Monday 24th of January 2022

Porkie inc

Porkie inc

This is the text that had gone by "accident"... Who knows...

Gift of the gab...
Last Sunday night (14/08/05) on the ABC was a short movie about a low-life clever con artist who robbed a publican and had an affair with his (the publican’s) lovely wife (he also robbed a little old lady of her savings), then let everyone hang, taking the loot with him to start all again with a newly engaged couple on a bus... He was having a ball...
All done with the gift of the gab.
Creating the illusions and managing porkies with great skills, except the time when he got his butt burned by a disgruntled self-absorbed beau who was the first geezer to see he’d been had, but by then it was too late for all. The con-artist was only superficially hurt. The con man had also served a few biscuits and drinks laced with drugs to some of his victims to manage the inevitable few conflicts of events.
I have been conned a few times in my life and the last one was about a couple of years ago when a senior salesperson lied big time on the blower and sold me a telco (no, not) package which on invoice was about three time what he had promised (I had taken copious notes). Thus I complained and changed straight away but one feels grubby, one feels unclean for having been had. And then there is all this mucking about resetting everything straight...
As a kid, I used to see these people who were selling “china” from the back of vans to an audience of captivated ordinary folks. If the person who’d been specially targeted to buy the product did not budge, even on the very cheap price, the spruikers would break the merchandise rather than give it away. Under the spell of a smart lash of the tongue from the blabbers and the prospect of seeing good value china being destroyed, the public would soon part with money to buy what was, not obviously, reject “china”. The manufacturers used these skilled motor-mouths to sell the product that was unsaleable via the normal channels and thus recoup production costs that would have gone down the drain otherwise. Some were freelance con-artists who’d buy the stuff for a paltry nominal sum, others would work on various “incentives”... But sell they did.
As I was watching my ABC, I felt this pang in my heart. The same techniques were used to con masses of people to let president Bush-of-the-desert-fizzle sell, on a more complex and massive worldwide scale, his massive deception. I have already expressed a few rabid ideas on the subject here, but I felt the need to reiterate and go slightly deeper in the secret structure of this giant tragic porkie.
So I went back to my files and extracted the drawing above which I first released in mid 2003, before the end of hostilities declared as “mission accomplished” by the little clown.
For some people it could seem a bit obscure or quite glib and I can understand that. But I can say with certainty that it was an accurate diagram of the process, much of it extracted from serious analysis of the double-cross system in the UK during WWII, and other true spy accounts, as well as adaptation to the news and events in relation to the pre-war period. I will thus now explain the steps the Iraq war was sold, in grubby medium size details, at it would take a lifetime to explain all the many little and broad moves, since many people were involved but only a handful knew the whole scope of the machination.

BUSH WANTS A LITTLE WAR
Wanting to conquer a few more oil wells, and armed with other smaller value reasons, Bush-the-porkyist needed to create a storm-proof furphy that would convince enough people. To do that on a world scale, it is a logistic nightmare but not impossible. People are gullible and a war campaign need to built like an advertising campaign for breakfast cereals, mostly using spruiking from the dummy-in-the-white-house and strong resonating advertorial in the media by alluding to a few “provable” furphies.

Thus on the onset, it needed some secret “conspiracy” glue, but beyond that, it needed resolve in the push, especially in the domain of “morality in” politics.

Like advertising, once is never enough... Joseph Goebbels knew that... Any advertising agencies worth their salt know that. Repeat and repeat with targeted variations in order to maintain the public interest is the key. Our own Mr Clowner publicly said “Saddam has Weapons of Mass Destruction” about 8,000 times. So, crafted words were very well chosen to maintain a reactive fear, and who would not be afraid after the 9/11 attack. Piece of cake to spruik “revenge” in the guise of “a noble cause”. It was thus easy to pin all the ills of the world on two mongrels, Saddam and Bin Laden. Three (3) mongrels would have been too hard to manage, that’s why the North Korean problem was put on hold.

Saddam was lobbed in the same bag as Bin Laden, although their politics were completely opposed. Saddam was painted black by killing “his people” which in fact were the same “Muslim extremists” that we have now branded as insurgents, terrorists and evil as they’re fighting against our side like they were fighting against him... and others from his side are also fighting against us... It’s a bloody mess... So Saddam was going to wear the can... After Bin Laden was going to be not-caught in Afghanistan... But this is another shamboozle for another time...

The WHOPPERATOR was the name I gave to the advertising operation which had been started way back, as soon as Bush-the-hyperactive-kid had been sworn in, at the White house... The advertising agency was the CIA.

Bushie’s neocon-minions had prepared the background, the directive and the incentive to sell a little war with Saddam NO-MATTER WHAT at any cost, even before 9/11. Patience had to be the key but not too much of it, as presidential terms are only four fixed years.
For many years before, some pegs had already been put in place by a few neocon businessmen who had a good idea that the US public mood may be right for a republican prez... and with the help of a few discounted votes in Florida, George-the-Minus would come across the line.
Amongst these pegs, some were the secret bribing of the UN personnel in what would eventually become the “oil for Food Scandal”. This is part of a network of backstop positions with which you can exert some pressure to get what you want from delegates.
Others are straight out “incentives” which are overt bribes to a whole country, in why the glitter of gold can become irresistible for their leaders, since there could also be a secret percentage kickback attached to the deal. But there are also other ways to compromise people to be able to use then as puppets. For example in Panama, Colonel Noriega was known to the US to be a corrupt drug peddler for at least 20 years, but the US kept him on the payola of the CIA for all that time, because he was useful to the spread of US interests in that country, until it was needed to remove him once he started to become a bit cocky and dreaming of independence. A bit like Saddam when he invaded Kuwait... He was basically given a vague green light to go ahead by the Bush — CIA-in-chief administration or at least was given mixed diplomatic signals that the US would not stop him which they could have before he even tried... But the UN forced the US hand to act once the deed had been done. The US did not mind, it provided a good training, a real-style op for its troops and for tweaking new weaponry, like depleted uranium shells already used in Kosovo. This semi-orange-green light is why Saddam was not removed after his defeat as he should have been. Had elections been held then, of course George-the-first knew Iraq would fall straight away in the hands of Muslim extremists — something the US wanted to avoid at all cost. On this basis, the US is still working at manufacturing an Iraqi government and constitution that they can “approve” and minimise the “Muslim” ideal in that country.
All to say that such actions/reactions/through-lines in corruption are not accidental but are planned a bit like a “bowls” player is placing a ball beyond the jack just in case the blither gets put in the ditch by a drive: you can thus collect the points by end-game.

From Halliburton Watch, October 2004:
“““So far, the Bush administration has admitted that U.S. companies bribed Saddam Hussein’s government in order to win business from the dictator. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, told Congress last April that U.S. companies had bribed Saddam Hussein’s government in exchange for government contracts during the 1990s. Senators. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) urged Negroponte to disclose the names of U.S. companies involved in the bribes, but he refused.
The congressional General Accounting Office estimated that Saddam’s regime acquired $10.1 billion illegally through the sale of $5.7 billion in oil smuggled to Syria, Turkey and Jordan, and $4.4 billion through kickbacks paid by firms selling food, medicine and other goods to Iraq. The illegal sales occurred between 1997 and 2002. Ironically, some of that money ultimately was paid to Halliburton to finance Iraq’s reconstruction after Saddam’s downfall.”””””

