Saturday, January 20, 2007
Political storm clouds gathered again over the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina as former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said party politics influenced decisions on whether to take federal control of Louisiana and other areas affected by the hurricane.
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the partisanship Brown described was "disgusting," while a White House spokeswoman said Brown was making "false statements."
Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.
Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.
"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'"
Brown, 52, declined to say who in the White House had argued for federalizing the response only in Louisiana. He said that he'd later learned of the machinations through Blanco's office and from federal officials.
Blanco reacted sharply to Brown's remarks.
"This is exactly what we were living but could not bring ourselves to believe. Karl Rove was playing politics while our people were dying," Blanco said through a spokeswoman, referring to Bush's top political strategist. "The federal effort was delayed, and now the public knows why. It's disgusting."
Eryn Witcher, a White House spokeswoman, denied Brown's claims.
"It is unfortunate that Mike Brown is still hurling false statements about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina," she said. "The only consideration made by the administration at the time of this tragedy and since are those in the best interests of the citizens of the Gulf region."
Calls made late Friday seeking comment from the federal Department of Homeland Security were not immediately returned. A spokesman for Barbour, Pete Smith, had no immediate comment.
The question of federal control became a source of contention after Katrina. Bush asked to put military relief efforts in Louisiana under federal oversight, but Louisiana officials rejected that idea, keeping state control over National Guard troops. They worked together with federal forces.
Friday, January 19, 2007
At a Pentagon briefing, Dan Dell’Orto, deputy to the Defense Department’s top counsel, said the new rules will “afford all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people.” Dell’Orto’s view is not shared throughout the Pentagon’s counsels office. Col. Dwight H. Sullivan, the Chief Defense Counsel in the Office of Military Commissions, issued a statement yesterday criticizing the new rules:
The rules appear carefully crafted to ensure than an accused can be convicted — and possibly executed — based on nothing but a coerced confession. The rules would allow an accused to be executed based on nothing but hearsay.
The rules’ broad protections for classified information threaten to swallow everything. These rules are particularly scary coming in the wake of new Guantánamo classification guidelines that make even the prisoners’ own name classified as ‘SECRET.’
The rules violate the principle that the jury shouldn’t be allowed to see anything that the defendant can’t see. Witnesses can be shielded so that the defendant can’t see them, but the jury can.
Read Sullivan’s full statement here.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
A reader transcribed this exchange concerning habeas corpus from today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (no official transcript yet):
Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?
Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
Alberto Gonzales should not only be impeached for his willfully obtuse interpretations of the Constitution, he should be disbarred.
Bill Moyers: "Big Media is Ravenous. It Never Gets Enough. Always Wants More. And it Will Stop at Nothing to Get It. These Conglomerates are an Empire
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ONCE SAID, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner."
"Liberty," he said, "is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."
My fellow lambs -- it's good to be in Memphis and find you well-armed with passion for democracy, readiness for action, and courage for the next round in the fight for a free and independent press in America. I salute the conviction that brought you here. I cherish the spirit that fills this hall, and the camaraderie that we share here.
All too often, the greatest obstacle to reform is the reform movement itself. Factions rise, fences are erected, jealousies mount, and the cause all of us believe in is lost in the shattered fragments of what once was a clear and compelling vision.
Reformers, in fact, often remind me of Baptists. I speak as a Baptist. I know whereof I speak. One of my favorite stories is of the fellow who was about to jump off a bridge, when another fellow ran up to him crying, "Stop, stop, don't do it."
The man on the bridge looks down and asks, "Why not?"
"Well, there's much to live for."
"Well, your faith. Your religion."
"Are you religious?"
"Me, too. Christian or Buddhist?"
"Me, too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Me, too. Methodist, Baptist or Presbyterian?"
"Me, too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Savior?"
"Baptist Church of God."
"Me, too. Are you Original Baptist Church of God or Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me, too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1879, or Reform Baptist Church of God Reformation of 1917?"
Whereupon, the second fellow turned red in the face and yelled, "Die, you heretic scum," and pushed him off the bridge.
DOESN'T THAT SOUND LIKE A REFORM MOVEMENT? But by avoiding contentious factionalism, you have created a strong movement. And I will confess to you that I was skeptical when Bob McChesney and John Nichols first raised with me the issue of media consolidation a few years ago. I was sympathetic but skeptical. The challenge of actually doing something about this issue beyond simply bemoaning its impact on democracy was daunting. How could we hope to come up with an effective response to any measurable force? It seemed inexorable, because all over the previous decades, a series of mega-media mergers have swept the country, each deal bigger than the last. The lobby representing the broadcast, cable, and newspapers industries was extremely powerful, with an iron grip on lawmakers and regulators alike.
Both parties bowed to their will when the Republican Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That monstrous assault on democracy, with malignant consequences for journalism, was nothing but a welfare giveaway to the largest, richest, and most powerful media conglomerations in the world. Goliaths, whose handful of owners controlled, commodified, and monetized everyone and everything in sight. Call it "the plantation mentality."
That's what struck me as I flew into Memphis for this gathering. Even in 1968, the civil rights movement was still battling the plantation mentality, based on race, gender and power, which permeated Southern culture long before, and even after, the groundbreaking legislation of the 1960s.
When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis to join the strike of garbage workers in 1968, the cry from every striker's heart -- "I am a man" -- voiced the long-suppressed outrage of people whose rights were still being trampled by an ownership class that had arranged the world for its own benefit. The plantation mentality is a phenomenon deeply insinuated in the American experience early on, and it has permeated and corrupted our course as a nation.
The journalist of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, envisioned the new republic as a community of occupations, prospering by the aid with which each receives from the other and from the whole. But that vision was repeatedly betrayed, so that less than a century after Thomas Paine's death, Theodore Roosevelt, bolting a Republican Party whose bosses had stolen the nomination from him, declared: "It is not to be wondered at, that our opponents have been very bitter, for the line-up in this crisis is one that cuts deep to the foundations of democracy."
"Our democracy," he said, "is now put to a vital test, for the conflict is between human rights on the one side, and on the other, special privilege asserted as property rights. The parting of the ways has come."
Today, a hundred years after Teddy Roosevelt's death, those words ring just as true. America is socially divided and politically benighted. Inequality and poverty grow steadily along with risk and debt. Too many working families cannot make ends meet with two people working, let alone if one stays home to care for children or aging parents. Young people without privilege and wealth struggle to get a footing. Seniors enjoy less security for a lifetime's work. We are racially segregated today in every meaningful sense, except for the letter of the law. And the survivors of segregation and immigration toil for pennies on the dollar, compared to those they serve.
None of this is accidental. Nobel laureate economist Robert Solow, not known for extreme political statements, characterizes what is happening as "nothing less than elite plunder" -- the redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy, and the power in favor of the powerful. In fact, nearly all the wealth America created over the past 25 years has been captured by the top 20 percent of households, and most of the gains went to the wealthiest. The top 1 percent of households captured more than 50 percent of all the gains in financial wealth, and these households now hold more than twice the share their predecessors held on the eve of the American Revolution.
The anti-Federalist warning that government naturally works to fortify the conspiracies of the rich proved prophetic. It's the truth today, and America confronts a choice between two fundamentally different economic visions. As Norman Garfinkel writes in his marvelous new book, The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth, the historic vision of the American dream is that continuing economic growth and political stability can be achieved by supporting income growth and economic security of middle-class families, without restricting the ability of successful business men to gain wealth.
The counter-belief is that providing maximum financial rewards to the most successful is the way to maintain high economic growth. The choice cannot be avoided. What kind of economy do we seek, and what kind of nation do we wish to be? Do we want to be a country in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, or do we want a country committed to an economy that provides for the common good, offers upward mobility, supports a middle-class standard of living, and provides generous opportunities for all?
"When the richest nation in the world has to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to pay its bill," Garfinkel says in his book, "when its middle class citizens sit on a mountain of debt to maintain their living standards, when the nation's economy has difficulty producing secure jobs, or enough jobs of any kind, something is amiss."
You bet something is amiss, and it goes to the core of why we are here in Memphis. For this conference is about a force, the media, that cuts deep to the foundation of democracy. When Teddy Roosevelt dissected what he called "the real masters of the reactionary forces" in his time, he concluded that, indirectly or directly, "they control the majority of the great newspapers that are against us." Those newspapers, the dominant media of the day, choked "the channels of the information ordinary people needed to understand what was being done to them."
And today, two basic pillars of American society, shared economic prosperity and a public sector capable of serving the common good, are crumbling. The third pillar of American democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack, and the channels of information are choked. A few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape in America. Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media common conglomerates. Two-thirds of today's newspapers are monopolies.
As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace; and those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are undergoing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content and to shift their focus in a mainstream direction, which means being more attentive to establishment views than to the bleak realities of powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people.
What does today's media system mean for the notion of an informed public cherished by democratic theory? Quite literally, it means that virtually everything the average person sees or hears, outside of her own personal communications, is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the share prices. More insidiously, this small group of elites determines what ordinary people do not see or hear. In-depth coverage of anything, let alone the problems real people face day-to-day, is as scarce as sex, violence and voyeurism are pervasive.
Successful business model or not, by democratic standards this is censorship of knowledge by monopolization of the means of information. In its current form, which Barry Diller happily describes as "oligopoly," media growth has one clear consequence. There is more information and easier access to it, but it's more narrow and homogenous in content and perspective. What we see from the couch is overwhelmingly a view from the top. The pioneering communications scholar Murray Edelman wrote that opinions about public policy do not spring immaculately or automatically into people's minds. They are always placed there by the interpretations of those who most consistently get their claims and manufactured cues publicized widely.
For years, the media marketplace for opinions about public policy has been dominated by a highly disciplined, thoroughly networked, ideological "noise machine," to use David Brock’s term. Permeated with slogans concocted by big corporations, their lobbyists, and their think tank subsidiaries, public discourse has effectively changed the meaning of American values. Day after day, the ideals of fairness and liberty and mutual responsibility have been stripped of their essential dignity and meaning in people's lives. Day after day, the egalitarian creed of our Declaration of Independence is trampled underfoot by hired experts and sloganeers, who speak of the "death tax," "the ownership society," "the culture of life," "the liberal assault on God and family," "compassionate conservatism," "weak on terrorism," "the end of history," "the clash of civilizations," "no child left behind." They have even managed to turn the escalation of a failed war into a "surge," as if it were a current of electricity through a wire, instead of blood spurting from the ruptured vein of a soldier.
