Why the Central Stupidity Agency
Refuses to Reimburse Me
for My Highly-sophisticated
Foreign Affairs' Consultations (Gulp!)
If any one of you reading this letter-essay have ever been tempted to think that the Central Stupidity Agency (CSA) and its Agents of Stupidity (ASs) were indeed intelligent, you will never be enticed to do so once more provided you follow this article to its satisfying finale. You are about to enjoy with me a reassessment of many of my international experiences and the hindsights we may draw from them now and, regrettably, did not do so in the Past. This is not a “I told you so!” lament. It is my way of celebrating my own intelligence. I do not claim to be a genius on the subject of foreign affairs, nor do I affirm, boasting, that I possess an éclaircissement to all the disorderlinesses caused by the misplays and wrongdoings which I have witnessed perpetrated by the CSA and its ASs. In fact, I believe my abilities are directly proportionate to the inabilities of the CSA, and many other normally nimble characters would have reached the same assumptions I have had they only had had the opportunities to have had shared my observations. The beat goes on.
It all began in the autumn of 1975—at a public phone in the lobby of the Gainesville (Florida) Hilton hotel where I called the FBI office in Jacksonville to ask for advice. Lucia and I had decided to leave for Caracas near the end of the year. I knew almost nothing about Venezuela—its language, religion, customs and practices, history, collective memory, the value ascribed to its heritage, public spaces, and specific landscapes. I did know that the Venezuelans had spit upon Richard Nixon long before the Northamericans did and, of course, it was an oil-producing nation—just doomed to be so.
Planning shortly to live happily ever after in the arms of Lucia in The City of Eternal Spring, I asked for some guidance about Venezuela wanting to know if there was anything I should be wise to before heading out. Vaccinations? Visa? Passport? The agent with whom I spoke told me to call the Central Intelligence Agency (sic!) because that “outfit” was updated better on foreign affairs. He gave me a telephone number to call.
A man answered but never identified himself. Nor where he was nor what office he was in. When I enquired who he was he abruptly interrupted and asked me why I was calling. I told him. Then he queried me as to why I was seeking employment. I wasn't. I wanted to know about Venezuela. I related to him that my girlfriend had invited her friend, Pablo, from Caracas to meet me in Gainesville. Pablo was the right-hand man of the minister of the Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables, the highest-budgeted ministry in the Venezuelan government at that time. The guy at the other end of the phone then was curious to know if I wished to be “contacted” when I arrived in Caracas. “Who knows...I just might need some help there alone and distant from the United States.” An “insurance agent” would visit with me when I was in Caracas. He did not say when or where.
Being lovestruck, it didn't dawn on me at the time that I was a perfect catch for a CIA recruiting officer fishing for apprentices. I had a university degree in Philosophy. I was an ex-Army officer (on the captain's promotion list) already with a SECRET security clearance. I had served as the S-2 (Intelligence Officer) for the corps of ROTC cadets at my university. I had reported for three newspapers. And I might add, I am a lateral thinker! I was recipient of the “The Wayward Missile Award” and had been called “Loose Cannon” while I served with the field artillery! Most of all, I am an “outside the box” theorist. (“A standard recommendation for reform—one made regularly by people discovering these problems for the first time—is to encourage “outside the box” analyses that challenge conventional wisdom and consider scenarios that appear low in probability but high in consequence. To some, this sort of intellectual shake-up might well have led the intelligence system, rather than Tom Clancy, to anticipate the kamikaze hijacking tactic of September 11.” Reference: Foreign Affairs, January-February 2002, page 49.) But there was a little problem: I'm not a joiner; and it was Vladimir Nabakov who had reminded me that spies get shot.
Even though the Central Stupidity Agency would have been ludicrous not to have desired to have one such as me on their roster, they were not going to ask me to work for them! (Thank goodness!) It was for me to go crawling to them. The CSA hunts for supporters. Believers. Sycophants. It covets minions. Individuals who are predetermined and apprehensive. You must be of an unenthusiastic nature but raring to go to authenticate yourself, to give yourself some legitimacy by devoting your being to a strident cause. This amalgamation requires that a candidate be a conforming non-conformist. A contradiction in terms. A double-bind situation. An aspirant must exhibit exceptional abilities to think tangentially yet be disposed to submit to a last word. Any contestant who reaches beyond the control sphere might be stomached for his or her incomparable flair—if he or she is beyond doubt an important element—but this temperament cannot be remunerated in the context of such a person's career profile. If you want to feel free you should not join the Central Stupidity Agency! You must think pessimistically about everything. You must have an enduring faith in “The Company.” They are Jesuit-like. They know something about everything but nothing about what is obvious. And you better not be an atheist!
