Meet the Press was devoid of candidates or their official surrogates today. Bummer. We must look forward to those “Gotcha!” questions. We keep tuning in on Sundays, after all. It’s either the questions or fascination with the size of Tim Russert’s head. Is just it me, or is it getting even bigger?

The main guest this week was General Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA, who was trotting out to explain, among other things, how things are going well in Iraq. Much better than you would think, if you were just basing your opinion based on the amount of carnage going on – or your lying eyes, apparently.

Russert also asked about waterboarding, quoting John McCain’s opinion that waterboarding is indeed torture. WriteChic Press correctly points out that it’s embarrassing to have to be dancing around the legal definition of torture and whether waterboarding fits into it. That doesn’t matter to the CIA, Hayden explained, because the CIA hasn’t waterboarded anyone – lately. But they do want to provide CIA agents with liability insurance. Just in case. Well, talk about embarrassing! The CIA sure isn’t what it used to be when Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs penned the lyrics to CIA Man.

Who’s got the secretest service/
The one that makes the other service nervous

That was the CIA that we who came of age during the Cold War remember. It’s hard to imagine that the CIA of those days would have a director who would look more natural in Accounts Receivable than in a uniform. In fact, I think that we pictured anyone connected with “The Agency” as pretty much just a shadowy silhouette.

The break-up of the Soviet Union had to have been rough on the CIA. They were all about the commies. The War on Terror should have put them back on top of their game, but instead the image of the CIA has taken a beating during the Bush years. The finger pointing, the outing of Valerie Plame, the lack of WMD and the 24/7 news cycle have all taken a toll. Former CIA agents don’t disappear into anonymous lives these days.G. Gordon Liddy was the pioneer in the area of Spook as Media Star, but the thing may have gotten out of hand in recent years. Besides having their covers blown by the White House, they show up on C-Span, they’re talking heads on cable news, they have blogs – they’re everywhere! Where’s the mystique?

Not only that, but now that we know something about what they used to do, what they seem to be able to do now seems a little weak. For one thing, Osama bin Laden is still running around loose, making videos. For another, if it was regime change that was wanted, why did we even have to invade Iraq? Wasn’t regime change a CIA specialty at one time? In Tuli’s words:

Who can squash republics like bananas
If they do not like their social manners?
Who can train guerillas by the dozen
Send them out to kill their untrained cousins?
Fuckin’ A, man
C.I.A. man

Well, those days seem to be over. Now they’re getting liability insurance.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by mdking on March 30, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    World’s gotten weird, eh?


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