Seeing the Round Corners

HEADS UP, the new day for Seeing the Round Corners “GOING LIVE” is Tuesday each week. 


February 15, 2022

   Today's edition brings a “column from the archives” some years back meant to jog the memory of readers on just how easily America gets “dragged” into another war on foreign soil. Think long and hard on the subject as this writer likes to coax readers, especially with the situation in the country of Ukraine only a heartbeat away from another war. 

June 20, 2011 

Wars and Elected Officials!

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. ยง552, 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 โ€“ 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. Years after the case against the newspaper was prosecuted, the Solicitor General of the United States publicly acknowledged, “I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the Pentagon Papers’ publication.”  

The second quote is by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, writing about the Pentagon Papers case, “In the absence of governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry โ€“ in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can protect the values of democratic government.”  

Here in 2011, Congress is considering extension/update of the Homeland Security Act, now commonly referred to as the Patriot Act โ€“ not lost in the translation is the word “patriot,” and the subliminal suggestion that non-support is unpatriotic. No guilt trip there!  

Following how some of America’s elected officials' vote on legislation after they get to Congress is cause for this writer to repose the question, “What happened to that ordinary citizen elected to represent the people?”  

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