Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Excellent question for Obama

with 5 comments

Very well stated by David Carr in the NY Times:

Last Wednesday in the White House briefing room, the administration’s press secretary, Jay Carney, opened on a somber note, citing the deaths of Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid, two reporters who had died “in order to bring truth” while reporting in Syria.

Jake Tapper, the White House correspondent for ABC News, pointed out that the administration had lauded brave reporting in distant lands more than once and then asked, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”

He then suggested that the administration seemed to believe that “the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here.”

Fair point. The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.

The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.

Setting aside the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst who is accused of stealing thousands of secret documents, the majority of the recent prosecutions seem to have everything to do with administrative secrecy and very little to do with national security.

In case after case, the Espionage Act has been . . .

Continue reading. Just to be clear: I believe what the Obama Administration is doing is very, very bad and is in fact a key precursor to establishing an authoritarian government regime: things must be kept secret because the intention is to do some very bad things, and if secrets are not well kept, then people will find out and become angry and some may lose their jobs, go to prison, or face the death penalty. So when the stakes are that high—as they are already with acknowledged homicides and torture by CIA agents acting under orders—secrecy becomes The Most Important Thing—very similar, in fact, to what families of alcoholics learn quickly by osmosis: First, that their family is like everyone else’s, and second, never tell anyone. That’s where our government is today: a vigorous defender of our freedom and rights, and don’t tell anyone or you’ll suffer badly.

The direction our government is going does not augur well.

UPDATE: As I thought about it, I realized that this is progressing almost with the inevitability of a chemical reaction: the government does some extremely bad things (torture and murder) that implicates powerful officials. To protect those officials, because they are wealthy and powerful, secrecy is increased, reinforced, and the internal workings are blocked from public view: more things are classified, and actions against those who inform the public of the truth become increasingly vicious, verging on a vendetta. Once the inner workings are secure and the secrecy mechanism is well in place, well… why not make use of it, eh? So more bad things are done, with the secrecy extended, and soon the entire barrel has gone bad from just a few rotten apples, when sunshine would have stopped the rot.

This is what happened in Argentina and Chile and other countries. But those countries have extreme income inequality with an powerful, wealthy elite that feels no connection to the common people other than to exploit them… much the direction the US is headed.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 February 2012 at 4:12 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Ok, so i think I understand now, if you steal documents so you can expose the truth you get 23 hr lock down for ever but if you attack the country then you get 23 hr access to a private soccer field hmmm…makes sense to me…sure…yup…


    28 February 2012 at 9:19 pm

  2. BTW…wonder if Pvt Bradley would want to trade places if given the chance.


    28 February 2012 at 9:25 pm

  3. Nick, I disagree strongly with your views in this arena, as you know. Apparently you remain unaware that Guantánamo includes quite a few men who have been found completely innocent of wrongdoing against the US, but we keep them locked up anyway. So giving them a soccer field in lieu of their freedom (I’m speaking of the innocents) doesn’t seem all that great a bargain. Moreover, most of the men imprisoned are merely suspects who guilt or innocence is undecided—we swept up a great many in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the incidents of innocent people being accused by enemies are well founded.

    Private Manning in no way attacked this country and quite clearly is a man of conscience trying to expose to the American public incidents that the public would want to know and would abhor—some of them clearly war crimes.

    I would appreciate it if you would discontinue making mean-spirited comments based on incorrect information. In the future I am going to simply delete these comments.


    29 February 2012 at 5:44 am

  4. BTW, I’ll leave the comments if you make a rational argument instead of snarky remarks. Snarky remarks (e.g., “TW…wonder if Pvt Bradley would want to trade places if given the chance”) have little intellectual content and represent little or no thinking. If you want to make the case that Pvt Bradley should have been locked up in Guantánamo as a terrorist, make an argument based on facts. These “drive-by” remarks will not survive henceforth.

    Another example of snark that will in the future be excised: “if you attack the country then you get 23 hr access to a private soccer field hmmm…makes sense to me…sure…yup…”. If you believe that prisoners in Guantánamo (including those innocent of wrongdoing) should not have recreational opportunities, make the case.

    I trust I am being clear.


    29 February 2012 at 6:30 am

  5. Crystal….


    29 February 2012 at 7:47 am

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