Sunday, August 27, 2006

NSA black ops and the Daily Kos

Steven D. of the Daily Kos is suggesting that two European men who may have blown the whistle on what may have been a National Security Agency operation to tap the cell phones of certain European officials may have been whacked by U.S. operatives. (Sorry for the convoluted sentence, but that's what you get with conspiracy theories.) DK's blog post is drawn from another post by Cannonfire.

Steven D's key accusation is:

What we do know, based on the European reports cited in Mr. Cannon's post, however, suggests the existence of a massive, coordinated effort by the Bush administration to violate the laws and sovereignty of other nations in its attempts to gather information, regardless of the tenuous connection such eavesdropping may have to the "War on Terror." One that may have led directly to the death of two men who had exposed elements of this ongoing spy program operating in their countries: Adamo Bove in Italy, and Costas Tsalikidis in Greece.
I'm not much into conspiracy theories. I'm also not much into concerns about "violat[ing] the laws and sovereignty of other nations," particularly in attempts to gather information. That is, after all, what all countries do, and if our intelligence people didn't do this, we would fire them. After all, we give the NSA a lot of money each year. Does anybody not expect them to use it in ways that violate foreign laws and sovereigty?** I fully expect them to break foreign laws in collecting information. I also fully expect them to not get caught doing it. But that is something for a different post.

But the bigger issue, of course, is whacking the whistle-blowers. It does seem suspicious. But my question is, if you blew the whistle on a mafia operation, would it be surprising if the mafia tried to whack you as a result? And in all seriousness here, shouldn't we expect at least the same level of efficiency and deterrence from our own intelligence agencies, at least when it comes to foreign citizens who were assisting us in setting up an operation? After all, if a U.S. citizen blew the whistle on an operation like this, it likely would violate U.S. law and the government could bring charges against the individual--maybe even for treason (a death-penalty offense). If a foreign citizen working for a U.S. intelligence agency does this, however, the violation of U.S. law is moot, because the individual is protected by foreign law.

Sure sure, I recognize that the mafia is a criminal organization. But in the realm of international affairs, aren't all governments "extra-legal" in the sense that there is no overarching sovereign to enforce international law? And, at the end of the day, what do we really expect of our intelligence services? Not to get existentialist on you all, but, to quote the Communist leader in Jean-Paul Sartre's play, Dirty Hands:

I have dirty hands right up to the elbows. I’ve plunged them in filth and blood. Do you think you can govern innocently?

Do we think our government can govern innocently? And do we expect the guys we pay to do our dirty work will always have clean hands?

I'm just sayin'...

**By the way, do you know it is illegal for someone in Switzerland to cooperate with any foreign government official in any law enforcement investigation, even if voluntarily and even if the person in Switzerland is victim of an overseas crime? It is also illegal for a foreign official to contact someone in Switzerland--notice I didn't say "Swiss citizen"--to even ask about voluntary witness cooperation? Do you seriously expect our law enforcement and intelligence officials to not violate that law?

***Special thanks to
The Truth About Black Helicopters for the graphic. Pretty and complicated--just my type!


SmoothB said...

You read existentialist plays?

SmoothB said...

You read plays?

M.D. Fatwa said...

Benefits of a classical education...

Thundercheese said...

Since the DailyKos is written by thousands of people it is awfully misleading to say "the DailyKos says" or similar.

Sorry my first comment is a critique. I'll try to contribute more in the future.

M.D. Fatwa said...

Really? Thousands of people? And it's "DailyKos" not "Daily Kos"? Well, that's lame.

How long has it been like that?