The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power, is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies and lies to truth. So it is that limited government has little to do with the Constitution or local economy anymore. Now it means corporate domination and the shifting of risk from government and business to struggling families and workers. Family values now mean imposing a sectarian definition of the family on everyone else. Religious freedom now means majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. And patriotism has come to mean blind support for failed leaders.
It's what happens when an interlocking media system filters through commercial values or ideology, the information and moral viewpoints people consume in their daily lives. And by no stretch of the imagination can we say today that the dominant institutions of our media are guardians of democracy.
Despite the profusion of new information platforms on cable, on the Internet, on radio, blogs, podcasts, YouTube and MySpace, among others, the resources for solid, original journalistic work, both investigative and interpretative, are contracting, rather than expanding.
I'M OLD-FASHIONED. I’m a fogey at this, I guess, a hangover from my days as a cub reporter and a newspaper publisher. But I agree with Michael Schudson, one of the leading scholars of communication in America, who writes in the current Columbia Journalism Review that while all media matter, some matter more than others. And for the sake of democracy, print still counts most -- especially print that devotes resources to gathering news.
Network TV matters, he said. Cable TV matters, he said. But when it comes to original investigation and reporting, newspapers are overwhelmingly the most important media. But newspapers are purposely dumbing-down, "driven down," says Schudson, by Wall Street, whose collective devotion to an informed citizenry is nil and seems determined to eviscerate those papers.
Worrying about the loss of real news is not a romantic cliché of journalism. It’s been verified by history. From the days of royal absolutism to the present, the control of information and knowledge had been the first line of defense for failed regimes facing democratic unrest. The suppression of parliamentary dissent during Charles I's 11 years of tyranny in England rested largely on government censorship, operating through strict licensing laws for the publication of books.
The Federalist's infamous Sedition Act of 1798 in this country, likewise, sought to quell republican insurgency by making it a crime to publish false, scandalous and malicious writing about the government or its officials. In those days, our governing bodies tried to squelch journalistic information with the blunt instruments of the law: padlocks for the presses and jail cells for outspoken editors and writers. Over time, with spectacular wartime exceptions, the courts and the Constitution have struck those weapons out of their hand.
But now they have found new methods in the name of national security and even broader claims of executive privilege. The number of documents stamped "Top Secret," "Secret," or "Confidential" has accelerated dramatically since 2001, including many formerly accessible documents that are now reclassified as "Secret." Vice President Cheney's office refuses to disclose, in fact, what it is classifying. Even their secrecy is being kept a secret.
Beyond what is officially labeled "Secret" or "privileged" information, there hovers on the plantation a culture of selective official news implementation, working through favored media insiders to advance political agendas by leak and innuendo and spin, by outright propaganda mechanisms, such as the misnamed public information offices that churn out blizzards of factually selective releases on a daily basis, and even by directly paying pundits and journalists to write on subjects of mutual interest.
They needn’t have wasted the money. As we saw in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the plantation mentality that governs Washington turned the press corps into sitting ducks for the war party, for government, and neoconservative propaganda and manipulation. There were notable exceptions -- Knight Ridder's bureau, for example -- but on the whole, all high-ranking officials had to do was say it, and the press repeated it until it became gospel. The height of myopia came with the admission (or was it bragging?) by one of the Beltway's most prominent anchors that his responsibility is to provide officials a forum to be heard, what they say more newsworthy than what they do.
The watchdog group FAIR found that during the three weeks leading up to the invasion, only 3 percent of U.S. sources on the evening news of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox and PBS expressed skeptical opinions of the impending war, even though a quarter of the American people were against it. Not surprisingly, two years after 9/11, almost 70 percent of the public still thought it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the terrorist attacks of that day.
One Indiana schoolteacher told the Washington Post: "From what we've heard from the media, it seems what they feel is that Saddam and the whole Al-Qaeda thing are connected." Much to the advantage of the Bush administration, a large majority of the public shared this erroneous view during the build-up to the war, a propaganda feat that Saddam himself would have envied. It is absolutely stunning, frightening how the major media organizations were willing, even solicitous, hand puppets of a state propaganda campaign, cheered on by the partisan, ideological press to go to war.
But there are many other ways the plantation mentality keeps the American people from confronting reality. Take the staggering growth of money in politics. Compared to the magnitude of the problem, what the average person knows about how money determines policy is negligible. In fact, in the abstract, the polls tell us, most people generally assume that money controls our political system. But people will rarely act on something they understand only in the abstract. It took a constant stream of images -- water hoses, and dogs and churches ablaze -- for the public at large finally to understand what was happening to black people in the South. It took repeated scenes of destruction in Vietnam before the majority of Americans saw how we were destroying the country in order to save it. And it took repeated crime-scene images to maintain public support for many policing and sentencing policies.
Likewise, people have to see how money and politics actually work and concretely grasp the consequences for their pocketbooks and their lives before they will act. But while media organizations supply a lot of news and commentary, they tell us almost nothing about who really wags the system and how. When I watch one of those faux debates on a Washington public affairs show, with one politician saying, "This is a bad bill," and the other politician saying, "This is a good bill," I yearn to see the smiling, nodding, Beltway anchor suddenly interrupt and insist, "Good bill or bad bill, this is a bought bill. Now, let's cut to the chase. Whose financial interests are you advancing with this bill?"
Then there's the social cost of free trade. For over a decade, free trade has hovered over the political system like a biblical commandment striking down anything -- trade unions, the environment, indigenous rights, even the constitutional standing of our own laws passed by our elected representatives -- that gets in the way of unbridled greed. The broader negative consequences of this agenda, increasingly well-documented by scholars, get virtually no attention in the dominant media. Instead of reality, we get optimistic, multicultural scenarios of coordinated global growth. And instead of substantive debate, we get a stark formulated choice between free trade to help the world and gloomy-sounding protectionism that will set everyone back.
The degree to which this has become a purely ideological debate, devoid of any factual basis that people can weigh the gains and losses is reflected in Thomas Friedman's astonishing claim, stated not long ago in a television interview, that he endorsed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) without even reading it. That is simply because it stood for "free trade." We have reached the stage when the Poo-Bahs of punditry have only to declare that "the world is flat," for everyone to agree it is, without going to the edge and looking over themselves.
I think what's happened is not indifference or laziness or incompetence, but the fact that most journalists on the plantation have so internalized conventional wisdom that they simply accept that the system is working as it should. I'm doing a documentary this spring called "Buying the War," and I can't tell you again how many reporters have told me that it just never occurred to them that high officials would manipulate intelligence in order to go to war. Hello?
Similarly, the question of whether or not our economic system is truly just is off the table for investigation and discussion, so that alternative ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never get a hearing. And these are but a few of the realities that are obscured. What about this growing inequality? What about the re-segregation of our public schools? What about the devastating onward march of environmental deregulation? All of these are examples of what happens when independent sources of knowledge and analysis are so few and far between on the plantation.
So if we need to know what is happening, and Big Media won't tell us; if we need to know why it matters, and Big Media won't tell us; if we need to know what to do about it, and Big Media won't tell us, it's clear what we have to do. We have to tell the story ourselves.
And this is what the plantation owners feared most of all. Over all those decades here in the South, when they used human beings as chattel, and quoted scripture to justify it, property rights over human rights was God's way, they secretly lived in fear that one day -- instead of saying, "Yes, Massa" -- those gaunt, weary, sweat-soaked field hands, bending low over the cotton under the burning sun, would suddenly stand up straight, look around, see their sweltering and stooping kin and say, "This ain't the product of intelligent design. The boss man in the big house has been lying to me. Something is wrong with this system."
This is the moment freedom begins, the moment you realize someone else has been writing your story, and it's time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself.
When the garbage workers struck here in 1968, and the walls of these buildings echoed with the cry, "I am a man," they were writing this story. Martin Luther King came here to help them tell it, only to be shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. The bullet killed him, but it couldn't kill the story, because once the people start telling their story, you can't kill it anymore.
SO I'M BACK WHERE I STARTED WITH YOU, AND WHERE THIS MOVEMENT IS HEADED. The greatest challenge to the plantation mentality of the media giants is the innovation and expression made possible by the digital revolution. I may still prefer the newspaper for its investigative journalism and in-depth analysis, but we now have it in our means to tell a different story from Big Media, our story.
The other story of America that says, free speech is not just corporate speech. That news is not just what officials tell us. And we are not just chattel in the fields living the boss man's story. This is the great gift of the digital revolution, and you must never, never let them take it away from you. The Internet, cell phones and digital cameras that can transmit images over the Internet makes possible a nation of story tellers, every citizen a Tom Paine.
Let the man in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue think that over, and the woman of the House on Capitol Hill. And the media moguls in their chalets at Sun Valley, gathered to review the plantation’s assets and multiply them, nail it to their door. They no longer own the copyright to America's story. It's not a top-down story anymore. Other folks are going to write this story from the ground up. And the truth will be out that the media plantation, like the cotton plantation of old, is not divinely sanctioned. It's not the product of natural forces. The media system we have been living under for a long time now was created behind closed doors where the power-brokers met to divvy up the spoils.
Bob McChesney has eloquently reminded us through the years how each medium -- radio, television and cable -- was hailed as a technology that would give us greater diversity of voices, serious news, local programs, and lots of public service for the community. In each case, the advertisers took over.
Despite what I teasingly told you the last time we were together in St. Louis, the star that shines so brightly in the firmament the year I was born, 1934, did not, I regret to say, appear over that little house in Hugo, Oklahoma. It appeared over Washington when Congress enacted the 1934 Communications Act. One hundred times in that cornerstone of our communications policy, you will read the phrase "public interests, convenience, and necessity."
I can tell you reading about those days that educators, union officials, religious leaders and parents were galvanized by the promise of radio as a classroom for the air, serving the life of the country and the life of the mind – until the government cut a deal with the industry to make sure nothing would threaten the already vested interests of powerful radio networks and the advertising industry. And soon, the public largely forgot about radio's promise, as we accepted the entertainment produced and controlled by Jell-O, Maxwell House and Camel cigarettes.
What happened to radio, happened to television, and then it happened to cable; and, if we are not diligent, it will happen to the Internet. Powerful forces are at work now, determined to create our media future for the benefit of the plantation: investors, advertisers, owners and the parasites that depend on their indulgence, including many in the governing class.
