James Bovard – April 18, 2023
Do Americans have the right to know if the $100 billion in their tax dollars that the Biden administration is delivering to Ukraine is being wasted? No, according to the U.S. Congress – which recently voted against creating an Inspector General to investigate whether handouts to the most corrupt government in Europe were being stolen.
Do Americans have the right to know if their own government blew up the Nord Stream pipeline, the biggest act of environmental terrorism in history? The Washington Post reported that the message from the U.S. and western European governments is “Don’t talk about Nord Stream.” So almost all reporters were “good boys” and moved along.
Do Americans have the right to know if Biden administration officials have perennially made false statements about the prowess and victories of the Ukrainian army fighting the Russians?
No, according to Washington journalists who proudly fly Ukrainian flags on their own lavish homes.
Regardless of the horrendous death tolls suffered by both the Ukrainian and Russian armies, the Powers That Be in Washington are doing just fine and living comfortably.
Except for another damn leak.
In the last 10 days, Washington has been rocked by leaks of top secret information on Ukraine, Russia, Israel, and a few other topics. The response by the Washington establishment and media is akin to the mob in “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” who stoned an old man who said the word “Jehovah” out loud.
On Thursday, the FBI arrested Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member. He was charged with retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents. According to the Washington Post, a friend said that Teixeira was “a devout Catholic and a libertarian with an interest in guns and doubts about America’s future.” A Post editorial noted that the alleged culprit had “complained of government overreach,” so obviously he was up to no good.
At this point, it isn’t clear whether Teixeira intended to leak the documents or whether people on the Discord gaming group where the documents were allegedly posted chose to make them public without his permission. His motivation is unclear.
The documents reveal that the Ukrainian military is in far worse shape than the Biden administration claimed. The expected Spring offensive by the Ukrainian army will likely be a flop if not a disaster. They reveal that the Ukrainian government was behind an attack in Belarus. The documents also contained embarrassing information on Israel’s Mossad, the Russian government, and U.S. spying on South Korea.
Thus far, it appears that none of the information that allegedly came out via Teixeira has endangered the lives of any U.S. soldiers or American citizens. But Teixeira is guilty of exposing boatloads of bootlickers and liars in Washington.
White House National Security spokesman John Kirby warned the media that the leaked documents are “not intended for public consumption… This is information that has no business in the public domain.”
Unfortunately, that is how federal policymakers feel about almost all the information regarding U.S. foreign policy. That’s why the government creates trillions of new pages of secrets per year.
According to local legends, there was a bygone era when Washington journalists fought zealously to expose government cover-ups. But the response to the latest leaks makes that story difficult to swallow.
New York Times military correspondent David Philipps tweeted, “The NYT worked feverishly to find the identity of the guy leaking [Top Secret] docs on Discord. Ironically, if the same guy had leaked to the NYT, we’d be working feverishly to conceal it.” (Philipps wasn’t endorsing that fever.) Journalist Michael Tracey scoffed, “Contributing writer at The Atlantic @AmyZegart declares the real ‘heroes’ of the week were all the amazing journalists who participated in a ‘dragnet’ to identify the leaker, at which time the FBI ‘moved into action’ and nabbed him. A true landmark feat of journalistic heroism.”
The Washington press corps showed vastly more enthusiasm for tracking down the leaker than for discovering who bombed the Nord Stream pipeline. At a Pentagon press conference, journalists showed far more indignation about the breach of federal secrecy than about the lies that the documents exposed. (Here’s a film clip of journalists demanding “that more be done to prevent future leaks.”)
Don’t expect the Fourth Estate to fess up to their conflict of interest. Many of the reports on the leaker are written by people who previously peddled official lies on Ukraine and other topics. When the Biden administration exploits the leak to further suppress freedom of speech on the Internet, expect most of the Washington press corps to cheer him.
Will the uproar over the leaks spur some Americans to recognize how their “self-government” has become a parody? The Biden administration is tacitly invoking a divine right to continue deceiving the American people regarding Ukraine and a boatload of other foreign policies. But supposedly, everything Biden and his appointees do automatically incarnates “the will of the people” because of tens of millions of mail-in ballots a few years ago. It doesn’t matter if Biden seems perennially confused or unaware of where he is or what he is saying. Is the “holy ghost of democracy” hovering over Biden’s shoulder thanks to “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”? Unfortunately, the answer is classified.
Are we defaulting to the “cannon fodder version of democracy”? Do Americans have the right to know if the Biden administration is dragging them into World War Three? Unfortunately, few mainstream media outlets have either the curiosity or the courage to doggedly investigate and expose the possible perils of the Biden administration’s escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Biden’s appointees have vigorously opposed any ceasefire in that war. It is a national disgrace that such comments have not spurred widespread outrage at Team Biden’s efforts to perpetuate the carnage. A Washington Post editorial condemned the alleged leaker: “Breaking the laws for a psychic joyride is a despicable betrayal of trust and oaths.” But what about the media’s complicity in championing a war that makes the Hearst newspapers’ campaign for war with Spain in the 1890s look like child’s play?
Almost no one who condemns leaks of confidential information offers any alternative for Americans learning what “their” government is doing. As long as average Americans stay in their place, paying and obeying, everything will work out fine – at least for Washington real estate values. If democracy is now little more than a system where insiders deceive people for their own good, how is it different than all the other regimes that oppressed people throughout history?
Originally published at Mises.org. James Bovard is the author of ten books, including 2012’s Public Policy Hooligan, and 2006’s Attention Deficit Democracy. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, and many other publications.
Image source: Adobe Stock