Thursday, August 11, 2011
John F. Obama or Cecil Barack DeMille?
By  Mike Gorbell  /  August 11, 2011  /  Exclusive to California Chronicle

Political professionals will tell you that the most important things about an “October Surprise” before a November election are that it be devastating, decisive and, most importantly, a surprise. Thanks to chatty New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Sony Pictures’ plan to release a pseudo-documentary blockbuster on President Barack Obama’s successful mission to kill Al Qaeda terrorist Osama Bin Laden on October 12, 2012 has just been, to put it in a favorite espionage term, neutralized.
Actually, it was Representative Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, that sounded the alarm after Dowd let slip in her Sunday column that Academy Award winning team of director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) and screenwriter Mark Boat (also The Hurt Locker) had been granted “unprecedented access” to Pentagon and CIA sources who had been part of the team that hunted Bin Laden down over the past ten years. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “unprecedented access,” that’s public relations code language for the White House calling the Pentagon and CIA and ordering them to cooperate with no script review or approval for security and accuracy. Mercifully, I never received such a call during either my Marine Corps or CIA service, but I have friends who have. They’ve told me that cooperation with the media or Hollywood in such cases is not a matter of choice. Rep. King, of course, was concerned that classified identities or techniques that protect our intelligence and special operators when in harm’s way would be compromised. Given the White House’s ham-handed, on-the-fly modification of the Bin Laden operation’s cover story when one of the helicopters unexpectedly went down on the Pakistani Intelligence Service-managed Al Qaeda compound in the heart of Pakistan’s largest, most closely-knit military community, I seriously doubt that there will be any compromise of classified secrets in this film. In fact, the biggest compromise will likely be the truth of what really happened and who the real heroes were. One thing about this “cooperative” effort is for certain—the cooperation goes in only one direction, from the people who got Bin Laden to the filmmakers, Bigelow and Boat. None of the intelligence officers and special operators knew that the film wasn’t going to be released until October of next year until they learned about it over their Sunday morning coffee. And, aside from their normal shyness for publicity and credit (however much the latter may be due), a fair number of them feel betrayed by being ordered to cooperate with what increasingly looks like an Obama campaign advertisement. 
Their cover blown, Bigelow, Boat and Sony Pictures protested that this project had been under development since 2008 (before or after Obama’s nomination and election, I’m wondering?) and was, in Boat’s words, intended to “…focus on the men and women tasked with hunting the guy.” Well, that may have been Boat’s original intention, but Boat isn’t in charge of the film, Sony is. And Sony has made no secret of its political support of Barack Obama, even hosting a glitzy fundraiser for him when he was in Los Angeles last April. Sony claims, weakly, that the timing of the film’s release is so that it will get the best exposure for the May 2013 Academy Awards. Even Hollywood insiders who live and die by Oscar-timed movie releases aren’t buying that one.
I’m sure that the White House, star struck as ever, has visions of the Bigelow/Boat film—starring Will Smith as the President, perhaps?—will do for economically-challenged Barack Obama what some in Hollywood fantasized the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day did for Monica-challenged Bill Clinton. Or maybe it will even be another PT-109. Possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it. A clear path to full employment and the S&P 500 over 1400 would do far, far better for Mr. Obama’s re-election prospects. How stupid to they thing we are?        
Mike Gorbell is a former Marine and retired Senior Intelligence Service officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is currently a financial advisor and business affairs consultant on California’s Central Coast.
Posted at 11:21 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Who is John Galt?

By Mike Gorbell
Exclusive to California Chronicle

Who is John Galt? The hero of Ayn Rand’s fictional magnum opus might just become the worst nightmare of Barack Obama, John Reid, Nancy Pelosi and their secular progressive fellow travelers. Unless, of course, the Hollywood establishment succeeds in their considerable effort to keep viewers from going to see Atlas Shrugged, Part I, currently in limited release throughout the United States. After keeping Shrugged out of production for more than 40 years, Tinsel Town’s critical campaign to dissuade viewers from seeing the film at their local theaters got underway even as the movie began production. It continued into this opening weekend, where the elite critics panned a movie that cost $10 million to make and grossed $1.7 million on its first weekend even though, as a limited release, it was only being shown in some 300 theaters nationwide. The major complaint by those who have been steadily slamming it for four months is, ironically, that Rand’s novel of Objectivism should’ve cost more to make.
This time, though, Hollywood’s resistance at every turn to the team of independent filmmakers at Strike Productions didn’t stop at least the first part of Atlas Shrugged from making it to a handful of theater screens last weekend. If the reaction of viewers in Santa Barbara, coincidentally the heart of secular progressivism on the Central Coast, is any indication, Strike Productions may well get financing for Shrugged parts II and III in short order. And that, as anyone who suffered through analyzing the original, published version of Atlas Shrugged  in Philosophy 101 can attest, may well be a problem for those who believe that the nation’s creators of jobs should be taxed more heavily so that those who choose not to work can be “fairly” compensated for their lack of industry.
Exposition of the currently popular buzzword “fair” as a code word for wealth redistribution from the able to the supposedly needy is a key theme of the movie, as it is in the book. As politicians in Shrugged’s fictional American society of the not so distant future seek to make civilization more and more “fair,” increasing amounts of income are accordingly and arbitrarily seized from those who work and create jobs and given to those who don’t in return for the reliable vote of the latter. The economy becomes increasingly untenable as those in the former group tire of working for nothing and drop out of society. Sound familiar?
I won’t spoil the movie as I encourage you to see it for yourself, but I will let you in on a little secret of my own. If I chose to misuse the skills that I acquired as an intelligence officer, I could live a relatively comfortable life producing nothing and essentially being a drag on our economy and its capitalist system. But I don’t make that choice.
Rather, I choose to engage in a business where my labor produces income and creates jobs. And I choose a business that helps and encourages other producers in our society and our economy to passionately pursue their goals and dreams for the benefit of themselves and their families, creating yet more jobs. All of those who are working in these businesses pay taxes, thus lessening the tax burden on all of us.
I thought that this was what America was all about. But ever since Barack Obama lectured Joe the Plumber on how Joe’s sense of charity wasn’t to be trusted, how seizing enough of Joe’s earnings so that Joe couldn’t start his own business and hire employees, then redistributing Joe’s earnings to the people, both here and abroad, that the government felt in “fairness” needed the fruits of Joe’s labor more than Joe and his family, I’m not quite so sure. The economic and fiscal performance of the first two years of the Obama administration and Democratic majorities in the Senate and (until recently) the House haven’t made me any more sanguine that my government knows how to spend my money more efficiently and effectively that I do.
Atlas Shrugged, Part I lays all of this out compellingly on the big screen. For some, the message will be, “I told you so.” For others, Shrugged may well be a wakeup call. For those who look forward to that day when American society has fewer taxpayers than tax takers, though, it may just be the beginning of a 19 month nightmare.

