Saturday, February 18, 2006

rummy piles on the media

De facto Secretary of Defense/intelligence cooker/apologist for torturers/Saddam-hand-shaker Donald Rumsfeld yesterday urged the government to respond more quickly in the media to counter the message of terrorists and extremists.

Rumsfeld also accused the US media of aiding and abetting the enemy by reporting on things like the Pentagon's paid propoganda placements in the allegedly free Iraqi press. He also complained about press coverage of things like the torture at Abu Ghraib for hindering our hearts-and-mind campaign in the Muslim world, and said the media "seems to demand perfection from the government but does not apply the same standard to the enemy..."

There is a reason the media criticizes mistakes and abuses by our government -- that's because (in theory) the US government and its agencies work for the American people. We (thru the Supreme Court) elected them and we (for the moment) have a right to know what they are doing and to challenge their mistakes and abuses. The press is (more or less) doing that in criticizing the Administration's mistakes (Katrina response), abuses (torture at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, unwarranted domestic wiretaps) and malfeasance (faked intel, outing Valerie Plame, and oh so much more).

As for countering the message of terrorists and extremists, well one nifty thing we could try is to quit killing Muslims in large numbers.

I don't think Rumsfeld is stupid. He knows he's being disingeneous by complaining that the media holds the (theoretically) duly-elected American government to a far higher standard than hate-crazed violent theocratic third-world terrorists. But it is another insidious attack on the free media, for which this de facto Administration has shown little tolerance, as demonstrated by its campaign to prosecute not just whistle-blowers but even non-government people who receive classified information. This case involves the prosecution of a couple of lobbyists for Israel, but CLEARLY the intended target for this not-so-subtle signal is the American media.

What's really scary about this Republican pattern of abuse, abrogation of power, and dismissal of opposition is the inherent assumption that they don't have to worry about DEMOCRATS ever being able to use such powers. Guess they feel pretty comfortable that between abuse, intimidation, Fox News, and Diebold voting machines, they needn't worry about Democrats winning the White House or control of either house of Congress.

We live in ugly times.