“The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.”
That was the answer given by none other than Daniel Ellsberg last month in a WashingtonPost opinion piece on the comparison of his situation to stay in this country facing a trial in the 1970s compared to Edward Snowden’s decision to leave the country and seek asylum.
Ellsberg is the author of “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers,” and the Post notes he was charged in 1971 under the Espionage Act for theft and conspiracy for copying the Pentagon Papers. However the trial was dismissed in 1973 after evidence of government misconduct was introduced into court: illegal wiretapping. Says Ellsberg:
“Many people compare Edward Snowden to me unfavorably for leaving the country and seeking asylum, rather than facing trial as I did. I don’t agree. The country I stayed in was a different America, a long time ago.”
News leaks on the surveillance:
A previous article in the Examiner, quoted President Barack Obama about news leaks on the surveillance programs:
“If every step that we’re taking to try to prevent a terrorist act is on the front page of the newspapers or on television, then presumably the people who are trying to do us harm are going to be able to get around our preventive measures.”
In that story last June, Obama further said that when he became president he actually made two commitments: to keep America safe and to protect the Constitution. He believes he has kept those objectives. While he welcomes debate between the need for public safety and concerns about privacy, however, he also stated:
“It’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience.”
Surveillance programs also have oversight from members of Congress, Obama said. He also emphasized that Congress created and reauthorized these programs:
“If people can’t trust … the executive branch, but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process, and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
The President encouraged discussion on the tension between security and privacy, and back in 2009 an interview with Janet Napolitano should be of interest in the discussion.
Napolitano told German online media Spiegel in March, 2009 that she never mentioned the word “terrorism” during her first testimony on Capitol Hill deliberately:
“I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”
It was a strategy.
In a Foxnews story on that incident, a senior research fellow at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation named James Carafano, stated:
“By deliberately trying not to use the T word they run a serious political risk. If something does happen, they’ll be accused of taking their eye off the ball and no amount of explanation after the fact will suffice.”
The German interview with Napolitano was also interesting, as other questions came up. Specifically:
“SPIEGEL: As governor of Arizona, you counted on new surveillance technologies to secure the border with Mexico. What sort of technology could you use in the fight against terrorism?
Napolitano: The violence perpetrated by drug cartels along the Mexican border has truly reached a different quality. This is partly fueled by guns that are purchased in the US and then transported south across the border. We scan license plates to help us determine which vehicles we must stop and search.”
From a blog at the Houston Chronicle on Friday, those “guns that are purchased in the US” and involved in the violent crimes in Mexico were important to note. A Texas Republican called on President Obama to fire Eric Holder the attorney general, another is wondering why the House of Representatives can’t get it done. The Chronblog stated that Rep. Pete Olson of Sugarland had tried to nudge the House into beginning the process of impeaching Holder for “refusing to uphold existing laws.”
Gunwalking, IRS targeting
Two issues mentioned were: Holder’s role in the Internal Revenue’s scrutiny over Tea Party groups and the federal weapons operation called “Fast and Furious” where guns were knowingly sold in the U.S. and taken over to Mexico, what is called “gun walking.” Olson is quoted:
“During his tenure as Attorney General, Eric Holder has refused to prosecute IRS officials who admitted targeting Tea Party groups on ideological grounds, allowed a Border Patrol agent to be killed during Operation Fast and Furious, and named a member of the media as a co-conspirator in alleged violations of the Espionage Act while lying about it to Congress.”
The Border Patrol Agent was Brian Terry in December 2010, and the Los Angeles Times last month wondered how a high-powered rifle which was somehow “lost in the ATF’s Fast and Furious controversy,” was used to kill a Mexican police chief in the state of Jalisco earlier this year.
That information from the Times came out of internal Department of Justice records, which suggests, says the writer, “that weapons from the failed gun-tracking operation have now made it into the hands of violent drug cartels deep inside Mexico.”
The police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, was shot to death on Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. One of his bodyguards was also killed and his wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.
So, it turns out that the firearm that killed the police chief was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Az according to the Times, which CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson has also been tracking a long while, and states:
“During Fast and Furious and similar operations, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged the Lone Wolf and other gun stores to sell massive amounts of weapons to questionable purchasers who allegedly trafficked them Mexican drug cartels.”
While Attkisson states that “the Justice Department has refused repeated requests from Congress and CBS News to provide a full accounting,” there is an “estimated 1,400 guns are still on the street or unaccounted for.”
Back to the Spiegel interview with Napolitano:
“SPIEGEL: Is the drug war in Mexico truly a danger for the national security of the United States?
Napolitano: What is happening in Mexico now is a huge battle for the control of large geographic parts of the country between the federal government and these cartels. Yes, what happens in Mexico has huge impacts for every American.”
According to Politico back in May, Sharyl Attkisson said that her personal and work computers were compromised and are under investigation:
“I can confirm that an intrusion of my computers has been under some investigation on my end for some months but I’m not prepared to make an allegation against a specific entity today as I’ve been patient and methodical about this matter,” Attkisson told POLITICO.
“I need to check with my attorney and CBS to get their recommendations on info we make public.”