The Right Coast

December 04, 2005
Just so long as it's ineffective, we will be satisfied
By Tom Smith

This is all rather confusing. I gather from reading news reports, which are none too reliable I know, that the CIA has been doing something like the following. El Jihadi or whatever he calls himself runs afoul of the law in Macedonia or Sweden or some place and the local police look at him and say, hmmm, funny passport, in transit from Pakistan, troubling associations, say, you wouldn't be a terrorist, would you? Tell you what, we'll just call the Americans and see what they think. Some CIA people appear on the scene, look at some list they have and say, ah, yes, he have him down under "seeking PhD in radiological dispersal at the University of Saudi Arabia before one of our agents had her head cut off and he disappeared. Thank you very much and yes, we would like to talk to him." Now here is where things get controversial. Instead of getting to lawyer up and spend the next year in some Motel 6 in Sweden getting taken care of by the blonde taxpayers, he is put on a plane and flown through Germany to some prison in Poland or Romainia where he gets to sit in a small cell until he coughs up every thing he knows about his pals in the dirty bomb cell, or the let's hijack a propane tanker cell or whatever.

Now here comes the confusing part. What is it I am supposed to be upset about? The lack of due process? Haven't these people ever watched a spy movie? Yes, it is very bad if you take the wrong person. A grave injustice, in fact. But he is just like the innocent man who gets blown up when you shoot the Hellfire missile at the jihad poker club meeting. Every war has its secret, dirty side. I'm sure we kidnapped Gestapo agents and questioned them every chance we got. When it suited us, we did the same with Moscow Center trained hoods, or members of the Red Army Faction. And we were right to do so. And no, they don't get an ACLU lawyer. That's part of its being a war. The worst thing about this scandal is that it shows what a bad job the CIA is doing keeping things secret. I wouldn't be surprized if they leaked some of the stuff coming out themselves. Maybe there are still some Red moles left over from the Cold War. But I do not question their patriotism.

Lots of people have lots of different reasons for wanting to see the US humiliated in Iraq. They think it would be better for the environment, or better for democratic socialism, or better for Mother Russia, or better for Merrie Olde England (or whatever the crazy Tories are thinking), or will just get them the House back. There are lots of interests and ideologies (frequently they go together) out there. But lets get real. As to the critics, if they thought it would lead to defeat for the US and the Bush administration, they would rip out the fingernails of terrorist suspects themselves. I hope, and it looks like, the White House has decided to tell various Europeans that we are fighting a war here, and to mind their own business, unless (I speculate) maybe they would prefer less cooperation from us with their own terrorist problems. I suspect CIA flights are part of long established customs and agreements, and MI5 and various other interests will tell their governments not to screw things up.

It does raise hard questions about how to fight a dirty war but within some kind of constraints. But to find out what those are, we should not turn to those who want us to lose.