New York Times’ Risen Calls Obama Administration “The Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom” In A Generation

President_Barack_Obama220px-Nytimes_hqI recently wrote a column on the wholesale attack on press freedoms under President Obama that parallel his attack on other civil liberties and privacy principles (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). I testified on the erosion of press freedom under President George W. Bush but the assault on the free press has worsened under President Obama while Democratic members and supporters remain conspicuously silent. Reporters have not been so silent or reticent and have repeatedly tried to educate citizens of the danger to press freedoms under this President. Now one of the most respected journalists in the country, New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Jim Risen, has declared that the Obama Administration is the greatest threat to a free press in a generation.

Risen spoke at the Sources and Secrets conference in New York City and told the crowd that the Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” Risen said that the Administration has actively sought to “narrow the field of national security reporting” and “create a path for accepted reporting” while threatening to punish those who do not yield.

Risen is not just some disgruntled reporter. He won the Pulitzer prize for National Reporting in 2006 for his stories about the Bush warrantless wiretapping program. He was also a group recipient of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for coverage of 9/11 and terrorism. He is considered the gold standard for investigative reporting. In my recent column on the loss of press freedom, I referred to this time as “one of the most inspiring periods for journalism.” I was thinking of Risen and a couple of other courageous reporters who have revealed abuses under this and the prior administration ranging from torture to surveillance to secret prisons.

Previously, the New York Times editors lambasted Obama for his attack on the free press. New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson has added her voice:

This is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering, and that includes — I spent 22 years of my career in Washington and covered presidents from President Reagan on up through now, and I was Washington bureau chief of the Times during George W. Bush’s first term.

I dealt directly with the Bush White House when they had concerns that stories we were about to run put the national security under threat. But, you know, they were not pursuing criminal leak investigations. The Obama administration has had seven criminal leak investigations. That is more than twice the number of any previous administration in our history. It’s on a scale never seen before. This is the most secretive White House that, at least as a journalist, I have ever dealt with.

Despite efforts from many of us to warn of the lasting damage being done to such freedoms by this President, the White House has been successful in blocking any real reforms or criticism in the Democratic ranks. It has an army of enablers and apologists who quickly redirect discussions to how much worse the Republicans would be. While some Democrats and liberals are beginning to say that they do not support such policies, they still rally to the President as soon as the subject changes from civil liberties. Most Democrats and liberals refuse to join civil libertarians in opposing this President. It is bread-and-circus politics at its worst. We are trading away civil liberties for a cult of personality, but that personality will eventually be gone . . . with many of these protections that died without a whimper of regret.

All that we can do is continue to warn about the rapid loss of civil liberties and protections under Obama. Risen is the latest and one of the most meaningful voices in that rising chorus. It is likely to cause just another pause before the White House changes the subject to the relief of its supporters. However, those pauses are increasing in number and perhaps there will be enough to give members sufficient courage to fulfill their oaths and fight to protect the Constitution against a clear and growing danger.

105 thoughts on “New York Times’ Risen Calls Obama Administration “The Greatest Enemy of Press Freedom” In A Generation

  1. Are these the same editors who praised Judith Miller’s comprehensive stenography skills leading to the Iraq War we all know and love? And Jason Blair, too?

  2. Thank you Prof. Turley! I agree with you 100% No one could have said it better. To the following statements:

    ” It has an army of enablers and apologists who quickly redirect discussions to how much worse the Republicans would be. While some Democrats and liberals are beginning to say that they do not support such policies, they still rally to the President as soon as the subject changes from civil liberties. Most Democrats and liberals refuse to join civil libertarians in opposing this President.’

    ONE WOULD BETTER CHARACTERIZE THIS FOLLOWING AS HIS DRONES AND PAID VOTING THRONG. (Unions, recipients of all the perks he has given away so freely, Obama phones, stimulus package, all the illegals and dead who vote, etc. etc., etc.)

    Thank you for laying the truth out before his believers.

  3. What I tried to write is this. I thought Democrats would see through Obama. They did not. Why?

    Fear mongering is an excellent tool of propaganda and it really works for the left. It makes no sense to worry about what a future administration will do to the rule of law while ignoring what the current administration is actually doing.

    Everyday I see supporters justify what Obama is doing while warning of the great evil which will happen when a Republican engages in those very same actions. At that point, why worry about it in either case? Why is it wrong with these actions when a Republican does them, but makes them fine when a Democrat does them? How does this rationally add up?

    I see this country moving straight into totalitarianism because of the left wing, not just the right wing. There is absolutely no coherent ethical or intellectual underlayment to the argument that we should fear the same actions when they are committed by the “other” party. The actions are either bad right now or they are just fine.

    If we want to stop totalitarianism we need a citizenry who has consistent ethics. We must be angry about the destruction of the rule of law, no matter who is doing it. That will mobilize us to protest in the present.

  4. press freedom?

    Are those stupid fukers just waking up?

    This administration is the enemy of freedom in general.

  5. Remember how only ’embedded’ journalists got the government information scoop during the Iraqi war? Well, obviously there are a few good journalists left to try and save. These days I tend to trust Al Jezeera and RT over anything with American ties. The BBC is only better on a few subjects and generally can’t be trusted either.

