By Coleen Rowley (with editing assistance from Hugh Iglarsh, writer/editor/citizen based in Chicago)
These two words sum up well the op-ed I co-wrote with Bogdan Dzakovic before the ninth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks last year, a shortened version of which was published later in the Los Angeles Times under the title: “WikiLeaks and 9-11: What If?” There are so many reasons why and examples how secrecy hurts public safety; why it should be considered at best a necessary evil; why both civil rights advocates and security experts recognize that secrecy must be limited in both time and extent.
The truth about governmental secrecy is precisely contrary to the propaganda message of the last few years, especially since the advent of WikiLeaks and the Bush and Obama administrations’ renewed vigor in prosecuting government whistleblowers as a threat to security. We are constantly fed the Orwellian myth that governmental secrecy protects us. But the opposite is true: effective governance and public safety are simply not possible unless secrecy is kept to a bare minimum.
As usual, most of the mainstream media did not do a very good job reporting on Obama’s August 30 speech in Minneapolis nor on the protest outside the National Convention of the American Legion to whom he spoke (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio, FOX News.com). The alternative media (and here) did no better in understanding that the real story is about Americans of all backgrounds and political ideologies (libertarians, greens, progressives and fiscal conservatives) uniting in their alarm about the destructive consequences of runaway militarism. Even normally pro-war American Legion members are beginning to recognize the enormous blowback upon military veterans. Certainly environmentalists wanting government to fund projects for sustainable forms of energy agree the war $ should come home. So it was too bad that reporters’ questions mostly stayed within the confines of the two party electoral framework and the political ping pong that keeps the big war game going no matter which lesser-of-two evil politician(s) win. Maybe we should be happy that given the egregious costs of war and bankrupting debt being suffered, there was at least some mention of the wars as a main issue in spite of the contrasting political spins.
Maybe the media will do a better job three weeks from now covering the protest when we get to revert back to focus on the great “Decider” who was first to lie us into the disastrous, illegal wars, the more familiarly-despised face of George W. Bush who has reportedly accepted to come speak at Beth El Synagogue (same synagogue that feted Condoleezza Rice about two years ago) in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. (Synagogue organizers of the upcoming Bush event are apparently selling three tiers of tickets to wealthy supporters to share hors d’oeuvres with Bush on September 21: the Bronze level ticket is $1250, Silver is $2500, and Platinum is $3600. The latter two get preferred seating and a picture with Bush.)
We welcome suggestions for creative signs (especially those transcending counter-productive political partisanship) to display outside the upcoming George W. Bush’s Beth El Synagogue Fundraiser and Rewriting of History! Better yet, stop by and help Come Home America and other advocates of peace and liberty hold banners the evening of September 21 (from 4 -7 pm) outside the Synagogue fundraiser.
Photos below were taken outside Obama’s speech to the American Legion.
Vets for Peace had a great message for Obama.
(When people ask me what’s the difference between “HOPE” and “DOPE”, I tell them not much, just one letter.)
(Come Home America message on display before others came.)
(Originally submitted to Huffington Post.)
As you can see, the John Boehner-Minnesota Golfing Fundraiser in Minnesota enjoyed beautiful weather on Wednesday August 17, 2011. So did our Come Home America group as we traveled to Wayzata, Minnesota to banner outside the event. We had read that House Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Rep. John Kline and Rep. Chip Cravaack would be hosting the $10,000 a person golf tournament and dinner fundraiser at the Spring Hill Golf Club. Shortly after we arrived, however, outside the gated (and apparently exclusive) Spring Hill club, we were met by golf course employees who told us there was no such event on their greens. Eventually (and probably to get us away from their club), the Spring Hill Golf crew advised us that the Republican fundraiser had been relocated a couples miles away to the Wayzata Country Club.
Numerous police officials lined the driveway to the Wayzata Golf Club and directed us to a narrow strip of “free speech area” marked with orange cones on the side of the road. As soon as we put up our banners, we started to get honks of approval from passing traffic.
