There is a reason that the intelligence community and the Department of State don’t mix. No, not the obvious. Intelligence services play by the Golden rule, the Department of State has diplomatic immunity.
The Department of State spends its time pretending it’s not gathering information. Pretending to be playing nice. They tend to foul intelligence operations to protect their own interests. Which brings us to my favorite loose cannon, Edward Snowden.
The reason that the initial uproar to capture Snowden came from the Department of State rather than any of the recognizable sources is because Edward pulled open the curtain on political spying. It was alright if we spy on Americans, but diplomats? Back in 1979 we found so many bugs in the new embassy in Moscow that we couldn’t use the building, but we were adversaries with the Soviets.
Obama has tried to spin the release of information into a “everybody does it (wink wink)” story, but the Germans and French don’t want to play that way, so they’re raising a fuss now. You’re not supposed to admit you’re spying on each other. That’s how it works.
This is only one reason I’ve always detested “Staties”. An intelligence service is upset when an operation is blown because work has been lost, contacts revealed, and possibly lives endangered. The Department of State is more concerned with keeping up appearances. One line that always touches me in espionage stories is when the seniors reminisce, “I miss the old days”. Obama can’t decide whether he’s a diplomat or a generalissimo.
There are no rules today. Part of this is blamed on the middle east, the viciousness of their security has been difficult for some people to accept. We said the same thing about the Japanese in World War two and the Koreans in their conflict. The NAZIs said that Jews ate children. It is normal to dehumanize the enemy, especially when they have a different culture. The fact is we all play rough, but we used to play fair.
The truth has not changed. By lowering our standards we validate the standards of others. Keeping your friends close and your enemies closer was just as true for Sun-tzu as Michael Corleone. We have always kept an eye on our friends, long before Jonathan Pollard or Kim Philby, we made no secret of not trusting our allies.
This entire episode reeks of inexperience. Clinton gutted the intelligence community, and it was being rebuilt during the Bush administration. Obama came along and expanded intelligence tasks without adequate personnel, and rather than wait for proper clearances, people like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning found themselves in positions they should never have been in. An administration which can only be described as isolated from reality has no idea how to deal with such situations, other than to deny the existence of issues, or to flex its muscles and make threats. Parallels can easily be drawn to Kennedy’s fumbling in Cuba.
This is not a game for amateurs. The stakes are too high.