Old media acquire new media and vice versa. Rupert Murdoch, forever savvy about the next key outlet that will attract eyeballs, purchased MySpace, spending nearly $600 million, so he could, in the language of Wall Street, monetize those eyeballs. Google became a partner in Time Warner, investing $1 billion in its AOL online service. And now Google has bought YouTube, so it would have a better vehicle for delivering interactive ads for Madison Avenue. Viacom, Microsoft, large ad agencies, and others have been buying up key media properties, many of them the leading online sites, with a result that will be a thoroughly commercialized environment, a media plantation for the 21st century, dominated by the same corporate and ideological forces that have produced the system we have lived under the last 50 years.
So what do we do? Well, you've shown us what we have to do. And twice now, you have shown us what we can do. Four years ago, when FCC Commissioner Michael Powell and his ideological sidekicks decided it was ok for a single corporation to own a community's major newspapers, three of its TV stations, eight radio stations, its cable TV system, and its major broadband Internet provider, you said, enough's enough!
Free Press, Common Cause, Consumer's Union, Media Access Project, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and others working closely with commissioners Adelstein and Copps, two of the most public, spirited members of that commission ever to sit there, organized public hearings across the country where people spoke deeply felt opinions about how poorly the media were serving their towns. You flooded Congress with petitions, and you never let up. And when the court said Powell had to back off, the decision cited the importance of involving the public in these media decisions.
Incidentally, Powell not only backed off, he backed out. He left the commission to become senior adviser at a private investment firm specializing in equity investments in media companies around the world. And that firm, by the way, made a bid to take over both Tribune and Clear Channel, two media companies that just a short time ago were under the corporate-friendly purview of -- you guessed it -- Michael Powell. That whooshing sound you hear is Washington's perpetually revolving door through which they come to serve the public and through which they leave to join the plantation.
You made a difference. You showed that the public cares about media and democracy. You turned a little publicized vote -- little publicized because Big Media didn't want the people to know -- a little publicized and seemingly arcane regulation into a big political fight and a public debate.
Now it's true, as commissioner Copps has reminded us, that since that battle three years ago, there have been more than 3, 300 TV and radio TV stations that have had their assignment and transfer grants approved, so that even under the old rules, consolidation grows, localism suffers, and diversity dwindles. It's also true that even as we speak, Michael Powell's successor, Kevin Martin, put there by George W. Bush, is ready to take up where Powell left off and give the green light to more conglomeration. Get ready to fight.
But then you did it again more recently. You lit a fire under the people to put Washington on notice that it had to guarantee the Internet's First Amendment protection in the $85 billion merger of AT&T and BellSouth. Because of you, the so-called Net Neutrality, I much prefer to call it the "equal-access provision of the Internet" -- neutrality makes me think of Switzerland -- the equal-access provision became a public issue that once again reminded the powers-that-be that people want the media to foster democracy, not to quench it.
This is crucial. This is crucial, because in a few years, virtually all media will be delivered by high-speed broadband. And without equality of access, the Net can become just like cable television where the provider decides what you see and what you pay. After all, the Bush Department of Justice had blessed the deal last October without a single condition or statement of concern. But they hadn't reckoned with Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, and they hadn't reckoned with this movement. Free Press and SavetheInternet.com orchestrated 800 organizations, a million and a half petitions, countless local events, legions of homemade videos, smart collaboration with allies and industry, and a top shelf communications campaign. Who would have imagined that sitting together in the same democratic broadband pew would be the Christian Coalition, Gun Owners of America, Common Cause, and Moveon.org? Who would have imagined that these would link arms with some of the powerful new media companies to fight for the Internet's First Amendment?
We owe a tip of the hat, of course, to Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell. Despite what must have been a great deal of pressure from his side, he did the honorable thing and recused himself from the proceedings because of a conflict of interest. He might well have heard the roar of the public that you helped to create. So AT&T had to cry "uncle" to Copps and Adelstein, with a "voluntary commitment to honor equal access for at least two years." The agreement marks the first time that the federal government has imposed true neutrality -- oops, equality – on an Internet access provider since the debate erupted almost two years ago.
I believe you changed the terms of the debate. It is no longer about whether equality of access will govern the future of the Internet. It's about when and how. It also signals a change from defense to offense for the backers of an open net. Arguably the biggest, most effective online organizing campaign ever conducted on a media issue can now turn to passing good laws, rather than always having to fight to block bad ones. Just this week, Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat, and Sen. Olympia Snow, a Republican, introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2007 to require fair and equitable access to all content. And over in the House, that champion of the public interest, Rep. Ed Markey, is once again standing there waiting to press the battle.
A caveat here. Those other folks don't give up so easy. Remember, this agreement is only for two years, and they will be back with all the lobbyists money can hire. As the Washington Post follows George Bush into the black hole of Baghdad, the press in Washington won't be covering many stories like this because of priorities.
A further caveat. Consider what AT&T got in the bargain. For giving up on Net Neutrality, it got the green light from government to dominate over 67 million phone lines in 22 states, almost 12 million broadband users, and total control over Cingular Wireless, the country's largest mobile phone company with 58 million cell phone users. It's as if China swallowed India.
I bring this up for a reason. Big Media is ravenous. It never gets enough, always wants more. And it will stop at nothing to get it. These conglomerates are an empire, and they are imperial.
Last week on his Web site, MediaChannel.org, Danny Schechter recalled how some years ago he marched with a band of media activists to the headquarters of all the big media companies concentrated in the Times Square area. Their formidable buildings strutted with logos and limos, and guarded by rent-a-cops, projected their power and prestige. Danny and his cohorts chanted and held up signs calling for honest news and an end to exploited programming. They called for diversity and access for more perspectives. "It felt good," Danny said, "but it seemed like a fool's errand. We were ignored, patronized and marginalized. We couldn't shake their edifices or influence their holy business models. We seemed to many like that lonely and forlorn nut in a New Yorker cartoon carrying an ‘End of the World is Near’ placard."
Well, yes, my friends, that is exactly how they want you to feel. As if media and democracy is a fool's errand. To his credit, Danny didn't give up. He’s never given up. Neither have the early pioneers of this movement: Andy Schwartzman, Don Hazen, Jeff Chester. I confess that I came very close not to making this speech today, in favor of just getting up here and reading from this book, Digital Destiny, by my friend and co-conspirator, Jeff Chester. Take my word for it. Make this your bible, until McChesney's new book comes out. As Don Hazen writes in his review in AlterNet this week, it's a terrific book, "a respectful loving, fresh, intimate comprehensive history of the struggles for a 'democratic' media -- the lost fights, the opportunities missed, and the small victories that have kept the corporate media system from having complete carte blanche over the communication channels."
It's also a terrifying book, because Jeff describes how we are being shadowed online by a slew of software digital gumshoes working for Madison Avenue. Our movements in cyberspace are closely tracked and analyzed, and interactive advertising infiltrates our consciousness to promote the brand-washing of America. Jeff asks the hard questions: Do we really want television sets that monitor what we watch? Or an Internet that knows what sites we visit and reports back to advertising companies? Do we really want a media system designed mainly for Madison Avenue?
But this is a hopeful book. "After scaring the bejeezus out of us," as one reviewer wrote, Jeff offers a policy agenda for the broadband era. Here is a man who practices what the Italian philosopher Gramsci called the "pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will." He sees the world as it is, without rose-colored glasses and tries to change it, despite what he knows.
So you'll find here the core of the movement's mission. You'll agree with much and disagree with some. But that's what a reform movement is about. Media reform -- yes. But the Project in Excellence concluded in its "State of the Media Report" for 2006, "At many old media companies, though not in all, the decades-long battle at the top between idealists and accountants is now over. The idealists have lost." The commercial networks are lost, too, lost to silliness, farce, cowardice and ideology. Not much hope there. You can't raise the dead.
Policy reform, yes. But, says Jeff, we will likely see more consolidation of ownership with newspapers, TV stations, and major online properties in fewer hands. So, he says, we have to find other ways to ensure the public has access to diverse, independent, and credible sources of information.
That means going to the market to find support for stronger independent media. Michael Moore and others have proven that progressivism doesn't have to equal penury. It means helping protect news-gathering from predatory forces. It means fighting for more participatory media, hospitable to a full range of expression. It means building on Lawrence Lessig’s notion of the "creative commons" and Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archives, with his philosophy of universal access to all knowledge.
It means bringing broadband service to those many millions of Americans too poor to participate so far in the digital revolution. It means ownership and participation for people of color and women. And let me tell you, it means reclaiming public broadcasting and restoring it to its original feisty, robust, fearless mission as an alternative to the dominant media, offering journalism you can afford and can trust, public affairs of which you are a part, and a wide range of civic and cultural discourse that leaves no one out.
You can have an impact here. For one thing, we need to remind people that the federal commitment to public broadcasting in this country is about $1.50 per capita, compared to $28 to $85 per capita in other democracies.
BUT THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE I WANT YOU TO THINK ABOUT. Something else you can do. And I'm going to let you in here on one of my fantasies. Keep it to yourself, if you will, because fantasies are private matters, and mine involves Amy Goodman. But I'll just ask C-SPAN to bleep this out. Oh, shucks, what’s the use. Here it is. In moments of revelry, I imagine all of you returning home to organize a campaign to persuade your local public television station to start airing Democracy Now!
I can't think of a single act more likely to remind people of what public broadcasting should be, or that this media reform conference really means business. We've got to get alternative content out there to people, or this country is going to die of too many lies. And the opening rundown of news on Amy's daily show is like nothing else on any television, corporate or public. It's as if you opened the window in the morning and a fresh breeze rolls over you from the ocean. Amy doesn't practice trickle-down journalism. She goes where the silence is, and she breaks the sound barrier. She doesn't buy the Washington protocol that says the truth lies somewhere in the spectrum of opinion between the Democrats and the Republicans.
On Democracy Now! the truth lies where the facts are hidden, and Amy digs for them. And above all, she believes the media should be a sanctuary for dissent, the Underground Railroad tunneling beneath the plantation. So go home and think about it. After all, you are the public in public broadcasting and not just during pledge breaks. You live there, and you can get the boss man at the big house to pay attention.
Meanwhile, be vigilant about the congressional rewrite of the Telecommunications Act that is beginning as we speak. Track it day by day and post what you learn far and wide, because the decisions made in this session of Congress will affect the future of all media, corporate and noncommercial. If we lose the future now, we'll never get it back.
