Think, for a moment, if your favorite journalist, be it Frank Rich, Juan Cole, Sidney Blumenthal, Dana Priest, Thomas Ricks, Murray Waas (and, okay, if you're in the Freakshow, or a Dittohead, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, William Kristol, and the drug-taking cheeseburger himself, Rush Limbaugh), or a hard-working, risk-taking American photographer, was taken into custody by a foreign government, under the "suspicion" of being a terrorist, or aiding the terrorists, imprisoned, without formal charges being made, denied due process, access to a lawyer and their day in court.
Think about the explosion of outrage, and the marshaling of thousands, to right this horrible, unjust, wrong.
The country would come to a near stand-still, and there'd be wall-to-wall, Baby-Jessica-in-the-well, media coverage
Well, this is exactly what our government is doing - jailing foreign journalists in the name of the War on Terror - perhaps, mostly for they don't like what they are writing, or the photographs they are taking.
Salon's Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post today, detailing two such instances (and, in the process, the smearing of an elected member of the U.S. Congress), with;
Only America-hating traitors believe in due process for journalists
And, what we could have done as one of The Garlic's "Degrees of Separation", as we have our former, warbling Attorney General penning a New York Times Op-Ed, calling for letting the telecommunications companies off the hook of the lawsuits for their illegal spying and wiretapping, because ...
That Bush Grindhouse classic - People will die!
Seems that John Ashcroft, with his "Uncle Sam on the Line" wants to extend his placing of sheets beyond naked statues, and start draping them over the U.S. Constitution and our Congress.
I suppose, first off, Ashcroft doesn't see the comic irony of calling his essay "Uncle Sam on the Line", because, for millions of Americans, over the past six-years, we have had "Uncle Sam on our phone lines" and, of all the treasonous things, some want to hold the telecommunication companies, and the Bush Grindhouse, accountable for their conducting illegal surveillance.
Ashcroft paints a picture of doom if persons illegally wiretapped are allowed to sue the telecoms.
And he argues it with this gem;
"Longstanding principles of law hold that an American corporation is entitled to rely on assurances of legality from officials responsible for government activities. The public officials in question might be right or wrong about the advisability or legality of what they are doing, but it is their responsibility, not the company’s, to deal with the consequences if they are wrong."The old "Trust Us" is to be applied here.
Wasn't that knocked down, when Harry Truman, under different circumstances, tried to nationalize the steel industry under the umbrella of "national emergency"?
Or maybe Ashcroft is simply thanking AT&T, Verizon and others "for their lovely Christmas gift - a solid gold telephone."
And it's pretty daunting what the Singing Attorney General glosses over in this "patriotic" call for Congress to do the proper duty.
Empty Wheel, over on The Last Hurrah, nails it;
And of course, Ashcroft makes no mention of the period when the program was not authorized by the AG, but was instead authorized by the White House Counsel. Such authorization is not legal, not under the law as written. While the telecoms may not be in the position to assess the honesty of the Bush Administration representations, they surely knew in March 2004 that Alberto Gonzales was not the AG, and that any authorization given by him was not worth the paper it was written on."If we had, instead of an eagle, a National Canary, as the symbol of our country, the icon of our democracy, the poor, little thing would be lying, feet-up, at the bottom of it's cage by now, probably fragged, by the likes of patriots like John Ashcroft.
And that leaves us all, deep in the mine of democracy, with these type of patriots telling us to follow their light.
Bonus Freedom and Democracy Links
Let the Eagle Soar - Music and Lyrics by John Ashcroft
Rachel Morris: Prisoner 345 - What happened to Al Jazeera’s Sami al-Haj
Kevin/LeanLeft: Someone Else Bin Laden Has Beaten