nfnddfngn "If we give up some of our freedom for more security we will end up with neither security or our freedom" - Benjamin Franklin / "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin / "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips / / "We must take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgable citizenry can compel the proper meshingyyyy of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower "What we're talking about is nothing less than rescuing a democracy that is so polarized it is in danger of being paralyzed and pulverized. Alarming words, I know. But the realities we face should trigger alarms. Free and responsible government by popular consent just cannot exist without an informed public." - Bill Moyers "We are on the precipice of being so ignorant that our democracy is threatened." - Walter Cronkite "A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights that God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins!" - Benjamin Franklin "Ignorance is Strength." - Big Brother _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ / // Learning To Love Big Brother George Bush Channels George Orwell nhsnns By Daniel Kurtzman San Francisco Chronicle July 28, 2002 amin Frankin
nmHere's a question for constitutional scholars: Can a sitting president be charged with plagiarism?
As President Bush wages his war against terrorism and moves to create a huge homeland security apparatus, he appears to be borrowing heavily, if not ripping off ideas outright, from George Orwell. The work in question is 1984, the prophetic novel about a government that controls the masses by spreading propaganda, cracking down on subversive thought and altering history to suit its needs. It was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism -- not a how-to manual. Granted, we're a long way from resembling the kind of authoritarian state Orwell depicted, but some of the similarities are starting to get a bit eerie.
In 1984, the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever-changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime's autocratic practices.
Bush's war against terrorism has become almost as amorphous. Although we are told the president's resolve is steady and the mission clear, we seem to know less and less about the enemy we are fighting. What began as a war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda quickly morphed into a war against Afghanistan, followed by dire warnings about an "Axis of Evil," the targeting of terrorists in some 50 to 60 countries, and now the beginnings of a major campaign against Iraq. Exactly what will constitute success in this war remains unclear, but the one thing the Bush administration has made certain is that the war will continue "indefinitely."
James Madison, the master builder of the U.S. Constitution, noted in 1795, "Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies. From these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." (M.O.W. editorial insert)
Ministry Of Truth
Serving as the propaganda arm of the ruling party in 1984, the Ministry of Truth not only spread lies to suit its strategic goals, but constantly rewrote and falsified history. It is a practice that has become increasingly commonplace in the Bush White House, where presidential transcripts are routinely sanitized to remove the president's gaffes, accounts of intelligence warnings prior to September 11 get spottier with each retelling, and the facts surrounding Bush's past financial dealings are subject to continual revision.
Bush administration officials even admitted earlier this year that they were toying with the idea of entering the state-sanctioned propaganda business. In February, news emerged that the Pentagon had created an Office of Strategic Influence that was considering, among other things, planting deliberately false news stories in the foreign press to help manipulate public opinion and further its military objectives. Following a public outcry, the Pentagon said it would close the office -- news that would have sounded more convincing had it not come from a place that just announced it was planning to spread misinformation
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State." - Dr.Joseph Goebbels (M.O.W. editorial insert)
. Infallible Leader
An omnipresent and all-powerful leader, Big Brother commanded the total, unquestioning support of the people. He was both adored and feared, and no one dared speak out against him, lest they be met by the wrath of the state.
President Bush may not be as menacing a figure, but he has hardly concealed his desire for greater powers. Never mind that he has casually mentioned -- on no fewer than three occasions -- how much easier things would be if he were dictator. By brushing aside many of the checks and balances established in the Constitution to keep any one branch of government from becoming too powerful, Bush has already achieved the greatest expansion of executive powers since Nixon. His approval ratings remain remarkably high, and his minions have worked hard to cultivate an image of infallibility. Nowhere was that more apparent than during a commencement address Bush delivered in June at Ohio State, where students were threatened with arrest and expulsion if they protested the speech.
Big Brother Is Watching
We have been asked to put our blind faith in government and most of us have done so with patriotic fervor.
The ever-watchful eye of Big Brother kept constant tabs on the citizens of Orwell's totalitarian state, using two-way telescreens to monitor people's every move while simultaneously broadcasting party propaganda.
While that technology may not have arrived yet, public video surveillance has become all the rage in law enforcement, with cameras being deployed everywhere from sporting events to public beaches. Despite congressional objections, the Bush administration still plans to implement a scaled down version of its Operation TIPS program, in which ordinary Americans would form a corps of citizen spies to serve as "extra eyes and ears for law enforcement," reporting any suspicious terrorist-related activity.
And thanks to the hastily passed USA Patriot Act, which received strong bipartisan backing in Congress, the Justice Department has sweeping new powers to monitor phone conversations, Internet usage, business transactions and library reading records. Best of all, law enforcement need not be burdened any longer with such inconveniences as probable cause.
Charged with eradicating dissent and ferreting out resistance, the ever-present Thought Police described in 1984 carefully monitored all unorthodox or potentially subversive thoughts. The Bush administration is not prosecuting thought crime yet, but members have been quick to question the patriotism of anyone who dares criticize their handling of the war on terrorism or homeland defense. Take, for example, the way Attorney General John Ashcroft answered critics of his anti-terrorism measures, saying that opponents of the administration "only aid terrorists" and "give ammunition to America's enemies."
Even more ominous was the stern warning White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer sent to Americans after Bill Maher, host of the now defunct "Politically Incorrect," called past U.S. military actions "cowardly." Said Fleischer, "There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."
What would it take to turn America into the kind of society that Orwell warned about, a society that envisions war as peace, freedom as slavery and ignorance as strength? Would it happen overnight, or would it involve a gradual erosion of freedoms with the people's consent?
Because we are a nation at war -- as we are constantly reminded -- most Americans say they are willing to sacrifice many of our freedoms in return for the promise of greater security. We have been asked to put our blind faith in government and most of us have done so with patriotic fervor. But when the government abuses that trust and begins to stamp out the freedom of dissent that is the hallmark of a democratic society, can there be any turning back?
So powerful was the state's control over people's minds in 1984 that, eventually, everyone came to love Big Brother. Perhaps in time we all will, too.
Copyright 2004 TheSan Francisco Chronicle
"They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane. They simply swallowed everything, and what they swallowed did them no harm, because it left no residue behind, just as a grain of corn will pass undigested through the body of a bird." / - Orwell, 1984 IGNORANCE is STRENGTH _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
" ...Who determines our "national security"? What "national security" permits the removal of fundamental power from the hands of the American people and validates the ascendancy of invisible government in the United States? That kind of "national security," gentlemen of the jury, is when it smells like it, feels like it, and looks like it, you call it what it is - Fascism!"
- Attorney Jim Garrison's courtroom speech in JFK (The Memory of a Young President) - written by Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar, from the book by Jim Garrison and the book by Jim Marrs http://www.whysanity.net/monos/jfk2.htmlb
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ nfdnfnd / "If we give up some of our freedom for more security we will end up with neither security or our freedom." Benjamin Franklin nfdnfn "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin nfdnfn nfdnfn WAR is PEACE FREEDOM is SLAVERY IGNORANCE is STRENGTH rsrdbrgt "A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights that God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins!" - Benjamin Franklin / "We are on the precipice of being so ignorant that our democracy is threatened." - Walter Cronkite /IGNORANCE is STRENGTH __________________________________________________________ / "An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. All you need is the word of the attorney general or maybe the president himself. You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country ---like Tierra del Fuego or some rock in the Pacific. All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act." nfdnfnd "We are talking about despotism. The USA PATRIOT Act is as despotic as anything Hitler came up with-- -- even using much of the same language. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged." - Gore Vidal, LA WEEKLY, Nov.14-20, 2003 Benjain Franklin
" But then, Franklin said, it will fail, as all such constitutions have in the past, because of the essential corruption of the people. He pointed his finger at all the American people. And when the people become so corrupt, he said, we will find it is not a republic that they want but rather despotism - the only form of government suitable for such a people.
