Destroying Our Enemies

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?

—Abraham Lincoln

In his speech before the CIA Monday, President Obama told them that their mission was more important than ever, since we live in a world with “. . .stateless terrorist networks, the spread of catastrophic weapons, cyber threats, failed states, rogue regimes, persistent conflicts, and now we have to add to our list, piracy.”  And in achieving that mission, he told them that there was nothing more important than protecting the identies of CIA officers.  “I need everybody to be clear:  we will protect your identity and your security as you vigorously pursue your missions.”  He was perhaps too, vowing there would be no more politically motivated outings of covert agents, like Valerie Plame Wilson.

He went on to say, “I believe our nation is stronger and more secure when we deploy the full measure of both our power and the power of our values, including the rule of law.”  Yes;  the “power of our values.”  Included in that power is the value we place on covert intelligence, more commonly known as Espionage.

Like most nations, the United States continues to conduct espionage against other nations, and we use clandestine spies employed by the CIA to get the information we think we need to keep us safe.

Hugh Francis Redman
Hugh Francis Redmond

Hugh Francis Redmond was just such a fellow.  Posing as an ice cream machine salesman, he sought information for the CIA on the Chinese communists from 1946 to 1951.  The Chinese government, like ours, consider espionage a crime.  He was arrested and convicted, and sentenced to life in a Chinese prison, where he spent the next nineteen years.  Although he was tortured, he never admitted that he was, in fact, working as a spy for the CIA.  The Chinese said that he cut his wrists on April 13th, 1970.  It is suggested in some accounts that he was murdered by the Chinese.

As a nation of laws, the United States continues to ask some of its employees to commit criminal acts against other nations;  to lie and deceive them while supposedly acting in “good faith” in our public dealings with them.

Just now, an American journalist, Roxana Saberi,

Roxana Saberi
Roxana Saberi

has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for supposedly spying on the Iranian government. Of course  the U.S. government has denied that she is a spy working for the CIA, but our history is replete with case after case of our government lying to other nations;  there’s no reason to believe them, even when the case against an American appears to be preposterous.

The ethics of spying and espionage has, of course, always been bound up with lying and mistrust of others.  But if President Obama wants the United States to renounce the inherent evil of torture by members of the CIA on the one hand, as immoral and beneath the “full measure of the power of our values,” then it is also time to renounce intentional lying and deceit inherent in spying on any country— save perhaps those with which we are legitimately at war.

As Abraham Lincoln— a man Obama clearly admires— pointed out long ago, in a nation of laws and superior values, the better method of “destroying our enemies” is accomplished by sincerely making them our friends.  Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to do just that, but publicly announced duplicity through the agents of the CIA is not they way to get it done.


  1. Propagandee Propagandee

    Does anybody else find it ironic that the interrogation technique that the SERE training was designed to defeat, and which was subsequently adopted by Darth Cheney and his gang, was originally created by the Chicoms and North Koreans to PRODUCE FALSE INFORMATION for propaganda purposes!?!

  2. Hiya Mark,
    I hear you. I think Hugo (heh; we’re on a first name basis, now) is already talkin’ shit ’bout Obama. But as long as his public decorum follows into friendly deeds, he can talk all the private spooge he wants.
    And all those sour ex-friends of mine? I plan on makin’ my friends again in the next world, come hell or high water. 😎

  3. On the other hand, it’s hard to tell how successfully your new friendships are working out if you don’t know what they’re saying behind your back. And over the span of years, how many friendships have you had that eventually went sour? Just saying…

  4. Hey Nonnie,
    I’d be interested to know how often a covert agent really produces the good right stuff; I have a feeling they are essentially transparent no matter what and that’s why they get caught and tortured the rest of their lives, while the bureaucrats keep lying their asses off.
    Too much 007 TeeVee makes us think lying actually works. Eventually, it always brings the shit. I imagine the best “spies” are moles in their own countries who turn against them for some perceived slight.
    If American values really are superior, we have to find superior ways of dealing with our enemies. Jesus wasn’t smoking crack when he said, “Love your enemies,” he was showing us the true way to achieve the relatively perfect world of the future.

  5. Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?

    best quote evah!! however, i do have to disagree about having spies. in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need them, but there are bad guys in countries that are not very cooperative when it comes to keeping the bad guys at bay. in fact, they are sometimes financing and/or encouraging them or, at least, looking in the other direction even when they know that they are planning attacks. i have no problem with spies who are collecting important information as well as bringing information to those who are resisting totalitarian regimes. that said, the torture has got to end. there’s no reason and no excuse for it. it doesn’t work and only fuels anger and resentment.

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