(Before you read any further, please understand that I have yet to see Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and I fully understand that all of my nitpicks may be answered within the film itself. But hey, if you can't joke about slick action trailers, what can you laugh about?)
Here's what we know about Ghost Protocol as an actual government procedure for the IMF: The IMF has been accused of a heinous crime against humanity (destroying the Kremlin), so the government has initiated Ghost Protocol. Publicly, IMF has been disavowed. Privately, the IMF will be allowed to escape and go into deep undercover in order to investigate the bombing and clear their name.
First off, we must question why anyone actually works for IMF. Disavowing the organization and branding them traitors seems to be par for the course. Forget to turn off the coffee machine in the IMF breakroom? Disavowed! Enemy to the state! Doomed! I certainly hope they have a really good dental package for that sort of constant mistrust and job insecurity. (And if there is, can you even claim that awesome insurance for on-the-job injuries incurred in your period of disavowal? I bet they're real picky pants about that stuff.)
Secondly, isn't Ethan Hunt already widely known to the public at this point? The antics of Mission: Impossible 3 were hardly private ones. (The bridge explosion didn't get recorded on an iPhone? Not at all?) They even involved his fiancee, who can be quickly and easily traced by some eager sleuth. How do you keep that face off MSNBC and TMZ? You can't. He would have been a liability too long ago (by the first Mission: Impossible probably) to even continue with IMF. He'd be a desk jockey if he was lucky.
But ok, IMF is a great job whenever they're not leaving you out in the cold and somehow they have buried Hunt's face to the general public. Something about Ghost Protocol as a procedure (and you have to assume it was written out well in advance, as most black-ops security measures are, and not made up on the fly) seems off. For one, what happens when the terrorists actually accountable for the bombing claim responsibility for destroying the Kremlin? The whole point of terrorism is to say "I did it!", especially if that attack was spectacularly successful, so what fringe group is going to sit by and let the President pin it on some IMF agents? When Radical Group of Crackpots says "We did it!" right after the President says "Ethan Hunt and his group of rogue agents...", even the cheesiest corners of the blogosphere can cry foul.
Naturally, I know we'll learn the bombing was an inside job perpetuated by those who had a vested interest in blaming IMF, but if this was the real world, the terrorists responsible would publicly release a statement crying "Victory!" long before the president could initiate Ghost Protocol. (See: Carlos, and every terrorist attack ever.) The need for a scapegoat to post on television screens (and I assume Ethan Hunt's mug is needed for this thorny duty) would be moot.
In Bizzaro World, no one claims responsibility for the Kremlin attack, forcing the president to pin the blame on IMF to fend off an irate Russia and calm a frightened global audience. There will still be an investigation. The FBI (assuming they're allowed to participate) and the FSB won't know a thing about Ghost Protocol, so what happens when they uncover the evidence that it wasn't Hunt and his desperadoes? That's the problem with deep undercover operations... you can't tell the clean-up guys a darn thing.
In the meantime, someone is going to uncover the Ghost Protocol procedural file. I don't care how secret a government plan purports to be – the truth always comes out. This is the digital information age! Someone, somewhere, is going to uncover that there was a loophole for those IMF agents to escape through. There would probably be videos up on YouTube of them getting in the car with Tom Wilkinson before the president finished his speech. I know the plan is for the now traitorous IMF agents to "beat" Wilkinson senseless, and "escape", but there are bound to be awkward questions like "Why was one old man and Jeremy Renner sent to detain a threat like Ethan Hunt?" Why didn't they send Navy Seal Team 6?" The sweater would quickly unravel. Heads would roll.
Even if no one caught that footage and no one questioned the sheer weirdness of IMF bombing the Kremlin, Ghost Protocol would come out eventually. When it does, oh, how the United States is going to have egg on their face! Remember Watergate? Iran-Contra? Those scandals came out in a very timely fashion in a pre-Information age, so this Ghost Protocol thing is bound to leak. Some source, dying to be a Deep Throat of the 21st century, will go blabbing to TIME or The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or Gawker or somebody.
Someone might point out that Operation Neptune's Spear – the operation that shot and killed bin Laden – managed to stay secret until it was successful. Point taken. But we are talking about the destruction of the Kremlin, and the hunting of highly trained IMF operatives. It's a big deal, and it has a publicity element, which Neptune Spear didn't have until it was successful.
And exactly how does a team of traitors, disavowed by their government and on the Most Wanted list of every country with an airport manage to actually do any worthwhile investigating? Riddle me that. Operation Neptune Spear worked because no one was actually hunting Navy Seal Team 6. If IMF had been running it, Seal Team 6 would have been blamed for 9/11 so they could go deep undercover and kill bin Laden. And how effective would that have been?
Even if Ghost Protocol works as planned – IMF clears their name, catches the culprits, saves the world – there's still going to be an enormous amount of controversy, questioning, and trials. I think I can see the top questions of the world's media, and it's "Why would you blame the wrong people? Why didn't you tell the truth? who were you really protecting?" Such a massive black-ops cover up seems far more headache than it's worth.
From the trailer, it's clear Ghost Protocol is initiated with a major hitch – the death of the IMF secretary, thus wiping the record of those-who-know, Departed style – rendering Ethan and friends even further beyond the pale. This has to mean they're even short of the things that would help them (identity masks, gadgets) making their job even more impossible. I know that's the IMF creedo, but give me a break. And who is going to believe a shaggy-haired Ethan Hunt when he comes bursting into the White House with The Truth Behind the Kremlin? No one. Come on, he's already a scapegoat. Why bother with the actual guilty party at that point?
So, there you have it: Ghost Protocol is a bad, bad idea. But what did you expect? It comes from the government, who can't even figure out how to keep the USPS from delaying our Netflix. And it comes from an agency who developed exploding gum, as if that could never, ever be a problem. Why would they have a solid plan for the destruction of a world landmark and the investigation thereof?