Monday, July 10

Congress kept in dark on spying

What with the net neutrality issues and the war going on not only over terrorism, but intelligence vs. constitutional freedoms, and over the future freedom of the internet I cannot stay away from the political side of the issues. They reach out and drag me in.

The following article from The Australian is of utmost interest.

Congress kept in dark on spying | The World | The Australian

I find it quite interesting. that it's often the outside sources that can contain such poignant overviews of the state of American politics. I'm sure you'll let me know if you disagree and see in this some bias that I you think I might be unaware of. :)

Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra (Michigan), chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee (former supporter of the Bush administration's intelligence initiatives) speaks out on Fox News about his May 18th letter to Mr. Bush that was published in the New York Times this week.

This letter alleges...

1) "there was yet another intelligence program that the administration had not told Congress about"

2) "the operation in question was different from the wiretapping controversy or the covert monitoring of international financial transactions that the White House has been defending in recent weeks"

3) "that there was a dissident faction within the CIA that he said "intentionally undermined" the President's policies."

And separately according to The Australian;

4) "This confirmed rumours that have long circulated in Washington about the existence of a dissident group, which critics claim has selectively leaked stories to the media about the Bush administration's intelligence operations."

Even more interesting yet...

5) "US law requires that the intelligence panels of the Senate and the House of Representatives be informed of the Government's intelligence activities.

Mr Hoekstra said his intelligence committee learned about some undisclosed operations from whistleblowers who alerted Congress to what they believed were illegal activities."

Most interestingly this would seem to suggest that whistleblowers abound in the intelligence community. Indeed it would appear from this and many other cases that we have rampant whistleblowing going on in the intelligence community, and is it any wonder after the failure in the intelligence community under political pressure from the Bush administration leading up to the war in Iraq?

The ramification of that failure of intelligence prior to the Iraq war has caused a crisis of trust within the intelligence community and above all between the intelligence community, congress, and the Bush administration.

"If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the administration, a violation of law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the members of this committee who have ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies"

That from Mr. Hoekstra's letter which was posted in the NY Times.

Another interesting aspect of this is that while the NY Times has been at the center critical press regarding the Bush administration (most obviously in the scandal regarding unauthorized wiretapping) that they are not by any means alone and have been joined by a huge chorus of other newspapers.

On a side note there is a very interesting similarity to the way consensus is made in big media and small media. Which is to say between the newspaper press and blogging. Consensus is not as transparent or organic in the world of newspapers, but it is effective non the less. But back on point...

Indeed the truth of most of these allegations by the NY Times and other papers has never been called into question merely the techniques by which information is gathered.

If any of you have seen the recent movie Good Night, and Good Luck... you'd likely agree that there are many similarities in the showdown between Edward Murrow / CBS and McCarthy and this current showdown between the NY Times and the Bush administration on the publics constitutional rights.

Needless to say NY Times is a shinning example of the free press in action and for me restores some faith in mainstream media.

And a special thanks to Geoff Elliott of The Australian for the article. It's a shinning example that you need not be in the middle of the debate to be relevant. Something I'm acutely aware of when rambling away on my little blog here.

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