Behold John C. Beale, EPA’s number two man for a number of years. He was the EPA’s highest-paid employee and (according to an article in NBC’s news website) “a leading expert on climate change”. He was apparently telling his boss for almost a decade that he was working for the CIA covertly and that his EPA job was his cover for that work. This was all a lie–the days he took away from his job were spent doing work on his house or working out at his gym. When the questions about holes in his story became too large to avoid, he admitted it was all a scam. He was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 32 months in federal prison. There are details on the story on NBC’s website here. And there’s a more involved history on his Wikipedia page.
It’s odd that the story has resurfaced recently, because all of this was breaking news almost 5 years ago (he’s been out of prison since 2016). Why now? My suspicion is that there’s the typical libertarian desire to treat all government expenditures as scams, and Beale seems like the perfect target. He’s also working for the perfect target agency–Trump is hardly the first rightwing politician to want to defund the EPA’s work, and a story like this, where the Civil Service head of the EPA looked the other way for nearly a decade while Beale pretended to be somewhere in Pakistan, could easily become a button or bumper-sticker meme.
The parts of the story that don’t fit: First, he’s been described as a ‘climate expert’. Not really. His education was in law and public policy, and (though I haven’t found his CV), he doesn’t appear to be a knowledgeable sort in matters that would be part of the science of climate. He’s another bureaucrat, and the fact that he was claiming an annual income higher than a mere congresscreature surely grates on the GOP-lead legislature. And I don’t think he was ever motivated by anything other than getting over. And there’s a question of why his boss looked the other way. Is the EPA a cover agency for CIA shenanigans?
I’m nerdy enough to remember the case of Philip Agee. In 1975, Agee (a former CIA agent) blew the whistle on CIA agents ensconced in US embassies worldwide. In most cases, he just read through an embassy staff chart and figured out who in the phone tree didn’t have an actual job (something his defenders said that any foreign intelligence officer could do). Agee ultimately went to Cuba to escape prosecution and died there in 2008. His revelations also made it clear that US individuals working overseas at ANY level could easily be CIA agents undercover. But that raises an interesting question–was there any validity to Beale’s claim? And if so, would that explain why he wasn’t caught during his career? His boss, Gina McCarthy, didn’t challenge Beale until after he’d retired. From Wikipedia: On January 7, 2013, McCarthy met with Beale at her office, detailing that the EPA would require documentation of Beale’s work with the CIA. Beale reported that he would work on it, but a month later reported that the CIA would not acknowledge his work with them. McCarthy responded “that puts you in a really bad position, doesn’t it?”
Had Gina McCarthy dealt with such circumstances before?
Or (last piece of speculation here) did Beale know about Near Term Human Extinction? Did Beale know what ostensibly everybody in the EPA knows now–that we’ve passed the point of no return and his duty in working for an agency like EPA was to keep the world’s largest secret? As I’ve noted before, Dr. Guy McPherson says at every presentation on impending human extinction I’ve ever seen him do (either in person or on video) that nothing he talks about is a secret from the people in charge. That doesn’t make John C. Beale any less larcenous, but it certainly makes his actions more understandable. If you’re the number two official at the Environmental Protection Agency and you know (because the researchers you’re surrounded with know) that the game is up, why would you show up for work? And why would you expect your direct supervisor, who also knows what you know, to blow the whistle? Heck, why is Gina McCarthy still showing up for work? (actually, she isn’t–she got out of Dodge when Trump was elected and is now a professor at Harvard).
With McCarthy gone, Trump is busy gutting the EPA rules on clean water and working to throw out other environmental rules she had championed during her tenure. Beale is home from prison. This all leaves me with the question: did John Beale know we are beyond saving? If you knew the world was ending in a few years (or even a few months) would you keep showing up to you job?
When you clock the human race with the stopwatch of history, it’s a new record every time! (Firesign Theatre)