Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 22nd, 2011

Tacit bed fellows: US Administration, opposition party, and Major dailies and News Medias

There is this tacit agreement among the US Administration, Major dailies, and major News Medias…The deal is:

First, the dailies wait for the green light of the US Federal government to tell them when it is ready to mellow on a controversial issues, and when it is ready to sit down and negotiate and reach an agreement with the opposing parties.  The dailies can then go about publishing its head off.

Second, it is a win-win deal at the expense of the public opinion.  The Us can boast to have an established free expression climate and enjoying a fifth power of control… The dailies can claim to represent the common people against the “wayward” tendencies in the Federal institutions…

A researcher, who for sure has access to abundant data-bases, can conduct a chronological time-line of the onset of a problem and the delay needed for the dailies to confronting the problems.

For example, in “With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful” ,Glenn Greenwald wrote in a chapter:

“In December 2007, the Washington Post reported that, back in 2002, the CIA had briefed a bipartisan group of Congress people on its use of waterboarding and other torture tactics. That group included the ranking members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees: Jay Rockefeller and Nancy Pelosi. Yet,the Post reported: “no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder.”

Similarly, several leading Democrats, including Rockefeller and Representative Jane Harman, were told that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. Rockefeller did nothing to stop it, and Harman actually became the administration’s leading defender.  After the illegal program was revealed by the New York Times, Jane Harman publicly stated that the wiretapping was “both necessary and legal.”

Two years after, reporter Eric Lichtblau co-authored the story revealing the Bush NSA program, he revealed that Harman had attempted to convince him not to write about the program on the ground that it was so vital. Appearing on MSNBC in June 2008, the law professor Jonathan Turley pointed out the logical result of this bipartisan support for the crimes.

There’s no question in my mind that there is an obvious level of collusion here. We now know that the Democratic leadership knew about the illegal surveillance program almost from its inception. Even when they were campaigning about fighting for civil liberties, they were aware of an unlawful surveillance program as well as a torture program. And ever since that came out, the Democrats have been silently trying to kill any effort to hold anyone accountable because that list could very well include some of their own members.

As Mayer put it, “Figures in both parties would find it very hard at this point to point the finger at the White House, without also implicating themselves.”

The opinion-making elites were similarly implicated. Very few media figures with any significant platform can point to anything they did or said to oppose the lawbreaking — and they know that.

Indeed, some of the nation’s most prominent “liberal commentators” vocally supported Bush’s policies. It was Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter who became the first establishment media figure to openly advocate torturing prisoners.  Jonathan Alter, in his November 4, 2001, Newsweek column (headlined “Time to Think About Torture”), began by proclaiming that “in this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to … torture” and went on to suggest “transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies.”

It was Alan Dershowitz who argued for the creation of “torture warrants,” proposing for cases such as the proverbial “ticking time bomb” that “judicially monitored physical measures designed to cause excruciating pain” should be made “part of our legal system.”

It was the writers of the Washington Post editorial page who hailed the Military Commissions Act — the single most repressive law enacted during the Bush-era, crucial parts of which the Supreme Court ultimately struck down as unconstitutional — as a “remarkably good bill” that “balances profound and difficult interests thoughtfully and with considerable respect both for the uniqueness of the current conflict and for the American tradition of fair trials and due process.”

When it comes to media figures who cheered on Bush’s lawlessness and then self-serve demanded that there be no investigations, the Washington Post’s David Broder is a particularly illustrative case. In April 2009, he wrote a column dramatically denouncing the Bush presidency as “one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.”

Despite this acknowledgment, Broder in the same column opposed any criminal investigations of the Bush torture regime, proclaiming Obama “right to declare that there should be no prosecution of those who carried out what had been the policy of the United States government.”

Given Broder’s acknowledgment of how horrific Bush’s presidency had been, what explains his simultaneous opposition to investigations? Like most of his journalistic colleagues, the dean of the Washington press corps never sounded the alarm while this lawlessness was taking place, when it mattered. He did the opposite, repeatedly mocking those who warned of how radical and dangerous the Bush administration was.

As torture went on, David Broder continuously defended what Bush officials were doing as perfectly normal and well within the bounds of legitimate policy.

After the 2004 election, Broder dismissed those who were arguing that Bush and Cheney had succeeded in entrenching presidential lawlessness. “Checks and balances are still there,” he insisted. “The nation does not face ‘another dark age,’ unless you consider politics with all its tradeoffs and bargaining a black art.” In 2006, he derided those who warned that the “war on terror” had ushered in an era of extreme lawlessness by sarcastically proclaiming, “I’d like to assure you that Washington is calm and quiet this morning, and democracy still lives here,” and Broder denounced Bush critics “who get carried away by their own rhetoric.”

Broder’s 2009 recognition that the Bush presidency was “one of the darkest chapters of American history” came, of course, with no acknowledgment of his 2004 declaration that “the nation does not face ‘another dark age.’”