So you have your work cut out for you. I'm glad you're all younger than me and up to it. I'm glad so many funders are here, because while an army may move on its stomach, this movement requires hard, cold cash to compete with big media in getting the attention of Congress and the people.
I'll try to do my part. Last time we were together, I said to you that I should put my detractors on notice. They might just compel me out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair. Well, in April, I will be back with a new weekly series called Bill Moyer’s Journal, thanks to some of the funders in this room. We'll take no money from public broadcasting because it compromises you even when you don't intend it to -- or they don't intend it to. I hope to complement the fine work of colleagues like David Brancaccio of NOW and David Fanning of Frontline, who also go for the truth behind the news.
But I don't want to tease you. I'm not coming back because of detractors. I wouldn't torture them that way. I'll leave that to Dick Cheney. I'm coming back, because it's what I do best. Because I believe television can still signify, and I don't want you to feel so alone. I'll keep an eye on your work. You are to America what the abolition movement was, and the suffragette movement, and the civil rights movement. You touch the soul of democracy. It's not assured you will succeed in this fight. The armies of the Lord are up against mighty hosts. But as the spiritual sojourner Thomas Merton wrote to an activist grown weary and discouraged protesting the Vietnam War, "Do not depend on the hope of results. Concentrate on the value and the truth of the work itself."
And in case you do get lonely, I'll leave you with this. As my plane was circling Memphis the other day, I looked out across those vast miles of fertile soil that once were plantations, watered by the Mississippi River, and the sweat from the brow of countless men and women who had been forced to live somebody else's story. I thought about how in time, with a lot of martyrs, they rose up, one here, then two, then many, forging a great movement that awakened America's conscience and brought us closer to the elusive but beautiful promise of the Declaration of Independence. As we made our last approach, the words of a Marge Piercy poem began to form in my head, and I remembered all over again why I was coming and why you were here:
What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fundraising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.
The Justice Department has decided to let the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- the traditional, and legal, monitor of government wiretap programs -- start examining the spy efforts. Before, the Bush Administration said no such review was needed -- a legal reading that even former NSA chiefs said was wildly off-base.
The court has already "approved one request for monitoring the communications of a person believed to be linked to al-Qaida or an associated terror group," the AP says.
It's a huge (and welcome) turnaround for an administration that said previously that the president had the power to order almost anything in the name of fighting terror. (And "still believes that," according to flack-in-chief Tony Snow.) So why the change? Snow mumbled something about the court's increased "agility." But you can bet your ass the new Congress had a whole lot to do with it.
UPDATE 3:28 PM: Shocker. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in his letter describing the rule change, appears to be
lying through his teeth shading the truth, saying that the administration has been trying to put the wiretaps under the court's authority since the spring of 2005. If that's the case, Glenn Greenwald asks, "why didn't they say so when the controversy arose?"
UPDATE 3:35 PM: Patrick Keefe, author of Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping, is taking a wait-and-see approach to Gonzales's announcement. "It's just not clear what it means," he tells Defense Tech.
There have already been proposals for the FISA court to grant blanket retroactive approval to the program, and if that's what this is, then it's not much of a concession from the administration. If, on the other hand, it's actually case-by-case approval by FISA judges we're talking about, I'm not sure how that's going to square with the reported scope of the program. The ostensible grounds for circumventing the FISA in the first place were that this program didn't fit in the FISA framework. And given that it reportedly does a kind of mile-wide-and-inch-deep network analysis that is antithetical to the personalized, legally sanctioned surveillance contemplated by the FISA, I'm not sure how you can make the two procedures fit. Unless what they're really saying here is that they're abandoning the program altogether, and returning to one-target-at-a-time, retail-rather-than-wholesale surveillance. Which somehow I doubt.
UPDATE 3:35 PM: "It sounds to me like this court just re-wrote the law and made a second category of wiretaps (one that is easier to get but only targeted at overseas communications)," writes Ryan Singel.
He also notes that Gonzales's announcement comes just a day before he is supposed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Pretty sneaky, sis," Ryan says.
UPDATE 4:51 PM: "Another question raised by Gonzales’ letter — indeed, in the first sentence — is which FISC judge issued this order?" surveillance scoopmaster Shane Harris tells Defense Tech.
The letter states that “a judge” issued the order. Does Gonzales mean the court’s presiding (or chief) judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly? Presumably he would have said so if that were the case. Kottelly has been briefed on the NSA program previously. She reportedly has been concerned that information obtained without warrants under the NSA program could taint other warrant applications before the court.
The FISC is made up of 11 sitting federal judges hailing from judicial districts across the country. Did the administration select a particular judge to approach for this order? Here’s the breakdown on how many judges were appointed by a particular president:
Jimmy Carter: 1
Ronald Reagan: 4
George H.W. Bush: 3
Bill Clinton: 2
George W. Bush: 1
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Happy MLK's birthday to you too.
He also says the civil rights movement is "irrational." The man is on the advisory board of the lead "ex-gay" group, NARTH (the "ex-gays" are the gay-hating religious right activists who claim that you can pray-away-the-gay, or in the case of NARTH, that lots of gays are gay because they were abused as children or some other such nonsense). Well, it seems that they have a racism problem and they're not doing very much about it. The Southern Poverty Law Center - the organization that monitors the movements of hate groups - is now weighing in, and they're not happy. From SPLC:
A prominent member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) is under fire for publishing an essay in which he argues that Africans were fortunate to have been sold into slavery, and that the civil rights movement was "irrational."NARTH's response? They took the document down from their Web site, and then issued a lame non-apology apology:
"There is another way, or other ways, to look at the race issue in America," writes Gerald Schoenewolf, a member of NARTH's Science Advisory Committee. "Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle.... Life there was savage... and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off."....
Titled Gay Rights and Political Correctness: A Brief History (PDF) Schoenewolf's angry polemic was published on NARTH's webpage. In addition to his outrageous historical claims about the conditions of life in Africa, he writes that human rights proponents are intellectually stunted.
[O]n Oct. 6, NARTH posted this statement to its website: "NARTH regrets the comments made by Dr. Schoenewolf about slavery which have been misconstrued by some of our readers.Misconstrued? Oh, and NARTH is keeping Mr. Slavery-Can-Be-Fun on their board of advisers. No misconstruing that message.
To truly appreciate who the "ex-gays" are and who they're connected to:
The movement's leaders and their close allies at Christian Right powerhouses like James Dobson's Focus on the Family have failed to condemn Schoenewolf's inflammatory arguments.Dobson, he'd be the guy that John McCain is looking to make amends with. I wonder what John McCain thinks of the advantages of slavery? (I'm sure some of his best friends are slaves.)
(Hat tip, Talk To Action.)
This is solely my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of Talk Left and its contributors.
When Alberto Gonzales was nominated to become Attorney General of the United States, I, and thousands of others, opposed his confirmation:
As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Conventions, and the United States Constitution itself. . . . In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint." . . .
Now, Attorney General Gonzales has the audacity to state that the Judiciary should not enforce the Constitution and the laws of the land when the President chooses to ignore his responsibility to faithfully execute the laws and the Constitution of the United States:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases. In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.”
I think the Attorney General could not be clearer. He advocates the vitiation of the Constitution by the judiciary when the President so desires. He is unfit for the office of Attorney General. He should be removed from office. More.
In his confirmation hearings, Gonzales was questioned on his view of Presidential Commander in Chief power:
SEN. DURBIN: But you believe he has that authority; he could ignore a law passed by this Congress, signed by this president or another one, and decide that it is unconstitutional and refuse to comply with that law?
MR. GONZALES: Senator, again, you're asking me where the -- hypothetically, does that authority exist? And I guess I would have to say that hypothetically that authority may exist. But let me also just say that we certainly understand and recognize the role of the courts in our system of government. We have to deal with some very difficult issues here, very, very complicated. Sometimes the answers are not so clear. The president's position on this is that ultimately the judges, the courts will make the decision as to whether or not we've drawn the right balance here. And in certain circumstance the courts have agreed with the administration positions; in certain circumstances, the courts have disagreed. And we will respect those decisions.
SEN. DURBIN: Fifty-two years ago, a president named Harry Truman decided to test that premise -- Youngstown Sheet and Tube versus the Supreme Court -- or in the Supreme Court -- versus Sawyer in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, as you know, "President Truman, you're wrong. You don't have the authority to decide what's constitutional, what laws you like and don't like." I'm troubled that you would think, as our incoming attorney general, that a president can pick or choose the laws that he thinks are unconstitutional and ultimately wait for that test in court to decide whether or not he's going to comply with the law.MR. GONZALES: Senator, you asked me whether or not it was theoretically possible that the Congress could pass a law that we would view as unconstitutional. My response was -- is that obviously we would take that very, very seriously, look at that very carefully. But I suppose it is theoretically possible that that would happen. Let me just add one final point. We in the executive branch, of course, understand that there are limits upon presidential power; very, very mindful of Justice O'Connor's statement in the Hamdi decision that "a state of war is not a blank check for the president of the United States" with respect the rights of American citizens. I understand that, and I agree with that.
In his speech today, Attorney General Gonzales utterly repudiates the view he expressed under oath to the Senate. He now states that it is his view that a state of war is in fact a blank check for the President, that there are no limits to Presidential wartime power and that he no longer recognizes the role of the courts in our system of government regarding national security issues.
Alberto Gonzales should never have been confirmed as Attorney General. His conduct in office confirms our judgment at the time. His speech today makes clear that he must be removed from office. He will not respect the Constitution and the laws of the United States. These views are simply unacceptable in the Nation's chief law enforcement officer. He must go.
I learned of this last night when listening to Bernie Ward on KGO (you can hear the entire hour by clicking on 10 p.m., Bernie explains the situation at the beginning of his show), and well, while not surprised (I stopped listening to Harvey years ago as his commentary has increasingly become more winger like), words fail me after listening to exactly what Harvey was saying on MLK day.
First of all, Harvey is reading an email (click on Monday and go to about 6.16 to hear what he says) that has made the rounds, an email that is an "Urban Legend"and has been noted as such. Harvey compares the recent snow storm in Colorado to the Katrina disaster, falsely stating that the two are the same (they are not) and in addition claiming that no one in Colorado needed any outside help (another lie).
I am amazed that there has not been a larger outcry against what Harvey has said, and the inference that Harvey is making, which is basically that "white" people can handle disaster on their own, and "black" people are helpless and can't help themselves. And he did this on MLK day.
