not a horde of aching, soot-faced steel workers or
blind, arthritic shirtwaist seamstresses at the door, but
an international network of highly trained thugs and fiendish
criminal masterminds with access to unlimited amounts of money,
weapons, and freshly dug holes. Even a bulb as dim as Boy
George – who grew up in a CIA household, after all - should
have known what he was getting into when he let his people
start a war with the Frankenstein's monster that Harry Truman
cobbled together in 1947 out of the scraps of the postwar
U.S. intelligence community.
I have recommended Cockburn and St. Clair's excellent WhiteOut
before, but again I feel it necessary to urge anyone who wants
to understand the sheer magnitude of the heap of shit about
to be dumped on the White House to pick up this book and start
reading it immediately. For those who are too lazy to read
the book, let me sum it up this way – the CIA, though technically
under the jurisdiction of the executive branch, operates primarily
from a large pool of cash that it generates on its own, independent
of government funding. Thus the President has essentially
no control over the agency, except that which he is able to
exert by proxy through the CIA Director, whom he appoints.
To put it gently, George Tenet will likely not be remembered
as one of the most influential directors in the agency's history,
and was in any case appointed by Bush archenemy William Jefferson
Clinton. Making matters worse, so much worse, is the fact
that the administration tried unsuccessfully to throw Tenet
to the wolves several weeks back. What they have now is a
weak CIA Director with no incentive to be loyal to the administration
heading up an uncontrollable intelligence agency that's fed
up and out for blood. Oops.
And so, as the mass of the nation remains focused on the
California recall, the CIA is slowly gathering kindling, building
a fire, and waiting for a spark. In addition to Richard Leiby
and Dana Priest's excellent piece profiling Valerie Wilson
(Plame's housewife alter-ego), in which Larry Johnson sounded
the trumpet of all-out war on the White House, the Post
also printed an article the other day by Dana Milbank in which
an unnamed source inside the administration tried out a defense
about as opaque and impregnable as the average Carnival costume.
Since McClellan and the rest of the Bush press team can't
deny the leak happened, the idea now is to piggy-back onto
Robert Novak's lame assertion that the word "operative"
– which implied (correctly) that Valerie Plame was a covert
agent – was used without knowledge of its (true) connotation,
and that Novak and the person who leaked Plame's identity
thought (incorrectly) she was only a stateside analyst, and
only accidentally published the (correct) information that
she was an operative.
So the White House's version of the story, to recap, is
that someone went to the trouble to discover that Valerie
Wilson was a CIA employee, but made no effort to find out
what she did for the agency, and, while assuming that she
was an analyst, which she wasn't, accidentally leaked that
she was a covert agent, which she was. Mmm hmm.
Whether or not the general population thinks the story is
a snooze, every conservative publication in the country is
now assuring us with an air of gin-soaked desperation that
the general population thinks the story is a snooze. But the
men and women at the CIA, many of whose lives (and all of
whose jobs) depend on the type of cover that was compromised
by the leak, seem to think it's a pretty big deal. And while
I doubt that the spooks are calling in any wetwork just yet,
the United States Central Intelligence Agency has access to
something that threatens the Bush dynasty far more than guns
or assassins – after all, the Bushies have plenty of that
The problem for Bush and his clan is a ring of keys in a
special drawer at Langley that can be broken out whenever
the agency needs to put the screws in someone. The keys don't
open a special torture chamber or weapons cache – the keys
open closets. As I am writing this, a tallish man with a buzz
cut – his name is Steve, but his friends call him Stevo –
is opening that drawer and selecting a few keys off of that
key ring. What closets these keys might open is a mystery,
but one thing is for certain. What has kept the Bush family
on top for this long is their ability to lock skeletons in
closets and keep the closets locked forever. Until recently,
this ability was rooted in no small part in the family's excellent
relationship with the CIA, a relationship that is now only
a distant, sordid memory. Soon, and very soon, some of those
closets are going to come springing open.
Most of what is in the closets will come as no great surprise,
since a great deal of the information is, if not well-known,
at least available if one knows where to look. What will come
as a surprise to many is how big the stories seem all of a
sudden, now that the CIA has given its favorite reporters
the go-ahead to start writing about the dark innuendo and
damaging rumors that have been lurking in the shadows since
George W. Bush declared his improbable and foolhardy intention
to seek the office of President of the United States, despite
an extremely checkered background.
