Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Government Without Newspapers

Pretty damn chilling news this weekend, reported on Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory (all emphasis and links as in the original):
The administration's assault on a free and vital press took a huge leap forward this weekend, when Attorney General Alberto Gonazles announced on national television that the Bush administration has the power to imprison journalists who publish stories revealing conduct by the President which the administration wants to conceal (such as the warrantless NSA eavesdropping program, which he specifically cited).

...Literally, if George Bush had his way -- if government sources were sufficiently intimidated out of disclosing classified information and journalists were sufficiently intimidated out of writing about it -- we would not know about any of these matters:
  • Abu Ghraib
  • The Bybee Torture Memorandum
  • The use of torture as an interrogation tool
  • The illegal eavesdropping on Americans without warrants
  • The creation of secret gulags in Eastern Europe
  • The existence of abundant pre-war information undermining and even negating the administration's WMD claims
  • Policies of rendering prisoners to the worst human rights-abusing countries

Our Government would be engaging in all of this conduct, and worse. But we would not know about any of it.

...I've cited this Jefferson warning several times before, and included it in my book, because it is so prescient and so self-evidently applicable to the Bush administration:
"Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions."

My brother, a lawyer, proposes this idea:
If the feds prosecute a leaker or reporter, and the federal whistleblower law, or our general constitutional protections, result in their acquital, then that federal prosecutor and any of his/her superiors who ordered the prosecution, should themselves be prosecuted for violations of civil rights under the federal civil rights laws. That would even the playing field a little bit! It is a crime for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

The creepiest part of this latest power grab is the silence of the press themselves on this issue.

UPDATE: Another simply amazing bit, via another Glenn Greenwald post. This is Bush, in a speech yesterday in Chicago, in response to a question about Venezuela and Bolivia:
I want to remind people that the United States stands against corruption at all levels of government, that the United States is transparent.

"Transparent" must now mean, "You can see everything, except what we won't show you. And by the way, if you try to see that part, you're going to jail."


Post a Comment

<< Home