Thursday, March 12, 2015

Playing along

The Bush administration wanted to invade and occupy Iraq, so they lied. The Obama administration wanted to move aggressively against the democratically elected government of Venezuela, so they made the outlandish claim of a national emergency due to the “unusual and extraordinary” threat posed by Venezuela to US national security.

As this latest episode shows, they no longer even think they have to pretend to be telling the truth – the actual language of the laws is a meaningless formality. Can’t take certain measures against another government unless they’re a real threat? No problem. Just declare them a threat, reality and honesty be damned. “We wanted to do something that’s only permitted under certain conditions, so we lied about the existence of those conditions” is now put forward as a legitimate justification. And the US media and public should be ready to play along. I mean, acquiescing to the flagrant subversion of laws meant to check government power and prevent its abuse couldn’t possibly have negative consequences for people in the US.

UPDATED TO ADD: Jim Naureckas at FAIR just posted about the embarrassing WaPo article I linked to above, reading it in light of the paper’s own government links: “WaPo, Owned by CIA’s Webmaster, Blasts Venezuela’s ‘State-Financed’ News.” The most relevant bit:
Ah–the administration is just pretending there’s an “unusual and extraordinary threat” because it wants to invoke powers that it’s only legally allowed to use in an actual emergency. No biggie. Thanks for clearing that up, Washington Post!
Apropos of nothing, here’s an interview Chris Hayes did with former CIA official John Kiriakou a few weeks ago, in which Kiriakou describes how the CIA grooms presidents.

Democratic presidents entering office are perceived as hostile or ambivalent, so
The CIA as an organization, as a culture, has sought to bring those presidents into the fold. And we saw it with Bill Clinton, when I was there, and we saw it in spades with Barack Obama. Obama was seen as a potential enemy, and virtually as soon as he took the oath of office, the agency brought him in, taught him the secrets, showed them what they could do. And he became their biggest cheerleader.
Hayes remarks that it sounds similar to how spies are recruited, and Kiriakou responds that the basic techniques are indeed the same:
What you do with a president is you convince the president that not only are you his best friend in government, but you’re going to help make his presidency and make his legacy. And it’s going to benefit him to have a close relationship with the CIA. Starting with his morning intelligence briefing, and going all the way through whatever covert programs happen to pop up….
Hayes notes, “I mean it’s…talk about an advantage over everyone else in government. You get the president every morning.” “Every single morning,” Kiriakou answers, “you have a private meeting with the president. Most members of the cabinet can’t say that.”

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