Covert Action and Congressional Oversight

 

     International relations has always been the province of force and fraud.  As an Italian statesman of the 19th century remarked, what scoundrels we would be if we had done for ourselves what we have done for our country.  Given its nature of sovereign entities vying for position and power, a hidden hand behind concealed intentions is nearly unavoidable.  In today’s world, hyper-compressed as it is by modernism and globalism, this presents unique challenges for a constitutional republic such as ours which ostensibly is guided by the people.

 

     Although countless examples could be cited, recent examples are more poignant being historically fresh and temporally still relevant.  Our current actions in Syria did not come about due to lack of insight or attention.  ISIS was not a surprise.  John Pilger, in his essay “From Pol Pot to ISIS – Anything That Flies on Everything That moves,” quotes former French Foreign minister Roland Dumas.  “"I am going to tell you something," he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, "I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria... Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate... This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned."[1]  Should one hesitate to give credence to an Australian reporter and a French foreign minister, USA General Wesley Clark’s memoir, as well as multiple interviews, brought similar revelations.  ‘Oh, it’s worse than that,’ he said, holding up a memo on his desk. ‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’  And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”[2]  Craig Unger, in his book “House of Bush House of Saud,” details many related covert operations and how they were concealed from oversight. 

 

     The point is not that these things have occurred and are still occurring, but rather that relatively recent developments have rendered them less subject to oversight and more likely to depend on national deception, this in matters of extreme consequence for America and its citizens.  A case in point of potential extreme consequence is the recent House Resolution 758 dealing with the Ukrainian crisis as well as other points of contention with Russia.  In a recent post to my congressman on this later subject, I noted the resolutions’ supporters apparent lack of knowledge of US actions in that country.  On reflection, the larger issue came into focus.  With details of covert operations often restricted to the gang of eight, how can one expect their representatives to understand the broader context of issues which they are taking positions on?  With the repeal of Smith-Mundt, how can any concerned and active citizen separate fact from fiction, propaganda meant for foreign targets now allowed domestic dissemination? 

 

     I am not naïve.  I understand that international relations entails not revealing one’s entire hand.  When half truths, deception, misinformation and outright propaganda become a routine practice applied on our representatives and population however, how can we continue to believe we are still a constitutional republic?  The recent flood of revelations about actions our elected and appointed leaders have done, supposedly for their country, make its survival even less hopeful, yet I still believe there is hope.  To realize that hope, we need to reestablish true oversight and accountability.  Lacking that, we are a republic in name only and, if that were not bad enough, on a very dangerous course which will not end well for either America or the world.