On Veterans Day, we pause to remember the brave American heroes who sacrificed so much to preserve our great nation.
Though we celebrate Veterans Day once a year, we reap the benefits of freedom everyday. America's courageous sons and daughters who have chosen to fight for the freedoms and liberties upon which our country was founded deserve to be honored for their tremendous sacrifices. From the Halls of Congress to Main Street, millions of Americans use this important day to thank our soldiers and their families for their strong commitment to our nation. We must not make the mistake of waiting until our heroes have passed on to recognize their sacrifices and tell them "thank you."
On Veterans Day, we pause to remember the brave American heroes who sacrificed so much to preserve our great nation.
Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
Homeland Security Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman said Sunday that he intends to launch a congressional investigation into the motives behind "the worst terrorist attack since 9/11" -- the slaying of 13 people at Fort Hood by an Army major.
Are there any lessons for lawmakers or military leaders that could be taken from the tragedy at Fort Hood?
Michael T. McPhearson, president of Veterans For Peace said:
War is taking a heavy physical and mental toll on our troops. The
physical injury is easier to see. The mental wounds are many times
invisible until it is too late. It is not a new lesson. We saw social
and political questions deteriorate unit cohesion of our military
forces in the Vietnam War. The U.S. claim to fight communism in
defense of freedom was a contradiction to class tensions between
Enlisted Men and Officers and the racism of White troops against Black
troops. As in Vietnam, there is open speculation as to whether or not
U.S. actions in the Global War on Terror are just. Are these wars
against Islam? Why are there little if any consequences for torturing
Muslims? Are these wars about protecting the people of the United
States or some other agenda? In Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to
Vietnam, questions and obvious contradictions undermine the legitimacy
of the cause and tear at the mind of the soldier.
There are many time bombs like Major Hasan, but those troops exploded in their homes by committing suicide or on their families by pushing love ones out of their lives and overtime destroying themselves. It is a mistake to see this day as an isolated incident. Major Hasan exploded in the open, in the middle of our lives. He and his horrific action to kill those around him is the latest and most public act of violence. He made visible the countless, hidden and forgotten tragedies. It shows us these tragedies are not restricted to the combat zone, but in ways big and small affect us at home, in our communities and as a people. It should motivate us to work harder to end the madness of war.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council said:
The Rising PC Causality Count
The Left would have us believe that political correctness never killed anyone. But there are 13 fresh graves in Fort Hood, Texas to prove them wrong. When Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire on a crowd of his own military brothers, the tragedy that followed should warn Americans of the devastation that can come from putting blind tolerance ahead of national security. By his own admission, Major Hasan was a radical Muslim who expressed an incredible hostility for the very military in which he served. Yet despite his anti-Americanism, outreach to Al-Qaeda, and jihadist views, Hasan was "treated with kid gloves." Lt. Col. Val Finnell, a student with Hasan, said his superiors were afraid of offending the shooter, even after a poor performance review. This wasn't about anyone questioning his religious views. "[It's] different when you are a civilian than when you are a military officer," Finnell said. And he's right. As a soldier, political correctness is much more dangerous. It shackles our troops' sensibilities and opens the country up to attacks from within. Obviously, our commanders can't force their men to believe in the mission, but if a soldier has moral objections, then he should be excused from duty. Anything less than zero tolerance for radicalism is destabilizing to our military. This was never a question of Hasan's religious freedom but of his loyalty to the country he was sworn to defend. Leaving a Muslim extremist to preach hatred about the U.S. Army is a deadly negligence that cost 14 people their lives. (There was a pregnant mother among the slain). Diversity is an honorable goal 'until it compromises American security. President Obama said we shouldn't "jump to conclusions" about Hasan. But, as Jonah Goldberg points out, we shouldn't jump away from them either.
Dr. James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, said:
After providing support for survivor families, an immediate concern that must be addressed is how best to secure the vision of a diverse military so eloquently articulated by the President and General Casey.
With thousands of Muslim Americans and many more Arab Americans serving with honor and distinction in all branches of the military, attention must be paid to the stress they and their comrades in arms may now be under. The horrors of this senseless attack will be felt throughout the services. Fueled by some in the media who will see in this tragedy an opportunity to mount their Islamophobic hobby horse, fear and suspicion may grow.
