Letters to the Editor

Spirit corrupted

February 18, 2008

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To the editor:

It has become clear that fear of terrorism in the post-9/11 world has been corrupting the spirit of our nation. Who knew on Sept. 10, 2001, that six years later we would live under a government that engages in warrantless wiretapping of its people, secretly installs devices at AT&T; to copy and analyze our Internet traffic, tortures suspected enemies and disseminates misinformation to manipulate us into a war. Finally, some of President Bush's advisers have been lobbying for a war with Iran, which could be the greatest disaster in our nation's history.

Recently, Attorney General Michael Mukasey suggested that torture may be perfectly legal under the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has suggested in an interview with the BBC that torture may be not be unconstitutional as a means of extracting information because he believes that "cruel and unusual punishment" only prohibits such treatment after being convicted and sentenced. Their statements seem to suggest that even the American people are not protected.

We should all be willing to hold true to our basic principles of human rights and liberty in the face of terrorism. To sacrifice our principles out of fear is the greatest form of cowardice, which is not befitting of the home of the brave.

We must demand impeachment and removal of George Bush and Dick Cheney to prevent further harm and a war with Iran. Further, we must deter future administrations from breaking the laws of our nation.

Jason Lantz,

Lawrence

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Where did it all begin:

On 9 June 1992, Ted Koppel reported on ABC's Nightline, "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush Sr., operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into" the power it became, and "Reagan/Bush administrations permitted - and frequently encouraged - the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual-use technology, chemicals, and weapons to Iraq."

The House is standing firm against renewing the Bush version of FISA. Nothing really changes or interferes with intelligence gathering under the house plan except it must done according to the law and the constitution.

The house sees no reason to grant immunity to AT&T and Verizon if no laws have been broken. BUSHCO has not provided anyone a reason why immunity should be granted..... again if no laws have broken. Why does Verizon and AT&T need protection?

While it is time to replace 95% of incumbents if any citizen taxpayer wants to see america with jobs,clean energy,reducing the military industrial complex budget and doing away with special interest financing and corporate control of of who wins office it is a must to rid the congress of the neocons such as Brownback,Roberts,Tihart locally.

Meet todays republican party: The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a neo-conservative think tank with strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute. PNAC's web site says it was "established in the spring of 1997" as "a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership."

PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members hold highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration. So many were former Reagan/Bush people,Iran Contra operatives and names such as Jeb Bush , Adm Wm. Poindexter,Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett.

Bill Bennett is one of the founders of the K-12 home school curriculum which is one huge reason we said no way jose'.

http://www.newamericancentury.org/ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Jim Ryun is definitely a neoconservative thinker and yes man.

KS 7 years, 5 months ago

Jason, put on your big girl p------ and get on with life. You have been listening to the wrong TV networks. You should know the old saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me.

kansas778 7 years, 5 months ago

Yes, please, impeach Bush and Cheney. Nothing could be worse for the dems. Either they fail and they look like fools, or they succeed and look like they're trying to steal power. Either way, please, impeach Bush and Cheney.

imastinker 7 years, 5 months ago

Hey -

If impeachment is off the table it's the democrats fault. THe republicans already voted to begin impeachment hearings.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/capitol-briefing/2007/11/cheney_impeachment_resolution.html

ksdivakat 7 years, 5 months ago

I guess the dems should just stand by and let the conservative republicans run this country further into the ground than it already is...this country is a joke thanks to Bushco and all his lies, now his cohorts want to start crap with Iran.....I guess some people will never learn............

BigAl 7 years, 5 months ago

Speaking of jokes and a total waste of time and taxpayer money: The republicans spent 8 years and millions and millions of dollars going after Bill Clinton. Got him for lying about having sex. 8 wasted years on their part. And now they whine when dems are critical of Bush.

Total hypocrisy.

Rex Russell 7 years, 5 months ago

Just a second RT. Let's assume for a moment the liberal fringe you like to berate so much is right. Let's say this administration started this war for other reasons than "impending threats". You would have to admit that would be a greater offence by far than Bill getting his cigar smoked and worthy of impeachment.

