Stranger Than Fiction
Tom Robbins is a brilliant writer. In 2000, his book Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates explores contradiction through a lovable CIA agent, Switters, who gets cursed by a shaman named “Today is Tomorrow”.
One of the aspects of the book is the depiction of a struggle within the CIA between “Angels” and “Cowboys”. Though I read this book years ago, that concept has always stuck with me. I don’t think it’s outlandish to assume struggles happen in big, powerful government agencies.
We can enjoy Robbins’ work as fiction, but for us to know with any accuracy the actual struggles within the CIA is doubtful.
Take Benghazi. Last November Paula Broadwell mentioned the CIA was holding Libyan militia prisoners at the “consulate” site.
Since then, that angle—denied vociferously by the CIA (like their word means anything)—has completely dropped from what has become a purely Republican sledge-hammer to inflict as much damage on Hillary Clinton as possible.
Because Benghazi is a Republican sledge-hammer, there is no Democrat interest in what happened—only partisan ridicule. There is no significant inquiry into what the CIA was actually doing in Benghazi, like whether or not the CIA was overseeing arms heading to Syria.
The Republican/Democrat binary is becoming more and more problematic. I prefer thinking in terms of the Angel/Cowboy binary Robbins uses.
There is more going on behind the scenes than we’ll ever know, but every once in awhile alarming things surface. Back in August of 2007, this happened:
Six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly loaded on a United States Air Force (USAF) B-52H heavy bomber at Minot and transported to Barksdale.
The wikipedia page for this little known event is titled United States Air Force nuclear weapons incident. You would think the media would be all over something like this, even in the dog days of summer, but this story virtually disappeared in days. Instead it became a topic of interest in fringe land where incidents go to be forever discredited and devalued.
Six years later we have another story relating to our arsenal of nuclear weapons that should be getting much more attention than it has so far.
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanded more information Wednesday after the Air Force removed 17 launch officers from duty at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota over what a commander called “rot” in the force. The Air Force struggled to explain, acknowledging concern about an “attitude problem” but telling Congress the weapons were secure.
Hagel reacted strongly after The Associated Press reported the unprecedented sidelining of the officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., where one of their commanders complained of “such rot” that even the willful violation of safety rules — including a possible compromise of launch codes — was tolerated.
This alarming story is especially noteworthy, considering it’s coming on the heels of Obama calling for more money to “modernize” our nuclear stockpile:
WASHINGTON, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed boosting funding for the Energy Department to modernize the nation’s existing nuclear weapons in what analysts say is part of a bargain he struck with Republican lawmakers to secure their support for the New START deal with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles.
In his federal budget blueprint unveiled Wednesday, Obama called for $7.87 billion in funding “to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” an increase of $654 million, or 9 percent, compared to the 2012 budget.
Obviously a good way to reduce something is to spend more money on it.
War is Peace, after all.