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Will Robert Gates Save America? | The Nation

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The Notion

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Will Robert Gates Save America?

The recent CIA documents dump, the so-called "family jewels," tell but part of the story. Our new secretary of defense knows most of the rest.

It's fitting that, as part 3 of Roger Morris' monumental portrait of Robert Gates, the CIA, and a half-century-plus of American covert action comes to a close at the Tomdispatch.com website, a CIA document dump of previously secret materials from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s has put the years when our Secretary of Defense first entered the Agency back in the news. Assassination plots against foreign leaders, kidnappings, warrantless wiretapping of reporters, the illegal opening of American mail, illegal break-ins, behavior modification experiments on "unwitting" citizens, illegal surveillance of domestic dissident groups and critics of the Agency -- it seems never to end.

And yet, you have to read Morris' latest wild ride, "The Rise and Rise of Robert Gates," to realize how much this list still lacks when it comes to the acts of the CIA. It is, after all, one of the ironies of our moment that our (relatively) new secretary of defense now travels the American world -- to Kabul and Baghdad's Green Zone in particular, where he frets about Tehran -- only to find himself, in essence, confronting (though our media never bothers to say so) the consequences of the misdeeds of his younger self. It's a grisly record and, not surprisingly, a grisly world has been its result.

If you haven't read bestselling author (and former National Security Council staffer) Roger Morris' first two parts on Gates and the CIA -- "The Gates Inheritance" and "The World That Made Bob," then do so and prepare yourself for the mayhem of the world Gates helped make when, in the 1980s, he came into his own. That this is the man meant to save us from the disparate fundamentalisms of Bush the Younger and Dick Cheney tells us a great deal about just how low we've sunk.

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