  6. Do you mean to tell me that it has taken this Pulitzer Prize winning reporter five years to discover the deceptive policies of the current Democratic administration? Unbelievable! I am a humble peon and I figured it out. Was this reporter waiting for the news to come to him, or is he truly a genuine Pulitzer reporter who goes out and investigates to get the REAL story.

    Professor Turley, I think ever since you and few other Democrats stood up and publicly denounced the erosion of this country’s freedoms, some others are finally beginning to follow suit. Unfortunately, most Democrats and Independents don’t want to admit that this president, most of his administration, and his party, have been a destructive force of the American Republic as we have known it. Bush made mistakes, but this administration had made disastrous blunders.
    This president tells his party to jump and Harry Reid and others say, “How high.”

  7. The most dangerous enablers and apologists are found in Hollywood, brown nosing the administration, serving up popular culture that destroys virtue and makes fashionable vice among our most impressionable, precious minds. At what point do we put a lid on treasonous scripts and lyrics, in the way we do with yelling fire in a movie theater? It might not be so bad if there was some political balance, but Hollywood leans far left as much as does academia and the mass media.

  8. You have a good point, samentha. Movies have become so pathetic lately. TV has been pathetic for more than 30 years.

  9. samantha,

    I agree with you that Obama and Democrats have many apologists in Hollywood. They do use their power to make films justifying the abuses of the govt. along with making substantial donations to same. But what is the ethical and intellectual underpinning of your argument?

    It is wrong for Obama and friends to abrogate the Constitution. Not one person should back away from saying that. However, our Constitution guarantees the right of freedom of speech. We are tested to uphold that right when someone we disagree with speaks.

    The way out of this mess is to honor the rights of all and to speak up for those rights, even when we disagree with the other’s speech.

  10. From this article I see that the reporters are upset that they no longer have “confidential” sources who will wine and dine them to get their point of view run by a subservient press corps. I usually like to see actual facts or violations of the law enumerated. Since when is pursuing the unauthorized disclosure of classified material a violation of law? The complaints are mainly that of inaction to prosecute the violations of international law. It also leaves out the FACT that Obama DID order waterboarding to STOP, unlike Bush who said it was legal. Could somebody please tell me how that is worse than BUSH?Obama DID try and close Guantanamo, but you forget that Congress and the mayor of NYC fought him tooth and nail against closing it. SO PLEASE tell the whole story.

    Then the overblown complaints about killing US citizens abroad by drones is misplaced since those people are actively waging WAR against the US. I have yet to see any person answer my question whether or not during WWII, it would have been a violation of our civil liberties if the US had bombed Ezra Pounds villa for broadcasting in support of fascist Italy. The US also executed US citizens during WWII after putting them on trial by military commissions as well as executing POWs who killed other POWs. Did that result in a loss of all our civil liberties? I hardly think so.

    It is also absurd to slander those of us who do not act like Chicken Little in decrying the loss of liberty under Obama by saying that we have a hero worship thing for him. I disagree with Obama on quite a few positions and think he is wrong on a lot of foreign and domestic policies, so how that translates into blind obedience to our leader is beyond me. It is only those who are blind to reality who try and ignore reasonable actions and inflate it beyond rational limits who are the blind followers. The fact is that while some of the policies dealing with the press and especially surveillance are wrong, it is hardly an outright assault on our liberties. As I never tire of pointing out, we are FAR more free NOW than when I was growing up which is why there is not a mass movement against Obama. It is mainly because the American people do not wish to follow chicken littles who are alarmists.

  11. samantha: “At what point do we put a lid on treasonous scripts and lyrics”. I think Joe McCarthy attempted to “put a lid on” Holllywood as you suggest. I thought this article was about having more free speech not less.

  12. randyjet,

    Your argument has, at it’s basis, the premise that the US is filled with an uniformed population. I agree with you about that. The government has worked very hard at suppressing knowledge. Reporting about illegal spying and wars of empire are two such areas where the American public is woefully uninformed. In part, that is because of the multiple prosecutions of journalists by this administration.

    Further, OWS was a large, mass movement protest. It was spied on from the beginning. It’s people were beaten, threatened with death, illegally detained and imprisoned for no reason. It took great courage and risk to participate in this movement. The response to this protest was swift. It was coordinated at the local, state, federal govt. along with various private entities. These were massive violations of our Constitutional rights and of people’s bodily integrity.

    It is strange that you and others would feel safe under these circumstances.

  13. “to join civil libertarians in opposing this President”

    What does that mean, exactly? Impeachment? Rand Paul for President?

    And, gee, I wonder if giving corporations carte blanch under Citizens United to buy politicians might have something to do with this…

  14. S.M. I was wondering how you felt about the abridgment of speech by the administration. I see that you object to that abridgment when it concerns Hollywood. Do you object to the abridgment of the right of free speech by Obama? If not, what is the reason you object to it in the one case, or in the case of a future Republican president, but not of the current abridgment of free speech rights by this administration? What is your underlying rational in objecting?

  15. Giovanna De La Paz

    Do you mean to tell me that it has taken this Pulitzer Prize winning reporter five years to discover the deceptive policies of the current Democratic administration? Unbelievable! I am a humble peon and I figured it out. Was this reporter waiting for the news to come to him, or is he truly a genuine Pulitzer reporter who goes out and investigates to get the REAL story.



