Working with Authority

You know, the CIA and I, we have a lot in common. We’re both misunderstood, we both work in secret, and we’ve both made some questionable decisions. But while my questionable decisions usually involve attempting to deep-fry a Twinkie at 3 am, the CIA’s include “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear “enhanced,” I think of something getting better. Like, “Hey, we enhanced your car’s performance.” But when the CIA says “enhanced,” they mean, “We’re gonna make you so uncomfortable, you’d rather admit to stealing the last slice of pizza than endure this any longer.” As luck would have it, they had a lawyer sign off on a new theory claiming the lawfulness of using techniques like waterboarding, stress positions, and sleep deprivation.

We’ve all seen the reports. They made detainees so uncomfortable they started spewing out false confessions like a broken coffee machine gushes hot java. And what did we gain from this? Nothing, nada, zilch, the big goose egg. We got more factual information from a game of ‘two truths and a lie’ at a sixth-grade sleepover.

But the CIA is an organization that seems to have the ultimate free pass to do whatever they want, and they’re not afraid to use it. And if you think you can stand up to them, well, you might just end up like JFK.

Now, JFK once said he wanted to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” I mean, that’s a pretty bold statement to declare how you intend to once and for all destroy the most powerful organization that has ever existed. And we all know what happened to JFK. Assassinated, and the CIA just kept on truckin’ like it wasn’t even a speedbump.

But let’s take a moment to appreciate the sheer power and self-preservation instincts of the CIA. People know about Operation Northwoods and JFK without understanding how invulnerable the agency’s planners are to outside ramifications. This leaves them free to dream big and pull off incredible feats without self-imposed limitations.

Remember the Bay of Pigs invasion? That was like trying to sneak a full marching band through a library. Or what about the time they tried to poison Fidel Castro’s cigars? That’s like trying to kill a mosquito with a nuclear bomb. Effective? Maybe. Subtle? Not so much.

MK-Ultra was the secret CIA program that aimed to develop mind control techniques, spending 20 years trying to make it work. They were about as wacky and disturbing as you’d expect. They gave LSD to unsuspecting participants, tried out electroconvulsive therapy, and played around with hypnosis. Instead of creating a real-life version of the Manchurian Candidate by turning people into assassins, they just ended up with a bunch of confused test subjects who probably thought they were hanging out with a giant talking hamburger.

When they finally decided to call it quits on MK-Ultra in the 1970s, they tried to destroy all the evidence, of course. But, like a bad magic trick, some of it didn’t quite disappear. Other operations held to better destruction of evidence standards, allowing them to avoid serious penalty when objections to their programs eventually arise.

That kind of power is, in a weird way, impressive like being able to eat an entire pizza by yourself without feeling sick afterward. It’s not something everyone can do, and you probably shouldn’t brag about it, but deep down, you know it’s kind of cool.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the sheer power and self-preservation instincts of the CIA. Want to topple a foreign government? Go for it. Need to plant a spy in a rival organization? No problem. The CIA is a cat with nine lives and a teflon coat that always lands on their feet, and nothing sticks to them.

They’re also masters of the strategic leak. Fact, fiction, doesn’t really matter. All they need is a juicy headline to steer public consciousness where they want it to go. They’ve got contacts everywhere ready to run whatever story they concoct, and the story they’re selling is too urgent for any pesky fact checking.

You must admit the CIA is the ultimate power player in the world of espionage and politics. They’re the New York Yankees of the intelligence community: love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t deny that they’ve got the skills and resources to make things happen. And don’t you want to be on the side of a winner instead of enduring another humiliating losing season, year after year?

They’re a power unto themselves, playing by their own set of rules. They’re the crafty rogue cowboy in an old Western, except instead of a six-shooter, they’ve got billion-dollar satellites and a network of spies. The president, the constitution — they’re just part of the scenery. The CIA is the director, the producer, and the star of the show.

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