"...And this is more and more my view of the American people in general. They've allowed an election to be stolen in November 2000. They made no fuss. We have perpetual war for perpetual peace. We have the Enemy-of-the-Month Club: one month it's Noriega, one month it's Saddam Hussein, one month it's Khadafy, currently it's Osama bin Laden. We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process." - Gore Vidal, LA WEEKLY, Nov.14-20, 2003
"The liberals always say, "Oh my, if there is a constitutional convention, they will take away the Bill of Rights." But they have already done it! It is gone. Hardly any of it is left. So if they, the famous "they," would prove to be a majority of the American people and did not want a Bill of Rights, then I say, let's just get it over with. Let's just throw it out the window. If you don't want it, you won't have it." - Gore Vidal / / /
- President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Washington, D.C.January 20, 1961 / "Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government." - Henry Kissinger speaking at Evian, France, May 21, 1992 Bilderburgers meeting. Unbeknownst to Kissinger, his speech was taped by a Swiss delegate to the meeting. Benjamin Franklinfgbfsdrbrbfdgsbrfbwbrwsmin in "..Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." - Zbigniew Brzezinski, "THE GRAND CHESSBOARD : American Primacy And It's Geostrategic Imperatives," Basic Books, 1997 (p. 211) Benjlinfgbfsdrbrbfdgsbrfbwbamin Franklinmin in "We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries." - David Rockefeller, (founder of the Trilateral Commission), in an address to a meeting of The Trilateral Commission, in June, 1991. dfb fdbgbgds "The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite." --Thomas Jefferson / "In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes." 672ponm0d9[rt "We must take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 1961.
"The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact." "...They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution." - The Danger of American Fascism By Henry A. Wallace, The New York Times 09 April 1944 / "Is it any wonder that we are a confused and frightened nation, haunted and hounded by dark forces, on the brink of world war, ready to sacrifice the very things we are fighting for? " "...Fear stops them from thinking clearly and puts their minds into a highly suggestive state. Once they are in a suggestive state, war seems like peace to them, aggression ensures safety, and throwing themselves into a sea of trouble saves them. It is classic trance logic." - The Madness Of America, by Jennifer Van Bergen . "He knows that we are waging this war for a better peace, that we are fighting for the happiness of people who have so often been oppressed by their governments." "No power in the world will make us deny our duty, or forget even for a moment our historical task of maintaining the freedom of our people." / - Joseph Goebbels, chief Nazi propagandist rttrh/rheheeh "The reason we start a war is to fight a war, win a war, thereby causing no more war!" / - George W. Bush, The first Presidential debate IGNORANCE is STRENGTH _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
// "For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it. " / - Patrick Henry _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH "What objections have there been in the US to Guantanamo Bay? At this very moment there are 700 people chained, padlocked, handcuffed, hooded and treated like animals. It is actually a concentration camp. I haven't heard anything about the US population saying: / "We can't do this, we are Americans.' Nobody gives a damn."
The Guardian UK, June 11, 2003 / /__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ // US Using 'Terrorist' Methods Over Guantanamo Prisoners: Former Hostage Terry Waite By Agence France Presse Friday 05 Febuary 2004 "International law? I better call my lawyer! I don't know what you're talking about, about international law." ;/ - George W. Bush, in response to the administration's handing out of reconstruction contracts in Iraq, Dec.11,2003 ;/ ;/
LONDON - Former hostage Terry Waite, who was held in captivity by Islamic extremists for almost five years in Lebanon, said the United States was using terrorist methods in its treatment of detainees at a prison camp in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. "You do not defeat terrorism by adopting methods of terrorists," said Waite speaking alongside the families of British and French prisoners at the launch of a campaign for Guantanamo prisoners to be treated in accordance with international law.
"I know what it's like to have no rights," Waite told a press conference the day before he and other representatives of the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission take their campaign to New York and then Washington.
"My family know what it is like to have no information about me, even whether I am alive or dead," Waite said Friday.
"There are many families around the world who are in this same position now because of Guantanamo Bay," he said.
Five British detainees who are set to be freed by US authorities from Guantanamo Bay will be back in Britain next week, Maxine Fiddler, the sister of one of those to be released and also a member of the commission, said earlier Friday.
"All that we know is that the Britons are being brought home sometime next week," she told BBC radio, adding she had not been given a specific date for her brother's return.
The five are among nine Britons, and a total of more than 650 prisoners, at the isolated US naval base where US President George W. Bush's administration has been holding non-American suspects in its "war on terror".
Guantanamo "detainees have been hooded, shackled and, I understand, kept in cages which in itself amounts to mental torture," Waite said. "There are reports that they have been subjected to very severe hardship in order to extract information.
"I was blindfolded, shackled, kept in solitary confinement and interrogated," he said.
This "should not be happening in a civilized nation", Waite said. "I have no truck with terrorism and what happened in the United States on September 11 was a terrible tragedy.
"But I firmly believe that if you are going to deal with this problem you should follow due process," he said.
"Some of these people may be guilty and some of them may be innocent," he added. "None of us will know unless they follow due process."
The delegation, which includes actors and leading human rights activists Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, novelist Margaret Drabble and family members of European detainees, will submit letters to Bush at the White House on Monday.
It will also lobby US legislators and appeal to the public about the prisoners' plight, dividing their time between New York and Washington before flying home on Thursday next week. The team is also planning to meet Democratic Party presidential hopeful John Kerry, who has criticized the US-led invasion of Iraq.
"Our message is very simple," Corin Redgrave told journalists: "America has given the world a model of democracy which is founded on the rule of law, on fundamental human rights, including the right to fair trial, the right to silence." "Guantanamo offers an alternative model to the world, a model where no rights are sustained."
Waite, 64, was held from January 1987 until November 1991 -- much of the time in solitary confinement -- by a shadowy group calling itself Islamic Jihad. He was kidnapped while trying to negotiate the release of Western hostages in his capacity as a special envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican church.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ // This great, powerful nation is motivated not by power for power's sake, but because of our values. If everybody matters, if every life counts, then we should hope everybody has the great God's gift of freedom." - George W. Bush, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jan. 29, 2003 August//002 You see, here's what America and Americans believe -- that freedom is not America's gift to the world, that freedom is the Almighty's gift to each and every individual who lives in the world. - George W. Bush, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 5, 2003 // "There ought to be limits to freedom." - George W. Bush // "Some people have too much freedom." - George W. Bush // /// I believe that, as I told the Crown Prince, the Almighty God has endowed each individual on the face of the earth with - - --that expects each person to be treated with dignity. This is a universal call. - George W. Bush, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Jun. 3, 2003 / "What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy?" - Norman Mailer / hdjetej "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin / __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ hdjetej "An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. All you need is the word of the attorney general or maybe the president himself. You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country ---like Tierra del Fuego or some rock in the Pacific. All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act." // - Gore Vidal, LA WEEKLY, Nov.14-20, 2003 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ d/f / IGNORANCE is STRENGTH It's Called Democracy Los Angeles Times | Editorial Tuesday 29 June 2004
What gives the government the right to arrest you and imprison you indefinitely without offering a reason or opportunity to appeal? The answer, in the United States, is: Nothing gives the government that right. It is hard to see what is left of American freedom if the government has the authority to make anyone on its soil - citizen or noncitizen - disappear and then rule that no one can do anything about it.
Or so we once thought. But the Bush administration - whose convoluted memos on defining torture now rank with Bill Clinton's definition of sex - says Congress gave it exactly this power. And when was that? Soon after Sept. 11, 2001, Congress passed a two-line resolution authorizing the use of military force against "nations, organizations or persons" engaged in terrorism. We would like to hear from any member who intended by this vote to repeal the Bill of Rights.
Shockingly, though, in rulings issued Monday about the rights of terror suspects being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in a military brig, four justices of the U.S. Supreme Court bought the administration's argument. In better news, a 6-3 majority flatly rejected the administration's arguments that the prisoners were not even entitled to a court hearing. One of the plaintiffs - an American citizen named Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan - has been held in a military brig with no charges brought against him for nearly three years.
The court said that even the Guantánamo detainees who were not citizens were still "persons" under the Constitution. That gives them the right to challenge their detention, with a lawyer to help them. Even Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist couldn't swallow the administration's notion that these prisoners had no rights at all.
President Bush and his administration say: Look, there's a war on. And anyway, the United States is not some Latin American dictatorship of the 1970s; we can trust our government not to abuse the extraordinary power it claims. But this administration's record of incompetence and callousness does not inspire us to lightly kiss away our constitutional protections.
Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer, was arrested by the FBI in connection with the Madrid train bombings in March. His fingerprints were supposedly on a bag of detonators found in Spain. Having been tarred as a murderer and terrorist by his own government, he was released with little more than an "oops." More than two dozen Guantánamo prisoners were released earlier this year after Pentagon lawyers decided they were not terrorists after all. Meanwhile, they had been imprisoned for two years.