Rex Russell 7 years, 5 months ago

Here's something right wing Bush apologists like RT and others hate to hear. This administration scares even long term old Republicans like myself. He's right about one thing; the Democrats lack testicular fortitude. Given my choice of the two, I'll take wimpy over scary as hell.

wlove1 7 years, 5 months ago

It is clearly obvoius that many of you do not know the definition of the word impeachment. Bush has not done anything wrong legally therefore he will not be impeached. Also, Bush is not the first president to have wiretaps nor is he the first to torture ENEMIES of the United States. Yes, for those who do not think so, there are people out there who HATE the United States and will literally do anything to kill its citizens. And, no, they cannot be reaoned with like the liberals would like. I think that as a president we could have done better than Bush, but the fact of the matter is that many terrorists attacks have been thwarted since 9/11 and we have not been attacked since. The problem with America is cowardly liberals who for some reason want to see the Bush administration fail so they will appear as if their ideas are the correct ideas. The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves because a country that was once united against any threat is now more divided than ever. What happened to pulling up your boot straps and defending the greatest country in the world. As for Iran we have two choices: 1) move in and stop any further production of nuclear devices or 2) let them produce bombs and send them over this way because Ahmadinejad (the dictator of Iran for those who don't know who he is) already said that he would while he was visiting Syracuse University. It is clear that many of you form your opinions from this very newspaper and the local news here in Lawrence. Perhaps you should try to listen to many different views of an issue before you make your comments public.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Our constitution proclaims that our rights as American citizens of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" will not be infringed without due process of law.

It also protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The actions of the current administration seem to be in direct opposition to the above principles.

We should be concerned about this.

And, for those who say it's just the terrorists or other bad people who are being mistreated, the vast majority of those held at Guantanamo were released without any charges being filed.

Also, the Geneva convention exists to prevent abuse in times of war - this administration doesn't seem to care about that either.

Finally, we should be exploring some of the reasons that we are hated - some may hate us no matter what we do, but there are many who hate us as a direct result of our actions around the world.

mick 7 years, 5 months ago

Suppose for a minute that torture is legal under our Constitution. Breaking legal treaties with other countries is not and we have signed treaties against torture. Breaking them is an impeachable offense. But the Democrats have proven that they are in collusion with the powers that be. There will be no impeachment and there will be no change with the next regime whether Republican or Democrat.

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

"You should know the old saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me."

Really? That's the one you picked?

"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."

-George "Shrub" Bush

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

Bush may be one of the greatest presidents of all time. Give it 50 yrs or so.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

And Jason, have we been attacked since 9/11? Do you think that is just luck? There have been many attempts.

You have problems with a lot of the things that are protecting this country. What are you trying to hide? Personally, I don't care if the government listens to my phone conversations or taps my into my inernet or tortures suspected terrorists for information.

Now, what gets my blood boiling are the ways our enemies kill innocents on purpose, hide behind civilians and prey on the weak and defenseless.

What is going on in the Congo is far worse than what we're doing to our enemies.

Redirect your rage, Jason.

And, a rhetorical observation based on your comments, you're voting for Barack Obama, are you?

Rex Russell 7 years, 5 months ago

That usual rationale that there are evil people out there who want to kill us gets tossed in there quite often. I don't doubt that is true. It is used most often to justify distasteful acts on our part. Abu Gharab, waterboarding, indefinite detention, secret prisons abroad, redition to allied countries that do torture come to mind. This administation has worked hard to skirt the law when it could, ignore it when it felt like it, and bullied Congress to enact new laws through fear mongering. This tells me a lot about thier ethics. I don't doubt there are people out there who wish us harm. I don't think it was Iraqis. If we had gone all out after Bin Laden after 9-11 it would have made sense. If we had immediately closed all of our borders and beefed up security everywhere, it would have made sense. If we had gone after the people in freindly countries who supported the highjackers(Saudi Arabia and Egypt), it would have made sense. What happened did not. I believe in strong national security, tight borders that don't let in everyone in, dealing hard with our enemies and our friends if they do us wrong. The people in this administration represent me in this world. I find that shameful. I find it shameful that as an American that we are viewed as lawless, torturing hypocrits. The things that have transpired in the last few years in civil rights abuses would be looked at as usual Third World country buisiness.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

rrussell (Anonymous) says: That usual rationale that there are evil people out there who want to kill us gets tossed in there quite often. I don't doubt that is true. It is used most often to justify distasteful acts on our part. I find it shameful that as an American that we are viewed as lawless, torturing hypocrits.


rrussell, the justification you outline above should be more than enough to justify "the ends & the means". Or would you rather just sit around, play nice and wait for the next attack?

