The title of this post sounds like a board-game.
It’s not the weekend yet, but we’re experiencing a rather harsh storm with really cold weather heading our way. That means that I will spend the next couple of days (and nights) indoors as much as possible, so today we have a wonderful double feature. Not one, but two lovely documentaries that deal with intelligence, terror and security.
Our first feature is:
The Gatekeepers (2012).
The Shin-Bet is Israel’s General Security Service, or Internal Security Service.
The head of the Shin-Bet is anonymous. His identity is kept secret from the general population.
The six (6) former heads have therefore never been interviewed before.
There is a nice trailer here.
And then the full documentary here. It’s in Hebrew, with subtitles.
I am sure you will be able to find better copies, but this one I was able to embed easily.
I really liked the documentary.
Nobody knows who these heads of Shin-Bet were, so to find them and get them all to talk is a real feat.
Western Intelligence and Security agencies have always been in awe of Israeli Intelligence. The main reason is that Israeli Intelligence can do stuff that western intelligence agencies only dream about. Israel considers itself in a constant state of war with much of the world. This means that Israeli intelligence is simply more secret than western agencies. It also means Israeli Intelligence has far broader and far-reaching powers than regular intelligence agencies.
The documentary was very well received, especially in intelligence circles.
The heads of Shin-Bet come off as intelligent, introspective and contemplative people.
The US has been engaged in The Global War On Terror (GWOT) since 11 september 2001.
Like Israel, they are now in a constant state of war.
US intelligence liked the documentary so much that the former heads of the CIA also allowed two documentary makers access for a series of interviews.
And that brings us to our second feature.
The Spymasters (2015)
The full title is: The Spymasters: CIA in the crosshairs.
The documentary was made by the Naudet brothers. They are the two French documentary-makers who happened to be in New York, shooting a documentary on the NY Fire Department just as the terror attack of 911 got underway. The shot of the first plane hitting the building, with the two firefighters looking up? That’s them shooting their documentary.
The documentary is narrated by Mandy Patinkin – he’s the actor who plays the CIA chief in the hit television-series Homeland.
As with anything American, they had to make it bigger and better so here we get the last twelve (12) Directors of the CIA opening up.
There is a neat teaser here.
Again, I am sure you will be able to find better copies, but this I was able to find easily.
The opening propaganda is just perfect. Leon Panetta, a deeply religious man, alone in an empty church, holding a rosary, kneeling down in prayer, followed immediately by the dronestrike.
You have to do what you think is right and hope that … ultimately… God agrees with you.
That’s right. Leon Panetta, who says “a lot of Hail Mary’s” feels we should be bombing people left and right, based on what “his gut” tells him, in the hope that an omnipotent invisible being in the sky will one day agree with him after he’s died and gone to the afterlife.
We then get John Brennan soberly explaining to us that he wishes “the world were simpler” but that there are “often situations where there is no right or wrong” and that things are often “not black and not white”. He then randomly worries about a biological agent type attack, a devastating strategic type of terrorist attack (the word strategic making it sound even more scary) ISIS and all kinds of other terrorists… and it’s plain and simple: “We” can let these organizations “thrive” and “do nothing”, or we can “try to take action that’s going to disrupt their plans”.
As he is telling us this we see some horrific ISIS crimes taking place, making me immediately agree with him.
ISIS are monsters.
They are insane.
They should all be bombed to dust.
Mandy Patinkin then gets to the fundamental questions.
What are the rules for the CIA's Spymasters? Do they go too far? Or not far enough?
Mandy then explains the documentary. Only twelve (12) men have been the head of the CIA.
They – and their top-operatives will share and debate their passions and disagreements.
“It is a battle for the soul of the CIA”.
(The CIA has a soul?)
We then open with 911.
Did the White House ignore all the warnings?
Well yes, of course.
We then get George Tennet telling us that he felt like crap on 911, since “we had woken up every day of our lives trying to prevent this from happening”. Which is such bullshit it’s just laughable. So George Tennet (and his ilk) don’t wake up and go… ow my back, I need coffee, I need to wake the kids etc. No. He (and his ilk) wake up and think: “An attack is coming, I have to run to the office and prevent it”. Apparently he also did this as a teenager, while in college, on his wedding day and of course the days his children (and grandchildren) were born.
Every. Day. Of. Our. Lives.
We then get a brief historical overview.
We track back the CIA’s “response” to terrorism from the Trade Center bombing in 1993 forward.
They slowly learn that these are organized, radical Muslim groups.
