FOX News, the president’s propaganda channel, just aired a one hour documentary attempting to compare President Bush and his legacy to President Lincoln. Naturally the usual Fox News idiocity not prevailed (as noted by Think Progress, Lincoln wasn’t hated when he left office, he was assassinated just after being re-elected by an overwhelming margin).
As expected from myself and a lot of other people, the State of the Union address (hopefully the last) given by President Bush was no surprise, and was filled with the usual scare tactics aimed at bullying Congress and getting his way, regardless of public opinion or truth, and the usual lies involving Iraq and the economy.
The ACLU published a report that does a good job of debunking Bush’s State of Delusion address, I mean his State of the Union address last night. One lie involved Bush telling the public that on February 1, when the Protect America Act expires, terrorists will be calling other terrorists in the United States and our intelligence agencies won’t be able to eavesdrop — and our citizens will be in great danger because Senate Democrats refused to cave in to his demands and pass the faulty legislation intended to cover his butt, his administrations butt and the butts of telecoms involved in the illegal spying. If the Protect America Act expired, Americans would probably be a lot safer.
The secret FISA Court that authorizes wiretap arrest warrants has only rejected 5 requests for warrants — 5 requests out of over 20,000 requests from 1979 through 2006. Obviously FISA laws have done nothing to impede our ability to track terrorist threats. In an emergency, agencies have a 72 hour windows that allows them to start a wiretap and get it authorized later. On top of that, all current surveillance orders started now can be extended into 2009.
In their “efforts to defend America,” telecoms cut off FBI wiretaps after it was revealed that the bureau repeatedly failed to pay the wiretapping bills. It would appear that these telecoms are more concerned with their bottom lines, not keeping Americans safe from terrorist threats.
Also noted by the ACLU, is the fact that while Bush would like you to believe that his administration has gone above and beyond to protect America after the attacks of 9/11 (which could have been prevented and of which a lot of unanswered questions still remain), the Bush administration actually sought expanded wiretapping before then. The Washington Post also did some fact-checking on key statements from the State of the Union address last night.
Serious Problems With American Intelligence
An informative article from The Washington Independent written by Milt Bearden, a 30 year CIA veteran, details how American Intelligence has a serious problem.
Not the problem with the destroyed CIA videotapes. A problem caused by the fact that institutional oversight of the intelligence committee has become dysfunctional, possibly to the point of being irreparable. There is no adult supervision of American Intelligence or how the White House chooses to use it.
Bearden notes that we’ve passed such unaccustomed American milestones as preemptive war, Abu Ghraib, enhanced interrogation techniques, allegations of torture and legal opinions downgrading the relevance of the Geneva Conventions. Americans and the rest of the world have been told repeatedly that “we don’t torture,” which holds as much weight as Richard Nixon’s declaration of “I am not a crook.” History will only remember “torture” and “crook.”
House and Senate committees were established by Congress more than thirty years ago to oversee intelligence and deal with problems rooted in the abuse of executive power and the CIA. That system has barely worked, it at all, during periods of one-party rule, such as the first six years of the Bush Administration.
Practices Undermine Oversight System
According to the Bearden, under current rules, particularly sensitive activities, including most covert actions ordered by the president, can just be briefed to four members of Congress. On occasion, it’s expanded to eight members being briefed, which includes the majority and minority leaders of both parties. These practices undermine attempts to maintain strong intelligence oversight which results in weakening the oversight system.
In such limited briefings, it’s the administration’s call as to whether or not congressional staffers may be present, or even if the members are allowed to take notes — without notes, transcripts or the recollections of congressional staffers makes the results confusing at best. Most Congress members are disadvantaged without their staffs or the written record.
To make matters worse is the fact that the intelligence briefers are in control of the meeting agenda. The briefers determine what facts are presented and how they’re presented.
When you compound fear-driven national distress, such as has been done to the American public for the past seven years and is being done now, a briefing on getting tough with the people who want to harm us may seem reasonable — regardless of the realities involved in the fine print. If there is a problem later with the intelligence (as with the videotapes destroyed by the CIA among other things), the administration can say that Congress was briefed and on board. Members of Congress cry foul, and soon enough it turns into a “he said, she said” standoff. Sound familiar?
In the case of the destroyed videotapes, it appears that this is what happened. Eight members were briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques, but without notes or transcripts to fall back on. Democratic members cried foul — briefly and faintly since the administration and the Republican members said, rightly so, that the Democrats were briefed. You can’t honestly expect the Democrats to pursue the issue any more than you can expect the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor. Why investigate yourself? That would take a little courage which has been pretty much nonexistent on Capitol Hill.
It’s an interesting article worth the read and it explains a lot of what is going on in our corrupted political system right now.
Propaganda And Manipulated Data
An article from OpEdNews explains how Americans were fed “infotainment” by TV on the Iraq war by showing the American public a “sanitized version” of the Iraq war that is literally “infotainment.”
Bodies of dead American soldiers were never aired to Americans, unless effort to boost pro-war sentiments was needed — in which case you show the dead bodies of Saddam Hussein’s sons. Media bias played a large part in the war in Iraq. When the need to throw some McCarthyisms in and label people who opposed the war as unpatriotic was wanted, anti-war protests were shown, but usually in a negative light. Of course, media bias has been going on for too long as well and it still runs rampant to this day. Not surprisingly, the article also explains how the Pentagon is “a true propaganda machine,” feeding the news media stories with a spin.
When you want even more control, you heavily censor embedded reporters. If you heavily script reports and subject them to field commanders for approval, you can have all kinds of opportunities to feed the public a bunch of lies to further your greedy political agendas even more. For a lot more information, read the article from OpEdNews.
It’s time for the intentional collusion and fearmongering to stop. It’s time to correct the oversight problem and make it a lot better. It’s time to hold those responsible for the 72,000 (so far) American casualties from a war started with lies and deceptions accountable for the destruction they’ve done to the people and the reputation of America, not to mention the Constitution. It’s time to do the right thing.
Note to Congress: the public doesn’t believe the fearmongering and has had more than enough of this administration and their illegal activities. We’ve had enough of your useless meetings that invariably end up resulting in nothing getting done. The fight over the unconstitutional retroactive immunity has just begun. If you want to continue to let the corruption run rampant, be prepared for the response from the American people. By the same token, if you stand up to the president and start holding parties involved accountable, you’ll be absolutely amazed at the responses and support you’ll receive.