They admitted it and defended it because they had been outed by an alternative medium.
In its constitutional proposals of a few weeks ago, the National Assembly attempted to strip tens of thousands of Panamanians of their citizenship, consign perhaps five percent of the population to officially despised and excluded from public discussions status because they are gay, lesbian or transgendered, and prohibit accountability for its members’ own peculations. But where they went off track and had to back down for a moment was when they tried to grab presidential budget and appointment powers for themselves. They stirred up a hornets’ nest of protests, both on the streets and from President Cortizo.
Then came the titillating and disgusting distraction of the VarelaLeaks, surely the result of paramilitary hacking, very possibly with the Israeli equipment and programs that Ricardo Martinelli stole as he was leaving office in 2014. In light of that, one of the big lessons to learn from the Martinelli and Varela decade is the sad fate of Panama when this country lets the gringos run its affairs. We should recall that the 2009 slate of the Cambio Democratico and Panameñista leaders was assembled at the US ambassador’s residence in one of Washington’s less violent 21st century regime change debacles.
The Martinelli years were punctuated by some horrific acts of violence, in Changuinola, in and around the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, in Colon, at the juvenile prison in Tocumen.
They were also characterized by a paramilitary spy operation that was not just about hacking into the phones and computers of 150 people. At the very least, the communications of thousands of people with whom those 150 communicated were intercepted. Moreover, Ricardo Martinelli’s 2014 would-be proxy re-election campaign used lists compiled from government data, that of the Electoral Tribunal and of various ministries. On his way out the ex-president made a public show of threatening the deputies-elect of his own party with the data that he had stolen.
Martinelli’s paramilitarism also included the takeover of the courts, with Salo Shamah carrying his instructions to the Supreme Court via that sticky-fingered scourge of the press, Alejandro Moncada Luna. Aside from that, Martinelli manipulated justice via a succession of pathetic puppet attorneys general and comptrollers general.
Now the VarelaLeaks indicate – to the extent that we can trust them – that after the falling out between Martinelli and Varela the surreptitious takeover of the justice and auditing system continued under the less violent Varela administration.
And NOW, the discredited legislators who have waved their thefts in the face of the nation are building their own paramilitary force, with overpriced arms purchases and a fortified redoubt within the legislative palace. An assertion of the separation of powers among government branches? More like Al Capone’s assertion of power on the streets of Chicago in his time.
“Persistent Engagement” – photo from the USDOD’s Airman magazine.
She did get the most votes in the 2016 US presidential election, even though with a high-priced strategy she blew it in the Electoral College. She was the leader of the Democratic Party, even if half of the rank-and-file Democrats never much liked her and some of her erstwhile acolytes disavow that past.
But Hillary Clinton, a politician of the past, is still a present-day elder stateswoman whose opinions, even when they are wrong, do count for something. And when she accused Senator John Kennedy (R-La) of “parroting Russian propaganda that US intelligence officials tell us are designed to divide our country” she was telling the truth.
The Russians DID interfere in US elections, and ARE trying to frame the Ukrainians for that.
Americans concerned about foreign meddling don’t have to buy into the whole Cold War II scenario that Hillary and the neoconservatives would like. That would be more foolish adventurism.
However, protecting US elections from foreign interference need not include an embrace of any grand strategy from the past. It’s a about a forward-looking defense of the American people and democratic institutions.
The Republican are for hackable and manipulable voting systems, and for more of Putin’s interventions in the 2020 US elections. Let’s recognize that Hillary Clinton’s told us an important truth about what Senator Kennedy et al are doing.
Bear in mind…
I am gradually approaching the period in my life when work comes first. No longer diverted by other emotions, I work the way a cow grazes.
Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
William of Ockham
I never choose favorites among my books. It would be ungrateful. They all gave me their time. They are all different.
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