    Risen has been dealing with the Obama Aministration for years. He has known for quite some time what the Obama Administration has been up to. I wrote a post about the DOJ going after whistleblowers three years ago. I’ll include a link to the post–as well as an excerpt from it.

    Promises, Promises: Is the Obama DOJ Going after Whistleblowers?

    Let’s step back a little. Last April, the Department of Justice served a subpoena on author James Risen. The DOJ wanted to know the identity of the source for a story about a botched CIA attempt to “trip up” Iran’s nuclear program that was included in Risen’s 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. According to Josh Gerstein (Politco): “The scheme involved using a Russian defector to deliver the faulty blueprints to the Iranians, but the defector blew the CIA’s plot by alerting the Iranians to the flaws — negating the value of the program, and perhaps even advancing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

    Greenwald says that the subpoena was originally served but then later abandoned by the Bush DOJ. One has to ask why a President who campaigned on a platform of protecting whistleblowers decided to go after a whistleblower when the previous administration decided to drop the case.

    The DOJ eventually uncovered the identity of the alleged source for Risen’s story without Risen’s help. It was Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent who left the agency in 2002.

    Maybe you’d like to know how Sterling’s identity was uncovered. Well, federal investigators targeted author/reporter Risen. They obtained Risen’s “three private credit reports, examined his personal bank records and obtained information about his phone calls and travel…”

    Gerstein says the revelation that the government obtained that information about Risen has alarmed First Amendment advocates, particularly in light of Justice Department rules requiring the attorney general to sign off on subpoenas directed to members of the media and on requests for their phone records. And Risen told POLITICO that the disclosures, while not shocking, made him feel “like a target of spying.”

    Greenwald says what he finds “particularly indefensible” is how the Obama DOJ is going back into the past to dig up “forgotten episodes.”

    This is how Greenwald closes his article:
    For a President who insists that we must “Look Forward, Not Backward” — when it comes to investigating war crimes by high-level Bush officials — this anti-whistleblower assault reflects not only an obsession on preserving and bolstering the National Security State’s secrecy regime, but also an intense fixation on the past. And increasingly extremist weapons — now including trolling through reporters’ banking and phone records — are being wielded to achieve it. As Thomas Jefferson warned long ago: “Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.”

  16. Jill, Do you think Hollywood because it leans to the left in the minds of some should be subject to censorship as Samantha suggests? I object to all curtailment of free speech. I find that the right wing christian theocrats are highly critical of Obama but want to shut down liberals’ freedom of speech and their right to vote.

  17. Obama’s new NSA proposal and Democratic partisan hackery
    By Glenn Greenwald
    25 Mar 2014

    I vividly recall the first time I realized just how mindlessly and uncritically supportive of President Obama many Democrats were willing to be. In April, 2009, two federal courts, in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, ruled that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) required the Pentagon to disclose dozens of graphic photos it possessed showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration announced that, rather than contest or appeal those rulings, they would comply with the court orders and release all the photos. The ACLU praised that decision: “the fact that the Obama administration opted not to seek further review is a sign that it is committed to more transparency.”

    This decision instantly turned into a major political controversy. Bush-era neocons, led by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney, excoriated Obama, arguing that release of the photos would endanger American troops and depict the US in a negative light; Cheney expressly accused Obama of “siding with the terrorists” by acquiescing to the ruling. By contrast, Democrats defended Obama on the ground that the disclosures were necessary for transparency and the rule of law, and they attacked the neocons for wanting to corruptly hide evidence of America’s war crimes. I don’t think there was a single Democratic official, pundit, writer, or blogger who criticized Obama for that decision.

    But then – just two weeks later – Obama completely reversed himself, announcing that he would do everything possible to block the court order and prevent it from taking effect. ABC News described Obama’s decision as “a complete 180.” More amazingly still, Obama adopted the exact arguments that Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney were making over the prior two weeks to attack him specifically and transparency generally: to justify his desire to suppress this evidence, Obama said that “the most direct consequence of releasing the [photos], I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in danger.”

    Now, obviously, the people who had been defending Obama’s original pro-transparency position (which included the ACLU, human rights groups, and civil liberties writers including me) changed course and criticized him. That’s what rational people, by definition, do: if a political official takes a position you agree with, then you support him, but when he does a 180-degree reversal and takes the exact position that you’ve been disagreeing with, then you oppose him. That’s just basic. Thus, those of us who originally defended Obama’s decision to release the photos turned into critics once he took the opposite position – the one we disagreed with all along – and announced that he would try to suppress the photos.

  18. swart, I was already thinking of your predictable response, qualifying my comment with “yelling fire.” How do you make such a leap, unless you just want to antagonize? You can probably come up with more examples then I can, out of Hollywood, that are worse than yelling fire.

  19. S.M. You are not answering my question. I will answer yours and I hope you will answer mine. If you look above at 10:56, you will see I clearly came out against censorship of Hollywood. I wrote that before you wrote anything.

    I asked you point blank if you objected to the abridgment of free speech by the Obama administration. Are you able to answer that question in an open, honest manner?

