A couple of books come to mind amid the relentless leaks emanating from the spooks on either side of the Potomac and, not to be missed, their high approval ratings among our patriots of liberal persuasion.
One is The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, published two summers ago. This is David Talbot’s history of the infamous CIA director’s quite successful effort to turn Langley, Virginia, into a state within a state, perfectly capable of taking on the one whose leaders Americans elect. We now call this “the Deep State,” and Glenn Greenwald put the debate on this point to bed in 140 characters a few days ago: “To summarize journalistic orthodoxy: only fringe conspiracists think a Deep State exists, but all sane people know Kremlin controls US Govt.”
(What exactly is the “Deep State,” anyway? Here’s a rundown of the basics.)
President Kennedy fired the Deep State’s godfather in 1961, after the Bay of Pigs calamity and Dulles’s never-acknowledged support for a failed coup against de Gaulle (believe it, the French president). Taking this to the ultimate, Talbot, who founded Salon 20-odd years ago, makes a persuasive case that Dulles retreated to Georgetown, gathered his loyalists, and probably architected JFK’s assassination two years later. Talbot’s book does not include this incident, but I have it from a former spook of great integrity, now noted for blowing whistles: A few years into Barack Obama’s presidency supporters asked at a fundraiser, “Where’s our progressive foreign policy, Mr. President?” Obama’s reply: “Do you want me to end up another JFK?”
The other book is I.F. Stone’s The Haunted Fifties, 1953–1963. The great Izzy’s commentary in I.F. Stone’s Weekly during those egregious years was among the few available sources of sanity in a nation of anti-Russian zombies. “To have kept his head in the hurricane of corrupted speech, ritualized patriotism, paranoid terror, and sudden conversions to acceptability,” Arthur Miller wrote in a foreword to the collection, “required something more than his wits and investigative talent and a gift for language.” It did—and does, so let us take a lesson. Stone endured, Miller observed, because he had faith that “a confident, tolerant America” would eventually come back to life.
I propose staying with this thought. But it is no good looking for help among the corrupted, the paranoid, and the suddenly converted.