No “insurance agent” ever met up with me in Caracas. But that was not necessarily simply because I was surrounded by CSA goofballs where I worked: first, at The Daily Journal newspaper, a bulletin board for government undercovers traipsing through Southamerica; then at the Ministerio de Infomación y Turismo. I must append here a very freaky story I had read in the DJ and which hinted to me that even if an “insurance agent” was to accost me, I could not communicate with him or her about my “dealings” with the CSA. The article stated that the CSA had been infiltrated by “moles”--it was not said who or where they were—and that the CSA was taking precautions to remedy the state of affairs! How could I be sure that an “insurance agent” was a “mole”--or not. I was on my own. I could not believe anyone. It was one of the most liberating, joyous days of my life!
When George Tenet announced his resignation from the Central Stupidity Agency in June 2004, effective 11 July 2004, he made the following statement: “We are not perfect...but we are very, very, very good....” Don't believe him! Look, rather, at the history of the world for the past sixty years and decide for yourself whether or not this planet is a better, safer, calmer place to live on. And please do not offer excuses for the catastrophes that these swivel chair warriors have concocted for millions of innocent people who have had to put up with their often megalomaniac shenanigans. I am going to prove to you how and why the CSA is chock full of dimwitted personages who are doing the DisUnited States of Northamerica more harm than benefit, and I will draw upon my experiences with them in New York, Vietnam, Venezuela and Italy to do so.
The CSA ASs I knew were tense, grim and lived their lives strenuously: playing hard ball at work, but “soft” hard ball when they lightened up. Always the confrontation, the competition, the obsession to control. With the perks they possessed, the ASs had also been given extravagant opportunities to take the Rests & Recuperations that allowed them to regain their composure and verve. But once these breaks were interrupted, they were back again stressing themselves at their sinews convinced they were not only performing a patriotic service, but were also persuaded that they were executing some metaphysical, religious good turn that would reap them rewards not only in this world, but in what they believed to be an afterlife. Dog is their copilot. These Simple Simons do not sustain that the separation of Church and State should be sanctioned.
In this reading, my dear reader, I want to put the spotlight on only three CSA ASs with whom I broke bread: William F Buckley, Jr, editor of National Review, Clem Cohen and John Sullivan. Three pals. Three enormous egos. Three marionettes. Three footboys. Three extremists.
I will speak the least about WFB, Jr because his life is best illustrated by me in another article of mine, William F Buckley, Jr: Profile of a Right-wing Fanatic posted on www.scribd.com/thewordwarrior. Enjoy reading it, and tell me what you think.
Clem Cohen was the most affable of the ASs that I was to meet—and the most pathetic, unfortunately. I would have liked very much to have been his friend, but CC had no time for friends, for life. He was a CSA workaholic and obsessed with the cold-blooded mission set out for him by his Langley superiors.
Clem Cohen was on the masthead of The Daily Journal listed as a “director,” but he was my boss at the Ministerio de Información y Turismo (MIT) to which I had been transferred by the “directors” of the DJ. I had never seen him even once during my six-month stint at the DJ. Clem was from Brooklyn, New York as I was. This did not endear him to me because I had not been to New York since 1968 and Florida had sort of undone some of my New Yorkishness.
CC was very much unsettled with himself. As other ASs were, he, too, was extremely intelligent and fluent in at least four languages and had a knowledge of two others. He was pressured but quick—so nippy as to be on the verge of ill health. One day when I was called to his office to discuss the rewrite of a speech I was editing, he jumped up on his swivel chair, mimicked a monkey, and kidded with me that he was going “bananas.” On different occasions, I tried to help him as best I could to calm him down, although I had no success. People in the office told me he was diabetic, but I possessed no verification of this information concerning his health. It would not have surprised me that he was. CC was always in a hurry. He downed his lunches dashing to return to our offices. He had three or four phones on his desk, and I frequently saw him holding a receiver in each hand while he spoke to two people at the same time. He was a compulsively hard worker to the exclusion of other interests and gave me the impression that his job had control of him rather than he having control of it. He was driven to accomplish yet I never saw the harvest of what he had planted.