Spoiler Alert: A Senior CIA Analyst compares Osama bin Laden to Donald Trump !
Things come to a head in 2001. Threat-levels are up. Lots of terrorists disappearing, camps closing. Websites are buzzing… and then the planes hit The Trade Center and the Pentagon. CIA headquarters is evacuated. They then quickly learn some of the terrorists were already identified and known. It’s an embarrassment.
The CIA goes through somewhat of an existential crisis.
The CIA – as we know – responds by bribing the loyalty of the Northen Alliance – a group of radical Muslim heroin-dealers in Northern Afghanistan. The Taliban is bombed to bits and quickly collapses while al-Qaeda’s senior leadership manages to escape. Mandy calls it “the CIA’s finest hour”.
That “finest hour” is then swiftly followed by the CIAs darkest hour… Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction.
We get various senior CIA people saying that they didn’t cook the books, they were not politically motivated, their analysts were just perfect and wonderful people … we simply got it wrong.
The disaster that becomes Iraq is very briefly mentioned.
No WMD, insurgents, five thousand (5000) dead Americans (Iraqi victims are not mentioned) and eventually ISIS.
We then get segments of sorts.
How do we deal with this situation? We then get some detention and torture. And we close wit the Kill List.
What do we do, boss?
We then skip back to Al-Qaeda. They may have wrecked Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. But they’re still out there. And they’re gonna strike the US again. We then get a series of ludicrous “plots”, all luckily foiled or prevented from ever happening. They begin to capture and detain people which leads to their “enhanced interrogation program”. We then get the “torture” debate. (Sigh). Some deny it, some say “yea it was torture”, but in the end nobody senior got prosecuted or punished. … and the CIA destroyed the evidence (tapes of the torture).
Have you ever killed someone?
We then go to “lethal, man-made birds of prey”.
The Drone Wars.
‘Get this guy off the battlefield because he’s gonna come and kill you and your children”, was very compelling’.
The ‘targetted’ killing campaign begins.
(We’re told this is very different from “assassination”).
George Bush Jr. greenlights the program, Barack Obama comes in and rapidly and radically escalates it.
In Obama's last year in office, 2016, the US dropped 26,171 bombs on various countries and groups. That's three (3) bombs every hour, of every day, seven days a week. Some "legacy" no?
This administration prefers killing terrorists, rather than holding them captive. The reason? Because it’s hard. It’s hard to capture. It’s hard work. And many would consider it dirty business.
Whereas ‘targetted killing’ is less of a mess and it means fly around with awesome robots that rain fire from the sky with a joystick.
Which is way cooler than waterboarding some crazy Muslim zealot in some secret prison.
Barack Obama then goes nuts and decides that he can target American citizens with drones in foreign countries. Anwar al-Awlaki is blown to bits in Yemen by a drone-strike. His sixteen (16) year old son is also bombed to dust in Yemen in another drone-strike two (2) weeks later.
Anwar was apparently an incredible danger to the US.
He was using “social media” to “convey a message of Jihad” and doing it “very effectively”.
Using “social media very effectively to convey a message”?
Bomb his ass!
And bomb his teenage kid too.
Apparently the kid was into hiphop... And he did have a bunch of videos rapping on Facebook.
So he kind of deserved it.
I fucking hate hip-hop.
(And the CIA hates hip-hop too).
Anwar was on the President’s List.
What list? The “Goodbye” List.
The “Goodbye” List. Also called: the Kill List.
The US President (with a group of unnamed “appointees”) can manage and maintain a Kill List.
The names (people) on that list will then be killed.
It’s too insane too even contemplate, but the US is a very special country and we have nothing to worry about because…
“There are a lot of people involved in the discussion, debate and the decision-making”.
Ow okay. Then it's cool, man. Go ahead and kill everybody on that list then.
Besides the people on the Kill List, whom we know are guilty and must be killed, the CIA also conducts what are called “signature strikes”. These are drone-strikes against a group of people, “who look suspicious”. If people fit a certain profile, hang out around certain places or with certain people? If they give off a certain “signature”?
They get bombed.
“In a signature strike, the names of the targets are never known”.
So in that case, the CIA just kills “a bunch of people somewhere”.
Time and Space
We’ve now seen the CIA stumble around from 1993 to 2001, trying to grasp their radical Muslim adversary. We then witness their epic fail resulting in September 11. We then see Osama bin Laden escape. They then proceed to kidnap and torture people for a while. As that blows up in the press and in their faces they move to killing people with flying robots.
