The CIA Does “Soulful Work”

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a spate of books and articles extolling the word “soul” became the rage in the United States.  Soul became the chic word.  It popped up everywhere.  Everything seemed to acquire soul – cars, toasters, underwear, cats’ pajamas, assorted crap, kitsch, etc.  Soul sold styles from boots to bras to bibelots from The New York Times to O Magazine.

The vogue in soul talk spread to every domain as everyone was commodified and capital was financialized.  While political, economic, and ecological reality spun out of regular people’s control and they felt unable to feel connected to a religious tradition that cut through the materialistic and war miasma, they were ravaged with a hunger to devour, to consume.  It was soul propaganda, highbrow New Ageism at its finest, the religious equivalent of an old-fashioned Ralph Lauren interior.  It was the era of consuming souls in a society that had become a spiritual void.  At least for those who had become divorced from their bodies and tradition at its best.  Fantasy started to rapidly replace reality.

The great popularizer of this new sense of soul and self (though no-self would be more accurate) was Thomas Moore, the author of the best-selling book – Care of the Soul, “a pathbreaking lifestyle handbook” and soon to be soul franchise (The Soul of Sex, Soul Therapy, The Soul of Christmas, etc.)  His works replaced the idea of an existential self with a precious, epicurean conception.  “You have a soul, the tree in front of your house has a soul, but so too does the car parked under the tree,” he said, adding that things “have as much personality and independence as I do.”  Ah, soul!

Not soul as I once learned in Catholic school: the essence of human freedom and consciousness in God united with the body.

Definitely not soul as the essence of a person bound by conscience to God and other human beings.

Not soul as in “For what shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul.”

Not even soul as the dictionary defines it” “the immortal essence of an individual life.”

Although I have seen this soul-talk used for decades now to sell all sorts of bullshit and thought I couldn’t be surprised by any more usage, I just stumbled on one that took my breath away.  I read in Life Undercover, a memoir by RFK, Jr.’s presidential campaign manager, daughter-in-law, and former CIA spy under nonofficial cover in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North Africa, Amaryllis Fox (Kennedy), that CIA work is “soulful work.”  I didn’t know this.  I thought its job was to spy, kill, and foment chaos for its Wall St handlers (with certain exceptions being some analysts who gather information).  I recall former CIA Director Mike Pompeo saying, “I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”  Or as my friend Doug Valentine, an expert on the CIA, puts it, the CIA is “Organized Crime,” not a bunch of soul-force workers out to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.  He writes:

CIA and military intelligence units now operate out of a global network of bases, as well as secret jails and detention sites operated by complicit secret police interrogators. Their strategic intelligence networks in any nation are protected by corrupt warlords and politicians, the ‘friendly civilians’ who supply the death squads that in fact are their private militias, funded largely by drug smuggling and other criminal activities.

Yet Fox effusively thanks her CIA colleagues for their great work and for making her the woman she has become.  “Your allegiance is to the flag, to the Constitution, to some higher power, be that God or Love,” she writes in gratitude.

For some reason, I don’t think the assassinated JFK or RFK would buy her love talk; rather, they may quote another eloquent Irish-American, the playwright Eugene O’Neill: “God damn you, stop shoving your rotten soul in my lap.”

The man Fox is trying to elect president of the U.S., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., also wrote a memoir – American Values – that revolves around an indictment of the CIA for an endless series of crimes:  “What are we going to do about the CIA?” he quotes his father saying to his aide Fred Dutton at the beginning of JFK’s presidency, before both Kennedys had yet to be killed by the soulful CIA.  Kennedy, Jr. writes:

Critics warned that the ‘tail’ of the covert operations branch would inevitably wag the dog of intelligence gathering (espionage). And indeed , the clandestine services quickly subsumed the CIA’s espionage function as the Agency’s intelligence analysts increasingly provided justification for the CIA’s endless interventions.

