A Picture of Dorian Government

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Whenever a
character in a movie utters the words "I have a bad feeling
about this," the audience can rest assured that within moments
an event will take place that will fully and decisively confirm
that said character's uneasiness was justified. Even other characters
who were previously dismissive of the first character's fears will
quickly come to see that they were wrong and will rally to the side
of the one who was right.

In real life,
however, things are seldom that cut-and-dried. For example, almost
everyone holds negative opinions about some aspects of government,
be they mere complaints ("Politicians are a bunch of do-nothing
blowhards") or genuine fears ("The government is spying
on us"). Most people can even recount a news story or two that
confirm one or more of their negative opinions.

Rarely, though,
does a story come along that clearly and unquestionably validates
practically every negative opinion one could hold about government.
This
report from Cybercast News Service
is just such a story.

It's all here:
lying, deception, theft, bribery, self-serving bureaucracy, laziness,
incompetence, bureaucratic infighting, vindictive punishment of
a whistleblower, and manipulation of data to produce outcomes desired
by superiors. A more concise yet thorough indictment of the entire
workings of government would be difficult to find.

The CNSNews.com
story says that one William L. Cruse, a former intelligence analyst
(1995–2001) with the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center,
is to be interviewed in connection with the Defense Department's
investigation of corruption and bribery within its ranks, an investigation
which has already sent California Congressman Randy "Duke"
Cunningham to prison for his role in the scandal. Most of the story,
in fact, consists of Cruse's allegations about NGIC practices. However,
given the lengths to which the government went to hound Cruse out
of a job — he "now works in the plumbing department of a local
Lowe's hardware store" after being fired from the NGIC — it
seems fair to assume that Cruse is probably telling the truth. As
Cruse himself put it, "They will forgive you for being wrong,
but they will never forgive you for being right." (All quotations
in this column are taken from the above-linked CNSNews.com story
unless otherwise noted.)

What, pray
tell, could Cruse know that the government would go to the trouble
of having him examined by a professor of psychiatric medicine and
declared to have a "personality disorder" — a diagnosis
that, despite its being "strongly contested by . . . a clinical
psychologist," paved the way for a revocation of Cruse's security
clearance and ultimately his firing?

The answer
is: reams of damning evidence.

First, Cruse
found that analysts at the NGIC were "deliberately" altering
intelligence "to exaggerate certain threats." This was
done for two reasons: (1) "to justify increased funding for
specific weapons systems the U.S. Army wanted" and (2) "to
impress their bosses by producing u2018volume' and pressure from superiors
to arrive at a pre-ordained conclusion."

As to reason
one, Cruse alleges that "an officer . . . told Cruse he had
been assigned to alter the data." Cruse refused and "brought
the matter to the attention of senior NGIC officials," whereupon
he "was told the changes were necessary to justify increased
funding for specific weapons systems the U.S. Army wanted."
Furthermore,

Cruse said
superiors in the U.S. Army pressured him to go along in order
to help continue funding and justify the billion-dollar Comanche
helicopter project and Crusader mobile artillery weapons systems.

"Don't
you want the Army to have Comanche?" Cruse said his superiors
asked him. "My job is to tell the truth," Cruse reportedly
replied, to which he said he was told, "Your job is to do
what you're told. Your job is to support the Army's position."

Cruse, however,
had determined that the Comanche, which "were designed for
operations against former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries,"
were unnecessary given "deteriorating radar and ground force
capability" in those countries. This fazed the Army not one
bit. After all, they weren't spending their own money! Why should
they care if they were ripping off taxpayers for their precious
toys? Who wouldn't buy, or at least be tempted to buy, something
he wanted but didn't need if he knew someone else was going to pick
up the tab?

Not only was
the Army not fazed at all by Cruse's assessment; they were thoroughly
outraged by his independent spirit and devotion to the truth. Cruse
said, "When I refused to go along with this fraud, I was publicly
reprimanded and accused of being disloyal to my team, the NGIC,
and to the Army." Note that he wasn't accused of being disloyal
to his country or its genuine defense needs. The government could
easily have lived with that. What they could not live with
was a traitor to the bureaucracy. So much for the notion that the
government consists of big-hearted "public servants"!