Quick action must be taken by the military's leadership to address this situation. They should encourage our servicemen and women to participate in organized and structured open dialogue and honest exchanges of views and concerns. The only way to nip fear and suspicion in the bud is to acknowledge them and deal with them openly and directly. To fail to acknowledge the pressures resulting from this tragedy will only cause them to fester with the potential for breaking down the very comity for which our military is known.
PS: The last thing needed right now is for Joe Lieberman to be "hot dogging" this tragedy in "his" committee. At a time when thoughtfulness and thoroughness, not heavy handed politicking, are required, he can only do harm.
Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, said:
NPR has reported both that Major Hasan gave a presentation to fellow physicians in which the key theme was the right of Muslims to kill infidels, and that his supervisors met and concluded that discharging him would look bad because he was one of the few Muslim physicians at Walter Reed. The story of ignored warning signs before the attack -- and obfuscation and excuse-making after the fact -- suggests that pre-September 11 political correctness has returned as a major source of vulnerability.
Alas, the President, who didn't hesitate to exercise swift judgment where Boston Police were concerned, now seems anxious to avoid recognizing the obvious where a Muslim terrorist is involved. That's not leadership, and it's not likely to play well. Senate hearings are needed to document and overcome the blindness that led to this disaster, and to prevent similar failures of leadership in the future.
President Barack Obama's promise to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within his first year in office gave substance to one of the central messages of his campaign: the age of unilateralism and disdain for international norms has come to an end, and an era of renewed American leadership based on core values of justice and human rights has arrived.
With the president's self-imposed deadline now less than three months away, however, even his top advisers are acknowledging that his promise will be hard to fulfill. As Attorney General Eric Holder said in a recent interview, the "possibility still exists, but it will be difficult to meet that deadline."
There are legitimate reasons for this delay. Commitments from other countries to relocate detainees have been significant but not sufficient, and the distinct legal challenges posed by each detainee's circumstances make it difficult to rapidly dispose of every case. Even after most of the remaining detainees have been accounted for, we could still be left with a small number of hardened terrorists who pose a serious threat to our national security, and a decision on what to do with these prisoners should not be hastened by an arbitrary deadline.
The concept of “inherently safer technology” with regard to chemical facility security falls into the latter category. When a proposed government policy sounds so easy and affordable to implement, it usually isn’t. Witness today’s debate on a myriad of public policy proposals. The members of our organizations and their employees are challenged every day by politically motivated second-guessers with little or no background in security, chemistry or engineering, and it’s time to set the record straight. After all, second-guessing is easy. The true challenge lies in developing meaningful programs and standards that safeguard our employees, facilities and communities while ensuring there will still be employees and facilities to protect and communities to sustain in the midst of an uncertain economy.
Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee say the CIA misled Congress five times since 2001. These claims come as the House is gearing up to vote on healthcare reform. Will the revival of this controversy be a distraction for Speaker Pelosi?
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said:
I do not [think it will be a distraction]. We have so much other stuff going on right now. That is an
important issue, but no, I think she is a strong leader, and I don't
think she'll be distracted at all.
Glenn Reynolds, from Instapundit, said:
If Nancy Pelosi et al. were deceived as many times as they claim to have been, they must be awfully gullible. Now that there's another big government initiative on the table, I wonder how they'll manage to resist the allure of snake-oil salesmen with bogus health-care pitches? So far, things don't look very promising.
Congress passed the USA Patriot Act six weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The understandably intense fear and panic gripping the nation in those early days following the attacks fueled the near-record speed with which dramatic alterations to U.S. surveillance law were drafted, debated and made law. Many members of Congress -- myself included -- were concerned that the bill had not been adequately examined or thoroughly considered and managed to attach sunsets to the bill's most controversial provisions. The idea was that these provisions would be more thoughtfully debated at a later, less panicked time. The current expiration date for these provisions is December 31, 2009.
