Four Winds, 1,000 Pieces

Unlike their upstart competitor McKinsey, they don’t bother to homogenize their people. They never made their people wear fedoras; they put no premium on the trained-seal avidity McKinsey wants. They acculturate their people slowly, on sailing jaunts, or sprawling banquets, or card games, or benders in stodgy, opulent resorts.

Founded to capitalize on the Great War, they cranked the meat-grinder and went from strength to strength. They needed men of affairs, not visionary gurus, men of sound judgment (and men it was, back then. It was the time of Three Guineas. Women were apt to entertain fantastic notions.) Their ἀρετή was Aristotelian; they didn’t pack the firm with hundreds of superfluous philosopher kings purveying big ideas. You would hear none of that ‘we’re the best’ nonsense. The partnership went through private-public peekaboo before being tucked away by the top-flight private equity firm.

It’s an amorphous concern with blurry outlines. One stumbles on inexplicable persons. What do they do? They have no deadlines or quotidian annoyances, no turf. When they want a word with you, someone else will have it. They’re CIA NOCs.

When preferment buoys you up to a certain point, you get the talk about the birds and the bees. But if you pay attention, you will have sussed it out long before. Like the bookie who sits meekly in the Rotary Club, these NOCs are the tendrils of organized crime. Sinecures at this firm feather the nests of senior spooks put out to pasture. Yet a stint at the firm can make radicals of lesser functionaries – it has employed a number of the most spectacular leakers, spawning historic exposures. Like any mob, our thing will always have its capos and its rats.

Why name them? Meth heads coyly call Hell’s Angels the Red & White or 81. In the same sort of infamous obscurity these dapper made men boast of contracts kept from Congress, billeting spooks of Bond-James-Bond notoriety and earning epithets like consigliere of the Intelligence Community or shadow IC. Yet this old-line firm is by no means unique. Any Western enterprise of any use is shot through with CIA. You may work for them and never know it. As Douglas Valentine has shown, the CIA is best understood as organized crime. The UN Secretary General reported on ways in which criminal organizations develop a “symbiotic relationship” with the State (E/CN.15/1996/2.) Speaking frankly in a bilateral forum at the SECRET//NOFORN level, Spanish Prosecutor Jose Grinda said years of investigating organized crime taught him that unlike terrorists, who aim to supplant the state, organized crime seeks to complement state structures.

That’s certainly how it works here in the US of A. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy went after organized crime, he directly attacked CIA’s trusted henchmen and CIA’s raison d’être, and CIA killed him.

In 1991 Daniel Patrick Moynihan took a stab at the racket. The Stasi regime of the DDR had just fallen, almost all the Soviet police states had collapsed. Why not get rid of their mirror image, CIA’s kleptocracy, too? Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, died in committee. Moynihan, the canny trickster who gifted us the ICCPR, survived his exploit and died in bed.

The ensuing paroxysm of CIA torture, murder, and aggression roused the world. The UN High Commissioner for human rights named a special rapporteur to look into the CIA’s rampage. Finnish academic Martin Scheinin gauged the CIA regime against human rights. Scheinin surveyed the nations of the world, compiling the practices of nations whose secret services were less overtly psychopathic.

Only, as the mobsters say, Na ga happen. As muckraking publisher Penn Jones would say of CIA late in life, “They like what they got, and they ain’t never gonna give it back.” What they got is impunity. CIA has exempted itself from all law. In a nation infested by organized crime, incremental measures will not work.

Meanwhile the whole world had resolved to do what it takes to clean us up. That meant candid acknowledgement of CIA’s mission: transnational organized crime.

The effort got traction because the corruptible UN Secretariat was impelled by two of the UN organs least susceptible to US control: the General Assembly and ECOSOC. These two bodies shared the work out to regional groups and ministerial conferences for independent opinions. An international working group drafted the legal framework of the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto. Take a look.  It’s a remarkable endeavor. The world has outlawed CIA.

CIA fought to defang the convention in the drafting stage. The Travaux Préparatoires record CIA’s last-ditch battle for impunity. It fell to government lawyer Elizabeth Verville to put CIA loopholes into the agreements.

To take the initiative, the US delegation drafted working papers at the outset. The US objected to any invocation of the UN’s bedrock self-determination principle — subversion of peoples’ self-determination is CIA’s core competence and principal line of business. The US working paper permitted non-cooperation for insufficiently “serious” crimes. Leery of such vagueness, other countries pressed for a list of serious crimes; but terrorism remained out of scope, relegated to the preamble. CIA’s tame terrorists, from ISIL to Elohim City to Al Qaeda, would have to be tackled elsewhere.

The US tried to insert a “focal point,” Allen Dulles’ famous turn of phrase, into the gunrunning provisions. The focal point would handle nuts and bolts separately from the national point of contact. Once the devil is inserted in the details, that could formalize CIA’s intelligence liaison function and preserve deniability for covert crime. The focal point would duplicate, or end-run, the functions of the UN Secretariat’s less controllable Coordinating Action on Small Arms. But the other treaty parties rallied and dropped the provision.

