Sunday, April 24, 2005

Paranoia Strikes Deep

You want to know the full measure of fear that the Bush administration instills in people? Read this story about how the administration has blackballed Kerry supporters from an international conference on telecommunication standards:

The Inter-American Telecommunication Commission meets three times a year in various cities across the Americas to discuss such dry but important issues as telecommunications standards and spectrum regulations. But for this week's meeting in Guatemala City, politics has barged onto the agenda. At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry's 2004 campaign.

The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush's second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.

The White House admits as much: "We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. Those barred from the trip include employees of Qualcomm and Nokia, two of the largest telecom firms operating in the U.S., as well as Ibiquity, a digital-radio-technology company in Columbia, Md. One nixed participant, who has been to many of these telecom meetings and who wants to remain anonymous, gave just $250 to the Democratic Party. Says Nokia vice president Bill Plummer: "We do not view sending experts to international meetings on telecom issues to be a partisan matter. We would welcome clarification from the White House."

Now, the paranoia that pervades the administration is evident. I mean, these are bunch of telecommunication geeks getting together! Hardly the place where you are likely to see plans for a political coup.

But the real evidence of fear in this article is the fact that one of the blackballed individuals isn't even willing to go on the record about what is being done to him/her! Why? Could it be they fear even greater reprisals if they complain publicly?

Welcome to Bush's America!

(Kevin Drum and Atrios have more).


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