Thursday, March 31, 2005

March 30, 2005

The Great Democracy Diversion

Diversion. It’s a tactical tool used to achieve a strategic goal. If diversion is employed with aggressive skill, it can be startlingly effective.

Okay, I’ll get right to the point.

While peddling democracy abroad, the Bush administration has been practicing just the opposite here where the stuff was invented. Dessent, which the administration applauds when it materializes in Lebanon or any of the former Soviet Bloc countries, is being aggressively stifled when citizens try it here.

Example: Yesterday White House thugs forcibly removed three individuals from one of President Bush's carefully choreographed “town meetings” on Social Security. Why? Did they disrupt the meeting? Nope. Did the Secret Service consider them a risk to the President? Nope.

The three were dragged from the meeting after an unidentified “Republican staffer” spotted a “No More Blood for Oil” bumper sticker on their car in the parking lot. A man in a blue suit told the three they had to leave and "in a physical, forcible way" escorted them out, refusing to explain why.

When the incident became a public embarrassment for the administration, White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, used the same excuse they used when the Swift Boat thugs went after Kerry – we didn’t do it, someone else did. He went on to claim, “The White House welcomes a variety of voices into events,” but does not welcome those who might disrupt the meeting or heckle the President.

God forbid someone should “heckle” an elected official in a free country.

I am certain if you asked the deposed leaders of Ukraine, or the current pro-Syrian Lebanese leaders how they feel, about those demonstrating against them the terms “disruptors” and “hecklers” would be the first pejoratives out of their mouths. (The Soviets used to call people who tried to exercise free speech “hooligans.”)

If the Denver incident were unique it would deserve little attention. But what happened in Denver is a pattern. People attending President Bush’s speeches have been dragged away for wearing tee shirts that were off the talking points. Others were dragged off for carrying protest signs.

(In North Korea everyone loves their Great Leader too. You won’t find any “Food Not Nukes” bumper stickers at his events either.)

The Bush administration has treated the public’s right to know with undisguised contempt. (Remember the secret Cheney Energy Task Force? Well, five years later, it’s still secret.) And, reversing the Clinton administration’s declassification process, this administration uses the “Classified” and “Secret” stamps as though they were Easter Seals. (More on this)

So, while grabbing attention pushing other nations to make their political systems “more transparent,” they blacked out the windows at the White House.

And, what grows in the dark?

Nothing wholesome, that’s for sure.

Nevertheless, little by little we begin to learn the reasons why this administration doesn’t want us to see in. For example, the way it treats suspected terrorists. While condemning other governments for failing to establish “a rule of law,” this administration violates our own rules of law.

Ever wonder why the Neo-cons are so eager to get people just like them on the federal bench? Because, until they are able to stack the courts, the courts will remain the last line of defense against Congressional and Executive branch abuse and overreaching.

To wit: Yesterday a federal judge yesterday barred the Bush administration from transferring detainees from the U.S. military prison camp in Cuba to the custody of foreign governments without first giving the prisoners a chance to defend themselves in court.
In his ruling yesterday, the judge said, "The government's assertion that they are merely 'relinquishing' custody of detainees whom the government is simply 'no longer interested in detaining' is disingenuous."

What was really going on here was an attempt to destroy evidence. After scooping up hundreds of suspected terrorist fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, shoving them in a Gitmo cage for months, interrogating them without legal representation, denying them hearings or access to the tools to defend themselves, US law finally caught up with the administration.

The courts have repeated ruled that Americans simply can’t treat people this way. But why not, the administration whined?

Because, it’s the law, you neo-fascists, un-American bastards.

That’s why.

It became the law of our land because our founding fathers knew only too well how situational, flexible laws become the tools of choice of tyrants. So, they enshrined these principles into two contracts, the Constitution and Bill or Rights. And, they knew that, even when laws are applied care and due process, mistakes are made. Which is why juries were given two choices; guilty and innocent.

But this administration is on record as describing such highfalutin notions as having become “quaint” in our troubled times. But they forget – or choose to ignore -- that when these rules were established our nation was a fragile entity and its new leaders had every reason to eschew any civil right that might be used by enemies to kill the world’s first democracy in its crib. But they didn’t. Because they understood, as this administration apparently does not, that when it comes to democracy, you can’t be just a little bit pregnant.

The application of our “quaint” constitutional rights at Gitmo would have prevented hundreds of cases of unjust incarceration. And it’s that evidence this administration wanted to avoid getting out by shipping these detainees to dingy cells back in their home countries.

"They got the wrong guys at the wrong place," said Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "These people were imprisoned, interrogated and tortured for no reason. So now the government wants to get rid of them, because they just can't justify what they've done."

Anyway, about Denver and the dozens of other the White House’s phony “town hall” meetings -- its time to call these little gatherings are – Soviet-style staged propaganda events. The audiences are a pack of pre-screened sycophants. The events are being filmed by phony government “journalists,” who edit and package their “reports,” and distribute them to the media under the guise of “news.” Propagandists are as propagandists do.

The mainstream media does not quite know what to do about all this. I suspect that, other than reporting on incidents like the one in Denver, which they did, there is little more they can do about it.

That leaves it up to the hecklers and disruptors. Maybe it will take nightly news footage of White House thugs dragging US citizens out of town hall meetings before Red State voters come to understand the kind of people they put into office.

If I were a leader of one of those countries Bush is lecturing on how they must establish and maintain the rule of law, I would simply reply, “Okay big fella. You first.”

No comments: