Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bloggers, News Informers, and Enemies

On 7 Feb. 2006 in a U.S. Senate Judiciary hearing on wartime executive power, Senator Lindsey Graham made these statements to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

The FISA statute, in a time of war, is a check and balance. But here's where I think I'm your biggest fan. During the time of war, the administration has the inherent power, in my opinion, to surveil the enemy and to map the battlefield electronically -- not just physical, but to electronically map what the enemy is up to by seizing information and putting that puzzle together.

And the administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue fifth column movements.

And let me tell folks who are watching what a fifth column movement is. It is a movement known to every war where American citizens will sympathize with the enemy and collaborate with the enemy. And it's happened in every war.

And President Roosevelt talked about, "We need to know about fifth column movements."

So my friends on the other side, I stand by this president's ability, inherent to being commander in chief, to find out about fifth column movements, and I don't think you need a warrant to do that.

Graham went on to say, however, that when such information seems to implicate individual citizens, the administration must not be allowed to persue investigations independently without judicial oversight.

What constitutes, for Mr. Graham and those who think along the same lines, a “fifth column” movement? When the War on Terror (now being referred to by the Pentagon as “The Long War”) began, the President said that “You’re either for us, or you’re against us.” The attitude of the war supporters has been that those who speak against the war are undermining the mission and placing our troops in danger. Does a “fifth column” include only those who, as Graham said, “sympathize with the enemy and collaborate with the enemy,” or does that definition also include those who don’t sympathize with terrorists but genuinely oppose war or disagree with the President's policies?

Here are some highlights of a speech given 17 Feb. 2006 by Donald Rumsfeld at the Council on Foreign Relations in which he outlines the need for the military to engage in more effective communications within the various media:

Our federal government is really only beginning to adapt our operations to the 21st century. For the most part, the U.S. government still functions as a five and dime store in an eBay world. Today we’re engaged in the first war in history—unconventional and irregular as it may be—in an era of e-mails, blogs, Blackberrys, Instant Messaging, digital cameras, a global Internet with no inhibitions, cell phones, hand-held videocameras, talk radio, 24-hour news broadcasts, satellite television. There’s never been a war fought in this environment before.

[ . . . ]

The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world still have relatively immature standards and practices that too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than to explain and inform. And while al Qaeda and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years and have successfully further poisoned the Muslim’s public view of the West, we in the government have barely begun to compete in reaching their audiences.

[ . . . ]

What complicates the ability to respond quickly is that, unlike our enemies, which propagate lies with impunity with no penalty whatsoever, our government does not have the luxury of relying on other sources for information—anonymous or otherwise. Our government has to be the source, and we tell the truth.

[ . . . ]

We need to get better at engaging experts from both within and outside of government to help communicate, to rapidly deploying the best military communications capabilities to new theaters of operation, developing and executing multifaceted media campaigns—print, radio, television and Internet. But let there be no doubt: The longer it takes to put a strategic communication framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy and by news informers that most assuredly will not paint an accurate picture of what is actually taking place.

Does Donald Rumsfeld consider those bloggers who oppose the war and/or criticize the Bush administration's policies to be “news informers” who are not not telling the truth—unlike our government who always tells the truth? Are the people who vocally disagree with the President’s policies the same people that Bush said are “against us”? Does putting a “strategic communication framework into place” simply mean being louder than the enemy, or does it mean going so far as to silence all opposing views?

How long will it be before those who have the “wrong” opinions are considered enemy sympathizers who need to be silenced or even punished for their views?


Tony Arnold said...

When you start with an ends justifies the means methodology, you guarantee being defined by the means.

It is our actions that define who we are not the end results. I don't think the U.S. is looking too good on either action or end results.

I don't support or sympathize with terrorists, hate groups, etc. But I also don't want to play by their rules to stop them. What make me any different in that case? Am I justified because my intentions and thoughts are more noble?

If my intentions and philosophies are more noble, then my actions should reflect that nobility.


jettybetty said...

From last numbers I saw on % of people that don't support the war--there are a lot of 5th column people.