So the “food-for-oil-scandal” as it filters in the media is only savagely attacking the small potatoes — the naive UN officers who have no “protection” and may have been offered a legit commission now presented as a “bribe”. I’d say if you are going to be corrupt, you’d need to make sure you can bring the whole house of cards down with you should there be any personal exposure. In the picture, the UN regulator is on the left-hand side where you see the official Niet and Non, etc from Europe.

On the right hand side there is the BRIBERATOR that poured stuff into the pipe going back above the UN but as we all know the official offers were too cheap and the UN, under the French and German leadership, did not accept that war was needed (FIZZLE). (The US also knew that a minimum of three countries in their coalition of the willing was needed to go and blow the hell out Saddam, not so much for strength but for “morality” added rectitude. I believe that had Australia not gone to war, the US would not have done so, unless they’d found someone else. Even England alone would not have been enough to “convince” most of the people.)

But there is also a RESTRICTOR through which CIA information to the UN inspectors was basically completely distorted, false and misleading... as well this restrictor represents those secret shut up bribes to some UN officials. The flow of proper understanding between the UN and the US administration was thus totally screwed up and fizzled.
The UN REGULATOR was designed like one of those steam engine regulator — the faster the engine goes the more difficult it is to go faster... except when the regulator is disconnected.

Below, on the left hand side of the picture is the BRIEFATOR. This is the small secret section of the CIA that takes direct command from the president’s office. The brief is to create “PORKIES” (the core of the ad campaign) by guiding the whole operation of creating reasons to go to war into specific details. This unit manages the FABRICATOR, the cone at the top the CIA that pours unified porkie into the BULLSHITOR which is the controller of the DEFECTOR.

DEFECTORS are rarely working on their own, especially when they are used in a greater conspiracy to spread crafted information. Like double-agents, they are psychologically managed (amazing what a bit of money and a pat on the back, combined with a psycho-managed trauma can do) to learn and then BELIEVE a few lines... We all know it is quite easy to create what is well-known as the false memory syndrome... say no more... Tactics crudely used during WWII. The defectors have been supplied by and managed by the INC (Ahmed Chalabi was paid US$350,000 per month for expenses and pocket moneys — now, after having been disentangled from the CIA by a couple of well-crafted “disgrace”, Chalabi is one of the vice-president of Iraq. Gus believes he still works for the CIA and the disgrace was only manufactured to make him more palatable to voters...) and various organisations. Via the carefully managed defectors, the dissemination of the porkies re-enters different department of the CIA for “analysis” and official consumption (no-one there is alerted to the now porkie-status of the information) and filters mostly through media outlets (using fox/News for propagandist comments and public TV for releasing sensitive “exclusive” porkies). Clever preparation of the information makes sure that if questions are asked, answers can only be cryptically given to a point which cannot go beyond the excuse of “national security”. Remember we are dealing with highly professional spruiking and con-artistry, even if the voice at the top seems to be that of a moronic president.

On top of the CIA is DOUBT, the anti-responsibility valve which already plans for the thereafter of the war, in which of course WMDs will not be found since the Administration knows there are none. This unit also is also employed to delay, after the invasion, the knowledge that there aren’t any WMDs in Iraq... But despite all this, the processing machines of the CIA and even that of MI6 have to be coerced a bit in accepting the porkie-information which does not match too well with what they already know... So some cleverly encouraged gymnastic are performed enough time by the administration, to enforce a more positive concept and conclude that “there could be”, this repeated often enough to then let believe that “the probability is quite strong” to the point where in Bush-the-con’s speeches it becomes certainty. We are being conned...

The ELIMINATOR is that vexed issue which some people may not agree with: the elimination of those who start to investigate the information in depth and know there is something fishy going on... People who start finding discrepancies in what they can see and what is told... (remember David Kelly and many journalists on the ground in Iraq shot by US troops in accidental events...) .This is contentious but necessary. Coincidences are not enough to explain the disappearance or death of many... Elimination is not new. In many constructs of the double-cross system, this is integral to maintain the desired result should an agent be captured or a double-agent not performing according to the porkies he has been fed which he believes to be truths. Classified dossiers are shredded... People go missing... The sun still rises in the morning...  In certain circumstances you may need to eliminate journalists or agents who are efficiently spreading your own lies like butter, so that the information increases in value.

To ELIMINATE in various fashion as to be discreet, an independent branch is used to brief external paid agents or even unsuspecting enemy that, “alerted to some treachery” will do the work for you: SADDAM’S SYMPATHISERS on the diagram.

The whole machine is a clever, successive and separate-but-related lot of manipulations of events and information in the general direction of the desired goal.

The EXTRACTOR is the voices of the President and of the Prime Ministers and such who are guiding the general public with enticing comments and waving dossiers of evidence upon which they can rely, since it has been manufactured and digested to suit the rattle despite a few “doubts”. These suggest a “moral questioning” and integrity of reasoning. But these doubts, all part of the con, are cleverly reset and stopped by words to the effect “we cannot wait to be hit. We’ve got to hit first” all this by now bathing in morality and fear...
Pictures are shown at the UN, stories are spruiked to match... All you need is to convince enough voters to cross the finish line ahead of the opposition, using past cliches like “hour of needs” etc......

The MEDIA in its greater proportion is “managed” with dexterity and carrots. For example, if Mr Murdoch did not support the war, then the war would not have been. Simple fact. But we know that the Right has stage-managed a complex web of ways to win hearts and minds in its homeland through the cultivation of opportunist like Mr M, or by feeding lazy ones like those networks that buy in directly from the white-house propaganda sets of newsreels...
Most of the press secretaries in government are former journalists who know how the system work. Phillip Knightley expresses that very well in his speech reproduced in Margo’s webdiaries on “how to restore citizens’ respect for journalism”... In fact the only problem here is that very few “citizen” know that journalists can have respect.
Most people are just happy to be given their two daily spoonful of biased news without having to think about anything... It becomes a simple war of proportion in the for and against... Governments can thus weather the storm of reality but then can deliver a blitzkrieg of porkies that will restore the voting patterns in its favour... Morality becomes the desired “result” of a majority, rather than a truthful ethical value.
Of course this had to be a simplified diagram... Selling wars or selling products have basic strategies and follow on, including painting yourself white and the opposition black at every opportunity...

I wish the Labor Party had understood many under-valued advertising principles before the last election... But then it even did not understand itself and was very fuzzy on some issues because it conned itself that some of the Howardian policies was what people wanted! And it got weak-kneed on its own principles. It had not properly understood that the mind of the people had been primed and primed to believe Johnnee’s pork by his clever spruiking. The Labor party only had to present a STRONG case to dismantle the spruiking as IT HAPPENED, not ten days later. In opposition, one has to oppose NO MATTER WHAT, and then find the proper reason to oppose (easy when counter punching Johnnee, unlike Brogden [leader of the opposition in NSW] who opposes-no-matter-what with no proper excuses to sustain his stand except a dash of “morality” that does not wash on proper inspection.

The Labor party should have organised a special briefing with Andrew Wilkie, who without breaching the secret service act could have reinforced the porkie-nature of the information peddled by the government on the WMDs. I don’t know if they did but it  seems the Labor Party chose to diddle-fiddle instead, more or less believing the Howardian Government porkies, all chuffed of being in the loop, including being conned in the support of the troops once they were engaged. The Labor Party was wishy-washy trying to please most people while losing its integrity and purpose. I believe that this state of affair came from “advisors” rather than from the true believers... remember “advisors” are not elected and can be sleeping plants... Unforgivable.

