- STOCKHOLM -- Blaine Williams
hasn't stopped grinning since he arrived in Sweden two weeks ago. Several
times a day he'll approach a complete stranger, offer a handshake and a
smile, introduce himself as a former CIA analyst from America, and proceed
to tell the bewildered Swede all the things he knows that directly contradict
President George W. Bush's declarations about Saddam Hussein's intentions
- "Free at last!" Williams exclaimed to a reporter
as he sat on his front porch and waved to new neighbors. "I was stuck
in a totalitarian bureaucracy for 14 months. What a relief it is to say
in public who I am and what I think."
- Williams is the first of dozens of former U.S. government
employees expected to take refuge in Sweden over the next several months,
courtesy of a bold project of the new social democratic government.
- On October 15, the Swedish Parliament appropriated 500
million dollars for the "Palme Plan." Named for former Swedish
president Olaf Palme, it promotes the virtues of free and honest speech
among government officials in underdeveloped democracies.
- "Swedes have always been generous in providing economic
aid to countries with underdeveloped economies," said Erland Carlsson,
the parliamentarian who conceived the Palme Plan. "But we've done
little to promote democratic development in underdeveloped democracies."
- Some leaders of underdeveloped democracies have welcomed
Sweden's "democracy teams," encouraging their efforts to create
a culture of candor and transparency in the corridors of power. Those efforts
comprise the overt component of the Palme Plan. The covert component kicks
in when a leader is hostile to the very notions of candor and transparency.
- Palme, who was Carlsson's political mentor, believed
his greatest failure as president was his inability, during the Vietnam
War, to persuade U.S. officialdom of the virtues of public candor. "Palme
believed that if the national security bureaucracy had not been cowed into
silence in the face of a torrent of deceit from a determined White House,
the U.S. would never have invaded and destroyed Vietnam," Carlsson
- An October 8 story in the Houston Chronicle, by Jonathan
Landy and Warren Strobel ( http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/1607676),
convinced Carlsson that the same suffocating environment had enveloped
key sectors of the Bush administration.
- Thirteen officials from the CIA, State Department and
Pentagon, many with vast experience in the Middle East and South Asia,
told Landy and Strobel the same thing: The White House has squelched dissent,
imposed conformity and silence, demanded skewed analyses to justify its
hard line, and repeatedly exaggerated or falsified intelligence information
to inflate the Saddam threat.
- What most alarmed the Swedish MP was that none of the
analysts were willing to be quoted by name. Some were too frightened even
to be quoted anonymously.
- "I couldn't help thinking that if these informed,
respected patriots could raise their voices openly and in unison, they'd
stop the administration's chicken hawks in their tracks," Carlsson
said. "Public and congressional support for the war path would whither,
and the president would be exposed as the world's most crooked 'straight
- Borrowing Bush's Brilliant Idea
- When Bush insisted that U.N. weapons inspectors be able
to take Iraqi scientists and their families outside of Iraq for interviews,
thus protecting the scientists from possible retaliation by Saddam's secret
police, Carlsson had the solution that had eluded Palme so many years ago.
- "That's it!" he told a colleague. "We'll
offer U.S. bureaucrats and their families safe passage to Sweden and a
secure environment from which they can speak freely and publicly to the
folks back home. They can stay here at our expense until a climate of openness
and honesty prevails in the Bush administration."
- In addition to Williams, 28 other bureaucrats and their
families are en route to Stockholm. All were spirited out of Washington
by a team of Swedish secret agents who had honed their rescue skills in
Yugoslavia and the Congo.
- Once the former officials settle into their new homes
and get comfortable with saying who they are and what they think, they'll
spend their time giving speeches an interviews.
- Former CIA analyst Williams is already a sensation on
Swedish TV as a regular guest on the top-rated chat show, Nugen Farger
("Hard Rugby"). On a recent edition, he parsed a string of Bush's
statements on Iraq, including assertions at a Republican fundraiser that
Saddam Hussein hopes to deploy al Qaeda as his "forward army"
against the West, and that "we need to think about Saddam Hussein
using al Qaeda to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind."
- "I can assure you," Williams told Swedish viewers,
"that no one at CIA believes a word Bush said. What's more, no one
at CIA believes that Bush believes a word Bush said."
- Strong words, and Williams anticipates an echo chamber
as more of Sweden's newest residents regain their voice. But he wonders
if members of the U.S. news media, particularly those he calls "the
boobs on the tube," will dare to listen.
- Dennis Hans files fantastic stories from cities he's
never visited for the Wishful Thinking Express. He is a freelance writer
whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National
Post (Canada) and online at TomPaine.com, Slate and The Black World Today
(tbwt.com), among other outlets. He has taught courses in mass communications
and American foreign policy at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg.
Dennis is a contributing writer for Liberal Slant and can be reached at