Bob Woodward’s book and the ‘resistance’ op-ed look increasingly like a sophisticated psy-ops scheme and a prelude for a ‘Deep State’ coup
The New York Times front page, dated August 9, 1974, on President Richard Nixon's resignation. Photo: iStock
We now live in a psy-ops world. The latest Deep Throat War in Washington bears all the elements of an epic of the genre. Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, who remains an associate editor at the Washington Post, will be released next week, on the 17th anniversary of 9/11.
This, in turn, will divert attention from the fact that the former, Bush era-coined Global War on Terror has metastasized into an all-American Rebels With A Cause special, featuring support for the “moderate rebels” al-Qaeda in Syria, former Jabhat al-Nusra, now Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Post-modern cynics were left wondering if this one-two walks and talks like a tie-in, it must be a tie-in. The Washington Post is the property of multi-billionaire Jeff “Amazon” Bezos and it has been on a permanent collision course with President Donald Trump.
And yet the Post may be seething now because Deep Throat, this time around, actually helped the competition. Adding insult to injury, the Times timed the release of its bombshell Op-Ed for the day after the Post’s strategic “leak” of Woodward’s book.
The heart of the matter is that the possible tie-in plays to the simple premise – extolling the role of a small “resistance” or the good guys. They are driven to protect “our values” and “our institutions” from dangerously chaotic Trump.
Post-truth cynics also cannot help being reminded of the historical precedence of a 1970s “resistance” – at the Nixon White House – who leaked to the press that “Tricky Dick” was out of control and was kept in check by true American patriots.
The current Deep Throat War is more like the case of a fractioned Deep State out for revenge on Trump via its media arm. The one-two tie-in – Woodward’s book and the “resistance” Op-Ed – looks increasingly like a sophisticated psy-ops – a prelude for a Deep State white coup.
All those creatures in the swampland
At the heart of the “resistance” is Russia. Trump, who was egged on by the divide-and-rule personal advice from Henry Kissinger since before the inauguration, essentially wants better relations with Russia to try to detach Moscow from the strategic partnership with Beijing.
Virtually everyone surrounding the president, not to mention most Deep State factions, are opposed to this.
And this brings me back to the “gutless” Op-Ed, according to the Trump administration, by a “senior official,” according to the Times. It argued that Trump was always against moves to counter proverbial Russian aggression before he finally acquiesced.
Now, compare it with Republicans on Capitol Hill, who forced the White House to impose even stronger sanctions on Russia. And yet they do not label themselves as “resistance.”
The anonymous “resistance” warrior has to be put in context with Trump’s basic instinct of trying, at least, to put together an Art of the Deal dialogue with North Korea and Russia.
This is seen by the mainstream media as a “preference for autocrats and dictators,” such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, over America’s “allied, like-minded nations.” Again, this sounds like something straight from the editorial pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The arcane rules in Washington determine that whistleblowing should proceed only via two authorized forms. This involves a leak, as in Mark Felt, the original Deep Throat, to the Post, or leaking official documents, as in Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
Digital smuggling, as in the Edward Snowden case, or receiving digital files from insiders, as in Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, is strictly off-limits.
The “resistance” bears no documents. Instead, the “resistance” warrior tries to make the case that Trump is not running the show as the real protagonists are anonymous functionaries who can be equally praised as “patriots,” according to the Times, or derided as “traitors,” or “TREASON?” as Trump tweeted.
Curiously enough, the site MyBookie lists the odds for the US president charging the “resistance” warrior with treason at 1-2, which is more likely than Trump being impeached by 2020 at 3-1.
Meanwhile, there is no debate whatsoever on the dire consequences of removing a sitting president – as alluded by the “resistance” warrior – because he’s unwilling to let US-Russia confrontation degenerate into a nuclear red alert.
It would be hard to dismiss the President when he says: “I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back.”
Relieving the golden age of journalism
Now, compare all these post-truth, psy-ops creatures in this new swampland with a swampland of years gone by, masterfully depicted by Seymour “Sy” Hersh in his latest book Reporter.
No-nonsense living legend Sy describes himself as “a survivor from the golden age of journalism.” He seems to marvel at the fact he is just a guy from the Midwest who “began his career as a copyboy for a small news agency that covered crime, fires and the courts there.”
Roughly 11 years later, he was “a freelance reporter in Washington working for a small antiwar news agency” and “sticking two fingers in the eyes of a sitting president” by revealing “a horrific American massacre and being rewarded for it.”
Now, that has the merit of recovering the true meaning of “resistance” by documenting the story of a war gone wrong.
Sy may not be an epic writer in the Norman Mailer mold or wallow in the onomatopoeia orgy of an innovative Tom Wolfe. He is more like a Chicago streetfighter, packing myriad punches as quotes, many of them from anonymous players cultivated for decades on the basis of mutual trust. All the while, he would layer them into a vivid story – not a shadowy hagiography.
In this “I did it, my way” journey, we do get a walking, talking tour of the golden age of journalism, complete with the terrific step-by-step thriller of how Sy unveiled the My Lai massacre.
Even after all the prizes and accolades for one of the greatest scoops of the 20th century, it is poignant to know Sy “still wanted a newspaper job.” He got it – first at a magazine, The New Yorker, and then finally at The New York Times, “where I wanted to be” and “where my reporting would have [an] immediate impact.”
Sy conveys the excitement of his first trip as an on-off foreign correspondent, now forced to convert his legwork skills into writing on deadline. He was off to North Vietnam, “money belt tucked away, via Bangkok and Vientiane, where I was to be met by a North Vietnamese official and put on one of the irregular flights from Laos to Hanoi.”
When finally hired by the Times as a staff writer, his career “began with a roar – at the Paris peace talks.”
Sy later wrote a series of front-page stories about the CIA’s heroin ratline, an essential part of the agency’s covert ops in Southeast Asia. The ratline was first reported in a book by Alfred McCoy, then a graduate student at Yale and now a history professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Sy ended up receiving the proverbial CIA “visit,” someone from “the Agency’s so-called dirty tricks bureau.” It didn’t matter that he had quoted “a former CIA officer with years of experience in Vietnam as saying that McCoy’s work was “10% tendentious and 90% of the most valuable contribution I can think of.”
For the CIA, Sy was running amok.
Seymour Hersh in his office in Washington, D.C.. Credit Lexey Swall for The New York Times
Kissinger: more relevant than Watergate
It is enlightening to know how he “kept the hell away from the Watergate story” – even though he played tennis with Woodward “as Watergate moved from scandal to impeachment.”
One reason had to do with the fact that, in the end, the Post relied entirely on a single source, Deep Throat, while Sy was journalism’s Muhammad Ali, packing quotes verbal punches.
Another, more worrying, is that the Times editorial heavyweights “had been assured by Kissinger that the Post was making a big mistake.” Kissinger said: “The Post would be embarrassed.”
Sy was more interested in “a secret world in Washington” – code for Deep State machinations. But then in one of his reports, he finally got the message when senior editors advised him to “run it by Henry [Kissinger]. Sy was incredulous: “Run it by Henry and Dick [Helms]? They were the architects of the idiocy and criminality I was desperate to write about.”
The criminality ran deep. It included the secret bombing of Cambodia and the CIA’s covert ops to destroy Salvador Allende’s government in Chile (in his confirmation testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kissinger produced at best a qualified lie: “The CIA had nothing to do with the coup, to the best of my knowledge and belief.”)
Sy also exposed Kissinger’s secret talks in early 1971 in Islamabad with Pakistani president Yahya Khan, then the one and only go-between to arrange Nixon’s visit to China in early 1972. Khan’s army had slaughtered as many as three million people to suppress the secession in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Yet Kissinger had to remain mute to protect his prized messenger to Mao.
Chapter 14 of Reporter, titled Me and Henry, also details Kissinger “wiretapping friend and foe – especially his foes – in the bureaucracy.” Sy went all-out for what he qualifies as Kissinger’s “immorality and deceit” – at a time when he kept absolute control over US foreign policy. Kissinger “escaped any possible sanction” for his wiretapping with the threat that he would resign unless the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing canceled what he called a stain in his “public honor.”
The Price of Power, Sy’s book on Kissinger, published in 1983, ended up reconstructing in excruciating detail fours years of US foreign policy. It remains a must read. Kissinger’s reaction: “I haven’t read the book,” adding, “what you read is a slimy lie.”
The book on Cheney; bring it on
While Woodward over the years excelled as Washington prime hagiographer and court stenographer (now reconstructed as court smasher) Sy kept breaking major stories, few more devastating than torture in Abu Ghraib’s prison in Iraq in 2004. Sy painfully recognizes that Abu Ghraib did not change the course of the Iraq war, “just as the My Lai story had not ended the Vietnam War or its brutality.”
And the same applies to what really happened at the Obama administration’s killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. The Deep State prevailed; Sy could not possibly publish this story in the US. It came out in 2015 in the London Review of Books.
The game-changer was bound to be Sy’s work-in-progress magna opus on Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney. Unlike Woodward on Trump, Sy perfectly understands the problem posed by “many hundreds of interviews…none cited by name”: a “book full of secrets” with players “still involved inside the intelligence and military communities posed a high risk of legal action.”
So he went back to the bin Laden story, where he shows how Pakistani intel was betrayed by the Obama administration: “The possibility that two dozen Navy SEALS could escape observation and get to bin Laden without some help from the Pakistani military and intelligence communities was nil, but the White House press corps bought the story.”
It will take the last of the greats from “the golden age of journalism” to write the definitive account of the Cheney regime – who reduced the entire White House press corps to mere puppets. This enterprise would convey what Fear is really about, not a fuzzy hatchet job taking sides in a still in progress establishment civil war.
In parallel, in the truth-is-fiction neo-Matrix world, “inconvenient” presidents are axed. In House of Cards, Frank Underwood is dead
– as decreed by the Netflix God.
So the stage will soon be set for House of Trump. Much to the chagrin of the “resistance.” Kevin Spacey might even get his old job back.