Conspiracy to go to war in Iraq? ... No question.

By Gus Leonisky at 19 August, 2005

Gift of the gab...

Last Sunday night (14/08/05) on the ABC was a short movie about a low-life clever con artist who robbed a publican and had an affair with his (the publican’s) lovely wife (he also robbed a little old lady of her savings), then let everyone hang, taking the loot with him to start all again with a newly engaged couple on a bus... He was having a ball...

All done with the gift of the gab.
Creating the illusions and managing porkies with great skills, except the time when he got his butt burned by a disgruntled self-absorbed beau who was the first geezer to see he’d been had, but by then it was too late for all. The con-artist was only superficially hurt. The conman had also served a few biscuits and drinks laced with drugs to some of his victims to manage the inevitable few conflicts of events.

I have been conned a few times in my life and the last one was about a couple of years ago when a senior salesperson lied big time on the blower and sold me a telco (no, not Telstra) package which on invoice was about three time what he had promised (I had taken copious notes). Thus I complained and changed straight away but one feels grubby, one feels unclean for having been had. And then there is all this mucking about resetting everything straight...

As a kid, I used to see these people who were selling “china

Doing a job

Gerard Henderson was on ABC radio this morning, whining about David Lange, and how NZ was a pariah because of Lange's repudiation of US aggression. It's a wonder the NZers don't invite Henderson along to the wake, as a specimen of arselicking homunculus. GH is such a miserable shit, he puts a sullen cast on the rest of the day. 

What's a Miserable Shit? It's a person who is so strait-laced that he or she has lost all sense of humanity and humour in the interests of NOP. It's not a polite term but it is a reasonably accurate one. A Miserable Shit does the job perfectly efficiently and with the officially approved standard of care. You can't criticise them on those grounds. Nor can you claim for a moment that they are rude, or brusque. They do the job. But they do it without humour and they do it without a milligram more humanity than is required.

But that makes the difference between Lange, his colleagues in Oz, and the all the rest. This business of war, or industrialised aggression, seems not to bother the folks in the Centre. So, from a pacifist perspective, Labor is always going to be a less-unsatisfactory compromise, and only on occasions.

Now, with Howard jawing on about his mortgage on mateyness, I've had to pull an antidote out of the cabinet. An old faithful - k.d.lang singing Cohen's Hallelujah.

Dour rendering, plodding against reality

Yes T. G....
GH is paid or is paying himself to spread the good porkies from the Right and nothing will make him budge... That's his vocation... that's his calling... To bat for the team with the blue underpants. Thus anything that can affect his team of which the psychopath supreme is king, he will denounce as being wrong or not right. GH will not venture outside this comfort zone, where the entire universe is fully explained in market forces and the might of the American ethos... despite stars coming and going in the blink of a couple of billions of light years

The undeniable truth, ephemeral and fragile as reality can be has no part in this exacting process that involves serious construct of the narrow mind..

surprise, surprise .....

A former Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

 

The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.

 

Lockerbie Evidence Was Faked

Howard Lover!

In the SMH (06/03/06), Gerard Henderson lambasts the Howard haters once more....
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"Haters are their own worst enemy" is the headline...

Much of the intelligentsia's criticism of the Prime Minister smacks of obsession, observes Gerard Henderson.

THE party's over, for the time being, at least. Last week's hubris-lite functions, celebrating John Howard's 10th anniversary as Prime Minister, suggest that he is not overly loved. Rather, he is very much respected and admired by his supporters, who stop somewhat short of adulation. And he is much hated by many of his opponents.

In this sense the term Howard-haters is a reasonable word usage — if only because Howard really is despised by many members of the intelligentsia who have the ability and capacity to state their case publicly. So much so that some well-educated Australians blame him for virtually all the nation's (alleged) social ills. The it's-Howard's-fault refrain is heard repeatedly across the land.

..............

The problem with much, but not all, opposition to Howard is it is obsessive and consequently has little impact in the marginal seats in suburban and regional Australia. Opponents of Howardism would have much more impact if they threw the switch to rationality with respect to the Prime Minister and ceased their consistent condemnation of Kim Beazley and Labor.

Right now, the irrationality of so many Howard haters has the unintended consequence of enhancing Howardism.

===========================

Gus pukes:
Gerard, you are a good joker, aren't you? "observes"?
Are you kidding? Howard haters' opposition to Howard, excessive? obsessive? Hey, you keep getting it all wrong... It's people like you who are obsessive, constantly telling an easily bedazzled-by-advertising-manipulated public that your favourite little grocer is doing such a fantastic job selling his goods... Always on your soap box you are... Obsessive? Sure you are...

Really the rational is that his goods are rotten, all based on falsities, porkies, mean-spirited lies and hypocrisy... Morally corrupt, blind to the truth, twister of facts, he carries on selling policies that are worm-cored and massively blotchy...

Thus we, the Howard-bashers actually do switch to super-rationality and know that "Labor stink" too... Lucky Johnnee... Hey? That's not just from me but it comes directly from one Labor front-bencher who knows his party is performing dismally and should be performing so much better... The factions have destroyed a common purpose... And an eager bias media — posing as a white knight of public interest — is turning the knife in constantly to make sure no one can rise above the brawl...

So Gerard mate, the Labor party does not need us, the Howard-mowers, to tell them so... You do it so well yourself and I cannot say the Labor party does not deserve some of it, condemned in its present wilderness for being weak at the knees and being unable to see the incessantly oncoming constructed porkies from Johnnee. But we can't escape the fact you protect your former master, like a little loyal yapping dog... Hiding his sins behind a puff cake of achievements that don't amount to much more than robbing Paul to pay Peter...

Yeah, let's be clear about this: Howardism has been synonymous with deviousness, arrogance and lies for many years. John Howard did not get his nickname "Honest John" for being that first part of the proposition... It's a reverse sobriquet and many in his own party will be happy to see the end of him... Yes, you and your Howardizers make sure the truth is never discussed properly, facts are always obscured, swallowed in a sea of porkies that you disseminate like sermons from the mount... Be our guest, carry on... But by your association with the little "liar", who has pork'd us to go to war, who has shifted public ownership into a few private hands by selling the farm — our farm — you are enhancing a hypocrisy of will. The "intelligentsia" — that part of society more intelligent than all by definition of the word — is determined to expose all of this, albeit through very reduce means since you and your cunning howardian ratbag-right command the stage of a compliant right-wing media...

Let it snow...

Yes John
in your blog headed "war criminals all" (08/06/06) you take us to once more on the "porkie inc" road of the Iraq war... (see cartoon that also leads this line of blogs... and read on). This was a cleverly constructed conspiracy that, as it developed,also includes this strange "Green Zone" in Baghdad...

Obviously the US knew that their little war would lead to some serious problems and decided to fortify their position in the most defendable spot in Baghdad as soon as they came in. This fact alone tells us the US was fully aware that their little war was going to create serious havoc. Another fact contrary to the official bumbling attitude of "we didn't expect blah blah..."

This article published in June 2004 tells an interesting story and this particular loophole may have been closed since but:
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""""""Inside the Green Zone

US is Paranoid and Isolated

By PATRICK COCKBURN

Baghdad.

