He was referring to the defunct United States Information Agency, the Cold War-era propaganda department whose reputed purpose was to battle the godless Soviet scourge. It was the Clinton administration, ironically enough, which finally abolished the agency in 1999 as capitalism replaced communism as Russia's go-to ideology. Bill Clinton welcomed with open arms the emerging Russian oligarchy and kleptocracy to his neoliberal project of trickle-down prosperity and big bubbles inflated by deregulation.
There was no mention at Thursday's hearing of the newly-enacted Global Engagement Center for the dissemination of American propaganda both within and without our national borders. So I'd hazard a guess that Clapper deems it too insufficient and poorly funded when compared to the operations of the unaccountable sprawling multi-billion-dollar USIA in its heyday.
President Dwight Eisenhower established the USIA in 1953, just as the Red Scare (code for dismantling the social programs of the New Deal) was getting underway with a vengeance. His administration outlined the psy-ops agenda in typically banal terms:
- To explain and advocate U.S. policies in terms that are credible and meaningful in foreign cultures;
- To provide information about the official policies of the United States, and about the people, values and institutions which influence those policies;
- To bring the benefits of international engagement to American citizens and institutions by helping them build strong long-term relationships with their counterparts overseas;
- To advise the President and U.S. government policy-makers on the ways in which foreign attitudes will have a direct bearing on the effectiveness of U.S. policies.
Also included in the USIA was the Fulbright Scholarship program for foreign students, as well as publications and films to counter what cold warriors then construed as "liberal" Hollywood's failure to play along with the anti-Soviet propaganda program.
After the alleged Soviet threat became moot, the USIA was drastically downsized into a sub-agency at the State Department, dubbed Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.
But back to Clapper's testimony. Besides twice calling for a belated Christmas gift of a more powerful USIA pumped up on metaphorical banned substances, he also added the curious non sequitur that he himself has never been interested in getting rich while spying on people.
|(graphic by Kat Garcia)|
Never mind that in his numerous spins through the revolving doors, Clapper has made some truly big bucks, along with the usual generous exit bonuses typically granted to executives as they leave one private sector job for a stint serving "the public."
As Ken Delanian reported,
In October 2006 he was hired full-time by DFI International, which was trying to boost its consulting with intelligence agencies. In April 2007, when he returned to public service as the chief of the Pentagon's intelligence programs, DFI paid him a $50,000 bonus on his way out the door, according to his financial disclosure statement. Five months later, DFI landed a contract to advise Clapper's Pentagon office, though company officials do not recall collecting any revenue from the deal.Whenever he is questioned about his ethics, Clapper's typical response is that it was all legal, or that he didn't recall his private firm getting a profit, and anyway, who better to deal with greedy federal contractors than a guy who used to work with greedy federal contractors? He's a veritable Anderson Cooper with the slogan "keeping 'em honest." Never mind that he lied under oath to Congress in 2014 about collecting the communications of every man, woman and child in America.
Clapper's most recent private sector stint was at Booz Allen Hamilton, the murky multibillion-dollar NSA subsidiary and erstwhile employer of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Clapper's denial that there is any greed factor in the American Deep State smacks of Lady Macbeth protesting a bit too much. As Michael Parenti writes in his introduction to former USIA diplomat Nancy Snow's revealing book about the agency, its hidden core mission was always all about hiding corporate greed and plunder under such anodyne niceties as "democracy" and "prosperity." To go along with weaponized interventions there must be cultural interventions.
And that's where the USIA came in:
"A benign-sounding unit of government supposedly dedicated to informational and cultural goals, USIA is actually in the business of waging disinformation wars on behalf of the Fortune 500.Enter Donald Trump and his opposition to the moribund Trans-Pacific Partnership, and you begin to understand why the Powers-That-Be are throwing such a red herring of a hissy fit over Russian "hacking."
Operating as a propaganda unit of a corporate-dominated US foreign policy, USIA ran interference for NAFTA, in Snow's words, 'doing nothing to advance the noble goals of mutual understanding and education,' while leaving a trail of broken promises about jobs and prosperity. USIA's efforts on behalf of NAFTA and other such undertakings have brought fantastic jumps in profits for big business, at great cost to the environment, democratic sovereignty and worker and consumer well-being."
Donald is not a plutocrat's plutocrat. He doesn't like to share. Like a subversive FDR, and notwithstanding his own cabinet of millionaires and billionaires, he is being construed as a traitor to his class. His recklessness is bad for business and the smooth operation of the global hegemony. He is either unwilling or unable to accept that although regular folks elected him to the presidency, his real boss is the Deep State.
Trump has broken nearly 70 years of tradition by openly questioning the "intelligence community." This failure to grovel has so rattled our de facto oligarchy that one of its favorite henchmen, Senator Chuck Schumer of Wall Street, felt it incumbent to go on national television this week to issue a veiled threat to the president-elect:
Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.Actually it's Schumer who is pretty dumb, letting the cat out of the bag like that and admitting that what is now creepily called The Homeland is more Stasi state than representative democracy.
“So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
Schumer is, once again, doing his patriotic part for capitalism. This is the guy who tried to deflect public attention from Wall Street malfeasance during the Season of Occupy by suggesting that all citizens, including protesters, be stopped and frisked and vetted before being allowed to get on a New York bus or subway. His plan went nowhere, but it hasn't stopped him from serving his true masters in every fear-mongering way that he can muster.
|(graphic by Kat Garcia)|
There are at least two fronts, or factions, in the Donald Trump resistance movement. The first, which I wrote about last week, entails delegitimating both the election and the coming administration in the interests of the ruling class racketeers of the financialized global economy and its enablers in the corporate media and the political duopoly.
The second involves we the people, a diverse platoon of working class grunts who refuse to be expendable any longer, acting in behalf of ourselves and for our neighbors all over this burning planet. As Nancy Snow outlines in her treatise on propaganda, solidarity fights against "free trade" have always enjoyed varying degrees of success.
Despite President Obama's best efforts to propagandize the Trans-Pacific Partnership corporate coup as being good for people and jobs, concerted citizens' campaigns against it, both here and abroad, have effectively killed it. Trump was only capitalizing on popular dissent against global oligarchy when he co-opted populism and made opposition to the TPP and NAFTA a cornerstone of his platform.
Hillary Clinton's own championing of trade deals before she feebly disavowed them may well have helped cost her the election. And it may have cost Obama his own legacy as well.
As ever, whenever you feel confused or uncertain about what is going on in the highest echelons of power on any given day, always ask yourself the essential question: Cui bono? (who benefits?)
Follow the money. You might not belong to what George Carlin called the club you're not allowed to be in, but there's nothing stopping you from making a big noise outside its gates. Afflicting the comfortable may not reverse the trajectory of all the wealth going straight to the top, but it might help slow it down. It's the struggle that truly counts.
And remember. It's a two-pronged war. We're not only doing battle with Trump, we're doing battle with the forces which produced Trump in the first place. And that includes the corrupt duopoly as it currently exists.