  20. swart, who is a right wing christian theocrat? If you suggest that I am one, you’re making another big leap. I only defend freedom of religious expression, unlike you, but in the same way that you defend free speech. Your templated thought really shows a lot.

  21. I will agree that there have been some but we probably won’t agree on the exact number or details. There are some posters here such as ap that consistently post relevant critical articles of Obama and then there are others such as yourself that seem to find even the idea of the Obama family occupying the whitehouse unbearable.

  22. If there were a healthy a two-party system it would create healthy competition:

    Where are the Republican leaders demanding press freedoms, ending warrantless spying or closing Guantanamo?

    If the Republicans upheld their oath of office, Obama would follow suit! That’s the game being played here.

  23. samantha, I feel Obama is a right wing christian theocrat. That is, in part, because he presides over an army which has openly stated they are on a crusade to christianize Muslim lands.

    I don’t agree with you or S.M. that Hollywood is left wing. Most of the powerful people there support Obama in his wars, spying and economic policies. That would make them politically right wing authoritarians even though it is correct to say they would self identify as leftists.

    It’s a strange time so difficult to give names to things. People do self identify as one thing while holding beliefs and upholding policies that are actually what would have been called far right in the past.

  24. S.M.

    My positions have been consistent. I objected to Cheney and Bush over the same actions as I have objected to Obama. When I criticized (and still criticize) Cheney and Bush, why didn’t you say of me that: “{I} seem to find even the idea of the {Bush} family occupying the whitehouse unbearable.”

    Should you not say that to me right now? I hope so, because otherwise, what you are doing is saying that one may freely object to a Republican who destroys the rule of law, but if one objects to a Democrat, then one is making an invalid argument.

    So, please tell me how I was wrong to criticize Bush and how I found his family occupying the WH unbearable. Otherwise, I am going to say this is hypocritical.

  25. Jill, I was not on the blog when Bush was president and you may very well have given them equal treatment.

  26. The Obama sycophants know the damn has burst when the NYT attacks his blatantly unconstitutional acts. Hold on tightly, it’s going to be a rough couple years!!

  27. S.M. I did give Bush equal treatment (you can look that up) so you should definitely say the same to me as you just did about Obama.

    Please do not hesitate to state that my objections to the destruction of the rule of law were all about not wanting to have the Bush family in the WH. What other reason could there be except that? Jeesh!!!

  28. Nick,

    I don’t think they are left wing, really. They self identify that way, and you’re correct that as a society, we would have considered them that, and really, in today’s terms, I guess we would call them left wing, but not by policy choices.

    It is hard to know what to say about people who self identify as left wingers but support right wing, totalitarian governments. At naked capitalism, they are called Vichy Liberals! I like that one!

  29. Jill and Samantha, You just got the “code words” that you’re racist, or that some of us are racist, when SWM talked about people thinking the occupation by the “Obama family” of the WH is unacceptable. They’re going scorched earth.

  30. Jill, Hollywood is first about money, then politics. There are reasons they’re so left wing and McCarthy’s assault on them is up there on the list. What they are slow to realize is their hero is worst than Nixon, a supporter of McCarthy.

  31. nick, Wrong again. The “code words” was directed at Samantha for what I viewed as baiting of the so called Hollywood liberals in a McCarthyite fashion.They were not directed at Jill.

  32. Jill, hmm… Obama a right-wing Christian theocratic? I’ve got to think about that.

    swart, who is surprised that you do not think Hollywood is left wing? You do not even think that Obama is a danger to your free speech or to anything really. I do believe in the separation of church and state, so can we just stop all the leaping?

  33. nick, Samantha interjected Hollywood into this discussion. I found her remark about Hollywood somewhat shocking on a blog that is dedicated to free speech.

  34. Nick,

    To me it would depend on the person. Mostly, it’s about money. We do have an oligarchy, making distinctions such as “left” and “right” meaningless. Those words are used as propaganda to divert people from understanding what has happened in our nation.

    We need new words so we can accurately describe what is happening. It’s why I like Vichy Liberal. When “liberals” support a totalitarian state which suppresses free speech, we need a name for this!

  35. Okay, Jill, I have thought about it. In the sense that Obama is a stockholder disciple, just like SCOTUS, you are absolutely right. Bravo.

  36. SWM, I did go back and read her comment and it was over the top. But, you don’t answer over the top w/ “Hollywood is not liberal.” You answer it as you just did. I find Hollywood putting out some pretty core value movies of late that should not be considered, left or right, but righteous.

  37. Absolutely. And that flick was perfect in showing a deeply flawed character. There were no super heroes as Hollywood loves to shove down our throats. How ’bout going back to Juno and abortion/adoption? I read some folks who thought the flick was anti-abortion when it was clearly pro-adoption. A core value IMO.

  38. Jill

    We do have an oligarchy…
    What is the difference between an oligarchy and a plutocracy?

    “Aristotle pioneered the use of the term [oligarchy] as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy.” (Wikipedia, “Oligarchy”).

    Current isolation of the 1% from the 99% is based on wealth.

  39. O.K. O.K.
    Hollywood is evil liberal agent supplying the White House money…
    … HOW does that absolve Obama from his participation in High Crimes?