An Iraqi friend, who feared for his life because he was close to the Americans, used to live inside the Green Zone, the heavily protected area in central Baghdad where the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has its headquarters. One day he fell into conversation with an American soldier guarding one of the gates. The soldier said he was of Iraqi origin and could speak Arabic. He added that security was not quite as tight as it looked since prostitutes were regular visitors to the zone.

My friend, a little alarmed, decided to investigate. He went to a house which was being used as a brothel. He says: "In the toilet I found that the women were writing pro-Baath party, anti-American and patriotic slogans with their lipstick on the mirrors." Their clients could not tell what they had written because it was in Arabic.

The story illustrates the way in which the CPA officials became wholly isolated from the real opinions of Iraqis.""""""
----------------

Of course the Green Zone is the "Greed Zone"... even for the "pros"... It is the place where US corruption extraordinaire can play the good Samaritan in air conditioned comfort...

But back to the "Porkie Inc", John... Good on you...
Keep pushing the barrow until the little twerp in the fake president shoes is deposed, removed or impeached for lying to the neo-democratic sleepy public. The way the con was constructed makes sure that everyone will be in it as thick as thieves — so no one, especially the mainstream media, will acknowledge being part if it, by default or willingly.

Conspiracy? yes... And by the way, Gerard (see blog above), Howardism sounds like something that sticks to your right shoe...

congress in the dark....

The Bush administration may have broken the law, Sen Feinstein said, adding that Congress should never be kept in the dark, even though the country was still in shock after the 9/11 attacks.

"This is a big problem," she said.

"I understand the need of the day... but I think you weaken your case when you go outside the law."

But Texas Republican John Cornyn told Fox News that the allegations were part of political moves to distract attention from problems faced by Democrat leaders in Congress.

The claims come amid an increasingly bitter row between the CIA and Congress over whether key information was withheld about other aspects of the agency's operations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed that the CIA misled her about interrogation methods including waterboarding, while other senior Democrats have quoted Mr Panetta as admitting that his agency regularly misled Congress before he took office.

---------------------------

In the cartoon at top and in many of the comments about selling the war in Iraq, I make reference to a (super secret) section of the CIA — I would believe partitioned from the rest of the CIA — whose only purpose was to manufacture porkies for the main sections of the CIA to swallow and give to the president as truth, although Cheney and Bush would have been in the loop in the creation of the porkies.

Selling the war in Iraq was a double cross system of huge magnitude, with many layers and compartments, of which I believe only a few "conspirators" (Cheney and Bush) were aware of its scale although there would have been a great numbers of operatives, some aware some not. The gist was to sell the war... and Porkie inc.

and at the bottom of the cesspit .....

Early Friday morning, MSNBC followed up on a theory posted Thursday on the Huffington Post which alleged that a secret CIA program shut down in June by director Leon Panetta could have been related to a purported effort led by Vice President Dick Cheney to assassinate intelligence targets abroad.

This past March, as RAW STORY reported, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh dropped a bombshell when he told an audience at the University of Minnesota that the Bush Administration was running an "executive assassination ring" which reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

"It's an executive assassination ring essentially, and it's been going on and on and on," Hersh stated. "Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people on a list and executing them and leaving. That's been going on, in the name of all of us."

"The revelation from seven Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that they were misled about a critical CIA program has sparked a debate that touches on the most sensitive areas of national security policy," Huffington Post's Sam Stein wondered Thursday. "What program, exactly, was being kept secret?"

Panetta admitted that the CIA had been "concealing significant actions" from Congress since 2001.

Stein wrote that one "theory being bandied about concerns an 'executive assassination ring' that was allegedly set up and answered to former Vice President Dick Cheney," although his article didn't cite sources for the claim. The reporter spoke to Rep. Anna Eshoo, (D-Calif.), a signatory to the CIA letter, about the theory.

http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/07/10/lawmaker-wont-deny-cia-program-was-cheney-assassination-ring/

a pair of white Y-fronts...

Wearing a pair of white Y-fronts, Saddam Hussein was splashed across The Sun  and the New York Post in 2005, a global scoop by Rupert Murdoch’s voracious news empire.

At the time the US President, George W Bush, announced an inquiry into how the papers had acquired the image of the “Beast of Baghdad” while he was in the custody of US troops in Iraq.

Now the picture is again a matter of controversy, following a claim that Mr Murdoch’s holding company, News Corporation, obtained it by bribing a member of the US military. The American news website The Daily Beast asked: “Did News Corp illegally purchase Saddam Hussein picture from US officials?” It reported: “Sources close to the story have told The Daily Beast that the payment was significantly greater [than £500] and was made to a US official on American soil.”

So far, 54 people in the UK – including 11 senior journalists on The Sun – have been arrested by a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged payments to police and other public officials.

Detectives on that inquiry, Operation Elveden, are not thought to be investigating the Saddam Hussein picture.

The US Department of Justice, the FBI, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission are already investigating whether the firm broke the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing police and public officials in the UK.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/did-the-sun-pay-bribes-to-get-famous-picture-of-saddam-in-his-pants-8329478.html

See toon and story at top...

all dick ....

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” [Cheney said] “I got on the telephone with the president, who was in Florida, and told him not to be at one location where we could both be taken out.” Mr. Cheney kept W. flying aimlessly in the air on 9/11 while he and Lynn left on a helicopter for a secure undisclosed location, leaving Washington in a bleak, scared silence, with no one reassuring the nation in those first terrifying hours.

“I gave the instructions that we’d authorize our pilots to take it out,” he says, referring to the jet headed to Washington that crashed in a Pennsylvania field. He adds: “After I’d given the order, it was pretty quiet. Everybody had heard it, and it was obviously a significant moment.” 

-------------

When they testified together before the 9/11 Commission, W. and Mr Cheney kept up a pretense that in a previous call, the president had authorized the vice president to give a shoot-down order if needed. But the commission found “no documentary evidence for this call.”

In other words, Cheney pretended that Bush had authorized a shoot-down order, but Cheney now admits that he never did. In fact, Cheney acted as if he was the president on 9/11. *

Cheney lied about numerous other facts related to 9/11 as well. For example, Cheney:

·                  Falsely linked Iraq with 9/11 (indeed, the entire torture program was aimed at establishing such a false linkage; and Cheney is the guy who pushed for torture, pressured the Justice Department lawyers to write memos saying torture was legal, and made the pitch to Congress justifying torture. the former director of the CIA said Cheney of overseeing American torture policies)

·                  Falsely claimed that spying on Americans, torture, the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war and the “war on terror” were all necessitated by 9/11 … when all of them started or were planned before 9/11

·                  Falsely stated that an attack such as 9/11 was unforeseeable, when Al Qaeda flying planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon was something which American military and intelligence services – and our allies – knew could happen

·                  Falsely pretended that he was out of the loop during the 9/11 attacks

·                  Falsely blamed others for 9/11, when Cheney was in charge of all of America’s counter-terrorism exercises, activities and responses on 9/11. See this Department of State announcement and this CNN article

·                  And when Cheney was apparently responsible for letting the Pentagon get hit by an airplane (confirmed here and here)

·                  And was instrumental in squashing a real investigation into 9/11  

* Indeed, Cheney initiated Continuity of Government plans on 9/11 which essentially nullified America’s constitutional form of government.

