It is reported that the government will drop charges against two lobbyists for the insidious AIPAC, who had been charged, after extensive and expensive FBI investigation, with taking information that they had received in conversation with members of Congress and passing it along to “their colleagues, journalists, and Israeli diplomats”.
‘The New York Times’, which makes the report, notes slyly that the two were charged under “the World War One-era Espionage Act”, as if the Act were, perhaps, ‘quaint’ in Our thoroughly modern and enlightened, and ‘complex’ (and perhaps also ‘dark’, and frakkingly dark) era.
I am no lover of the Espionage Act of that World-War-One era. Broad and blunt, it was designed for ‘wartime’, meaning that truth, accuracy, and dissent were to take a backseat to the all-consuming need of modern corporatist governments to regiment their mass societies by enforcing conformity of opinion and expression and suppressing any dissent as ‘obstructive of the war effort’. The Act, in spirit as well as in letter, is a lethal gas to be loose in a Constitutional, democratic atmosphere.
It is, however, a somewhat inert gas. It’s only really dangerous if a) the government for its own dark purposes comes and releases a canister of it in your immediate vicinity. Or b) if you actually go and do precisely what the law, in its most specific intent, was designed to prevent: give national secrets to foreign governments.
Which apparently is exactly what the two accused have been doing.
No surprise there.
The amazing thing is that the government has gone to court to prevent a public trial – thus any trial at all – even though the FBI is very much anxious to see these two go to trial, and very confident in what its investigation has revealed. It’s not often that the government goes against the FBI – at least nowadays.
Back in J. Edgar Hoover’s day very few pols would risk dissing the FBI – Hoover didn’t have a little list; he had a bulging set of file cabinets, each file folder on a different pol or his family or friends, each of their foibles, weaknesses, and treacheries, domestic as well as professional. Nope, only Bobby Kennedy really risked Hoover’s wrath.
Not even Jack Kennedy did that. Although, come to think of it, he did oppose Israel’s then-top-secret efforts to violate international law and ‘get the Bomb’.
Well, that’s old news, surely.
Nowadays, the government has battened on ‘getting tough on crime’. It’s a policy that Democrats and Republicans can love, bipartisanly beautiful. Democrats get to assuage the ‘fears’ of its Identities, all of whom are – to hear their ‘advocates’ tell it – living in fear of this or of that, especially of ‘men’. While Republicans get to engorge the police power of the government, the better to enforce a corporate discipline on a too-undisciplined post-Sixties rabble and far more pliable immigrants. What’s not to like?
So what’s the problem? Why would the government go against its own marquis investigative service?
Well, ‘espionage’ starts to shade uncomfortably close to “treachery” (in the still not-quaint Framers’ phrase), and to treason. And while any just about any American is now liable to – oh, say – sex-offender or domestic violence conviction, or the type of ‘domestic terrorism’ that comes from saying things the government doesn’t want to hear in public, yet only a very few Americans are downrange for ‘espionage’ and ‘treason’.
And-But they are the self-styled Beltway ‘elites’.
Much like the Imperial-era Japanese thought that bombing was only something that happened to other people, law-and-order is all well and good – for other people. But the Beltway elites – like their Japanese counterparts of that bygone era – consider themselves to be something special. When, after all, you ‘get it’, and you are doing whatever it takes, but in a good cause … well, then, you deserve a certain amount of respect – don’t you? – for going to all that unpleasant trouble.
Much as a local police chief in Massachusetts not long ago was defended by one upstanding individual: the chief had set up a gun show from which he himself profited, during which a father allowed his boy-child to handle a loaded automatic machine-weapon, as a result of which the boy accidentally shot himself to death. The law was designed to prosecute criminals, said the erstwhile upstanding individual – and police chiefs, by definition, are not criminals. Ergo, they should not be prosecuted.
I can’t help but get the feeling that there are a lot of law schools today where this type of thinking, in one form or another, is ‘taught’ as solid and very cutting-edge ‘legal thinking’. Something like a right-wing variant of ‘oppressed people by definition cannot oppress’ … that sort of thing.
So, getting back to the present matter, there are the Beltway ‘elites’, which now include just about the entire political class, which means just about the entire Congress, much of the present Executive Branch, the hierarchs of both Parties, and vast numbers of high-ranking functionaries, past, present, and aspiring (the charming Russian for this whole bunch is nomenklatura, and hardly irrelevant here). These honorable folk most certainly do not want to have a public trial about espionage or treason, let alone about that even far more capacious Constitutional evil, the aforesaid Framers’ conception of “treachery”.
After all, in addition to pandering to the demands of the gender-feminists and their ‘revolution’ and their ‘war’ on male-hood, the ‘elites’ also welded themselves to the state/realm of Israel.
For which they have been receiving their reward, regularly.
I haven’t seen the government filing withdrawing the charges (over the objections of the FBI, who begged last week to let the case go to trial as scheduled on June 2).
The government attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s office and at the Justice Department “agonized” over the decision, if that’s any consolation.
But apparently they didn’t “agonize” enough. Maybe it was just “imprudent’ behavior, but not actually criminal, muses the government.
Surely, especially in such a significant matter, a jury of American citizens could be trusted to know the difference between genuine imprudence and genuine crime. Apparently, thinketh the government, not. Or then again, perhaps thinketh the government that an American jury would indeed see through to a genuine crime, and forthwith. Oy!
And in seeing through to the crime, might also see beyond to the engorged matrix that has enwebbed the entire Beltway and the political class, and to their great personal profit.
Because, as the article admits, “the case raised delicate political issues about the role played by American Jewish supporters of Israel and their close, behind-the-scenes relationships with top government officials”. Ah. So ‘delicacy’, and the ‘sensitivity’ to ‘delicacy’ overrides any concern for espionage, treason, or Constitutional treachery. I’m not seeing the progress here.
