Tom Diaz

Archive for the ‘Ethics in Washington’ Category

простите…er…I Mean, Pardon Me

In Corruption, Crime, Cronatos Hybamper, Ethics in Washington, Piracy, Political Satire, politics, Presidential Pardons, Russia, The Great Stupid, Transnational crime, Trump on July 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm

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“I know what you’re getting at. Now, the plain fact is that I can’t just flat out order the FBI to drop this leak thing. They wouldn’t stop even if I asked them to. Such a request might seem an easy thing to do, but it would be the wrong thing to do. We in the White House must respect in thought, word, and deed the FBI’s independence as the first among all federal law enforcement agencies.”

Attorney General Charles-Bates nodded in agreement.

“So, instead of making such a request,” the President continued, “I am issuing a blanket pardon. White House Counsel has drawn it up and I have signed it. It provides that anyone who might have in any way been otherwise guilty of any crime related to the leaking of the Black Pearl directive is off the hook, so to speak in lay terms. There is therefore nothing left for the FBI to investigate. I am sure the Director won’t want to waste valuable time or tax dollars sniffing down a dead end.”

 

President Roger Wilson Lane

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

I know. It’s tedious. I anticipated and wrote about virtually every hair-brained, self-serving grift the news is exploding with today. Yep, there is even a Presidential pardon scene.

The thing that amazes me and my tens of thousands…ummm…okay, score or so…of followers is how uncanny it is that I wrote Cronatos Hybamper before the preening, vacuous buffoon strutting around the White House today was even elected. And, to my credit, my fictional grifter never made it into the Oval Office. (Read the book to find out why.)

But Washington was, is, and always will be Crazy Town. So, no sooner do I write some unbelievable blather about pardons, and it appears in the news (fake, real, and in between) without missing a beat:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

James Hohmann,“The Daily 202: Asking about a pardon for himself is a quintessentially Trumpian move,” The Washington Post, July 21, 2017.

Sail on, O Pirate Ship of State!

Pirate ship

To catch up with the innermost in-crowd:

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B01MT0JMCM&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_6tXvyb1HWXMPQ

 

 

The Rain in Moscow Wasn’t Purple: Of Honey Traps and Con·cu·pis·cence

In bad manners, Cronatos Hybamper, Espionage, Ethics in Washington, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Political Satire, politics, Putin, Russia, Russian Intelligence Operations, The Great Stupid, Trump on January 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm

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Two weeks after her arrival, [redacted] was delighted to have been invited to Monica’s Moscow flat for lunch. The flat was surprisingly roomy. It was just the two of them. Vasily could not break away from work. There was a good champagne, and lots of it. One thing led to another, skillfully guided by the charming Monica. Before mid-day, the two … were lying in bed, naked and deliciously exhausted. They had enjoyed every variety of passionate sexual embrace imaginable. This was all recorded on high-quality sound film by KGB technicians, working in an adjoining room from behind a strategically placed two-way mirror.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Forgive me for being repetitious, but once again the headlines are ripped from my novel, Cronatos Hybamper.

I have no idea whether the “unconfirmed” allegations about President-elect Trump described below are true or not. But use of the so-called “honey trap” has been a staple of the Russian intelligence services for at least a century. So, my only point here is that my little fictive device has a long, solid, eminently believable foundation in real life.

I don’t want to include a plot-spoiler in this excerpt, so you’ll have to read the novel to find out who was the victim of the honey trap in Cronatos.

Buzzfeed posted a version of the actual memo containing the alleged Russian “kompromat” activities in this story, “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia.”

A dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump. The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.…

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians.

The New York Times alluded to the sexual antics that are described in some detail in the Buzzfeed post in its story, “Trump Received Unsubstantiated Report That Russia Had Damaging Information About Him,” by Scott Shane, Adam Goldman and Matthew Rosenberg, Jan. 10, 2017.

WASHINGTON — The chiefs of America’s intelligence agencies last week presented President Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump with a summary of unsubstantiated reports that Russia had collected compromising and salacious personal information about Mr. Trump, two officials with knowledge of the briefing said.

