Monday, October 09, 2006

What’s in a Polish secret service file?


Well, it’s a bit like Hello magazine, actually.

The government has released secret service papers from the early nineteen nineties that show conservative politicians such as Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski were ‘under surveillance’. The author of the notes on leading politicians from the right of the Solidarity movement (and many others) were made by Col. Jan Lesiak, who is currently involved in court proceedings(above) for his cloak and dagger activities - he was in both the communist SB and, after some kind of vetting process, the post communist OUP.

The government is convinced that this hangover from communist days is the reason for Poland's problems. Maybe all of them.

The government has also accused Jan Rokita, leading member of the opposition Civic Platform, of being responsible, as he was head of the Council of Ministers Hanna Suchocka’s government in 1992-3, the period the files by Jan Lesiak refer to (known as "Lesiak's Wardrobe').

So what do these secret files look like? Well, they are full, much of the time, with banal details of the lifestyle of politicians. It’s here where the widely known insinuations about Jaroslaw Kaczynski's ‘lifestyle’ are noted.

Modern day secret service activity seems to be comprised of going through current affairs magazines looking for quotes. Here is a snippet.

‘He lives in a three bedroom flat on one floor in a three apartment bloc. Kaczynski’s mother explains why he didn’t get married. “I think he did meet already the one woman of his life. It was in the seventies. She claimed that he left her for KOR [Workers Defense Committee, a forerunner to Solidarity]. She got married. We never talk about it. It’s our deal. “

He doesn’t drive a car neither does he have a driving license. He doesn’t really care about what he wears. His mother says: “It’s a real burden for him to have to buy clothes. He will never do anything for himself. “

He doesn’t play any sports, though he is interested in sport. Out of all the alcohols he likes wine and beer. He used to smoke but gave up. He is keen on going for walks.

He loves animals, particularly his six and a half year old cat, Busio.

He likes to relax by reading and listening to music. He likes books on sociology, psychology, history, religion - doesn’t really like fiction but his favorite novels are ‘The magic mountain’ by Thomas Mann and ‘Conversations in a cathedral’ by Mario Llosa.

He can cook. His favorites are beefsteak and chicken liver.

When working [as a lawyer?] he gave one third of his salary to animals… ‘

Ah. It’s Hello magazine! You can imagine the photos of Jarosław and his mum; photo of him with Busio…

Jan Lesiak should be given a job in the paparazzi.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

One third to animals? I've got tears in my eyes - I shall never look on him the same way again...

And my enjoyment of 'Conversations in the Cathedral' is in ruins!

jannovak57 said...

There is nothing innocent about the actions of the Security Services after 1989, clearly some loyalist of the old regime were left in place to make the apparatus of the old state safely disappear into the new system. This was a sort of insurance policy to prevent or frustrate any serious vetting of society until it would be too late to actually do this.

They could not afford a right of centre administration doing too much digging too soon after 1989. What they did and did successfully was to use the resources of the new state to prevent or subvert the democratic process for the initial period. There work hampered any party working against the SLD and maintained the SLD in power by the mechanism of information rather than repression.

Just picture the advantage that they had, the SLD could access files on any opponent or have them created. In a sense this political party had at its disposal a huge private investigation agency (funded by the tax payer). If you need to reach out and touch someone you just need to look at someone’s past or examine their present. Drop the information to your friendly news media contacts and away you go.

Notwithstanding, no amount of cloak and dagger activities could save the SLD from its inclination to have a new scandal every week.

Over time there resources to do this have been degraded by personnel changes, departmental reorganization and retirements, bad things continue to happen with the Security Services but on a much smaller scale than in the past.

In 1989 the zero option was discussed, removing 100% of the personnel of the SB and Military Information Service then starting from scratch with carefully vetted personnel. This option was dismissed as being too radical, as we needed these “professionals”. An inexcusable and serious error in judgement.

These people damaged the democratic process and left a legacy of distrust that will require decades to fully overcome.

beatroot said...

I am not saying that these people's activities were iccocent - just banal most of the time. What were they going to do with information about Busio? Blackmail his cat?

