White House Press Secretary turned journalist says he was instructed not to acknowledge any drone program even if questioned about it during press conferences. Robert Gibbs reportedly described this communications strategy as "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" and further added
the White House's denial of the program "when it’s obviously happening, undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes."The White House has refused thus far to release the legal memos they use to justify extrajudicial assassination. Apparently the fact that your taxes pay the salary of everyone in the White House, in the CIA, at the drone bases, and the special folks who prepare the "kill list" for Tuesday review doesn't buy you a right to significant information.
Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy believes the public has the right to know and has called on the Senate to conduct hearings where information could be brought to light:
The Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to do oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the CIA is conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and since this is a controversial policy, the Senate Intelligence Committee should be doing oversight of that.
But, as the Los Angeles Times recently noted, the Senate Intelligence Committee has never held a public hearing on CIA drone strikes. Indeed, for the year prior to the recent confirmation hearing of John Brennan to head the CIA, it never held a public hearing at all.
Following Brennan's confirmation hearing, Politico reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she was unaware of reports that U.S. officials assumed any male of fighting age killed in a strike was a combatant — a method likely to undercount the number of civilian deaths.On the other side of the coin, what happens to those who dare to share the truth of what our government is up to? CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou just began a 30 month prison sentence for his leaks about torture. Coverage by Democracy Now! notes the irony that Krirakou never tortured anyone, while those who did torture are not being sent to prison. Information sharing genius Aaron Swartz was hounded to death by prosecutors for merely giving folks access to academic journals, and Julian Assange has been in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for months now rather than face extradition to the U.S. for Wikileaks' participation in sharing a wealth of information with the general public.
Assange is justified in seeking to remain beyond the grasp of the U.S. government -- his most famous accomplice in the quest to bring some information about U.S. government doings into the light of day, Bradley Manning, has been incarcerated for 1,000 days and has yet to be brought to trial.
|U.S. Army personnel shooting from a helicopter at a van rescuing injured civilians. (From the "Collateral Murder" video which is probably Manning's most famous leak.)|
Two t.v. news channels showed up in Portland, Maine on February 23 to record a rally organized by CODEPINK Maine marking Bradley's 1,000th day in jail. But the editors at both stations must have killed the story, because in the end all you get is my amateurish video. (Apologies to Occupy Maine's attorney John Branson for accidentally unsynching his audio -- what he had to say is well worth hearing.)
|Bellows looks on as Bradley Manning supporters sign a petition calling for his release. You can sign it online.|
My CODEPINK associate Pat Taub distributed flyers in downtown Portland in advance of the rally. She said that every single person she encountered while asking in shops if she could post a flyer -- had never heard of Bradley Manning. (Go ahead, try it yourself. Search for Portland, Maine t.v. mentions of Bradley Manning. After all, he only shared the information that helped start the "Arab Spring" and Occupy Wall St. and...)