The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel. The videos were supposedly prepared as “kompromat,” or compromising material, with the possible goal of blackmailing Mr. Trump in the future.

The Washington Post’s story skipped the salacious part and went with full pabulum suitable for reading by children and in church, “Intelligence chiefs briefed Trump and Obama on unconfirmed claims Russia has compromising information on president-elect,” by Greg Miller, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Steven Mufson, January 10 at 10:04 PM

A classified report delivered to President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump last week included a section summarizing allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising material and information on Trump’s personal life and finances, U.S. officials said.

To read more about the honey trap in Cronatos and its consequences, read the novel, which you can sample and order here:

 

 

The Latest Aircraft Carrier is a rowboat

In Chicken Hawks and Other War Birds, Corruption, Cronatos Hybamper, Defense Spending, Ethics in Washington, Expendable Youth, Political Satire, politics, True Patriotism, War and Rumors of War, Washington Bureaucracy on January 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm

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“Now, the job we and the military writ large face is going to require funding. And lots of it. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. And don’t be shy about the numbers. We’ll get our foot into the door and shove it open from there. Those expensive experts are going to help us, whether they know it or not. Think big! If it helps, General, think of Cronatos Hybamper as chump change, lint in your pocket. The latest nuclear aircraft carrier is a rowboat. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

The Secretary nodded and smiled. General Sanders was like a hound on a new bone. He would be the perfect fulcrum at—what was the man always calling it—“the serendipitous yet decisive axis of intersecting strategic forces?” Gus Scoggins settled back into the limousine’s cushioned seat. It’s just wonderful, he thought, how God, apple pie, the axis of intersecting strategic forces, and the American security interest have a way of magically coming together in a way that helps those who help themselves to it.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

Secretary of Defense Gus Scoggins, the focus of the quoted passage from my novel Cronatos Hybamper, knew jack about things military when he was offered the post of Secretary of Defense. But he did understand how to make money out of opportunity. He was, after all, one of the richest men in America.

The new Secretary of Defense was happy to leave the strategic thinking to the generals, men like General Sanders, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What Scoggins saw clearly was that the Department of Defense is like a massive seed corn silo. And when the troubling, extraordinary incident spotted by Cronatos Hybamper came along, he was ready to take a giant shovel and start spreading the gullible taxpayers’ wealth among his friends in the technology-defense-industrial-mega-complex.

Scoggins knew that what goes around in defense funding circles would come back around to him and his many money interests sooner or later.

Read more about Scoggins and his wonderful tax milking machine in the novel. You can read a sample by clicking on the link below.

Generals in the Political Mine Field

In bad manners, Cronatos Hybamper, Ethics in Washington, Political Satire, politics, Turf Wars on January 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm

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The general nodded absently, as if dismissing his driver. He was thoroughly enjoying himself. This was just getting better by the moment. It was precisely the kind of “serendipitous yet decisive axis of intersecting strategic forces” for which he had long prepared and on the foundation of which he had fashioned his ascent and tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a tenure that was going quite well among his old conservative friends on the Hill. There had been some idle talk of his running for very high office, talk that he had, of course, squelched, and yet at the same time not squelched. No military man could engage in politics, or at least give the appearance of engaging in politics. Many star-studded forebears of his had stepped on career-fatal landmines walking that walk too early and too visibly.

“In two words,” he replied to such hints, exactly as he had also often explained his high national security concept to the Pentagon’s bewitched civilian overseers in Congress. “Be prepared. Simply, be prepared.”

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

It’s not that generals don’t, or perhaps even shouldn’t, get involved in politics. But timing and the right touch are everything.

My fictional General Raymond (Ray) Sanders, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose thoughts are illuminated in the above quote from the novel, understands that. Too soon, too obvious, too disrespectful of civilian authority and a general’s political future gets blown up. A bit of patience, a bit of reluctance, and his political star rises.