    I really would Mr. Non partisan to explain this one…
    … Downy Jr. Captain America!!! Woot!!! Kilz Terristststs… ya know!

  40. Jill, Sounds like Commies to me, but I can abide Vichy Liberal. It’s got less baggage since you invented it.

  41. SWM, You have a point. That said, when I think of Vichy France I think more of weasel Frenchmen who would have cooperated w/ any occupying force than I do of Hitler and Nazism. They would have been Commies if Stalin got there first. That’s probably just me.

  42. Just saw this…. If you think it’s me…. Poor choice today…. Setting up a new windows tablet…. Don’t have time for pricking like a cactus … you two do well…..



    McClatchy reporter Jonathan Landay said he no longer emails sources and that a lot of the investigation work on McClatchy’s story about the CIA possibly spying on a Senate committee was done by a 22-year-old who “doorstepped” committee members. “I know where a lot of payphones are in Washington, D.C.,” Landay said. Journalist Quinn Norton said she’d like to see legislation that recognizes the techniques of surveillance themselves create “a chilling effect on journalism.”

    The government was a little outmuscled in the conference. In addition to Wainstein, its point of view was mostly carried forward on panels that included Robert L. Deitz, a former NSA general counsel and senior councillor to the CIA and Robert S. Litt, the general counsel of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. When Bob Woodward asked Deitz if leaks have imperiled the American people, he said yes. Sometimes, he said, “the leak is the harm.” By definition, he said, many of the leaks discussed are prima facie felonies. How do you put a line around one felony and say don’t investigate it, he asked. The Times’ Mark Mazzetti asked him about leaks that come from the administration. Those make the administration lose the high ground, Deitz replied.

    Litt said the press “does publish things from my perspective that risk hurt” to national security. “We ban drunk driving because drunk driving increases the risk of accidents,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that any particular drunk driver causes an accident.”

    “Is journalism drunk driving?” New Yorker Editor David Remnick asked Litt. “No,” he replied.

  44. A Military Plot to Take Over America: Fifty Years Later, Was the Mission Accomplished?

    By John W. Whitehead
    March 25, 2014

    “I’m suggesting Mr. President, there’s a military plot to take over the Government of these United States, next Sunday…”—Col. Martin ‘Jiggs’ Casey, Seven Days in May (1964)

    With a screenplay written by Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, director John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May is a clear warning to beware of martial law packaged as a well meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security. Yet, incredibly enough, 50 years later, we find ourselves hostages to a government run more by military doctrine and corporate greed than by the rule of law established in the Constitution.

    Indeed, proving once again that fact and fiction are not dissimilar, today’s current events—ranging from the government’s steady militarization of law enforcement agencies, and its urban training exercises wherein military troops rappel from Black Hawk helicopters in cities across the country, from Miami and Chicago to Minneapolis, to domestic military training drills timed and formulated to coincide with or portend actual crises, and the Obama administration’s sudden and growing hostilities with Russia—could well have been lifted straight out of Seven Days in May, which takes viewers into eerily familiar terrain.

    The premise is straightforward enough: With the Cold War at its height, Jordan Lyman (played by Fredric March), an unpopular U.S. President, signs a momentous nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Believing that the treaty constitutes an unacceptable threat to the security of the United States and certain that he knows what is best for the nation, General James Mattoon Scott (Burt Lancaster), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presidential hopeful, plans a military takeover of the national government. When Gen. Scott’s aide, Col. Casey (Kirk Douglas), discovers the planned military coup, he goes to the President with the information. The race for command of the U.S. government begins, with the clock ticking off the hours until Sunday, when the military plotters plan to overthrow the President.

    Toward the climax of the film, President Lyman confronts Gen. Scott with knowledge of the coup, asking him to resign his position immediately. Gen. Scott refuses, insisting that his plan is necessary to ensure the future of the United States. President Lyman responds poignantly:

    You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country…why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect? You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with—its Constitution. You ask for a mandate, General, from a ballot box. You don’t steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned.

    Unfortunately for the American people, it’s long past midnight. Indeed, the coup d’etat wresting control of our government from civilians and delivering it into the hands of the military industrial complex happened decades ago, while our backs were turned and our minds distracted. Consequently, we now find ourselves in the unenviable position of longing for an elusive peace while trying to rein in a runaway militarized government with a gargantuan and profit-driven appetite for war.

    Over the past half century, America has actually been at war more than we’ve been at peace. In fact, the U.S. has been involved in an average of at least one significant military action per year, “ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama… That total does not count more limited U.S. actions, such as drone strikes it now is carrying out against suspected Taliban insurgents in the Middle East.”

    Here’s the problem, though: what happens to all those hefty profits for the military industrial complex when you start to scale back on 50 years’ worth of wars abroad? For example, the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost taxpayers upwards of $1.5 trillion—that breaks down to roughly $10.54 million per hour since 2001—which does not include the billions being spent this year alone on the Department of Defense ($254 billion and counting), on nuclear weapons ($9 billion), and on an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weapons system ($4 billion and counting).