The whole point of the substantive freedoms and due process guarantees in the Bill of Rights is that freedom should not rest on any government's claims of benevolence. Now that the Guantánamo detainees have been given the right to a hearing, Americans will learn a bit more about what has happened there. As with the abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, it's likely that the more they learn, the less they'll like it.
- Adolph Hitler's 1933 speech calling for 'an Enabling Act' for 'the protection of the People and the State' after the catastrophic Reichstag fire
IGNORANCE is STRENGTH hdjetej "A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights that God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins!" Benjamin Franklin djetej "What luck for the rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler djetej "Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people." - John Adams hdjetej "What we're talking about is nothing less than rescuing a democracy that is so polarized it is in danger of being paralyzed and pulverized. Alarming words, I know. But the realities we face should trigger alarms. Free and responsible government by popular consent just cannot exist without an informed public." - Bill Moyers n Franklinmin Fra
"There's a quote often attributed to Allen Dulles after it was noted that the final 1964 report of the Warren Commission on the assassination of JFK contained dramatic inconsistencies. Those inconsistencies, in effect, disproved the Commission's own final conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone on November 22, 1963. Dulles, a career spy, Wall Street lawyer, the CIA director whom JFK had fired after the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco - and the Warren Commission member who took charge of the investigation and final report - is reported to have said,
- Michael C. Ruppert, HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE? 11/07/01
IGNORANCE is STRENGTH ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ )))))))))))))))))))))))))))) "I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are... ... probably read the news themselves." / - George W.'s interview with Brit Hume on Fox News Channel, Washington, D.C., Sep. 21, 2003 _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH Bush: No Proof of Saddam Role in 9-11 By Terence Hunt The Associated Press,Wednesday 17 September 2003
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Wednesday there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - disputing an impression that critics say the administration tried to foster to justify the war against Iraq. A recent poll indicated that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday, "I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that."
- Dr.Joseph Goebbels / "We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." / - From George Orwell's 1946 essay "In Front of Your Nose." / _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ / "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes an act of rebellion." - George Orwell _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH When Lies Become Truth
"Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?..."
Director Robert Kane Pappas' "Orwell Rolls In His Grave" is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion of American democracy. Asking whether America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth, Pappas explores what the media doesn't like to talk about: itself.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." / - Joseph Goebbels / "See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." / - George W. Bush, Rochester, NY., May 24, 2005 /
- Adolph Hitler, "Mein Kampf" /
?"... we glory in the fact that we are the United States of Amnesia. We won't remember a thing the next day. What has emerged is nothing less than a police state. There's no euphemism for it." - Gore Vidal / (M.O.W. editorial insert) /// The Memory Hole
Tuesday, 6 August, 2002
Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell's "1984", was a rewrite man. His job was to destroy documents that could undermine the government's pretense of infallibility, and replace them with altered versions.
Lately, Winston Smith has gone to Washington. I'm sure that lots of history is being falsified as you read this -- there are several three-letter agencies I don't trust at all -- but two cases involving the federal budget caught my eye.
First is the "Chicago line." Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush told his budget director that the only valid reasons to break his pledge not to run budget deficits would be if the country experienced recession, war or national emergency.
"Lucky me," he said. "I hit the trifecta."
When I first reported this remark, angry readers accused me of inventing it. Mr. Bush, they said, is a decent man who would never imply that the nation's woes had taken him off the hook, let alone make a joke out of it.
Soon afterward, the trifecta story became part of Mr. Bush's standard stump speech. It always gets a roar of appreciative laughter from Republican audiences.
So what's the Chicago line? In his speeches, Mr. Bush claims to have laid out the criteria for running a deficit when visiting Chicago during the 2000 campaign. But there's no evidence that he said anything of the sort during the campaign, in Chicago or anywhere else; certainly none of the reporters who were with him can remember it. (The New Republic, which has tracked the claim, titled one of its pieces "Stop him before he lies again.") In fact, during the campaign his budget promises were unqualified, for good reason. If he had conceded that future surpluses were not guaranteed, voters might have wondered whether it was wise to lock in a 10-year tax cut.
About that 10-year tax cut: It basically takes place in two phases. Phase I, which has mainly happened already, is a smallish tax cut for the middle class. Phase II, which won't be completed until 2010, is a considerably larger cut that goes mostly to the richest 1 percent of taxpayers.
That two-phase structure offers substantial opportunities for misdirection. If someone suggests reconsidering future tax cuts, the administration can accuse him of wanting to raise taxes in a recession -- implying, falsely, that he wants to reverse Phase I rather than simply call off Phase II. On the other hand, if someone says that tax cuts have worsened the budget picture, the administration can say that tax cuts explain only 15 percent of the move into deficit. This sounds definitive, but in fact it refers only to the impact of Phase I on this year's budget; by the administration's own estimates, 40 percent of the $4 trillion deterioration in the 10-year outlook is due to tax cuts.
There is, however, an art to this sort of deception: you have to imply the falsehood without actually saying it outright. Last month the Office of Management and Budget got sloppy: it issued a press release stating flatly that tax cuts were responsible for only 15 percent of the 10-year deterioration. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noticed, and I reported it here.
Now for the fun part. The O.M.B. reacted angrily, and published a letter in The Times attacking me. It attributed the misstatement to "error," and declared that it had been "retracted." Was it?
It depends on what you mean by the word "retract." As far as anyone knows, O.M.B. didn't issue a revised statement, conceding that it had misinformed reporters, and giving the right numbers. It simply threw the embarrassing document down the memory hole. As Brendan Nyhan pointed out in Salon, if you go to the O.M.B.'s Web site now, you find a press release dated July 12 that is not the release actually handed out on that date. There is no indication that anything has been changed, but the bullet point on sources of the deficit is gone.
Every government tries to make
excuses for its past errors, but I don't think any previous U.S. administration
has been this brazen about rewriting
history to make itself look good.
For this kind of thing to happen you have to have politicians who have no qualms about playing Big Brother; officials whose partisan loyalty trumps their professional scruples; and a press corps that, with some honorable exceptions, lets the people in power get away with it.
Lucky us: we hit the trifecta.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
See all 15 Bush quotes on "hitting the trifecta"
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH j IGNORANCE is STRENGTH "We're through the looking glass here, people. Where white is black and black white" - District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) in 'JFK". fvbdssbbs __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
By MAUREEN DOWD New York Times April 25, 2004
It's their reality. We just live and die in it.
In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.
In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.
In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.
In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.
In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.
In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you're insisting you're not planning.
In Bushworld, you don't consult your father, the expert in being president during a war with Iraq, but you do talk to your Higher Father, who can't talk back to warn you to get an exit strategy or chide you for using Him for political purposes.
In Bushworld, t's O.K. to run for re-election as the avenger of 9/11, even as you make secret deals with the Arab kingdom where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from.
In Bushworld, you get to strut around like a tough military guy and paint your rival as a chicken hawk, even though he's the one who won medals in combat and was praised by his superior officers for fulfilling all his obligations.
In Bushworld, it makes sense to press for transparency in Mr. and Mrs. Rival while cultivating your own opacity.
In Bushworld, you can reign as the antiterror president even after hearing an intelligence report about Al Qaeda's plans to attack America and then stepping outside to clear brush.
In Bushworld, those who dissemble about the troops and money it will take to get Iraq on its feet are patriots, while those who are honest are patronizingly marginalized.
In Bushworld, they struggle to keep church and state separate in Iraq, even as they increasingly merge the two in America.
In Bushworld, you can claim to be the environmental president on Earth Day while being the industry president every other day.
In Bushworld, you brag about how well Afghanistan is going, even though soldiers like Pat Tillman are still dying and the Taliban are running freely around the border areas, hiding Osama and delaying elections.
In Bushworld, imperfect intelligence is good enough to knock over Iraq. But even better evidence that North Korea is building the weapons that Saddam could only dream about is hidden away.
In Bushworld, the C.I.A. says it can't find out whether there are W.M.D. in Iraq unless we invade on the grounds that there are W.M.D.
In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft.
In Bushworld, we're making progress in the war on terror by fighting a war that creates terrorists.
In Bushworld, you don't need to bother asking your vice president and top Defense Department officials whether you should go to war in Iraq, because they've already maneuvered you into going to war.
In Bushworld, it's perfectly natural for the president and vice president to appear before the 9/11 commission like the Olsen twins.