General Douglas MacArthur tried to have his cake and eat it too in 1948. Rather than resign from the Army, where he was riding high as a hero, and campaign for the Presidency, he played an “if nominated, I will shall run” strategy. He got only crumbs. Thomas E. Dewey got the nomination.

A few years later, MacArthur again blew it while he was in command of the Korean War. He ignored an order from President Harry S. Truman to stop undermining Truman’s strategy by communicating his private wisdom to the Congress. When some of that wisdom was read on the floor of the House, Truman sacked MacArthur, later explaining:

I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.

Lock them up?

MacArthur’s peer and professional rival General Dwight David Eisenhower played the game better–calmly, coolly, and with poise. “Ike” sailed into the White House.

Here in an excerpt from the thoughts of a prominent military scholar on the subject of generals in politics:

The 20th century also witnessed its share of generals vying for the political spotlight. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, hero of the Southwest Pacific campaign in World War II and Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan, made no secret of his desire to secure the Republican nomination for president in 1948. He made no headway in the primaries, however, garnering only 11 delegates. The nomination went to Governor Thomas Dewey of New York.

Another war hero, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, was still in uniform when he was drafted to run for president as a Republican in 1952, but he retired before accepting the nomination. Ike went on to become a popular two-term president.

Several other general and flag officers have run for president or vice-president since then, but they have all done so as retirees: General Curtis Lemay (vice presidential candidate with Governor George Wallace of Alabama) in 1968, General Alexander Haig (candidate for the Republican nomination) in 1988, Vice Admiral James Stockdale (vice presidential candidate with Ross Perot) in 1992, and General Wesley Clark (candidate for the Democratic nomination) in 2004.

With this long list of senior military leaders competing in the political arena, does the military actually have a tradition of being “apolitical?” If it does, it can be traced back to several prominent military figures, among them General George Washington, General of the Army General William T. Sherman, hero of the Civil War and originator of the “Shermanesque” statement categorically declining consideration for public office, and General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army during World War II. Marshall refused to even vote for fear of compromising his “professional independence and judgment.”

“Generals And Politics,”by Peter R. Mansoor, August 8, 2016

Read about the rest of General Sanders’ political career in Cronatos Hybamper, which you can sample and order here:

 

 

 

 

The Most Intelligent Men in the Washington Play Pen. Or Not.

In Cronatos Hybamper, Espionage, Ethics in Washington, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Political Satire, politics, Turf Wars, War and Rumors of War, Washington Bureaucracy on January 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

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“Our biggest challenge with implementing the Cronatos system,” Wes McRae, the Director of National Intelligence, quipped at a seemingly casual but well-planned off-the-record moment in a joint briefing that he and the Secretary of Defense gave on Capitol Hill, “Was separating out the workers’ farts from the chemical leaks at the Russian’s special warfare facilities.”

McRae was the iron-fisted paterfamilias of the intelligence community, a giant man with bushy eyebrows and an unflinching gaze. He was given to good wine, fine cigars, black cowboy boots, and the classics of literature and music. Although the DNI post had once been little more than royal eunuch and far less than godfather, Wes McRae had changed that. He had clawed his way to the top of the heap and had the requisite skills—the ability to ruthlessly kick or exquisitely kiss ass, as the strategic moment demanded—to enforce his will through fear, favor, and tactical brown-nosing. As long as half of the secret world loved him and half hated him, he was happy, because he then always had the deciding vote. Lesser aspirants came to learn the pleasures of life in such posts as outer Bolivia, deep Minnesota, and anywhere in Chad.

No one had ever proven that Wes McRae had leaked a single syllable about any elected or appointed member of the civilian government. Everyone, the President included, knew that he could. No one wanted to find out if he would.

The second was a portly, balding man in a dark gray pinstripe suit. He was Manfrey J. Ferbe, director of the CIA. Ferbe held an office that once commanded the heights of the intelligence world, and from those heights a great deal of America’s foreign policy. No one but the President of the United States told the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency what to do or when to do it.