One of the mistakes they made In Iraq – de-ba’athification – was getting rid of whole chunks of the state at once.

I know the situations are very different – Poland, crucially didn’t have to have someone invade them to liberate them – but surly it is a difficult call when you are going through ‘regime change’ at how much and how fast you get rid of the old bits of the state machine?

Michael Farris said...

"These people damaged the democratic process and left a legacy of distrust that will require decades to fully overcome."

Stop looking for scapegoats. The problems since 1989 have all been the doing of the majority of the population, no need to single out evil commies.

The painful fact is that Poland's done about as well (in terms of both democracy and economics) as it could since 1989 given the basic economic and social infrastructure of the country in 1989 (a shambles by any rational measure) and it's human and social capital (huge but far too often misdirected and/or wasted).

If 90% (conservative estimate) of the country is trying actively to Beat the System, then the vulnerable who are least able to play that game (old, disabled, etc) are going to be the worst hit. If Polish people don't understand that little fact yet, then they never will.

And a population that's uncomfortable with unfamiliar risk (of which Poles are a museum exhibit) is going to have less spectacular growth figures than a population that says "No one else has tried it, why don't we?" (see Estonia).

"There work hampered any party working against the SLD and maintained the SLD in power by the mechanism of information rather than repression."

WELCOME TO THE WESTERN WAY OF DOING THINGS!
Seriously, change SLD to Republicans and you have a pretty good picture of US politics over the last six years? Who do you think George W. Bush was elected in 2004?
Sorry, so far this scandalette sounds like business-as-usual in modern democracies... such as they are, such as they are.

Redwine said...

I have read kilos of such files. The paparazzi are supposed to have a better ortography though. One of my favorite sentences is
"in the evenings he plays brigi"(sic!)
And one of the involved ( a renamed scientist) was a bit pale when reading them, as the files described in details several of his extramarital affairs. (His wife still doesn't suspect him...)
yes, many of them could (have been?) used for blackmail and still can be. Many are blackmailed btw.)The past will never end, if it goes on like this.

beatroot said...

Many cats are blackmailed? Call Human Rights Watch! Maybe they have a feline department?

jannovak57 said...

Michael Farris said:

“Stop looking for scapegoats. The problems since 1989 have all been the doing of the majority of the population, no need to single out evil commies.”

There were small number of people participating in the Round Table negotiations; neither side had a mandate from the people. Less than 60 people decided the outcome, hardly a majority.

“change SLD to Republicans and you have a pretty good picture of US politics over the last six years? “

A political party imposed on Poland by the Soviet armed forces, finding itself without support or financial resources after 1989. Changes it name the SLD and gets resuscitated thanks to a package of financial aid from Soviet Union.

Notwithstanding a propensity for scandal the Republicans can’t be compared to the SLD.
I should remind you of another comparison made by General Patton to an American reporter at the end of WW2, where he said membership in the Nazis party was similar to belonging to the Republicans or Democrats in the US. That didn’t go over well!

Since the SLD looks like it’s back to square one maybe it’s time for another loan, can you visualize the sales pitch to the Ruskies.

We at the SLD know how to fly the Russian flag over Poland correctly unlike the present administration.

ig da geez said...

jannovak wrote: "Just picture the advantage that they had, the SLD could access files on any opponent or have them created."

>>>And how did they actually use this advantage? What opponents did they blackmail? Did they create files and how did they use them? Why didn't they create and use any such manufactured files on the Kaczynskis and other PiSsers?

The SLDers were just a bunch of corrupt fuxters used to living the good life who would have been Republicans if they lived in the US.

Michael Farris said...

"There were small number of people participating in the Round Table negotiations; neither side had a mandate from the people. Less than 60 people decided the outcome, hardly a majority."

Does this mean you want to go back to what was _before_ that?

I have no interest in dragging out debate on how those negotiations should or should not have been carried out except to say that I'm in favor of soft landings and peaceful transitions and getting on with the relentless march toward the future. I understand if you disagree though I really don't know what you thought could realistically been done differently.

beatroot said...

