Powered by Google
Home
Listings
Editors' Picks
News
Music
Movies
Food
Life
Arts + Books
Rec Room
Moonsigns
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Personals
Adult Personals
Classifieds
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
stuff@night
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
Newsletter
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Webmaster
Archives



sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
PassionShop.com
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie


   
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

The secret history of Anonymous (continued)


"They wrote back saying our Arab friends would be upset, and ‘his views of Huntington’s paradigm bring into question his ability to perform official duties,’" Scheuer says. "That came back, and I thought it was beyond the pale, so I appealed directly to the seventh floor [higher-ups]. And it took the better part of a year to get permission to submit it for publication. I believe it was because of 9/11 that they suddenly became less concerned with what they first considered ‘areas of sensitivity.’ But the condition was that I remain anonymous and that there be no mention of my employer on the cover or anywhere else."

Some have speculated that "Anonymous" has been publishing with at least a measure of blessing from a CIA so angered by certain White House and Pentagon elements that it has taken the unprecedented step of allowing an active intelligence officer to inveigh against the administration — and is enjoying the fact that it can unleash a critic protected by the vagaries of national-security protocols. But the fact of the matter — as interviews with other intelligence-community officials and CIA correspondence show — is that while there might be an element of truth to that now, the agency has only reluctantly approved Scheuer’s books for release because he shrewdly played by the rules. And the unique nature of CIA rules has forced him into an unhappy compromise where, even when confronted with his own name, he has to publicly deny his identity unless the agency changes its mind. (The CIA did not acknowledge a call from the Phoenix, and "declined to comment on [Imperial Hubris] or its author" to the Associated Press on Friday.)

According to several long-time intelligence officers familiar with Scheuer’s situation, there’s no question that the agency’s conditional permission was grudging. "Think back to 2002, and imagine what would have happened if a book had come out that said ‘by Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit’ on the cover — it would have been a bestseller overnight, reviewed and discussed all over the place," says one veteran spook. "But because it was ‘anonymous’ and didn’t even say what exactly he did, let alone what agency he worked for, it was destined to be what it’s become: a required read among people who work this stuff, but not much else. Ironically, it seems to be selling well in the agency gift shop at Langley, and everyone from the [National Security Agency] to [the Center for Strategic and International Studies] has had him over to lecture about it. But I don’t think it even got reviewed but a couple of places."

One doesn’t have to read the manuscript terribly closely to see how it provides some benefit to the CIA. Critical as Anonymous is of his own organization — as well as of the Bush and Clinton administrations — he absolutely blasts the FBI on pages 185 through 192. Many progressives may not cotton to the broad notion he advances here — namely, that the US should simply dispense with any sort of legalistic, law-enforcement approach to combating Al Qaeda and leave it entirely to the covert operators. But in the context of Washington’s political postmortems on 9/11-related intelligence failures, this is stuff that at least makes the FBI look worse than the CIA.

Among some in the intelligence community who have either obtained copies of the Imperial Hubris manuscript or heard about certain passages, the rough consensus is that a not-long-for-his-job George Tenet indicated to the PRB that the book’s publication should be allowed, as it might blunt or contextualize some of the scathing criticism likely to assail the agency in forthcoming 9/11 Commission and Senate Select Intelligence Committee reports — and also might aid the cause of intelligence reform. According to several intelligence-community sources, the manuscript was in limbo at least three months past the Review Board’s 30-day deadline earlier this year. Says one CIA veteran: "I think it’s possible that it got the approval around the time Tenet decided for himself that he was leaving."

WHATEVER THE PRB’s rationale, Scheuer — who in interviews with the Phoenix never explicitly said he works for the CIA, only an "intelligence agency" — says he’s agreed to the conditions because, regardless of any issues he may have with the agency, he truly enjoys what he does and has no desire to quit government service. "I could make more money if I left — I have contractors leave cards in my office and take me to lunch, and I have a marketable set of skills, and it would be better for the books if I could actually say who I was. But I really like working where I work and doing what I do. We do marvelous things and stupid things here, but this place is essential to the security of America, and I think we have been at the lead of making the country safer. I’m not disgruntled. If I was, I would have left already. I just want this information and perspective out there."

What he does not like, however, is the notion advanced by the agency that he’s agreed to be "Anonymous" based on safety concerns. According to Scheuer and his editor at Brassey’s, Christina Davidson, when Nightline wanted to interview Scheuer in 2003, the agency told the program that his anonymity was not compelled but his own choice — an assertion the agency also made in a 2002 note to Brassey’s. Davidson was so infuriated that she demanded the CIA state its actual position in writing, which it finally did in a May 25, 2004, fax signed by Paul-Noel Christian, chair of the agency’s PRB. The fax, obtained by the Phoenix, reads in part: "This letter is to confirm that it is the Agency, and not the author that insists that approval for the manuscript is predicated upon the author maintaining his anonymity and also that his association with the Agency is not disclosed."

In the wake of the June 23 New York Times story, Davidson sent a terse note to CIA spokesman Bill Harlow that has yet to receive a response. "To say that our author must be kept in the shadows because he has expressed fears about al Qaeda retaliation is patently false and impugns his courage," she wrote, adding the "respectful request that you cease and desist from spreading this falsehood and inform all members of your staff to do the same."

In an interview after the Times story came out last week, Scheuer sounded none too pleased. "I suppose there might be a knucklehead out there somewhere who might take offense and do something, but anonymity isn’t something I asked for, and not for that reason; it makes me sound like I’m hiding behind something, and I personally dislike thinking that anyone thinks I’m a coward. When I did the first book, I said it would be a more effective book if I used my name. And they said no."

Jason Vest is a contributing writer for the Boston Phoenix. Additional support for this article was provided by the Fund for Constitutional Government.

page 1  page 2 

Issue Date: July 2 - 8, 2004
Back to the News & Features table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend
 









about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group