Although I held clearances until 2006 from 1976 when I was the S-1/Adjutant for Battalion Landing Team 3/4 out of Okinawa (six countries, six ships, six months), it was not until 15 August 1979, when I entered on duty with the Central Intelligence Agency, that the “truth” became my calling. My class was one of two (79 and 82) where they changed the profile to recruit self-starters and free-thinkers instead of go-along blind obedience types. The bulk of both classes quit within five years. I lasted nine, and bless the US Marine Corps for my freedom, an invitation to create the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, today a Command. [My clearances were revoked in 2006 for declaring 7,500 foreign contacts; there have been enormous improvements to the management of clearances since then [the Office of Personnel Management now rules] and I do not anticipate others suffering the abuse I did before OPM took over, an abuse that cost me $1 million dollars in lost income over four years after I was asked for “by name” to be Chief Instructor for Intelligence and Information Operations at COINSOC in Iraq and denied a SECRET-level reinstatement.]
“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) is for me both a sacred and a practical manifesto of the obvious.
Sadly, it has received only lip service from my colleagues, who not only should know better, but from whom I expect the highest ethical standards at all times. Being an intelligence officer is in my view a sacred duty to the Republic. Lies kill. Allowing honest intelligence to be ignored is also a betrayal of the public trust. Not doing honest intelligence in the first place is in my view an impeachable offense.
My horizons broadened in 2000, when I was shocked by the blatant theft of the election in Florida, a theft well-documented three months in advance by Greg Palast, writing for The Observer in England — no US media dared to speak the truth then or since. In 2008, after having also watched the theft of the presidential election in 2004, and then seen the rush of money to “company man” Barack Obama and away from “controlled opposition” John McCain, I wrote ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (EIN, 2008). Included in that volume was an essay on “Paradigms of Failure,” in which I discuss the loss of integrity across the eight tribes of intelligence: academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental / non-profit.
In recent months I have been heartened by the clear and present emergence of a public as well as a professional disposition to re-examine the fundamentals. Who should government be serving? Should government be allowed to lie at will to the Court, the public, Congress, and allies? What is the point of having a government?
Today the Catholic Church is confronting the reality that I have embraced since 1979 and never abandoned, never foresaken for temporary convenience or out of misplaced loyalty to a chain of command that is at best incompetent and at worst treasonous. The following caught my eye:
“The teaching … that truth is at the basis of justice explains why a deadly culture of silence, or ‘omerta,’ is in itself wrong and unjust,” Scicluna said in his address to the four-day symposium which brings together some 200 people including bishops, leaders of religious orders, victims of abuse and psychologists. Source
As I observe the public blow-back on false economic statistics from the US Government, and the professional blow-back from the Armed Forces Journal report on Afghanistan that indicts many but not all flag officers, senior executive service officers, and political appointees for impeachable lies to Congress and the public, I dare to hope that our national crisis has finally broken the back of “rule by secrecy” as well as “rule by theater.”
As Karl Denninger, a Tea Party co-founder says in his book, LEVERAGE: How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World, “the math is never wrong.” Similarly, as I have found in the course of three decades of pursuing the truth, the last two with a good appreciation for true cost economics, “the truth at any cost reduces all other costs.”
We are in a crisis of our own making. It is a crisis most likely to be resolved if we can all get a grip on the truth, speak the truth only, and demand that all others speak the truth. We professionals swear an oath to defend and support the Constitution against all enemies, domestic and foreign. We do not swear an oath to obey the chain of command irrespective of how insanely criminal and intellectually hollow its orders might be.
In my view, Colonel Paul Yingling opened the door to restoring the integrity of our national security cadre with his direct articulation of “The Failure of Generalship” that obviously also includes Admirals and Senior Executive Service elements. While others have been “blowing the whistle” for decades, notably Chuck Spinney, Pierre Sprey, and Winslow Wheeler on defense, Mark Lewis, John Bogle, and William Greider on finance, it is only now that We the People appear to be listening. This should encourage those who wish to reconnect to their integrity and begin pushing back from within.
Nothing has discouraged me more these past decades than to have flag officers who ignored me while on active duty suddenly begin to parrot me upon their retirement. Integrity cannot be an afterthought, a luxury to wallow in after retirement. It must be integral to everything we do at all times, and it is MOST valuable when we are working for the government, ostensibly in the public service, and able to contribute in every small way possible, to the renunciation of corruption including all forms of turf protection at any cost. Integrity is making a comeback as the core attribute of every professional. Transparency, truth, and trust are the foundation for restoring the Republic, America the Beautiful.
Robert David Steele