Friday, September 29, 2023

Sex, Watergate, Eyes Wide Shut

Sex, Watergate, Eyes Wide Shut

Peter Schultz 


When just finishing up John O’Connor’s book on Watergate, Postgate, and thinking about how he, like others, doesn’t speculate that Watergate and its different cover-ups were about hiding sexual activities and the CIA’s operations regarding them, it occurred to me that the phrases “sexual perversion” and “sex perverts” have consequences that deter such speculations. “Perversions” and “perverts” imply that the sexual activities involved weren’t normal or common in American society. That is, these phrases imply activities that aren’t common, that don’t occur except among the psychologically defective, and are not thought of and engaged in by the participants as legitimate. 

Characterizing sexual activities as perversions is like characterizing groups who participate in such activities as, e.,g., “Satanic cults.” Such characterizations make such activities seem extraordinary rather than ordinary, as beyond the bounds of normal American society. Hence, there is a tendency to dismiss explanations based on such activities as outlandish, as wild conspiracy theories. Therefore, decent commentators tend to overlook or minimize the role sex played in scandals like Watergate, and in the covert ops of the likes of the CIA.  (A proper English gentleman, Barker, who translated Aristotle’s Politics, consigned to appendices Aristotle’s references to political events, upheavals and tyrannies, that Aristotle traced to sex, either of the homo- or heterosexual variety. Such explanations were not “proper!” How English! How proper!)  

This is the cutting edge of Eyes Wide Shut, which from the outset locates intense, allegedly socially unacceptable sex among elites as obviously acceptable, even praiseworthy behavior. The elites glory in their lasciviousness; it is a mark of and confirms their elite status, their superiority. Pedophilia, e.g., and being proud of it, marks one as truly elite. After all, it is about dominance, which is how elites confirm their superiority. 

The story of the real cover-up regarding Watergate is still to be written.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Hougan"s Secret Agenda


Hougan’s Secret Agenda

Peter Schultz


         Here is Jim Hougan’s summation on the Watergate scandal as it came to be seen:


“For the affair to be seen in black-and-white terms…there was room for only one victim and one villain. Accordingly, it was politically expedient for both the press and the prosecutors to gloss over or ignore any contradictions that arose. The case was to be treated as a moral fable: an open-and-shut case of political espionage carried out by the bad guys in the White House against the good guys in the Democratic Party.” [206]


         But, as Hougan makes clear, James McCord sabotaged the burglary, and the question arises as to why he would do that. Obviously, Hougan dismisses the possibility that McCord was out to get Richard Nixon, for the simple reason that he, McCord, could not have known that the ensuring events would affect Nixon so dramatically.


         But as Hougan argues, sabotaging the burglary “would put an end to any further assaults on the DNC.” McCord was, Hougan argues, “concerned that Magruder’s operation would jeopardize the DNC’s relationship to the Columbia Plaza [call girl operation]. [McCord’s] actions … had one common denominator: they preserved the Democrats’ secrets for the CIA’s exclusive consumption.”


         As Hougan noted: “the DNC contained an explosive secret: its relationship to prostitutes at the Columbia Plaza Apartments. And … McCord was determined to preserve the monopoly that his secret principals held on that relationship. Neither he nor the agency wanted the Columbia Plaza operation exposed, and neither were they willing to share everything with the Nixon administration…. The conclusion is inescapable that McCord sabotaged the June 16 break-in to protect an ongoing CIA operation. In doing so, he cannot have acted spontaneously; sabotaging a break-in was a desperate action.” [211-212]


         Of course, it’s obvious that the Democrats didn’t want the Columbia Plaza operation and its call girl ring exposed. But then neither did the Nixon administration because it couldn’t be certain of the revelations that might be forthcoming. As Hougan put is, the call girl ring was definitely “explosive.” So, not surprisingly, “the White House itself became a collaborator, acquiescing [that] the burglars [were] ‘bunglers’” and that the break in was “’a third-rate burglary’ unworthy of serious investigation.” [206] So, contra Hougan’s argument, while the White House’s response “discouraged scrutiny of the burglars’ own motives, and buried evidence that was at least mitigating,” that response wasn’t, as Hougan put it, a “reflexive pursuit of [a] cover-up.”


         The White House collaborated in the construction of the “moral fable” that this as “an open-and-shut case of political espionage carried out by…bad guys…against…good guys” in order to conceal the sexual corruption of America’s elites. They didn’t realize or suspect that that collaboration would eventually lead to Nixon’s resignation. Portraying the burglars as bunglers wasn’t enough to save Nixon; it was just too easy to portray him as a real bad guy.


         And it is important to understand the CIA, in overseeing and even perhaps creating operations like the one at the Columbia Plaza Apartments, didn’t create the sexually perverse character of America’s elites; rather, it was merely using the sexual proclivities of the elites for its own purposes. That is, if America’s elites did not have certain sexual proclivities or perversions, the CIA’s operations would not have borne fruit, so to speak. As with con men so often, the “conned” collaborate with the con men in order to profit in some way. Eliot Spitzer’s enemies, for example, brought him down, but it was Spitzer’s sexual proclivities that made this possible. Spitzer collaborated in his own downfall.