See also -

Pentagon Mass Casualty Exercise - This information is reproduced from a U.S. Military web site. The article is dated Nov. 3, 2000, some 10 months prior to the attack on the Pentagon of 9/11/01. 

Repent, Dick Cheney

torture is as simple as eggs for breakfast...

 

...

As Arendt insisted, this does not mean that perpetrators should not be punished. Punishment remains critical for a range of independent reasons. What it does mean is that we must clearly distinguish between why and what is achieved by punishment, on the one hand, and what is required for prevention, on the other. And with this, that we distinguish guilt, which adheres to the individuals who take discrete actions, from responsibility, which has a far broader reach and connects myriad others with the conditions the permit, facilitate, authorize, legitimize and create opportunities for such actions.

This might mean telling stories about torture that are less captivating; but better than captivating stories are stories that capture the full ecology of torture's production. And thus stories that might ground its more effective prevention.

Danielle Celermajer is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. She is the author of The Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apologies and "The Prevention of Torture: An Ecological Approach," forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

 

 

All this is worthy of reading more:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/05/15/4843772.htm

 

... but I cannot escape the fact that torture is an extension of kids pulling off the wings of flies — or bullying... Sadism is such entrenched in our mind and we need to minimise it by developing ethics. Torture stems from our innate sadistic distortion of the fear for our own survival, by lying to ourself. Torture is thought out, unlike a defensive reaction in a matter of "life and death". Recent social conventions have been invented to limit the usage of torture, physical and mental, but we still manage to include excuses for using torture. The Inquisition was famous for this.

For Gus, there is no such things as sins — only bad decisions which are not conducive to the personal or communal good (mostly for the minimalisation of pain/sufferance) — though there is a lot of apologetic rituals to make us accept "in certain conditions" that we can become sadistic. The main excuse has often been bathed in our expectation of a "satisfactory result", when all we're doing is being little shits...

 

Read from top. Please see the connection with the present war on Syria being waged as a "civil war" while it's fabricated all along by external forces (US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and their European and Australian minions..) and helped by a complicit Western media (on our dangerous selective slanted biased media ...)

 

See also: 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/11276

 

and 

http://www.yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/26238

warnings for democratic society ...

 The reporter who uncovered the truth about Kim Philby, the 20th century’s most infamous spy, and his warnings for democratic society   

“Martyrs to dogma,

 You too are victims of the century”

 —Boris Pasternak

 

Bald, bearded and a dead ringer for Lenin. That’s how Phillip Knightley, one of the most respected journalists on London’s Fleet Street, would describe himself over the phone. It made him easier to spot in a crowded bar, waiting on a stranger who might become a source. Along with a group of fellow expatriates collectively known as the “Australian mafia”, Knightley was a former member of the celebrated Sunday TimesInsight unit, responsible for big-ticket investigative stories on everything from historical tax evasion by Britain’s wealthiest family to the thalidomide scandal. That recognisable pate almost cost him, however, late in 1987, when he walked into the Soviet embassy on Bayswater Road, recognised some reporters from the Daily Mirrorloudly complaining about visa delays, and wondered if the greatest exclusive of his already considerable career was about to slip through his fingers.

Knightley had by then spent 20 years in correspondence with Kim Philby, a man many considered the most effective spy in history, ever since the team at Insight had laid out the Englishman’s story: a Soviet spy since the 1930s had become the head of MI6’s anti-Soviet section at the dawn of the Cold War.

Philby had finally agreed to a lengthy interview in Moscow, the first he’d granted to a Westerner since his defection a quarter-century earlier. His only stipulation was secrecy, and Knightley was acutely aware that any publicity – in the Daily Mirror or elsewhere – would likely kibosh his chance to ask the world’s most famous double agent one simple question: had a lifetime of deception actually been worth it?

Knightley was rarely glimpsed without a suit and tie, but the Australian journalist’s slightly professorial air belied a hard-scrabble journey to the top of his profession that had included stints as a copra trader in Fiji and a vacuum-cleaner salesman in Sydney, his home town. His entree to Fleet Street came via the London branch of a Sydney paper, but it was not quite the triumphant arrival he’d dreamt about as a copyboy for Frank Packer. Puce-faced publicans sneered at the colonial, and a BBC game show appearance alongside his compatriot Murray Sayle ended in the discovery that they’d been excluded from the green room.

Sidelines as a yachtsman and restaurateur also went south, and he was in his mid thirties by the time freelance assignments finally made him a fixture at the labyrinthine Sunday Times office. Soon he joined a secret team of 18 journalists digging into the affairs of The Observer’s former Middle East correspondent, who had mysteriously turned up in Moscow a few years earlier. And it was Knightley who made the crucial breakthrough: Philby hadn’t just worked for MI6 while secretly reporting to the Russians – he’d been in charge of MI6 counterespionage against the Soviets.

The Sunday Times series that followed was quickly turned into a book, 1968’s Philby: The Spy Who Betrayed a Generation. And though it wasn’t the first, it was the most accurate to date – a fact even its subject acknowledged, albeit with some qualifications, after Knightley sent an inscribed copy to him in Moscow. And so began an unlikely correspondence. The letters the men exchanged over the next two decades covered everything from the spy’s travels within the Soviet bloc to his dismay about the devolution of his beloved cricket (“aluminium bats, white balls, funny clothes and Uncle Kerry Packer… it is too confusing for a gentleman of the old school like myself”).

Knightley’s disgust at the entrenched snobbery of his new homeland perhaps helps to explain the affinity he felt for Philby, the Cambridge graduate-turned-communist who betrayed England because he, too, loathed its class system. The newspaper man certainly expressed a certain nostalgia for Australia in their correspondence. In a letter dated January 1987, he recalled telephoning his sister back home. She was in the middle of a Christmas lunch consisting of “Sydney rock oysters, giant Pacific prawns, cold lobster with papaya, and mangoes and ice cream, all washed down with a chardonnay from the Lewin Valley”. The same letter ended with a studiously casual afterthought in which Knightley wondered if Philby was game for “a long and rambling chat with just me and a notebook”.

Knightley didn’t have a commission for the Moscow meeting – he’d gone freelance a few years before – but there was no doubt he’d be able to place the interview: fascination with Philby and the “Cambridge Spies” had only grown over the intervening years. John le Carré, in his introduction to Knightley’s 1968 book, had said that, like a great, albeit unfinished novel, the dimensions of the Philby scandal were difficult to fathom. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, le Carré’s book about a Soviet mole at the heart of British intelligence, was published only a few years later, in 1974. Philby suspected that the author didn’t like him much, but he was content, he told Knightley, to have contributed to le Carré’s “vast affluence”.

The winter had been unseasonably mild in Moscow, and Knightley and his Indian-born wife, Yvonne, gazed out at slushy streets when they arrived on January 18, 1988. They were sitting in the back of a black sedan provided by the KGB, taking a circuitous route to Philby’s flat, which was located at a secret address. The old spy lived in a 1930s block not far from the Moskva River, accessible down a narrow lane beyond a locked steel gate, and its lift sounded as though it hadn’t been serviced since before the war. Accompanied by a broad-shouldered KGB man in a black leather jacket, the couple endured a slow, nerve-jangling ascent to the sixth floor, where a studded-leather door opened to reveal Philby, 76, wearing a grey cardigan and carpet slippers, slightly hunched but smiling broadly.

