Seeing the Round Corners

June 10, 2019


Today’s commentary column is one prompted by the coverage this past week on the remembrances of D-Day and World War II, or perhaps lack of coverage in the Sunday edition of The Denver Post (the Post).  While the on-air coverage was admirable, the Post saw fit to give D-Day a column on page 12B of the Denver & the West section – the column was actually written by an Associated Press (AP) reporter.

Apparently, the powers that be at the Post believed that the brewing situation in the Gulf and a “perceived threat from Iran” was of far more importance than D-Day and what it meant to America. The column was also provided by an AP reporter, appearing on page 2, Nations & World (the front section of the Sunday Post).

The AP covers in great detail the U. S. fighting force now in place in the Middle East region and states the force is not yet in the Persian Gulf nor are there plans for it to enter the Gulf.

According to the AP’s quotes from various military personnel in charge of the massive fighting force, prior to their arrival, Iran was preparing/planning “some sort of attack on shipping or U. S. forces in Iraq.” Other officials “speaking of course on condition of anonymity” said “Iran was at a high state of readiness in early May with its ships, submarines, surface-to-air missiles and drone aircraft.”

The AP’s column is titled “Carrier is centerpiece of U. S. response to situation in Gulf,” referring to the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The question comes to mind about what prompted the massive expansion of the fighting force – ““Iran was at a high state of readiness in early May with its ships, submarines, surface-to-air missiles and drone aircraft” – is such an assumption by some general worth the risk of a war with Iran?  

Readers are no doubt aware of the U. S.’ involvement in Afghanistan – why is the U. S. there? Why did the U. S. get into the war in Vietnam? Is the U. S. headed for a war with Iran?

Almost 10,000 American lives were sacrificed on the beaches of Normandy, France. Yes, it is credited with ultimately ending World War II, but the world will never know if it was really necessary to sacrifice so many lives, or if the planning by the generals was faulty.

Now a column from this writer’s archives.

As America moves from one military crusade to another with very little regard to the human sacrifice of military personnel and their families, it is heartbreaking to look back overtime at the amount of dollars expended on wars and who benefits. 

America elects those who at the time are “ordinary” citizens to represent them in Congress and to conduct the business of the people, or at least that is what we ordinary citizen voters like to convince ourselves of.  

We the people have only to look closely at what becomes standard operating procedure to cause the voter to ask, what happened to that ordinary citizen once they got to the hallowed halls of Congress.

The zeal to protect the public under the pretense of national security has been out of control since September 11 (9/11) on a scale never known before in this country.  The furor after 9/11 as to whose fault the failures rested with gave impetus to those in power to seize control over open government as never before and there seems to have been legions that jumped at the chance. 

The Homeland Security Act established the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, but that piece of legislation has probably been one of the most destructive ever to the principles of open government, personal privacy and freedom of information for America. 

Few Americans know of a section in the Homeland Security Act titled “Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII). In 2004, Patrick Leahy, then ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, described the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information section in the Homeland Security Act as “the single greatest rollback of the Freedom of Information Act, stating that it created “an entirely new level of classification and a system of very binding nondisclosure agreements effectively muzzling millions of state and local officials and private contractors.” The Freedom of Information was passed in 1966 (5 U.S.C. §552, amended in 2002).

Passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress took place at a time when the entire nation was terrorized by an event on American soil so horrific as to defy description by most Americans. In retrospect, was immediately following such an event the ideal time to pass such an act? From a common sense standpoint, the answer is a resounding NO! Never is and never will be! 

Correcting lax enforcement, or failure altogether, of security regulations already on the books and strengthening them would have provided the necessary safety rather than proceed in hast, heightened emotions and incensed attitude.

Unfortunately, the road taken via the Homeland Security Act provided the powers that be a way of effectively closing down much of the inroads gained for open and transparent government by passage of the Freedom of Information Act – a principle those former citizens, now Congressmen, were champions of prior to arrival to the hallowed halls of Congress. 

To add insult to injury, an attempt to broaden an already too broad Homeland Security Act, the Domestic Enhancement Security Act of 2003 (dubbed Patriot II) met its death within months after the secret draft legislation was published by the Center for Public Integrity on its website over the objections of the Justice Department (basis of course was threat to national security). 

The secrecy afforded those in power by such legislation means billions of dollars to companies. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company and its subsidiary, Halliburton, “received by far the most taxpayer money and high-dollar contracts, some of them with no other bidders,” according to the Center for Public Integrity, and chronicled in a report titled the “Windfalls of War” which analyzes military contracts for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

Publication of the Pentagon Papers exposed another government-driven cover-up to try and hide the insanities of the Vietnam War and the horrendous waste of lives for a war that still today has no identified purpose except for the billions upon billions of dollars to military contractors. 

How were those returning soldiers treated? Many veterans recall the pain of being welcomed home not as war heroes but with jeers and insults. The lack of adequate medical and mental health care for soldiers destroyed not only their lives but many, many families. And for what? Nothing more than well-connected companies making their billions at the sacrifice of soldiers and their families. 

Two quotes from the Pentagon Papers case sum up the absurdity of legislation that ultimately destroys the premise of open government. 

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at