Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Straight Talk From A Spook

I have said this before, but it's more true than ever. I am really coming to seriously admire Robert Grenier.

This man can speak the truth so compellingly, and yet manage a sense of the whimsical, a brief and eloquent thought spared for what-might-have-been. Who would ever have expected it from a former spook? I am forced to reconsider my image of the CIA, in spite of their manifold and heinous crimes against humanity, their crimes against sanity.

The article to which I refer is here.

Then again, what is the CIA, really?

On the one hand, if you go to their website, at, and choose World Factbook from the blue menu at the right, you can find a truly excellent online reference source, one which contains blunt, factual, astonishingly undiplomatic appraisals of any number of nations and situations around this world of ours. Back at the main site, if you examine the menu on the left, there is a listing for the CIA "Kids' Page". I confess, I haven't had the courage to look. My excuse is that I'm not a parent, (much to my sorrow and regret), and therefore I'm not qualified to assess the situation. If you're a parent and you do have the courage, let me know what you find, please.

On the other hand, we all know their reputation. There are some who describe the CIA as essentially the private army of the Bush Dynasty. I suspect that the CIA to which these folks refer is essentially the directorate of operations. But who knows?

In conclusion, let me offer a personal anecdote from years ago. In the late 1970's, I was contemplating career decisions, of the sort we all have to make long before we have any realistic idea what we are committing ourselves to, or just how far-reaching the effects of such decisions will be. An older female relative, whom I most emphatically will not identify by name, asked me if I'd considered a career with the CIA. I replied that no, I had not thought about it, and added that it was my understanding that one could not merely walk in and apply for such jobs, but that one must be invited to apply. She looked me right in the eye and asked, "would you like to be invited?".

The point of this story is not that this female relative of mine was an evil woman. She was rather stern and serious for my tastes, and hellishly judgmental, but she was not evil by any means. The point of this story is that the CIA is composed of people, people much like thee and me.

For the record, I said No, thank you. Just imagine how different a man I might be today, if I had said Yes, thank you. Granted, with my basic irreverence for authority, I might well have wound up dead or in prison. But, on the gripping hand, I might have wound up a man much like Robert Grenier.

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