Haircut — ‘Alice’ Style

May 11, 2014

tumblr_loh9fkBUx81qfralpo1_500Bright and clear, a bit on the chilly side, but still a most-suitable Sunday morning here on California’s north coast. And a high pressure hanging out over the Pacific will supposedly keep us in ‘most-suitable’ conditions through Wednesday — yet who knows?

Not when involved in a tale told the wife of Reginald Hargreaves.

Yesterday, I started reading Robert Littell’s big, chunky novel on the CIA, aptly titled, “The Company: A Novel of the CIA,” and so far, the read’s been near-about a page-turner — history has always been a favorite subject of mine, and ‘The Company‘ provides a bygone-days perspective with a tortuous view of a pathological organization so fucked-up, reasoning is bat-shit crazy. And been that way since about as long as I’ve been alive.
First the communists, now …

(Illustration found here).

Another vaporous adversary, the terrorists — in Yemen nearly two weeks ago, two Americans shot and killed a couple of armed guys who supposedly wanted to kidnap them while they were getting a haircut. A complicated narrative in  a non-fictional, through-the-looking-glass plot of maintaining the company store.
From the New York Times last Friday:

Exactly what the two Americans were doing at the time of the shooting on April 24 is unclear.
Some American officials said they were merely getting a haircut in a barbershop on Hadda Street in Sana, in an upscale district frequently visited by foreigners, playing down any suggestions that they were engaged in a clandestine operation.
Late Friday, both the Pentagon and C.I.A. declined to comment on the shooting, and referred all questions to the State Department.

American officials refused to identify the Americans or their jobs in Yemen, where the Pentagon and the C.I.A. have been training Yemeni security forces in addition to carrying out the drone strikes.
But a senior American official said one individual involved in the shooting was a lieutenant colonel with the elite Joint Special Operations Command and the other was a C.I.A. officer.
It was unclear whether the two American officers violated embassy security protocols when they visited the barbershop, apparently alone.
In high-risk countries like Yemen and Pakistan, American diplomatic personnel are often tightly restricted in where and when they can travel outside the embassy walls, and are typically accompanied by armed security personnel.
“Per standard procedure for any such incident involving embassy officers overseas, this matter is under review,” Ms. Harf said in the email.

And the two Americans ‘…were whisked out of the volatile Middle East nation within a few days of the shooting, with the blessing of the Yemeni government, American officials said.
A blessing of what, though?

Another tale of unknowns known only to the unknown — a CIA guy and a commando-like guy. Most-likely the light-colonel did the initial firing-away at the terrorists, and, maybe the CIA guy popped-off a couple of rounds. And were they just getting their ears lowered? And if so, isn’t there a barbershop on the embassy grounds?
Plot already down the rabbit-hole, dude.
In country, a fictional synopsis — further down in the NYT story:

In the Yemeni news media, the involvement of American commandos in the shooting has not been disclosed.
The day after the shooting, the Yemeni Defense Ministry’s website,, reported that a foreigner living in Yemen had shot dead two gunmen who tried to abduct him.
“Two armed men tried to kidnap a foreign citizen as he was leaving a barber in Hadda Street in Sana,” the website said.
“But he was able to resist and shot them with a revolver he had in his possession,” the website said, citing security sources.
The ministry gave no indication of the intended victim’s nationality or that of those who planned to kidnap him.
In subsequent news reports, however, unidentified Yemeni security officials attributed the shootings to various suspects, including a well-trained American citizen with a licensed weapon and a Russian specialist in the oil sector.