In Bushworld, you expound on remaking the Middle East and spreading pro-American sentiments even as you expand anti-American sentiments by ineptly occupying Iraq and unstintingly backing Ariel Sharon on West Bank settlements.
In Bushworld, we went to war to give Iraq a democratic process, yet we disdain the democratic process that causes allies to pull out troops.
In Bushworld, you pride yourself on the fact that your administration does not leak to the press, while you flood the best-known journalist in Washington with inside information.
In Bushworld, you list Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack" as recommended reading on your campaign Web site, even though it makes you seem divorced from reality. That is, unless you live in Bushworld.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH IGNORANCE is STRENGTH __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Ignorance Isn't Strength By PAUL KRUGMAN New York Times October 8, 2004
I first used the word "Orwellian" to describe the Bush team in October 2000. Even then it was obvious that George W. Bush surrounds himself with people who insist that up is down, and ignorance is strength. But the full costs of his denial of reality are only now becoming clear.
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have an unparalleled ability to insulate themselves from inconvenient facts. They lead a party that controls all three branches of government, and face news media that in some cases are partisan supporters, and in other cases are reluctant to state plainly that officials aren't telling the truth. They also still enjoy the residue of the faith placed in them after 9/11.
This has allowed them to engage in what Orwell called "reality control." In the world according to the Bush administration, our leaders are infallible, and their policies always succeed. If the facts don't fit that assumption, they just deny the facts.
As a political strategy, reality control has worked very well. But as a strategy for governing, it has led to predictable disaster. When leaders live in an invented reality, they do a bad job of dealing with real reality.
In the last few days we've seen some impressive demonstrations of reality control at work. During the debate on Tuesday, Mr. Cheney insisted that "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11." After the release of the Duelfer report, which shows that Saddam's weapons capabilities were deteriorating, not advancing, at the time of the invasion, Mr. Cheney declared that the report proved that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option."
From a political point of view, such exercises in denial have been very successful. For example, the Bush administration has managed to convince many people that its tax cuts, which go primarily to the wealthiest few percent of the population, are populist measures benefiting middle-class families and small businesses. (Under the administration's definition, anyone with "business income" - a group that includes Dick Cheney and George Bush - is a struggling small-business owner.)
The administration has also managed to convince at least some people that its economic record, which includes the worst employment performance in 70 years, is a great success, and that the economy is "strong and getting stronger." (The data to be released today, which are expected to improve the numbers a bit, won't change the basic picture of a dismal four years.)
Officials have even managed to convince many people that they are moving forward on environmental policy. They boast of their "Clear Skies" plan even as the inspector general of the E.P.A. declares that the enforcement of existing air-quality rules has collapsed.
But the political ability of the Bush administration to deny reality - to live in an invented world in which everything is the way officials want it to be - has led to an ongoing disaster in Iraq and looming disaster elsewhere.
How did the occupation of Iraq go so wrong? (The security situation has deteriorated to the point where there are no safe places: a bomb was discovered on Tuesday in front of a popular restaurant inside the Green Zone.)
The insulation of officials from reality is central to the story. They wanted to believe Ahmad Chalabi's promises that we'd be welcomed with flowers; nobody could tell them different. They wanted to believe - months after everyone outside the administration realized that we were facing a large, dangerous insurgency and needed more troops - that the attackers were a handful of foreign terrorists and Baathist dead-enders; nobody could tell them different.
Why did the economy perform so badly? Long after it was obvious to everyone outside the administration that the tax-cut strategy wasn't an effective way of creating jobs, administration officials kept promising huge job gains, any day now. Nobody could tell them different.
Why has the pursuit of terrorists been so unsuccessful? It has been obvious for years that John Ashcroft isn't just scary; he's also scarily incompetent. But inside the administration, he's considered the man for the job - and nobody can say different.
The point is that in the real world, as opposed to the political world, ignorance isn't strength. A leader who has the political power to pretend that he's infallible, and uses that power to avoid ever admitting mistakes, eventually makes mistakes so large that they can't be covered up. And that's what's happening to Mr. Bush.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
- Attorney Jim Garrison's courtroom speech in JFK (The Memory of a Young President) - written by Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar, from the book by Jim Garrison and the book by Jim Marrs http://www.whysanity.net/monos/jfk2.html __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ // Get Me Rewrite! / By Paul Krugman New York Times February 6, 2004 ehth
Right now America is going through an Orwellian moment. On both the foreign policy and the fiscal fronts, the Bush administration is trying to rewrite history, to explain away its current embarrassments.
Let's start with the case of the missing W.M.D. Do you remember when the C.I.A. was reviled by hawks because its analysts were reluctant to present a sufficiently alarming picture of the Iraqi threat? Your memories are no longer operative. On or about last Saturday, history was revised: see, it's the C.I.A.'s fault that the threat was overstated. Given its warnings, the administration had no choice but to invade.
A tip from Joshua Marshall, of www.talkingpointsmemo.com, led me to a stark reminder of how different the story line used to be. Last year Laurie Mylroie published a book titled "Bush vs. the Beltway: How the C.I.A. and the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror." Ms. Mylroie's book came with an encomium from Richard Perle; she's known to be close to Paul Wolfowitz and to Dick Cheney's chief of staff. According to the jacket copy, "Mylroie describes how the C.I.A. and the State Department have systematically discredited critical intelligence about Saddam's regime, including indisputable evidence of its possession of weapons of mass destruction."
Currently serving intelligence officials may deny that they faced any pressure - after what happened to Valerie Plame, what would you do in their place? - but former officials tell a different story. The latest revelation is from Britain. Brian Jones, who was the Ministry of Defense's top W.M.D. analyst when Tony Blair assembled his case for war, says that the crucial dossier used to make that case didn't reflect the views of the professionals: "The expert intelligence experts of the D.I.S. [Defense Intelligence Staff] were overruled." All the experts agreed that the dossier's claims should have been "carefully caveated"; they weren't.
And don't forget the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, created specifically to offer a more alarming picture of the Iraq threat than the intelligence professionals were willing to provide.
Can all these awkward facts be whited out of the historical record? Probably. Almost surely, President Bush's handpicked "independent" commission won't investigate the Office of Special Plans. Like Lord Hutton in Britain - who chose to disregard Mr. Jones's testimony - it will brush aside evidence that intelligence professionals were pressured. It will focus only on intelligence mistakes, not on the fact that the experts, while wrong, weren't nearly wrong enough to satisfy their political masters. (Among those mentioned as possible members of the commission is James Woolsey, who wrote one of the blurbs for Ms. Mylroie's book.)
And if top political figures have their way, there will be further rewriting to come. You may remember that Saddam gave in to U.N. demands that he allow inspectors to roam Iraq, looking for banned weapons. But your memories may soon be invalid. Recently Mr. Bush said that war had been justified because Saddam "did not let us in." And this claim was repeated by Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee: "Why on earth didn't [Saddam] let the inspectors in and avoid the war?"
Now let's turn to the administration's other big embarrassment, the budget deficit.
The fiscal 2005 budget report admits that this year's expected $521 billion deficit belies the rosy forecasts of 2001. But the report offers an explanation: stuff happens. "Today's budget deficits are the unavoidable result of the revenue erosion from the stock market collapse that began in early 2000, an economy recovering from recession and a nation confronting serious security threats." Sure, the administration was wrong - but so was everyone.
The trouble is that accepting that excuse requires forgetting a lot of recent history. By February 2002, when the administration released its fiscal 2003 budget, all of the bad news - the bursting of the bubble, the recession, and, yes, 9/11 - had already happened. Yet that budget projected only a $14 billion deficit this year, and a return to surpluses next year. Why did that forecast turn out so wrong? Because administration officials fudged the facts, as usual.
I'd like to think that the administration's crass efforts to rewrite history will backfire, that the media and the informed public won't let officials get away with this. Have we finally had enough?
/ "The citizen who sees his society's democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry it out, is not a patriot, but a traitor." / - Mark Twain / "....don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity." / "After Pat's Birthday", by Kevin Tillman
"An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. All you need is the word of the attorney general or maybe the president himself.
You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country ---like Tierra del Fuego or some rock in the Pacific. All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act." - Gore Vidal, LA WEEKLY, Nov.14-20, 2003 /
Published: March 23, 2004
As the Defense Department's top lawyer, William Haynes II has been an architect of some of the Bush administration's most unenlightened policies. Now he has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Va. His record makes him unworthy of this important judgeship.
