Will Seahawks and Dolphins disrespect National anthem and American flag on 911?

 Will Seahawks and Dolphins disrespect National anthem and American flag on 911?

By Mario Murillo

 

SEATTLE — The Dolphins season opener will be full of drama before it even kicks off. The team held a players-only meeting Friday in which Arian Foster addressed a potential demonstration during the national anthem, and the Seahawks have already said they are planning something.

Protests began with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench during the anthem before a preseason game as his way of objecting to the oppression of black people and controversial handling of police violence. Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt for the anthem last week, and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall did the same in the league’s kickoff Thursday.

Now these two teams are involved, which becomes additionally provocative given that they will play on 9/11. Seattle players publicly discussed a team-wide stance, though they declined to specify what it will be, and the Dolphins planned to figure out their position by Saturday night.

Foster held the team after practice at the University of Washington to stress the importance of the Dolphins being unified in whatever they choose to do.

“There’s a lot going on right now in the NFL and everybody has their different feelings and opinions, or different stands,” safety Reshad Jones said. “That’s basically what he told us: Make sure we’re together, and we’re here to win a football game.”

Jones and right guard Jermon Bushrod said the Dolphins are not aware of what the Seahawks will do and the teams are not working in conjunction with each other. “We’ll do our own deal,” Bushrod added. That may be the only certainty heading into Sunday.

Sunday marks 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and the NFL has always honored that anniversary. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said his team would demonstrate regardless of the date, but thinks it will add even more substance to their actions.

“Even if it wasn’t September 11th, the point of the protest is to get people to think,”he told reporters. “It’s very ironic to me that 15 years ago, on September 11th, was one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been.

“And today you struggle to see the unity. It’s very ironic to me that this date is coming up. It’s going to be a very special day, a very significant day, but at the same time I’m looking forward to the many changes and differences that we can make in this country.”

Several Dolphins — notably FosterNdamukong Suh and Ryan Tannehill — said something along those lines and supported Kaepernick’s freedom to protest when asked about it recently.

“You’ve gotta respect the man’s opinion, as well as his actions,” Suh said two weeks ago. “I definitely understand where he’s coming from in choosing to do what he did.

“I think it’s an individual choice. At the same time, I think it’s a duty of ours as leaders, especially with young kids, to make a good, proper announcement if we feel the need to, and I think that’s what he’s doing. I support him in that.”

It’s a weighty issue for first-time head coach Adam Gase, who has consistently supported the players’ right to express themselves as they see fit and reiterated that he wouldn’t deter them. His comments run parallel to the NFL’s policy that players “are encouraged but not required” to stand for the anthem.

Gase and his staff gave the players space for their discussion Friday, and he probably won’t know what his team intends to do until they take the field.

“I just know everybody has the right to their opinion, and I know we’re here to beat Seattle,” he said. “It’s one of those things where everybody has a right to their opinion.”

colin

Fans threaten boycott after Dolphins discuss anthem protest

 A possible protest by the Dolphins and Seahawks during the national anthem at Sunday’s season opener has angered some fans, who lashed out in comments posted on The Post’s initial news report on Friday’s team meeting.

“My family and friends won’t be going to games this year, and some won’t buy products advertised during games,” one commenter posted. Another threatened a similar boycott: “I’m protesting the disrespect for our country and boycotting the NFL until they make everyone stand. I’ll watch college football and baseball and hockey, period.”

Dolphins vs Titans photo

Allen Eyestone

Others took offense to the potential protest occuring on 9/11. “Protest the anthem especially on 9/11 and the Dolphins are dead to me,” one reader wrote. Another posted: “Truly disgusting what they are doing. … I’m sure our soldiers abroad will be horrified and disgusted at their unpatriotic behavior.”

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Even longtime fans were offended: “If the Dolphins decide not to stand for the national anthem on 9/11 I will never attend another game in my life. And I’ve run bus trips for for 29 years.”