So when these media and political elites are defending Bush officials, minimizing their crimes, and arguing that no one should be held accountable, they’re actually defending themselves as well. Just as Jane Harman and Jay Rockefeller can’t possibly demand investigations for actions in which they were complicit, media stars can’t possibly condemn acts that they supported or toward which, at the very best, they turned a blissfully blind eye.

Bush officials must be exonerated, or at least have their crimes forgotten — look to the future and ignore the past, the journalists all chime in unison — so that their own involvement might also be overlooked.

In this world, it is perfectly fine to say that a president is inept or even somewhat corrupt. A titillating, tawdry sex scandal, such as the Bill Clinton brouhaha, can be fun, even desirable as a way of keeping entertainment levels high. Such revelations are all just part of the political cycle. But to acknowledge that our highest political officials are felons (which is what people are, by definition, who break our laws) or war criminals (which is what people are, by definition, who violate the laws of war) is to threaten the system of power, and that is unthinkable.

Above all else, media figures are desperate to maintain the current power structure, as it is their role within it that provides them with prominence, wealth, and self-esteem. Their prime mandate then becomes protecting and defending Washington, which means attacking anyone who would dare suggest that the government has been criminal at its core.

The members of the political and media establishment do not join forces against the investigations and prosecutions because they believe that nothing bad was done. On the contrary, they resist accountability precisely because they know there was serious wrongdoing — and they know they bear part of the culpability for it.

The consensus mantra that the only thing that matters is to “make sure it never happens again” is simply the standard cry of every criminal desperate for escape: “I promise not to do it again if you don’t punish me this time”. And the Beltway battle cry of “look to the future, not the past!” is what all political power systems tell their subjects to do when they want to flush their own crimes down the memory hole.

In the long run, immunity from legal accountability ensures that criminality and corruption will continue. Vesting the powerful with license to break the law guarantees high-level lawbreaking. Indeed, it encourages such behavior. One need only look at what’s happened in the United States over the last decade to see the proof.” End of the excerpt.

Note 1With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald, published October 25th by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright © 2011 by Glenn Greenwald. All rights reserved.

An honest test of mass feeling in Syria?

Kind of Lebanese March 8 and 14th mass rallies?

There are suggestions in journalistic circles (for example Sarkis Naoum) for President Bashar el Assad to relax the interventions of the army and security services for a week, just to let the people demonstrate freely where they side.

Those suggestions are basically ironic because loosening of control is not going to happen and also because the Lebanese example was given the wrong political interpretation.

What is that all about?

As the Syrian mandated power over Lebanon withdrew its troops from Lebanon  in 2005, after the assassination of Rafic Hariri and the international pressures on Bashar to withdraw from Lebanon, the Lebanese population demonstrated in mass in the Martyr Square (downtown Beirut).

Hezbollah and the parties supporting Syria during its mandated period, mostly under duress, called out for a mass rally on March 8.  Hundred of thousands crowded the Martyr Square under the  banner “Thank you Syria”.

On March 14, a Sunday, hundred of thousands answered the call for another mass rally to celebrate the event with joy, after over 15 years of official mandated power agreed upon by the US and the western European States (including France).

Fact is both rallies were very happy of the withdrawal of Syrian troops and their intelligence services the “mukhabarat“.  Hezbollah was the most relieved because the physical presence of Syria in Lebanon was the major check and balance on Hezbollah strategy for getting involved in Lebanon politics.   The other Moslem shia faction AMAL, and headed by parliament chairman Nabih Berry, was representing Hezbollah in the parliament and municipal elections and in the government…

The political parties that called for the March 14 rally had also enjoyed privileged support of the Syrian regime, out of proportion of their representation among the population, but every party was relieved that some kind of Lebanese-style political game will be replayed as before the civil war that started in 1975.

Hezbollah was by far the most organized, united, and well-armed among all the other parties, and its tacit jubilation was the most striking of the Syrian withdrawal. Indeed, Hezbollah got totally immersed in Lebanon politics and gained membership in all political representative institutions. Hezbollah was expanding its support bases in many regions in Lebanon and was able to finance its social services from government funding and budget, in addition to Iran organizational, financial, and military support…

It didn’t go unnoticed in Syria what “Thank you Syria” really meant and its implicit malice, and the Syrian regime will not take seriously any Syrian banners among demonstrators saying “Thank you Bashar” and “Long live Bashar”…

Mass rallies in Syria in support of the regime is tacitly expressing feeling of fear and worries of the current situation and the after Bashar conditions.  Not many in Syria favor the coming to power of any Islamic parties, whether they claim to be moderate or otherwise, Turkish-kind or Saudi Wahhabi-kind: The minority sects and communities are very many, educated, and diversified and hate to live under the Islam Charia laws .

If Bashar relaxes its troops for “free” mass rallies, it still will be doubtful what they really mean in their extend of support to the regime.  The Lebanese political parties interpreted the March 8 and 14 rallies as either supporting Syria mandated presence or against.

It is all faked understanding in order to resume the political game without approaching the crucial and critical social and political problems of Lebanon: Mainly, stripping the 18 officially recognized religious sects from their political rights to meddle in civil status and election laws…




November 2011

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