CC was Venezuela's “media czar.” Each and every word written about the government of Venezuela passed his scrutiny before being sent out to the world. At MIT, he was always in contact with the DJ. MIT utilized ten telex machines that hummed twenty-four hours a day. Our newsrooms were the most forward-looking I had ever seen with the exception of those at The Miami Herald from where I once reported. All of the people I worked with spoke two or three languages with varying degrees of proficiency. CC had to read all their work before it was transmitted. Articles. Speeches. Press releases. Anything and everything originating from the Venezuelan government were checked and double-checked by the overworked Clem. It was handy for CC to have me in his service because I could spruce up the repeatedly dreadful English copy that he had to deal with. I had no muscle to change any of the contents of that which I edited. CC was paranoid about his mastery over media material. Often, I saw French, Italian, English, Spanish, German or Arabic texts spread across his desk which was constantly in a state of confusion and glutted high. Journalists from all over the world representing important newspaper or television companies passed through Clem's office unceasingly. The place pulsated with excitement and energy. I remember speaking one afternoon with Bernard Shaw of CBS who was one of the most kindhearted journalists I had ever met in my life.
CC was poles apart the other CSA personnel I knew and who were excessively rigid in their opinions and very often uptight, self-righteous and lacking senses of humour. Clem surely could be a hard worker and an extremely difficult boss to work for, yet he never asked his underlings to do things he would not do himself. He was a man you came to respect. He had a kindliness for others that reaped him support and collaboration when he was dealing with those he managed. He would tear out of his office running to a meeting with the ministro of MIT, Diego Arria, screaming final instructions to three or four of us on his way to the elevator. He worked too arduously. Too relentlessly for his physical well-being. It was CC who gave me the idea that the CSA was comprised of a “left wing” and not just the “right wing” (a Hegelian tit for tat?) which had impressed me so much at National Review and The Daily Journal. CC was more open-minded than the doctrinaire parrots of the conservative force, and if I remember correctly, he spoke well of John F Kennedy with me—but not very revealingly. It was not easy to take Clem's mind away from his work which, I had the notion, was creating more discombobulation than it was inventing creative thinking.
Each and every of the ASs I looked at carefully were goaded with a zeal which distinguished their moral fibre. They were high-minded men. Persons with faith not in themselves. Profoundly convinced they were performing a good turn on behalf of their country—right or wrong! They were religious. Practitioners. They entreated, in church or synagogue, to be able to do their best for the United States of America. They sought protection from the enemy during their prayer gatherings. They walked with four eyes checking all angles. Overly attentive. Curious. Intelligent. Thinkers both on their feet and on a bar stool. From their military experiences they grasped the importance of keeping their ties fit properly and their gig lines tidy. They could be conservative dressers toting Samsonite accessories; or, they could be fashion plates decked out in European tailored suits with Italian leather briefcases and luggage. Their watches. Their pens. Their belt buckles. Every bit of them attended to to execute the task delegated to be brought to a conclusion in favour of the United States of America. The zealots, hyped with putting on their best act, squirmed and oiled their ways through the labyrinth of details and enigmas indispensable to their superiors in Langley, Virginia.
John Sullivan was a tall, solidly-built Central Stupidity Agency AS who had as his AO (Area of Operations) the whole of Southamerica. I first met him at MIT after he had had a hushed-up conference with CC. He was not fixed to any duty station. He scrambled about Southamerican capitals using Business Week as his cover. After a brief tête-à-tête, he left me so: “Let's have lunch some day.” He was very sure of himself. Too much so for me to like him. He wore the troubles of the world on his shoulders. He was strained. He had a mission. He was holier-than-thou and a tad arrogant reminding me of William F Buckley, Jr. Was he that “insurance agent?” Was he a mole? Years later we met again at the Tamanaco Hotel, and the trim, decked out with muscles JS looked surprised when he saw me: “You still here?” I responded so: “Yeah, I'm still waiting for you to keep that lunch date!” He was embarrassed. He balked. He told me he had a dinner appointment with a Puertorican lady, but before I could let him off the hook, he caved in and invited me to dine that evening, too. John wanted to give me the impression that he was a man of his word. Like most ASs in the field and not behind a swivel chair, JS also valued the virtue of being precise. When you are meticulous you can count your accomplishments with satisfaction without regretting later that you had left something out; or, if you did, you could remind yourself that you at least had carried through on the most of them! JS was overly scrupulous. Irish Roman Catholic. As we dined, I would get an inkling into why he was so.
