Wednesday, September 21, 2005

NYT: "Pentagon Bars Military Officers and Analysts From Testifying" (Philip Shenon)

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it had blocked several military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist a year before the attacks.
The officers and intelligence analysts had been scheduled to testify on Wednesday about the program, known as Able Danger, at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement that open testimony "would not be appropriate."
"We have expressed our security concerns and believe it is simply not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum," Mr. Whitman said.

The above is from Philip Shenon's "Pentagon Bars Military Officers and Analysts From Testifying" in this morning's New York Times. They're doing the national security dance again. (And for the record, on another topic, Wesley Clark needs to grasp that "Pentagon! Pentagon! Pentagon!" is not the catch all answer to every problem.) It would risk national security if . . . the public knew what was going on. Or rather, and this is thing, what went on. This is old news. This is embarrassing news, but it's old news. It shouldn't be cloaked in "national security." We should demand and get answers.

We are aware that we have no answers. We're aware that the Congressional report from 2002 still isn't made public, we're aware that the 9/11 commissioners have repeatedly asked that parts of their report be made public.

It's past time that the citizens had some answers. And it's past time that citizens saw some accountability.

We didn't have open hearings to begin with. J-Ass gagged Sibel Edmonds and she's a mere footnote in the public report of the 9/11 commission.

National security belongs to the citizens not to the government. On the area of 9/11, the government proved inept (at the very least). Citizens deserve answers. Bully Boy wants to use 9/11 over and over to shore himself up. He's invoked it repeatedly.

It's past time that citizens knew what happened, how it happened and saw some accountability. Bob Kerrey's judgement of the commission's report (repeated on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show but we can't use the word here) is apt.

Congress should not allow this to subject to be heard in close testimony. They need to restore faith in the process itself and that won't happen by closed door hearings that we never get to witness ourselves.

Secrecy predates our dry drunk Bully Boy but the pass he's been given from the start encourages him to continue down this path of "you don't need to know." You don't need to know if he was arrested or if he did drugs in his "youth." He didn't want to talk about his "youtful" drunk driving arrest -- which happened about a year before he ran for Congress. When he was running for Congress, he should have been honest with everyone that he had a suspended driver's lic. in another state and that it was the result of driving while drunk.

But along come the Cokie Roberts practicing their clutch-the-pearls journalism in 2000 echoing "youthful indiscretion" and cautioning (blackmailing) baby boomers with "Do you want your children to know everything you did in college!"

It's a year, approximately, before he runs for the US Congress. His driver's lic. was suspended during that time period, so he lied then. He lied by not telling Texans of his sentence (one he was still under). He lied and got away with it and when the truth came out in 2000, no one wanted to address it. They wanted to cloak it in "youthful indescretions."

Have you ever known of another politician having a conviction come out (when they were over the age of 18) and getting such a pass from the press & pundits?

Here are the dates: arrested September 4, 1976. Driver's license suspended until July 25, 1978. July 1977 declares his candidacy for Congress. Get it? He's got another year to go on his conviction. Bully Boy was born July 6, 1946. Thirty-years-old when he was arrested. He declares for Congress less than a year later and doesn't tell the voters about the arrest or that his driver's lic. is still suspended.

And when it comes out in 2000, the Cokies want to play their brand of clutch-the-pearls "journalism." Any real reporter should have run with that story, should have shouted questions at him (and Karen Hughes whom he, as usual, hid behind).

"At the age of thirty you were arrested for drunk driving. Your excuse now for not talking about is that you were worried about the influence it might have on your kids, but you didn't have kids when you were 31 and running for the US Congress. What is your excuse for lying about it then?"

It goes to character (or a lack of it). Other politicians have been destroyed for far less. He lied and he hid his lie in plain sight in 2000 and the press let him. Why does he continue to lie? He gets away with it. Over and over.

The manufactured image created for him was not reality and a working press would have addressed that. They didn't. And now as he thinks he can make his own rules about what he will do and what he will tell, they want to scratch their heads and talk about how they can't believe he wants to circumvent the press.

The press has let him all along. Whether it was his attempting to hide his paper in his father's library (when they were the property of Texas) or anything else, the most they've done is slap his wrist mildly. It's past time that people stood up to the Bully Boy and said no more.

A place to start would be this nonsense about "national security." If there was a lead they could have followed up on after 9/11, that was four years ago. It damn well should have been followed up on by now. Citizens have a right to know and a right to hold their officials accountable.

Maybe Shenon will go after the story? He's been on it for some time now. More than likely, we'll get the weak reporting that's watered down in the editorial process because he is "a sitting president!" and the editorial and op-ed page will attempt to address the issue but without any strong reporting behind it so Americans will be left to shrug and say, "What can you do?"

Very little when the press won't fulfill their watchdog role.

As noted before, Blogger was a problem last night and is a problem this morning. So if the above depresses you, write it off as me being in a mood. (And remember, I can always be -- and often am -- wrong.)

But, my opinion, it's the same sort of nonsense that leads to the events reported by Alison Leigh Cowan today in "Librarians Must Stay Silent in Patriot Act Case, Court Says." Why must they remain silent?

Gee, could it be because it's one more lie? How many times did we hear (and the mainstream press gobble it up and spit it back out) that the Patriot Act hadn't been used on libraries?

On the basis of J-Ass' word and then Alberto Gonzales, "reporters" told you that it hadn't been used. It was used. And we'll note this from the article:

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union have argued that the consortium's constitutional right to free speech was violated because the confidentiality order prevented it from participating in the debate over the USA Patriot Act while Congress was considering whether to reauthorize the law.

Yeah, it might have made a big difference and if we'd known about that. If we'd know we were being lied to, it might have made a very big difference.

But we've got a dry drunk Bully Boy who wants to play his little game of "secrets keep us sick" while the nation pays the cost.

I'm sure we'll get a strong editorial on this from the Times. (It might even be in today's paper, I haven't looked.) But a strong editorial, though welcome, doesn't change a damn thing. Assigning reporters to seriously cover the issue (Cowan's article is so short it's almost a National Briefing) and front paging the issue does more than an editorial buried in the back of the page. Bill Keller thinks everyone should read the front page and then the editorials and op-eds. Not everyone reads the paper that way.

And an editorial is meaningless unless it has the reporting to back it up.

Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

A rare extended interview with Ricardo Alarcon, the President of the Cuban National Assembly on Hurricane Katrina, the Cuban Five, Luis Posada Carriles and more.

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