         Hougan’s conclusions regarding McCord’s secret agenda put John Dean’s actions in an interesting light as well. Dean had to know of the Columbia Plaza call girl ring and of its connection with Phillip Bailley because his then girlfriend, Mo Biner, was close friends with the woman who oversaw that call girl operation. And, of course, even Dean does not deny that he knew Phillip Bailley or Heidi/Cathy of the call girl ring. Mo Biner, now, Mo Dean even has a picture of herself and Heidi/Cathy in her memoir. So, it might be fair to say that Dean got Magruder to get Hunt, et. al., to go back into the Watergate in June not to bug phones – and no bugs were found there - but to get documentary evidence of the call girl ring and its connection to the DNC. Hence, the key to Maxie Wells desk and the camera equipment on her desk, found when the burglars were arrested.


         Dean might have been unaware of the ring’s connection to the CIA, as Bailley was unaware. That is, he might have been unaware as were Magruder and Liddy of the CIA’s involvement with the Columbia Plaza operation and its connection to the DNC. But however, that might be, Dean was after what he had been after in New York City when he sent functionaries to New York to gather intell on the “Happy Hooker’s” operation and her clientele, intell he couldn’t use because the sexual perversion was pervasive enough to encompass Republicans as well Democrats. Perhaps Dean thought the intell he could gather from the DNC would be more usable because it would be limited to Democrats.


But, of course, once the burglars had been arrested, Dean had to do all he could to cover-up his role in the burglaries. And in that regard, he had as his allies, some perhaps unknown to himself, like the CIA. Nixon, on the other hand, didn’t have allies and, in fact, unbeknownst to himself, had enemies like John Dean. It’s ironic: Nixon had an “enemies list” and it was eventually his enemies that took him out, with his collaboration of course. So it goes!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Insider Accounts: Mazzetti, Mayer, Valentine


Insider Accounts: Mazzetti, Mayer, Valentine

Peter Schultz


            In his excellent book, The Way of the Knife, Mark Mazzetti is concerned to give an insider’s account of the CIA and its transition from an intelligence gathering agency to a kill or capture agency. Among other items, he writes about such battles as to who would be in charge of Pakistan drone strikes, the ambassador or the CIA. The CIA won.


            But because this is an inside account it hides the more important agreement between the ambassador and the CIA, viz., there would be drone strikes, i.e., indiscriminate killings, in Pakistan because those killed were most often unknown to the American killers except as displaying alleged age and behavioral characteristics. No one was contesting this program of indiscriminate killings of Pakistanis, a nation the US wasn’t at war with.


            As Mazzetti’s insider account concludes: “Obama’s CIA had won another battle.” But this covers over the fact the Pakistanis had lost and were to be subjected to a campaign of indiscriminate killings by the United States, which wasn’t even at war with Pakistan. According to the insider account, what was being done to the Pakistanis disappeared, while American politics took center stage.


            Of course, the killing of bin Laden also hid the American program of indiscriminately killing Pakistanis. That killing hid the savagery of US policies by making the “targeted assassinations” seem “surgical” “precise,” even “pinpoint.”  And even Seymour Hersh’s account of the bin Laden assassination, although quite controversial, being another insider’s account, has the same result, not exposing the actual character of the US “war” in Pakistan. Insider accounts fortify the status quo because they are superficial, focused on “the mistakes” being made. Hence, Mazzetti asserts that “the CIA was being reckless.” But, more importantly, the CIA was being savage by indiscriminately killing Pakistanis.


            From insider accounts, a picture emerges of US elites trying to get things right. But there is another, more accurate picture: US elites are engaged in savagery, which some might say makes them savages. You tell me: Does the arc of history bend toward justice, peace, and freedom? Given US policies, this assertion would seem to be quite comical, in a sick way, as is the saying that the US is waging “a War on Terrorism.” In fact, the US is engaged in waging a terroristic war world-wide. But this possibility disappears in Mazzetti’s and Hersh’s insider accounts.


            Jane Mayer, who has praised Mazzetti’s book, has written her own book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terrorism Turned Into a War on American Ideals.  Written as an “inside story,” Mayer doesn’t consider the possibility that the war on terror was based on and thereby fortified America’s ideals. As an insider account, Mayer’s book makes this possibility magically disappear. Poof! American savagery, repeated over and over, is replaced by “mistakes.” That’s the trick performed by insider accounts, confirming America’s ideals amidst a host of mistakes.


            In a way, Douglas Valentine in his book The CIA as Organized Crime performs the same trick when he labels the CIA “’organized crime.” “Crime” is understood to consist of violations of American ideals, e.g., like being law abiding, not robbing, nor murdering, nor raping. So, if the CIA is “organized crime,” it should be thought of as violating America’s ideals. But what if the CIA is the result of those ideals? This is not a question that Valentine’s, Mazzetti’s, Hersh’s, or Mayer’s insider accounts raise. In fact, by looking inside, these accounts make that question disappear. What the CIA looks like inside hides or disappears what it looks like outside, viz., a savage killing machine compatible with America’s ideals.


