Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bourne Stupidity

I'm a middle-aged American guy; I was raised on "spy thrillers". And don't get me wrong - I enjoy the celluloid adventures of spies and counterspies as much as the next guy.Not to mention the stylings of the deliciously cerebral Franka Potente.

So it's just kind of irking when my country's spies don't seem to have watched those same flicks or have forgotten the plots. WTF, Felix Leiter?

Take the case of Raymond "Not Jason Bourne" Davis.

Remember this guy? The "diplomat" who shot his way out of the holdup in Lahore, Pakistan?Okay; first off - I have no idea what the hell happened in the streets of Lahore on January 27th. It seems very plausible to me that the guys Davis slotted were robbers, bazaar badmashes intent on at least holding him up and possibly murdering him.


This discussion by a BBC reporter reports that
"investigations by the police, forensic labs and the local and international media suggest that the two men were driving away from Mr Davis when they were shot. That "no fingerprints had been uncovered on the triggers of the pistols found on the bodies of the two men. Furthermore he said that tests had shown that the bullets remained in the magazines of their guns, not the chambers."
Even more damning, far from the bad guys the U.S. has suggested,
"...the men have no criminal records as such. Both...were carrying licensed pistols (and) security sources in Lahore say that they were part-time or low-level operatives for the local intelligence services. Although reports are sketchy about what they were doing in relation to Mr Davis, security officials believe it could be the case of a surveillance operation gone horribly wrong."
Well, damn. So maybe it really was the case of a guy getting flaky at the wrong time and busting a cap on a couple of local snoops from the Lahore ISI Nose Patrol.

But, whatever, you've seen the movie and you all know what happens now, right? Our hero disappears into the crowd, makes his way to the "safehouse" where he changes his appearance and his identity cards and then slips out of the country one step ahead of the dictator's secret police (or his own agency, whichever is cooler...). Every spy has seen this part and knows what to do now.Or not.

Seems that the guy gave himself up on the spot, and was thrown into the local carcel.

Now this is the part where the CIA activates its cunning plan, sends its mole into the Lahore cop shop while the suave State Department spokesmodel spins a seamless web of denials and diversions that baffles the locals, enemies, and reporters alike. Our boy is whisked out of the country as if he had never existed, right?

Or not.

Of course this gentleman was not a "legal" CIA officer, accredited as a U.S. diplomat; he was another damn contractor, more of what appears to be the "secret" side of the war in central Asia which is about as secret as Lady GaGa's underwear. Instead of a cunning plan the U.S. government began by loudly beating the stupid drum by demanding his release AS a diplomat, despite the fact that it seems that both the State Department and the Pakistanis knew from the get-go that he was not.What's worse, the U.S. has insisted in doubling-down on this lie from almost immediately after he was arrested until just this past week after everyone from The Lahore News and Advertiser to the Onion published the truth. Finally, after several British news outlets stated the truth, the U.S. 'fessed up.

Well, damn.

So now what?

I doubt whether this guy is going to rot in a Pakistani jail; he'll get some public spankings to placate the Paki mobs and then quietly slip out of the country.But in the meantime, again, the U.S. ends up looking both foolish and deceptive, reinforcing the Dubya image of the idiot cowboy, shooting up the surroundings and bagging nothing but a couple of cottontails and the local schoolmar'm. And looking incompetent; the bumbling spy is a classic staple of movie comedy from Buster Keaton to Peter Sellers.

Don't get me wrong; I'd prefer that my country not be sneaking around other people's countries unless there was a hell of a good reason for it. But I'm realist enough to understand that all sorts of spying happens for all sorts of reasons, and many of those reasons are too secret for me to know. So I know my country is going to spy all sorts of places for all sorts of reasons, good and bad.But is it too much to ask that if we're gonna sneak around the globe making real-life spy films my country tries to spy more like Jason Bourne and James Bond than Phil Moskowitz and Inspector Clouseau?


Lisa said...

No, monsieur, Clouseau you have, sans even Cato's sharpening, alas. No Italian tailoring, either ... Orvis plaid, at best.

FDChief said...

Do you have a leesense for thet minkey?

Ael said...

Don't forget the other three super-spies who were in the backup vehicle which ran over and killed a Pakistani motorcyclist as they rushed (too late) to Davis' support (going the wrong way on a one way street).

They took refuge in the consulate but left the country at about the same time that John Kerry left Pakistan after his "emergency" diplomatic trip to Pakistan.

FDChief said...

Ael: Yeah, I read that but figured it was just another part of the comic fucking spy caper.

What's irking is the sheer lack of tradecraft here. I mean, I don't know much about the CIA, but I was told that intel officers come in two flavors; the "official" kind with a diplomatic cover (who get a get-out-of-jail-free card for this sort of stuff) and the "covert" kind. The latter don't get to be heroes. If they fuck up and get caught, like this guy, they bend over and take it like a man.

What they DON'T do is get caught with a pantsload of incriminating espionage kit - and their government doesn't act like a hysterical schoolgirl whose boyfriend got caught shinnying up the drainpipe. Jesus wept.

This whole business gives off an idiotic amateur-hour "give-the-U2-pilot-a-suicide-pill-and-a-parachute" stink.

The thing is that, given the nature of the people who have our worst interests in mind in central Asia, having great covert officers on the ground is crucial. But this sort of dumb shit fucks it up for the smart guys; any GI can tell you the Golden Rule of Recognition - one awshit cancels out ten thousand attaboys.

Ael said...

I suspect that the reason they look like amateurs is because they are amateurs.

The USA has relied on national technical means and not humint.

I am told that there are remarkably few Americans who want to go live in a cave in Waziristan for years on end for the benefit of a civil service salary.

A contractor is even more of an amateur as they are tossed into situations where they need bodies *now*.

I suspect that US spies must stick out like sore thumbs.

Look at how the USA paid some nobody millions of dollars to turn the Taliban, or the guy who blew himself up in the middle of top US intelligence people.

FDChief said...

Ael: God, I hope not.

This "war" isn't really a war in the sense of D-Day; it's more like the war in the shadows between the US and the Soviets. The better intel, the more effective covert ops will determine who "wins".

This guy better be just the bottom of the intel gene pool or the U.S. is in real trouble...

Lisa said...

But, it ees not my minkey!