the CYA Game
By Sheila Samples
flexibility - This is a very highly classified area, but I
have to say that all you need to know: There was a before
9/11, and there was an after 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come
off." Cofer Black, Head of the CIA Counterterrorist
Center, at a Sept. 26, 2003 joint hearing of the House and
Senate intelligence committees.
Looks like Seymour Hersh has done it again. Team Bush was
still reeling from Hersh's May 1 New Yorker exposé
of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison when he bitch-slapped
them again on May 9 with a second,
more powerful investigation into the painfully inept handling
of the disaster by everyone in the chain from Baghdad's Central
Command Headquarters to Washington D.C.'s 1600 Pennsylvania
Hersh was back on Saturday, May 15, with an even
more incriminating piece on Donald Rumsfeld's secret torture
program for Abu Ghraib, apparently approved across the board
by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and perhaps
even her boss, President George W. Bush. According to Hersh,
the gruesome and merciless treatment inflicted on Abu Ghraib
"detainees" neither starts nor ends there, but is carried
out "at secret CIA detention centers scattered around the
If Hersh has done nothing else, he's forced them to huddle
and look at their game plan. This didn't take long, since
there are only three rules in the Team Bush "Cover-Your-Ass"
CYA Rule One: There are no rules.
CYA Rule Two: Aggressively apply Rule One.
CYA Rule Three: If Rules One and Two fail, lie your
ass off to achieve a Rumsfeldian "absence of evidence."
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita hit the ground running
on Sunday, angrily waving CYA Rule Three at Hersh: "These
assertions are outlandish, conspiratorial and filled with
error and anonymous conjecture!" he blustered. Although that
appeared to put it all into perspective for CNN's Wolf Blitze,
before we move on to issues more important than torturing,
humiliating and sexually abusing Iraqi citizens, many of whom
were wrongly detained, we need to remember a couple of things.
It was DiRita who brushed aside the suggestion that Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or his circle of Pentagon stars
would have reason to be aware of what Team Bush desperately
wants us to believe was little more than a series of isolated
Abu Ghraib shenanigans. In the wake of CBS 60 Minutes II airing
photos of hooded, naked prisoners being abused by both male
and female enlisted personnel, DiRita scoffed, "An accusation
against a few troops isn't necessarily something" Rumsfeld
and other top Pentagon brass "would get involved with..."
Hersh didn't suddenly appear fullblown on the war-on-terror
horizon. Even though Team Bush's Richard Perle labeled him
as "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist,"
Hersh is quite simply the most respected investigative journalist
in America, if not the world, today.
It was Hersh who brought the barbaric Vietnam My Lai massacre
into public awareness; Hersh who unveiled the CIA's out-of-control
Phoenix Program, which he says was "...a counter-insurgency
program that the U.S. adopted during the Vietnam War, in which
Special Forces teams were sent out to capture or assassinate
Vietnamese believed to be working with or sympathetic to the
Vietcong." It was Hersh who won a Pulitzer Prize for getting
his facts straight and for getting the truth out to the American
Hersh also gave a meticulous
rendering of Team Bush antics as they rigged the intelligence
system and "stovepiped" only negative WMD information directly
to the top to argue the case for attacking Iraq. And, exactly
one year ago, it was Hersh who warned
us about Rumsfeld's secret, off-budget Office of Special
Plans, of the behind-the-scenes machinations of Deputy Secretary
of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and of the wily, destructive Ahmed
Chalabi, Team Bush's main source of damning intelligence against
So there you have it. Donald Rumsfeld and Lawrence DiRita
or Seymour Hersh. When you want the truth - who're you gonna
Some say it's looking bad for the home team, and that truth
will finally prevail. I say that's wishful thinking. This
game is not for lightweights. Before we high-five our way
to the locker room, we need to remember that there is nothing
more dangerous than Team Bush when cornered. Many people get
hurt. Many more people die. In the game of CYA, whatever it
takes to win can get pretty bloody.