    If war is a business, as it has become, in order to maintain a profit margin when there are no more wars to be fought abroad, one would either have to find new enemies abroad or, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, focus on fighting a war at home, against the American people, and that’s exactly what we’re dealing with today. (In fact, domestic “terrorists”—citizens with anti-government views—have become frequent targets in military training deals. Just recently, it was revealed that the Ohio National Guard conducted a training exercise in which Second Amendment advocates were portrayed as domestic terrorists.)

    This dangerous military expansion is one that outgoing president Dwight D. Eisenhower, a retired five-star Army general, warned against in his 1961 farewell address. Frankly, it’s a speech that bears re-reading for its chilling insight into the vastness of the military industrial complex, its grave warning against allowing the military to lead the way in dictating national and international policy, and its sound advice to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.” As Eisenhower noted:

    The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

    Thus, the question is no longer whether the U.S. will be consumed by the military industrial complex. That happened when we failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning, and in the fifty years since, the already burgeoning military industrial complex has given rise to a security industrial complex, a.k.a. corporate surveillance state. Together, they serve as the iron-fisted right and left hands of the police state that now surrounds us and profits from us.

    Consequently, we now find ourselves navigating a strange new world where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) annually hands out millions of dollars’ worth of grants to local police agencies for military weapons, vehicles, training and assistance. Virginia will receive $7.4 million in homeland security grant funding for 2014, in addition to $53 million for the areas near Washington, DC. Indiana will receive $5 million from DHS to “help it prepare for any potential terrorist attacks, major disasters or other emergencies.” Las Vegas will get $1 million out of the more than $400 million being distributed this year, while Boston will get an $18 million piece of the pie. Meanwhile, New York and its outlying metro regions will get $178 million in funding to advance its localized version of the “war on terror.”

    These grants also provide for law enforcement and terrorism prevention and typically include planning, training and exercises, such as the training exercises that were scheduled to take place in Boston around the same time that the Boston Marathon bomber detonated several homemade backpack bombs. Curiously enough, as the Boston Globe reported, the exercise, planned months in advance and dubbed “Operation Urban Shield” “has eerie similarities to the police investigation that led to the capture of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers.”

    In the training scenario, investigators participating in Urban Shield would have to track down footage of the bombers caught by street surveillance cameras and the phones of “witnesses.” They would have to call on intelligence analysts to figure out which terrorist cell might be threatening the city. In the scenario, the terrorists would flee police in stolen cars they would dump in cities outside Boston, which would compel detectives from different jurisdictions to cooperate and share intelligence. One major clue would have been the body of one of the terrorists found near a stolen car, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Believe it or not, these Live Active Shooter Drill training exercises, carried out at schools, in shopping malls, and on public transit, can and do fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers and bystanders into thinking it’s a real crisis. They come complete with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims in order to help “schools and first responders create realistic drills, full-scale exercises, high-fidelity simulations, and interactive 3D films.” One Crisis Actors website, funded in part by the Dept. of Justice, even provides actors with a guide to suspicious behaviors they should study and adopt, as well as makeup recommendations, in order to better play their parts in training exercises.

    Now it’s easy to write off as conspiracy-minded and sensationalist any suggestion that the government could be so calculating and diabolical as to not only deliberately plan and execute a terror exercise but pass it off as an actual event.

    It’s easy to do so, that is, unless you’ve started to question whether your government actually exists to serve you, as growing numbers of Americans have. It’s certainly easy to do so unless you’ve started to read up on those less savory aspects of our nation’s history, the parts not included in public school textbooks, in which the government has, in fact, engaged in downright immoral and, at times, criminal behavior, including “giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.”

    And unless you’ve reached a point where you believe that the government views you as little more than a dollar sign, and prioritizes your rights far below your monetary worth, then you may not have a hard time believing that the government, marching in lockstep with the military and security industrial complexes, sold you out long ago.

    So what do Seven Days in May and Ike’s farewell address have to do with the military/security-industrial complex, government grants for training exercises and terrorism preparedness, and military drills staged to look like the real thing?

    Instead of an answer, let’s try another series of questions. How do you get a nation to docilely accept a police state? How do you persuade a populace to accept metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police forces, surveillance cameras in their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications?

    Try to ram such a state of affairs down their throats, and you might find yourself with a rebellion on your hands. Instead, you bombard them with constant color-coded alerts, terrorize them with shootings and bomb threats in malls, schools, and sports arenas, desensitize them with a steady diet of police violence, and sell the whole package to them as being for their best interests.

    And when leaders like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon come about, who not only dare to challenge you by championing peace over war, but actually manage to get people to pay attention, you carry out surveillance on them, intimidate them, threaten them, and eventually do away with them, knowing full well that few will rise up to take their place.

    Likewise, when individuals like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, lacking followers or name recognition, rise up and shine a spotlight on your misdeeds, you label them traitors, isolate them from their friends and loved ones, and make an example of them: this is what happens to those who challenge the police state.

  45. Jill:

    “We need new words so we can accurately describe what is happening. It’s why I like Vichy Liberal. When “liberals” support a totalitarian state which suppresses free speech, we need a name for this!”

    Sorry Jill, but the majority of liberals do support a totalitarian state. They just want social freedoms, they dont want economic freedom. People must have both to be free.

