Three things happened this past week that any American who cherishes liberty and justice should be on high alert about. I know that this administration has never ceased to piss us off, and they have done truly reprehensible things, but these three things together indicate to me that they’re organized enough to move with great force on the Bannon Plan of destroying government, and we need to watch carefully because the time for taking it to the streets may well be nigh.
The first thing is the indictment of Assange. Now, before anyone says, “Who cares? He’s a horrible person and deserves it,” I assure you that if Assange rots in jail, that’s just fine with me. However, the case against him is for publishing illegally obtained material. It’s NOT for stealing. It is not for any of the ways in which he’s a horrible person. It’s for publishing something that was stolen. If he is successfully prosecuted, then the government will be able to prevent whatever it wants to prevent from being published simply by classifying it. That would mean that the country would never know if, say, their president made a deal with Iran where Iran bought military weapons so that the president could use the money to support fighters in Nicaragua because the president couldn’t get Congress to authorize that support. It would mean that the only news you got was the news the government wanted you to get, true or not. Think about that.
Thing two is the president authorizing the attorney general to declassify intelligence information. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen is a clear attempt to propagandize the nation into reelecting the president. Barr has already proven that he will say anything regardless of its truth, and there is no reason to think he won’t cherry pick the information he declassifies to paint a stark and wholly dishonest picture whose only purpose is to keep the current administration in power. This is much more powerful and much more potentially devastating to the election than anything the Russians could do, and it’s definitely underway. Barr is having the time of his life, and we are quite unprotected, and becoming more so as thousands of intelligence folks, the ones who do a lot of the protecting, are grappling with questions about whether it’s worth it to keep doing their jobs.
Finally, we learned Thursday night on the Rachel Maddow show that Mueller does not want to testify publicly to Congress. He’s okay with a transcript, but not a live testimony. When asked, Nadler speculated that Mueller wanted to avoid the inevitable circus-y aspects of public testimony. That may be, but I have my own speculation. Mueller is an upright guy, like one of the uprightest of the upright. In my estimation, it would take more than distaste for congressional theatrics to make him leery of public testimony. Mueller, more than anyone, knows how dangerous the situation we’re in is, and he knows what he’s personally up against. I think what he’s up against is very, very bad and very, very strong.
First, he went for the Muslims. Then he went for the asylum-seeking immigrants. Now Trump is very literally going after the press and his political enemies, not to attempt to merely harm their reputations, but to jail, or even to kill them. Remember, he has accused his political enemies of treason, some of them by name. The punishment for treason is death.
Our institutions are right now, this minute, under far more strain than almost anyone has imagined. The time is not coming. It’s here.