The US proposed to ensure national discretion over the description of offenses. That would protect the clever legal drafting that excuses so much CIA crime. The US tried and failed to insert weasel words into the anti-corruption pledge to preserve the US system of institutionalized graft by CIA cutouts like Tongsun Park or Sheldon Adelson or AIPAC.

The US proposed a political offense exception that dovetailed neatly with the political questions doctrine that lets CIA get away with all that murder. An idiosyncratic US legal notion considers the Security Council’s purview to be politics, not law, so this political exemption could be used to protect CIA’s covert aggression. The US could drag the UNSC into a matter as a pretext for withholding legal assistance and cooperation. The US tried that trick with Libya and the World Court shot them down. With more casuistry embedded in the laws, it might just work next time.

CIA moles on the US delegation proposed secrecy provisions to keep the public in the dark and traditional sweetheart deals for informants. They proposed a catchall authorization of “any other functions” right out of CIA’s original charter, and a clause permitting “any other applicable arrangement or practice.” In conjunction with a bit of secrecy, these carte blanche provisions could shield the Safari Club, Iran/Contra, or the pedophile kompromat enterprise of Zorro Ranch and Little Saint James.

The treaty parties pushed to align eccentric US language with relevant international law, correcting inconsistent use of “law enforcement authorities” that might let CIA horn in. The US tried and failed to formalize its arbitrary asset forfeiture powers worldwide.

The US drafted language allowing treaty parties to pick and choose protocols without signing the convention itself, as the US did in the case of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other states blocked that, making the framework law of the convention a prerequisite for the specialized protocols.

The US tried to cut ship seizure provisions from the protocol on trafficking in migrants. A US suggestion would let treaty parties take unspecified “other measures” at their discretion but the other signatories, scenting the telltale whiff of a CIA loophole, deleted the clause. To preserve CIA’s prized covert control over transport registration, the US tried to short-circuit the section defining jurisdiction with a circular reference to jurisdiction, and pressed for a more “flexible formulation.”

The US tried to confine arms trafficking regulation to transnational commerce and not privately owned guns. Iran, having seen what privateers’ guns can do in CIA’s Mideast entrepots, urged the world to keep an eye on cached guns too.

CIA slipped in their all-purpose loophole, national security, the magic words that ward off legislative oversight and courts here in the US. The US put its Canadian satellite up to it. CIA put it into the protocol on gunrunning, the vital essence of CIA coercion.

In its urbane and diplomatic way the treaty body erupted. CIA’s get-out-of-jail-free card was about to be imposed on the world. Every delegate from every country had been waiting for this ruse. The emollient language of the Travaux Préparatoires did not mitigate the stakes.

One delegation supported interpretation of the wording to include cases of covert travel or transfers for ‘national security’ purposes. Most of the delegations that spoke on this point indicated that language that would support such an interpretation would not be acceptable to them.

CIA’s gravest crimes were laid open for examination. The diplomats put their finger on CIA’s modus operandi, the agency’s trick of making military materiel fall off the truck and disappear. The ineffable reason for the Pentagon’s unauditable financial cesspool was laid bare in front of the whole world:

In view of the problem of diversion of firearms from military or security stockpiles to illicit traffic, some delegations expressed concern that not requiring marking and recording of military firearms would make them untraceable if they later fell into non-military possession as a result of loss in armed conflict, theft or other diversions.

CIA aggression by armed irregulars was now a crime. The working group explicitly restricted national security to consistency with the UN Charter. Now national security means human rights in the supreme law of the land. And human rights interpreted in good faith is the death of CIA. The version of the Protocol approved by the General Assembly reads this way:

This Protocol shall not apply to state-to-state transactions or to state transfers in cases where the application of the Protocol would prejudice the right of a State Party to take action in the interest of national security consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

In an interpretive note, state-to-state transactions were restricted to states acting in a sovereign capacity. This ended deniability as a shield for CIA crime. If the US does not acknowledge the transfer, it is subject to international criminal law — not to the bribed and blackmailed hacks on the federal bench but to independent investigators from gimlet-eyed security services worldwide, collaborating in universal jurisdiction. In law sovereignty is responsibility: acceptance of the UN Charter, the International Bill of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute. The US would be committed to prosecute or extradite its state criminals. Multiple countries entered reservations to ensure that the scope of the treaty did not let CIA off the hook. It’s not over but the screws are tightening.

As its last line of defense, CIA did what chiseling it could at home. The US entered three reservations. First they cited federalism. That laid the ground for traditional US attempts to blame bad faith and duplicity on those darn states. Second, having failed to get its “flexible formulation,” the US repeated its ship and aircraft let-out from its fingers-crossed accession to the Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC.) Third, the US opted out of dispute resolution, a process in which either party can insist on negotiation, arbitration, or finally, adjudication by the World Court. US contempt for binding agreements has long been an important source of World Court case law. CIA hoped to keep its bad-example ill repute off the books.

