The former senior CIA official once in charge of the hunt for Osama bin Laden has spent the summer calling for the slaughter of his fellow Americans.
Michael Scheuer calls Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization” along that has a “semi-human mob.” On his blog along with his podcast, Scheuer rages against a widespread, treasonous conspiracy targeting not only President Trump nevertheless the fundamental character of the American republic. This specific deserves “punishment… we’ve not seen before in This specific country.” Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old charged with murder for shooting demonstrators at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, protest, can be a “young hero.” If America can be lucky, Scheuer wrote last week, “Rittenhouse’s necessary, patriotic, along with constitutional actions will power the formation of militias across the United States.” In July, he wrote of which “loyal Americans know their domestic enemies, as well as their locations, in detail, along with will be able to act swiftly to eliminate them along with the threat they pose.”
Scheuer’s advocacy of violence follows a long trajectory. In December, he endorsed the increasingly violent QAnon conspiracy movement, which the FBI has called a potential wellspring of domestic terrorism. Those who deny QAnon’s unhinged hallucinations are, to Scheuer, “coup-ists [along with] insurrectionists.” Last month, Scheuer claimed vindication against critics when Trump seemed to acknowledge QAnon. Scheuer has long been comfortable with violence. His career-doing 2004 book Imperial Hubris argued of which America would likely need to wage a far bloodier war, including the destruction of civilian infrastructure, unless This specific divests its imperial role within the Mideast. Sixteen years later, Scheuer’s enemy can be domestic. “The only thing I would likely be upset about if This specific came to war can be of which not enough Democrats would likely get killed,” he said on his podcast in July.
Counterterrorism experts have long since written Scheuer off as a crank. Yet Scheuer’s advocacy of political violence looks disturbingly like a harbinger. Trump’s one-time consigliere Roger Stone urged Trump to declare martial law along with jail his critics if he loses the November election. Ally Michael Caputo, currently at the Department of Health along with Human Services, reportedly invented a left-wing insurrection on a Facebook Live chat. along with over the weekend, Trump endorsed federal agents shooting dead a suspect within the killing of a right-wing protester. “of which’s the way This specific has to be, there has to be retribution when you have crime like This specific,” he told Fox News, echoing a point he made earlier within the summer.
“Scheuer represents a phenomenon unfolding This specific summer across American cities: the war on terror coming home.”
“I think we’ve held our fire for four years, genuinely for me since 1973, since they’ve been killing babies,” Scheuer said, referencing Roe v. Wade. He anticipates massive Democratic voter fraud in November, even though Trump can be the one pre-delegitimizing the election. “I just think This specific’s unreasonable for the Democrats to think of which no one will respond to of which kind of an attempt to take over the government.”
However untethered Scheuer may be today, the CIA once placed him in crucial roles. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden Unit—he named This specific Alec Station after his son—in charge of analyzing al Qaeda in its pre-9/11 phase, via 1995 to 1999. along with not just analysis: During of which time, Scheuer ran rendition operations—of which can be, kidnappings of terror suspects for torture in partner countries—the seed of which would likely sprout into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. Scheuer may no longer be respectable enough for the members of the security state of which operate the war on terror. nevertheless Scheuer represents a phenomenon unfolding This specific summer across American cities: the war on terror coming home.
CIA alumni distance themselves via Scheuer. Four people who worked with him directly at the agency were unwilling to comment with This specific story; neither were two others who dealt with Scheuer peripherally.
Some former colleagues expressed a fraternal concern for Scheuer while being unsurprised by his fanatical turn. They remembered a man who they considered exceptionally smart along with whose early writings on al Qaeda reflect enduring insight. At a time when prevailing opinion viewed al Qaeda as nothing more than religious fanatics, Scheuer assessed of which bin Laden reacted to specific U.S. policy decisions—its hegemonic influence over the Middle East along with its governments along with the violence of which Muslims experienced—of which embittered millions of Muslims worldwide. Others prefer of which Scheuer not receive any mainstream attention owing to his violent invective.
Few of Scheuer’s contemporaries recall him being as conspiratorial at the agency as he can be today. Nor do most interviewed with This specific story believe the CIA could have spotted warning signs. The exception can be Glenn Carle, a retired CIA operations officer who knew Scheuer’s co-workers. “He’s always been an extremist. of which’s a psychological characteristic, not a political attribute of his,” Carle said. “Clearly along with without exception he’s derogatory, to the point of being grotesque, in his unfairness toward any political figure who shows any temperance.”
Another person who views an essential continuity between the Scheuer of the CIA along with the Scheuer of today can be Scheuer himself. “I never thought I should care about the enemies of the state,” he said. “My job at the CIA or my job within the little role I have currently writing can be to make sure the republic survives, in a republican tiny-r form of government, of which the Constitution prevails, of which there’s equality before the law along with I see all these things disappearing before my eyes. I think This specific’s a direct line. I never gave a not bad goddamn about killing an enemy of the United States.”