Further, Harvey has no concept of what a real disaster is if he thinks that a blizzard and the destruction of a hurricane are the same. How many people in Colorado lost their homes? Home many found that they had no home left after the disaster? And further Colorado DID request help from the Federal government, remember that the cattle ranchers need to have the GOVERNMENT help to get food to the cattle.
We have heard for the last few days how "insulting" it was for Boxer to make her statement to Rice about who is going to pay a price for the troop increase in Iraq. The far right has taken their magnification of a non story to a level that is absurd, and yet there is not one mention of what Harvey has said? What Harvey stated is far worse, it is racist, and it is wrong. Harvey needs to apologize to the people of this nation, he should not only acknowledge that he "read" an email without checking any fact, he should also apologize to those he has insulted and attacked.
Please email Harvey, and if your local ABC radio station carries Harvey, email them as well. In addition we should make sure to spread this story far and wide, we owe the people of New Orleans nothing less then taking action when someone like Harvey spreads lies and hate.
If the right can make an issue out of a non issue (Boxer/Rice) this story can certainly be raised to a level of attention that will focus the spotlight on those in our nation who use their "microphone" to further lies and hate.
I almost never ask, but if you could either recommend this diary or make sure to post this information in other diaries, on other blogs, or anyplace that you can, you will help to at least make Harvey apologize for his hate filled commentary.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in a scheduled address to the American Enterprise Institute (home of Frederick Kagan, author of the Iraq escalation "plan"), will tell America today that judges who oppose the Bush "administration" on matters of national security are morons, and ought to shut the hell up already.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases.
In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences."
If you're like me, you threw up a little in your mouth when you read that Gonzales criticizes those who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences." And you did so because you're already too well aware that this "administration" has, if it's done nothing else (and there's an argument to be made that it hasn't), has become the nation's leading producer of such stretched law. Imaginary "inherent powers" justify everything under the sun. The "state secrets" doctrine prevents anyone with questions from making even the most basic inquiries into policy. Signing statements claim the right to nullify legislation outright. Not to mention Pentagon-sponsored intimidation of attorneys who represent Guantanamo detainees.
Gonzales goes on in his prepared remarks to outline the qualities he claims the "administration" looks for in a judicial nominee:
We want to determine whether he understands the inherent limits that make an unelected judiciary inferior to Congress or the president in making policy judgments. ...That, for example, a judge will never be in the best position to know what is in the national security interests of our country.
Just for the record, though, let's also note that Gonzales doesn't think anybody is in as good a position to know what is in the national security interests of our country, including his own Justice Department. Which explains why he didn't even blink when he told Arlen Specter's Senate Judiciary Committee last July that the president personally killed the DoJ's own internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility into the propriety of the process by which it advised him that the NSA's domestic spying program was both legally justified and being legally administered. As for Congress being qualified, you can forget that. Remember, the "administration" blames Congress for leaking the NSA story in the first place.
So there you have it: the Bush "administration" believes, unsurprisingly, that they -- meaning the Doomsday Bunker crowd in the White House -- are the only ones "qualified" to make decisions that effect the national security. Congress is full of leakers, and federal judges are morons.
But that's just one front on which the "administration" attacks the very notion of justice, not to mention the Department which "administers" it. The strange case of the disappearing U.S. Attorneys has recently come to light, and it's just one of many ways the DoJ has been pushing the limits of the "administration's" discretionary powers in non-national security arenas.
The one that still stands out most prominently for me is their exploitation of the traditional deference the courts give the DoJ in their reviews of Congressional redistricting plans. Most of you will recall the travesty that was the Tom DeLay-financed redistricting in Texas (which, by the way, turned into a total disaster for that state). But did you realize the extent of the DoJ's exploitation of judges' willingness -- really, a requirement -- to give DoJ exactly the kind of deference Gonzales now demands on national security?
The DoJ's career (i.e., non-political) voting rights staff, in a memo buried by the Justice Department brass, unanimously recommended that the Texas plan be rejected as racially discriminatory. But the Bush DoJ approved the plan, and:
the Texas legislature proceeded with the new map anyway because it would maximize the number of Republican federal lawmakers in the state, the memo said. The redistricting was approved in 2003, and Texas Republicans gained five seats in the U.S. House in the 2004 elections, solidifying GOP control of Congress.
How was that even possible? It was possible because federal courts already give the DoJ precisely the kind of deference on voting rights matters that Gonzales now demands on national security matters. That is, courts operate under the assumption that the DoJ is actually doing its job profesionally and responsibly. (Why? Because it has an Office of Professional Responsibility to make sure!) But the assumption is based on much more than that. It's based on reasoning that once made sense, but which has been exploited to the breaking point by the Bush "administration." The guidelines of judicial deference were written when it was still safe to assume that governmental actors did the boneheaded things they did out of a sincere desire to govern, as opposed to a desire to do whatever it is the "administration's" political operatives think would make a nice trophy.
Just as with Plamegate and all "stovepiping" progeny, where the claim will be that it's within the presidential prerogative to redirect (and if necessary, reassemble from spare parts or whole cloth) the authorized and legitimate intelligence services of the United States. And just as with DeLay's money laundering, with the K Street Project, with Jack Abramoff's staggering corruption, and with who knows what else is yet to be unearthed, where the claim is that to single such activity out is to "criminalize politics," so with the Texas redistricting do we see that it is the intention of the "administration" to actively employ the standards of deference they now demand for the legal review of national security matters as cover for their wrongdoing, because they know that no courts (save the "activist" ones!) have the tools to reach them without throwing out time-honored and otherwise quite reasonable restraints against the (real) government's power to levy punishment and mete out justice.
Don't be fooled. (I know you won't be.) Gonzales' griping today is just so much more of the same power-grabbing the "administration" has been engaging in all along.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
by Richard Cummings at Playboy
This was months before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations to make the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq, touting the subsequently discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But according to Jackson, Hadley told him that "they were going to war and were struggling with a rationale" to justify it. Jackson, recalling the meeting, reports that Hadley said they were "still working out" a cause, too, but asked that he, Jackson, "set up something like the Committee on NATO" to come up with a rationale.
Jackson had launched the U.S. Committee on NATO, a nongovernmental pressure group, in 1996 with Hadley on board. The objective of the committee, originally called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, was to push for membership in the NATO military alliance for former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
What Bruce Jackson came up with for Hadley this time, in 2002, was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. The mission statement of the committee says it was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations." The pressure group began pushing for regime change -- that is, military action to remove Hussein -- in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working the media and throwing money around. The committee's pitch, or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East.
"I didn't see the point about WMDs or an Al Queda connection," Jackson says. In his mind the human rights issue was sufficient to justify a war.
Jackson had long been a proponent of unseating Hussein, and the committee dovetailed with his quite real sense of mission. In addition to his role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and the U.S. Committee on NATO, he had also been president of the Project for Transitional Democracies, organized to "accelerate democratic reform" in Eastern Europe.
Still, there is another way to view Jackson's activities. As The New York Times put it in a 1997 article, "at night Bruce Jackson is president of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, giving intimate dinners for senators and foreign officials. By day, he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world's biggest weapons maker."
That's how D.C. works. Many of the people making decisions have been in and out of the same set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think tanks, lobbying firms, law firms and the defense industry. So strong is the bond between lobbyists, defense contractors and the Pentagon that it is known in Washington as "the iron triangle." And this triangle inevitably gets what it wants. Why? Because in the revolving door system, a defense contractor executive can surface as an official in the Department of Defense, from which position he can give lucrative contracts to his former employer, and his prospects for an even better paying job in the private sector brighten. Former aides to members of congress become handsomely paid lobbyists for the companies they were able to help in their position on Capitol Hill. Such lobbyists can spread their corporate-funded largesse to the friendliest members and their aides on the Hill. And so on.
These "blow-dried Republican lobbyists," as one Washington district court judge calls them, wield far more power than most of the elected officials in town. Forget dime-a-dozen congressmen. It's these operatives who get the best tables at the Capital Grille, where the power brokers lunch and sup. The lobbyists have their own lockers there, with personalized nameplates, where they store their vintage wines, ports and whiskies. They dine on the fine aged beef you can see through a window that allows guests to gaze into the refrigerated meat storage area. These people make up the K Street oligarchy that, despite all the vituperative rhetoric in recent years about campaign finance reform and insidious special interests, run Washington.Bruce Jackson is a perfect example of this. While vice president for strategy and planning for Lockheed from 1999 to 2002, Jackson, by his own account, was also "responsible for the foreign policy platform at the 2000 Republican National Convention," to which he was a delegate. (The platform involved a dramatic increase in defense spending.) His title at the convention was chair of the platform subcommittee on foreign policy. He also served as co-chairman of the finance commission of Bob Dole's 1996 campaign. Prior to joining Lockheed, Jackson had served as executive director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the think tank whose principles included Dick Cheney. PNAC served as the Bush administration's blueprint for preemptive war and authored a 1998 open letter to President Bill Clinton calling for military force to oust Saddam Hussein.
But forget Jackson. In 2002, he was on the outside. Stephen Hadley, looking out of the windows from his West Wing office, was on the inside. Sure, Hadley had the requisite government experience for a deputy national security advisor. He had been an assistant secretary of defense under Bush's dad. But he had been through the revolving door, too: Stephen Hadley, the point man for justifying the invasion of Iraq, had also lawyered at Shea & Gardner, whose clients included Lockheed.
Of course, all the frothing at the mouth about lobbyists, money and special interests can seem from outside the Beltway as much ado about nothing. The government hands out contracts. The beneficiaries or those who want to be beneficiaries buy steak dinners for the officials who hold the purse strings. Big deal. The problem, though, is that, upon closer scrutiny, this is not how the system works. It's actually much more sinister than that, allowing the interests of America to be subverted by the interests of corporate America. As you'll see here, your elected officials did not deliberate on how best to protect their constituents, decide bombing Iraq was the best way and then order some provisions and weapons. On the contrary, this is the story of how Lockheed's interests, as opposed to those of the American citizenry, set the course of U.S. policy after 9/11.
For the war companies, things have worked out perfectly. Whatever the rationale for the invasion of Iraq, business is booming. Not long after Bush took office, Lockheed Martin's revenues soared by more than 30 percent, as it was awarded $17 billion in contracts from the Department of Defense, a far cry from the lean years of the Clinton administration. (Under Clinton, it did win $2 billion in contracts with the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activity; recently Bush called for 125 new nukes a year, opening up new contract horizons in that area, as well.) Its stock went from 16.375 in October of 1999 to 71.52 in June of 2002. As professor of finance at the State University at Buffalo Michael Rozeff observes, "the stock market anticipates many events."