And I'm not so sure we're viewed as lawless torturing hypocrits. All countries have this kind of stuff that goes on. Only a hypocrite would point a finger.

And if we are, who cares? It's our butts on the line, we'll do whatever it takes (yes, whatever) to ensure our own safety.

If the UN were an effective peace-keeping organization the war in Iraq would have been waged by them, not only by us. But, you can't wait around for someone to protect you. You go out and do it yourself.

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

That sentiment and rationale runs contrary to Ghandi's methods of ensuring lasting peace through peaceful protest and reconciliation and contrary as well to most teachings in the New Testament.

Guess that doesn't make it wrong; however, one must admit that there exists tension between the values we espouse and the adoption of such principles as "whatever it takes" and "the ends (my safety) justifies the means (I can cause or contribute to the death of millions of your civilians and torture people provided by bounty hunters, political partisans, and religious zealots based on suspicion the torture subjects may produce helpful information)."

And we are seen by much of the Western world as lawless, torturing hypocrites. I have been fortunate to have conversations with several foreign nationals over the past few years and their take on us as a country (not necessarily as a people) has grown decidedly more negative as our occupation of Iraq continues and the rhetoric of our president reveals his shallow understanding of the international community and his disregard for global stability.

lawrencechick 7 years, 5 months ago

I haven't had any problems with government staking out my house or tapping my phone lines since Sept. 11 Jason. Of course, I'm also not doing anything illegal so I would imagine they would be pretty bored if they did. Yes, I do hate having to take my shoes off at the airport. But, I think it is a pretty small price to pay in exchange for no terrorist attacks on our soil in 7 years.

Rex Russell 7 years, 5 months ago

KJR You will end up being a perfect example of the legacy of this administration. Getting otherwise intelligent people to believe that black is white, torture is OK, lying to the people who elected and trusted you is justified if you wrap yourself in the flag, and propaganda sometimes works, and most of all, the ends always justify the means. The concept that torture is not acceptable makes me better than a terrorist.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

logicsound04 (Anonymous) says: KJR, your ignorance is stifling the thread. Please take your terrorist tactics to a country where they will be appreciated, like Iraq.


You can't be so simpleminded, logic, or so devoid of life experience to not realize that every country uses the same tactics.

And we'll all be waiting for your peaceful, nonviolent solutions to fight a war and keep the country safe.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

rrussell (Anonymous) says: KJR The concept that torture is not acceptable makes me better than a terrorist.


If you're fighting evil, you'd better not be nice about it. What're you going to do, hit the bad 'ol terrorists with logicsound's purse?

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

Good for you, lawrencechick. Of course, if done right, you would know whether the government staked out your house or tapped your phone - unless its employee/agents wanted you to know.

In the first incarnation of the "legislation necessary to keep us safe from the bogeyman of the day," the government had a program called COINTELPRO. It targeted such groups as the Black Panthers, AIM (back before it was just a way for Russel Means to make money), Martin Luther King's non-violent group, and the Student Left. It did so by tapping phones without warrants, infiltrating groups, and even sending out misinformation and slanderous material to parents, colleges, employers and media. The abuses were legion and led to wide-ranging reform of the FBI, the Justice Department, and FISA, including condemnation and prohibition of COINTELPRO.

One would think this would slow things down, and I suppose it did to a certain extent. But the 80s were rife with abuses by government law enforcement agency including the censorship and banning of Peter Matthiesson's book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, and the craziness down in Central America that included some stateside political groups. Even right here in River City, as late as teh mid-90s, agents of the government surveilled the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, harassed its volunteers and attorneys, and engaged in behavior that was suspiciously similar to the bad behavior of COINTELPRO.

But it's good that you haven't had any problems with unconstitutional abuses of government power, lawrencechick. It may well be that this is because you have done nothing illegal - or it could just be that you aren't involved enough in groups that have earned the disfavor of those in power. Start advocating for real justice and real change and you may find that it is not the audacity of hope you have to worry about but the audacity of certain federal agencies and their employees.