Apologising for the lift, he ushered them inside and introduced his Russian wife, Rufina. Beyond the hallway was a large reception room. Against the wall – adorned with antique pistols and animal skins – was a valve-powered radio on which Philby listened to the BBC. The apartment was spacious even by the standards other government officials enjoyed in Moscow, and Knightley was aware that the KGB wouldn’t have had it any other way. This was, after all, a public-relations exercise, and Philby acknowledged as much when Knightley told him he looked healthy.

“I am well,” he said. “And that’s one of the reasons you’re here, one of the reasons I agreed to see you. There has been a rumour – which apparently started in Canada of all places – that I was on my uppers, ill, abandoned by the KGB and anxious to return to Britain. I wanted you to see for yourself that none of this was true.”

In fact, Philby would be dead a few short months later. And however robust he claimed to feel, he almost certainly realised that talking to Knightley was his last chance to justify the cause to which he’d devoted his life – one that many former friends and lovers would say was characterised by betrayal. Knightley, for his part, was sympathetic but determined not to be taken in by a man who, after all, had been trained to deceive and manipulate, and who had survived several interrogations in his time. Many believed that Philby had blood on his hands, and what followed, over the course of a week and many glasses of Johnnie Walker Red Label, Armenian brandy and, of course, vodka, was a cordial but deadly serious cross-examination. Less than two years before his dream of international communism would crumble along with the Berlin Wall, Philby told his story to a confessor who had long been sceptical of the spying game. Russia’s prize defector was sitting in an armchair not far from the Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters he’d visited only twice in all the time he’d been living in Moscow. It had been 25 years.

Harold Adrian Russell Philby was born in Ambala, India, in 1912. His father, St John, was a member of the Indian Civil Service, and gave the boy his lifelong nickname (after Kipling’s Kim) because he heard him chatting in Punjabi to the servants. Philby didn’t remember much of his Indian days, he said; most of his childhood was spent in England, where he lived with his grandmother before attending school at Westminster, his father’s alma mater. He later won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, and it was there, as an undergraduate in 1929, that his views on life began to cohere.

“I had a good look around me,” he told Knightley, “and I reached a simple conclusion: the rich had had it too damn good for too long, and the poor had had it too damn bad. And it was time that it all changed.” Back then, he said, “the poor really were a different people. I can remember my grandmother saying to me, ‘Don’t play with those children. They’re dirty and you’ll catch something.’ That sort of thing. And it wasn’t just a question of not having enough money. It was a question of not having enough to eat.”

Between terms Philby rode his motorcycle to the north and stayed in industrial towns, where he witnessed the ravages of the Depression. He helped feed hunger marchers when they came through Cambridge, and campaigned for Labour with a sentimental stump speech about the heart of England residing in factories and farms rather than stately homes. But the collapse of Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government in 1931 left Philby disillusioned. He wondered if the British left was uniquely weak, and he travelled around Europe to find out.

One such trip took him to Berlin in 1933, not long after the Reichstag fire, where he witnessed an anti-Jewish rally. “In Germany unemployment was rife, fascism was on the rise, and the working class fared equally badly. The democratic socialists were unimpressive. Like Labour in Britain, they seemed to fold at critical moments. But all the time there was this solid base of the Left: the Soviet Union.” Philby was sure capitalism was on its last legs, and that only communism could stem the fascist tide.

He was introduced to the university’s socialist society by a former coalminer at Cambridge on a scholarship, who became a firm friend. Members of the society also included Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, who both became communists at Cambridge and would later spy for the Soviets. But in Moscow Philby was keen to dispel the myth that any of them had been recruited at university. “There was no Cambridge ring,” he told Knightley. “It’s a load of nonsense invented by journalists and spy writers.” It was, however, a Marxist don who later provided Philby with an introduction to the global communist network, and after leaving Cambridge he ended up in Vienna, where he helped smuggle communist militia men through the sewers and out of the city after the fascist putsch of 1934.

Philby returned to London with an Austrian wife in tow, an avowed communist who connected him, through another émigré friend, to the first of several Soviet handlers with whom he’d work for the next 30 years. One of his first tasks – along with supplying a list of potential recruits that included his Cambridge fellows Burgess and Maclean – was to slough off his former self. That meant ditching his communist friends and even his communist wife. He began feigning fascist sympathies on the instruction of his control, and in 1937 he began covering the Spanish Civil War from the nationalist side as a correspondent for The Times. All the while he was reporting back to the Russians on everything from troop movements to German attitudes to Franco.

In the summer of 1939 he was back in London, a 27-year-old with some serious mileage accrued in Vienna and Spain. And his adventures no doubt impressed the sweet, slightly sheltered Aileen Furse, whom he started seeing after they were introduced at the Mayfair home of the Russian heiress Flora Solomon. Philby was still presenting a fascist front, and he sometimes noticed Solomon – a family friend he’d once tried to recruit to the communist cause – adjudging him shrewdly “as if to say she knew exactly what I was up to”. It was September 3, the day war was declared on Germany – a date, Philby later told Knightley, that was to prove “disastrous for the world, and to myself”.

Philby’s subsequent entry into MI6 was greased by friends such as Burgess as well as by his father – by then a significant figure in the Middle East as long-time adviser to Ibn Saud. And his work in Spain later made Philby an obvious candidate for a job on MI6’s Iberian desk, running spies in Spain and Portugal. His deputies included Graham Greene, who described him afterwards as a born leader. Philby’s considerable personal charm helped him navigate the bureaucracy of London’s secret service with consummate skill. Towards the end of the war he deftly mined tensions between his superiors to ensure his appointment to lead a new section created to tackle the looming threat of Soviet espionage. Philby even wrote his own job description. That coup would ensure his position in the double agent hall of fame: a Soviet spy in charge of ferreting out Soviet spies. But it was followed by a very close shave indeed.

Defectors had already hinted, by now, at the existence of a young Englishman in Stalin’s employ. But none came as close to unmasking him as Konstantin Volkov, a Soviet agent working as a Russian diplomat in Turkey. Accompanied by his wife, Volkov walked nervously into the British embassy in Istanbul in 1945. He told the vice-consul that a number of Soviet agents had infiltrated British intelligence, and one of them presided over a counterespionage unit in London. Volkov was willing to name names in exchange for exfiltration – and, of course, cash.

Reading the official report in London, a horrified Philby immediately sought to be dispatched to Istanbul himself. He was assigned the task of meeting and assessing Volkov only after the first candidate for the job turned out to have a fear of flying. Storms over Malta subsequently meant Philby’s plane was diverted to Tunis, and he missed the connecting flight from Cairo to Istanbul. But Philby had alerted his handler to Volkov’s intentions before he left London, and by the time the British tried, after much delay, to re-establish contact with Volkov in Istanbul, both he and his wife had disappeared. Le Carré would later write a fictionalised version of what many believe happened next: two bandaged figures loaded onto a Soviet plane, bound for Moscow and the torture chambers of the Lubyanka.