  46. Vichy Liberals?? What would you call Bush patrons that said since they have nothing to hide, they didn’t mind the spying started by the Bush Administration?
    No true liberals support a totalitarian state. And they do want economic freedoms, but if the playing fields isn’t level, there is no economic freedom. Is it economic freedom that someone making making $150,000 per year does not pay social security tax on all of his/her earnings, but someone making $50,000 does? Is it economic freedom when people who collect or “earn” most of their income from investments and pay an income tax rate at 15%, but ordinary workers have to pay a higher rate? Please explain how that is economic freedom.

  47. Byron, this is why we need new words. Many people who self identify as liberal do support a totalitarian govt. They don’t care about social freedoms unless it personally effects them. For example, they may be pro-choice for their own group of people but are perfectly willing to support lack of choice put in place by the president for the most poor and vulnerable women. As long as they get their’s, they are just fine with everything else. These folks are neo-liberal, not socialists–meaning the economic levers will be controlled for the benefit of the powerful few and only for the powerful few. They want capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich!

    Nick and rafflaw-Vichy Liberal is a word coined by someone at Naked Capitalism, not by me. I think it’s an excellent choice, but you could choose other words that would suit you better. We should be brainstorming about this because lack of clarity is harming everyone’s ability to see through the BS.

  48. raff, I guess you never heard of positive incentive. Instead of the negative class envy route, I look @ it as incentive for that 50k worker striving to get to the 150k level. That is EXACTLY how I looked @ it in my biz. If I worked hard enough to pay myself more than[whatever the FICA cutoff was @ the time] then I didn’t have to pay that tax. And, I paid that tax both ends, as I know you also do. It’s glass half full mentality. You look @ it as half empty, I as half full, working hard to fill it to the brim. That is the attitude that makes this country great. Not whining about someone else earning more, busting your ass to make as much, or more.

  49. nick,
    respectfully, that is nonsense. The basis of your claim suggests that someone who is working hard, but only making $50,000 doesn’t deserve to pay less taxes, but someone who has a large portfolio is working harder and deserves to pay less in taxes. It is wrong and insulting on every level. It doesn’t make this country great, it makes for an oligarchy.

  50. Large portfolio, WTF does that have to do w/ SS. FICA is based on salary. That’s the example YOU GAVE vis a vis 50k v 150k. So, that was my response. Come on raff, be intellectually honest.

  51. Working hard is what made this country great, and w/ some of the attitudes expressed here, and from DC, I fear for the US.

  52. nick,
    I included the 15% for taxes because that is another example of how your “incentive plan” is wrong. You are right that SS taxes are based on gross income, but the problem is the same for SS taxes and income taxes. The people who make more than the cap amount get to stop paying SS taxes while the majority who make less than the current cap. pay a hundred percent of their earnings in SS taxes. The 15% example is the same concept that the wealthy get advantages that they have not “earned” and the rest of us get stiffed. I fear for the US because of people who believe that the wealthy should have any benefits over the rest of us when it comes to paying any taxes.

  53. rafflaw, are not social security benefits capped, based on contributions? In other words, if an employee is forced to pay Social Security taxes on income of $1,000,000, his benefit would then have to be something like 20,000 dollars per month. The system is fair to the extent that benefits are based on contributions.

    Many people never pay a nickle into the social security system, yet receive a benefit for life. Would it be more fair to exclude them?

    As for the capped tax rate on passive income, what do you suggest for alternative incentive for consumers to divert their income from spending money on boats, RVs, and other luxuries, towards investing instead? Keep in mind that there would be no manufacturing capacity without stockholders to make those boats, RVs, and other luxuries, in the first place. Also keep in mind that much of passive income is taxed twice, anyway. I do not drive a mercedes benz simply because I’m not willing to forgo the lost opportunity of the return on the capital it takes to buy a mercedes-benz. I certainly would rethink things, if my ROI would be confiscated. In other words, if I can drive the Mercedes Benz, myself, I’m sure not going to let you have it. A world without investors, is a world of renegades, whose future is only viable to the extent existing resources are not depleted. How would that be more fair than what we had today? Meanwhile, you should be content with investor incentives, which go towards raising the standard of living for everyone, providing pots for people to pee in. I know this is an unknown concept for those in the White House, but it doesn’t mean we should follow their ignorance of economics.

  54. “Except for the “classical liberals” who still adhered to the traditions of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, most modern liberals embraced the redistribution of wealth, larger government agencies, and a bureaucratic society dependent on the largesse of the political system. They have legislated womb-to-tomb economic policies reminiscent of 1930s–40s national socialism in Europe, embodied in the Vichy regime in France – hence my term “Vichy liberalism.”

    Vichy liberals have somehow failed to realize that the larger the ruling authority, the greater the temptation for abuse. In addition, as that abuse enlarges, so does an arrogant self-righteous attitude toward citizens, as if ordinary people were put on the earth merely to provide the political elite with money and employment.”

    Lou Rockwell

    How can you argue with that?

  55. The Top 10% pay 70% of the taxes. That has been climbing steadily over the past 25 years. In the mid 1980’s, the Top 10% paid 55% of the taxes. When you create this class envy horseshit philosophy you “eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    Raff, I’m pleased to see you now realize I was simply using your example of salary and FICA. However, you still don’t seem to understand my point of positive incentive. The 50k person should strive to make 150k so they can have that benefit. That’s how capitalism works.