And I’m not seeing the Constitutional seriousness and gravitas one would expect from a nomenklatura that in the name of the most serious concern for ‘democracy’ did deliberately and preventively assault, invade, occupy, and otherwise wage war on not one but two sovereign nations, killing in the process hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
But, amazingly, “civil liberties and open-government advocates asserted that the defendants were being singled out for activities that were part of the accepted and routine way that American policy on Israel and the Middle East has been formulated for years, with people exchanging information”.
So Washington, then, has been operating not so much as the grave and serious capitol of a world-class democracy in a grievously bethump’t world, but instead has been operating like Vienna or Prague or Trieste in the Edwardian era, or some Ruritanian, late-Habsburg sieve of serio-comic intrigue, with spies, champagne, grand balls, and everybody rawther the best of friends actually.
Ach. Oy. Oy gevalt. Frak.
Washington City has not had a marshal for far too long. But, hey, unlike Gary Cooper, The People have sort of ridden out to the mall. Time to dig out the badge and get back to town, People.
But then, reading with the eyes of the Soviet citizen, why would the FBI go after these guys at all, if it were just a case of ‘imprudence’? Why would the FBI – bereft of Hoover’s protective files – take it upon itself to commit institutional suicide and go after these guys for the equivalent of something less than a misdemeanor? It’s not as if everybody in the Beltway world doesn’t know that you can’t bring up the Israeli elephant in the middle of the room unless you intend to professionally finish your days in some Washington equivalent of Siberia.
After all, the State of Israel is not the 51st State of the Union. In fact, it isn’t even an ally. There is no treaty of alliance; the Israeli government has refused to sign one. Why? Because to sign such a treaty, you first have to describe precisely the actual geographic boundaries of your nation, so that your partner will know clearly when your sovereignty has been violated and the ‘defense’ part kicks in.
But of course, the purpose and intent of the Israeli government and its predecessor founding organization has been, since long before the Holocaust, to get the entire Biblical land of Israel. And, in the depth of LBJ’s and the Democrats’ political desperation of the late Sixties, to use the United States as its eager-to-please pitbull for the purpose of enforcing the ‘deed’ registered in the Scriptures.
And the Israeli government can’t very well claim to be an innocent, weak, victimized, well-intentioned David if it officially declares itself to have the appetite of (no, not Goliath, but rather) a Pharaoh.
So no treaty of alliance.
And in fact, since the end of World War Two, the State of Israel has been the only nation on the planet to deliberately, repeatedly, attack and kill US sailors on a US naval vessel flying a huge American flag in international waters on a bright, breezy day. In June of 1967, the USS Liberty.
They said it was an accident, which if it actually was meant that they should have had all their shooting toys taken away from them forthwith. And if it wasn’t, then LBJ and the desperate-Dems and then the neocon Republicans should be considered prime candidates for a type of sustained treachery that I doubt even the Framers could envision with equanimity.
Robert McNamara, who with LBJ personally ordered the rescue fighter-jets to turn back to their carrier, and who has the most remarkable memory (at the age of ninety-plus) for chit-chats he has had with beautiful and important people, compliments paid to him, and what was served at some of his favorite dinner parties long decades ago, claims to have utterly no memory of the day on which that ship was repeatedly attacked and those sailors died. No memory of the only time in US history that a President and a Secretary of Defense purposely prevented the rescue of US sailors attacked in peacetime; he put LBJ on the radio-telephone, sat there and listened while LBJ yelled at the admiral on the carrier, even while the ship and those sailors were being blown away, and McNamara can’t recall the day at all. Maybe the dinner party that night was so parfait that it drove that day’s activities out of his mind. Or maybe he got to sit next to some really hot, diamond-bedizened babe. Such world-class maturity.
No wonder these people think We are attention-challenged imbeciles and treat Us (and Our Constitution) accordingly. Or do We think that the Constitution is not Ours but theirs?
But the show just keeps getting better.
“The decision to drop the case comes just days before AIPAC is scheduled to begin its annual policy conference in Washington, which has often served as an advertisement of its influence.” So now, with their paymasters and the ‘big boys’ in town, the indentured pols can go biddy-biddy-boom with them and will be able to demonstrate just what the big-boys are getting for their money. Like some enwhored Chicago aldermen going to Al Capone’s annual dinner party having pulled the cops off yet another of Al’s rackets. Feh. The pols can now prove that they’re not ho’s; they’re ho’s who can deliver. And that makes all the difference, in their world. Feh and frak and frakking feh.
The usual claptrap to the effect that the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria made the decision all on its own, and Obama just “approved the recommendation”. Yah. Like military judges, lawyers, and juries just do their thing in complete independence of any thought of their professional future, their kids’ college tuition, their car payments … yah. And the Chicago aldermen in Capone’s pocket were acting in complete independence, with nary a thought to the wads of cash – or what would happen if they ever tried to back out of the deal.
Enough of babbling about what the pols should do. It’s time to start figuring what We should do.
The Beltway is an Augean stable. And there’s no Hercules around. And in a democracy there shouldn’t be. There should be The People.
That’s Us. We are in History. We were written into it in 1787 by a very capable bunch of folks, reminded of Our role in no uncertain terms by Mr. Lincoln in 1863 at Gettysburg and 1865 on the steps of the Capitol, and it’s time to ‘man up* and do – as the Beltway likes to say – ‘whatever it takes’.
*I use the term ‘man up not in any genderist sense but as a shorthand for ‘human’; thus ‘human up’, and I mean ‘human’ in the best sense of the word, humans as mature, active, engaged Citizens, engaged in the oversight of their own governance. Let Us therefore brace Ourselves to Our duties … and all that. All of it.