Jan:

A political party imposed on Poland by the Soviet armed forces, finding itself without support or financial resources after 1989. Changes it name the SLD and gets resuscitated thanks to a package of financial aid from Soviet Union.

Fir sure it was imposed, but what really did you think people were voting for when they elected them, into government here? It’s strange to say it but they trusted them to run the country without too much rampant capitalism – not for Soviet handouts. They wanted continuity, as Mike says...Of course, it turns out that they hadn’t got rid of their connections and habits...no shock really.

But the electorate needs a credible social democratic alternative…...and they don’t have one. So they vote for other parties with a leftist economic agenda – this old (new?) coalition, for instance….

And GEEZER is right to question why people vote for political parties. Again, weirdly, the SLD are the oldest and best organized party in Poland. The rest of them are ephemeral, transient alliances. So they used to have a core vote…which appears to evaporated now....

So that leaves no political parties with established roots at al...).

Michael Farris said...

"rhe rest of them are ephemeral, transient alliances"

The real curse of Polish politics is the number and influence of pocket parties built around a charismatic leader (Kaczynskis, Giertych, Lepper) set off by boobish second bananas (Gosierowski, Wierzejski, Beger).
PO's problem is that both Tusk and Rokita are both boobish second bananas and their's no charismatic frontman.

beatroot said...

PO's problem is that both Tusk and Rokita are both boobish second bananas and there’s no charismatic frontman.

Personality politics? Why of course. But what many PO voters have said to me is that they like this clam (uncharismatic) pose. That’s why they did those ads with Busio ranting, and then Tusk comes on being all cool and responsible. PO voters want a service like they get from their bank manager.

steppx said...

i wonder what Jan thinks any political party is made up of and how its formed....? And I find most of what Lech and Tusk and all of them think is quite close to the US Republican party.....(maybe not the neo con fringe...but the core). Its corporate friendly and anti labor. Worth noting the government support of the debacle in Iraq !!

Poles....many of them....have a healthy distrust of western neo liberalism......and this is good. And Farris is mostly right in all he says here (ah, inclusivity again :)). Well, most of it. (ha).

A lot of new construction going on in Lodz......luxery apartments....quite nice....but mostly for NON Poles who are now doing business here. You can look at that anyway you want....but most natives of Lodz wont be renting these flats anytime soon....and these buildings are owned by multi national corporations....not by Poles.

so, electoral politics in class based societies are pretty pointless (thats, yes, Marx).....and we see that here. Beat's final comments are right too.

One last note...since when is Lech Kaczynski *charismatic*? Did I mis-learn the meaning of that word???

beatroot said...

I don’t think Marx thought electoral politics was ‘pretty pointless’…he was living at a time when that kind of party politics was either very new almost non existent.

And nobody would pretend he was any great political tactician anyway.

steppx said...

Karl Marx:

The masters were the grand dignitaries of the ruling classes, or sections of classes, the servants formed the mass of these same classes, the privileged electors encircled by the mass of the non-electors, of those thousands that had no other calling than to be mere hangers on, and whose support, vocal or manual, always appeared desirable, were it only on account of the theatrical effect.[2]

If you follow up the history of British elections for a century past or longer, you are tempted to ask, not why British Parliaments were so bad, but on the contrary, how they managed to be even as good as they were, and to represent as much as they did, though in a dim refraction, the actual movement of British society. Just as opponents of the representative system must feel surprised on finding that legislative bodies in which the abstract majority, the accident of the mere number is decisive, yet decide and resolve according to the necessities of the situation — at least during the period of their full vitality. It will always be impossible, even by the utmost straining of logical deductions, to derive from the relations of mere numbers the necessity of a vote in accordance with the actual state of things; but from a given state of things the necessity of certain relations of members will always follow as of itself. The traditional bribery of British elections, what else was it, but another form, as brutal as it was popular, in which the relative strength of the contending parties showed itself? Their respective means of influence and of dominion, which on other occasions they used in a normal way, were here enacted for a few days in an abnormal and more or less burlesque manner. But the premise remained, that the candidates of the rivalling parties represented the interests of the mass of the electors, and that the privileged electors again represented the interests of the non-voting mass, or rather, that this voteless mass had, as yet, no specific interest of its own. The Delphic Priestesses had to become intoxicated by vapors to enable them to find oracles; the British people must intoxicate itself with gin and porter to enable it to find its oracle-finders, the legislators. And where these oracle-finders were to be looked for, that was a matter of course.

