Domestic spying, blackmail, fear, chilling effects, and...our present situation

Monday, March 13, 2006 at 05:09 PM

When you are facing a sea change in the world around you, it's easy to underestimate the severity of what's going on.  Don't you think that many ordinary people living in countries that underwent political revolutions managed to miss the revolution part until it was too late?

That's all just a way of introducing what sounds at first hearing like paranoia and conspiracy mongering. Paul Craig Roberts formerly served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and Contributing Editor of National Review. Last month, he wrote a piece for Counterpunch that posits the following:

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.
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.

That certainly would explain a lot, wouldn't it?  Muted Democratic and Republican responses to the absurd administration claims that the NSA domestic spying program is legal, despite evidence that even people in the government tried to stop the NSA program.  Some Republicans initially making a big splash in opposition to the spying, then quietly backing off and accepting an "agreement" with the White House that provides no meaningful oversight at all.  Alberto Gonzales's cryptic follow-up letter to the Senate implying that there might be other domestic spying programs going on.

And remember, Wayne Madsen claims that  the NSA commenced a domestic spying program before 9/11, including spying on NSA employees, other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts.

So I don't dismiss Roberts' claim out of hand. Especially with Michael Ledeen and Paul Weyrich proudly admitting that they are revolutionaries, and Karl Rove demonstrating repeatedly that hungry reptiles have more ethical concerns than he does.

I just don't know what to do about the possibility that he's right.  How do you investigate a potential wrong when everyone who's authorized to investigate it is potentially in on it?  How do you correct a potential wrong when everyone authorized to correct it has no interest or is in on it?

The only solution is to continue to write and talk about this insanity as often as you can, as loudly as you can, wherever you can.  And encourage others to do the same.  Whether Roberts is right about blackmail or not, things seem to be getting very sticky.  Our protections are out to lunch, our protectors are having coffee with our enemies, and our media have imbibed something bad.

For what it's worth,  Roberts also says that:

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.
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.