While there are several controversial provisions in the USA Patriot Act, the coming debate is likely to center around the "business records" provision. Prior to 9/11, if the FBI or another government agency was conducting an intelligence investigation and wanted to obtain an individual's personal records from a bank, hospital, library, retail store or whatever institution was holding them, the government had to have evidence indicating that the person whose records were sought was a terrorist or a spy. The Patriot Act changed the law to authorize the government to collect any records deemed "relevant to an investigation."
The Department of Homeland Security announced last Friday which localities have signed new Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) delegating immigration enforcement responsibilities to local law enforcement authorities. Not surprisingly, this announcement has been met with condemnation from immigrant and civil rights groups alike, and for good reason. The program, dubbed 287(g) after the section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act creating it, has a history of mismanagement by ICE and of major civil rights abuses and racial profiling.
DHS claims that the new MOAs will cure the major deficiencies identified in governmental and non-governmental reports. But nothing in the agreements will stop the police from engaging in profiling and arresting people who look or sound foreign so their immigration status can be checked. DHS apparently fears that putting strict requirements in the MOAs would discourage localities from signing on. And nothing in the agreements will compel a focus only on immigrants convicted of serious criminal violations or impose real consequences for localities where it turns out that the main targets are accused traffic offenders.
Ever since January, when President Obama announced his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay Terrorist Detention Center, I have been vocal in my concerns about a potential plan to transfer or release detainees to the United States. As a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, this strikes me as ill-advised.
The prisoners we are talking about are people like Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks – dangerous killers who do not know the bounds of decency or law. They are not ordinary criminals; they are declared enemies of the United States who were engaging in direct action against us.
In March, the President acknowledged the difficulty in determining the level of danger posed by certain prisoners. To that end, I expected the Administration’s assurance that they have a plan to keep such truly dangerous people from threatening the security of our communities and overall national security if and when these detainees reach the United States. But a plan isn’t forthcoming.
In May, I pressed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for answers regarding the transfer and perhaps even release of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. Secretary Napolitano indicated that she would work toward holding classified briefing in the future, but one has yet to be scheduled.
Just yesterday, I spoke with Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Lute about the risks associated with transferring or releasing terrorists into the United States given the Department’s acknowledged concern about sleeper cells within our country. I still have not received specifics.
Since February, many of my fellow Committee members have requested Chairman Bennie Thompson grant us permission to visit Guantanamo Bay on a bipartisan Committee delegation to observe the facility for ourselves. The Defense Department has granted us permission to go – but the Majority has not.
For now, I remain convinced that Guantanamo Bay is better suited to hold these detainees than any facility, even a military base, in the United States. We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to add facilities at Guantanamo Bay specifically to handle these detainees. It’s surrounded by minefields and protected by the best security force in the world, the United States Marine Corps.
I, for one, sleep well at night knowing that these dangerous terrorists are detained at Guantanamo Bay instead of somewhere in the United States.
The decennial census is not currently required to collect data regarding the legal status of immigrants in the U.S. This means that states with high numbers of illegal immigrants stand to gain additional seats in Congress in the once-every-10-years process of reapportionment. This also means that the law-abiding residents of states with low numbers of illegal immigrants stand to lose seats to those states with high numbers of illegal immigrants.
The U.S. House and Senate met yesterday to negotiate the final conference report on the fiscal year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Even though both the House and Senate have previously overwhelmingly voted to prevent the transfer and release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S., the conference report contains language allowing detainee transfers for the purpose of prosecution in U.S. criminal courts.
Consistent with previous votes taken by the House and Senate, my colleague, Homeland Appropriations Ranking Republican Hal Rogers, offered a motion to prohibit any Guantanamo detainee from being transferred onto U.S. soil for any reason, but House Democrats struck down the motion on a party line vote.
The Democrats in the conference committee have defied the will of Congress and the American people and have voted to allow terrorist detainees to be brought onto American soil at taxpayer expense. Instead of containing these dangerous terrorists – who were caught on the battlefield as prisoners of war and who pose risks to our national security – House Democrats have voted to treat these people as common criminals to be housed in U.S. prisons. Guantanamo detainees are dangerous enemies of the state, and we should not put the safety, security, and the peace of mind of the American people at risk by allowing them into our communities.