  56. “Freedom of the Press” is narrow wordage. The First Amendment guarantees our right to assemble, to speech at the assembly, to therefore petition our government for redress of grievances. The free press is a parallel right but we no longer have to rely upon a printing press to express ourselves do we? Radio has been around for longer than Jack Buck. Television has been around longer than me. The short wave radio was a big medium when I was a kid. Remember Radio Free Europe and Voice of America? The internet and blogging trumps them all. No reference to The Donald here. All of us can now get a computer and speak our minds to the whole world without typing on paper and having some crew print it out on paper at the “printing press”. So, if someone wants to discuss this issue they need to get out of the arcane confines of Freedom of The Press.
    Now if I could just figure out how to press this button to make this thing transmit to y’all, I would be in business. But, of course I am handcuffed by WordPress and some guy called Moderation. Two topics which need to be discussed here on this blog.

  57. O is a Company man. identified and groomed starting when he was a young man. They helped “prove” he was born in Hawaii, gave him an “authentic” passport to enter Pakistan when it was illegal to travel there (terrorist state), and on and on.

    Why would anyone expect him to be any different than he is?

  58. speaking of dogs, where did the dog pack go? Humpin Dog, Barkin Dog, Seeing Eye Dog, Ball Scratchin Dog, Ball Lickin Dog, where did they go?

    Did they get put down by their owners?

  59. Vichy, vichy, vichy…
    … Sounds like a bunch of hicks with as speach impediment seeking to blame the cowpie on the lamb.

  60. “Mr. Obama’s Limits on Phone Records”



    If President Obama really wants to end the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, he doesn’t need to ask the permission of Congress, as he said on Tuesday he would do. He can just end it himself, immediately.

    That’s what Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, urged him to do. “The president could end bulk collection once and for all on Friday by not seeking reauthorization of this program,” Mr. Leahy said.

    Ending bulk collection now wouldn’t undermine Mr. Obama’s proposal to Congress. In fact, if his promise is matched by the final details (which are not yet available), it could be an important and positive break from the widespread invasion of privacy secretly practiced by the National Security Agency for years. Getting a law to create strong judicial oversight of data collection would be a check on the ambitions of future presidents. But once the question is tossed into the maelstrom of Congress, where one party routinely opposes anything the president wants, the limits could be delayed, or diluted, or just killed.

    And while lawmakers wring their hands, the invasion of privacy will continue.

    As Charlie Savage reported in The Times on Tuesday, the president is planning to ask Congress to end the N.S.A.’s systematic collection of telephone records begun under President George W. Bush, an action already endorsed by his independent board of advisers. The records will be left in the hands of the phone companies, where they belong, until the N.S.A. gets permission from a judge to review an individual record because of a possible tie to terrorism. (The companies would only have to store the data 18 months, compared with the agency’s five years.)

    The requirement for judicial review is one of the most important parts of the president’s plan. Just as police departments have to get a court order for a wiretap, the intelligence agencies need to present their justification to an outside arbiter for a request of telephone data, which can be as revealing as the content of a conversation. The provision distinguishes the White House plan from a much weaker bill introduced by the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, which would allow the N.S.A. to subpoena individual records without judicial approval.

    But there are still important unknown details. What standard of suspicion does the government need to meet to persuade a judge? Administration officials said it would be the “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of terror ties now used by the N.S.A. when examining phone records, but that remains an unacceptably weak level of proof. Judicial review should require a clearer, stronger standard, though it is doubtful Congress will approve one.

    It’s not clear, as Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote, whether the proposal covers all the methods the intelligence agencies use to collect personal and financial records, and whether the N.S.A. will delete the records it has. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which will consider the requests for records, should be required to disclose how often it says yes.

    The immediate question, though, is why the president feels he needs to wait for Congress before stopping mass collection. As Mr. Obama said on Tuesday, because of Edward Snowden’s revelations, “we have to win back the trust not just of governments but, more important, of ordinary citizens.” Continuing the current surveillance program while lawmakers argue is not the way to begin winning back the country’s trust.

  61. Edward Snowden Statement on Administration’s NSA Reform Plan

    March 25, 2014

    The following is a statement from Edward Snowden provided to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is coordinating his legal advice and representation:

    “I believed that if the NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans was known, it would not survive the scrutiny of the courts, the Congress, and the people.

    “The very first open and adversarial court to ever judge these programs has now declared them ‘Orwellian’ and ‘likely unconstitutional.’ In the USA FREEDOM Act, Congress is considering historic, albeit incomplete reforms. And President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.

    “This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government.”

  62. It would be nice to believe such a turning point. Not sure I see it. BO continues not to admit any wrongdoing himself. The little that is admitted to looks like three steps forward to ironclad totalitarianism & and one step back to freedom.

  63. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I
    found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending
    the time to discuss this topic here on your blog.

  64. […] New York Times’ Risen calls Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom” in a generation: “[New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Jim] Risen said that the Administration has actively sought to ‘narrow the field of national security reporting’ and ‘create a path for accepted reporting’ while threatening to punish those who do not yield.” (Jonathan Turley) […]

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