About a half hour later, a much larger group of activists was bused to the location by “Minnesotans for a Fair Economy” (identified in news reports as affiliated with “Move-On”) and the SEIU union. These activists walked back and forth as in a picket line, carrying signs and yelling chants demanding jobs. A plane flew overhead dragging a sky message saying, “Where’s our piece of the pie? Jobs Now!” Puppet heads drove by in a limousine mocking the politicians believed to be golfing. We graciously moved to the side of the free speech area to give the Move-On people more room for their political theatre.
We got the chance, it turned out, to convey our points about the destructiveness of US wars as much to the “liberal protesters” as to the Republican golfers. We didn’t get much of a response, however, when we asked Move-On chanters to recall that there ARE plenty of jobs still available—although they may not be exactly what they’re looking for—with war contractors and in the U.S. military. Nor did the organizers of the politically partisan Move-On group seem to want to pick up on our questions: “Guns or butter? War or Social Security?” or “Endless War = Endless Debt”.
Of course the bigger question is why is it that some of the “liberal protesters” who led the charge against Bush’s wars in the 2006 and 2008 elections find it difficult to criticize Obama’s wars? Unfortunately the Move-On group relegated itself to a script that falsely separates the many domestic economic problems of the United States from its foreign policy, its decade of costly pre-emptive wars and mounting national debt.
Although the two party kabuki theatre often ignores it, there is a growing consensus that our nation’s economic problems are linked to its costly wars.
(co-written with Robert Palmer, member of Minnesota Branch of non-partisan Come Home America)
The Des Moines news reporter who noted our anti-war message at the entrance of yesterday’s Republican Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, was not present with us long enough to see the real story. Our banners actually got an amazingly good reception! Our group of sign holders were all surprised how many of the thousands of straw poll attendees, even Pawlenty and Santorum t-shirted fans, were responding positively to the “Come Home America” message and banners warning that “Endless War = Endless Debt” and “War IS Taxing”: The anti-war enthusiasm also manifested itself as people from all political (conservative, libertarian, and socially progressive) backgrounds stopped to talk, with many even giving up an hour or two to help us hold the banners.
Attendees seemed genuinely interested when we encouraged them to sign our recent “Dear Obama” letter and told them we were part of a non-partisan effort to focus on the most important ISSUES of the day, instead of the promises, slogans, cute winks and other crazy antics of any particular political candidate.
The truth is that progressives who support social safety nets, funding of public education, and who are opposed to the widening disparity between the wealthiest and the poor in the United States cannot possibly see their goals realized without the US government making a clean break from the last decade of destructive and costly wars.
Libertarians will not see a return to adherence to the Constitution, civil liberties and away from national security policing and “War Presidency” empowerment. “Greens” will not see more funding and research diverted to sustainable and environmentally clean energy technologies. And fiscal conservatives cannot possibly get the small, decentralized government they long for while the United States seeks costly world empire and military superpower status.
All the people’s worthwhile goals are connected by money and are antithetical to the US’ spending on runaway militarism. If the American government continues to be controlled by the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, in defiance of this popular consensus, throwing trillions of hard-earned and increasingly scarce taxpayer dollars on bombs, drone technology, armoring tanks, and outright corporate contractor fraud, none of these other popular group objectives are possible.
While the hundreds of national media in Iowa covered the actual, close straw poll finish (near tie) of Michele Bachmann only beating Ron Paul by 152 votes, they did not seem to care or cover the enormous outpouring we witnessed from people of different political backgrounds and loyalties—confirmed by numerous national polls–showing consensus for ending the wars and runaway militarism. Perhaps the “Come Home America” kick-off bannering at the early Iowa Straw Poll event revealed the unique moment we’re in, watching a perfect storm of various rationales coming together.
In any event, look for our Come Home America initiative to represent this convergence and strengthening consensus outside many of Obama’s upcoming speeches as well as other major political events throughout the nation. We hope to mount banners as in the photos of yesterday’s event in Iowa. While politicos and horse race bettors constantly talk of making their selections using the “lesser of two evils”, one thing is clear: It is the issues more than the political personalities that matter and WAR is not the lesser of two evils! It is THE EVIL that poisons and contaminates everything else.