Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Top 10 Cloak-n-Dagger Capers in '007

For a year numbered 007, it had more than its fair share of the clandestine, the Republicans having the sleightest and most illusory of hands, especially Bush-Cheney-World, which operates in unprecedented secrecy. Some of the following were only discovered in '007, although the legerdemain itself occurred earlier. Some became scandals of a sort, but overall, the American public has remained steadfastly teflonized, preferring to be disinformed, cortisol-driven, and inflammatory.

10. Operation Disinformation.

The mainstream corporate media collaborated with the administration to provide us bait-n-switch news on unimportant events, while disastrous activities passed by under our very noses unnoticed. How many Americans were aware that Bush just signed Martial Law into legal possibility - up to his own sole discretion - while the Paris Hilton frenzy was hitting the airwaves a month ahead of her much-heralded future jail stint?

And media manipulation by Bush-leaning corporate heads is the greatest protection against crimes committed by those in high office.

As Sen. Conyers said on Democracy Now:

“There is a very stark reality that with the corporatization of the media, we could end up with turning people, who should be documented in history as making many profound errors and violating the Constitution, from villains into victims,” the Michigan Democrat said.

Or, according to Consortiumnews,

He’s probably right that the Washington press corps would hoot any serious
impeachment drive against Bush and Cheney off the political stage.

In my view, the above 2 opinions show marked cynicism and lack of hope in the power of dissidence and truth. Perhaps that's part of the success of corporate media:

"One of the intentions of corporate-controlled media is to instill in people a sense of disempowerment, of immobilization and paralysis. Its outcome is to turn you into good consumers. It is to keep people isolated, to feel that there is no possibility for social change."
(David Barsamian, journalist and publisher)

9. The Missing Torture Tapes.

What torture tapes? Did anybody have torture tapes? Do you mean Dick Cheney's stash? Don't tell me Nancy Pelosi saw it??? And said nothing? I guess everyone is getting blase about torture...

I suspect this will be #1 in '008...

8. Big Bro's Backdoor Break-In

Although this has been going on since 9-11 and the manic "Patriot" Act, spying on Americans involves not just the Bush administration, but telecom giants as well, in complicity with the neocon so-called "war on terror". Warrantless spying on Americans was introduced through the back door, so no one would know for sure.

When pressed about it, then-Justice Gonzales claimed it was authorized by the President, but

"I did not and could not address . . . any other classified intelligence activities." Which implied there was more than meets the press.

"It seems to me he is conceding that there are other NSA surveillance
programs ongoing that the president hasn't told anyone about," said Bruce Fein,
a government lawyer in the Nixon, Carter and Reagan administrations

This was just the tip of the iceberg - or shall we say, the spy network?

According to the WaPo, the very next day after this ambiguous testimony,
"the Senate voted 69 to 30 to end a filibuster of the proposed four-year extension of the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terrorism law enacted in 2001. The Senate plans today to approve the measure, which contains hotly debated modifications."

So much for government by the people.

7. The Petraeus Maneuver

We're hemhorraging from the solar plexus, Iraq is a hopeless quagmire, 90% of the Iraqi people want us out and consider this an unwanted invasion, a brazen oil grab, and a total disaster, and yet the Bushco folks trot out this "ass-licking little chickenshit" to convince the American people - or protoplasm, your choice - that the Surge Is Working, and We've Turned a Corner! Meanwhile, all military dissidents are slipped out the backdoor - presumably the same one the surveillance guys snuck in through - and silenced. Shhhhhhhh....

6. The Emperor's New Coronation (And the People's New "Clothes" - ignorance and powerlessness)

Little known to the American public as a whole, George Bush has consolidated power in the Presidency through a series of signing statements, pocket vetoes, and Presidential Declarations. One such Directive (with a twisted, convoluted name) I call his coronation - It gives him, among other things, the right to retain sole executive unchecked power over the United States of America - sans Congress, sans Supreme Court oversight - simply based on his own determination that a "national emergency" exists. A sort of self-proclaimed martial law clause. Are we an empire yet? He was workin' on it - even crowned himself emperor - while the public was in a drunken media-soaked stupor over ... the earthshaking jail sentence of Paris ... the humanity-threatening meltdown of Lindsay...etc...

5. The Ashcroft Caper

When they needed to override dissent, there's always the old deathbed signover thing, especially when it comes to Cheney's pet project, "Robust Interrogations", otherwise known as torture. And so it was reported in May 2007 - when the "stunning" all-absorbing announcement of Paris Hilton's possible jail term was revealed with much media attention - that back in 2004,

On the night of March 10, 2004, as Attorney General John D. Ashcroft lay ill in an intensive-care unit, his deputy, James B. Comey, received an urgent call.
White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on their way to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to reauthorize Bush's domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.

