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Friday, October 19, 2007

More on "The 'Good Germans' among Us"

If more evidence were needed that Frank Rich's views about an anti-war silent majority out there in the country is wrong, Massachusetts has provided it. Despite winning the seat in the Congressional 5th District (formerly held by liberal Marty Meehan), an attractive Democratic candidate with instant name recognition, Niki Tsongas could only eke out a 51% to 45% victory over Republican, Jim Ogonowski.

This in a liberal state after four years of unsuccessful war, an inept president and an abdication of all the principles that made America great (justice, rule of law, avoidance of torture, etc.). I think there are a lot of silent war supporters out there.

Sent to New York Times

The "Good Germans" among us

Frank Rich (October 14) excoriates the "silent majority" for its silence on the Iraq war. I think that he is wrong to do so.

First of all, it is only in the last year that public opinion has swung against the war, up till then, the majority of Americans thought that the war was a good idea. They may have been deceived into thinking so, but they did generally support the administration's policies.

Many other letter writers (October 16) have, like me, stated that they have opposed the administration's policies from the beginning and that they have written letters and signed petitions. That is true, but I have not seen any newspaper reports of these petitions, so this virtual world of opposition is inchoate and the members are unconnected from one another.

For myself, I have written many letters and op-eds for the New York Times (and your sister publication the Boston Globe) in opposition to the appalling policies of this administration -- just a few were published.
In May 2004, I was a late starter, I protested the Abu Ghraib scandal, the lack of lawyers for "enemy combatants, the unfair extension of troop assignments to Iraq, and the failure of General Zinni to support General Shinseki on troop level requirements before the war began. In June I protested the lack of accountability in the Administration and the incompetence of the contractors (on the minor issue of keeping mess kitchens clean). By December, I was concerned about paying for the war and prepared an op-ed with a partial solution based on Britain's post-war credit scheme of World War II. This was not published by I e-mailed it to every member of the senate. I am trying now with the House committee that is working on an income tax surcharge. In 2005, I opposed the privatization of social security, I laid out Bush's violation of his espoused values. I protested the abandonment of Consular Rules (the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that ensures that jailed foreigners have the right to talk to consular officers). I excoriated the poor leadership example of Donald Rumsfeld sitting inside the secure shell of a heavily armored Rhino Runner while the troops he leads travel in unarmored Humvees. In July, I bewailed the loss of civil liberties by updating the poem "They came for me." In 2006, I continued my concern about the lack of accountability in the Administration and the Military. I opposed on several occasions the "States Secrets Defence" and expressed my concern with the callous treatment of the Uighurs and theose wrongfully exposed to extraordinary rendition. Again in 2007 I have pursued the war, the removal of Habeas Corpus and other violations of the spirit of the Constitution by the Bush Administration.

Frank, what more can I do?

Sent to New York Times

Supreme Court Rejects States Secrets Appeal

I was disappointed that the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Mr el-Masri in his case against the CIA. The decision was presumably based on the State Secrets Defense put forward by the Government

This is another case of irresponsible treatment by the United States. Mr Kahled el-Masri was the victim of a mistaken identity. He was seized by the CIA in Macedonia, held by the CIA for five months in a prison cell in Afghanistan to which he had been rendered, and when it was discovered that the CIA had the wrong man he was returned to Macedonia and dumped on the side of an abandoned road. Note that: dumped on the side of a road, not taken to a decent hotel, not fed and given clothes, and not given help in re-establishing his life. Who decided on this treatment. Is it just some insensitive lower level bureaucrat or did the decision emanate from the highest levels of the CIA?

The time must come when the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the State Secrets Defence. Apparently its first promulgation was in a case that did not affect State Security but was an embarrassment to the Air Force. Surely a Court whose members have high levels of security clearance could be constituted to judge whether or not State Security is involved rather than us having to accept the word of the government; especially the word of this government!

But the ACLU had a nice letter


Sent to Boston Globe

Sauce for the goose but no sauce for the gander

Why is it that you identify David D'Alessandro as former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services but you fail to identify Michael Gerson as former chief speech writer for George W. Bush?

Could it be that Mr Gerson is ashamed of his former employment?

Sent to Boston Globe

On-Line Courtesy

The Globe should be careful about the letters it prints, they may return to haunt it. In today's business pages, Yleana Martinez complains about employers who are too lazy to respond to e-mailed job applications with an acknowledgment that the application has been received.

The letters page at the Globe is very good at acknowledging receipt of letters that I submit -- they even publish them occasionally. However the op-ed page still has to come into the 21st century. There is no automatic acknowledgment and usually -- even after several promptings -- I receive no reply so I am left to wonder whether my work was ever received or whether it is just floating around in cyberspace. An automatic response feature would set everyone's mind at rest.

Sent to Boston Globe

Monday, October 8, 2007