Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Erosion Of Powers
This dailyKos diary by Captain Doug linking to to my earlier post led me to an interesting document that I haven't come across before.
As we contemplate why Joe Klein the DLCers and the rest of the Democratic establishment are stuck in 1972 mode, petrified of the "angry left" and worried sick that we are going to scare away the real Americans, take a look at this FBI report:
May 9, 1968
Our Nation is undergoing an era of disruption and violence caused to a large extent by various individuals generally connected with the New Left. Some of these activists urge revolution in America and call for the defeat of the United States in Vietnam. They continually and falsely allege police brutality and do not hesitate to utilize unlawful acts to further their so-called causes. The New Left has on many occasions viciously and scurrilously attacked the Director and the Bureau in an attempt to hamper our investigation of it and to drive us off the college campuses. With this in mind, it is our recommendation that a new Counterintelligence Program be designed to neutralize the New Left and the Key Activists. The Key Activists are those individuals who are the moving forces behind the New Left and on whom we have intensified our investigations.
The replies to the Bureau's request have been analyzed and it is felt that the following suggestions can for counterintelligence action can be utilized by all offices.
1. Preparation of a leaflet designed to counteract the impression that Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other minority groups speak for the majority of students at universities. The leaflet should contain photographs of New Left leadership at the respective university. Naturally, the most obnoxious pictures should be used.
2. The instigating of or the taking advantage of personal conflicts or animosities existing between New Left leaders.
3. The creating of impressions that certain New Left leaders are informants for the Bureau or other law enforcement agencies.
4. The use of articles from student newspapers and/or the "underground press" to show the depravity of New Left leaders and members. In this connection, articles showing advocation of the use of narcotics and free sex are ideal to send to university officials, wealthy donors, members of the legislature and parents of students who are active in New Left matters.
5. Since the use of marijuana and other narcotics is widespread among members of the New Left, you should be alert to opportunities to have them arrested by local authorities on drug charges.
6. The drawing up of anonymous letters regarding individuals active in the New Left. These letters should set out their activities and should be sent to their parents, neighbors and the parents' employers.
7. Anonymous mailings should be made to university officials, members of the state legislature, Board of Regents, and to the press. Such letters could be signed "A Concerned Alumni" or "A Concerned Taxpayer." [emphasis added]
8. Whenever New Left groups engage in disruptive activities on college campuses, cooperative press contacts should be encouraged to emphasize that the disruptive elements constitute a minority of the students and do not represent the conviction of the majority. The press should demand an immediate referendum on the issue in question.
9. There is a definite hostility among SDS and other New Left groups toward the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), and the Progressive Labor Party (PLP). This hostility should be exploited wherever possible.
10. The field was previously advised that New Left groups are attempting to open coffeehouses near military bases in order to influence members of the Armed Forces. Whereever these coffeehouses are, friendly news media should be alerted to them and their purpose. In addition, various drugs, such as marijuana, will probably be utilized by individuals running the coffeehouses or frequenting them. Local law enforcement authorities should be promptly advised whenever you receive an indication that this is being done.
11. Consider the use of cartoons, photographs, and anonymous letters which will have the effect of riduculing the New Left. Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons which we can use against it.
12. Be alert for opportunities to confuse and disrupt New Left activities by misinformation. For example, when events are planned, notification that the event has been cancelled or postponed could be sent to various individuals. Director to All Field Offices, July 5, 1968
I'm sure this had nothing to do with why the "silent majority" voted Republican. Nor does it have anything to do with why Joe "gag me with a spoon" Klein is so hostile to liberalism even today or why the Democrats in washington scurry at the slightest conflict. It's not like they could have been played by a disinformation campaign that became conventional wisdom, right?
This report is also a good reminder of why some of us don't trust the FBI to be the good guys in these political battles and why we think there should be pretty strict separation of powers and very strong oversight. Police agencies have a tendency to forget their limitations. And so do presidents:
CHENEY: All right. But in 34 years, I have repeatedly seen an erosion of the powers and the ability of the president of the United States to do his job. We saw it in the War Powers Act. We saw it in the Budget Anti-Impoundment Act. We've seen it in cases like this before, where it's demanded that presidents cough up and compromise on important principles.
ROBERTS: And they always do.
CHENEY: Exactly, and that's wrong.
ROBERTS: So in the end, it always comes out anyway, so why...
CHENEY: It's wrong. And--well, but the...
ROBERTS: ... go through this agony?
CHENEY: Because the net result of that is to weaken the presidency and the vice presidency.
And one of the things that I feel an obligation, and I know the president does too, because we talked about it, is to pass on our offices in better shape than we found them to our successors. We are weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last 30 to 35 years.
That was in January of 2002. Cheney has been upfront about this from the get. He believed that the nation was better served when someone like Nixon could do whatever he wanted. He believes that the FBI should be able to do what he thinks is necessary to "protect" to country from people like me.
He just simply believes that the presidency should be more powerful than the other two branches (as long as a Republican occupies it, of course. Let's not kid ourselves about that):
December 21, 2005
ABOARD AIR FORCE TWO -- Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday said President Bush is aggressively consolidating the powers of the presidency, reversing a weakening of the office dating back more than 30 years.
"We've been able to restore the legitimate authority of the presidency," he told reporters after inspecting earthquake-relief efforts in Pakistan.
Mr. Cheney, who was President Ford's chief of staff, said "an erosion of presidential power and authority" emerged during that era but that the pendulum has now "swung back."
"At the end of the Nixon administration, you had the nadir of the modern presidency in terms of authority and legitimacy," he said. "There have been a number of limitations that have been imposed in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate."
He said the Bush administration has reversed that trend in a variety of ways, ranging from its successful fight to keep secret the deliberations of its energy task force to its muscular assertion of authority at home and abroad in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.
"We've been very active and very aggressively defending the nation and using the tools at our disposal to do that," he said.
Speaking to reporters while flying from Pakistan to Oman, the vice president also suggested that the strengthening of the presidency is not finished. He noted that no president has eliminated the War Powers Act, which he said "many people believe is unconstitutional."
"That was an infringement on the authority of the president," he said. "It's never been tested. It will be tested at some point."
Again he's totally candid. He did it, he believes he has the right to do it and the fact that war protestors or political dissidents are being monitored is a feature not a bug.
And about that disinformation and propaganda, I think we have a little hint about where that's going in this era as well:
Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'
Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.
Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.
The range of VNR is wide. Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA" in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad. The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.
As far back as 1968 they were doing this in other forms and I have little doubt that among their many lies they are spreading disinformation about the left today as well. Cheney sees the GWOT as equivalent to the Cold War (or maybe the War of the Worlds.) He sees nothing wrong with expanding the police powers of the executive branch as far as he thinks necessary.
Keep your eyes wide open for signs of the kind of program outlined above against the New Left. Everything old is new again.
If you have an interest in seeing Richard Pryor's FBI file you can see it here. He was a very serious threat to the nation, you know. He made people like Dick Cheney feel all wierd. You can understand why it was important for the government to keep tabs on him.
digby 5/30/2006 04:14:00 PM