Rex Russell 7 years, 5 months ago

KJ No. In that battle of defending yourself against "evil", it's important to not cross the line and become what you are fighting against. These terrorists have no respect for human life. Torturing people for whatever the justification ignores the same.

justthefacts 7 years, 5 months ago

Leaving aside whether you think impeachment of the current Prez. and VP is a good idea, or not, or that it would suceed, or not - the reality is that an impeachment action could NOT get done before the next elected Prez and Vp take over next January.

To spend time and efforts doing something that will have absolutely no legal impact seems a waste.

But then, there are a lot of people (e.g. politicians, media types, and the very young) who are very into symbolic (but do nothing) efforts. They must not have enough real work to keep them busy......

Work for change in the future if you wish.

For me, I will not join in any effort to give safe harbor or sympathy to those who approve of the actions taken on 9/11. The type of person who will do what was done that day, will also get a disabled child or woman to go on suicide missions, and will actively (not just rhetorically) seek to kill anyone with whom they disagree. That type of person will not appreciate or be placated with concillatory or peaceful actions. They will merely exploit those attitudes and conduct.

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

In the context in which it was used, Franklin's quote is based on the premise that security is always temporary.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

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kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

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kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

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kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

Sceneboo. says...I have no problem with taking my shoes off at the airport. I have a huge problem with warrentless wiretaps, internet sweeps, immunity for telecoms who illegally give private info to the gov without a warrent, torturing people


Why does this stuff bother you? It's been going on unnoticed for decades, maybe it's happening to all of us now. You won't know about it most of the time unless you are being tortured and then you'll know exactly why they're doing it. Chill out.

1029 7 years, 5 months ago

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justthefacts 7 years, 5 months ago

"I don't argue that, but the fact remains - you cannot kill every person in the world who harbors those feelings"....

It is not those who FEEL something that are the problem. It is those who act upon those feelings to take the lives of innocent others.

As much as I prefer a peaceful world, with reasonable people discussing their thoughts together, the fact is that there are some people who not only FEEL hatred towards anyone that is not of their faith, they actively seek their deaths. Actively. Feelings are fine. Actions are not. And anyone who is attacked (be it a person, family, country, etc.) is permitted to defend themselves.

As evidenced by the eventual end of other wars and disputes, placating persons determined to kill others has never worked. Hitler would have loved to discuss his plans with those who wanted to hear them; he would have been happy to talk and talk - and meanwhile go on taking action to exterminate whole segments of the world...

There are some times when you have to become hard and yes even mean, and facing down pure evil is one of them. I would love to have a world where disagreements do not result in wars or killing. But as long as some people run airplanes into buildings, strap bombs to the disabled or women in their villages and send them into a cafe, or take other similar actions that exhibit a complete disregard for the lives of anyone .... we cannot ignore them and hope they'll stop acting like that. Not unless we want more of the same more often.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

Good one possessionannex....

But remember, scenebooster screwed up Franklin's quote.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

scenebooster (Anonymous) says: "But remember, scenebooster screwed up Franklin's quote." Really? Please, show me the error of my ways. . .


Ok, scene. I'd like to but it seems we've both been victims of LJW moral police.

Anyway, you left out the word "temporary" which changed the context of what I can't find anymore.

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

My aplogies to Scenebooster, Possessionannex, the LJW and Ben Franklin.

justthefacts 7 years, 5 months ago

"If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win." Thomas Sowell

"When you give religiously inspired zealots weapons of mass destruction and you promise them that if they kill innocent people they will go to heaven, imagine what the consequences are." Alan M. Dershowitz

"If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War. "-- George Washington

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

Stain,

Nice Roosevelt quote. Thank you for that.

Scene,

I know Franklin meant that security is always temporary that is why I said that Franklin meant that security is always temporary.

Of course, it may be that we are both wrong about Franklin actually saying it.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

* This statement was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. (1759) which was attributed to Franklin in the edition of 1812, but in a letter of September 27, 1760 to David Hume, he states that he published this book and denies that he wrote it, other than a few remarks that were credited to the Pennsylvania Assembly, in which he served. The phrase itself was first used in a letter from that Assembly dated November 11, 1755 to the Governor of Pennsylvania. An article on the origins of this statement here includes a scan that indicates the original typography of the 1759 document, which uses an archaic form of "s": "Thoſe who would give up Essential Liberty to purchaſe a little Temporary Safety, deſerve neither Liberty nor Safety." Researchers now believe that a fellow diplomat by the name of Richard Jackson is the primary author of the book. With the information thus far available the issue of authorship of the statement is not yet definitely resolved, but the evidence indicates it was very likely Franklin, who in the Poor Richard's Almanack of 1738 is known to have written a similar proverb: "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

Of couirse, it's a wiki so who know? Maybe this guy: http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605

Maybe not.