So, there you go…
However, with that last bit of info, you start data-mining deep into Robert Ludlum territory.
In ‘The Company‘ my first book by Robert Littell, though, I’ve read everything Ludlum himself wrote, and quite a number of those penned by surrogates since his death — the ‘Bourne‘ movie trilogy pumped him good. In attempts to escape from the ache of divorce 20 years ago, I binged on Ludlum, consuming his entire, enormous portfolio in under six months — on occasion one of his books in less than 24 hours (a used-book store in Pismo Beach, CA, where I lived at the time, carried Ludlum’s total collection, and the good-natured, elderly owner stopped charging me after awhile, and formulated a kind of exchange/library thingy for me) and sometimes nowadays re-read an old favorite if there’s nothing else.
I’m bad about re-reading shit — still do it all the time with Clive Cussler.

Although way-early in the reading (page 94 out of 894), ‘The Company‘ holds interest, but will it be enough to keep me wanting to know/understand the characters who populate the story and its soul — a paranoid, crazed and willing-to-do-anything bunch of folks bent on supposedly “protecting” Americans and producing instead tortured anguish.
And the now infamous report on the CIA’s use of torture coming from the US Senate Intelligence Committee is further down the completion-release date than anyone anticipated — except maybe, the Company boys.
Via McClatchy last week:

The panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at the beginning of April that she hoped the CIA would complete by now the process of excising from the report information deemed harmful to national security.
The procedure, however, likely will take months, several experts said.
That’s because it’s complex and time-consuming. Not only does the CIA have to review information that came from its archives, but other U.S. intelligence agencies as well as the Pentagon and the State Department have to evaluate material that they provided, they said.
You can’t get this done in a month and do a serious job,” said Mark Lowenthal, a former senior CIA intelligence analyst.
“You only get one shot at scrubbing it.”
As for the inevitable charges that the CIA is dragging its feet, Lowenthal said: “It’s the cost of doing business and you ignore it.”

Pointing out that the CIA was sent a final draft of the report in December 2012, Chris Anders, the senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the agency already should know what materials need to be excised.
“Very few people know more about intelligence and national security than Sen. Feinstein, and if she is saying that the classification review of this report can be done in 30 days, then it can be done in 30 days,” said Anders.
“Anything longer is foot-dragging by the CIA and the Obama White House.”

The report, which took five years and some $40 million to complete, is based on millions of top-secret CIA documents, including operational cables, memoranda, internal communications, photographs, financial documents and intelligence analyses.
While the executive summary, findings and conclusions are to be released, the main 6,200-page volume will not be made public.
The effort has been engulfed in controversy over charges by Feinstein and other Democrats that the CIA removed documents from computers used by the panel’s staff to impede the investigation into the agency’s use of brutal interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists secretly held overseas.
The agency countercharged committee staffers with removing without authorization classified materials from the secret CIA facility in which they conducted their research.
The agency says the program was legal, while many current and former U.S. officials and military commanders, human rights groups and foreign governments say that it violated international and U.S. laws against torture.

This the premise of a double-mirrored/looking-glass philosophy belching from ‘The Company,’ which as core-motto and quoth forth by Allen W. Dulles: “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Clueless to the ironic, hypocritical bullshit.

In Littell’s ‘The Company,’ a strong supporting motif weaving through the story’s fabric is Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and all the fantastical sayings from Alice and the ‘thingys’ she meets down the rabbit hole.
As per one ‘Company‘ character blurting in a noisy West Berlin bar via 1950: “We’re all mad here, Ebby.” Jack had to holler to be heard over the riotous applause. “I’m mad. You’re mad. Question is: How the hell did I end up in this madhouse?”
Indeed, a note starting part one of the book: ‘In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.’
Last year, a New York federal judge ruling on a US drone killing of an American citizen in Yemen three years ago: “The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” Judge McMahon wrote, adding that she was operating in a legal environment that amounted to “a veritable Catch-22.”

Under all indications, as I understand, the door marked Catch 22 is the only-way out of the rabbit hole — or not.

(And that guy, Reginald Hargreaves, noted above? I’m trying to be literary-cute with trivia — Hargreaves was the husband of one Alice Liddell, original provoker of Lewis Carroll to produce “Alice in Wonderland.” So there: “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”).

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