In order to tell a big lie to the American people, it is not necessary to fool 300 million Americans. To govern by deceit, it is not necessary to fool 151 million people. All that is required to run a dishonest government is to fool but 999 people, otherwise known as the
nation's decision-and-opinion-makers. In truth, in order to run an outlaw government, one does not even need to fool 51 percent of these 999 monkeys.
All that is required to destroy a healthy democracy are seven ingredients: lots of fear, plenty of ignorance, raging hysteria, secret government, plenty of deception, a special language in which words are twisted to mean whatever government wants them to mean, and lots of silence. Government supplies the first six ingredients. Silence, coupled with a lack of backbone, is supplied by those that know, but instead become complicit in subverting a government of, by and for the people.
Of course, the best example is the current war and occupation against Iraq. But the same is true about climate change, tax schemes that benefit the super-rich and the administration's now-discredited plan to attack Iran.
In all this, the only opinions that matter are those of 435 members of Congress and 100 Senators. Other opinions that matter are those that come from the Supreme Court, the heads of the Intelligence services, the heads of the Armed Forces, federal judges, the editors of the major newspapers and magazines in the country, the heads of television
and cable, think tanks and other leading opinion makers. Total them up and that's how one gets about 999 monkeys.
Yet, as this administration has shown, if it keeps everything classified and keeps the country in a permanent state of war and in a permanent state of fear, all it needs to do is manipulate less than two handfuls of members of Congress – "the gang of eight" – to get its way. In this manner, the well-tested system of checks and balances comes to a grinding halt… all of this, not surprisingly, under the guise of "protecting the homeland."
The gang of eight, incidentally, are the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the Senate and the House, plus the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Congressional Intelligence committees.
Under this form of government, all information is tightly held and when convenient, it is selectively released, not to Congress, but to the gang of eight who are sworn to secrecy. Truth and logic aside, under such a scenario, cherry-picked intelligence is easily fed to
these eight… and when convenient, to selected members of the media. It doesn't have to be scrutinized by Congress or the courts and it never has to see the light of day…. unless it is cooked. As we have seen in the destruction of the CIA torture tapes, all the administration needs to do is inform, not the gang of eight, but the "gang of four," to
pull off such a job.
The four are the heads of Congress's Intelligence committees. Not lost on anyone is that one of the four at the time was none other than Nancy Pelosi.
So to govern by deceit and outlaw government and to ensure that no one ever has to be held accountable, one needs to simply get the acquiescence of the gang of four… and if one of those members ascends to the position of Speaker of the House… little wonder that Impeachment comes "off the table."
But the issue is bigger than impeachment, the destruction of CIA tapes or obstruction of justice. It is bigger than whether the torture was committed on planes over international waters or in secret prisons on foreign soil by U.S. allies. It's even bigger than waging illegal wars; this president has shown us how the most powerful nation on earth can easily descend from a peoples' democracy into an autocratic and totalitarian form of government almost overnight. Big Brother has come, not disguised as a monster, but as "Protector Man."
And yet, as we've now seen with the cooked Intelligence on Iran, it seems like the heads of the nation's 16 intelligence agencies have escaped their zoo and have staved off another war, affirming and confirming what the rest of the world has always known… not simply that war - again - is not the answer, but that it is time to put the main monkeys behind cages, if not bars. Despite this, the other 983 monkeys seem content playing in their zoo.
Roberto Rodríguez can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com. The Patzín column will return in January.
© 2007 Column of the Américas