Nonetheless, the sentiment of the quote certainly seems true, doesn't it?

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

"Why, oh Why, did the LJW remove my innocuous posts?" - Kneejerkreaction

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

Nice Washington quote, JTH.

We certainly let the Iraqi's know we were ready for war when we invaded and occupied their country. Did Washington mean "ready for war" as in "we have the means and the will to make war upon you if you continue to hijack our ships" or did he mean "ready for war" as in "we will invade and occupy your country (badly) for talking about hijacking our ships?" In any case, it still seems a shame to me that we abandoned Afghanistan and our war against Al-Quadi to destroy Iraq.

And now, ironically enough (or not - ever since Alanis I lost my definition of what was ironic and what just sucks eggs), we are not "at all times" or more particularly even now ready to make war on anyone other than the rabble in Iraq. Our troops are stretched to breaking, our VA can't meet the needs of the vets, our equipment is in various states of disrepair, and our treasury is dry.

We have become the conventional monolith fighting the unconventional war and we are tanking at it. historyhistoryhistoryhistory

gogoplata 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree that we need to reign in the power of the executive and the degree to which the federal government intrudes into the life of the US citizen.

Baille 7 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, the "Surge" has been oh so successful.

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

"kneejerkreaction (Anonymous) says:

And Jason, have we been attacked since 9/11? Do you think that is just luck? There have been many attempts."

We've been attacked virtually every day since 9/11, those attacks just happen to be against our armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we're talking about domestic attacks, as I assume we must be, then we're still on about average, aren't we? The last big attack on American soil before 9/11 was the 1992 World Trade Center bombings, right? (forgive my lack of last minute research, if I'm incorrect please let me know) So we could have safely said at that point that our position of inaction was justified by the lack of a further attack for 9 years. The only way we can really say authoritatively that we have been made safer by these policies would be by a study of the freely available information concerning regularity of aggregate terrorist attacks pre and post 9/11, compared with how many got through. Except, of course, that we don't have access to any of that information.

So, the question, I guess, is how you know about those many attempts. Can you definitively say that there have been many attempts against the US since 9/11, and that a greater percentage of them have been foiled as before?

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 5 months ago

Well, Jonas, I didn't foil the attempts personally. I can only attest to what I read in the papers....NY...FL...CA terror cells are the ones that come to immediate memory.

Suffice it to say that if these weren't checked, they would have developed.

Yes, we are talking about domestic attacks. That is one of the reasons we're fighting the war, to bring it to them instead of fighting it here.

As to the % of success before or after.....I doubt if anyone knows this or ever will.

uncleandyt 7 years, 5 months ago

Great letter Jason. The pep-club for war and torture must wake up and think harder. Cool it down, hot-heads. Explore the possibility that you've been lied to by your Foxgods. To be Fair, find some Balance. You've lost yours, and you're pulling the rest of us down with you. 'Mpeach'em !!!

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

kneejerkreaction: I can only attest to what I read in the papers:.NY:FL:CA terror cells are the ones that come to immediate memory.

Suffice it to say that if these weren't checked, they would have developed."

So, are you also prepared to say that these would NOT have been stopped had we been operating under pre-9/11 policies? If you want to claim that what's being done now is truly effective, you would have to make that claim, wouldn't you?

jgragg 7 years, 5 months ago

The torture of Al-Qaida members has saved many of our troops' lives and many Iraqi lives. It's not American to use torture tactics but I'd rather us get information we need by waterboarding than getting a phone call from my Family Readiness Group leader informing me of another death in my husband's unit.

jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

logic: In any practical sense, I'm wasting my time posting on here at all. None of what goes on here has much effect, I imagine, on any greater issues, save the quiet effect of increased dialog. Surrounded by such a mass of ideologues, even that is questionable.

I keep myself entertained, so I continue.

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