by Joe Scarry
I saw Rep. Thomas Massie (R, KY) on TV last night and he gave a convincing explanation of why Congress always ends up supporting the President’s wars.
During a segment on the Campaign for Liberty Conferenceon the Russian news channel RT – the irony of which I will address in some future blog post! — they showed a clip of Massie explaining how it works:
Step 2: The member lets it be known that s/he is a “no” or “leaning no.”
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zombies and permawar
Step 3: The administration pulls them into a classified briefing.
Step 4: The member turns into a zombie and votes the way the administration wants.
The Ellsberg Connection
This dovetails closely with the description provided by the heroic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg in the film The Most Dangerous Man in America. In the film, Ellsberg recounts his advice to Henry Kissinger, when Kissinger first went to work at the Nixon White House. Ellsberg hold him that he would be receiving classified briefings, and that a four-step process would ensue:
Second, he would feel foolish – realizing how little he had known all along.
Fourth, you stop listening.
It was startling to me to hear this at the exact moment the Syria debate was going on, and the administration was starting its arm-twisting in Congress. For instance, on September 5, I listened toSen. Diane Feinstein (D, CA) speaking to the press, and explaining that, yes, her constituents were “overwhelmingly negative” about military intervention in Syria, but “they don’t know what I know; they haven’t heard what I heard” — i.e. they didn’t have the inside scoop that she had because of classified briefings.
Even members of Congress who are critical of the Administration and highly analytic don’t seem to fully grasp that it’s not enough for the sharing of information to stop with Congress. Take, for instance, the New York Times op-ed “On Syria Vote, Trust, But Verify” by Rep. Alan Grayson (D, FL): his demand for full disclosure is valid (“We have reached the point where the classified information system prevents even trusted members of Congress, who have security clearances, from learning essential facts, and then inhibits them from discussing and debating what they do know. And this extends to matters of war and peace, money and blood. The ‘security state’ is drowning in its own phlegm.”) but he gives the impression that it’s enough that he and other members of Congress are fully briefed (“I need to know all the facts”).
The U.S. government is addicted to secrecy, and that feeds its addiction to permawar. The only solution is to get the information into the hands of the people.