I couldn’t believe I actually got through, because the ouija board had been sparking all afternoon and there was nothing but static and something that sounded like distant cheering. But then the overtime ended, George Mason had defeated Connecticut, and in relatively short order I had James Jesus Angleton, the late chieftain of CIA counterintelligence, at the other end. So to speak.
ML: Did you catch the game?
JJA: Catch it, are you kidding? There are lots of Washingtonians here, and when those demons managed to get the ball to bounce into the Connecticut basket at the end of regulation, we decided we’d better take matters into our own hands. Yeah, we caught it all right.
ML: I always thought there was more to that tournament than met the eye.
JJA: It’s rather like counterintelligence, if you see what I mean.
ML: That’s why I’ve been trying to reach you; some of that stuff from the Harmony/ Iraq documents is pretty interesting, and I wanted to get your take.
JJA: I’d say that “frisson of nostalgia” summarizes it pretty well. That Russian stuff is really terrific, isn’t it?
ML: I’ll say. They were giving Saddam the details of our military deployment.
JJA: Yeah, but that’s only the half of it.
ML: What else?
JJA: Well, how did they get that information? It seems whenever we go to war in the Middle East one of our allies is passing on our military secrets to our enemy. Remember how the French were giving information to Saddam during the first Gulf War? That stuff seems to have come out of NATO. This stuff seems to have come out of Centcom. I mean, why don’t the Joint Chiefs just publish it and save the foreign spies the time and trouble?
ML: That story is almost surely true, since the Pentagon itself just published a study showing various acts of malevolence by the Russians.
JJA: But didn’t we look deeply in Putin’s eyes and decide we could work with him? Bush really seemed to believe that, at least for a while.
ML: Yeah, well, the hardest thing in life is judging people, isn’t it? That’s why your old craft is so challenging.
JJA: What really has me worried is that the Russian information seems genuine, as if we didn’t feed them some poisoned pills…
ML: Yeah, and someone commented that the Russians seemed to know, even before we did, that the Turks were going to say no to our request to use their NATO bases to send our guys into northern Iraq.
JJA: Indeed. That information probably came from the French and Germans, who were blackmailing the Turks at the time.
ML: I remember that; they told the Turks that if they gave us a green light, Turkey would never ever get in the European Union…
JJA: Yes, and remember that they were blackmailing our old friends, the Kemalists, they were the ones who failed to show up for the vote, thereby dooming the project.
ML: In the past few days there have been lots of articles about hostile Russian espionage operations, as if that were news. Why should people find that surprising?
JJA: Because the United States long since stopped even pretending to be serious about counterintelligence. When Bush made Negroponte intelligence czar, the top two counterintelligence officials at DoD resigned on the spot, because they lost their independence.
ML: I noticed that. Haven’t they been replaced?
JJA: I don’t think so. And Negroponte, in case you haven’t noticed, has been an enormous roadblock in the matter of the Harmony documents. My sources tell me that the president had to order the release at least three times, with mounting decibels, before they finally started to trickle onto the web.
ML: Your what? Your soucrces??? How can you have sources? I thought the ouija board was the only way…
Probably I shouldn’t have said that, because the sparks and static started up again.
JJA: Oh, I have my ways. There are dreams, you know, and nowadays most communications go through the ether and up here we…
It was getting harder and harder to make him out. I think he actually said that Negroponte was such an #!!& that he had taken to answering straightforward inquiries about Harmony from leading members of Congress by sending them classified letters, so they couldn’t reveal what he said. “Can you beat that?!!” Then what seemed to me to be even more profanity.
In any case that was the end. And I was furious, because I had forgotten to ask him what we should do to shut down the obvious Russian penetration of our military establishment. Which seems to me a really big problem, since the Russians are likely to be as helpful to the Iranians as they were to Saddam.
I’ll try it later.