That was true until Wes McRae was appointed to the theoretically higher post of Director of National Intelligence, charged with coordinating the work of all of the intelligence agencies. Generations of CIA directors had just ignored any nominal superior, including the DNI. But McRae succeeded where previous DNIs had failed. He wrestled the agency into limping submission to his superior authority as top dog of everything that even hinted at intelligence.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident by Tom Diaz

If you write a novel that touches on the geopolitics of the United States, it’s fun to feature the preening cuckoos at the top of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The two excerpts above reflect the struggle between the Director of National Intelligence and the subordinate agencies.

Well, daggone it! No sooner did I write Cronatos Hybamper than a wee-wee match broke out in the real world spook play pen. Guess I was ahead of the curve.

[Retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn] … has called President Obama a “liar,” declared the U.S. justice system “corrupt” and insisted that he was pushed out of his assignment as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency because of his views on radical Islam. The claim has left former superiors seething, including Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to current and former officials who said Flynn was removed because of management problems.

Dana Priest and Greg Miller, “He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants,” The Washington Post, August 15,2016.

You can read the rest of the future here.

L’État est-nous

In Corruption, Cronatos Hybamper, Ethics in Washington, Obama, Political Satire, politics, Putin, Russia, The So-called "News Media", Trump, Turf Wars, Washington Bureaucracy on December 25, 2016 at 9:35 pm

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Only hours before the dawn of Inauguration Day, a terrorist’s bomb exploded. It was concealed deep within the freshly landscaped and re-turfed lawn of the most-sought after garden party of the entire inaugural season. The blast murdered the President-elect, his wife, and a fair number of functionaries, auxiliaries, hangers-on, media stars, waitpersons, passersby, and other ordinary innocents who had the misfortune to be within 50 yards of the massive infernal device at the terrible moment that it exploded. Secondary explosions from an elaborate outdoor heating apparatus—installed for the celebratory event (cleverly themed “Ain’t It Just a Beach?”)—unfortunately added greatly to the carnage and impeded rescue efforts.

There were surprisingly few of the usual calls from Congressional leaders for an oversight investigation into the U.S. Secret Service, which was responsible for protecting the President-elect, or the CIA, which is responsible for knowing what’s up in the world. Some observers attributed this lack of interest to the fact that it was not yet clear which of the limping, internally fractured political parties would benefit from such an abrasive drumhead inquiry. Others pointed out that there was no need to rush. The campaign was over. Politics was not. Neither the Secret Service nor the CIA were going anywhere. Fault for the terror attack could be determined and blame apportioned later, at a moment more propitious to one or the other (or conceivably even both) political parties.

From Cronatos Hybamper –An Extraordinary Incident

By Tom Diaz

Every empire has its metropole, its seat of power, culture, and correct reason. Paris. Moscow. Rome. The Vatican City. Washington, D.C.

The Metropolitan state of mind betrays itself in an insular universe of small things, The curled lip. The condescending smile. The shared outrage at the audacity of non-conformity, at the cheeky impudence of the rustic, bark-covered thought. The incorrect thought today is as shocking and repulsive as the wrong spoon at the table of Louis XV.

In short, “the State is us.”

Or, “them,” depending on where one stands.

In times past, the metropolitan cultural and intellectual hive consisted principally of royalty, attendant nobility, a priestly class, and symbiotic entrepreneurs who simultaneously sucked at the royal teat and fed the monarchy its royal jelly.

Royalty today does not look much the way it did in, say, the 19th century. Where it proclaims itself to be royalty today it is in fact a sad, faded, perpetual dress-up costume party thrown at the considerable expense of the tax-paying, besotted commoners–see, e.g., Britain, Spain, and so forth. Where it pretends not to be royalty, it is often every bit as ruthless and arbitrary as Catherine the Great, George III, or The Sun King. Their majesties simply do not wear party dress costumes, or, if they do, they are tailored in a simpler way, and they more often wear sunglasses (see, e.g., any recent Chinese Premier).

Admittedly, there is still a vast difference between the iron-fisted rule of Putin’s “men of steel” and Barack Hussein Obama’s rule by fiat (executive order) and UN resolution.