“Before the Jesuits became completely new-era fairies, of which’s what the Jesuits taught you to do: speak your mind, along with if you believe This specific, speak This specific loudly along with never back up. of which’s why I admired Ron Paul. of which’s why I admired Osama bin Laden.”
— Michael Scheuer
Several agency veterans recalled what one described as Scheuer’s “rage.” This specific manifested in two ways. Scheuer clashed with additional counterterrorism officials, at the Clinton White House as well as the CIA, along with elevated disagreements into litmus tests for who was along with wasn’t willing to protect Americans against al Qaeda. Some of his ex-colleagues think Scheuer’s opponents were intransigent, nevertheless considered his vitriol to go too far; one called This specific “batshit crazy.” As well, they saw him express disinterest at civilian deaths of which would likely result via strikes on al Qaeda targets. “He didn’t care about collateral damage as some of us” did, a different former colleague said.
of which was on display in his writings along with post-CIA statements. Scheuer called the renditions he designed “the most successful covert operation of which’s ever been run by the CIA.” nevertheless intelligence work could never substitute for the mass violence of which he considered tragically necessary for the U.S. to inflict upon the Muslim world. “[W]e will have to use military force within the way Americans used This specific on the fields of Virginia along with Georgia, in France along with on Pacific islands, along with via the skies over Tokyo along with Dresden,” Scheuer wrote in Imperial Hubris. of which included a “Sherman-like razing of infrastructure,” waged against the enemy’s “support base” of civilians, to destroy “roads along with irrigation systems; bridges, power plants along with crops within the field; fertilizer plants along with grain mills.” This specific remains unclear how such mass immiseration of civilians would likely have defeated jihadists rather than inspire waves of completely new ones, as 20 years of a war on terror did.
Before Scheuer left the CIA in 2004, his colleagues saw another quality in him they considered unsettling. He had a tendency to respect “revolutionaries,” as one put This specific, via the Founding Generation along with beyond, who were willing to use violence in pursuit of their interests along with beliefs. This specific led him in Imperial Hubris to describe bin Laden in terms of which went beyond a healthy respect for an adversary. “Americans would likely do well to recall of which bin Laden, in Muslim eyes along with hearts, can be not unlike another man—also, ironically, pious, quiet along with dedicated—who strove for four extremely bloody years to destroy the United States, along with, in doing so, evoked unprecedented loyalty along with love via millions of which endures even today.” Scheuer was referring to Robert E. Lee, along with did not mean the comparison to damn either the Confederate general or bin Laden.
Asked about his views on bin Laden, Scheuer said he was “very willing to admire anyone who speaks his mind along with speaks This specific with consistency along with pointedness. Before the Jesuits became completely new-era fairies, of which’s what the Jesuits taught you to do: speak your mind, along with if you believe This specific, speak This specific loudly along with never back up. of which’s why I admired Ron Paul. of which’s why I admired Osama bin Laden.”
Scheuer was hardly alone in believing of which victory over terrorism was a matter of applying sufficient brutality. of which animated Scheuer’s CIA colleagues within the torture program—one of whom he later married. He also shared their belief of which the CIA’s valiant sacrifice would likely inevitably be betrayed by frivolous liberal politicians. During a 2007 congressional hearing, Scheuer testified of which journalists who revealed the CIA’s black-site torture chambers along with the politicians who criticized them “ought to publicly apologize to the CIA’s men along with women who have executed their government’s rendition program.” Those who led the agency were little better. “Expertise can be a career killer, especially within the intelligence community. Most prized can be the ‘generalist’… conversant in many topics, expert in none, these usually male officers are fast-tracked for senior management,” he wrote in Imperial Hubris. Elected officials receive intelligence briefings via “well-dressed, articulate along with politically sensitive dilettantes, along with hear nothing via idiosyncratic, intuitive along with reality-prone experts.” The result, he wrote, was the “disasters in Iraq along with Afghanistan.”
All of which gave Scheuer a framework to process the agonizing reality of which the war on terror produced neither peace nor victory. The war was doomed not via without, not because the war was doomed to fail, nevertheless via within—first via elites who were unprepared to relinquish the American hegemony of which bin Laden assaulted; along with also via the elites who were unprepared to martial the needed violence of which would likely somehow pacify what he characterized in his book as “much of Islam.”