This relative position of classes and parties underwent a radical change from the moment the industrial and commercial middle classes, the Bourgeoisie, took up its stand as an official party at the side of the Whigs and Tories, and especially from the passing of the Reform Bill in 1831. These Bourgeois were in no wise fond of costly electioneering manoeuvres, of faux frais[3] of general elections. They considered it cheaper to compete with the landed aristocracy by general moral, than by personal pecuniary means. On the other hand they were conscious of representing a universally predominant interest of modern society. They were, therefore, in a position to demand that electors should be ruled by their common national interests, not by personal and local motives, and the more they recurred to this postulate, the more the latter species of electoral influence was, by the very composition of constituencies, centered in the landed aristocracy, but withheld from the middle classes. Thus the Bourgeoisie contended for the principle of moral elections and forced the enactment of laws in that sense, intended, each of them, as safeguards against the local influence of the landed aristocracy; and indeed, from 1831 down, bribery adopted a more civilized, more hidden form, and general elections went off in a more sober way than before. When at last the mass of the people ceased to be a mere chorus, taking a more or less impassioned part in the struggle of the official heroes, drawing the lots among them, rioting, in bacchantic carouse, at the creation of parliamentary divinities, like the Cretan Centaurs at the birth of Jupiter, and taking pay and treat for such participation in their glory — when the Chartists surrounded in threatening masses the whole circle within which the official election struggle must come off, and watched with scrutinizing mistrust every movement taking place within it — then an election like that of 1852 could not but call for universal indignation, and elicit even from the conservative Times, for the first time, some words in favor of general suffrage, and make the whole mass of the British Proletariat shout as with one voice. The foes of Reform, they have given Reformers the best arguments; such is an election under the class system; such is a House of Commons with such a system of election!

Michael Farris said...

"One last note...since when is Lech Kaczynski *charismatic*? Did I mis-learn the meaning of that word???"

Look back at the presidential election debates, after head to head encounters even some die-hard Tusk voters I know said they were tempted to vote for Kaczynski because he projected more presidential authority than limp rag Donald Tusk (Polish for "Al Gore").

The Kaczynski's charisma is subtle and doesn't appeal to everyone (for whom it's negative charism, which is more than Tusk or Rokita have) but it's undeniably there.
Their ... distinctive physical appearance (and the whole twin thing) is part of it as is their strange lipsmacking enunciation, simultaneously glacially slow and slurred (I have real problems understanding them sometimes).
Interestingly, I'd say one of their biggest mistakes was appointing Marcinkiewicz who has his own kszywy ryj kind of charisma as PM which turned him into a potential rival who had to be done away with.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

SteP:

Marx, speech to Communist League 1850...

Even when there is no prospect whatsoever of their being elected, the workers must put up their own candidates in order to preserve their independence, to count their forces, and to bring before the public their revolutionary attitude and party standpoint.

Mike: Marcinkiewicz comes over very well to a Polish audience. They like the 'cheeky chappy' image...'Yes, Yes, yes..." So he is favourite for the major elections for sure...

steppx said...

beat....that comment by marx is actually in support of my original comment. He thinks its pointless except for bringing a kind of solidarity to the revolution......meaning, the ruling class will always win a class based election. That was all I meant....and its true. Workers must preserve independence.....true....so vote...but you cant expect to win....it isnt allowed.

But we can go back and forth on this and Im too tired to dig up more quotes. :)

Michael:
ok, lech has charisma the same way dick nixon did.....your right. Its just that its a sort of anti charisma.

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