Fifty-six years later his campaign manager Fox Kennedy – you can’t make this weirdness up – married to RFK, III, is touting the soulful work of the Agency.  She replaced Dennis Kucinich, who was a strong a supporter of the Palestinians.  Is Fox and RFK, Jr.’s relationship a matter of what the Boss says to Luke in the iconic movie Cool Hand Luke – “What we got here is failure to communicate” – or the kind of communication that takes place in elite circles behind closed doors?

Sometimes sick people utter truths that lead to sardonic assent.  They remind you of history that is so shameful you cringe.  Fox and Pompeo also seem to live in separate realities, their psyches twisted by some deep evil force for which they both worked.

And here we are in another presidential election year.  When you think about presidential politics, you have to laugh.  I like to laugh, so I think about them from time to time.  It’s always a bad joke, but that’s why they are funny.  It makes no difference whether the president is Ford, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, Trump, Biden, or anyone who tries to square the oval office for their special sort of big change that never comes.  Those who tell you with a straight face that the lesser of two (or more) evils is better than nothing have not studied history.  They choose the evil of two lessers and wash their hands.  They live on pipe dreams, as Eugene O’Neill put it in his play The Iceman Cometh:

To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It’s irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober.

I am reminded of advice I was given during the immoral and illegal Vietnam War when I had decided to apply for a discharge from the Marines as a conscientious objector.  But if you don’t go to the war, people said to me with straight faces, some poor draftee will.  The military needs good people.  To which I would often respond: Like the country needs good commanders-in-chief such as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.  It’s like what people say about buying a lottery ticket when your odds are 1 in 500,000,000 – someone has to win.  Ha!  Ha!  Never reject the system is always the message.

Contemplating U.S. history for the past fifty-five plus years confirms the continuity of government policy for war and economic policies that enrich the wealthy at the expense of the working class and massacre the innocent around the world.  But we can pretend otherwise.  For an egregious recent example, the three leading candidates in this year’s election – Biden, Trump, and RFK, Jr. – all stand firmly behind the Israeli genocide in Gaza that any human being with a soul would condemn.

That these men are controlled by the Israel Lobby is obvious, but we can pretend otherwise.

That this is corruption is obvious, but we can pretend otherwise.

We can pretend and pretend and pretend all we want because we are living in a pretend society.

What’s that old Rodney Dangerfield joke: the problem with happiness is that it can’t buy you money?  Well, the problem with presidential politics is it can’t buy you the truth, but if you do it right it can fetch you money, a lot of corrupt money to help you rise to the pinnacle of a corrupt government.  For the truth is that the CIA/NSA run U.S. foreign war policy and the presidents are figureheads, actors in a society that lost all connection to reality on November 22, 1963.

Scotte Ritter has recently written the following about the CIA and its spearheading of the U.S. war against Russia through Ukraine:

Now, amid such a tense environment, it appears the C.I.A. has not only green-lighted an actual invasion of the Russian Federation, but more than likely was involved in its planning, preparation and execution.

Never in the history of the nuclear era has such danger of nuclear war been so manifest.

That the American people have allowed their government to create the conditions where foreign governments can determine their fate and the C.I.A. can carry out a secret war which could trigger a nuclear conflict, eviscerates the notion of democracy.

If this is soulful work, God help us.

Ask the 32,000 + dead Palestinians in Gaza whose voices cry out for justice while the top presidential contenders cheer on the Israeli/U.S. slaughter.

“The terrible truth is,” writes Douglass Valentine, “that a Cult of Death rules America and is hell-bent on world domination.”

And yes, presidential politics is a funny diversion from that reality.  Eugene O’Neill could be humorous also.  He played the Iceman theme to perfection, the Grim Reaper of two faces.

There was a tale circulating in the 1930s that a man came home and called upstairs to his wife, “Has the iceman come yet?”  “No,” she replied, “but he’s breathing hard.”

Edward Curtin writes and his work appears widely. He is the author of Seeking Truth in a Country of Lies. Read other articles by Edward, or visit Edward's website.