You might not have noticed, but in 2011 transnational organized crime became a national emergency. The state’s arbitrary powers can now be used to expropriate internal enemies and deny the rights of trial. This state of emergency (in breach of ICCPR Article 4, supreme law of the land) degrades the rule of law, affording CIA what the UN Secretary General warned of: “‘systemic’ corruption designed to ensure the preservation of a congenial and low-risk home base or a comfortable environment in host countries.” And we see emergency powers being used in exactly this way, to preserve CIA impunity. Since the US, in illegal opposition to the object and purpose of the ICCPR, has explicitly derogated the most absolute rights including life and freedom from torture, CIA’s domestic charter continues to license traditional racketeering of all sorts up to and including Murder, Inc.

But in the wider world, CIA is a criminal enterprise. In law CIA’s gravest crimes compromise US sovereignty, authorizing the outside world to protect us. Now we can effect JFK’s great idea: CIA in a thousand pieces, scattered to the winds. Thirty years of tightly-drafted world standard law makes Moynihan’s bill perfectly straightforward. Let’s update the bill. The world will see to it.

*****

A BILL

To Foster Universal Comity, Knowledge and Control of Intervention Action. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

TITLE I — SHORT TITLE

SEC. 101. This Act may be cited as the `FUCK CIA Act’.

TITLE II–PROHIBITION ON FOREIGN INTERVENTION

SEC. 201.

(a) PROHIBITION-

(1) Where foreign intervention is prohibited by US obligations and commitments including, but not limited to, the instruments cited in Section 202, associated assistance to any foreign region, country, government, group, or individual is a federal criminal offense and an internationally wrongful act giving rise to state responsibility. No federal officer or employee may–

(A) receive, accept, hold, control, use, spend, disburse, distribute, or transfer any funds or property from any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person, or United States person;

(B) use any United States funds or facilities to assist any transaction whereby a foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof), foreign person or United States person provides any funds or property to any third party; or

(C) provide any United States assistance to any third party, if the purpose of any such act is the furthering or carrying out of the same activities, for which United States assistance is prohibited.

(2) As used within the meaning of paragraph (1), assistance provided for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities includes assistance provided under any arrangement acquiescing to action by the recipient to further those activities.

(b) PENALTY- Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions of subsection (a)(1) shall be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.

(c) PRESIDENTIAL NOTIFICATION-

(1) Whenever–

(A) any officer or employee of the executive branch advocates, promotes, or encourages the provision of funds or property by any foreign government (including any instrumentality or agency thereof,) foreign person, or United States person for the purpose of furthering or carrying out prohibited activities with respect to such recipients; Then the President shall notify the Congress in a timely fashion that such advocacy, promotion, or encouragement has occurred.

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing any action prohibited by subsection (a).

(d) APPLICABILITY- The provisions of this section shall not be superseded except by United Nations Security Council resolutions authorized under United Nations Charter Chapter 7, Article 41.

(e) CONSTRUCTION-

(1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit–

(A) the ability of the President, the Vice President, or any officer or employee of the executive branch to make statements or otherwise express his views to any party on any subject;

(B) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to express the publicly enunciated policies of the President; or

(C) the ability of an officer or employee of the United States to communicate with any foreign country, government, group, or individual, either directly or through a third party, with respect to a prohibition of United States assistance covered by subsection (a)(1), including the reasons for such prohibition.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as waiving or otherwise derogating from any other provision of law imposing penalties, obligations, or responsibilities with respect to any of the acts described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of subsection (a)(1).

(f) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this section–

(1) the term ‘person’ includes (A) any natural person, (B) any corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, and (C) any organization, association, or other group;

(2) the term `United States assistance’ means–

(A) assistance of any kind under the Foreign Assistance act of 1961;

(B) sales, credits, and guaranties under the Arms Export Control Act;

(C) export licenses issued under the Arms Export Control Act;

(D) officially directed or ultra vires action by an officer or employee of the United States.

(3) the term ‘US obligations and commitments’ means–

(A) customary international law;

(B) conventional international law ratified by the United States.

SEC. 202

OBLIGATIONS AND COMMITMENTS – US obligations and commitments expressly include without limitation:

Charter of the United Nations;

Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;

Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

Convention Against Torture;

United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols thereto.

TITLE III

50 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 402 et seq. is repealed. 50 U.S.C. § 403 et seq. is repealed.

*****

Moynihan’s bill, S. 236, might have been the last and greatest regime change of die Wende, the change that ended the Cold War. The epochal event that freed the Soviet bloc is also called die Abwicklung, meaning the dismantling of otiose states. One outmoded throwback survived it, to our great detriment. CIA is no agency, it is a regime, a parallel government granted arbitrary power by legally void decree. Let’s dismantle it.

Brian Littlefair is the author of Desert Burial. As a consultant specializing in foreign direct investment he worked with foreign joint ventures, international financial institutions and bilateral aid agencies, with volunteer work in food security, transparency, and human rights in the global south. Read other articles by Brian.