I used to think I was brave.

I would stand on a bridge like Gandalf and thunder- “You can not pass!”

Well, let me tell you, taking a dump in a bedpan while your friends watch cures that a lot.

Today I think about Rosa Parks.

“You can not pass!”

Attorney General Eric Holder’s Contemptible Defense of the DoJ’s Seizure of AP Phone Records

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Tuesday May 14, 2013 8:21 pm

“Look, you guys will claim classified-and it’s not just you as an administration-any administration claims everything is somehow a national security leak.” He suggested a third party should decide whether a leak was or is going to endanger lives and asked if the president supported that kind of protection for media. Carney declined to address this question.

The New York Times reported in October 2009, “The Obama administration has told lawmakers that it opposes legislation that could protect reporters from being imprisoned if they refuse to disclose confidential sources who leak material about national security, according to several people involved with the negotiations.”

“The administration this week sent to Congress sweeping revisions to a ‘media shield’ bill that would significantly weaken its protections against forcing reporters to testify,” the Times also reported. So, both Carney and Holder are being disingenuous.

To top it off, a reporter asked him what he thought about the Obama administration’s civil liberties record, whether the administration was disappointed and why more had not been done. Holder shiftily answered, “I’m proud of what we’ve done. He cited “the policies we put in place with regard to the war on terror,” the discontinuation of certain “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and the aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws. And, pressed further, he added, “This administration has put a real value on the rule of law and our values as Americans.”

It is unclear what value the Justice Department is promoting when it engages in a wide fishing expedition for records from twenty different phone lines in AP offices that were used by over 100 journalists working for the AP. It is unclear what value is being upheld when two months of time is targeted and it appears that the Justice Department may not only be able to secretly use the material obtained to investigate the leak on the sting operation but also possibly look into the sources for stories by the AP on the US drone program and investigate those sources.

The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties

Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

Wednesday 15 May 2013 10.45 EDT

There are two significant points to make from these events. First, it is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.

But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs – suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.

Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when – as inevitably occurs – they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.

Second, we yet again see one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy: the way in which it has transformed and degraded so many progressive precincts. Almost nobody is defending the DOJ’s breathtaking targeting of AP, and with good reason: as the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press made clear yesterday, it’s unprecedented:

(T)here are a few people excusing or outright defending the DOJ here: namely, some progressive blogs and media outlets. They are about the only ones willing to defend this sweeping attempt to get the phone records of AP journalists.

As I noted yesterday, TPM’s Josh Marshall – who fancies himself an edgy insurgent against mainstream media complacency as he spends day after day defending the US government’s most powerful officials – printed an anonymous email accusing AP of engineering a “smear of Justice”. Worse, Media Matters this morning posted “talking points” designed to defend the DOJ in the AP matter that easily could have come directly from the White House and which sounded like Alberto Gonzales, arguing that “if the press compromised active counter-terror operations for a story that only tipped off the terrorists, that sounds like it should be investigated” and that “it was not acceptable when the Bush Administration exposed Valerie Plame working undercover to stop terrorists from attacking us. It is not acceptable when anonymous sources do it either.” It also sought to blame Republicans for defeating a bill to protect journalists without mentioning that Obama, once he became president, reversed his position on such bills and helped to defeat it. Meanwhile, the only outright, spirited, unqualified defense of the DOJ’s conduct toward AP that I’ve seen comes from a Media Matters employee and “liberal” blogger.

During the Bush years, it was conservatives who supported the Bush DOJ and Alberto Gonzales’ threats against the press on national security grounds; now, defenders of such threats to press freedoms are found almost exclusively from progressive circles (similarly, many of the most vicious and vocal attacks on WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning have come from progressives).

This is such an under-appreciated but crucial aspect of the Obama legacy. Recall back in 2008 that the CIA prepared a secret report (subsequently leaked to WikiLeaks) that presciently noted that the election of Barack Obama would be the most effective way to stem the tide of antiwar sentiment in western Europe, because it would put a pleasant, happy, progressive face on those wars and thus convert large numbers of Obama supporters from war opponents into war supporters. That, of course, is exactly what happened: not just in the realm of militarism but civil liberties and a whole variety of other issues. That has had the effect of transforming what were, just a few years ago, symbols of highly contentious right-wing radicalism into harmonious bipartisan consensus. That the most vocal defenders of this unprecedented government acquisition of journalists’ phone records comes from government-loyal progressives – reciting the standard slogans of National Security and Keeping Us Safe and The Terrorists – is a potent symbol indeed of this transformation.

And btw- Electoral Victory my ass.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

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