Lockheed Martin reported 2002 sales of $26.6 billion, a backlog of more than $70 billion and free cash of $1.7 billion. And that was before the war in Iraq.
When it came to organizing the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, Jackson, by his own admission, "knew nothing about Iraq." So while he agreed to serve as its chairman, he turned day-to-day operations over to Republican operative Randy Scheunemann, who took the position of executive director. Scheunemann was a member of the board of directors of PNAC. Scheunemann also served as treasurer of Jackson's Project on Transitional Democracies, and had been a consultant on Iraq to Donald Rumsfeld. He had also been a staffer for Mississippi Senator Trent Lott when Lott was the senate majority leader -- Scheunemann had in fact authored the Iraq Liberation Act. The act authorized the $97 million in Pentagon aid that would fund the Iraq National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi, who subsequently got close to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, explaining to her where Saddam Hussein's WMDs were supposedly located.
Jackson then turned to his old friend Julie Finley, whom he refers to as the "grande dame" of Washington Republican politics and fundraising, to serve as treasurer of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. She had held dozens of positions in Republican affiliated groups, and had served as chairman of the board of directors of Jackson's Project on Transitional Democracies. She also knew how to leverage her connections: Among those signing on as board members of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002 were Richard Perle, then the chairman of the Defense Advisory Board, former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick and former CIA Director James Woolsey. Former Secretary of State George Schultz signed on to the advisory board.
A key member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq was Rend Al-Rahim Francke, the founder of the Iraq Foundation, which, according to its tax return, was 99 percent funded by U.S. government grants. The Iraq Foundation, in turn, provided logistical support for the anti-Saddam Hussein propaganda documentary Voices of Iraq and facilitated its distribution. The objective was the manipulation of public opinion to support regime change to oust Saddam Hussein, all in support of the goals of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
If the names and organizations connected to the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq seem to blur together, it's no coincidence. Many of the people involved had been in and out of that set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think tanks, lobbying firms and the defense industry. And many shared another common bond, as well: a link to Lockheed Martin.
By the time the committee had assembled, they had a number of contacts in the Bush administration -- many of whom also had Lockheed connections. Bush had appointed Powell A. Moore assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs serving directly under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. From 1983 until 1998, when he had become chief of staff to Republican Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, Moore was a consultant and vice president for legislative affairs for Lockheed.
Albert Smith, Lockheed's executive vice president for integrated systems and solutions, was appointed to the Defense Science Board. Bush had appointed former Lockheed chief operating officer Peter B. Teets as undersecretary of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, where he made decisions on the acquisition of reconnaissance satellites and space-based elements of missile defense. Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the only Democrat appointed by Bush to his cabinet, worked for Lockheed, as did Bush's Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican National Committee before becoming the governor of Mississippi, worked for a Lockheed lobbying firm. Joe Allbaugh, national campaign manager of the Bush-Cheney ticket and director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration (he appointed his college friend Michael Brown as FEMA's general counsel), was a Lockheed lobbyist for its rapidly growing intelligence division.
Dick Cheney's son-in-law, Philip J. Perry, a registered Lockheed lobbyist who had, while working for a law firm, represented Lockheed with the Department of Homeland Security, had been nominated by Bush to serve as general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security. His wife, Elizabeth Cheney, serves as deputy assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs.
Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynne, had, until her husband took office, served on the board of Lockheed, receiving deferred compensation in the form of half a million dollars in stock and fees. Even President Bush himself has a Lockheed Martin connection. As governor of Texas, he had attempted to give Lockheed a multimillion-dollar contract to reform the state's welfare system.
Soon after taking office in 2001, Bush had also appointed Lockheed president and CEO Robert J. Stevens to his Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. The future of that industry was, of course, in an expanding defense budget, and a war in Iraq wouldn't hurt Lockheed's bottom line.
Jackson has the perfect pedigree for this insular, incestuous world of interconnections. His father, William Jackson, was the first person to hold the position of national security advisor, under Dwight Eisenhower. Growing up, his neighbors had included the historian and diplomat George Kennan, author of the doctrine of containment during the Cold War, and William Bundy, a Johnson administration hawk. Jackson graduated from the elite St. Mark's boarding school in Massachusetts and then attended Princeton. In the 1980s Jackson worked for presidents Reagan and Bush under Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, as well as Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.
Next Jackson worked in proprietary trading at Lehman Brothers, an investment bank, before leaving for Martin Marietta, then one of the top defense corporations. Jackson's role was director of strategic planning and corporate development projects, which involved the merger of Martin Marietta with the 800-pound gorilla of the industry, Lockheed. Jackson remained with the new entity, Lockheed Martin.
Today Jackson's Washington apartment is discreetly elegant. Aside from shelves of books, there is another item on the wall in Jackson's apartment worthy of note: It is a signed photograph of George W. Bush together with Jackson and Julie Finley, the fund-raiser who was treasurer of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Sitting in his apartment, which also serves as his office, Jackson describes his role at Lockheed Martin as "non-technical." He worked at developing strategies to improve sales and find new markets, moving the company in directions that were profitable.
Meanwhile, in his "spare time," Jackson worked to promote the expansion of NATO and Iraq liberation, worked to get Bush elected and helped establish the administration's foreign policy. While Jackson sees his role as head of the United States Committee on NATO as an idealistic one, separate from his job, NATO expansion proved a valuable marketing tool for Lockheed Martin, as Eastern European and Central Asian counties upgraded their obsolete militaries, and, as we'll see, also provided a way to gain support among former Soviet bloc countries for Bush's coming war in Iraq.
The collateral benefits of Jackson's activities to Lockheed Martin were unambiguous, leading one to conclude that while he might have thought he was using them, in reality they were using him. Jackson argues that only "literary types" would see a connection between Lockheed Martin and the Iraq war as "seamless." He insists that his own activities were "not part of my day job. What I did at other times was my own business. There are lesbians who work for Lockheed Martin. One of them might be a belly dancer at night."
As for the same names -- many of them people with Lockheed Martin connections -- appearing on the letterhead of groups pressing for military action in Iraq and for NATO expansion, Jackson quips: "How many intellectuals are there in Washington? Twenty? We all share the same concerns."
Jackson acknowledges that he "gave William Kristol money" to help start the Weekly Standard, which advocated military action to remove Saddam Hussein, just as he had earlier joined with Kristol at the PNAC -- all by virtue of their shared ideology, as he explains it. But if the connection between Lockheed Martin and the Iraq war was not seamless, neither was it serendipitous. For example, Lockheed also supported the pro-war Weekly Standard as a paying advertiser.
"It used to be just an airplane company," John Pike, a military analyst and director of GlobalSecurity.org says about Lockheed Martin. "Now it's a warfare company. It's an integrated solution provider. It's a one-stop shop. Anything you need to kill the enemy, they will sell you."
They also will tell you who the enemy is. And whether it was seamless or serendipitous, Stephen Hadley, referred to by The New York Times as one of the more significant Lockheed operatives in the Bush White House, was there to tie it all together.
Still, while Lockheed Martin may look invincible now, it was not always so. Its rise has been fraught with disaster and catastrophe, even near-extinction, from which it ultimately became determined to insulate itself, free from the vicissitudes of the free market.
During Lockheed's dark days, its failures were so notorious they inspired Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, a 1974 concept album by Robert Calvert, the lead singer of the British prog rock band Hawkwind. Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, Hawkwind's bassist prior to founding Motörhead, also contributed to the LP, a send-up of the true story of West Germany's experiences with Lockheed's Starfighter jet, the F-104G.
Rejected by the American Air Force, Lockheed sold the Starfighters to the West German air force. Of the 916 jets sold to West Germany, 292 crashed, killing 116 pilots.
The opening track on Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters is cumbersomely titled "Franz Joseph Strauss, Defence Minister, Reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958, Finding It Somewhat Lacking in Image Potential," done by Calvert in a crazed German accent, impersonating, in Monty Python manic style, the "Uber-Teutonic Defence Minister." But German officials were not laughing, and government investigations of the purchase ensued. Meanwhile, Lockheed also sold the Starfighter to the Japanese, with 54 of their F-104Gs also falling from the sky.
As a manufacturer of civilian airliners, Lockheed had foundered from the time its propeller-driven Constellation was grounded in 1946 by the Civilian Aeronautics Board after a series of crashes that year. It also discontinued its Electra turboprop commercial airliner two years after it was introduced in 1959 when three crashed in one year.
Its legendary Super Constellation -- a mainstay of American transatlantic commercial aviation from 1951 to 1955 -- faced competition in 1956 from the DC-7, the first aircraft capable of regularly flying non-stop in both directions across the North Atlantic. To keep up, Lockheed created the 1649 Starliner, but it was overtaken by the faster Bristol Britannia and then rendered obsolete by the jet-powered Boeing 707 and the Havilland Comet 4. Lockheed built only 44 Starliners and failed to recoup its investment on what proved to be its last propeller commercial aircraft.
To add insult to injury, the Navy, by now moving into jets, canceled a contract for the W2V-1, a military version of the Model 1649 designed to serve as an airborne early-warning craft. Not only were the 1649s unable to compete with new jets, their engines were "temperamental" by Lockheed's own admission. And while Lockheed was able to offset some of these losses by going into the missile business with the founding of Lockheed Missile Systems Division (later Lockheed Missiles and Space Company) and promoting its Polaris and Trident series -- which served as the company's cash cows during hard times -- its bad business decisions and overruns continued to threaten its profitability.
Finally shifting to jet aircraft, Lockheed still foundered. The company designed and built the JetStar, thinking it had a guaranteed market with the Air Force, which led Lockheed to believe that as many as three hundred of the aircraft would be ordered if Lockheed won the competition for the UCX, or "utility transport, experimental." In the event, the Air Force bought only 16 of the advanced aircraft, leaving a residual sense of "betrayal" in the company, as executives interviewed by Walter J. Boyne expressed in his corporate history of Lockheed, Beyond The Horizons.
