Saturday, July 23, 2005

Weekend Update

Two more signs we live in Rovewellian times:

Defense Department lawyers are defying a court order to turn over photos and videotapes of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Manhattan Federal District ordered the images released as part of a Freedom of Information Act suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks to determine the American military's abuse of prisoners in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

In a related story from the Associated Press, a group called Judicial Watch obtained documents under the FOI Act which show that in 2001, the Navy hired The Rendon Group, a "communications firm" in an effort to influence the vote on the use of bombing ranges in Puerto Rico. The contract, originally let at $200,000 grew to $1.6 million after two modifications. Judicial Watch questioned whether such activity--directly trying to influence the outcome of an election--was legal for the military to undertake. Navy officials, contacted on Friday, did not comment.

The Rendon Group has a history of conducting "perception operations" for the military. Among other "information management" events in its portfolio were the staged scene of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad and the false stories concocted around the capture and rescue of Private Jessica Lynch.

We have an arm of the executive branch defying the judiciary branch in order to "control information" and spending millions--perhaps billions--to "shape perceptions."

Winston Smith lives.

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