Press Freedom? Obama Just Another Tin-pot Dictator
The one thing I will note is this truly amazing and indescribably revealing defense of President Obama on this story from Mother Jones‘s Kevin Drum. Drum simplistically posits that there are only two choices — you either (1) believe that the imprisoned journalist really is an Al Qaeda member or (2) believe that Obama is a “muderous sociopath” — and since Kevin simply does not believe that the good, kind, noble President Obama would ever want a journalist imprisoned unless he believed he really were really a Terrorist, he’s willing to disregard all of the evidence Scahill gathered in Yemen, as well as the consensus of human rights groups and journalist associations that he was engaged in pure journalism, and simply believe — with zero evidence – that Shaye is a Terrorist. Read it for yourself:
My reply to Drum in his comment section is here, and Scahill’s multiple replies to Drum on Twitter are here, but Drum’s defense really speaks for, and negates, itself. Needless to say, the people who wake up every day literally with no purpose or political argument other than to glorify the Great President and highlight the flaws of his adversaries and critics — literally as in: their political worldview finds no expression beyond the adolescent, simple-minded tribal cry of Democrats Good, Republicans Bad! — immediately embraced Drum’s defense. What’s so remarkable is that none of these people ever even heard of this story before yesterday — they had no idea who Abdulelah Haider Shaye was until Scahill’s article — but (even while expressly admittng their ignorance) they’re willing to speculate, without seeing a whiff of evidence, that this person whom 24 hours ago they did not know even existed is a Terrorist and Al Qaeda member (“Shaye is indeed affiliated with al-Qaeda based on evidence that hasn’t been made public”) because the alternative is unthinkable to them (namely, that Obama — the perpetrator of the ongoing, unprecedented war on whistleblowers — wants to punish a journalist for disclosing facts the U.S. Government wants suppressed and prevent future disclsoures: that just cannot be!). After all, Obama, a Really Good Guy, wants Shaye imprisoned: isn’t that, by itself, a pretty compelling sign that Shaye is a Really Bad Guy?
It’s the Awlaki assassaination all over again, and it’s the crux of authoritarianism everywhere it’s found in the world: if President Obama wants someone punished or killed as a Terrorist, I’m willing to believe the person must be a Terrorist and don’t need to see any evidence of it because I know my Leader is Good and I trust him. As Digby recently observed, after posting a great Tom Tomorrow cartoon on the willingness of progressives like this to accept and defend these absues from Obama: “The fact is that deep down, many Americans really want to be subjects.” They just want their benevolent tyrant to be a sophisticated, East Coast-sounding, eloquent orator — just like conservatives wanted theirs to be a swaggering, evangelical Christian cowboy — because those tribal familiarities ensure that your leader will be exempt from the universal corruption of vast emperor-like powers exercised in the dark (I want this person assassinated; I want this person imprisoned; I will not account to anyone for my decrees, etc.). I can’t tell you how many times during the Bush years I heard this from conservatives: you’re paranoid if you think Bush would do evil things because he’s a good man. As Scahill summarized this mindset last night: “Trust But Don’t Verify. Don’t Question Authority. Speak Power to Truth.”
Just behold the mountains of evidence assembled in Yemen by Scahill — regarding who Shaye actually is (a journalist), what the motives are behind his imprisonment, and what has happened here — that they are not just eager, but willing and proud, to ignore, solely because to acknowledge this evidence would mean that their leader has done something terribly wrong. And that simply cannot be. Reality-based indeed:
[If you're having trouble viewing the segment here, you can watch it here at Democracy Now's site; a transcript will be posted later today, though the video is really worth seeing]