I don’t think we have discussed the  ramifications of Robert Gates being kept on as Defense Secretary, but maybe we should. On it’s face, it appears that keeping Gates on to shepherd in the transition from Bush to Obama, was fine. My friend and colleague, Bruce Dixon, at Black Agenda Report, has written a provocative piece that should probably get us to put down the celebratory beverage and re-think the matter.  Not that it will change the President-Elect’s mind, especially after all the hell that was raised about Hillary Clinton being named as Secretary of State.

Bruce thinks that keeping Gates on as SecDef is WORSE. Gates’ history goes all the way back to Jimmy Carter.

Robert Gates has been lying about matters of life, death and empire for a long time. A National Security Administration staffer in the Carter administration, Gates appears to have been involved in the October Surprise, helping delay the release of US hostages by Iran in order to damage the re-election chances of Jimmy Carter in 1980. When Reagan’s campaign manager William Casey was tapped to head the CIA, Robert Gates was part of the new team. Casey promoted Gates to head of CIA’s analytical division and later to deputy CIA director because of his willingness to embellish and fabricate intelligence saying what policymakers wanted to hear.

According to Robert Parry at the Baltimore Chronicle, that’s not all:

In a recent book, Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA, former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman identifies Gates as the chief action officer for the Reagan administration’s drive to tailor intelligence reporting to White House political desires. A top “Kremlinologist,” Goodman describes how Gates reversed a CIA tradition of delivering tough-minded intelligence reports with “the bark on.”

So, cooking the books to get the intelligence needed to hoodwink Congress into backing wars, didn’t really start with Dick Cheney, but he was around to learn how to get it done.

It didn’t take long for the winds of politicization to blow through the halls of CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia.

“Bill Casey and Bob Gates guided the first institutionalized ‘cooking of the books’ at the CIA in the 1980s, with a particular emphasis on tailoring intelligence dealing with the Soviet Union, Central America, and Southwest Asia,” Goodman wrote.

“Casey’s first NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] as CIA director, dealing with the Soviet Union and international terrorism, became an exercise in politicization. Casey and Gates pushed this line in order to justify more U.S. covert action in the Third World.

“In 1985, they ordered an intelligence assessment of a supposed Soviet plot against the Pope, hoping to produce a document that would undermine Secretary of State [George] Shultz’s efforts to improve relations with Moscow. The CIA also produced an NIE in 1985 that was designed to produce an intelligence rationale for arms sales to Iran.”

Bruce isn’t done, either:

When Ronald Reagan declared that Nicaragua, a country with the population of Philadelphia (minus the suburbs) and fewer than two functioning elevators constituted a military threat to the US, this was the work of Robert Gates. The US intervention in Central America cost at least 30,000 lives in Nicaragua alone. Gates was also at the center of US provision of arms and intelligence to both Iraq and Iran as they fought a seven year war that killed two million people. He orchestrated intelligence reports that deliberately exaggerated Soviet military expenditures and threat posture to justify Reagan’s rant about meeting the menace of the “Evil Empire” and his unheard of increase in US War Department spending. After serving as CIA director under the first president Bush in 1991 where he remained well into the Clinton administration.

When we think about what Hillary will be in charge of in terms of foreign policy, it might be minor considering what Gates will be allowed to continue to run in an Obama Administration:

But the Department of War employs more than two million uniformed personnel, hundreds of thousands of civilians, an undisclosed six figure number of armed mercenaries, and thousands of contractors with millions more employees. The Pentagon disposes of tens or hundreds of billions in secret budgets which are accountable to nobody, not even Congress, and it fields at least half a dozen intelligence agencies, along with a far-flung network of secret prisons and torturers to staff them. It’s not hard to see where the real power is, and where it will remain despite the new administration’s promise of “change”.

Another discussion thread, y’all.  The rules remain the same.  Let me know what you think.  And as a benefit, Bruce Dixon will check in on this piece to engage you in debate of the issues.

Thread away.

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