February 07, 2006

Spying, Blackmail, and the Path of Violence and Coercion

In an unusually compelling column, Paul Craig Roberts notes that "political partisanship is not the corpus of my writings" -- and he underscores the point, saying, "at one time or the other both sides have tried to shut me down." He then adds this, which provided me with a bitter chuckle: "I have experienced the same from 'free thinking' libertarians, who are free thinking only inside their own box." Ah, yes, how familiar that is to me. With only a handful of exceptions, those "free thinking libertarians," especially the self-identified "libertarian" warbloggers, are now virtually indistinguishable from "intellectuals" like Jonah Goldberg and war propagandists like Michael Ledeen.

But here's the part of the column that is perhaps of greatest interest right now:
We have reached a point where the Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people. Their first victims, of course, were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal opposition, the Bush administration is now using blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.

Before flinching at my assertion of blackmail, ask yourself why President Bush refuses to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The purpose of the FISA court is to ensure that administrations do not spy for partisan political reasons. The warrant requirement is to ensure that a panel of independent federal judges hears a legitimate reason for the spying, thus protecting a president from the temptation to abuse the powers of government. The only reason for the Bush administration to evade the court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate reasons for its spying. This should be obvious even to a naif.

The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself. The "liberal press" has been co-opted. As everyone must know by now, the New York Times has totally failed its First Amendment obligations, allowing Judith Miller to make war propaganda for the Bush administration, suppressing for an entire year the news that the Bush administration was illegally spying on American citizens, and denying coverage to Al Gore's speech that challenged the criminal deeds of the Bush administration.

The TV networks mimic Fox News' faux patriotism. Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda.

The years of illegal spying have given the Bush administration power over the media and the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians don't want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast over television or to see their favorite online porn sites revealed in headlines in the local press with their names attached. Only people willing to risk such disclosures can stand up for the country.
Roberts also offers these intriguing observations:
Congress and the media have no fight in them, and neither, apparently, do the American people. Considering the feebleness of the opposition, perhaps the best strategy is for the opposition to shut up, not merely for our own safety but, more importantly, to remove any impediments to Bush administration self-destruction. The sooner the Bush administration realizes its goals of attacking Iran, Syria, and the Shia militias in Lebanon, the more likely the administration will collapse in the maelstrom before it achieves a viable police state. Hamas' victory in the recent Palestinian elections indicates that Muslim outrage over further US aggression in the Middle East has the potential to produce uprisings in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Not even Karl Rove and Fox "News" could spin Bush out of the catastrophe.
And his conclusion:
One certainty prevails. Bush is committing America to a path of violence and coercion, and he is getting away with it.
As you can see, it's an extremely provocative column. Read it.

P.S. As Roberts' short biography notes, he was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, and he has held editorial positions at both the Wall Street Journal and National Review. He knows a lot of highly-placed people in government and the media. I seriously doubt he would mention blackmail in this manner unless he had strong reasons to believe in the accuracy of what he was saying.