In Assadist & Stalinist circles, ‘retired’ CIA, FBI, Pentagon, & US State Department officials hold pride of place & their interviews & articles are often posted as authoritative critiques of US militarism. They also promote a group of ‘retired’ British diplomats like Craig Murray & Peter Ford. The VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) crowd led by Ray McGovern (CIA), Coleen Rowley (FBI), & Ann Wright (Pentagon & State Department) are a group of these so-called retirees who collaborate with active duty CIA, FBI, & Pentagon officials. McGovern often posts analyses by ‘retired’ CIA officials as if they spoke in the oracular voice & not as discredited flunkies of US militarism. Democracy Now also draws on them for analysis. Legions of ‘retired’ CIA, FBI, & Pentagon operatives also show up in force at the New Horizon conferences in Iran, an annual gathering of hard-core fascists, holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, rightwing libertarians, LaRouche disciples, conspiracy nut jobs, Assadists (including Medea Benjamin, Abby Martin, Greta Berlin).

Not for nothing, these characters served as spies & military officers for decades while the rest of their generation drove CIA recruiters off campuses, organized protests against the draft, sued them for illegal surveillance (COINTELPRO lawsuits), marched against the wars these jamokes were orchestrating. And now we’re supposed to accept them as leaders & political analysts without questioning their views & motives?

Maybe before we take the word of these characters for good coin we should take a closer look at this phenomenon of spies & generals becoming born-again in their senior years. Is it possible or likely that hundreds of those involved in covert actions, torture, assassinations all simultaneously had a ‘come to Jesus’ experience over Iraq? Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Panama, Granada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, didn’t disturb their consciences, but Iraq did?

Those of us from the 1960s generation of antiwar activists remember Phillip Agee, a CIA agent who became disillusioned with their nefarious operations & wrote a 1975 exposé titled ‘Inside the Company: CIA Diary’. He was considered a traitor, hounded from country to country by the CIA, evading assassination & prosecution, unable to find asylum, only able to find asylum in Cuba. So unlike the VIP treatment afforded this new batch of ‘retired’ spies & generals who live comfortably on their CIA, FBI, Pentagon pensions. In a generation when principled politics mattered, these spies would be allowed to march but they would never be given pride of place as leaders. The stench of covert criminality would follow them.