Mukasey and the Corporate Media: Part of the Program
Glenn Greenwald has been all over the latest outrage from
Bush lackey Attorney General Abu Gonzales Michael Mukasey:
Last week, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered in San Francisco, Attorney General Michael Mukasey revealed a startling and extremely newsworthy fact. As I wrote last Saturday, Mukasey claimed that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was aware of a telephone call being made by an Al Qaeda Terrorist from what he called a "safe house in Afghanistan" into the U.S., but failed to eavesdrop on that call. Some help is needed from readers here to generate the attention for this story that it requires.
In that speech, Mukasey blamed FISA's warrant requirement for the failure to eavesdrop on that call -- an assertion which is, for multiple reasons that I detailed in that post, completely false. He then tearfully claimed that FISA therefore caused the deaths of "three thousand people who went to work that day." For obvious reasons, the Attorney General's FISA falsehoods themselves are extremely newsworthy, but it is the story he told about the pre-9/11-planning call from Afghanistan itself that is truly new, and truly extraordinary.
Critically, the 9/11 Commission Report -- intended to be a comprehensive account of all relevant pre-9/11 activities -- makes no mention whatsoever of the episode Mukasey described. What has been long publicly reported in great detail are multiple calls that were made between a global communications hub in Yemen and the U.S. -- calls which the NSA did intercept without warrants (because, contrary to Mukasey's lie, FISA does not and never did require a warrant for eavesdropping on foreign targets) but which, for some unknown reason, the NSA failed to share with the FBI and other agencies. But the critical pre-9/11 episode Mukasey described last week is nowhere to be found in the 9/11 Report or anywhere else. It just does not exist.
And in an update, Greenwald reports on an email he received from 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow:
That's polite Beltway talk for saying that nothing like what Mukasey described actually happened. Does anyone on TV other than Keith Olbermann care that the Attorney General of the United States just invented a critical episode about 9/11 that never actually happened -- tearing up as he did it -- in order to scare Americans into supporting the administration's desired elimination of spying restrictions and blame FISA supporters for the 9/11 attacks? We still ought to hear from Hamilton and/or Kean.
In further updates, Greenwald says Tom Kean wants an email to which he can comment, and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers is demanding answers from Mukasey. And as to the corporate media's coverage of the story, Greenwald links to this post by Dan Gilmor of the Center for Citizen Media, which is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University Law School:
It’s vastly vastly worse journalism that virtually the entire media establishment has failed to pick up on a story of real significance. Why are journalists not hounding the Justice Department, White House and Congress for answers? (The failure of Congress to ask obvious questions is nothing new for that weak-kneed crowd, sadly. And it’s scary that the presidential candidates don’t care, either.)
Gillmor describes it thusly:
A truly extraordinary example of journalistic malfeasance is playing out right now.
But digby sees it as part of a larger pattern:
Here's the thing. I keep hearing weird stuff like this lately. First, you have both McCain and Liebermann making similar "gaffes" about Iraq and Iran. Then we have Mukasey out there making a "gaffe" in a speech about FISA causing 9/11. Perhaps I'm being a conspiracy monger myself, but these alleged bloopers are all so self-serving it would be foolish to not at least consider it.
One of the things that the Bush administration proved conclusively (as if we already didn't know) was that you can fool most of the people for quite some time with the clever use of language. They don't technically lie, they just constantly juxtapose certain words and create associations where none previously existed until a whole bunch of people believe something they've never explicitly been told.
The conflating of Saddam and 9/11 was a master touch. Many people believed it for years --- it was the fundamental underpinning for the war. I can't help but wonder if the conclusion among the Straussians is that this is the best method for manufacturing consent. After all, it worked.
It would be hard to believe that Michael Mukasey would go this far into the rabbit hole if he hadn't already demonstrated his total lack of intellectual integrity and principle with his tortured defense of ... torture. But he's obviously a complete company man, capable of anything. McCain and Liebermann are both Iran obsessives who will sell their own mothers to get the public on board for a grand old war with Tehran.
Of course, all of this works because the journalistic malfeasance described by Gillmor isn't actually extraordinary. It's anything but. It's routine. It's what the more alert among us have come to expect. And it's a big part of the reason Bush and company have been able to get away with lie after lie, and disaster after disaster. It's a big part of the reason why they take for granted that they can. As digby writes:
I don't know whether all of this is planned or even conscious. But I can see a tried and true narrative reanimating itself before our eyes, one which will helpfully reintroduce some old themes about fifth columns and scary sleeper cells that haven't been successful for a couple of years now.
Yes, they're going to try to scare us again. It's what they do. It's all they know how to do. Cheat, steal, and if you get caught lie. And the corporate media will let them get away with it. Because it's part of the program.