Sunday, November 03, 2013

Mike Rogers' misguided support for spying

Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing.  In it, Chair Mike Rogers made his case for spying and how it was needed.

mike rogers

But everything he said was actually wrong.

Though the MSM lapped up the lies, C.I. reported on it in Tuesday's snapshot and provided the reality and context the US press wouldn't.

US House Rep Mike Rogers thought he was on to something today.  He was only flaunting ignorance  in the House Intelligence Committee hearing today.  He flaunted the most in his opening, written statement which he introduced into the record but did not read from.  From that statement:

In 1929, the Secretary of State shut down the State Dept's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."  The world was a dangerous place back then, with growing and aggressive military threats from Japan and Germany, both bent on world domination.  Those threats eventually dragged us into a world war that killed millions.  We didn't have the luxury of turning off intelligence capabilities as threats were growing back then, and we can't afford to do so today.

Rogers is the Chair of the Committee and that's so sad.  He's referring to The Cipher Bureau which many Americans won't know about but I seriously question whether Rogers knows what he's talking about.  The Cipher Bureau kicks off operations October 1, 1919. It's closed October 31, 1929.  Rogers 'explains' the State Dept shut it down and the (unnamed) Secretary of State declared, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." The Secretary of State was Henry Stimson and he never "said" that.  He (and McGeorge Bundy) wrote it in  On Active Service in Peace and War -- first published in 1948 and available for reading online for free at The Internet Archive.

Rogers makes it sound as if the unnamed Stimson closed The Cipher Bureau and made that declaration as he did so.

None of that is accurate.  The US military closed The Cipher Bureau.  All Stimson decided was that the State Dept would no longer foot half the bill for the cost.  This left the US Army with the full cost and they are the ones who would say "no" and The Cipher Bureau would be closed.

If Rogers wants to call out the US military's decision, he should have the guts to do so and not hide it behind an attack on the State Dept which is incorrect.  More likely, he's not lying, he's just choosing to speak on a topic he knows nothing about.

That's even more dangerous to the nation since he is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

We're not done with the lies or errors in that one paragraph.

Rogers is arguing that The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying -- are needed and basing that on WWII.  His 'logic' argues that had The Cipher Bureau not been closed, WWII might not have happened or been less deadly.  The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying today -- can protect us.

He's making that claim so the press should have taken his claim seriously and investigated it.

You know they didn't.

We will.

Ranking Member  Dutch Ruppersberger:  The most important thing we can do here today is let the public know the true facts so that we can engage in a meaningful process of reform that will enhance transparency and privacy, while maintaining the necessary capabilities.  [. . .]  Today, we are holding this open hearing so we can continue to get out the facts --

Facts are important.  They weren't to Dutch and he's lucky he's Ranking Member.  That makes him less important than the Chair so we'll focus on Rogers' nonsense.

Actress Carole Lombard died January 16, 1942.  This was after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, she was on a WWII War Bond Tour when she was killed in a plane crash.  (In previous wars, efforts were made to pay for it -- as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the kill-now-pay-later policy.)  What does this matter?  It upset her fans, it upset her husband Clark Gable and it cut short one of the most promising comedic careers in film.  But it also matters in terms of Rogers' claims.

Carole last film is the classic To Be Or Not To Be.  The comedy, set in Poland, takes on the menace of Hitler.  Carole didn't finish the film and, then minutes later, hop on the plane she died in.   The director Ernst Lubitsch signed his United Artist contract to direct the film on August 5, 1941.  That's before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

So Carole and Ernst and Jack Benny and others were just psychics about what was coming?


Long before Pearl Harbor, it was known what was taking place.   Hitler didn't operate in secret.  (Though papers like the New York Times largely stayed silent as Jews across Europe were being exterminated.)

Rogers is insisting that because of the 1929 closure of the spy agency, America had no idea what was going on around the world.

No spy agency was needed.  Rogers may try to argue, "Well I mentioned Germany but I was really thinking Japan which I also mentioned."  Oh, you don't want to go there.

Japan grew more powerful, historians argue, not because of the closure of The Cipher Bureau but because the head of that bureau, Herbert Yardley, wrote about the bureau in The American Black Chamber (1931) and that Japan immediately responded to the revelations in the book by increasing their own cryptography skills.

In addition, Henry Stimson, whom Rogers publicly smeared without naming, was also Secretary of War (now called Secretary of Defense) from 1940 to 1945.  But before that?  He was the author of the US policy with regards to Japan and China.  This policy came to be in 1932 and is known as The Stimson Doctrine.   Via Knox College:

Washington, January 7,1932
Please deliver to the Foreign Office on behalf of your Government as soon as possible the following note:
With the recent military operations about Chinchow, the last remaining administrative authority of the Government of the Chinese Republic in South Manchuria, as it existed prior to September 18th, 1931, has been destroyed. The American Government continues confident that the work of the neutral commission recently authorized by the Council of the League of Nations will facilitate an ultimate solution of the difficulties sow existing between China and Japan. But in view of the present situation and of its own rights and obligations therein, the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation de facto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those Governments, or agents thereof, which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open door policy; and that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which Treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.

From Princeton University:

Named after Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration (1929–1933), the policy followed Japan's unilateral seizure of Manchuria in northeastern China following action by Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18, 1931.[2] The doctrine was also invoked by U.S. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a declaration of July 23, 1940 that announced non-recognition of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of the three Baltic statesEstonia, Latvia, and Lithuania[3]—and remained the official U.S. position until the Baltic states gained formal international recognition as independent states in 1991.
It was not the first time that the U.S. had used non-recognition as a political tool or symbolic statement. President Woodrow Wilson had refused to recognise the Mexican Revolutionary governments in 1913 and Japan's 21 Demands upon China in 1915.
The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in late 1931 placed U.S. Secretary of State Henry M. Stimson in a difficult position. It was evident that appeals to the spirit of the Kellogg-Briand Pact had no impact on either the Chinese or the Japanese, and the secretary was further hampered by President Herbert Hoover’s clear indication that he would not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far East.[4]
On January 7, 1932, Secretary Stimson sent identical notes to China and Japan that incorporated a diplomatic approach used by earlier secretaries facing crises in the Far East. Later known as the Stimson Doctrine, or sometimes the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, the notes read in part as follows:
Stimson had stated that the United States would not recognize any changes made in China that would curtail American treaty rights in the area and that the "open door" must be maintained. The declaration had few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the Great Depression, and Japan went on to bomb Shanghai.[4]
The doctrine was criticized on the grounds that it did no more than alienate the Japanese.[6]

The State Dept did not close the bureau.  Keeping the bureau open would not have prevented WWII if public knowledge and events hadn't already done so.  The Stimpson Doctrine is said to have alienated the Japanese.  Whether it did or not, 1931's invasion made clear expansion goals.  These goals were no more secret than what Hitler was doing.

The reality is that when the bureau closed in 1929, there was no real loss to US safety.  For 12 years, no real loss.  Then comes the Pearl Harbor attack and the US gets into the war everyone else was already in.

Rogers believes shutting down the spy bureau in 1929 led to WWII.  Or else he's lying.  But if he honestly believes what he's maintaining?  That's very frightening because he's making decisions about spying and safety and he's basing them on a false and illogical fantasy.
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