How do they keep getting away with secrecy, lies, abuse,
torture - even cold-blooded murder? The answer is painfully
obvious. It's because we let them. We the Media, We the Congress
and We the People. We are to blame for what is happening in
Iraq. We can't say we didn't know, or there's nothing we can
do about it now. We knew. And, if we continue to stand mute
and to play by their rules, it is because - like Melville's
Bartleby - we prefer not to take a stand. We cannot allow
ourselves to be so shocked and horrified at the voracious
creature we have become that we prefer to cringe before a
blank wall rather than admit our complicity in the barbaric
crusade we have unleashed upon the world.
What We Know
We need to stop - just stop - sit down in the middle of
the field, refuse to play, and consider what we know up to
this point. We need to shed the misperception that George
Bush is a little man in a bubble; cushioned from the devastating
effects of his own inhumanity, divorced from reality. It doesn't
matter whether Bush is in charge or if he's taking orders
from Dick Cheney or others within the reptilian Iran-Contra
Cabal who were slithering noiselessly into place in 2000 even
as the Supreme Court gavel shattered America's peace, freedom
and democracy into a million ragged shards. Bush is
We know that the bloody chaos and terror spreading throughout
the Middle East was planned by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz
and other neoconservatives years before Bush's selection.
We know this plan required "another Pearl Harbor event" to
set into motion a cruel foreign policy which would subordinate
nations in the region to our will and force them to cede their
resources to US corporate control. Small wonder we're a nation
of Bartlebys, preferring not to question the myriad of suspicious
events surrounding the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11.
We know there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
no gathering threat, no mushroom clouds, no nuclear weapons
- no justification for preemptively attacking a powerless,
ravaged, starving country. We long to know why Senators and
Congressmen continue to play to the cameras in their faux
investigations - steeped in sanctimonious hypocrisy and feigned
outrage - and allow these fools; these evil greedy liars,
to barter for oil and power with our children's lives.
We know the media's thirst for blood would be quenched if
its self-righteous lackeys and Team Bush hos were forced to
cover the "action" in Iraq while kicking up dust radiating
from the more than 320 tons of depleted uranium (DU) that
Bush rained down upon as many as 17 million Iraqis in that
hapless land. Let FOX and CNN and their legions of braying
right-wing pundits put their boots on the ground - join the
legions of walking dead - and then return to tell us how they
"feel" about it. Invite Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to
the Abu Ghraib university during frat-hazing week. Let the
Playing The Game
The seven lower-enlisted soldiers are a disgrace, but are
not responsible for the illegal abuse and torture of men and
women swept up indiscriminately in Bush's inhumane war on
terror and crammed into camps and prisons in Afghanistan,
Cuba and Iraq, although they are being set up to take the
fall and to cover the asses of their comander in chief and
Secretary of Defense. Courts martial are on the fast track.
Soon these rogue soldiers, whose actions Bush and Rumsfeld
agree put a "stain" on this great nation, will be brought
to justice. Soon the world can breathe a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, not only for these errant soldiers but for
all those serving under him, George Bush is an egomaniacal
serial liar who is "Texas" proud that he's unread and inexperienced,
that he makes "gut" decisions to go to war, and - since his
instructions to kill anyone standing in the way of his "vision"
come directly from God, he doesn't need a permission slip
from earthly beings for what he does. Like his father before
him, Bush believes the presidency is his birthright; therefore,
he will never accept responsibility for his actions nor will
Bush never takes the field for the CYA game. He rises above
the action or drops out of sight while those around him have
a great deal of fun imposing Rule Three on the rest of us.
But this time it's different. Rumsfeld's totally incompetent
management of a conflict that has morphed into a senseless
killing field, his cavalier response to the gruesome torture
of other human beings, his bumbling attempts to blame lower-enlisted
personnel for his sins - is shameful. It's disgusting. It's
Someone should tell Rumsfeld there are a lot of really neat
games you can play with your dress pulled up over your head
- but covering your ass isn't one of them.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former
US Army Public Information Officer. She will accept praise
and atta-boys at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints and death threats should be directed to her cousin,
Junior Samples, at BR-549.