The World As It Is (February 10, 2023 Version)

In essence, the people reign supreme, even when it comes to determining the success and vigor of what we could consider to be secret intelligence missions that are beyond the scope of regular people’s expertise and focus. During the course of America’s twenty-year war in Afghanistan, a few CIA officials would even visit my father’s medical clinic here in Northern Virginia, asking for advice and input on how America should deal with the complex and messy situation in Afghanistan. It reinforces the point made that the scale and scope of the streams of information and intelligence which converge at the top is far and wide and it covers a wide range of sources in society. I was even given a t-shirt by one of these agents through my father, which had a picture of the famous slain Afghan militia leader Abdul Raziq on it, and under the picture was a caption which said: “What Would Raziq Do?”

And as Ben Rhodes wrote in his memoir titled “The World As It Is” which was published shortly after his time at the Obama White House, virtually every word of presidential speeches are reviewed and edited by intelligence analysts and operatives. Hence, in large part, Joe Biden’s extraordinary speech at the “State of the Union” a few days ago can be attributed to the controls and inputs of American intelligence officials. Rhodes also commended American intelligence analysts for working around the clock, not knowing the difference between night and day or the difference between past, present, and future. Time is essentially an illusion for people who engage in the work of deep and mind-boggling analysis, and this illusion is perhaps even greater as it pertains to intelligence analysts who have to make the final decisions on matters of great importance and significance not just to America, but to the world as a whole. 

And while Congress does engage with the intelligence world, the actual purpose of the intelligence world is to serve as the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of the president. In essence, intelligence is “the President’s own.” The primary level of input and output and the primary circuit or function of the intelligence world is between the intelligence world on one hand and the president on the other hand. Intelligence puts its stuff into the president, and in turn the president puts in his orders and strategies into intelligence. 

And as one former intelligence official conceded in an interview, although the intelligence world is shrouded in a veil of secrecy, the reality is that the secrecy is paradoxical, in the sense that the very essence or nature of American society – namely, openness and transparency – means that the opposite side of the secrecy coin in American intelligence is actually transparency. As the former official said, Americans “simply can’t keep a secret.” It is for this reason that our colonial and imperial efforts and pursuits were a bust, namely, that we are an open and transparent society and as a result, we are compelled to be an open and transparent people and nation as well. Acting contrary to our very essence and nature, namely, openness and transparency, can cause lots of problems, as we experienced in recent decades. 

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