Of course,
falsifying intelligence merely to engage in some petty larceny (if
one can call bilking taxpayers for $39 billion, the price tag of
the Comanche program, "petty") is bad enough, but it's
nothing compared to doing the same thing to impress the boss, especially
when, as in the case of the Iraq war, giving the boss what he wants
means leading the country down the primrose path into a campaign
of murder and destruction against a foreign people who have done
us no harm and had no capability to do us any harm.

Yes, yes, I
know various government investigations have found that intelligence
was not being manipulated to please the president; but as Matthew
Yglesias wrote,

When the
President of the United States orders a review of intelligence
regarding a country and then, while that process is underway,
proceeds to have himself, his subordinates in the administration,
and his administration's allies in the press repeatedly make a
public case for invading that country, that is political
pressure on the intelligence analysts all by itself. You don't
need to call up John Doe in Langley and say, "look, the president
really thinks it's important that we invade Iraq, so analyses
that tend to support his view will be rewarded, whereas those
that would tend to embarass [sic] him will not." The CIA
isn't populated by idiots.

Besides, given
what we know from Cruse's testimony and from previous government
investigations, it's next to impossible to take any government investigation
too seriously.

At any rate,
Cruse alleges that other analysts were recycling old intelligence
reports, in whole or in part, in order "to arrive at a pre-ordained
conclusion." One analyst, for example, plagiarized "the
master's thesis of a Russian colonel." Another "in 1999
copied a . . . report from 15 years earlier and presented it as
his own up to date intelligence analysis. The reference to u2018Soviet
Union' in the present tense was a dead giveaway." (Some of
this can be attributed to pure laziness, giving new life to the
old joke "Why don't government workers look out the window
all morning? Because then they would have nothing to do in the afternoon.")
Furthermore, entire "[m]ethodologies were also being manipulated
in order to achieve the desired outcome, Cruse said. u2018Instead of
research driving the outcome, here we had the desired ends justifying
the means.'"

The ramifications
of intelligence manipulation are enormous. Superiors can be led
to exaggerate greatly some threats, as we have seen in the case
of Iraq. This same exaggeration, in turn, can cause them to ignore
genuine threats. "While superiors focused on Russia and the
Korean Peninsula, they downplayed the threat of international terrorism
until 9/11, Cruse said."

To his credit
(and, again, assuming his allegations are true), Cruse tried to
fight the power and expose what was going on at the NGIC. His complaints,
however, fell on ears that were either deaf or connected to brains
wired for self-preservation at all costs.

Both the NGIC
commander and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command inspector
general "declined to get involved" in rooting out the
problems.

"Cruse
. . . and other employees had also complained that illegal wiretapping
and surveillance were being used to retaliate against employees."
Naturally, the Army said no such thing had taken place. The "FBI
did find an illegal wiretap on the fourth floor of NGIC . . . but
declined to investigate further."

That was just
the beginning. "Once a top-rated intelligence analyst, Cruse's
performance evaluation plummeted to the lowest possible ranking
in 2000. Cruse said the alleged retaliation included petty complaints,
trumped up charges and finally, a coerced mental health examination."
That examination, as we have seen, ultimately resulted in Cruse's
firing from the NGIC.

It's not a
pretty story all the way around, and in fact it's quite unsettling.
"Civilians would have a u2018hard time sleeping at night' if they
knew the extent of such intelligence fraud, says Cruse," and
it's hard to argue with him.

Unfortunately,
it is a prime example of how government functions day in and day
out. Little or no concern for the taxpayers these "public servants"
supposedly serve is in evidence. Neither the citizens' pocketbooks
nor their safety are of any real importance to the bureaucracy.
What matters to them is amassing as much money and power as they
can, always at the expense of the poor civilians, without regard
to whether that money and power are being used for necessary or
good purposes. Whatever means are needed to advance the bureaucracy's
agenda will be employed: lying, deception, manipulation of intelligence,
you name it. In addition, whatever it takes to keep the truth from
leaking out to the public will be done: accusing truth-tellers of
disloyalty, wiretapping them, fabricating charges and evidence against
them, forcing them to be declared mentally unfit, and sending them
to the unemployment office. The same, and worse, will befall both
government employees and private citizens who dare to stand up to
Leviathan.

Therefore,
if you've ever had a bad feeling about government, this story ought
to serve as proof positive that your fear was not misplaced. Furthermore,
if you've ever had a good feeling about government, whether
in regard to its social programs or its military and intelligence
agencies, it ought to bury such feelings deeper than the Mariana
Trench.

March
20, 2006

Michael
Tennant [send him
mail
] is a software developer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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