The "enemy combatant" doctrine was developed on Mr. Haynes's watch, and it is one of the most dangerous legal developments in years. American citizens designated enemy combatants by the president can be held indefinitely without access to a lawyer. When Jose Padilla, an American captured on American soil, challenged the policy, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York, held that it exceeded the president's "constitutional authority." Mr. Haynes also helped draft military tribunal rules that lack fundamental due-process guarantees and thus call into question the nation's commitment to the rule of law.
Mr. Haynes's trial experience is thin. He has tried only one case to a verdict. His 10 "most significant" cases, as reported to the Senate, include one in which his team argued that bombing an island in the Northern Marianas did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The bombing can enhance bird-watching, his team said, because people "get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one." Mr. Haynes says he only supervised the case and was unaware of this bizarre claim. But that statement raises questions about his supervision.
In his work, Mr. Haynes has shown a lack of concern for sensitive constitutional rights that he would be expected to safeguard from the bench. He has lashed out at members of the news media and law professors who "have vehemently, and sometimes shrilly, criticized our detention of enemy combatants." And he has blocked the Senate's investigation of his record. Senator Edward Kennedy has said that his answers to written questions have been evasive, and that "he has resisted repeated requests for clarification of his position on several important issues."
If the president is intent on stocking the federal courts with ideologues, Mr. Haynes meets that standard. But senators should demand that judicial nominees have a deep background in the law, the respect of their profession and a proven record of supporting important constitutional principles.
by Donald E. Winters Minneapolis Star Tribune August 3, 2002
"Our most deadly enemies are not in caves and compounds abroad, but in the corporate boardrooms and governmental offices where decisions are made that consign millions to death and misery -- not deliberately, but as the collateral damage of the lust for profits and power."
sdThomas Hobbes, the 17th-century English political philosopher, felt that the lives of human beings were naturally "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." He maintains that, in order to survive this grim reality, humanity engages in continual warfare, "every one against every one."
Three hundrred years later, in 1949, George Orwell published his chilling, anti-utopian novel, "Nineteen Eighty-Four," in which the brutish ruling party of Oceania rules society on the basis of slogans such as "War is Peace." In both Hobbes' "Leviathan" and Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" the frightening image of a never-ending war is evoked.
Enter America's unelected president, George W. Bush, and his "War on Terrorism." This war that Bush presents to the American people is a war that will not be over until he says it is. "The prospect of a war without end," writes historian Howard Zinn, in a March 2002 issue of The Progressive, is unlike the wars of any previous administration. "Indeed," writes Zinn, "presidents have been anxious to assurre the nation that the sacrifices demanded would be finite" with an eventual "light at the end of the tunnel."
With the macho bluster of an Old West lawman -- telling America that Osama bin Laden is "Wanted Dead or Alive" -- Bush says his administration will show no mercy toward anybody who harbors terrorists or plans to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Never mind that presidential brother Jeb Bush is governor of Florida, which has long harbored anti-Castro terrorists who've hijacked aircraft and boats without being charged with any crime. Or perhaps the president might explain why one of Pol Pot's chief terrorists now lives confortably in Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Indeed, George Bush's "War on Terrorism" is in many ways a reincarnation of America's "red scare" of the 1950s. It too was used to justify the growth of a war economy, suspension of democratic rights and the silencing of dissent.
The U.S.A. Patriot Act defines a "domestic terrorist" as anyone who "violates the law and is engaged in actions that appear to be intended to influence the government by intimidation or coercion." Such a broad definition might have been used against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who in fact used civil disobedience to fight segregation and racism.
By keeping the specific elements of his "War on Terrorism" as vague as possible, Bush hopes to make use of it whenever it might be expedient for maintaining his power.
Also, by continuously waving the flag of Sept. 11, Bush hopes that Americans will forget the shadowy means by which he become president in the first place. Under the facade of being a hero in times of peril, Bush can take a light hand with polluters and corporate wrongdoers like Enron while taking a heavy hand to all dissenters and anti-globalization radicals.
As Zinn says at the end of his Progressive article, "Our most deadly enemies are not in caves and compounds abroad, but in the corporate boardrooms and governmental offices where decisions are made that consign millions to death and misery -- not deliberately, but as the collateral damage of the lust for profits and power."
It is the responsibility of all of us to move out of the Orwellian shadow that Bush has cast upon the country with his talk of "War on Terror" and "Axis of Evil," and begin to question the political legitimacy of the president and stand up for our First Amendment rights to dissent and question. The painful memory of Sept. 11 must leave us not quivering with fear and manipulated by jingoistic jargon, but motivated by a renewed commitment to democratic rights.
Donald E. Winters, Minneapolis. Humanities professor, Minneapolis Community and Technical College
© Copyright 2002 Star Tribune http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0803-01.htm
/ "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." / "It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad." / - James Madison
"This is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause."
"This is how liberty dies -- to thunderous applause." It's just one of several lines in "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," that reveal the movie to be more than just a sci-fi blockbuster and gargantuan cultural phenomenon.
"Revenge of the Sith," it turns out, can also be seen as a cautionary tale for our time -- a blistering critique of the war in Iraq, a reminder of how democracies can give up their freedoms too easily, and an admonition about the seduction of good people by absolute power.
"Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation, of how dangerous it is."
"... 'Revenge of the Sith' is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, 'If you're not with me, you're my enemy.' Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: 'Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.'
/ "What would it take to turn America into the kind of society that Orwell warned about, a society that envisions war as peace, freedom as slavery and ignorance as strength? Would it happen overnight, or would it involve a gradual erosion of freedoms with the people's consent?" / - "Learning To Love Big Brother; George Bush Channels George Orwell", by Daniel Kurtzman, San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 2002 (ABOVE) / ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ / "STAR WARS is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, filmmaker George Lucas said yesterday." ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
STAR WARS is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, filmmaker George Lucas said yesterday.
Lucas, responding to a question from the Sun at a Cannes Film Festival press conference, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then U.S. President Richard Nixon and the on-going events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in his readings of history.
"I didn't think it was going to get quite this close," he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the current Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security. "It is just one of those re-occurring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is ... The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing now in Iraq are unbelievable.
In the latest film, the Palpatine character takes over as ruler of the universe with the co-operation of the other politicians.
"Because this is the back story (of the Star Wars saga), one of the main features of the back story was to tell how the Republic became the Empire," Lucas said. "At the time I did that, it was during the Vietnam War and the Nixon era. The issue was: How does a democracy turn itself over to a dictator? Not how does a dictator take over, but how does a democracy and Senate give it away?"
"We are talking about despotism. The USA PATRIOT Act is as despotic as anything Hitler came up with-- --even using much of the same language. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged." / -Gore Vidal, LA WEEKLY, Nov.14-20, 2003 / ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ / "... this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society. Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies."
IGNORANCE is STRENGTH Secrets and Lies Becoming Commonplace 'by Walter Cronkite King Features Syndicate April 03, 2004
The initial refusal of President Bush to let his national security adviser appear under oath before the 9/11 Commission might have been in keeping with a principle followed by other presidents -- the principle being, according to Bush, that calling his advisers to testify under oath is a congressional encroachment on the executive branch's turf.
(Never mind that this commission is not a congressional body, but one he created and whose members he handpicked.)
But standing on that principle has proved to be politically damaging, in part because this administration -- the most secretive since Richard Nixon's -- already suffers from a deepening credibility problem. It all brings to mind something I've wondered about for some time: Are secrecy and credibility natural enemies?
When you stop to think about it, you keep secrets from people when you don't want them to know the truth. Secrets, even when legitimate and necessary, as in genuine national-security cases, are what you might call passive lies.
Take the recent flap over Richard Foster, the Medicare official whose boss threatened to fire him if he revealed to Congress that the prescription-drug bill would be a lot more expensive than the administration claimed. The White House tried to pass it all off as the excessive and unauthorized action of Foster's supervisor (who shortly after the threatened firing left the government).
Maybe. But the point is that the administration had the newer, higher numbers, and Congress had been misled. This was a clear case of secrecy being used to protect a lie. I can't help but wonder how many other faulty estimates by this administration have actually been misinformation explained as error.
The Foster story followed by only a few weeks the case of the U.S. Park police chief who got the ax for telling a congressional staffer -- and The Washington Post -- that budget cuts planned for her department would impair its ability to perform its duties. Chief Teresa Chambers since has accepted forced retirement from government service.
