Friday, July 14, 2017

“Security”: An American Obsession

Although I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, I can feel for his family, as the media doggedly tries to get them out of the White House by invoking an obscure law stating that political candidates may not accept favors from foreigners.  
As I recount in my memoir, Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel, in the nineteen seventies, when I became a speech writer of the assistant secretary of State for cultural affairs (the branch that most notably administered the famous Fulbright Scholars Program), I was required to get a security clearance in order to be formally hired. I had been working for from an office outside the Department of State for the former president of Americans for Democratic Action, Joe Duffey, a political appointee who was thrilled to have someone who had spent two years in Cuba chronicling the revolution on his staff.
Cmdt. Ramiro Valdes, Cuban Security Minister
Months after my application had been submitted, the office of personnel had still not ruled on my hire: they finally said I needed a security clearance, and an appointment was made.  I met with two officials — I guess they were from the FBI but I don’t remember that fact impacting me in any particular way at the time — in a small room in the State department with no window.  The furnishing consisted of three chairs and a square table.  One of the officials asked me questions, while the other observed me.  I had spent six years living in two East European countries (Poland and Hungary) and told them I had nothing to hide, answering every question promptly and calmly.  The meeting lasted all day, but weeks later the clearance hadn’t come and I was coming to the end of a temporary contract.  Finally I called the officer in charge of security and told him he could have me followed, tap my phone, read my mail: I had nothing to hide.  Finally, he asked me if I would take a lie detector test.  Blithely, I said: “Sure!”
While waiting for the test to be scheduled, several friends told me I had been foolish to accept: they were so easy to manipulate!  I called the head of security again and asked him whether I would get the clearance if I passed the test.  He said yes. I took the test, not sensing anything untoward, but still, the clearance didn’t come.  Finally, at the end of my tether, I called the head of security again, who began to waffle.  Enraged, I said, “I’m calling the Secretary for Human Resources”, and slammed down the phone.  By the time I got through to that office, I was told that the head of Security had just gone in to talk to him.  A half hour later, the secretary called me and told me I would get my clearance the following morning. Apparently, security was   required to get permission from human resources before administering a lie detector test, and they had failed to do so.
That was in 1976.  As we see today with the hysteria over a meeting Jared Kushner had with a Russian lobbyist who wants to get the Magnitsky Act, (which prevents Americans from adopting Russian orphans) repealed by the Trump administration, America’s obsession with ‘security’ has only escalated, even though Russia has never challenged American ‘interests’ — unless they be located in its neighbor Ukraine or Crimea, where thousands of Russians have always lived. 
The amount of air time devoted to this matter would be all out of proportion to its legitimate claim as news — were it not for the fact that under America’s ‘rule of law’ the high crimes and misdemeanors stipulated in the Constitution as causes for impeachment have come to include almost anything.  With Bill Clinton, it was extra-marital sex, and he got off scot free, but if Trump is impeached, he will be booted from office with glee by Democrats itching to go to war with Russia.  
(Yesterday, perhaps after drinking too much French wine, the President, wanting to shore up his NATO credentials in the ‘city of light’, made a misleading statement, claiming that ‘Hillary wouldn’t have spent all that money on the military’.  Does he really not know that Hillary was itching to take on Russia, including with tactical nuclear weapons?)

1 comment:

  1. It disgusts me that Trump is getting lambasted yet in the same breath the left and democrats are promulgating their garbage and no one is attacking them with the same fervor they are against Trump. Hopefully Americans will begin to see the deception that being perpetrated against the American people.