Accountability Now/Strange Bedfellows money bomb

A new organization, devoted to imposing real accountability on the political class, begins today.

Published August 8, 2008 10:42AM (EDT)

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

Richard Nixon, August 8, 1974, 9:01 p.m. from the Oval Office:

From the discussions I have had with Congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the Nation would require. . . . Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

Thirty-four years ago today, Richard Nixon was forced from office as a result of mounting public anger, which in turn fueled the bipartisan intent of Congress to impeach him, due to his involvement in the relatively minor Watergate crimes. Accountability of that sort for our highest political leaders is today inconceivable.

Rather than investigate and punish violations of the Constitution and other laws, our political class conceals those crimes for as long as it can, endorses them when they are disclosed, and then acts to protect the lawbreakers. Public opinion is steadfastly ignored, rendered virtually irrelevant. Congress has deliberately made itself completely impotent, while the sprawling Executive enjoys virtual omnipotence and freedom from any real accountability. Laws are written not just for, but literally by, the largest corporations and their lobbyists -- even including, as we recently witnessed, laws that have no purpose other than to immunize them from consequences when they are caught deliberately breaking our laws.

Our basic Constitutional framework is being continuously assaulted while the lawless Surveillance State expands without limits, all justified by a condition of permanent War. The list is as familiar as it is long. A massive Surveillance State that functions in the dark, with no oversight, and without the slightest concern for Constitutional limits. Torture, rendition, military commissions, Guantanamo, secret CIA black sites, the abolition of habeas corpus. Endless, unconditional funding for "the War." Rampant lawbreaking without the slightest consequences. An Executive that has shielded itself completely from any limits, investigation or oversight while seizing greater and greater power in virtually every area and spouting full-scale falsehoods about the most serious matters as a matter of course. Political leaders who have assessed that they are best served by ignoring all of this when they aren't eagerly enabling it.

Arising out of the battle against warrantless eavesdropping and amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms, we announced a new campaign back in March to target the worst and most vulnerable members of Congress for defeat. The response to that specific campaign was so intense -- we proceeded to raise over $350,000 -- that, in June, we created a new organization, to enable, on an ongoing basis, the waging of similar battles on behalf of these political values upon which the political establishment systematically tramples. That new organization, Accountability Now, quickly created a new alliance of ideologically diverse factions -- the Strange Bedfellows coalition -- which share a devotion to the preservation of core Constitutional principles, civil liberties, basic accountability, and to undermining and removing from power those who enable the assault on those principles.

Given the inevitability of Democratic control of Congress for the foreseeable future, our campaign has thus far focused, and will continue to focus, on those incumbent members of Congress who, through both their active complicity and craven capitulation, ensure that there is no real "opposition party" standing against any of these assaults. The rationale and strategy for this new campaign was set forth in detail here, and its core purpose is to change the political calculation so that there is a real price to pay for continuing to support the prevailing agenda of the rotting Beltway class. The question is not which party will control Congress. It is guaranteed that the Democrats will. The question is what they will do with that control. Accountability Now is designed, first and foremost, to change the way that control is exercised by genuinely harming the interests of those responsible for these destructive trends.

To begin this new organization, we created a Money Bomb campaign to provide the initial funding. We chose August 8 -- today -- for its symbolic value, a day that highlights, as our full-page Washington Post last month described, the accountability to which our political leaders were once subjected and can be again (August 8 also happens to be the day in 2006 when 18-year incumbent Joe Lieberman was ejected from the Democratic Party).

The New York Times today has an article -- both online and in its print edition (here) -- reporting on our new organization and today's Money Bomb. The NYT article describes the next two ad campaigns we have prepared -- aimed at several of the 250 co-sponsors of the House Resolution actually demanding a naval blockade of Iran (which includes Steny Hoyer), as well as a campaign to demand a full-scale investigation into the anthrax case (much more on the anthrax issue later today). Numerous other articles have been written regarding the new campaign. The Wall St. Journal -- following up on the article it published back in June on the new organization -- is in the process of writing a much lengthier, more detailed article, to be published immediately after today's Money Bomb.

A successful start is absolutely vital for ensuring that this new organization's arrival is loud, aggressive, and taken very seriously. Funding is the only currency the political establishment recognizes as an indicator of strength. The more successful this kick-off campaign is, the more news it will generate, the louder the message will be heard, the more damage can be done between now and November, and beyond, to its deserving targets (and, therefore, the more constructive the progress that can be achieved). The magnitude of today's Money Bomb will determine what the reach and impact of our campaign will be between now and the election.

If you are one of the more than 3,300 people who have already pledged to donate to the Money Bomb, today is the day to donate, here. If you haven't yet pledged, all details of the campaign are here. Regardless of whether you've previously pledged or not, you are able, and encouraged, to donate today. Chronicling the fundamental corruption and serial outrages of our political class is one step. Creating and executing strategies for battling them, altering public debates, and changing behavior is the next.

Become a StrangeBedfellow!

UPDATE: The Nation's Ari Melber has an article today on the new campaign and writes: "I think these kind of non-partisan, accountability efforts are the most practical way to counter capitulation in Washington -- and tangibly increase the power of a proactive, anti-corruption, civil liberties movement."

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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