Well, they had to say something, right? So the administration is claiming that the Office of Legal Counsel, not the Government Accountability Office (the investigative arm of Congress), provides binding legal interpretations for federal agencies to follow.
Basically, they are arguing that it is perfectly legal for them to pay with propaganda with our money, whether to create fake journalists with fake news, or to pay journalists to promote their programs, or to feed TV stations fake news that they do not disclose to viewers as fake news.
The argument is absurd and blatantly contradicts the provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.
Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in memos last week that the administration disagrees with the GAO’s ruling. …
The legal counsel’s office “does not agree with GAO that the covert propaganda prohibition applies simply because an agency’s role in producing and disseminating information is undisclosed or ‘covert,’ regardless of whether the content of the message is ‘propaganda,’ ” Bradbury wrote. “Our view is that the prohibition does not apply where there is no advocacy of a particular viewpoint, and therefore it does not apply to the legitimate provision of information concerning the programs administered by an agency.”
Ha ha ha. Segments presented as independent news stories supporting, say, social security private accounts or the No Child Left Behind act as a good thing aren’t advocating a viewpoint?? Those journalists that got paid to promote the neo-con agenda aren’t being paid to promote a particular viewpoint? I have a lot of reasons to be angry with the Department of Education, but it shocked me that they were the arm used to pay such ilk as Armstrong Williams. If he (and others, perhaps some yet unknown) weren’t paid to promote a particular viewpoint or agenda, then what exactly were they paid for? C’mon now. We know better.
As the article points out, it’s not just a legal issue, it’s also an ethics issue. If there is nothing to hide, then why make outright propaganda look like news? And is network television so tied up as the administration’s mouthpiece that it can’t put their own frame around it? Or did they think it was “real” as well?
In any case, while this administration is giving tax breaks to the very rich, and taking away programs for everyone else, attempting to bankrupt the country into the smallest possible government structure, is this where OUR money needs to go? No way.
As far as the rejection of the ruling – it’s probably the only thing they could really do. We’re not getting involved in the International Court, so they will never be tried for war crimes. Although the makeup of the Congress pretty much prohibits an impeachment for any of the things this administration has done, they still don’t want those of us who still care about our country and are not fooled by the misleader to get bugged enough actually to start rebelling in any real way. They certainly don’t want to deal with a mother of a revolution here at home. So far, it’s just some emails and mild protests. They’ve kept cameras away from what we’re doing in Iraq as much as possible. People who bother to look can find out about our human rights violations, of which there are many both abroad and at home.
I say it reminds me quite a lot of Germany. Carl Rove makes a pretty good Goebbels. There are, however, some significant differences. For one, we love usury, and don’t tune in to banking issues – there is no conspiracy talk about money in this administration. They know all about the money trails (when you sign that check, remember that Halliburton has 2 “l”s). They aren’t blaming Jews for economic woes – the poor, the lower middle class, and of course the intelligent and the progressive have taken over that position. But there is a major difference that I keep thinking about. Hitler is our archtype of political evil, but even Hitler kept some of his promises to the people.
We were promised compassionate conservatism. I have not seen a less compassionate administration in my lifetime, nor a more greedy one, nor a more corrupt one, nor a more deceitful one, nor one that had less concern for American values (liberty, freedom, human dignity, etc), nor a more fascistic one (blending with corporations), nor a more heartless one. Conservative? This administration has destroyed our economy and put us into enough debt for it to be a national security concern. Under its watch, the income gap has become obscene and a new class system is solidifying fast. It has assimilated the diverse faces of race and gender as a front to pull in the insecure and to avoid race confrontations. It uses religion as a weapon and as a way to push through other agendas while holding on to a voter base. Oh, this religion issue says a lot about the American people – this “religion” is not, whatever anyone says, Christianity. Then there is the whole issue of lying, of which the use of antonyms in labelling is only one example. And half the country still thinks he’s a good guy – they just cannot bring themselves to believe that he’s not – they cannot bring themselves to research it for themselves. The fact is that two minus one doesn’t equal four – sorry. It just doesn’t.
In a certain way, the dance is a brilliant one, but it illustrates that even after Vietnam, even after Watergate, even after Iran-contra, even after our propped-up dictators all over the world disrupt possibilites for freedom and peace – we still want to believe that our government always represents the good guys. We can’t understand why we are hated all around the world. Even our biggest fans are stepping back and looking at us again. I love that about Americans – our endless optimism and trust. It may be what got us into this – but it may also be what gets us out – in time.
And it’s going to take a lot of time now to undo this damage – if we have the chance. The government is legally of, for, and by the people – ALL the people. The government never fully lives up to that, of course but those are our American values, our goals, our ideals. It is the responsibility of the people to hold their representatives accountable.