Isolated incidents? Not really. Looking back at the past three years reveals a pattern of secrecy and of dishonesty in the service of secrecy. Some New Yorkers felt they had been lied to following the horrific collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Proposed warnings by the Environmental Protection Agency -- that the air quality near ground zero might pose health hazards -- were watered down or deleted by the White House and replaced with the reassuring message that the air was safe to breathe.
The EPA's own inspector general said later that the agency did not have sufficient data to claim the air was safe. However, the reassurance was in keeping with the president's defiant back-to-work/business-as-usual theme to demonstrate the nation's strength and resilience. It also was an early example of a Bush administration reflex described by one physicist as "never let science get in the way of policy."
In April 2002, the EPA had prepared a nationwide warning about a brand of asbestos called Zonolite, which contained a form of the substance far more lethally dangerous than ordinary asbestos. However, reportedly at the last minute, the White House stopped the warning. Why? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which broke the story, noted that the Bush administration at the time was pushing legislation limiting the asbestos manufacturer's liability. Whatever the reason, such silence by an agency charged with protecting our health is a silent lie in my book.
One sometimes gets the impression that this administration believes that how it runs the government is its business and no one else's. It is certainly not the business of Congress. And if it's not the business of the people's representatives, it's certainly no business of yours or mine.
"I'm the commander, I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation." - And this means you, AMERICA! George W. Bush, in an interview with Bob Woodward
But this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society.
Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies.
Walter Cronkite has been a journalist for more than 60 years, including 19 as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
))))))))))))))))))))))))))) "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." - Edward Abbey ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- / "... this is a dangerous condition for any representative democracy to find itself in. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society. Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies." - Walter Cronkite vcas "Democracies die behind closed doors." - U.S. Appeals Court Judge Damon J. Keith / IGNORANCE is STRENGTH Presidential assistant Donald Rumsfeld, right, and his deputy Richard Cheney meet with reporters at the White House in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Nov. 7, 1975. At that time and Cheney were persuading Ford to veto one of the most important Watergate-inspired reforms, an enhanced Freedom of Information Act, designed to guarantee public and media scrutiny of the FBI and other agencies. - from "Restoring the Imperial Presidency" by Bruce Shapiro, Salon /
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH Keeping Secrets
U.S. News & World Report Friday 12 December 2003 /x The Bush administration is doing the public's business out of the public eye. Here's how--and why xccx
At 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20, 2001, as a bone-chilling rain fell on Washington, George W. Bush took the oath of office as the nation's 43rd president. Later that afternoon, the business of governance officially began. Like other chief executives before him, Bush moved to unravel the efforts of his predecessor. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, directed federal agencies to freeze more than 300 pending regulations issued by the administration of President Bill Clinton. The regulations affected areas ranging from health and safety to the environment and industry. The delay, Card said, would "ensure that the president's appointees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations." The process, as it turned out, expressly precluded input from average citizens. Inviting such comments, agency officials concluded, would be "contrary to the public interest."
Ten months later, a former U.S. Army Ranger named Joseph McCormick found out just how hard it was to get information from the new administration. A resident of Floyd County, Va., in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, McCormick discovered that two big energy companies planned to run a high-volume natural gas pipeline through the center of his community. He wanted to help organize citizens by identifying residents through whose property the 30-inch pipeline would run. McCormick turned to Washington, seeking a project map from federal regulators. The answer? A pointed "no." Although such information was "previously public," officials of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told McCormick, disclosing the route of the new pipeline could provide a road map for terrorists. McCormick was nonplused. Once construction began, he says, the pipeline's location would be obvious to anyone. "I understand about security," the rangy, soft-spoken former business executive says. "But there certainly is a balance--it's about people's right to use the information of an open society to protect their rights."
For the past three years, the Bush administration has quietly but efficiently dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government--cloaking its own affairs from scrutiny and removing from the public domain important information on health, safety, and environmental matters. The result has been a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government while making increasing amounts of information unavailable to the taxpayers who pay for its collection and analysis. Bush administration officials often cite the September 11 attacks as the reason for the enhanced secrecy. But as the Inauguration Day directive from Card indicates, the initiative to wall off records and information previously in the public domain began from Day 1. Steven Garfinkel, a retired government lawyer and expert on classified information, puts it this way: "I think they have an overreliance on the utility of secrecy. They don't seem to realize secrecy is a two-edge sword that cuts you as well as protects you." Even supporters of the administration, many of whom agree that security needed to be bolstered after the attacks, say Bush and his inner circle have been unusually assertive in their commitment to increased government secrecy. "Tightly controlling information, from the White House on down, has been the hallmark of this administration," says Roger Pilon, vice president of legal affairs for the Cato Institute.
Air and water
Some of the Bush administration's initiatives have been well chronicled. Its secret deportation of immigrants suspected as terrorists, its refusal to name detainees at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the new surveillance powers granted under the post-9/11 U.S.A. Patriot Act have all been debated at length by the administration and its critics. The clandestine workings of an energy task force headed by Vice President Dick Cheney have also been the subject of litigation, now before the Supreme Court.
But the administration's efforts to shield the actions of, and the information obtained by, the executive branch are far more extensive than has been previously documented. A five-month investigation by U.S. News detailed a series of initiatives by administration officials to effectively place large amounts of information out of the reach of ordinary citizens. The magazine's inquiry is based on a detailed review of government reports and regulations, federal agency Web sites, and legislation pressed by the White House. U.S. News also analyzed information from public interest groups and others that monitor the administration's activities, and interviewed more than 100 people, including many familiar with the new secrecy initiatives. That information was supplemented by a review of materials provided in response to more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the magazine seeking details of federal agencies' practices in providing public access to government information.
The principal findings:
Important business and consumer information is increasingly being withheld from the public. The Bush administration is denying access to auto and tire safety information, for instance, that manufacturers are required to provide under a new "early-warning" system created following the Ford-Firestone tire scandal four years ago. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, meanwhile, is more frequently withholding information that would allow the public to scrutinize its product safety findings and product recall actions.
New administration initiatives have effectively placed off limits critical health and safety information potentially affecting millions of Americans. The information includes data on quality and vulnerability of drinking-water supplies, potential chemical hazards in communities, and safety of airline travel and other forms of transportation. In Aberdeen, Md., families who live near an Army weapons base are suing the Army for details of toxic pollution fouling the town's drinking-water supplies. Citing security, the Army has refused to provide information that could help residents locate and track the pollution.
Beyond the well-publicized cases involving terrorism suspects, the administration is aggressively pursuing secrecy claims in the federal courts in ways little understood--even by some in the legal system. The administration is increasingly invoking a "state secrets" privilege (box, Page 24) that allows government lawyers to request that civil and criminal cases be effectively closed by asserting that national security would be compromised if they proceed. It is impossible to say how often government lawyers have invoked the privilege. But William Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas-El Paso, who recently completed a study of the historical use of the privilege, says the Bush administration is asserting it "with offhanded abandon." In one case, Weaver says, the government invoked the privilege 245 times. In another, involving allegations of racial discrimination, the Central Intelligence Agency demanded, and won, return of information it had provided to a former employee's attorneys--only to later disclose the very information that it claimed would jeopardize national security.
New administration policies have thwarted the ability of Congress to exercise its constitutional authority to monitor the executive branch and, in some cases, even to obtain basic information about its actions. One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, became so frustrated with the White House's refusal to cooperate in an investigation that he exclaimed, during a hearing: "This is not a monarchy!" Some see a fundamental transformation in the past three years. "What has stunned us so much," says Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a public interest group in Washington that monitors government activities, "is how rapidly we've moved from a principle of `right to know' to one edging up to `need to know.' "
The White House declined repeated requests by U.S. News to discuss the new secrecy initiatives with the administration's top policy and legal officials. Two Bush officials who did comment defended the administration and rejected criticism of what many call its "penchant for secrecy." Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, says that besides the extraordinary steps the president has taken to protect the nation, Bush and other senior officials must keep private advice given in areas such as intelligence and policymaking, if that advice is to remain candid. Overall, Bartlett says, "the administration is open, and the process in which this administration conducts its business is as transparent as possible." There is, he says, "great respect for the law, and great respect for the American people knowing how their government is operating."
Bartlett says that some administration critics "such as environmentalists . . . want to use [secrecy] as a bogeyman." He adds: "For every series of examples you could find where you could make the claim of a `penchant for secrecy,' I could probably come up with several that demonstrate the transparency of our process." Asked for examples, the communications director offered none.
