If Richard Nixon were alive today, would he get a Come to
Jesus moment on Oprah? Because the
Senate has decided to not only make the Watergate break-in and cover-up legal,
it has given retroactive immunity to today’s version of the Plumbers.
From the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON—The Senate voted Tuesday to shield from
lawsuits telecommunications companies that helped the government
eavesdrop on their customers without court permission after the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks
President Bush has promised to veto any new
surveillance bill that does not protect the companies that helped the
government in its warrantless wiretapping program, arguing that it is
essential if the private sector is to give the government the help it
The FISA debacle, while not as sexy to the Infotainment age as, say, Britney’s latest meltdown,
is pretty much the end of privacy for Americans. Reports exist that the Bush administration has been spying on
Americans without justification (or a court order from the already secret
FISA court) since before 9/11. And when
Congress reluctantly took a stand on the issue, it got served.
The Orwellian ‘Protect America Act’ takes the
power to spy on you out of the hands of the judiciary and places it in the hands of the Executive or his adjuncts. It also
gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that lined up to do the
Empire’s bidding, even if it meant breaking a little thing called the Law. The Dodd/Feingold amendment attempted to change
some of the language in the bill to strip the retroactive immunity part, but
guess what: Congress just shot it down, with some Democrats crossing the fence for the
If you wonder why Britney, the round-the-clock Heath Ledger TragedyWatch[tm], the idiotic horse race aspects of Election 08 etc. get
so much play on CNN and the like, look no further than the nature of the actual
news the smoke and mirrors exist to conceal.
Today’s vote is such a story.
Let me take you back in time to 1987 when contemporary GOP deity Ronald Wilson Reagan decided that the framers of the Constitution and
all the other big brains involved with the formation of this country were
wrong, and a free press was not necessary for democracy. Reagan’s FCC did away with something called the
Fairness Doctrine, which essentially required any media company holding a
public license (that means it runs on airwaves actually owned by you and me) was required to allow all sides of issues affecting Americans to be represented. One component of that was allotted time to report the actual news. It didn’t make money, but since the public
airwaves are theoretically owned by We the People, it was considered quid pro quo to benefit the public at large by keeping us informed of what’s happening
in our town, city, state, country, world, etc.
In the decades hence, news has been elbowed out of the
picture, and the diversity of what’s available in terms of who owns what has
been whittled down to six mega corporations of which the newsmedia arm is but
an extension of the overall entity. This
means two things to you and me: 1) the primary motivation behind what you see, hear and read becomes profit-generation rather
than the public good; and 2) what’s good for the corporate
parent is good for the airwaves and what isn’t gets the shaft. The end
product of this equation is Infotainment – not news, not facts, not all sides of the truth, but
a media aimed at making a profit and shoring up the goals of the corporation.
So, the FISA smack down will most likely not take up too much air time between Hillary’s tears and the social context for the word ‘pimp.’ Because what’s good for AT&T is good for the politicians it supports. And what’s good for them is good for the corporations holding the public airwaves hostage in the name of profit.
Whither Woodward and Bernstein?
“I think that men living in aristocracies may, strictly speaking, do
without the liberty of the press; but such is not the case with those
who live in democratic countries. To protect their personal
independence I do not trust to great political assemblies, to
parliamentary privilege, or to the assertion of popular sovereignty.
All these things may, to a certain extent, be reconciled with personal
servitude. But that servitude cannot be complete if the press is free;
the press is the chief democratic instrument of freedom.” — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1831