Monday, April 24, 2006

Now who's seditious?

By now you've probably heard about Mary McCarthy, the CIA officer who was fired last week for--allegedly--leaking to WaPo's Dana Priest about the CIA black-sites/gulags. It should be noted that we're not yet 100% certain why McCarthy was fired. What we can say is that it smacks of vengeance. Payback. Whatever you want to call it, I think it's probably the case that McCarthy was made "an example of"...or as Amb. Joe Wilson would say, a "shot across the bow" to warn any other would-be whistleblowers.

This, of course, is nothing new. I was just about to put together a brief accounting of BushCo.-brand payback-for-truthtelling when someone much more competent published such a thing this morning. My dear friends, I give you esteemed journalist Robert Parry (he of uncovering-Iran-Contra fame). Parry gives us several other examples of whistleblowers getting tarred as seditious, treasonous, etc, in his Consortiumnews piece: "Bush Brandishes Jail Time at Critics" (April 23, 2006).
Goss was recruited to the task of putting the CIA back in its place by Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004. During the run-up to the Iraq War, Cheney had banged heads with intelligence analysts who doubted White House claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Though many senior CIA bureaucrats bent to Cheney’s pressure on the WMD intelligence, some analysts resisted. After the Iraq invasion failed to find WMD, some of the CIA’s suppressed doubts began surfacing in the press and causing Bush political embarrassment during the presidential election campaign.
After the November 2004 election, Bush and his allies sought retribution against these out-of-step CIA officials. The powerful conservative news media joined the drumbeat against analysts who were seen as a threat to Bush’s goals in Iraq and elsewhere.
[...] In April, too, the Bush administration was stunned when a half dozen retired generals criticized the conduct of the Iraq War and called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Bush’s defenders struck back, warning that letting retired generals criticize Rumsfeld – and by implication, Bush – threatened the principle of civilian control of the military.
[...] In 2005, as conditions in Iraq indeed worsened and anti-U.S. sentiment in the Islamic world swelled, the Bush administration lashed out at other disclosures – about the network of secret prisons (by the Washington Post) and Bush’s decision to ignore legal requirements for court warrants before spying on communications by American citizens (reported by the New York Times).
And Parry leaves no-press-hack behind: Brooks, Blankley, et al. get smacked for complicity in this 3 yr+ witchhunt:
Conservative columnists, including Robert Novak and David Brooks, argued the CIA’s rightful role was to do the president’s bidding.
“Now that he’s been returned to office, President Bush is going to have to differentiate between his opponents and his enemies,” wrote Brooks in the New York Times on Nov. 13, 2004. “His opponents are found in the Democratic Party. His enemies are in certain offices of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Brooks justified a purge at the CIA because the spy agency had made Bush look bad.
“At the height of the campaign, CIA officials, who are supposed to serve the president and stay out of politics and policy, served up leak after leak to discredit the president’s Iraq policy,” Brooks wrote. “Somebody leaked a CIA report predicting a gloomy or apocalyptic future for the region. … A senior CIA official, Paul Pillar, reportedly made comments saying he had long felt the decision to go to war would heighten anti-American animosity in the Arab world.”
In other words, conservative commentators saw what sounded like reasonable CIA analyses as threats to Bush’s authority.
[...] On April 18, Tony Blankley, editorial-page editor of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s staunchly pro-Bush Washington Times, raised the prospect of sedition charges against active-duty military officers who – in collusion with the retired generals – might be considering resignations in protest of Bush’s war policies.
“Can a series of lawful resignations turn into a mutiny?” Blankley wrote. “And if they are agreed upon in advance, have the agreeing generals formed a felonious conspiracy to make a mutiny?”
Blankley wrote that this possible “revolt” by the generals “comes dangerously close to violating three articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” including “mutiny and sedition.” Blankley thus raised the specter of courts martial against officers who resign rather than carry out orders from Bush.
[...] Former Education Secretary (and now right-wing pundit) Bill Bennett used his national radio program on April 18 to condemn the three Pulitzer-winning journalists – Priest, Risen and Lichtblau – as not “worthy of an award” but rather “worthy of jail.”
Well, look...they can bray and squawk and otherwise fill their diapers all they want. It doesn't make any of it true:
However, neither right-wing commentators nor Bush administration officials have ever explained exactly how national security interests were hurt by the disclosures. As even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has acknowledged, al-Qaeda operatives already were aware of the U.S. capability to intercept their electronic communications.
[...] As for the secret prisons, the fallout appears to be largely political, causing embarrassment for countries that collaborated in what appears to be a clear violation of international law by granting space for “black sites” where torture allegedly was practiced.
The most likely consequence is that the Bush administration will find it harder in the future to set up secret prisons outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross, the United Nations and human rights organizations.
Parry concludes with some chilling predictions:
The firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy and the threats of criminal charges against various dissenters are just the latest skirmishes in the political war over who will decide what Americans get to see and hear.
The other signal to Bush’s critics, however, is this: If they ever thought he and his administration would accept accountability for their alleged abuses of power without a nasty fight, those critics are very mistaken.
BTW, if you haven't checked out Parry's "Secrecy and Privilege" book, you really should. It's a chronicle of the Bush family "doin's" from Watergate through Iran-Contra and onto Iraq. Everything old really is new again :(


Blogger Mike said...

I have never wished for a miliary coup in the US until now...

Hell when even former Nixon aid John Dean thinks you are dangers, time call in the Army.

4/24/2006 11:19 AM  

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