May 25, 2006

William Arkin: Apologist

Dear Laura Flanders,

I like your show, but on 5/23/06 Christy Harden-Smith displayed herself as a hack for praising William Arkin's work. Although he is trying to come off as "balanced," he has the effect of being an apologist, "There Is No Enemy's List"

In his effort to dissect the distinctions of three "programs," he misses the bigger picture. Arkin fails to acknowledge a serious erosion of the rule of law, replaced by the rule of brute power, to say nothing of civil liberties. The World is heading into dark times, and the Bush Administration is helping to push it that direction.

First, according to Brian Ross, chief investigative reporter at ABC News, the USA PATRIOT Act has been used by the FBI to obtain phone records without a warrant (this would not have been possible before the PATRIOT Act). These records are being obtained, not to fight terrorism or protect National security, but to suppress media efforts to expose excesses of the Bush administration that the American public has a right to know (secret CIA detention centers, kidnappings, extrajudicial executions (killing people with Predator vehicles), etc.). DemocracyNow! Link

Second, Arkin uses demeaning phrases to deminish those who question the motives of the Bush administration. Examples include, "a Hollywood trailer of government omniscience," "partisan posturing, narcissistic hand wringing, and Hollywood imagery," and asking, "So how is it that these three programs have turned into one?"

Some concern (hand wringing) is warranted, given our government's history of using secret surveilance and worse, and recent evidence of domestic surveillance, expanded on below. It's about time some "partisans" (AKA spineless Democrats) have taken a stand, though a bit late. Further, I've been tracking the three issues Arkin feels are being conflated, and I don't conflate them into one from a technical standpoint. I do, however, recognize that the Bush Administration is conducting domestic surveillance and intimidation to supress legitimate dissent. In other words, we have evidence that Bush's motives are not pure, leading one to legitimately conflate the "motive" and thereby conflate these surveillance activities into one broad and worrisome trend. This leads to my third point.

Third, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others, are uncovering widespread domestic surveillance activities by the Defense Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI. The DOD admits it may not "collect" domestic intelligence, but it may posess it (If I have a beer bottle collection, but didn't drink any of the beers, have I collected beer bottles? According to the DOD, the answer is "no"). Peace groups, social justice groups, animal rights groups, the list is long, are being tracked by the federal government. Are we to have faith-based trust in the Bush government? Are we to believe that these NSA programs, and others yet to be exposed, are not currently or potentially useful in suppressing legitimate dissent by domestic groups and individuals? Remember, the Bush World is one in which might makes right. They have the might, the laws and the eavesdropping tools.

It would be fine if Arkin simply discussed the distinctions between the three programs. However, his, "be happy, don't worry, you're dumb hand wringning partisans who watch too many Hollywood productions," has no place being promoted on your show. For that matter, Christy Harden-Smith has no place on your show... she's a celebrity journalist. We need less of them.

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