John led the conversation for most of the time we three sat together. The lady with us at the hotel's restaurant hardly ever uttered a word, nor did she appear peeved—didn't even, I think, hide any sentiment of being annoyed at my presence—and this caused me to think that she was an employee and not a romantic chum of JS. JS called to mind1 that he was divorced.
“First thing every morning I go to mass and communion....” JS told me it was especially easy to find Roman Catholic churches in the early mornings throughout Southamerica—easier than coming across them in the United States. His revelation made me think immediately of William F Buckley, Jr, and I informed him that I had worked for WFB, Jr's National Review in New York. JS said: “Bill Buckley is a sailing mate of mine!” I reacted surprised. Just imagine! JS gossiped about many things and his speech was rapid fire and obsessive. He was verbalizing at one point when he cited “The Company” as a reference to some fact he had mentioned. “The Company” was not “insurance agent” so I had to remind myself that I could not voice anything about my Gainesville Hilton hotel conversation, but I clandestinely wished JS would eventually, during the meal, come up with those two magical words. He never did. But was he a mole?
Another slip of JS's tongue was this: “The Middle East is going to blow any day now!” That statement would stay put in my cranium for decades, and all through the eighties and nineties hardly a week passed by when I would open up a newspaper or search on the Internet a Canadian, English, French, Northamerican, Spanish or Venezuelan newspaper expecting to discover that World War III had begun in the Middle East exactly where JS had predicted it would that day in the Tamanaco Hotel in Caracas. When the Twin Towers were attacked first in 1991 and ten years later in 2001, JS came to my mind instantaneously.
John Sullivan made another personal “leak”--by now he was under the influence of the one-after-the-other drinks he had imbibed—while we were discussing the food which had been served to us: “I eat on the go. I don't enjoy eating.” When I made a cute “Didn't your mother breast feed you?” aside, I thought JS's date from San Juan would bust a gut trying to hold in her laughter which she did not want to express—thus convincing me further that she was a subordinate and not a person passionate for JS who had given me the idea he could not cultivate a close relationship with anyone, including himself.
After dinner, the Puertorican woman left us and JS accompanied me to the front door of the hotel. It was close to eleven o'clock. He asked me how I was returning home. “Like always,” I said. “By bus.” John let me know, as if I didn't know, that it was not wise to travel on buses late at night in Caracas, hailed a cab for me, and put 15 bolívares in my hand. I thanked him for the evening spent together, and gave him one last chance to utter “insurance agent.” He stood stiffly, robustly. He was doing something he had to do. His frame was solid, athletic. I could see that he had been trained to defend himself with his hands. I shook his hand. He went off. I entered the cab, and as it drove off en route for La Florida where I lived, I had the sensation that my world had crumbled on down on me, and I felt again as lone as I did when I had bereaved the loss of Lucia to cancer. But worse. I had once again been betrayed by my country. As if Vietnam had not been enough! The no show of the “insurance agent” was a very bitter pill for me to swallow, and I have often checked off that infidelity logically reasoning that an administrative mix-up was the root cause. “We Take Care of Our Own” was lost on me. I had been left on my own still again. In Vietnam, my country did not give me the opportunity to be a hero for it; and, in Venezuela, my country did not give me the chance to say “f**k y*u” to it. Nevertheless, from that day on I have never been convinced that CC and/or JS were not one of the Soviet moles The Daily Journal had put its readers to the wise about. Why should I be?
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Having divulged to you three mini psychological profiles of three ASs subservient to the Central Stupidity Agency, three drumbeaters who were permitted to use their political and religious visionary speculations to taint the interpretations of their analyses clouding those deductions with chitchat and muddiness, I wish now to concentrate on three of the gross miscalculations of the CSA that I, personally, have corroborated and, with alarm, reported on attempting to bring to light the misconceptions of these detrimental courses of action:
My first revelation was reached with perceptions of the nature of the events I had studied after they had happened—regrettably. When I met Paul Fritz for lunch in Zürich in 1985 (PF, literary agent for Peter Benchley, John Cheever, Stephen King, Mario Puzo, Gore Vidal, Tennesse Williams, Toni Morrison, Norman Mailer, James Michener, Issac Singer, Ian Fleming, et alia, in German-speaking Europe and who died prematurely of a stroke in Florida on vacation) he accosted me with these words: “I read the first 180 pages of your The Hippie Lieutenant manuscript and I know why no one will publish it in the United States!” In fact, some of the most prestigious houses in New York had nixed the work.
