The More Things Change...
If you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss this New York Times article revealing the identities of a group of activists who in 1971 broke into a Media, Pennsylvania FBI office and stole thousands of documents — including ones revealing the existence of the FBI’s “COINTELPRO” domestic surveillance program and other government crimes. The accompanying video is also a must-watch.
Other commentators have already done a nice job of demonstrating how it’s impossible to distinguish the actions of the Media group, on the one hand, from the actions of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, on the other. Here, I just want to add how continually amazed I am at how many commentators seem unable see contemporary events through the prism of history.
Part of the reason the Media break-in story is so important is that it renders so increasingly obvious, even darkly hilarious, the mental gyrations and rationalizations of pundits like Josh Marshall, Fred Kaplan, Jeffrey Toobin, Ruth Marcus, and others. How can these people not read their own columns without a sense of how embarrassed they’ll feel in years to come, when the massive corruption and criminality revealed by whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden have eclipsed today’s small-minded focus on the sacredness of "secrecy oaths” and obliviousness to the Constitution?
I don’t have an answer to that question. But history lessons like this one can only help.