April 13, 2006

A Functional Democracy Requires Government Accountability

I want accountability and I want it now, damn it. And it's the media's job - not blogs like this - to demand that accountability. So where are they?

We now have governments in Australia, the USA and Britain which lie repeatedly, which refuse to ever admit mistakes, and which refuse to ever hold anybody accountable when things go wrong. When are the media going to call them out?

I have very, very, very little faith in government remaining in me. If everybody starts to feel like me, however, things will get very messy indeed.

So it's time for the Western media to stand up and be counted. Lloyd Garver at CBS News gets it:
What concerns me is, why didn't President Bush just come out and say that he was the leaker? Instead, when this leak first became public, the president said that anyone in his administration involved in the leak would be fired. Is he going to fire himself now?

If he didn't mislead us when he acted outraged about the leak, what was he doing? ...

President Bush has been saying that this investigation should run its course, but he's known all along who the big leaker was — him.

... But why did they leak it in the first place? If the administration really believed in the "intelligence" about weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear material from Africa, why not just say this was the case?

If it's not illegal for the President to decide to declassify something, why not just declassify it and tell everyone what's in it instead of secretly leaking it?

If they primarily wanted the threat from Iraq to appear greater than it really was, we should know about that. If they leaked the report to discredit one of their critics, Joseph Wilson, and/or his CIA wife, Valerie Plame, we should know about that. Now is not the time for more "movie acting."

Just tell us the truth.
Unfortunately, Op-Ed columns like this are not half as common as they should be right now. From E&P:
It's been about a week since the news that President Bush may have set in motion the leaking of intelligence in 2003. But, so far, few syndicated columnists have commented about Bush's apparent declassification action.
It's just not good enough. Look, here's another example. Newsweek looks at how Bush is becoming familiar with the "M Word":
In fact, it took until this week—during another speech on Iraq, this time to foreign-policy students in Washington—for the president to say this about the same topic: "We have learned from our mistakes. We've adjusted our approach to meet the changing circumstances on the ground; we've adjusted depending upon the actions of the enemy."

Earlier speeches on Iraq mentioned the M word, but always in the context of someone else...
Yet the article goes on to say that Condi Rice "took excessive heat" for admitting the US had made "a host of tactical mistakes" in Iraq. "Excessive"? A hundred thousand Iraqis are dead, damn it! Their country is in ruins! Who has ever been held accountable for these "mistakes"? Who has ever been fired? Until that happens, no criticism can be considered excessive!

Unable to take a firm and principle stance, the Newsweek article becomes a jello-like piece of waffling nonsense (I sense an editor's hand at work here):
The president's readiness to concede to a mistake—and do so explicitly—marks a watershed moment for his administration. It may be a statement of the obvious that will satisfy few of his critics and change nothing on the ground in Iraq. But it is yet another sign that the White House recognizes how its political fortunes have changed forever—and how public opinion has shifted against the war...

Perhaps, with no more elections ahead of him, Bush feels he has more leeway to speak freely. Or perhaps he feels he needs to reconnect with the public in ever-more-human ways. Either way, it's time for the press corps to demand something other than the M word. Maybe it's time to ask him to say sorry.
Maybe? Do you reckon? Duh!!!

No wonder increasing numbers of people in the West are turning to Al Jazeera for an alternative viewpoint:
To save their face, Bush and his team continue to lie. They all lied, without exception, about the Iraq War. When news broke last week that Bush personally authorized the leak of secret intelligence ahead of the Iraq War to justify the invasion, Republicans couldn’t defend their corrupt and morally-bankrupt leader, admitting privately that Bush’s Presidency will go down in history as a monumental failure. And Democrats cited Bush’s repeated denials of any knowledge of secret information leaks.
Even Google seems to be ahead of the Western media curve... Type the word “failure“ now and it returns Bush’s biography on the White House website (previously, you had to enter the complete phrase “miserable failure”). And a search for “weapons of mass destruction” lists a faux error page saying “These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed”.

That sort of thing may be good for a laugh, but it is nothing like the kind of genuine public accountability that is needed now if anything resembling faith in government is to be preserved.


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