There are no precise statistics on how much government information is rendered secret. One measure, though, can be seen in a tally of how many times officials classify records. In the first two years of Bush's term, his administration classified records some 44.5 million times, or about the same number as in President Clinton's last four years, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration. But the picture is more complicated than that. In an executive order issued last March, Bush made it easier to reclassify information that had previously been declassified--allowing executive-branch agencies to drop a cloak of secrecy over reams of information, some of which had been made available to the public.
Bait and switch
In addition, under three other little-noticed executive orders, Bush increased the number of officials who can classify records to include the secretary of agriculture, the secretary of health and human services, and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, all three can label information at the "secret" level, rendering it unavailable for public review. Traditionally, classification authority has resided in federal agencies engaged in national security work. "We don't know yet how frequently the authority is being exercised," says Steven Aftergood, who publishes an authoritative newsletter in Washington on government secrecy. "But it is a sign of the times that these purely domestic agencies have been given national security classification authority. It is another indication of how our government is being transformed under pressure of the perceived terrorist threat." J. William Leonard, director of the information oversight office, estimates that up to half of what the government now classifies needn't be. "You can't have an effective secrecy process," he cautions, "unless you're discerning in how you use it."
From the start, the Bush White House has resisted efforts to disclose information about executive-branch activities and decision making. The energy task force headed by Cheney is just one example. In May 2001, the task force produced a report calling for increased oil and gas drilling, including on public land. The Sierra Club and another activist group, Judicial Watch, sued to get access to task-force records, saying that energy lobbyists unduly influenced the group. Citing the Constitution's separation of powers clause, the administration is arguing that the courts can't compel Cheney to disclose information about his advice to the president. A federal judge ordered the administration to produce the records, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Energy interests aren't alone in winning a friendly hearing from the Bush administration. Auto and tire manufacturers prevailed in persuading the administration to limit disclosure requirements stemming from one of the highest-profile corporate scandals of recent years. Four years ago, after news broke that failing Firestone tires on Ford SUVs had caused hundreds of deaths and many more accidents, Congress enacted a new auto and tire safety law. A cornerstone was a requirement that manufacturers submit safety data to a government early-warning system, which would provide clues to help prevent another scandal. Lawmakers backing the system wanted the data made available to the public. After the legislation passed, officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they didn't expect to create any new categories of secrecy for the information; they indicated that key data would automatically be made public. That sparked protests from automakers, tire manufacturers, and others. After months of pressure, transportation officials decided to make vital information such as warranty claims, field reports from dealers, and consumer complaints--all potentially valuable sources of safety information--secret. "It was more or less a bait and switch," says Laura MacCleery, auto-safety counsel for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer group. "You're talking about information that will empower consumers. The manufacturers are not going to give that up easily."
Get out of jail free
Government officials, unsurprisingly, don't see it that way. Lloyd Guerci, a Transportation Department attorney involved in writing the new regulations, declined to comment. But Ray Tyson, a spokesman for the traffic safety administration, denies the agency caved to industry pressure: "We've listened to all who have opinions and reached a compromise that probably isn't satisfactory to anybody."
Some of the strongest opposition to making the warning-system data public came from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The organization, whose membership comprises U.S. and international carmakers, argued that releasing the information would harm them competitively. The Bush administration has close ties to the carmakers. Bush Chief of Staff Card has been General Motors' top lobbyist and head of a trade group of major domestic automakers. Jacqueline Glassman, NHTSA's chief counsel, is a former top lawyer for DaimlerChrysler Corp. In the months before the new regulations were released, industry officials met several times with officials from the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
The administration's commitment to increased secrecy measures extends to the area of "critical infrastructure information," or CII. In layman's terms, this refers to transportation, communications, energy, and other systems that make modern society run. The Homeland Security Act allows companies to make voluntary submissions of information about critical infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security. The idea is to encourage firms to share information crucial to running and protecting those facilities. But under the terms of the law, when a company does this, the information is exempted from public disclosure and cannot be used without the submitting party's permission in any civil proceeding, even a government enforcement action. Some critics see this as a get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing companies worried about potential litigation or regulatory actions to place troublesome information in a convenient "homeland security" vault. "The sweep of it is amazing," says Beryl Howell, former general counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Savvy businesses will be able to mark every document handed over [to] government officials as `CII' to ensure their confidentiality." Companies "wanted liability exemption long before 9/11," adds Patrice McDermott, a lobbyist for the American Library Association, which has a tradition of advocacy on right-to-know issues. "Now, they've got it."
Under the administration's plan to implement the Homeland Security Act, some businesses may get even more protection. When Congress passed the law, it said the antidisclosure provision would apply only to information submitted to the Department of Homeland Security. The department recently proposed extending the provision to cover information submitted to any federal agency. A department spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. Business objections were also pivotal when the Environmental Protection Agency recently backed off a plan that would have required some companies to disclose more about chemical stockpiles in communities.
If the administration's secrecy policies have helped business, they have done little for individuals worried about health and safety issues. The residents of the small town of Aberdeen, Md., can attest to that. On a chilly fall evening, some 100 people gathered at the Aberdeen firehouse to hear the latest about a toxic substance called perchlorate. An ingredient in rocket fuel, perchlorate has entered the aquifer that feeds the town's drinking-water wells. The culprit is the nearby U.S. Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground, where since World War I, all manner of weapons have been tested.
After word of the perchlorate contamination broke, a coalition of citizens began working with the Army to try to attack the unseen plume of pollution moving through the ground. But earlier this year, the Army delivered Aberdeen residents a sharp blow. It began censoring maps to eliminate features like street names and building locations--information critical to understanding and tracking where contamination might have occurred or where environmental testing was being done.
The reason? The information, the Army says, could provide clues helpful to terrorists. Arlen Crabb, the head of a citizens' group, doesn't buy it. "It's an abuse of power," says Crabb, a 20-year Army veteran, whose well lies just a mile and a half from the base. His coalition is suing the Army, citing health and safety concerns. "We're not a bunch of radicals. We've got to have the proof. The government has to be transparent."
Aberdeen is but one example of the way enhanced security measures increasingly conflict with the health and safety concerns of ordinary Americans. Two basics--drinking water and airline travel--help illustrate the trend. A public health and bioterrorism law enacted last year requires, among other things, that operators of local water systems study vulnerabilities to attack or other disruptions and draw up plans to address any weaknesses. Republicans and Democrats praised the measure, pushed by the Bush administration, as a prudent response to potential terrorist attacks. But there's a catch. Residents are precluded from obtaining most information about any vulnerabilities.
This wasn't always the case. In 1996, Congress passed several amendments to the Clean Water Act calling for "source water assessments" to be made of water supply systems. The idea was that the assessments, covering such things as sources of contamination, would arm the public with information necessary to push for improvements. Today, the water assessments are still being done, but some citizens' groups say that because of Bush administration policy, the release of information has been so restricted that there is too little specific information to act upon. They blame the Environmental Protection Agency for urging states to limit information provided to the public from the assessments. As a result, the program has been fundamentally reshaped from one that has made information widely available to one that now forces citizens to essentially operate on a need-to-know basis, says Stephen Gasteyer, a Washington specialist on water-quality issues. "People [are] being overly zealous in their enforcement of safety and security, and perhaps a little paranoid," he says. "So you're getting releases of information so ambiguous that it's not terribly useful." Cynthia Dougherty, director of EPA's groundwater and drinking-water office, described her agency's policy as laying out "minimal standards," so that states that had been intending to more fully disclose information "had the opportunity to decide to make a change."
The Federal Aviation Administration has its own security concerns, and supporters say it has addressed them vigorously. In doing so, however, the agency has also made it harder for Americans to obtain the kind of safety information once considered routine. The FAA has eliminated online access to records on enforcement actions taken against airlines, pilots, mechanics, and others. That came shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when it was discovered that information was available on things like breaches of airport security, says Rebecca Trexler, an FAA spokeswoman. Balancing such concerns isn't easy. But rather than cut off access to just that information, the agency pulled back all enforcement records. The FAA has also backed away from providing access to safety information voluntarily submitted by airlines.