“Preventing the next attack takes a personal toll”.
“It’s hard to have a positive view of human nature”.
“There’s an awful lot of dark forces afoot in the world”.
(The CIA being one of them).
We get their worries, their concerns, the long hours, their dedication, they get no credit and of course the poor “wives of the CIA Directors” who oddly enough – according to one Director – “to a person” all feel that having a husband as a CIA Director was not a “good period for their husbands”. The Spymasters “are all too human”. We then quickly get David Petraeus’ affair and resignation, his leaking/sharing of classified information is not mentioned (oddly enough).
We then get their “mission”.
Are they an intelligence agency?
Well… no…. not anymore, it appears.
That battle for the soul has been decided.
“A lot of what we now call analysis, is really targetting”.
So the CIA kind of let go of all their espionage and collecting secrets and became a killing machine.
Well… ehm… because of terrorism, of course!
But... not because of Islam.
It has nothing to do with religion.
"Islam is being misused".
"This is not religion, this just evil".
Time for some sober “analysis” of the enemy.
People who do evil things may ‘claim’ they are doing it for Jihad “or the power of the church” (since that happens a lot too), but deep down, these are “people, who are evil”.
Not Muslim. But evil. Gottit.
We then get some further insights. The Arab Spring really changed everything. People rose up. So “our” message (to Islam) now has to be: “You need to create vibrant civil societies that generate educational opportunities for the people”. (This is something “they” have to do “for themselves”). And let’s all hope that happens someday. Magically, all of a sudden. Since for some strange reason the Muslim world has been unable to create these “vibrant” civil societies booming with educational (and/or other) opportunities for the last thirteen hundred (1300) years.
Islam and religion are then (of course) not mentioned anymore.
We’ve seen clear “evidence” that Islam and religion have “nothing to do with it”.
We then see ISIS (who are Islamic and Muslim). They just appeared out of nowhere. We see the attacks across Europe. And yea odd no? For some reason “terrorism” (non-denominational) is now “worse than it has ever been”. “They” – these non religious, non-Muslim terrorists now have more money, more weapons, more power and more territory than ever.
How the fuck did that happen?
They then begin to contradict themselves.
In general you have to listen to and believe “bad people” because they are gonna do what they tell you they’re gonna do.
Strangely enough we should most definitely not believe them when they tell us they’re doing this because of religion, Islam, Allah or the Prophet Mohammed.
Because Islam and religion “have nothing to do with it”.
It’s then time to wrap it up. We are left with lots of questions so we can worry about the future of the hardworking men and women at the CIA. Out of nowhere we get loads of “confusion”. Should we be arresting people? What are these “terrorists”? Are they criminals, or thugs, or enemy-combattants? What are the rules of engagement? The pointy end of the spear is not working, we need a more longterm, sane sort of strategy and my personal favorite…
“This is not a situation we can kill our way out of”.
My two cents.
Radical Islam is nuts. Those people are completely and utterly insane. We cannot negotiate with them, they believe the craziest nonsense. They’re never going to change their beliefs and ideas. They are in it till death.. sorry “paradise”. So capturing and detaining these people is absolutely useless. In my humble opinion all Jihadi terrorists should be killed. Unfortunately that is impossible. If you were to do that, you’d have to kill scores of innocent people as well and I am firmly against killing innocent people.
ISIS however seems to be an easy target. We know where they’re holed up. The people living in that area… sorry “Khalifate”.. have apparently found the perfect Islamic paradise on earth with beheadings and slavery and religious police and such. I know I am going to take tremendous crap for this… but I think the US, preferably together with Russia, should bomb the hell out of the ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq. Bomb them out of Syria so they flee to Iraq and then kill what’s left of them there.
I know. It sounds horrible.
But after fifteen (15) years of this crap and the recent the wave of attacks across Europe, I am completely done with Islamic terrorism.
The US (and its allies) never should have armed the Mujahedeen in the 1980s.
They never should have invaded Iraq.
They wrecked the entire fucking region.
And now Europe is stuck with millions of refugees (some of which will radicalize) and scores of radical Muslim terrorist-attacks.
I say it’s time to permanently clean up that garbage.
And that means bombing.
Lots and lots of bombing.
Sorry… but when it comes to ISIS, we must kill our way out of this situation.
(There is no talking to these psychopaths, they’re completely and feverishly delusional).
And… unlike Leon Panetta…
I don’t give a fuck if God ultimately agrees with me in the end.