A key to This specific step was Barack Obama, whose presidency Scheuer considered both a surrender within the war on terror, particularly after Obama ended the CIA torture program, along with the rise of a tyrant. In 2014, he suggested of which assassinating Barack Obama was legitimate. Scheuer, by of which point, was far outside the respectable conservative mainstream along with his media appearances dwindled. By 2015, he was writing of which “enough can be coming very close to being enough” via a tyrannical government of which “allow[s] its citizens to be killed at home because of its refusal to wage war mercilessly.” nevertheless all of which made him a pioneer of the nationalist critique of the war on terror of which Donald Trump offered: against wars made unwinnable by craven elites who were unwilling to use sufficient violence against “radical Islam.”
Most prominent CIA veterans have been appalled by Trump, even if they rarely acknowledge of which Trump marshalled the Islamophobia along with additional resentments of which their post-9/11 wars unleashed along with aggravated. Scheuer approaches Trump via the opposite perspective: a president who finally gets This specific. Terrorist groups remain a threat “because America’s generals are failures along with moral cowards.” Immigration ought to be limited to “white South Africans along with white Europeans via a limited number of EU countries” along with those persecuted by “violent Muslims.” Trump’s clashes with intelligence leaders prove to Scheuer of which Trump has the right enemies, the people who robbed America of victory, even if any definition of a Deep State would likely have to include CIA veterans like himself. This specific was a short step to QAnon.
In December, Scheuer blogged of which “those who do not believe QAnon will be mighty surprised.” This specific made him the senior-most former intelligence official to embrace a social media-born cult of which portrays Trump’s political enemies as a pedophile conspiracy. “There can be so much accuracy, along with well-proven accuracy,” he wrote of a theory holding John F. Kennedy Jr. can be alive along with secret indictments will soon imprison Obama along with others at Guantanamo.
“QAnon can be a very interesting person to me. I listen to This specific whenever I can. In intelligence operations, if you get one thing out of 10 to work, of which’s usually a pretty not bad deal, along with I think of which his information has been, to my mind along with what I’ve seen in terms of corroboration, about 60 percent, which can be extraordinary in This specific day along with age,” he said.
nevertheless the conspiracy was less important than what This specific licensed: “Personally, I would likely prefer immediate along with lethal, post-trial punishment —by loyal-citizen firing squads chosen by lottery,” he wrote. Targets included the “Kenya-born” Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Brennan, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Russiagate’s Christopher Steele along with leading congressional Democrats. additional hit lists include journalists, academics, “any police chief or officer” who supports police budget cuts, along with “all medical doctors, teachers, along with teacher unions advocating the continued closure of schools across the republic,” which Scheuer sees as commensurate with the predations of Jeffrey Epstein along with, allegedly, Ghislane Maxwell. “There can be no Constitutional protection for U.S. citizens who wage war against their country, especially those who enlist foreign governments to assist them,” Scheuer judged—meaning not the “Russia, if you’re listening” president, nevertheless Trump’s opponents.
nevertheless the upheaval of summer 2020 has seen Scheuer openly endorse the sort of violence on Americans of which he previously reserved for jihadists along with their “support base.”
To Scheuer, there are no protesters. There can be instead a “sub-human insurgent threat,” armed by the Democratic Party along with funded by people like George Soros along with Bill Gates, “rioting in honor of felonious scum” like police brutality victims George Floyd along with Jacob Blake. “If you have enough loyal general officers to destroy the domestic enemy, arrest the disloyal generals along with do so as soon as you can, along with use as much violence as can be necessary to terminate This specific threat forever,” Scheuer urged Trump on June 5, when the president’s D.C. crackdown was underway. The generals who opposed using the military for of which termination were exemplars of America’s lost wars who were currently “helping the Democrats to destroy the republic.” If Joe Biden wins the election, Scheuer predicted the next month on his podcast, Democrats would likely be “silly to imagine This specific’s going to preserve their lives.”
After a career inside the CIA, Scheuer no longer invests much trust in institutions to save the republic. trust lies instead with people inspired by men like Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot “Democrat terrorist[s]” in Kenosha. Rittenhouse’s “gift,” Scheuer contended, was in showing “his fellow citizens… of which no U.S. citizen can be obligated to stand by along with watch his home, car, or business being burned by Democratic swine, or to fail to inflict fatal consequences on the same scum when they seek to harm or kill him, his family or his neighbors.” of which gift was especially important “to young military veterans,” Scheuer assessed. Before the 2020 election, Scheuer urged Americans to form “local along with nationwide” armed militias to stop the potential Democratic theft.
The domestic war Scheuer can be exhorting can be more than an imaginary reckoning between American factions. The fantasy of This specific, not only its victory nevertheless its finality, displays a redeemed edition of the war on terror, down to the “Democrat terrorists” in place of phantom jihadists. This specific replaces the horrors of the lost wars that has a restored glory, one only possible through the blood of those who allegedly stopped America via winning. Among the ironies of the radicalization of the CIA’s first bin Laden hunter can be a Scheuer podcast episode via the summer in which a cleric warned of which “God delegated [the Trump administration] to use of which sword, to put down anarchy. You can call This specific martial law, you can call This specific anything you want to call This specific.”
