By Arlen Grossman/ The Big Picture Report
I’ve become increasingly concerned about the growth of the American security/ police state in the last decade. Since 9/11 we’ve seen increased electronic eavesdropping, “data mining,” intrusive airport security, The Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, Guantanamo, “free speech” zones, militarization of police, domestic and foreign drones,the NDAA, government crackdowns on whistleblowers and so on.
This crackdown on privacy and other civil liberties keeps getting worse, no matter which political party is in power, with little resistance from politicians or the media (even though there have been no serious domestic terrorist acts since 2001).
Jesse Ventura wrote an excellent book a couple of years ago, American Conspiracies, if which he documented numerous scenarios of conspiracies, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the Global Financial Crisis. I know a lot of people are turned off by Jesse’s idiosyncrasies, but several of his books are co-written by award-winning writer (Dick Russell), are thoroughly researched, and make for interesting and provocative reading.
What particularly intrigued me was in the introduction to American Conspiracies, in which Ventura describes his experience of meeting with the CIA soon after being elected governor of Minnesota (Reform Party). Take note, this was in 1999, two years before 9/11:
The first inkling that certain people inside the federal government were out to keep an eye on me came not long after I took office. Sometime early in 1999, I was “asked” to attend a meeting in the basement of the Capitol building, at a time when the State Legislature was not in session. I was informed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was conducting a training exercise that they hoped I’d be willing to participate in. Well, by this time I knew that the CIA’s original mission statement from 1947 meant they were only supposed to operate outside the U.S. The FBI was the outfit with domestic jurisdiction. But, being an ex-Navy SEAL and a patriotic citizen, I basically felt I should cooperate. Besides, I was curious as to what this was really all about.
Down there in the bowels of the building, some “fledgling” CIA operatives sat waiting for me in a conference room. There were 23 in all; I counted heads. They ranged in age from right out of college to what looked like retired people, both men and women, a very diverse group. Your average middle-class neighborhood types—except all of them were with the CIA, which was kind of chilling when you think about it. I was placed in the middle of a big circle of chairs, and they all sat there staring at me, with notebooks on their laps.
Well, before they could start asking me questions, I said I had a few for them. First of all, what were they doing here, in the FBI’s territory? Nobody seemed to want to say. Then I started going around the room, asking for their names and their job descriptions. Maybe three or four answered, but the others dummied up. Either they’d describe what they did without identifying who they were, or neither. Considering that I’m an elected governor, I thought this was not only rude, but rather brash. So I told the group, “Well, being that you’re not being too cooperative with me, it’s going to be difficult for me to cooperate with you.”
They asked their questions anyway, and it was interesting. They all focused on how we campaigned, how we achieved what we did, and did I think we truly could win when we went into the campaign? Basically, how had the independent wrestler candidate pulled this off? Sometimes I answered and other times I didn’t, just to mess with them a little. They remained very cordial and proper. Nobody raised their voice or made me feel I was being interrogated.But I’ve got to say, it was one of the strangest experiences of my life. I was baffled by the whole experience.
When I got home that day, I called my friend Dick Marcinko. He wrote all the Rogue Warrior books, created the anti-terrorist SEAL Team Six, and I figured he’d probably know more about how the CIA operates than anybody else I knew. Dick started laughing as I told him the scenario of what had happened. I asked why he thought this was so funny.
“Well, I’m not privy to exactly why they were there,” he said, “but I could give you my educated guess.” He went on, “They didn’t see you coming. You were not on the radar screen. And all of a sudden, you won a major election in the United States of America. The election caught them with their pants down, and their job is to gather intelligence and make predictions. Now, next to Bill Clinton, you’re probably the most famous politician in America.”
Then Dick added this: “I think they’re trying to see if there are any more of you on the horizon.”
So were they trying to gather information to insure this would never happen again? I wondered: Was I that much of a threat?
Not too long after that meeting, I found out something else and it stunned me. I revealed this for the first time in my memoir, Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!, and it raised a lot of eyebrows. It just so happens there is a CIA operative inside every state government. They are not in executive positions—in other words, not appointed by the governor—but permanent state employees. While governors come and go, they keep working, holding down legitimate jobs but with a dual identity. In Minnesota, this person was fairly high up, serving at the deputy commissioner level. I wasn’t sworn to secrecy about this, but only my chief of staff and I were allowed to know his identity. I had to go meet with the person and later, when somebody else took the cover post for the CIA, I had to know who the new agent was. I still have no idea what they’re doing there. Are they spying? Checking out what direction the state government is going in and reporting back to someone at headquarters in Langley? But who and for what purpose? I mean, are they trying to ferret out traitors in the various states? (Or maybe just dissidents—like me!)
Anyhow, I wasn’t told the reason and was simply left to ponder how come our Constitution is being violated. Let’s say it gave me pause. I’ve seen it firsthand. And that’s another reason why I am writing this book, because I believe it’s vital to our democracy to see the hidden pattern that’s been undermining this country for most of my lifetime. The Bush Administration, which made lying into an “art form” that took us into the Iraq War, was in a way the logical extension of all the cover-ups, crimes, and conspiracies that preceded it.
The National Security Act of 1947, according to the CIA’s own website, “made a crucial concession to members concerned about threats to civil liberties. It drew a bright line between foreign and domestic intelligence and assigning these realms, in effect, to the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, respectively. The CIA, furthermore, would have no ‘police, subpoena, or law enforcement powers,’ according to the act.”
Cartoon by Christopher Weyant
If what Ventura reports happened in 1999, one wonders how bad things are now. If there were CIA operatives in every state government back then, are CIA or Homeland Security agents also present in every major city now? How far does the national security blanket extend at this point in time? And who would be willing to admit it or report on it? These are troubling questions for those who still care about our constitutional civil liberties.