8/11/2005

Daily Kos: Thought police, everywhere you look

the ..case of [a] Washington Post reporter.. The administration assigned minders to follow him around personally, with the express purpose of preventing officials he talked to from giving him their "unvarnished" opinions:... No, the minders weren't there to monitor me. They were there to let the guests, my sources on inaugural night, know that any complaint, any unguarded statement, any off-the-reservation political observation, might be noted. But maybe someday they'll be monitoring something more important than an inaugural ball, and the source could be you.

Thought police, everywhere you look
by Simplify
Thu Aug 11th, 2005 at 05:12:37 CDT

...plus a proactive diatribe on what to do about it (at the end).

This from the end of today's Washington Post article on the newly revealed 9/11 Commission evidence:

Mr. Felzenberg confirmed an account by Mr. Weldon's staff that the briefing, at the commission's offices in Washington, had been conducted by Dietrich L. Snell, one of the panel's lead investigators, and had been attended by a Pentagon employee acting as an observer for the Defense Department; over the commission's protests, the Bush administration had insisted that an administration "minder" attend all the panel's major interviews with executive branch employees. Mr. Snell referred questions to Mr. Felzenberg.

Then there's the much-ballyhooed (in the blogosphere) case of another Washington Post reporter who wrote an article about the 2nd Bush inagural festivities. The administration assigned minders to follow him around personally, with the express purpose of preventing officials he talked to from giving him their "unvarnished" opinions:

* Simplify's diary :: ::
*

Several reporters covering the balls were surprised to find themselves being monitored by young "escorts," who followed them from hors d'oeuvres table to dance floor and even to the bathroom.

...

As I was dictating from my notes, something flashed across my face and neatly snatched my cell phone from of my hand. I looked up to confront a middle-aged woman, her face afire with rage. "You ignored the rules, and I'm throwing you out!" she barked, snapping my phone shut. "You told that girl you didn't need an escort. That's a lie! You're out of here!"

...

Their real purpose only occurred to me after I had gone home for the night, when I remembered a brief conversation with a woman I was interviewing. During the middle of our otherwise innocuous encounter, she suddenly noticed the presence of my minder. She stopped for a moment, glanced past me, then resumed talking.

No, the minders weren't there to monitor me. They were there to let the guests, my sources on inaugural night, know that any complaint, any unguarded statement, any off-the-reservation political observation, might be noted. But maybe someday they'll be monitoring something more important than an inaugural ball, and the source could be you.

Presumably the others who had minders, as well as reporters before or since who have been subjected to them, haven't mentioned it in the media because their editors don't want to risk losing "access" to the administration. The papers and TV news shows have minders of their very own.

Of course, there's the ultimate minder: Cheney kept a watchful eye on Bush during their 9/11 Commission questioning. Even presidents need minders. No one is above the thought police.

The minder mention from today's article was merely an aside in a larger piece. There must be tons of instances of this that don't get reported (please comment if you have another example). The whole thing makes me literally sick to my stomach. This administration takes 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale as a playbooks, rather than as warnings.

Daily Kos: Thought police, everywhere you look

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