Philby’s career didn’t so much as sputter in the aftermath of this fiasco. Bolstering his credentials as a respectable member of the establishment, he finally married Aileen Furse at the Chelsea registry office in 1946, with Flora Solomon looking on as a witness. This was despite the fact that Aileen suspected her husband – whom she believed worked at the Foreign Office – of having an affair with his secretary. Philby, for his part, described Aileen to his Soviet control as a bourgeois philistine. Socially awkward and not particularly political, Aileen was slightly out of place among her husband’s cosmopolitan, vaguely bohemian set. And her health suffered after the couple moved to Istanbul, where Philby took up a posting as MI6 station chief. Bouts of self-harm led to hospitalisation, and she slashed her own wrists during a stay in a Swiss clinic. Philby’s attitude to mental health was very much of his time: Aileen’s illness was a burden.

Despite the problems in his personal life, Philby was on the fast track, according to many, to head up Britain’s entire secret service. In 1949 he was sent to Washington, DC, to act as MI6’s liaison officer to the CIA and FBI. He there cemented a friendship with James Jesus Angleton, the ascetic future chief of United States counter-intelligence. And he presided over a series of doomed incursions into Albania, the Ukraine and elsewhere – operations he discussed with Angleton at length over regular long lunches. Hundreds of young émigrés were dropped into their homelands to galvanise resistance to communist rule. Most were never seen again.

Almost 40 years later, Knightley asked the old spy whether the deaths he caused played on his conscience. Philby was unapologetic. “Volkov was a nasty piece of work,” he said. “No regrets there. And yes, I did play a part in frustrating a Western-inspired plan for a bloodbath in the Balkans. But the men who dreamed up and planned the operation were quite as ready as I was to contemplate bloodshed in the service of a political ideal.” The young agents themselves “knew the risks they were running”, said Philby. “Don’t forget that earlier I was also directly responsible for the deaths of a considerable number of Germans, thus doing my modest bit towards winning the war.”

Philby’s posting to Washington had put him at the centre of Western intelligence. The Soviets couldn’t have dreamt of better access to classified information on both sides of the pond. But his sojourn in America also marked the beginning of the end.

Philby’s old Cambridge friend Guy Burgess arrived in Washington in 1950 – dossing, much to Aileen’s horror, in the Philby home on Nebraska Avenue. Burgess was an alcoholic and liable to get himself into spectacular scrapes, so Philby wanted to keep a custodial eye on his friend. But there was another reason for keeping him close. The two men were tracking an investigation into leaks at the British embassy in Washington – an investigation that was rapidly closing in on their fellow Soviet spy Donald Maclean.

Burgess was eventually thrown out of Washington for repeated speeding offences. Upon his return to London he acted as a messenger between the Soviets and Maclean, and they defected together in May 1951. The fallout saw Philby sidelined for the next five years, suspected of tipping off the traitors before the noose tightened. He was recalled to London, and the Americans made it clear he wouldn’t be welcome back. MI5 listed all the coincidences to which MI6’s golden boy had been connected. Philby’s recruitment to MI6 had been aided by Burgess, well known as one of his best friends; he’d presided over the disappearance of Volkov; and he was privy to the Maclean investigation.

Philby admitted to nothing, but his guilt was accepted by many. He moved outside London, unmoored. Aileen’s mother later bought the couple a large house in Sussex, but the gift only increased her daughter’s isolation. Philby began an affair with a civil servant in London and often stayed away for days. Massive rows ensued when he returned, and Aileen’s drinking escalated. At dinner parties she loudly accused her husband of being a Soviet spy, and even of wishing her harm.

The tipping point came in Australia, with the 1954 defection of Vladimir Petrov, a KGB colonel who reignited tabloid interest in the existence of a “third man” responsible for warning Burgess and Maclean. The London press corps began staking out Philby’s house whenever it wasn’t dashing between Princess Margaret and Captain Townsend. The ensuing drama saw him accused in parliament, only to be later cleared for want of evidence.

Clubbable as ever, the spy had maintained contact, throughout his years in the wilderness, with several of his friends at MI6 who believed in his innocence. And it was they who helped secure him a position in Beirut as the Middle East correspondent for The Observer and The Economist, in which capacity his father would help open doors. St John was living in a Maronite village near Beirut at the time, and Philby stayed with him when he arrived in Lebanon in 1956. Philby’s mother, Dora, died the same year, having lived apart from her husband for decades.

Though he loved his father, the spy acknowledged – apparently without irony – that St John could be “a terribly insensitive man, particularly in his relations with my mother. She literally drank herself to death and towards the end she was drinking a bottle of gin a day.” Philby had of course left his own wife and five children behind when he decamped for Beirut, and Aileen had deteriorated rapidly. Briefly committed after her husband left, she was often drunk and virtually penniless. She cooked in friends’ kitchens for spare change. Graham Greene later described a visit to the “ugly sprawling Edwardian house” where Philby had left her. “There was no sign of any tending in the overgrown garden”, Greene wrote. “The post hadn’t been collected for a long time – the floor under the door was littered with advertising brochures. In the kitchen there were some empty milk bottles, and a single dirty cup and saucer in the sink.” The place looked, he said, “like an abandoned gypsy encampment”.

Aileen was found dead inside her home in December 1957, a victim of congestive heart failure, myocardial degeneration, a respiratory infection and pulmonary tuberculosis. She was 47. In Beirut, Philby felt briefly liberated by the news: he had begun a relationship with a woman he later married. Yet Aileen’s death would haunt him. Her earthly vessel was Flora Solomon, who was sufficiently incensed by Philby’s abandonment of her friend to strike the final blow to his career in a meeting with MI5. Not only was Philby a communist, she told them, but he’d once tried to recruit her.

Together with information supplied by a defector in Helsinki, Solomon’s testimony provided Philby’s intelligence masters with the ballast they had long needed to accuse him outright. Shortly after they did so, in 1963, the spy slipped down to the docks, boarded a Russian freighter and watched as the lights of Beirut faded into the distance. His third wife was making small talk at a dinner party at the time, and wondering why her husband hadn’t appeared. She was left behind.

Knightley’s 1988 interview with Philby stretched over six boozy evenings. After each session the Australian stayed up late back at the hotel, trying to decipher his notes. And every night he received a phone call. The voice on the line was always male, always Russian and always had the wrong number. Philby’s own flat was probably bugged, Knightley knew, though that possibility didn’t seem to unduly bother its occupant. In fact, Philby seemed to revel in the omniscience of his team. Holding court in a private room at his favourite Georgian restaurant, at a table laden with caviar, shashlik and sturgeon, he admitted to Knightley that he was rather bored by his own story, though the British papers seemed as fascinated as ever. “They’re always pressing their correspondents in Moscow for interviews with me,” he said, resignedly. Philby took a sip of his vodka, sat back and smiled. “We know because we read their messages.”

Both men were exhausted by week’s end. Philby was even becoming impatient with some of Knightley’s questions, particularly those that touched on “KGB operational matters”. They agreed to meet early the following day, to wrap things up before a farewell dinner. The sounds of schoolchildren were still echoing up from the playground below when Knightley arrived, and the men retired to Philby’s study and got down to business. On his desk was an Anglepoise lamp, a typewriter and several back issues of The Times. The bookshelf behind held the complete works of Greene, le Carré and P.G. Wodehouse. On the wall was a photograph of Philby’s father in Bedouin garb, as well as an engraving sent by Anthony Blunt, another member of the “Cambridge Five”, commemorating a Roman emperor who had done battle against the Germans.