As worrisome as the specter of terrorism is for many Americans, many still grumble about being kept in the dark unnecessarily. Under rules the Transportation Security Administration adopted last year--with no public notice or comment--the traveling public no longer has access to key government information on the safety and security of all modes of transportation. The sweeping restrictions go beyond protecting details about security or screening systems to include information on enforcement actions or effectiveness of security measures. The new TSA rules also establish a new, looser standard for denying access to information: Material can be withheld from the public, the rules say, simply if it's "impractical" to release it. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.
This same pattern can be seen in one federal agency after another. As Joseph McCormick, the former Army Ranger trying to learn more about the pipeline planned for Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, learned, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now restricts even the most basic information about such projects. The agency says its approach is "balanced," adding that security concerns amply justify the changes.
The Bush administration is pressing the courts to impose more secrecy, too. Jeffrey Sterling, 36, a former CIA operations officer, can testify to that. Sterling, who is black, is suing the CIA for discrimination. In September, with his attorneys in the midst of preparing important filings, a CIA security officer paid them a visit, demanding return of documents the agency had previously provided. A mistake had been made, the officer explained, and the records contained information that if disclosed would gravely damage national security. The officer warned that failure to comply could lead to prison or loss of a security clearance, according to the lawyers. Although vital to Sterling's case, the lawyers reluctantly gave up the records.
What was so important? In a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Va., a Justice Department attorney recently explained that the records included a pseudonym given to Sterling for an internal CIA proceeding on his discrimination complaint. In fact, the pseudonym, which Sterling never used in an operation, had already been disclosed through a clerical error. Mark Zaid, one of Sterling's attorneys, says the pseudonym is just a misdirection play by the CIA. The real reason the agency demanded the files back, he says, is that they included information supporting Sterling's discrimination complaint. Zaid says he has never encountered such heavy-handed treatment from the CIA. "When they have an administration that is willing to cater [to secrecy], they go for it," he says, "because they know they can get away with it." A CIA spokesman declined comment.
In this case, which is still pending, the administration is invoking the "state secrets" privilege, in which it asserts that a case can't proceed normally without disclosing information harmful to national security. The Justice Department says it can't provide statistics on how often it invokes the privilege. But Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor active in national security matters, says: "In the past, it was an unusual thing. The Bush administration is faster on the trigger."
At the same time, the government is opening up a related front. Last spring, the TSA effectively shut down the case of Mohammed Ali Ahmed, an Indian Muslim and naturalized citizen. In September 2001, Ahmed and three of his children were removed from an American Airlines flight. Last year, Ahmed filed a civil rights suit against the airline. But TSA head James Loy intervened, saying that giving Ahmed information about his family's removal would compromise airline security. The government, in other words, was asserting a claim to withhold the very information Ahmed needed to pursue his case, says his attorney, Wayne Krause, of the Texas Civil Rights Project. "You're looking at an almost unprecedented vehicle to suppress information that is vital to the public and the people who want to vindicate their rights," Krause says.
Secret evidence of a different kind comes into play through a little-noticed effect of the U.S.A. Patriot Act. A key provision allows information from surveillance approved for intelligence gathering to be used to convict a defendant in criminal court. But the government's application--which states the case for the snooping--isn't available for defendants to see, as in traditional law enforcement surveillance cases. With government agencies now hoarding all manner of secret information, the growing stockpile represents an opportunity for abusive leaks, critics say. The new law takes note of that, by allowing suits against the federal government. But there's an important catch--in order to seek redress, one must forfeit the right to a jury trial. Instead, the action must be held before a judge; judges, typically, are much more conservative in awarding damages than are juries.
Most Americans appreciate the need for increased security. But with conflicts between safety and civil rights increasing, the need for an arbiter is acute--which is perhaps the key reason why the vast new security powers of many executive-branch agencies are so alarming to citizens' groups and others. A diminished role of congressional oversight is just one area of fallout, but there are others. Some examples:
It took the threat of a subpoena from the independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks to force the White House to turn over intelligence reports. Even at that, family members of victims complain, there were too many restrictions on release of the information. In Congress, the administration has rebuffed members on a range of issues often unrelated to security concerns.
In a huge military spending bill last year, Congress directed President Bush to give it 30 days' notice before initiating certain sensitive defense programs. Bush signed the bill into law but rejected the restraint and said he would ignore the provision if he deemed it necessary.
Initial contracts to rebuild Iraq, worth billions of dollars, were awarded in secret. Bids were limited to companies invited to participate, and many had close ties to the White House. Members of Congress later pressed for an open bidding process.
Many public interest groups report that government agencies are more readily denying Freedom of Information Act requests--while also increasing fees, something small-budget groups say they can ill afford. The Sierra Club, for example, has been thwarted in getting information on problems at huge "factory farms" that pollute rivers and groundwater. Says David Bookbinder, senior attorney for the group: "What's different about this administration is their willingness to say, `We're going to keep everything secret until we're forced to disclose it--no matter what it is.' "
The administration is undeterred by such complaints. "I think what you've seen is a White House that has valued openness," says Daniel Bryant, assistant attorney general for legal policy, and "that knows that openness with the public facilitates confidence in government."
That's not the way Jim Kerrigan sees it. He operates a small market-research firm in Sterling, Va., outside Washington. For more than a decade, he has forecast federal spending on information technology. Three months after Bush took office, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo telling government officials to no longer make available such information so as to "preserve the confidentiality of the deliberations that led to the president's budget decisions."
As a result, Kerrigan says, information began to dry up. Requests were ignored. And the data he did get came with so much information censored out that they were barely usable. The fees Kerrigan paid for a request, which once topped out at $300, jumped to as much as $6,500. "I can't afford that," he says. "This administration's policy is to withhold information as much as possible."
Administration freezes Clinton-era regulations, without allowing
for public comment.
10/12/01 Attorney General John Ashcroft, reversing Clinton policy, encourages agencies to deny Freedom of Information Act requests if a "sound legal basis" exists.
10/26/01 President Bush signs U.S.A. Patriot Act, expanding law enforcement powers and government surveillance.
2/22/02 Congress's General Accounting Office sues Vice President Dick Cheney for refusing to disclose records of his energy task force; the GAO eventually loses its case. A separate private case is pending.
3/19/02 White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card directs federal agencies to protect sensitive security information.
11/25/02 Bush signs Homeland Security Act. Its provisions restrict public access to information filed by companies about "critical infrastructure," among other matters.
01/3/03 Administration asks, in papers filed before the Supreme Court, for significant narrowing of the Freedom of Information Act.
3/25/03 Bush issues standards on classified material, favoring secrecy and reversing provisions on openness.
- By Christopher H. Schmitt and Edward T. Pound, U.S. News & World Report
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ vca "To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement. I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous." - Ex-Nixon Counsel and constitutional scholar John Dean IGNORANCE is STRENGTH vcas Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies." - Walter Cronkite vcaIGNORANCE is STRENGTHs "Democracies die behind closed doors." - U.S. Appeals Court Judge Damon J. Keith vca \_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _
IGNORANCE is STRENGTH ________________________________________________ "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" ( " WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN? " ) ________________________________________________ IGNORANCE is STRENGTH
"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans -- -- unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing" / - Karl Rove, senior advisor for George W. Bush, "The Daily Texan", March 19, 2001 /IGNORANCE is STRENGTH IGNORANCE is STRENGTH "In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes." / - Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address, January 1961
"We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process." - Gore Vidal / /
"Direct threats require decisive action," Cheney said in a speech to the World Economic Forum. He urged European allies to "act with all the urgency that this danger demands." n"There comes a time when deceit and defiance must be seen for what they are..ffff At that point, a gathering danger must be directly confronted. At that point, we must show that beyond our resolutions is actual resolve. The days of looking the other way while despotic regimes trample human rights, rob their nations' wealth, and then excuse their failings by feeding their people a steady diet of hatred are over." / - Dick Cheney, World Economic Forum January 24, 2004 r // "It's hard for free people to comprehend the mix of extremism and hatred that leads terrorists to murder innocent men, women and children. ....Throughout human history there have been those who seek power through fear and mass murder but eventually all of them, every one, has fallen." / - Donald Rumsfeld, Arlington Cemetary, Sunday September 11, 2005
"If I may, I'd like to remind you what I said at the State of the Union. Liberty is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to each and every person. And that's what I believe. I believe that when we see totalitarianism, that we must deal with it." // - George W. Bush, prime time press conference, White House, Mar. 6, 2003 / "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security." / - The Declaration of Independence /// "If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." // ~ Samuel Adams,(1722-1803) ////
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