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Friday, February 29, 2008

Scarecrows at Home, Friends Abroad

The dominant color in the ad is "Matrix green," suggesting a shadowy, high tech issue that you probably wouldn't understand. Mr. Million Dollar Voice Guy tells us the House of Representatives went on vacation rather than renew Bush's FISA retooling and "new surveillance against terrorists is crippled." We're supposed to "tell the House of Representatives to do its job and pass 'the Senate's terrorist surveillance bill' and keep us all safe."

That's a new ad from Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (see the ad here). 2008 is an election year, which means the GOP are dusting off their favorite campaign slogan -- TERRORISTS ARE GOING TO KILL YOU IN YOUR BED!!

Of course, as propaganda so often is, the ad's a big steaming pile. Even the extremely right wing Washington Times tells us that the "expiration of certain temporary domestic wiretapping laws will have little effect on national security" and that the original FISA law, which is still in effect, "provides the necessary tools for the intelligence community to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists." In short, the ad's a lie. All the FISA retooling really does is provide amnesty to telecoms who've broken the law.

Under the current version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, you don't even need a warrant to begin a wiretap. You have 72 hours to get the warrant. The argument that feds can't listen in on anyone without the FISA retooling is another lie.

Of course, there's no requirement for propaganda to be true. In fact, the vast majority of propaganda are lies and that small percentage of it that's not are gross exaggerations. If you don't like being lied to and treated like a child, then you're not going to like the months between now and November.

Washington Post:

The [FISA propaganda] reflects the Republicans' view that they are on the winning side of a politically important issue, GOP lawmakers and aides say. During a speech at the RNC in January, former presidential adviser Karl Rove cited the fight over the surveillance bill as one of four key issues that GOP candidates should highlight during the campaign season, according to a transcript of his remarks.

"The House Democrat leaders are on the wrong side of the American people on this," said Brian Schubert, spokesman for the House Republican Conference.

But Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, accused Republicans of engaging in "fear-mongering." He said the dispute hinges on whether to protect "big phone companies."

"We're willing to stand up to this and bring some balance to this debate," Emanuel said in an interview yesterday.

It's not often that I get to say, "Yay for Rahm Emanuel." Terror alert levels are going to be jacked up and down -- after being completely ignored for the past four years. Crazy plots about remote controlled model airplanes or poisonous frogs or whatever seems scary enough are going to find their way into the media. No effort will be spared to make sure everyone's nicely freaked out.

Of course, leadership appeals to courage, while propaganda appeals to fear. The weakness of propaganda is that it doesn't look a lot like leadership. So anyone calling these fearmongers on their BS will have their patriotism attacked. If your underwear is clean and dry, you're not a real American. The new definition of "Patriot" is synonymous with "coward."

As always, there's a certain amount of "do as I say, not as I do" to all this. While we're all supposed to be hiding under the bed at home, the Bush administration is helping terrorists abroad.

Seymour Hersch, The New Yorker:

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The "redirection," as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

This Yojimbo strategy of playing both sides against the middle seems to completely disregard history -- it's the same strategy that had us funding the Mujahadeen against the Soviets, which eventually led to the rise of the Taliban. We all know how well that worked out.

The key architect of this policy shouldn't surprise anyone -- Dick Cheney. Hersch tells us, "While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney." That'd be the same Dick Cheney who's managed to have a spectacularly consistent record of embracing the worse course of action.

The blatant hypocrisy of this schizoid attitude toward terrorism is mindbending. While lies are being spread about the immediate threat of terrorism at home, we're actually going out of our way to help al Qaeda abroad.

And it brings to mind past scandals and crimes. Hersch again:

Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal "lessons learned" discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. [Deputy national-security adviser and Cheney henchman Elliot] Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: "One, you can't trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can't trust the uniformed military, and four, it's got to be run out of the Vice-President's office" -- a reference to Cheney's role, the former senior intelligence official said.

So we're running a new extra-governmental terrorist aid office from behind Dick Cheney's desk, but we're supposed to be all bent out of shape that the House won't give telcoms amnesty. Terrorists will come over to your house and kill you because you have the right to sue AT&T. Apparently, one of al Qaeda's big issues is tort reform.

Mr. Million Dollar Voice Guy's never going to tell you any of this. His job is to get your boxers wet. The big Global War on Terror isn't so global, after all. Terrorism's fine, so long as the terrorists are destabilizing people we don't like. And, if these terrorists are the same ones who'd like to destabilize the US, well, so what? The neocon dreamers have a vision to follow. The middle east will be reshaped to meet their fantasies, Iran will fall, Syria will crumble, and butterflies and rainbows will shoot out of Islamic extremist asses worldwide. Terrorists, being so reasonable and sane and all, will realize the cause is lost and open homes for injured puppies.

That's what the "realists" like Cheney and Bush really believe and anything they do on the way is OK. The end justifies the means, the gardener doesn't shed a tear when his spade splits a worm. They've got a world to remake and it's your job, as a good, patriotic American, to drop a load in your shorts on cue.

That's the plan for America and that's the plan to win the elections. Ask Mr. Million Dollar Voice Guy, he'll be on TV for the next few months.


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