Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 18, 2007

Annals of Newspeak

The WaPo staff writers Eggen and Pincus report on a fight between the FBI and the CIA.

The CIA claims torture helped to get information from one Abu Zubaida in Pakistan. The FBI says the torturing didn't give any useful infromation and Abu Zubaida is just a deranged man anyway.

In describing what happened, Eggen and Pincus slip in this sentence:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III eventually ordered the FBI team to withdraw from the interrogation, largely because bureau procedures prohibit agents from being involved in such techniques, according to several officials familiar with the episode.

"Bureau procedures prohibit ..."?

There was a time when laws prohibited the FBI to take part in torture.

Now there are mere "bureau procedures"?

Posted by b on December 18, 2007 at 9:44 UTC | Permalink


Bureau Procedure no. 1: Don't get caught
Bureau Procedure no. 2: Don't allow yourself to be associated with anyone who violates BP no. 1

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 18 2007 11:56 utc | 1

This is a difficult phase during our nation's rise to imperial glory. The transition from the rule of law to the rule of Strong Men requires, at times, the utmost patience from true patriots.

It is not something that happens overnight, although it will seem like that when it finally blossoms into full view.

Although done without fanfare, it is an absolutely vital step to refer to laws prohibiting torture as mere procedures. It is masterful. It is well over 51% of the victory, for it quietly and adroitly hollows out those laws. They no longer quite apply, and laws that no longer quite apply -- quite effectively no longer exist.

There are dumb laws in every State of the Union forbidding various things like eating ice cream on Sunday, using elephants to plow cotton fields, or keeping horses indoors. No one pays any attention to them, other than to chuckle over their inanity. Laws against torture, and treaties banning torture, are relentlessly joining this list.

Now that the restraints against torture have been effectively removed, the next steps will be easy. In the coming few years, this Mueller fellow will eventually be replaced with someone who is not hampered by regard for defunct laws, who can rule his domain within the empire by fiat and decree.

The same process is taking place in every domain of government. Inch by inch, decrepit laws like habeas corpus and quaint concepts like freedom of speech, honest elections, freedom of movement and assembly, and personal privacy become first hollow procedures, then dumb laws, and finally treason. In the vacuum left when laws become dumb, only Strong Men can hold society together.

America set out on this course many long years ago, with the birth of the National Security State after Dubya Dubya Two. We are approaching the flowering time.

The true nature of the Unitary Executive is the Fuehrer Principle, rule by a hierarchy of Strong Men, each ruling their domain with absolute authority. This is precisely the slippery slope of legalized gangsterism rising in America, blithely overlooked by its consumers, the majority of whom still believe they live in a free society.

They don't. They have built their own prison, and elected their own jailers. They are living in a nation of hollow laws, a nation of procedures on their way to becoming dumb laws left on the books only for comic effect. Mute laws, stupid laws, quaint laws for the era before empire, for the era before Strong Men.

The Unitary Executive is rule by thuggery, by fiat, and by raw power. But it is not the cause of America's fall. No, it is the last symptom of America's internal rot, of the merger of unchecked corporate and institutional power with the institution of government itself. The businessman, the soldier, the priest, and the politician are standing forth now as the Strong Men who will ultimately save the nation from dumb laws like that "goddammed piece of paper" the Constitution.

The American populace made room for Strong Men by neglecting the duties of citizenship in favor of life as consumers. They made Strong Men necessary by letting crooks run the banks and towers of corporate power, and shysters write the laws. They demand Strong Men and Messiahs on every hand now to extricate themselves from the consequences of living beyond their means, beyond restraint, beyond moderation or common sense.

Just as they want a Messiah to rescue them from death itself, they want a Strong Man to rescue them from the rigors of citizenship, from the demanding duties of managing the nation. They habitually turn to boundless consumption, constant entertainment, and self congratulation instead, letting whomever promises more of all this to run the country, write the laws, and rule the airwaves.

In such a setting, reality becomes what you wish it to be.

The result is the largest pool of debt in human history, a bankrupt nation currently masquerading as the largest economy in the world. All hollowed out, all ruled by gangsters, by men above the law. The result is that the great American consumer party is over, and the result will be the American Reich, as Americans demand Strong Men to save them from consequences.

All perfectly predictable.

Posted by: UESLA | Dec 18 2007 18:01 utc | 2

i realize the link i provided over at OT deserves to be here in the newspeak thread. i will dispense w/the commentary in hopes typepad w/let it thru. don't miss this orwellian link

Posted by: annie | Dec 19 2007 17:18 utc | 3

more newspeak

Along the lines of using friendly terms that would not irate the Iraqis and in order to paint a friendly or even a happy face on American bases in Iraq, the US military opted to change the names of all of its bases in Iraq into Iraqi-friendly names. Names, Iraqis could relate to, at least on the subconscious level, and hopefully would see it and get used to it as part of their new reality.

Old bases names such as Banzai became Al-adala (Justice), while Eagle became Al-Amal (hope), and Headhunter became Al-Istiqlal (independence), Highlander became Al-Izdehar (prosperity).

Posted by: annie | Dec 19 2007 17:28 utc | 4

inevitable, I suppose, that our institutions are now making war on these concepts:


Posted by: citizen | Dec 19 2007 17:37 utc | 5

How about Al-Ghor (may your world warm), Al-Quohol (may you be relieved of suffering until tomorrow morning) Al-Pharoromeo (may you drive fast and in style) Al-Abhama (sweet home)?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 19 2007 19:53 utc | 6

b, why ignore Mueller's role as a bureaucratic infighter? Or why not at least entertain the hypothesis that he engages in this kind of thing and does it rather well? Without him, for example, the Plame case would have died--or so it seems to me--and of course he was right there in Ashcroft's hospital room to greet the Attorney General.

Seen in this light, his phrasing about "bureaucratic procedures" is well suited to the task at hand: Mueller prevents any FBI role in the torture without risking the hazards of a direct legal challenge to his opponents.

Luther likes to remind us that the world is the devil's playground, but he never argues that everyone plays on the devil's team.

Posted by: alabama | Dec 22 2007 1:07 utc | 7

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