Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Killing The Messenger

CBS Evening News has done segments on the NSA surveillance issue for the last three evenings. All three times, the topic had nothing whatever to do with the content of the programs; nothing whatever to do with what the government is doing in the way of spying on its citizens. The topic was entirely about catching and convicting the person who informed the American people of what their government is doing.

The thing that surprises me in all this is the absolute openness with which our government and the people in it break the law. There used to be a concept of “plausible deniability,” whereby the top men were isolated from our government’s more heinous actions so that they could argue that they did not know it was being done, but today the top people stand up and proudly brag about being the authors of governmental malfeasance. “Hell yes,” the president says, “I ordered than man assassinated. It was the easiest decision I’ve made as president and I’m proud of it.”

Of course we used torture after 9/11. We’ve always used torture. The CIA was throwing Viet Cong out of helicopters during that war. But it was always a rogue action and the top brass was always saying, “Tell me what you found out but don’t tell me how you got the information.” Anyone who was caught inflicting torture was punished for doing it, even though efforts at catching them may have been less than rigorous.

George Bush and Dick Cheney came right out and bragged about having ordered that torture be used to obtain information, and suffered no consequences for it. None. Both retired to wealthy and sumptuous lives.

There is a certain amount of fulmination regarding Obama’s use of assassination, although few dare call it that, as an instrument of foreign policy. In one respect that is no big deal; the CIA has been assassinating people for decades. It was kept a deep dark secret, though; was something that our government would never admit that it did, and the President’s fingerprints were never on the orders so that he could never be accused of being complicit.

Today, Barack Obama brags about how he personally chooses the targets for assassination, a flagrantly illegal act by national and international law, and no one even suggests that he should receive any repercussion for that.

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence lied to Congress, and admitted to Andrea Mitchell on national television to having done so. When asked if the NSA was spying on Americans he told Mitchell that he “gave the least untruthful answer” that he could. He lied. To Congress. And nobody in officialdom cares.

But when Obama is asked if the NSA is spying on Americans, he not only says that it is, he becomes angry that anyone has dared to reveal that fact and vows to track down and punish the person who did so. "Hell yes, I am spying on you," he says, with fire in his eyes, "I am keeping you safe from terrorists." He goes on the attack against anyone who would challenge his right to spy on the American people.

Because, you see, these people are not subject to the laws.

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