Mike Gorbell is a retired Senior Intelligence Service officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is currently a financial advisor and business affairs consultant on California’s Central Coast.
Posted at 06:11 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Why Lying is Abhorrent to Intelligence Officers
By Mike Gorbell
July 18, 2009
Exclusive to California Chronicle

The recent public accusations of CIA “lying” by Democrat Congressmen, up to and including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have been received mostly with a yawn by an American public whose principal exposure to the world of intelligence is the entertaining fantasy of James Bond movies and the shenanigans of the popular TV series “24.” Within the tight knit community of current and former American intelligence professionals, however, these cavalierly-wielded charges, and the tepid response to them by those in the Obama administration charged with leading our intelligence effort, represent an incredible body blow to morale. For those intelligence officers still in active service, the accusations have had been a serious detriment to the exceptional motivation and trust required to carry on in protecting America and Americans while operating, sometimes alone and completely defenseless except for your wits, in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
I first entered the Headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1980 as a Captain of Marines who had been summoned to brief Agency analysts on my then area of expertise, Soviet amphibious warfare capabilities and tactics. I suppose like every first time visitor, I paused at the impressive Seal on the marble floor at the entrance and considered the challenge of the words of John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” To the right of me, 43 stars were engraved on a marble Wall of Honor, representing those CIA officers who had died in the line of duty (to that date). To my left was a single star for those of the Office of Strategic Services who had similarly given their lives (in the days of OSS, they didn’t keep records). I knew at that moment that I would be a CIA intelligence officer some day.
When I arrived overseas on my first assignment for the Agency as a replacement for a Star that had been added since that first visit, my Chief of Station, himself to become a Star two years later, schooled me on the ethics of my chosen profession. “When you are overseas, you spend your life telling lies,” he said. “You lie about who you are, where you come from, what you are doing. But as an intelligence officer, there are four times when you may never lie. To the President, to Congress, to those for whom you are providing intelligence, and once you cross over that Seal and pass those Stars at Headquarters. Then it is all truth.” Every time I crossed that Seal and passed those Stars when I returned from various assignments overseas, I thought about what he had said. When I was loading a Star’s remains onto an aircraft overseas, a man with whom I had just shared a meal a few hours before he was killed, those Stars took on a particular meaning.   I realized how many Stars that I knew and had worked with, even though their names didn’t appear in the Book of Honor because they were under cover on a sensitive assignment. Those thoughts were always with me years later when I briefed Congress on what I had done, and what I intended to do, as a senior officer.
Although it may seem strange to others, as an intelligence officer your life is very much about discovering the truth and making sure that the President, Congress, the military and every other government “intelligence consumer” receives your very best assessment so as to keep the people of the United States safe and successful. You realize that your consumers may act on your intelligence differently than you might have, but what matters is that they get your very best effort at the truth. That is your job, and it is what your honor and the memory of those Stars on the wall demand.
In days past, this professional ethic was respected by our consumers in general, and in particular by those whose job it was to oversee our activities on behalf of the citizenry: the select intelligence committees of the Senate and House of Representatives. One Senator on a select committee, himself a Medal of Honor winner and former Navy SEAL officer, told my colleagues that he was inspired by their bravery and dedication. High praise indeed, particularly so as it came in a private, face-to-face meeting that involved the Senator undertaking a very inconvenient surveillance detection routine so as to protect our identities.
Our current crop of “betters,” particularly Representative Pelosi, seem much more interested in pursuing their political fortunes at the expense of intelligence officers’ honor. Since we are used to being in the shadows, this might be tolerable except for the fact that man chosen by President Obama to be the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the retired career partisan politician Congressman Leon Panetta, has publicly sided with his former congressional colleague Pelosi and in effect told his troops to suck eggs.
How do POTUS (President of the United States), Pelosi and Panetta think that it makes their intelligence troops feel when the values that define the profession and very life of an intelligence officer—integrity and honor—are so callously sacrificed on the altar of political expediency? Actually, since their own chosen profession of politics apparently values integrity so little, I really don’t think that they care. Worse, they don’t understand the people who serve America that do care.
There is one glimmer of hope, though. Intelligence officers are generally, well, intelligent. They have faith that the majority of the American people still have special trust and confidence in their patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities. And there are now 87 stars on that marble wall to remind you when you come back from a mission of a challenge that will ultimately outlast POTUS, Pelosi, Panetta and the other prevaricators of political expediency: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Mike Gorbell is a retired intelligence officer from California’s Central Coast.
Posted at 13:50 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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