In vivid testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Comey said he alerted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and raced, sirens blaring, to join Ashcroft in his hospital room, arriving minutes before Gonzales and Card. Ashcroft,
summoning the strength to lift his head and speak, refused to sign the papers
they had brought. Gonzales and Card, who had never acknowledged Comey's presence in the room, turned and left. ...

The next day, as terrorist bombs killed more than 200 commuters on rail lines in Madrid, the White House approved the executive order without any signature from the Justice Department certifying its legality. Comey responded by drafting his letter of resignation, effective the next day, March 12.

The domestic spying by the National Security Agency continued for several weeks without Justice approval, he said...
It also marks the first public acknowledgment that the Justice Department found the original surveillance program illegal, more than two years after it began.

4. The Gonzales Eight

When it came out that Gonzales fired 8 Prosecutors for political reasons, the cloaks were out in full regalia, lying like hell - which finally sunk in as the clandestine operation it was:

The only way to redress that insult -- and to uphold the constitutional balance of powers -- is to demand the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes that may have been committed in the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys and the coverup that followed.

There is little doubt that Gonzales and his aides have sought to mislead Congress about the origins of the scandal.

3. Project Libby - The Switch

A spy is compromised, laws are broken, and the perps get what? They get lost, of course! And when the dust settles, all that's left is a dedicated front man/guy Friday for some unnamed Vice Presidential figure who goes by the name of Dick. Who in turn, wrote a little note implicating Bush W himself about which was said:

So Cheney was reflecting a presidential decision as to who was expendable and
who wasn’t? Bush wanted to save Rove by designating Libby the fall-guy. He asked
Libby to be the fall guy for Rove. (Cheney may not have been thrilled that he
had to lose his right-hand man to save the president’s.) Pure speculation, of
course. But it makes sense. And if true, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the
mafia-like code of loyalty that exists in Bush world.

And here: "The Post's Dana Milbank writes that Martin also discussed Dick Cheney's PR strategy, which included putting him on Meet the Press where he could "control [the] message" about the White House's handling of Iraqi nuclear plan evidence. Tactics also included burying bad news on the weekends and keeping Bush spokespeople in the dark about important matters."

Matters such as committing the treasonous, impeachable crime of blowing the cover of an American spy. Such as Valerie Plame. So to protect the impeachable, someone's gotta stand in the line of fire, obstructing justice. Thanks, Scooter, said Dick.

2. Blackwatergate

Suddenly, the news woke up one morning, perhaps after some Britney meltdown, and there in the margins, was this:

U.S. security contractor Blackwater has been involved in at least 195 shooting
incidents in Iraq since 2005 and, in eight of 10 cases, their forces fired
first, a leading U.S. lawmaker said on Monday, reported Reuters.
State Department contractor Blackwater is under investigation for the shooting deaths of 11 Iraqis on September 16, they will answer questions about that incident and its performance in Iraq at a Congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Now it appears that not only is the United States military overextended, it's hiring mercenaries who are above the law and killing Iraqi civilians.

And the US government is covering it up:

"It appears that the State Department's primary response was to ask Blackwater to make monetary payments to put the 'matter behind us' rather than to insist upon accountability or to investigate Blackwater personnel for potential criminal liability," said the (Waxman)memorandum.

Aside from being a scandal, Blackwatergate may be used by Bushco to further obfiscate the war scene in Iraq as suggested here:

Condemnation of Blackwater, however justified, can easily be siphoned into a
political whirlpool that demands a cleanup of the U.S. war effort -- as though a
relentless war of occupation based on lies could be redeemed by better
management -- as if the occupying troops in Army and Marine uniforms are
incarnations of restraint and accountability.

1. The Shadow Presidency

WaPo's expose on Dick Cheney revealed the ultimate caper: that the man in charge was not really the President after all: the previously ceremonial office of Vice President had been transformed, in a move of unprecedented wholesale legerdemain, to the status of uncrowned king.

"Angler," as the Secret Service code-named him, has approached the levers of
power obliquely, ... has found a ready patron in George W. Bush for
edge-of-the-envelope views on executive supremacy that previous presidents did
not assert.

In roles that have gone largely undetected, Cheney has served as gatekeeper for
Supreme Court nominees, referee of Cabinet turf disputes, arbiter of budget
appeals, editor of tax proposals and regulator in chief of water flows in his
native West.

Now who really pulls the strings of power? The Angler? Or just ... 007?...

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