As Boyne details, Lockheed fared no better in the commercial jet sweepstakes, precipitating a crisis that almost destroyed the company. By failing to acquire Douglas when it had an opportunity to do so, Lockheed allowed McDonnell to beat them to the punch in 1967, a lesson Lockheed management would not forget. Lockheed had hoped to allow Douglas to go under because of late deliveries of both its DC-8 and DC-9, and then pick it up at a cheap price, transforming Lockheed into a much larger and more powerful company than Boeing. Instead, Lockheed found itself in competition with McDonnell Douglas to fill the commercial jet niche between the Boeing 707 (and its counterpart, the DC-8) and the new 747. Its answer was the L-1011 TriStar.
Designed with three engines for non-stop transcontinental flights, Lockheed opted to go with Rolls-Royce for the engines because of Rolls' willingness to provide needed funding for development. Also, American Airlines appeared to favor the Rolls-Royce engine, and Lockheed assumed it would therefore be able to sell American the TriStar. But Franklin Kolk, American's chief engineer and father of the wide-body jet, favored a twin engine aircraft and, disappointed in Lockheed for not following his advice, pushed American to purchase DC-10s instead.
Dan Haughton, Lockheed's CEO, who had previously headed its nuclear missile division, frantically offered the L-1011 TriStar to Eastern and TWA at a drastically reduced price. But since there were Congressional rumblings about Lockheed using a foreign engine -- with dollars leaving America for Britain -- Haughton concocted a scheme to announce a sale of 50 L-1011s to Air Holdings in Britain to show that money would be coming into the United States to more than offset what was going out to Rolls-Royce. GE offered its engine to United Airlines at a favorable rate, assuming that Lockheed would switch from Rolls-Royce to win a United contract. But Lockheed refused to redesign the TriStar to accept the GE CF6 engine because of the $100 million cost of such a conversion. Haughton, believing he still had the American deal, was convinced United would fall in line and accept the RB 211 engine from Rolls-Royce. But United used its leverage to drive down the price of the competing engines and planes. Then it stabbed Lockheed in the back by going with the Douglas DC-10, announcing its intention to buy 60 with an option to buy 30 more.
With the deck stacked against it, Lockheed proceeded with the Rolls-Royce engine that, unexpectedly, then failed the standard test for "susceptibility to bird-strike damage." When three dead chickens were fired into one of the engines while it was in operation, it blew apart. Rolls was obliged to redesign the engine, producing one that was heavier and more costly and increasing the cost of the TriStar.
Competition from GE drove down the price of engines, causing Rolls-Royce to hemorrhage money. On February 4, 1971, it declared bankruptcy. Lockheed was thrown into turmoil. Having created a $50 million state-of-the-art facility to produce the L-1011s, it suspended production and laid off 4,000 employees. But Richard Nixon and Ted Heath, Britain's prime minister, joined forces to attempt to salvage Rolls-Royce and Lockheed.
Heath arranged for Britain to take over Rolls-Royce as "Rolls-Royce 1971," as it was registered on the London Stock Exchange -- a bit of socialism for the privileged. Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury, John Connally, negotiated a deal between Britain and the United States to continue production of the RB 211 and the L-1011 TriStar, with Britain agreeing to make the engine as long as America would guarantee the L-1011 would continue to production. As part of the deal, Lockheed agreed to pay $120 million more for the engines. It was all in vain, however, as Lockheed was eventually obliged to discontinue the L-1011 in the wake of a bribery scandal during their attempts to get Japan to buy the aircraft. Beyond The Horizons offers an excellent look at this entire episode.
Lockheed learned a number of things from the L-1101 experience. First and foremost, it didn't pay to compete in the private sector. Instead, the company shifted gears; these days 80 percent of its business comes from federal government contracts. Moreover, Lockheed would load the government with its own people and then hire former defense department employees, creating a revolving door that would guarantee friends in the right places. That goal, of course, has been achieved and sustained.
Also in the wake of the L-1011 debacle, Lockheed's business practices became aggressive in the extreme. It charged the Pentagon $646 for a toilet seat and delivered C-5A transport planes -- that cost millions of dollars -- without installing thousands of essential parts. It paid bribes to foreign officials to help unload planes no one wanted, including giant long-distance transports to Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil and Italy, until the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 made such actions illegal. Undeterred, in 1995 Lockheed paid an Egyptian official $1.2 million to secure a contract for three C-130 cargo planes. A Lockheed executive promised a federal judge that the company would henceforth make a "commitment to the highest ethical standards of conduct," but this was not until it was obliged to pay $145.3 million in penalties. Also, in 1994, Lockheed received a $13 million fine under the Arms Export Control Act when it supplied information that could have been used to improve the accuracy of Chinese ballistic missiles. The U.S. government charged Lockheed with 30 violations of arms export laws in connection with having aided Chinese satellite technology.
Lockheed also learned never again to miss out on the chance to gobble up other defense contractors or merge with them on favorable terms. After developing the F-22 (later known as the F/A 22) with General Dynamics and Boeing, Lockheed took over General Dynamics' Forth Worth aircraft division. And in 1995, it made the decision that would change the face of the industry. Lockheed would merge with Martin Marietta, which itself had gobbled up the aerospace division of General Electric. President Clinton wanted the merger so a new, more technologically advanced company could emerge, capable of building a new Joint Strike Fighter supersonic warplane.
Lockheed met secretly with its financial advisor, Morgan Stanley, which considered the deal beneficial, at least to the stock market. Dick Cheney served on the Board of Morgan Stanley. His 2004 financial disclosure statement lists Lockheed stock options and $50,000 in Lockheed stock, but also investments in a number of Morgan Stanley funds. In 2000, The New York Times reported that "Mr. Cheney has a much larger brokerage account at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, on whose board he serves, but he did not report any trades in that account on his and his wife's tax returns.... Mr. Cheney and his wife Lynne had previously disclosed only the first two pages of their tax returns for 1990 through 1999, holding back the supporting documentation that show details of investment income."
Overall, the new Lockheed Martin received about $1 billion from U.S. government coffers for costs related to the merger, which as Geov Parrish noted in Mother Jones, included "approximately $31 million" paid in executive bonuses.
But all did not go well with the merger. Lockheed Martin incurred further debt when it acquired the defense electronics and system integration business of Loral Space & Communications. Joint ventures with Russia to launch satellites also cost Lockheed Martin a considerable amount of money. Lockheed poured almost a billion dollars into the ventures as of 1999 before security issues limited the number of Russian launches of U.S. built satellites to 20.
Then, in 1999, with profits tumbling, Vance Coffman, the chairman and now CEO, shook up the company, reorganizing its management structure to create what it described as a "new customer focused organizational realignment." In short, it was a strategy designed to respond to another lesson learned in the course of doing business: By becoming part of the decision-making process, Lockheed Martin could ensure that defense budgets would expand and not contract.
The shakeup got into high gear as the price of its shares tumbled to its all-time low of $16.375. Executives left in droves. Lockheed Martin announced the retirement of Peter Teets, the company's president and chief operating officer. (Two years later Teets was appointed as undersecretary of the Air Force in the Bush administration.) Coffman chaired a search committee for new blood, eventually appointing as CFO (and in 2001, CEO) Robert J. Stevens, formerly a vice president of Lockheed Martin's strategic development organization. Stevens, says Jackson, is "as straight arrow as you get, an all-American guy," who "polishes his own shoes."
While working as head of strategic planning, Stevens had devised a strategy he could implement as CEO to turn Lockheed Martin around and make it the master of its fate. And as he served on Bush's Commission to Examine the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry from 2001 to 2002, he had the president's ear.
In 1999, when Stevens left strategic planning to become chief financial officer, Jackson became vice president for strategy and planning, their careers intersecting at a crucial time. Stevens developed the strategy for Lockheed to outpace Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman as the top Pentagon contractor through aggressively pursuing federal contracts while eschewing the risks of the marketplace in the private sector. He started pouring large sums of PAC money to members of Congress to garner their cooperation and hired the armies of lobbyists for which Lockheed Martin became famous. According to Jackson, Lockheed Martin has hired "200 lobbyists," who in turn "hire other lobbyists" to work on Lockheed accounts. (One of them is Katherine Armstrong, daughter of a policy aide to Ronald Reagan. It was Katherine Armstrong who hosted the infamous Dick Cheney hunting party at Armstrong Ranch where Cheney accidentally shot a leading Republican lawyer.) Fees to lobbyists in a given year likely exceed $10 million.
When the United States gives military aid to its allies, the benefits accrue to Lockheed Martin, too. Israel, for example, spends much of the $1.8 billion a year it receives in military aid from the U.S. on planes and missile systems from Lockheed -- and that's in years when it is not actively at war with Hezbollah. Lockheed's market is worldwide, selling F-16 fighters, surveillance software and other equipment to more than 40 countries. The United Arab Emirates, forced to give up its deal to run American ports through its state-run Dubai entity, has been a major customer, spending more than $6 billion on F-16 fighters in 2000 as it looked forward to the Bush presidency. No wonder Bush threatened to veto legislation barring the ports deal.
Stevens has boasted that Lockheed Martin not only creates the technology, it makes military policy as well. He told The New York Times in November of 2004 that Lockheed stands at "the intersection of policy and technology," which, he observed, "is really a very interesting place to be. We are deployed, entirely in developing daunting technology" that "requires thinking through the policy dimensions of national security as well as technology." He acknowledges "this is not a business where in the purest economical sense there's a broad market of supply and demand."
And although he may shine his own shoes, Stevens is paid $7 million a year, not counting bonuses and stock options. In 2002, Stevens left Bush's aerospace commission, becoming a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, and Jackson left Lockheed Martin to work on the Project on Transitional Democracies and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Stevens and Jackson were tag team wrestlers, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, of Team Lockheed. And, increasingly, the distinction between Lockheed Martin and the government began to blur as the war in Iraq became inevitable.
With the 2002 election over and Democrats increasingly hawkish on Iraq, Bush made his State of the Union address on January 29, 2003, uttering this now famous line: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The threat of Saddam Hussein was established and the American people bought it. And the person claiming responsibility for leaving that line in was Hadley.
In February of 2003, Jackson helped draft a declaration for the 10 Eastern European foreign ministers -- all countries up for NATO membership and associated with Jackson's expansion efforts -- that became known as the "Vilnius Ten," rebuking French President Jacques Chirac's opposition to attacking Iraq. The declaration stated: "The newest members of the European community agree that we must confront the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and that the United Nations must act now." Jackson achieved this success when he attended a dinner party at the Slovak embassy in Washington and told assembled diplomats from the countries, according to The American Prospect's John B. Judis, that signing the declaration would help win U.S. approval of their membership.
