Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks and Watergate II

A legend has left us. Rosa Parks has died at the age of 92. Her act of civil disobediance, refusing to move to the back of the bus, taught a lesson to us all. One person can make a huge difference. That one act helped galvanize the budding civil rights movement. Sometimes it only takes one.

Over the years, her act has been undermined by the myth that she was simply too tired and that she didn't mean to make a protest. The New York Times, thankfully, helps set this one straight:
Over the years myth tended to obscure the truth about Mrs. Parks. One legend had it that she was a cleaning woman with bad feet who was too tired to drag herself to the rear of the bus. Another had it that she was a "plant" by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The truth, as she later explained, was that she, like thousands of other blacks, was tired of being humiliated, of having to adapt to the byzantine rules, some codified as law and others passed on as tradition, that reinforced the position of blacks as something less than full human beings.

"She was fed up," said Elaine Steele, a longtime friend and executive director of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. "She was in her 40's. She was not a child. There comes a point where you say, 'No, I'm a full citizen, too. This is not the way I should be treated.'"
Thank her. Thank all those who have stood up for injustice so that you can live free on this planet. Freedom is a word all too often used to promote war abroad. But real freedom begins at home, in how we treat each other.

Freedom also requires truthful information. How many of you had heard the "too tired to go to the back of the bus" story? I had. I believed it at one time. But fortunately, the truth is out there, and if we look for it we will usually find it. It gets harder in a case like the Kennedy assassination, where so much disinformation has been sown that finding the truth, and only the truth, seems almost impossible at this point. But the more we look, the closer we get.

In other news, I'm watching in awe as Watergate II unfolds in front of me. The parallels between Watergate and Plamegate are so interesting. Both the Nixon and Bush administratations clearly had an "enemies" list. Larry O'Brien, the head of the DNC and a key target of the Watergate bugging operation, earned a spot on the enemies list because he knew of the illlegal Howard Hughes bribe to Nixon via Bebe Rebozo. Joseph Wilson earned himself a spot on Bush's enemies list when he spoke up and said that the evidence showing Saddam Hussein purchasing Yellow cake was as phony as a three-dollar bill. (In the UK, when Dr. David Kelly accused Tony Blair's people of presenting "sexed up" intelligence, Kelly was found dead. Suicide, officially, but many believe it was murder.).

Both Nixon and Bush made an enemy of the CIA. In Nixon's time, the CIA hated Nixon for his attempts to circumvent the intelligence establishment, to make a new intelligence service answerable only to him. In Bush's time, the neocons pressured the CIA to fudge intelligence to make the case for war against Iraq. And when the lie was exposed, the neocons outed Valerie Plame, the wife of Joe Wilson, in a deliberate act of retribution. Never mind that the outing presented a tremendous blow to a series of CIA operations and fronts. Never mind that many people's lives were suddenly put at risk. And especially never mind the almost 2000 American soldiers and countless thousands of innocent Iraqis who paid the price of the war for oil and Middle East empire.

During Watergate, the CIA leaked stories to the press guaranteed to further harm Nixon in an attempt which was ultimately successful in removing him from office. Today, CIA operatives speak overtly from the pages of the Washington Post (Walter Pincus) and other places to ensure no angle is overlooked in the attempt to expose the cover-up. Capitol Blue reports,
As usual, it’s not the act itself but the cover up that brings someone down,” says retired political science professor George Harleigh, who worked in the Nixon administration. “It’s a sad lesson that those in power never learn.”

I am sorry Ms. Plame was outed. I thought that was a particularly heinous act of retribution. As someone who has and will continue to be a strong critic of the CIA, I also want to acknowledge that the Agency does do good work, along with the dastardly, and exposing an operative soley for political gain when the operative is not breaking the law or covering up the Kennedy assassination or participating in a crime, or doing some other act worthy of exposure, is not something I support.

In addition, I truly feared we were on a path to a nuclear confrontation under Bush's extreme actions. I hope that this distracts and fetters the administration so they can't roam around making even more enemies. We've accumulated quite enough. We sorely need someone to turn the Titanic around, someone who could present a more loving, amenable face to the world, when Bush leaves office (which I'm hoping will happen before the end of his term, followed quickly by Cheney, just as Nixon's Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to step down.) Then maybe, just maybe, we can all breath a little, for a while. Until then, I am holding my breath. Patrick Fitzgerald's indictments must stick.


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