The Hippie Lieutenant, my trilogy about the Vietnam “War,” recounts one, of the many, of history's most tragic events, and the three books put into focus the horrible miscalculations of the United States' government that destroyed a large portion of a people's lives and homeland. Further, this Asiatic “police action” ruined the lives of countless millions upon millions of Northamerican soldiers and their families and friends; and, it caused the DisUnited States of Northamerica to lose hope not only in itself and its ideals, but also in the future of its citizenry. The end of this nefarious debacle left the DUS with only one recourse: to adorn itself in the vesture of arrogance and revenge and seek a vindication of its unlawful behavior by any means. Who, in the DUS, would want to read about that!
The affable Paul Fritz thought it wise to leave The Hippie Lieutenant in his desk drawer saving it for a more opportune, later date—when hopefully the DUS would have come to its senses.
My trilogy about Venezuela, Men Without Honor, Women Without Love, activated PF's taste buds the more, and with it he made a valiant effort to have it published in Germany on my behalf.
These three tomes hit on still another Northamerican diplomatic fiasco, and they clearly distinguish the Venezuelan “good guys” from the “bad guys” in cahoots with greedy Northamericans and their coterie of Washington governmental officials, sleazy journalists, two-faced university professors, petroleum Robber Barons, corrupt bankers and financial advisers, and all else who had collaborated ignominiously with the Venezuelan oligarchy known as The Twelve Disciples. My production predicts (predicted!), with passion and careful elucidation, that the Venezuelan people would revolt against the insupportable injustice that they were being subjected to. And they did.
A copy of the first segment of Men Without Honor, Women Without Love was consigned to my niece, Bernadette (a DUS naval officer visiting me from the Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy where she was assigned as protocol officer) with my explicit instructions that the manuscript be hand-delivered to DUS intelligence personnel.
I have lived in Italy since 1 May 1983. Here, too, the patterns of stupidity, greed, and corruption run in tandem with those I bore witness to in Vietnam and Venezuela. Each place shares similar spectacular anti-democratic, oligarchic traits that would shock most Northamericans who cherish the tenets of their constitution. Each one is enclothed in a different style, yet each one overlaps the other with their substances of deceit and malfeasance.
Italy is falling apart at its seams. It is more than knee-high in putridness, and a day does not exist—at this writing—that some Italian political pundit will not warn Italians of one threat, or another, that is debilitating Italian democratic values.
Some of my articles about Italy can be found on www.scribd.com/thewordwarrior, and I am collecting, as I have been for many years, notes, clips, newspaper articles and the more so that I can eventually finalize my thoughts in a book that I have tentatively named Italy: A Despairing Frivolity Floundering in Its Chaos of Ignorance.
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The Central Stupidity Agency has miscarried dismally in the execution of its mission. This is so for a number of reasons only three of which I will relate now. The organization is bent of “converting” other nation-states so that they conform to what the CSA regards as the moral utopia of all time: Judeo-Christian “Democratic” Capitalism. This theorization is to be fostered, at all costs, throughout the world whether through the force of economic persuasion or the clout of armed intervention. (The people of the DisUnited States of Northamerica are wonderful—if they are not bombing you!)
In opting to stamp down on the world for “its own good,” the CSA has programmed, falsely, the global extension of its economic, militaristic and political power thus compromising the security of the DUS itself. The DUS's military forces at home are unfortified, and those scattered throughout the globe are threadbare.
The worst, for me, consequence of the CSA's incompetence has been the fact that the DUS has lost so much respect in the eyes of other nation-states it is being taken less seriously the more, day after day. The CSA and its ASs tugged too hard and did not reckon that it would have been best to have treated others as they themselves hoped to be treated. The arrogance of the CSA has assigned the DUS to the dubious position of being in a state of never-ending harm's way.
My dear reader, do you really believe that I am serious about cashing in 150,000,000renminbi in compensation for my intelligent intelligence disclosures? You would be crazy if you did simply because the Central Stupidity Agency would never admit it had gone astray, and inasmuch as the government of the DisUnited States of Northamerica is on the verge of bankruptcy, it could never come up with the funds!
And, have a nice nightmare!
Authored by Anthony St. John
1 September 2009
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