            In fact, that the CIA is a principled killing machine, makes it more deadly, more dangerous than criminal organizations like the “Mafia.” Why? Because its kills are not only necessary; they are considered justified and even honorable. The CIA’s killers are honored by society whereas criminal killers, “hit men,” are dishonored, even at times punished, capitally or otherwise. So, when the CIA contracts with “hit men,” the magic recurs: Hit men killing for the CIA become honorable. “Honor killings,” often thought of by Americans as the practice of primitive societies, are engaged in by US elites as well. And, so, it is little wonder that persons seeking to be honorable are attracted to, seduced by war, patriotic wars especially. The distance between the Boy Scouts and the Marines, for example, isn’t all that far. [Watch the movie, Hearts and Minds as it captures this dynamic in reference to the Vietnam War.]

Monday, September 4, 2023

Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife


Mark Mazzetti’s The Way of the Knife

Peter Schultz


            Why is it that proposals to do away with the CIA are met with disbelief, while keeping the CIA, even fortifying it, is treated as utterly rational? In other words, what makes American elites, and the American people just assume the CIA is rational, acceptable, legitimate to an extent that the question of its existence is never or rarely raised? And if raised, why is it treated as an utterly irrational question?


            Mark Mazzetti’s book, The Way of the Knife raises lots of questions about the CIA and how it has operated and how it operates, but he doesn’t raise “the why” question. The result is that Mazzetti blurs or even disappears the deeper issues about the CIA while delving into more superficial ones. For example: Mazzetti takes note of the disagreements over the issue “Whether the CIA or the JSOC would be in charge of secret operations” in particular countries. But this debate assumes (a) that one of them should be in charge and (b) that such secret operations, that is, those in countries the US is not at war with, are legitimate. The assumption that such secret operations are legitimate is never questioned. And, of course, as “the special ops” conducted by al Qaeda on 9/11 illustrated, such special operations should be considered controversial, even illegitimate or evil.


            Mazzetti also focuses on the transition made in how the CIA functions, noting that “Armed drones and targeted killing in general, offered a new direction for a spy agency” away from “the detention-and-interrogation business.” But, again, his analysis skates on the surface of things, lacking the depth that would have been available had he raised the question of the legitimacy of armed drones and targeted killings generally. As enlightening as Mazzetti’s analysis is, it is as superficial as analyses that revolved around the question, What mistakes led the US to make war in Vietnam or Iraq. Analyzing those “mistakes” will not get to the roots of US policies; in fact, such analyses often obscure the deepest assumptions that underlie US policies.


            US foreign policies cannot be understood unless we uncover the deepest assumptions held by American elites and non-elites. Because Mazzetti’s book doesn’t attempt to lay bare those assumptions, despite its insightful analysis of the shortcomings of the CIA as a killing machine, and they are many, the book’s analysis is in the service of the status quo. Some of those shortcomings may be corrected, but fundamental flaws of the CIA and our national security state will continue to corrupt US policies, with dangerous consequences.  

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Comments On Gore Vidal's Lincoln


Comments on Gore Vidal’s Lincoln

Peter Schultz


            At end of his book, Lincoln, Gore Vidal has John Hay, once Lincoln’s secretary, redeeming both the Civil War and Lincoln, ranking Lincoln even higher that Washington as president.


            “Mr. Lincoln had a far greater and more difficult task than Washington. You see, the Southern states had every Constitutional right to go out of the Union. But Lincoln said, no. Lincoln said, this Union can never be broken. Now that was a terrible responsibility for one man to take. But he took it, knowing he would be obliged to fight the greatest war in human history, which he did, and which he won. So, he not only put the Union back together again, but he made an entirely new country, and all of it in his own image.” [656]


            And then again: “… Hay, who was now more than ever convinced that Lincoln, in some mysterious way, had willed his own murder as a form of atonement for the great and terrible thing he had done by giving so bloody and absolute a rebirth to his nation.” [657]


            Here’s the thing. Lincoln had once spoken about those men who “hunger and thirst for distinction” and disdain any beaten path in seeking political greatness, either by enslaving freemen or freeing slaves, in their pursuit of fame or the only kind of immortality humans can be sure of. Such men were the “founding fathers.” So, one may wonder if Hay’s take on Lincoln’s death being “a form of atonement for the great and terrible thing he had done” is the whole story. Perhaps, Lincoln, “in some mysterious way,” willed his own murder in order to ensure that he would achieve fame and, therewith, a kind of immortality. Like the deaths of Socrates and Christ, Lincoln’s death via assassination would seal his sanctification.


            Moreover, given how American history played out after the Civil War, with the eventual reintroduction of slavery in the form of peonage for southern blacks and the long history of racial apartheid, one may also wonder about Hay’s assertion that Lincoln had succeeded in making “an entirely new country…. all of it his own image.” And even if he did succeed in that task for a while, it may be said that this “new country” disappeared after the presidential election of 1876, when Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the presidency by agreeing to allow the South to recreate both a kind of slavery and racial apartheid.


            So, one may wonder, despite Hay’s attempt at redeeming both Lincoln and the Civil War, whether the war and Lincoln are redeemable. Does the arc of history bend toward justice or does it bend toward madness? It is hard to say.