Knightley began by asking Philby about his lack of patriotism. “Patriotism is a very complex emotion,” he replied. “Millions of people fight and die for their country, yet millions emigrate to found new nations.” The England he left behind would be a foreign country now, anyway. “I don’t believe that anything I did harmed my own Britain at all. In fact, I think my work for the KGB served the bulk of the British people.”

Philby did admit, however, to mourning the loss of friends. “I have always operated at two levels,” he said. “A personal level and a political level. When the two have come in conflict, I have had to put politics first. This conflict can be very painful. I don’t like deceiving people, especially friends, and, contrary to what some people believe, I feel very badly about it. But then decent soldiers feel badly about the necessity of killing in wartime.”

The spy had spent the first years after his defection feeling both relieved – “the pressure of all these years was lifted” – and industrious. His debriefing involved putting the “full, unexpurgated story of my life as an intelligence officer” down on paper. But once this task was completed, his duties were unclear. Ever suspicious, the KGB didn’t want to risk the possibility that Philby had been a triple agent all along, and so he floundered. “My pay still arrived regularly, but I felt that I wasn’t getting sufficient work,” he told Knightley. “It appeared that the KGB had no idea of what my real potential was. I felt frustrated and fell into a deep depression, started to drink heavily again, and, worst of all, became prone to doubt. Had I done the right thing? You see, I never swallowed everything. I never took it all in.”

Philby had always been sustained by the game and its exclusivity, by the inside track. But he was discovering what it felt like to be on the outside. Knightley noticed faded scarring on the old man’s left wrist, evidence of a suicide attempt some 20 years before. His drinking back then had sometimes led to nightmares. One trip to the Black Sea with his family, visiting from England in the summer of 1969, was a disaster. Philby’s night terrors frightened his grandchildren, and his youngest daughter found the entire experience so unpleasant she never returned.

Respite, for Philby, arrived the following year: “I met the woman I had been waiting for all my life.” As Rufina later admitted with characteristic Russian bluntness, it was hardly love at first sight. She was working as an editor in a publishing house and in her late thirties when she met the Englishman. Philby was 20 years her senior, and he seemed, to her, like an old man. Neither spoke the other’s language. But she was touched by his courtliness, and the couple married just a year later, in 1971. The KGB gave them a set of fine-bone English china as a wedding gift.

They spent the next two decades travelling together, to the outer limits of the Soviet world. Overly attentive local KGB apparatchiks usually handled the itinerary, and husband and wife frequently found themselves, as Rufina later put it, on a “deserted sea shore, where an endless grey and unwelcome beach merged into a grey and unwelcome sea”. Still, Philby told Knightley, Russia was home. “I get great pleasure from the dramatic change in seasons,” he said. “I even get pleasure in the search for scarce goods.”

Knightley pointed out that Philby was a privileged citizen, and therefore insulated from the consequences of such scarcity. The only privilege he cared about, Philby replied, was world-class medical care – he had an irregular heartbeat – though he agreed that the access he enjoyed should be universal. But then, as his critics liked to point out, Philby’s whole life had been like this: fighting for the many while enjoying the perks of the few. The spy saw no contradiction. “Of course there are aspects of the establishment which anyone would enjoy. But what about the millions outside the establishment – those millions whom the establishment manipulates with such offhanded ease?”

Accused of being a political fossil because he didn’t change course after learning about Stalin’s purges, he replied that doing so would have meant a “double-quick translation to Wormwood Scrubs”: i.e. prison. But more than that, he believed that the principles of the Revolution would outlast the aberrations of individuals, however gross.

This faith helps explain his abiding friendship with Graham Greene, who once compared Philby to Catholics who worked against Queen Elizabeth I for the victory of Spain. Greene visited his old MI6 colleague three times in the last three years of Philby’s life, and had earlier sent him the manuscript of The Human Factor – about an MI6 agent who defects to Moscow – to check it for authenticity. Greene’s own Monsignor Quixote said that “sharing a sense of doubt can bring men together perhaps even more than sharing a faith”, and so it was.

Whatever solace Greene might have provided, however, Philby’s sense of doubt – was it all worth it? did I back the right side? – never quite left him. He was angered by the expulsion of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and scornful when a KGB friend abjured responsibility, blaming instead the Fifth Directorate, the service’s secret police. “You are responsible,” said Philby. “And I’m responsible too.” He took the corruption of the Soviet elite personally. Philby saw everything, he told Rufina. But he was too old to start again.

Knightley noted Rufina’s vigilance about her husband’s alcohol consumption, as well as her tendency to finish his stories. Philby clearly doted on her. He would become agitated when she left the apartment to see friends or go to the cinema. Though he assured Knightley that his home was all around him – “more than eight million square miles of it” – the spy’s world had contracted by the end of his life, to his island on the sixth floor. Rufina later recalled waking up one particularly cold winter’s morning to find one of her boots missing. She eventually found it in the study, where her drunken husband had hidden it the night before, to prevent her from leaving. Philby had left three wives behind, and the sozzled spy clearly worried the fourth was about to return the favour.

Philby died, alone in a room at the KGB hospital, on May 11, 1988. Rufina had gone home for the night, thinking him in a stable condition. Knightley had been planning to return at the end of that month, for a trip to Philby’s dacha outside Moscow. He wanted to fill in certain gaps in the record; gaps that would now remain.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra the following year, he admitted that Philby was “perhaps the most successful spy in the whole history of espionage”. But he also wondered if the whole enterprise wasn’t all smoke and a wilderness of mirrors. Knightley’s most famous book, The First Casualty, had skewered the self-conscious glamour of war correspondents, and his instinct was to recoil from the mythmaking practised by both spies and journalists. He had long been struck, incidentally, by the uncomfortable similarities between the two. Knightley was sure, however, that intelligence gathering could be done better by journalists. To bolster this claim, he quoted a senator from Delaware who had been receiving intelligence briefings, at that point, for more than a decade. “A good journalist’s published analysis of events abroad will often prove as sound as a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate,” said Joe Biden. Therefore, said the future president, “the cult of executive expertise, which has enjoyed a long run in the first decades of the postwar period, has surely had its day.”

Knightley recalled falling out with Philby over one issue only: his insistence that politics took precedence over personal relationships. It was, the journalist said, one of the saddest things he’d ever heard, and had led him to consider the possibility that spies simply have personalities that are essentially abnormal. That years of deceit and manipulation inevitably leads to a diminishment of human values, “and they can become fantasists”. That’s a problem, he continued, because it is spies, together with their handmaidens in the media, who increasingly define our sense of reality. The information they provide is often unverifiable, of course, and paranoid – but it shapes the agenda.

Spies justify their existence, he went on, by touting their ability to warn us about a clear and present danger, and the end of the Cold War meant the absence of one. The Official Secrets Act 1989 had just been passed in Westminster, and Knightley saw the writing on the marble walls. Governments sensitive to criticism in lockstep with intelligence services eager to safeguard their budgets… well, it made for a dangerous cocktail. “It seems to me,” said Knightley, “that although we’re at a hopeful point – glasnost, the decline of communism – we’re also at a very dangerous point. That the spy, in order to survive the modern bureaucracy, will change his target. And his new target will be the ordinary citizen.”

 

 

HARRY WINDSOR

Harry Windsor is a Sydney-based writer.

 

Read more:

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2021/december/1638277200/harry-windsor/her-majesty-s-secret-disservice

 

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