Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, August 29, 2016

Trump thinks the NSA is a political arm of the presidency

by digby

I wrote about his latest atrocity for Salon today:

We've been documenting Donald Trump's scary authoritarian tendencies since he announced his run for president but it doesn't seem to be something that's really sunk in. One suspects that if he were to be elected some people would come to regret not taking seriously. A president can summon a lot of power in this regard if he chooses, particularly if he can create a sense of urgent danger among the population, something for which Donald Trump has a demonstrated talent.

From the very first week, he's talked about forced deportation of millions of people and building the Great Wall of Trump both of which evoke images of totalitarian states. This has not been something that anyone in American politics seriously discussed until this campaign but it's now a mainstream Republican policy proposal opposed by many, to be sure, but mostly on practical grounds. When asked how we would know who to deport, Trump routinely says, "the police know who they are." Over the week-end he said "we are going to get rid of the criminals and it's going to happen within one hour after I take office, we start, okay?" His campaign manager says the details are "to be determined."

It doesn't end there, of course.  There's the promise to institute surveillance on Mosques, ban Muslims (recently changed to something he calls "extreme, extreme vetting) "take out" or otherwise use the families of terrorist suspects to extract information, reinstitute waterboarding and "much worse" (possibly even "chopping off heads" to fight fire with fire) summary executions, (sometimes with bullets dipped in pigs blood to scare the Muslims) and more. In a presidential debate he said he would order the military to torture and they would follow his orders. Days later he was forced by someone, we still don't know who, to admit that he could not unilaterally order troops to commit war crimes. (We also know that there is some recent precedent for getting around that ...)

You really don't need to know anything more than this to understand what a dangerous authoritarian Trump is:
Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat. I would approve more than that. It works. And if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us.
His obsession with police authority and intention to let them take off the gloves is well known going all the way back to the 1980s: "Let our politicians give back our police department the power to keep us safe. Unshackle them from the constant chant of "police brutality" which every petty criminal hurls immediately at an officer who has just risked his or her life to save an other's."  He has not changed his view even slightly since then.

However, there is yet another dimension to Trump's authoritarianism that's just as chilling and perhaps even more sinister when you consider how much secrecy surrounds the programs he's talking about. Daniel Marans at the Huffington Post reported:
“I hear the NSA maybe has the emails,” Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News’ “On The Record.” “A lot of people say the NSA would have the emails if they really wanted to get them.” 
“Obviously they don’t want to get them,” he added. “They’re protecting her, they’re coddling her. And it’s the only way she could even consider running.” 
“She knows what was on those emails and it was very, very bad,” he said. “And maybe somebody should, in fact, ask the NSA whether or not they have the emails.”
There were many reasons why civil libertarians were apoplectic at the revelation the NSA was storing all emails of American citizens when the Edward Snowden documents were published. Aside from general privacy concerns, the possibility of government authorities accessing the information without probable cause to suspect terrorism was alarming. But nothing was more threatening to the fundamental health of our democracy than the possibility of government officials accessing this information for political purposes. And here we have the Republican nominee for president in 2016 saying that the NSA is coddling his rival by failing to release copies of her personal emails to the public, emails he darkly insinuates must contain something "very, very bad." Indeed, he claims she couldn't possibly even run for office if they weren't protecting her.  The mind boggles.

But then Trump's mentor in life was Joseph McCarthy's chief henchman Roy Cohn, a man Trump once called his most loyal friend, "a man who would brutalize for you." Trump obviously also admired his friend's  use of government power to investigate people's personal lives for evidence of espionage and treason as well as personal sexual history and anything else worth blackmailing them over. He and McCarthy were best known for the smearing of people for alleged Communist sympathies which may have inspired Trump's own personal character assassination of President Obama back in 2011 when he stoked the birther movement into a full-fledged crusade. The result of that insane smear is that according to a recent NBC poll, a shocking 72% of Republicans still doubt that the president was born in the US.

And Trump has long had an affinity for Richard Nixon, the original "law and order" president who was disgraced and run from office for, among other things, using the power of the presidency to punish his political enemies. In fact, before Trump started suggesting that the NSA is covering for Clinton by failing to release their copies of all her personal emails to public, Trump also insisted that the Russian government must have them as well and he made his bizarre invitation to them to release them to the press which ,combined with his pleasure at the DNC hacking, had some disquieting echoes of the Watergate break-in itself.

This is a man who promises to put his opponent in jail if he wins the presidency: "I will say this, Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail. Folks, honestly, she's guilty as hell." I'm not positive but I suspect that may be unprecedented in presidential campaign history. These are the rantings of an authoritarian dictator.

If he loses we will probably chalk up his candidacy to some sort of tear in the electoral matrix. But shouldn't it be just a bit troubling that these anti-democratic ideas are so enthusiastically supported by tens of millions of our fellow Americans?