For those of you reading this thinking that this means we
will soon find out all there is to know about the bogus justification
for the invasion of Iraq, or perhaps the administration's
secret dealings with the Taliban in the run-up to the September
11th attacks, you can keep your shirt on. The CIA and its
employees will be around bombing poor brown socialists for
years after Cheney and all his leering greedhead friends have
long since vanished from the White House, and the lifers are
in no mood to stir up even more trouble than the "Bush
Doctrine" – if Dubya's nauseating, know-nothing overseas
blundering can be called a Doctrine – has already caused.
Fortunately for the torch-wielding peasants, the Bush family
closets – and George W.'s in particular – are filled with
myriad bags of bones whose exposure will do little or no damage
to U.S. national security in the long run, but moderate amounts
of damage to the political fortunes of the Bush family. Unfortunately,
dear reader, there is nothing left, after almost a century
of Bushes running the U.S. military-industrial complex, that
will destroy la famiglia without also destroying the
U.S. Department of Defense. In the 90 years since Samuel Bush
first brought the U.S. military into the manufacturing age,
the Bush family has become intertwined in almost every aspect
of overseas and domestic defense operations, pocketing gobs
of cash both legal and illegal while enjoying the status of
one of the country's most favored and respected aristocracies.
Indeed it is possible now to cite examples from random points
in history of the Bushes conducting nefarious business right
under the noses of every U.S. oversight agency in existence
and coming out smelling like a rose every single time.
But not this time.
This will hurt the Bushes less, objectively, than you or
I would be hurt if we were to get caught doing something really
heinous like buying a bag of weed or hiring an illegal immigrant
to watch our kids. No one who can claim descendency back through
Samuel will actually go to jail, though some of the family
Tom Hagans – Karl Rove and Don Rumsfeld spring to mind – are
investing in a direct line to private counsel right about
now. But it will cause the bluebloods more pain because it
will be the first time they have felt the sting of real defeat.
From this trap, finally, there is no escape. The last bridge
has been burned. The wolverines are in the tunnel, and they
just enjoyed the weasels as a delightful amuse bouche.
The last time the specter of a mark in the family's L column
surfaced, it was all about Iranian guns and Contra crack,
and Poppy looked so much like a man about to take a nose dive
into a septic tank that he fooled one of the shrewdest political
commentators in our nation's illustrious history, Hunter S.
Thompson. The man with the heart of acid-soaked stone was
moved to believe that, after 70 years of sucking the fear
from the eyes of the world and tearing off children's heads
in jungles while brain-dead hired actors posing as leaders
gave stirring speeches about freedom and democracy, there
was finally going to be some sanity in this goddamn slutbag
world and a Bush was actually going to get his comeuppance.
It was an understandable, if grave, mistake. Today I repeat
it with an open heart.
The Bush Administration is going down.
The reason it will be different this time is simple. The
Bushes are an old money family that has fallen out of step
with the new economy. The manufacturing complex that serves
the U.S. military is still in the firm control of the Connecticut
Cowboys and their loyal band of farmhands, but the new war
model isn't about hardware, it's about communication. Communication
is, uh, as they say in Texas, where uh, they are kind of from,
um, well let me put it another way... communication is not
a strong suit of any known Bush.
Through the entire cold war and the first 20 years or so
of the U.S. War on Islam, the Bushes had a trump card. They
had a company of master communicators at their beck and call,
a company they liked to call the Agency. Only now, at the
end, does the Bush clan get to find out the answer to the
question they have always dreaded – who is stronger, the family
or the machine they built so painstakingly over so many generations?
Of course, in history it has never been necessary to guess
the eventual outcome of that contest - in the end, the machine
There is only one mercy I would hope the CIA affords the
Bushes. Anyone under 30 should be granted amnesty by the rest
of the universe. In other words, Noelle, Jenna and young Babs
should be cut a break and let back into the human experiment.
If you were inside a crumbling crime family you'd be drunk
and on drugs all the time, too. Hell, we forgave Sofia Coppola
for having a boring incestuous relationship with a deeply
obnoxious and unfit Andy Garcia, and her family had already
been crumbling for a generation.
The rest of them will be stomped on by the CIA, and tossed
into the ocean like radioactive maggots. The pitchforks are
ready. The torches are wet with gasoline. The bonfire is piled
high with the flotsam and jetsam of 100 years of robber baron
The Great Spark Hunt is on.