Editorial: Raising flags and thinking

Editorial: Raising flags and thinking

By Frank Schier

Raising flags and thinking

By Frank Schier

Editor & Publisher

As we raise our American flags to honor our dead, we must also raise our level of critical thinking to preserve our country.

Blind patriotism turns us all into cannon fodder. The patriotism of our very critical-thinking founding fathers and mothers gave birth to a Constitution, which provides for us, as their historical children’s nation. Protecting our Constitution and nation in times of crisis is our duty.

Debate and the system provided by checks and balances in the Constitution involves us all in decisions requested by our executive branch, even in times of crisis. That debate and the advice and consent of the U.S. Congress’ House of Representatives and Senate stands as a great safeguard, if utilized.

However, with ever-increasing frequency, the U.S. Congress becomes a rubber stamp to what looms as truly an Imperial Presidency.

Crucial constitutional and moral issues are at stake:

l The power to declare war

l The failure and dominance of the intelligence-military-industrial complex l Our personal liberties

l The credibility and responsibility of our media and government.

The power to declare war

When the President of the United States can effectively declare that this nation is at war without a formal declaration of war by the Congress, we have a problem.

Remember what happened from the yielding of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? By President Lyndon Johnson’s request and deceit, the disaster of the Vietnam War occurred—an undeclared war.

President George Herbert Walker Bush, Sr., was given similar powers by Congress, and the Gulf War was engaged to stop the aggressor nation of Iraq from overrunning Kuwait—an undeclared war.

Because Muslim nations lack the separation of church and state, many of their citizens, like Osama bin Laden, viewed the United States’ presence in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States as the defiling of sacred land. Observe that bin Laden’s network has Pan-Arab membership.

The euphemism “collateral damage” or

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the death of innocent men, women and children in Syria and Israel also violates Islamic (and Christian and Judaic) religious tenets, further fueling a holy war or Jihad because of the lack of separation of church and state.

The hypocrisy and revenge of Islamic fundamentalism was evident in the attack on the U.S. on Sept. 11.

The Wall Street Journal cited the misgivings of our allies, France and Germany, concerning Bush’s declaring war on rogue states that the U.S. believes are supporting terrorism. The pledged support of NATO under “Article 5 ‘collective defense’” is not as strong as initially believed, The Wall Street Journal article said.

Clearly, like Pearl Harbor, this sneak attack against New York and our capital fits the definition of an act of war. But who are we going to war against? Invoking the war powers of the Constitution in such an open- ended and blanket fashion is irresponsible.

Congress must make sure our targets are justified because our intelligence systems have failed too often. Congress must formally debate for more than five hours and advise and consent as provided by the Constitution because this “war” has the potential to reach our shores as never before.

The failure & dominance of the

intelligence-military-industrial complex

It is estimated that the FBI, CIA, NSA and military intelligence services receive a $60 billion yearly budget to perform their duties, by both electronic and human intelligence.

They failed!

Where is the general uproar about this huge failure? A larger failure in intelligence gathering has never occurred! More than 5,000 American lives were lost as a result!

In private business, heads would roll, but not one word of criticism or call for dismissal has been leveled in or by the press against FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director George Tenet or NSA Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Where are the congressional hearings on the failure to warn us and act against these terrorist attacks? God forbid they knew about the attacks, like Roosevelt knew about Pearl Harbor; but they did not act because they wanted to engage these “unknown terrorists” with the benefit of national outrage. We need Senate hearings like those held by Sen. Frank Church and like those held by Sen. John Kerry. Where are the Congressional inquiries?

Congress has failed also as watchdogs of government credibility, efficiency and safety and as watchdogs of the public purse.

Congress then adds reinforcement to our intelligence and military services’ deadly failure by giving Bush an additional $40 billion to feed this ever-growing, ineffective monster.

The FBI has failed in the Chinese-Nuclear-Los Alamos Scandal, withholding evidence in the Oklahoma City-McVeigh case, and in FBI agent/Russian spy Robert Hansen case. They have even lost a number of their own firearms and laptops, complete with classified information.

CIA failures stretch back to the Bay of Pigs, to the Iran hostage rescue, to the failure to call the collapse of the Soviet Union, to their failure to free their operations and mindset from the Cold War. Maybe they shouldn’t, considering CIA agent/Russian spy Aldridge Ames. Let’s not forget the Iran-Contra drugs for weapons scandal under Reagan and Bush Senior’s CIA and vice-presidency watch. Add in their other recent failures of information in the bombings of the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan and the failure of the cruise missile attack on bin Laden in Afghanistan under the Clinton administration. As the Security Council information clearing house, the NSA must also be held complicit in these failures.

The NSA can spy on anyone’s communications, but what of its analytic capacity? Obviously, that analytic capacity did not conceptualize or catch the four teams using passenger-laden airliners as fuel-filled missiles. More than 5,000 taxpaying Americans that these agencies are pledged to protect—with a $60 billion dollar, taxpayer-funded, yearly budget—are dead or missing.

If we have these great communications monitoring and tracking NSA, when the first plane hit the trade towers, why weren’t the second and third and fourth planes shot down? Do we have radar and satellites or not; are our cities and shores protected or not?

Anyone can say, “Let’s unite, and stay out of the Monday morning-quarterback blame game,” but this is no game, and not addressing these issues threatens our unity and standards.

Is the government accountable or not? For these failures, does a national crisis mean more power and invulnerability?

The Chicago Tribune reports that President Gerald Ford’s executive order banning U.S. government-sponsored assassinations may be reversed by Bush, with a requested congressional sign-off. Congress, just say, “No.” The preservation of democracy and diplomacy is not conducted through an assassin’s scope, unless we expect the same.

