Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Whistle Stop

Lately, leaking and whistleblowing on the part of government employees has been the one of the only sources of real information we get out of the executive branch of the Bush administration. Hell, this is apparently how Bush gets some of his information. Given this, it comes as no surprise that the Supreme Court, ably quaterbacked in their decision by the pro-government toadies Roberts and Alito, voted to curb
protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct.
This sounds about right for Alito and Roberts, two privileged Republican tight-wads who never saw a secret government program they didn't like.

Indeed, the Supreme Court is taking the track a few of us knew was the true aim of Bush's appointments: favouritism toward big business and government. We first saw this tack in Kelo v. New London, which infuriated many on the left and the right. Conservatives were especially irked by what they considered a flagrant violation of property rights. Though overreach of eminent domain had been taking place for sometime at various local and state levels, a Supreme Court decision in favour of big business economic development was seen as a dispicable bias to monied interests over middle class property owners. When conservatives were praising Alito and Roberts during the respective nomination processes, it certainly became clear that such a position would be assumed by these two once on the Big Bench. It was their position prior to the appointment.

Which is why I found it amusing when conservatives yowled about the Kelo case. There they are all were, happily dreaming of the demise of Roe v. Wade when -- BAM -- property rights abuse blindsided them.

And now we have a new decision -- the deciding vote apparently cast by Alito -- favouring the government being able to protect its dark underbelly from those working within who might expose secret and unseemly goings-on, whether they be simple incompetence and corruption or more sinister matters. Such a position on the part of Roberts and Alito was entirely expected and, as Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, declaimed,
The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States.
And god knows there's a lot of those around these parts.

Could anything else have been expected? Justice Kennedy, who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, put the Court's position very succintly, though I suspect he may not have realised just what it was he really was saying when he wrote that employees' communications
must promote the employer's mission.
The employer in this case being the government. And we know what sort of mission they're on these days.

This decision is not without a larger context, of course, and the recent statements by Attorney General Gonzales that the DoJ was considering the prosecution of journalists who had reported various leaks recently (CIA secret prisons, NSA wiretapping) falls under the same rubric as this Supreme Court decision: shut down leaks and information about what the US government is secretly -- and probably illegally -- doing. This is really a two-pronged approach in dealing with inconveniently exposed truths.

The direction to which the Supreme Court has now turned is as significant as it is grave. Having decisions rendered by the High Court that have favoured big business and government over the interests of American citizens speaks of one and only one thing: corporatism. Of course, this condition has plagued poliltical systems for a long time but in the United States, the one counterveiling force had been an independent judiciary. The appointments of Alito and Roberts severely tinged that independence with an all-too obvious bias and we are now only seeing the initial evidence of that bias. It is only bound to get worse.

Meanwhile, "values voters" are wondering what happened to Roe v. Wade. They will be wondering for a long time.


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