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Monday, June 12, 2006


Fear is the Key

Exploitation of Fear * Catch 22 defense for Domestic Surveillance Program

Princeton Professor Paul Krugman's columns in the NYTimes are incisive. He is much more than a renowned economist. "The Some of All Fears", his column today is about the exploitation of fear; how vague allusions and hints about some people and/or statements are made to create fear and uncertainty in the minds of people. I am breaking my rule about not publishing complete texts of articles. The NYTimes makes it difficult to link items because some of the authors can be accessed only by subscription and the items which are accessible remain available only for a week.

The Some of All Fears, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Back in 1971, Russell Baker, the legendary Times columnist, devoted one of his Op-Ed columns to an interview with Those Who — as in "Those Who snivel and sneer whenever something good is said about America." Back then, Those Who played a major role in politicians' speeches.

Times are different now, of course. ... And we rarely hear about Those Who these days. But the Republic faces an even more insidious threat: the Some. The Some take anti-American positions on a variety of issues. For example, they want to hurt the economy: "Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper," said President Bush in 2003...

Mainly, however, the Some are weak on national security. "There's Some in America who say, 'Well, this can't be true there are still people willing to attack,' " said Mr. Bush during a visit to the National Security Agency.

The Some appear to be an important faction within the Democratic Party — a faction that has come out in force since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Last week ... The Washington Times claimed that "Some Democrats" were calling Zarqawi's killing a "stunt."

Even some Democrats (not to be confused with Some Democrats) warn about the influence of the Some. "Some Democrats are allergic to the use of force. They still have a powerful influence on the party," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution after the 2004 election. Joe Klein, the Time magazine columnist, went further, declaring that the Democratic Party's "left wing" has a "hate America tendency."...

But here's the strange thing: it's hard to figure out who those Some Democrats are.

For example, none of the Democrats quoted by The Washington Times actually called the killing of Zarqawi a stunt, or said anything to that effect. Mr. Klein's examples of people with a "hate America tendency" were "Michael Moore and many writers at The Nation." That's a grossly unfair characterization, but in any case, since when do a filmmaker who supported Ralph Nader and a magazine's opinion writers constitute a wing of the Democratic Party?

And which Democrats are "allergic to the use of force"? Some prominent Democrats opposed the Iraq war, but few if any of these figures oppose all military action. Howard Dean supported both the first gulf war and the invasion of Afghanistan. So did Al Gore ... both men opposed the Iraq war only because they thought this particular use of force was ill advised and was being sold on false pretenses. ...

So what's going on here? Some might suggest that the alleged influence of the Some is no more real than the problem of flag-burning, that right-wing propagandists are attacking straw men to divert attention from the Bush administration's failures...

Some might also suggest that Democrats who accuse other Democrats of closet pacifism are motivated in part by careerism — that they're trying to sustain the peculiar rule, which still prevails in Washington, that you have to have been wrong about Iraq to be considered credible on national security. And they're doing this by misrepresenting the views and motives of those who had the good sense and courage to oppose this war.

But that's just what Some Democrats might say. And everyone knows that Some Democrats hate America.


Bush Administration's Warrantless Domestic Surveillance

Talk about a classic Catch 22 situation! A report by Sarah Karush of AP in The Washington Post: "DETROIT -- The federal government defended its warrantless domestic surveillance program in court for the first time Monday, saying it is well within the president's authority but that proving that would require revealing state secrets."

  • U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor was hearing arguments in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the National Security Agency.
  • The ACLU wants the program halted immediately, arguing that it violates the rights to free speech and privacy, and says the government has already publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to find it illegal.
  • The Bush administration wants Taylor to dismiss the lawsuit.
  • "This case does not involve easy questions," government attorney Anthony J. Coppolino said. "It's a case that requires a robust factual record."

"There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to."
---Joseph Heller, Catch 22

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