Do we hand out another $40 billion to agencies that can’t make $60 billion work? Congress did exactly that without a blink, and at what cost?

Our personal liberties

The cost has been our personal liberties in the form of Social Security, the equitable distribution of the budget, and privacy and personal rights.

Say goodbye to the Social Security surplus with that $40 billion, “including the costs of: (1) providing federal, state, and local preparedness for mitigating and responding to the attacks; (2) providing support to counter, investigate, or prosecute domestic or international terrorism; (3) pro-

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viding increased transportation security; (4) repairing public facilities and transportation systems damaged by the attacks; and 5) supporting national security … ” [H.R. 2888]

Bush was on the political ropes about raiding the Social Security surplus fund before these attacks. No more—it’s for national security. All those old people without benefits can go suffer—wrap their dilemma up in the flag.

Bush was also on the political ropes over the defense budget, particularly funding for the Star Wars missile defense program. No more—now all the branches of the armed services have all the money they need to play with—launch those satellites that don’t work.

In the meantime, the rest of the federal budget for human services suffers at the hands of feeding corporate America that manufactures death that comes back to us. We must stop exporting weapons and training, our very own guns, weapons and expertise that are turned around and pointed at us.

Yes, we armed our anti-Iranian ally Saddam Hussein with conventional and biological weapons. Yes, we armed and trained the Russian-fighting-Afghanistani warrior Osama bin Laden.

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As this great war machine budget rolls, our domestic budget, and accordingly, citizens suffer.

National security increasingly means a lack of domestic and social security. National security also increasingly means a lack of privacy.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is pursuing greater wire-tap powers to pursue terrorists, reported the Chicago Tribune. He has met with congressional leaders to make a judge’s phone tap order person-specific, rather than location-specific. Under the current law, every time a phone tap is needed, a judge must approve a tap for that location. Ashcroft wants to be able to tap any phone, any time, in following a suspect.

The Chicago Tribune also reported that Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois feels that would be “much more efficient.” Which is more important, efficiency or privacy? Under the guise of following suspects, how many innocent people’s affairs will be pried into by the federal government? The potential for abuse here is huge. When did you ever see a tax or law go away? Just say, “No!” Mr. Hyde, we prefer Dr. Jekyll.

The danger of race profiling is also huge. Our law enforcement system must work under the rule of law. The law must stand against expediency, or we end up with what happened to the Japanese during WWII. Want to pay some more damages—that really can never be enough for justice‘s sake?

If anyone is concerned about justice and personal liberties, they should be concerned about FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This gem grew under the Reagan administration’s Col. Ollie North, the “Christian” who brought you CIA drug running and financing of illegal arms deals for the Contras and Iraq.

Essentially, this plan is to be implemented in case of nuclear war, natural disaster or national crisis. FEMA and its accompanying executive orders suspend the Constitution, and allow that administration to take control of all transportation, media, power generation, food production, farms, establish civilian work brigades, health care, education, welfare, airports and aircraft, housing, financial institutions, judicial duties, penal duties, any federal agencies, and any monetary functions.

Under those executive orders, Congress cannot review those actions for six months, and no provision exists for the Constitution to be restored. Whew, talk about a police state!

By the way, the FEMA administration is broken down by state, IEMA-Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and county-WEMA Winnebago Emergency Management Agency, as confirmed last week by Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers.

The credibility and responsibility of our media and government

As the War News coverage race continues in the electronic networks and print media, few talk of the ultimate consequences.

How much coverage of FEMA have you seen? If another major attack occurs in several locations on the continental U.S., the activation of FEMA is a real possibility.

Reportedly, FEMA was taken to a state of “readiness” during Hurricane Andrew, under Reagan in 1984 for a Central American exercise, during Desert Storm, the Rodney King Los Angeles riots, and during the attack on New York and Washington, D.C.

With the Iraqi biological weapons proclivity, the missing nuclear warheads from the collapse of the Soviet Union, Pakistan’s nuclear capability, and the China factor, major trouble is headed our way in a war on terrorism.

If the villains in our recent national tragedy are indeed the bin Laden network, which China has supported, why have we heard so little in the media and from the government about China’s position on our war on terrorism?

Oh, by the way, China was just granted membership in the World Trade Organization; we wouldn’t be trying to placate them, would we?

What if Red China supports bin Laden, Afghanistan or the other rogue nations such as Libya or Syria? With their human rights record, how could we let them join?

The lack of discussion about FEMA, potential consequences of the war on terrorism and the China reaction, brings the credibility of our media and government into question.

How should we as citizens prepare, and what should we expect?

A reader may have noticed the inordinate number of questions in this column. In this national frenzy of information about these attacks on our nation, many of these major questions are unanswered, bringing credibility to the forefront.

The timing of this crisis and other oddities make any critical thinker not accept the official corporate version in totality. So many weird questions exist. Notice the odd and perfect way the buildings fell, the condition of the stock market, the Federal Reserve’s actions, etc. What happened to all that paper, and who gathered it up and when? Despite the massive, repetitive television coverage, we are not getting the whole picture.

But we are getting more polls, if you can believe any poll, which supposedly say we as a nation support the war on terrorism. If so, look out for what we wish for, we might just get the never-ending war—and the end of the quality of life as we know it.

War is an old ploy to get people’s minds off their domestic woes and powerlessness, nine-year-high level of unemployment, and a crashing stock market; outthink or enjoy a potential shell game. Be a critical thinker; it’s your right and your life, if you really believe in all those flags that are flying.

Justice must be open, thoughtful, thorough, stern, equitable, and justice must consider the future. Let’s bring the murderers of our nation’s people to real justice.

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