But what both the Russian and American–indeed all–empires have in common is the Establishment, the apparatchiks, the bureaucratic careerists, and the careerist politicians. The “leaders” of the Congress, the lobbyists, the media-in-residence, and the captains of the military-industrial complex, who are still busy teat-sucking and jelly-feeding.

Every now and then, the climate changes, a horrific storm sweeps the Metropole. This sets up a horrible screeching sound as the incumbent hive rallies to protect its honey and the invading killer bees storm in to seize and loot the inner cells. A Putin or a Trump ascends to the throne.

All would appear, superficially, to be lost. But the hive will settle down. Drones will switch sides without apparent effort. Leaders will strike compromises with former evil–this is after all how they survived politics long enough to become “leaders.” The rabble with the pitchforks will eventually tire of it all and go home.

The Metropole will return to Normalcy. Or “Greatness,” depending on where you stand.

Putting aside the fancy dress of plot, this is what Cronatos Hybamper is about.

WAIT…THIS PLOT IS TOO CRAZY. WOULD THE RUSSIANS REALLY TRY TO TAMPER WITH AN AMERICAN ELECTION? GET REAL!

In Corruption, Cronatos Hybamper, Ethics in Washington, Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Political Satire, politics, Putin, Russia, Russian Active Measures, Russian Intelligence Operations, Transnational crime, Trump on December 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm

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President Roger Wilson Lane was hurtled into his high office by a shocking, tragic twist of fate.

Only hours before the dawn of Inauguration Day, a terrorist’s bomb…murdered the President-elect, his wife, and a fair number of functionaries, auxiliaries, hangers-on, media stars, waitpersons, passersby, and other ordinary innocents…

Blame for the gruesome bombing was officially laid on the Chechnyan splinter of an obscure Islamist extremist organization—the Ansar ibn Muqadimmah—that had hitherto been most active in the Northern Caucasus, on the southwestern periphery of Russia…

Within moments of the official finding’s release to the public, President Alexander Arkadyavitch Gribov was on the phone to President Lane, proposing an immediate alliance to combat the scourge of Ansar ibn Muqadimmah specifically, and more generally “radical Islam,” “Jihadism,” or whatever term with which one might prefer to label the wider threat. Lane…was surprisingly tepid to the proposal.

The Russians had never in their wildest imaginings expected this unenthusiastic reception. Lane’s dawdling demurral threw a serious wrench into the gears of their strategic machinations. They had vigorously if surreptitiously backed [the late President-elect] Del Fuller for the simple reason that they were quite sure that he would be enthusiastic about their plan to carve the world up into two, or perhaps three at most, old-fashioned 19th century-style spheres of influence. A discreet exchange of signals between the Fuller campaign and Gribov’s court confirmed the Russian expectations. To seal the deal, Gribov’s operatives quietly salted a few Swiss numbered accounts among two or three key players in the Fuller campaign menagerie. The fix was firmly in.

 From Cronatos Hybamper—An Extraordinary Incident

By Tom Diaz

Hmm. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that into my novel months before the 2016 election? I mean,  would the perfidious Russkies really try to fool around with our election? That’s a bit far-fetched, isn’t it?

It’s just a novel. Fiction. Right?

But.

But, then, there are the discussions of “Russian Influence” in the Real News. Not fiction. For example, there’s this story by Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima in The Washington Post on December 16, 2016:

FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday, as President Obama issued a public warning to Moscow that it could face retaliation.

New revelations about Comey’s position could put to rest suggestions by some lawmakers that the CIA and the FBI weren’t on the same page on Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s intentions.

And, then there is this troubling observation from former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell in an interview with The Cipher Brief:

 “…we need to see this for what it is.  It is an attack on our very democracy.  It’s an attack on who we are as a people.   A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life.  To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11.  It is huge and the fact that it hasn’t gotten more attention from the Obama Administration, Congress, and the mainstream media, is just shocking to me.”

I don’t know. You tell me. Is Cronatos Hybamper ahead of the curve? Are the Russians really attacking our democracy, just like in that novel, that fiction, Cronatos Hybamper?

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