Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Obama Attacks a Free Press

Not only has the Obama administration been brutal with the not-yet-guilty-until-judged-in-a-court-of-law Bradley Manning. They are now going after the press to stop journalists from printing news. Funny, the Constitution is very clear that the press must be free of undue control by the government. The press must be free so that a "free" people can make judgements about their representatives so that the democracy is real and not fake. The 5th Amendment to the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Even Richard Nixon didn't go so far as to jail Daniel Ellsberg over releasing the secret Pentagon Papers, documents that proved that the US government had been systematically lying to the American people about its policies, intentions, and actions in Vietnam. Sadly, the Obama administration appears not to favour a free press. As well it does not appear to believe in "due process" of the law, i.e. you are innocent until proven guilty. Otherwise it would not be torturing Bradley Manning.

From BoingBoing:
Federal prosecutors, with the approval of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., are trying to force the author of a book on the C.I.A. to testify at a criminal trial about who leaked information to him about an effort by the agency to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program at the end of the Clinton administration.
What if 90% of the population thinks it should be illegal for agents of the US Government to be trying to assassinate the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom? If the press isn't allowed to report the leak that the government is pursuing such a heinous plot, then the people will not have the requisite knowledge to protest and urge their legislators to stop the executive before it commits this crime on "behalf" of the American people. But Obama doesn't believe the US people should know about crimes its agents are doing in other countries. Otherwise it wouldn't be forcing a reporter to break the confidentiality of sources and undermine a free press.

We do know that when Obama says "capture" Osama Bin Laden, that mean "shoot to kill" and don't bother capturing him because we don't want the messy business of having to interrogate, try, and imprison him. We just want him dead. Gosh. I bet police forces all around the US would like to take up that policy when it comes to dealing with violent criminals. Why bother trying to capture them, going through the messy and expensive details of a trial, and then the long and expensive incarceration. Just shoot to kill and then "no fuss, no muss". So you kill a few innocent people. This will "expedite" justice and lower the cost of delivering "justice".

Despite what the rabid right wing Republicans think. Having an effective, lawful government is expensive and messy. It is important that goverment servants don't just short cut "red tape" and deliver what they perceive as "justice" or "services" without any oversight or measure of efficiency, utility, or justice. By its very nature, government is slow and expensive.

Update 2011may24: I watched the PBS Frontline program entitled WikiSecrets. They studiously avoided what I consider the key facts:
  1. The US military used "top secret" as a technique to deny facts about a crime to Reuters that wanted an explanation of why their reporter was murdered in cold blood. There was no "secret" here other than ass-covering by the military. If the American public can't find out how badly the war is run, how will the public ever decide that it is doing more harm than good? How can the electorate be "informed" if the US government uses secrecy claims to keep critical information out of the hands of voters?

  2. Bradley Manning is being tortured before he is convicted. That is criminal. The Obama administration is allowing the military to torture somebody who is presumed innocent, because he has not yet been tried and found guilty. This is a crime. But Frontline doesn't think that is a significant fact.
My opinion is that Frontline wasted most of an hour. It was fine that they give some background on Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, but they focused on sensationalism and spent little time of facts and they ignored very important issues. That is a disservice to their viewers.

They mentioned the sex charges against Assange, but they didn't bother to point out that it was consensual sex or look at the strange behaviour of these women. They didn't complain until the police got involved. I'm guessing the US twisted arms behind the scenes because they see these charges as their ticket to get Assange extradicted. The fact that the charges are bogus is obvious, but Frontline didn't bother.

The one truthful moment in the Frontline documentary was when they showed the hacker conference in May 2010 when Assange was supposed to show up to speak. The chair of the meeting asked people whether they believed that Assange would walk into the room. The fact that many said "no way!" was the most truthful moment in the documentary. They knew that the US had laid a trap and was hoping desperately that Assange would walk into it. But Frontline didn't talk about the entrapment. They didn't wonder why such a large audience would have a majority that were cynical about their own government and its motives and actions.

I watched three administrations lie about Vietnam. They put every effort into vilifying anybody who opposed that war. But the truth came out. The war was bogus and built on lies. All that money was wasted. All those lives lost for nothing. Today the US is "good buddies" with the Communist regime in Vietnam. But the lie that was fed by the government and the media was that if the youth of America didn't go over and die in some god forsaken jungle, then under the "Domino Theory" the commies would next be in San Diego and take over the US. It was a lie. The government knew it was a lie. But they spread that lie. The government knowingly ruined the lives of many good people who conscientiously opposed the madness of the Vietnam war.

This Frontline "documentary" is just one more bit of government propaganda that willingly smears somebody who does no immediately "buy" the government line that secrecy is sacrosanct and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are noble missions that will "save the world". They aren't. They won't. And all that money and all those lives are wasted for nothing. It is out-of-control militarism now as it was in the 1960s.

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