The arrogance of power
Two news stories of the past few days, seemingly unrelated but equally infuriating, say much about the mindset of the power elite.
First is the news today that British leaders are refusing to investigate how MI5 had tracked two of the London train bombers for months, but the plot was still carried out anyway:
Home Secretary John Reid has rejected calls from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats for an independent inquiry into the 2005 London bombings.
Opposition parties renewed their calls after it emerged at a bomb plot trial that two of the 7/7 bombers had been tracked by MI5 for a time during 2004.
But Mr Reid said an inquiry would cause a "massive diversion of resources" from the security services' operations.
For the autocratic Mr. Reid, this is a masterly gambit: "We can't possibly stop down everything and investigate whether we allowed a terrorist attack to happen under our noses, because it'll distract us from the important work of allowing the next attack to happen under our noses." Brilliant! Smashing!
And how many people will fall for it? Well, I suspect at least as many people as fell for this news last week:
The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.
"The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.
"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."
Now having been one of Sen. Durbin's constituents for eight years, I'm accustomed to slippery statements on his part. But this one really takes the cake. While Durbin did vote in 2002 against the blank-check resolution unconstitutionally delegating Congress's war-making power to the president, he kept his silence about the bogus intelligence — doing that would have rocked the boat as he sought reelection that year.
As Juan Cole points out:
He says he remained quiet because the briefings of the Intelligence Committee were classified. Well, that is still true, so why is he talking now? And, I have just two words for the good Senator: Daniel Ellsberg.
To which I'll add one word: Amen.