One thing Scheuer wanted to clarify can be of which he means what he says. Black Lives Matter has “destroyed more property” than al Qaeda, doing them “absolutely” terrorists. (A vandalized courthouse building; the planet Trade Center: what’s the difference?) Left-wing radicals are setting the West Coast on fire—something of which was apparently the subject of a Q drop This specific weekend, according to completely new York Times reporter Kevin Roose. Violence can be “unfortunately inevitable.” Asked if he would likely participate in This specific, Scheuer said of which at 67 years old he wouldn’t last long, “nevertheless I’m certainly armed.”
“People seem to think of which I say things I don’t mean. I truly am offended by of which. If I say something, This specific doesn’t mean I’m testing the waters. This specific can be what I think, take This specific or leave This specific,” he said.
Scheuer can be far more extreme than most—“I’m not extreme at all,” he rejoinders; journalists like me just don’t see what he sees—nevertheless he represents a broader phenomenon. Summer 2020 has seen the domestic use of an apparatus of repression purpose-built for the war on terror.
The Department of Homeland Security, the quintessential post-9/11 creation, turned elite militarized forces on demonstrators in Portland in response to property damage, along with used sophisticated aerial surveillance assets to spy on multiple U.S. cities. The attorney general informed the Joint Terrorism Task Forces uniting local along with federal law enforcement of which they were to investigate protesters. Police around the country, in some cases armed with equipment received via Pentagon overstock or DHS grants, treated demonstrators like people under occupation. The rhetoric of the war on terror inevitably followed, via Trump vowing to designate antifascists as terrorists to his announcement of a “surge” of federal law enforcement into allegedly besieged cities. Even the emerging far-right militias borrow via the culture of the war on terror, naming themselves things like the literal English translation of al Qaeda. More respectably, 20 years of war, along with 400 years of white supremacy, helped make proposing to crush the protests with the U.S. military mainstream enough for a U.S. senator to propose along with the completely new York Times op-ed page to publish.
“‘You keep talking about killing people like me,’ I said. ‘Well, you know, there’s always collateral damage in a civil war,’ replied the former CIA official.
Scheuer’s advocacy of mass civil violence may be an extreme manifestation. nevertheless his trajectory shows the untenability of pretending the disfiguring effects endless wars have on their practitioners can be cordoned off abroad. Most of Trump’s CIA-alumni critics, as well as their colleagues across the security services, have operated as if the generation-long war they waged had no relationship to the broader unraveling of American politics. They rarely paid attention to the conspiracism along with repression the war generated until This specific was unignorable within their institutions. This specific’s no coincidence of which the radicals along with conspiracists within the security state tend to implicate additional Americans as a “fifth column” to explain away the failures of the war, like the West Point academic who in 2015 advocated “great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, along with civilian collateral damage” wanted the U.S. military’s target lists to include lawyers who criticized the war on terror. “The war on terror can be a vector for the fracturing of American society,” observed Glenn Carle, Scheuer’s former CIA colleague, whatever its architects might have intended.
Carle noted of which “elements” like Scheuer’s were present within the CIA, nevertheless he considers of which a derivative of agency culture reflecting “the diversity of American society,” rather than the CIA incubating future Scheuers. He recalled struggling with of which when he participated within the torture program, a life-changing experience for him. “Almost all my colleagues are honorable, dedicated, principled individuals. Yet This specific was astounding to experience of which as soon as the order came, ‘Do This specific because we’re in danger,’ so many unthinkingly accepted This specific, simply because This specific was an order via the commander in chief. nevertheless This specific was against the fucking law,” Carle said. “This specific phenomenon happens in times of stress, unconsciously, we’re tribal along with visceral. This specific can be happening in American society in a larger sense, along with This specific’s what’s going on with Scheuer.”
Carle continued: “I don’t know if This specific was inevitable to turn the war on terror into a domestic weapon. nevertheless 20 years of an absolutist response to a problem rather than a textured one leads to extreme perspectives on domestic issues, which can only within the end lead to violence along with discord.”
As our conversation wound down, Scheuer said of which our disagreements over the basic circumstances of American society along with the legitimacy of violence to rectify them shouldn’t stop us via having coffee or a beer.
“I trust so, nevertheless you keep talking about killing people like me,” I said.
“Well, you know, there’s always collateral damage in a civil war, along with you can’t goad people forever along with expect them not to respond,” replied the former CIA official.
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