Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bush Defies General Accounting Office: Green Light for Propaganda

David M. Walker, a Republican, and Comptroller General of the United States is not happy with how the Bush Administration has been issuing propaganda disguised as news.

As has been reported:
Comptroller General David Walker of the GAO said Monday that his agency is "disappointed by the administration's actions" in telling agency heads to ignore the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.

"This is not just a legal issue, it's also an ethical matter," Walker said. "The taxpayers have a right to know when the government is trying to influence them with their own money."
You see there is a little problem here. The Administration has been, according to the General Accounting Office, violating the law.

And this is not the first time this Administration has been taken to task about violation of laws preventing the dissemination of government propaganda.

One year ago this issue came up surrounding the Medicare drug bill, according to the New York Times:
Federal law prohibits the use of federal money for "publicity or propaganda purposes" not authorized by Congress. The accounting office has found that federal agencies violated this restriction when they disseminated editorials and newspaper articles written by the government without identifying the source.

The accounting office said the administration's misuse of federal money "also constitutes a violation of the Antideficiency Act," which prohibits spending in excess of appropriations. Under the law, the secretary of health and human services, Tommy G. Thompson, must report the violation to Congress and the president, with "a statement of actions taken" to prevent a recurrence.

The Antideficiency Act, derived from a law passed in 1870, is one of the major statutes by which Congress exercises its constitutional control of the purse.
And let me try to recall....what were those words that President George W. Bush said on his Inauguration? Did it go something like this:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
And what did President Bush say about this gross violation of laws by his administration? How about this:
President George W. Bush said on Wednesday the U.S. government's practice of sending packaged news stories to local television stations was legal and he had no plans to stop it.

(This image is courtesy of The Visitations Band done by the Athens, Georgia, artist Eric Hernandez and Mike Turner. Plaudits to them for the artwork and thanks for allowing me to run with it!)

His defense of the packages, which are designed to look like television news segments, came after they were deemed a form of covert propaganda by the Government Accountability Office watchdog agency.
Bush stated:

"There is a Justice Department opinion that says these -- these pieces -- are within the law, so long as they're based upon facts, not advocacy," the president told a news conference.
It was reported:
Bush said government agencies, such as the Agriculture and Defense Departments, had been producing such videos for a long time and that it was appropriate so long as they were "based upon a factual report."

He said it was up to the local news stations to disclose that the segments were produced by the government
However, not all elected officials agree with the President:
In a letter, Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat of Hawaii, asked the FCC to investigate the government-produced videos.

He called the airing of such videos without any attribution an "alarming practice."

"Not only does this lack of disclosure represent a serious breach of journalistic ethics, but it also seems to violate FCC rules requiring attribution of 'any political broadcast matter' or 'the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance,'" Inouye said.
Alexander Hamilton wrote about Presidential misbehavior. He stated in Federalist No. 65:
". . . those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."
Or as James Madison explained:
". . . subject him to impeachment himself, if he suffers them to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses."
The President's action represent a wanton disregard of the law and the almost sacred relationship between government and the press for it is written:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The freedom of the press is so important that it is the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights that defends the press. This fact should not be lost upon any American. This President manipulates the Press, whether it be through phoney journalists in Press Conferences, funding journalists to write propaganda that appears as news, or even issuing propaganda paid for by the taxpayer to the news media.

I am saddened about what is happening to America!



Blogger Librarian 2 said...

Walker is a true American hero. History will prove him right.

7:55 AM  

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