On March 20, 2003, America attacked Iraq. "Shock and Awe" began at night, with Lockheed Martin Stealth F-117 Nighthawks leading the assault. Looking like gigantic, venomous black bats, the V-shaped killers with their sharply spiked tail wings swept over Baghdad in search of the concrete shelters and reinforced bunkers where it was believed Saddam Hussein and his inner circle were concealed. Light ground forces moved swiftly toward Baghdad. An American blitzkrieg had been launched.
The F-117 had been reconfigured to carry a 2,000-pound bunker buster bomb, accurately guided by new technology to hit its target at a vertical impact angle with a warhead called the BLU-109. The Lockheed Missiles and Space Company manufactured it. Lockheed's Keyhole and Lacrosse satellites beamed images from the war back to the military, employing its Theater Battle Management Core Systems, specialized software used to coordinate communications between intelligence systems and ground forces to assist the air campaign. Lockheed U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird spy planes joined with its F-16 and the F/A 22 jet fighters in support of the F-117s. Army and Marine ground troops unleashed Lockheed Hellfire laser-guided anti-armor missiles to demolish helicopters and land attack vehicles, and PAC-3 missiles, a highly agile, "hit-to-kill" interceptor, to provide air defense for ground combat forces. Lockheed Javelin portable missiles were used to considerable effect, particularly later in the invasion of Fallujah. Lockheed's "arsenal of democracy" was in full display.
Five days later, Bush asked Congress for $74.7 billion to pay for six months of combat, separate from the regular defense budget. But by June, it had become obvious that the "uranium from Africa" intelligence had been deeply flawed and erroneous. Acknowledging the CIA had warned him in two separate memos that the Agency would not stand by the information suggesting Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program, Stephen Hadley had this to say about it: "When the language in the drafts of the State of the Union referred to efforts to acquire natural uranium, I should have either asked that they -- the 16 words given to that subject -- be stricken, or I should have alerted DCI Tenet. And had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy. And in my current position, I am the senior-most official within the NSC staff, directly responsible for the substantive review and clearance of presidential speeches. The president and the national security advisor look to me to ensure that the substantive statements in those speeches are the ones in which the president can have confidence. And it is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility in connection with the inclusion of these 16 words in the speech that he gave on the 28th of January."
Yet when Colin Powell resigned as secretary of state and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took his place, Stephen Hadley was promoted to take her position as national security advisor. Hadley's "error" had enabled Bush to go to war, the big payoff for Lockheed Martin.
But how had the British government gotten the intelligence on the African uranium so wrong? How had MI6, the most fabled intelligence service in the world, allowed itself to be misled by dubious sources? While Tony Blair and his government deny any pressure was put on its intelligence services, the stakes were high for Britain to join America in the war. And here again Lockheed loomed large.
In October of 2001, the Pentagon announced it was awarding Lockheed Martin a nearly $20 billion contract for the next phase of the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, called the F-35. To the industry, it was "the deal of the century," despite the fact that the century had only just begun. In beating out Boeing, Lockheed asserted itself as the undisputed leader of military contractors for decades to come, if not forever. But it did not go it alone. It brought in on the deal not only Northrop Grumman, but also the beleaguered BAE Systems, Britain's, and Europe's, largest defense contractor. Under the terms of the contract, BAE was responsible for building the aft fuselage and the tails; Lockheed the forward fuselage and wings; and Northrop the middle fuselage.
On September 30, 2005, following Britain's participation in the invasion of Iraq and with its ground troops still on the ground as other coalition partners, such as Spain, pulled out their troops, according to John A. Smith of Lockheed's Fort Worth operation: "Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense formalized a $25.7 billion Joint Strike Fighter system development and demonstration contract that effectively replaces the $19.7 billion SDD contract under which the JSF was operating previously." As this was all covered by the fiscal year 2005 Congressional budget, it "requires no additional Congressional funding."
Smith explains that nine countries will use the F-35 -- the United States, the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway -- with all nine negotiating for what they will buy in the future, with sales worth $257 billion. (Israel has recently indicated its intention of converting its air force to F-35s in a deal worth $5 billion.) He explains that this is the fifth year of 12 in the systems development stage. Smith further explains that there is "no fixed percentage" as to how the three participating companies receive money, which is paid out on an "as needed" basis.
Bush couldn't go into Iraq without a major ally and Lockheed knew it. To sweeten the pot for Blair, Lockheed dragged BAE Systems into the F-35 deal. When BAE still struggled prior to the war (Goldman Sachs reported that BAE would have to cut its dividend), Lockheed began renegotiating the contract -- with the new version unveiled in 2005, giving BAE billions more to be paid "as needed." This put BAE back on its feet, able to build the Typhoon jet fighter for sale to Saudi Arabia in a $70 billion deal, saving 10,000 BAE jobs and 4,000 Rolls-Royce jet engine building jobs.
Meanwhile, a government accountability office report for Congress says the Defense Department is investing too heavily in the F-35 without knowing whether the aircraft will work properly. The report criticizes the Pentagon plan to spend $49 billion on 424 fighters before full testing on the stealth plane is completed in 2013. "Starting production before ensuring the design is mature through flight testing significantly increases the risk of costly design change that will push the program over budget and behind schedule," the report concludes. But that is all light years away, as far as Lockheed and BAE are concerned. As Bob Elrod, a senior executive at Lockheed's fighter plane division boasted, "We're looking at world domination of the market."
To make things even better for Blair, Lockheed brought the British in on the new presidential helicopter deal, notwithstanding the loud protests of then-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut, where Sikorsky -- America's leading helicopter manufacturer and the losing bidder -- is located.
Meanwhile Jackson closed down the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in June 2003 because its human rights rationale for the war had been abandoned.
"We were cut out," Jackson explains, "after the whole thing went to Rumsfeld. The Department of Defense didn't want anyone looking over their shoulder. Rumsfeld took it all away from State." Jackson had lined up people like Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Natan Sharansky of Israel and Carl Bildt, the prime minister of Sweden, to support the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, but Bush and Rumsfeld took off in another direction. Stephen Hadley explained to Jackson that "terrorism and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.
News of torture at Abu Ghraib prison undermined all of Jackson's efforts and, to his credit, he called for Rumsfeld's resignation. He acknowledges that things are not going well in Iraq, but still sees the removal of Saddam Hussein as morally justified. He declines to predict how it will all end.
Poland, one of the countries Bruce Jackson helped gain membership in NATO, also joined the "coalition of the willing," sending troops to Iraq as a desperate Bush scrambled to find allies in the war. Poland also spent 976 million Euros (more than $1.6 billion) in 2006 upgrading its military, almost all of it going to Lockheed Martin for the first eight F-16 warplanes to be delivered this year, part of a total of the 48 F-16s it has ordered. Mounted on a wall in Jackson's apartment is a glass case containing an ornate antique Polish sword and scabbard, a gift in appreciation of his efforts. Lockheed Martin must have been appreciative, as well: Jackson can tell you the exact price of Lockheed Martin shares.
But Jackson and Hadley -- promoted to national security advisor despite his "error" on the uranium -- weren't the only beneficiaries among the core group of war advocates. In Washington, the revolving door is already working to the benefit of many involved. Randy Scheunemann, for instance, the president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, became president of the Mercury Group, which lobbied for Lockheed Martin and other corporate clients, before setting up his own firm, Scheunemann and Associates, and then Orion Strategies, which, among other things, consults with companies and countries seeking to do business in Iraq. Rend Al-Rahim Francke, member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and founder of the Iraq Foundation that facilitated the film Voices of Iraq, was appointed Iraqi ambassador to the United States in November of 2003.
When Assistant Secretary of Defense Powell Moore left the government in 2005, though not an attorney, he joined the powerful international law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, which specializes in aerospace and defense, as managing director of federal government relations. According to the firm's description of its activities, it provides "legal services to some of the largest and fastest growing companies in the aerospace, electronics and information technology field, names such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, SAIC and TRW."
Edward C. Aldridge, who was the undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics responsible for the November 2001 approval of the Lockheed contract to build F-35, left government in 2003 and now serves on Lockheed's board of directors. That's Washington in an era when the war companies run things.
What, if anything, can be done about the oligarchy of the war companies and the K Street lobbyists pulling the strings in our capital? Is there no way to break the iron triangle? Jackson agrees that contractors doing business with the government should be prohibited by law from making political contributions. He says the contractors would favor this because the situation is not as most people think it is. He insists it's the elected officials who "shake down" the contractors for contributions and not the other way around. Of course, this may be the best indicator, in a roundabout way, of just how powerful the war companies are -- in the name of special interest reform the legislators would be cut out of the action from the flow of defense money they can apparently no longer control.
Former Long Island Democratic Representative Otis Pike, who served in the Marines and was a hawk on Vietnam, once said privately, while still in office, that the only solution was to "nationalize" the defense industry. Pike's attitude regarding national security evolved as a result of experiences chairing the Pike Committee investigating abuses by the CIA in the 1970s. Since half of Lockheed Martin's business now comes from its IT division, there is no reason why it should not be broken up under the anti-trust laws into two separate companies, without any damage to its ability to innovate. Also, a war-profits tax of the type imposed by Britain on its military contractors during World War I to help pay for the cost of the war -- since they were profiting from it -- might be in order.
But none of this is the concern of the beautiful and the brilliant young techies, black, white, brown and yellow, male and female, gay and straight, who throng to Washington to work for the subcontracting firms locating there in droves. In March of 2005, Lockheed Martin acquired Sytex, which provides "personnel and technological solutions to the Pentagon's Northern Command, the Army Intelligence and Strategic Command and the Department of Homeland Security," making Lockheed one of the biggest recruiters of private interrogators, "unaccountable to any legal authority or disciplining procedure," as Corpwatch puts it.
In March of 2006, Lockheed Martin won the lion's share of a $20 billion contract by the U.S. Army to develop cutting-edge technology to support the Army's "reconnaissance, communications, surveillance and intelligence gathering in combat situations." According to Lockheed spokeswoman Wendy Owen this was a "major victory" for Lockheed Martin, which has been aggressively promoting its systems and information technology divisions, which account for half of its business. It already provides surveillance services for United States ports.
That night, March 16, when the local press announced the $20 billion contract, Cafe Citron, off Dupont Circle, was packed with revelers. Latin music throbbed as they laughed and shouted, partying with abandon, knocking down the drinks. For those in the war business, life is good.