Sunday, March 05, 2006

Fixing the Facts?

I don't know what to make of this story:
U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein called on all intelligence and security agencies March 2 to stop removing documents from the open shelves of the National Archives and Records Administration for reclassification purposes and to return as many records as possible that they had pulled as part of a secret program in operation since 1999.
The moratorium on reclassification came in response to a letter from a group of historians who complained that the CIA, the Defense Department, and the Department of Justice had withdrawn some 9,500 documents from the Korean War and early Cold War eras and reclassified them as secret.
Maybe I should feel safer. Maybe some documents which were public should be made classified again. But then again, maybe this is once again an example of the over-management of information.

But I recalled the Downing Street Memo in which it was stated:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Intelligence and facts being fixed?

Is this isolated?

What about Mr. Philip A. Cooney who helped "fix the facts"?
"In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports."
But that must have been an isolated event. Or was it? What about the Armstrong Williams story? Remember that one?
"WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush's education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated "covert propaganda" in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban."
I don't know whether all of this manipulation of information is more like Orwell in 1984 and the Ministry of Truth:
But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed -if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.' And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. 'Reality control', they called it: in Newspeak, 'doublethink'.
Or more like Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - - that's all.'
But I fear for America! I fear for a nation where information is freedom and information is at risk!

The Constitution is more than a "goddamned piece of paper!"

Maybe "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose".

There is of course the famous quote from George Santayana who stated:
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
But of course, after the facts have been fixed, history has been removed from the shelves, and information has been replaced with propaganda, we may well end up like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day condemned to repeat historic failures over and over, waiting to wake up to another day when we can learn from the past, discuss our errors, and search for a better way.

America deserves better!



Blogger Dr. Laniac said...

As I recall, Weinstein was seen as another crony appointment at the time, as my teaser headline said: Even cronies have their limits.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Dr. Laniac said...

The limit being, he's called a moratorium on further re-classification until the intelligence agencies demonstrate there's a point to the exercise.

10:49 PM  
Blogger BobsAdvice said...

My favorite comment is that the parallels between Orwell's 1984 and the current Administration is enough that Bush should be sued for plagiarism:"The parallels between Orwell’s dystopian vision and Bush’s post-Sept. 11 governmental policies are so striking some journalists have facetiously accused Bush of plagiarism. Orwell’s book depicts a society dominated by a totalitarian government in which citizens’ liberties are suppressed on the basis of an endless war. In post-Sept. 11 America, the same reasoning is being used to justify turning our nation into a police state."


10:57 PM  

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