Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Institutionalized Dirty Tricks, What Could Go Wrong?


jonrappoport |  —In 1947, the president of the United States, Harry Truman, decided: I’m going to create a snake and call it the CIA. Its watchword will be secrecy. It will collect secrets of our enemies and hold them secret and report the secrets to the president, who will decide what to do. Of course, the snake will remain under the president’s control. Its entire personality will be based on deception, but it will remain loyal to the president. No problem. Sure. 

I’m thankful for Charles Hollander’s challenging piece on Thomas Pynchon’s novel, The Crying of Lot 49: “Pynchon, JFK and the CIA: Magic Eye Views of The Crying of Lot 49.”

Hollander offers vital reminders of the war between two parts of the Executive Branch: the presidency and the CIA. 

“Implicit in Pynchon’s fiction is the view that events in recent American history have led to a virtual constitutional crisis, a challenge to the supremacy of the presidency by the intelligence community.” 

“In a very short time, two presidents, a Republican and a Democrat, ran afoul of the CIA. The result amounted to a constitutional crisis, a change in our actual form of government without benefit of a duly ratified constitutional amendment. The crisis is reminiscent of that period in Roman history when the Praetorian Guard could sell the office of Emperor to the highest bidder and then, after a time, assassinate him and have a new auction. To this day, the president has never again challenged the CIA, though the agency has made its share of egregious errors. With the selection of former CIA director George H.W. Bush, the presidency and the CIA effectively merged…”