Protests began when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the anthem before a preseason game in a protest against oppression of black people and controversial handling of police violence. It became a mini movement when Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt for the anthem last week, then Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall did the same in the league’s kickoff Thursday.

The Dolphins and the NFL did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

My view is that no matter how you spin it, the overwhelming majority of Americans will consider these acts of blatant disrespect done out of arrogance and hate.   Moreover, to do it on 911 will make it look especially provocative and cruel.  In their little world, some of these players believe they will deemed heroes.  The shock will be the national national backlash and a colossal heap of shame.   Many will call them overpaid—and in some cases, highly overrated—athletes with an outsized microphone, who want to throw a bone to the oppressed from their mansions and limos.  They will be known as a new specie of classless, spoiled brat, low information posers.

IN A RELATED STORY:  

Colin Kaepernick’s gesture to kneel for the national anthem was repeated by high school players in a number of places before games Friday night.

Kaepernick retweeted a number of posts on Twitter with photos or news stories.

Here is a sampling:

  • At Lincoln Southeast in Nebraska, two players — one white, one African-American took a knee as a silent protest. (see the video above).
  • At Waggener High in Louisville, a player took a knee as his teammates stood alongside him. A number of players had taken a knee as the team line up but eventually rose as the music starting playing. Coach Jordan Johnson said the team will take steps before next week’s game to “to ensure our young men can make a stand for social injustice, while at the same time not showing, what is perceived as, disrespect.” (Click here for more of Waggener’s response.)
  • Many players at Maury High in Norfolk, Va., took a knee behind the end zone when the anthem was played. Others stood at attention as did the coaches. “Our school system has said, we’re of the belief, we let our guys do what they believe in,”Coach Chris Fraser told the Virginian Pilot. “And so we didn’t make an issue of it, and if they believe in a cause, that’s fine. I stand behind what they believe in, but I’m going to do what I believe in.”
  • At Auburn High in Rockford, Ill., a number of players took a knee during the anthem while their teammates stood with their hands over their hearts.
  • Players at Watkins Hills High in Montgomery, Md., also took a knee during the anthem, according to a photo provided to USA TODAY High School Sports.

ISIS KILLS 50 IN FLORIDA GAY BAR

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Orlando gay club massacre and says the gunman that slaughtered at least 50 people was one of its fighters.

Shooter Omar Mateen, 29, from Port St. Lucie in Florida, opened fire at Pulse night club in the early hours of this morning.

At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting in the deadliest mass shooting in US history and the first time ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack US soil.

A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.

Shortly before the attack, Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghan parents, called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said on Sunday that the Islamist militant group was responsible for the shooting.

‘The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in the American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,’ Amaq said.

California congressman Adam Schiff, who serves as top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN: ‘What I’ve heard from the Department of Homeland Security this morning is that, according to local police, he made a pledge of allegiance to ISIL (ISIS).’

He said the shooting was ‘highly indicative of an ISIL-inspired attack’.

During the attack, Mateen alsoreferenced the brothers who carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a Massachusetts State Police spokesman said on Sunday.

‘During a conference call with federal law enforcement officials a short time ago, Massachusetts State Police and other local law enforcement authorities learned that the Orlando nightclub gunman, during his rampage, pledged allegiance to ISIS and referenced the Tsarnaev brothers,’ state police spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail.

The Tsarnaev brothers killed three people and injured more than 260 in the April 15, 2013, attack. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died four days later during a gunbattle with police while Dzhokhar Tsaranev, now 22, has been sentenced to death for his role in the attack.

However Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, told NBC News his son became angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami several months ago.

‘This has nothing to do with religion,’ he said. ‘We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.’

An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

US citizen Mateen, who was shot dead by officers, entered the nightclub wielding an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun.

Writing on Facebook, Pulse urged party-goers to ‘get out and keep running’ as bullets started flying at around 2am local time.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2am, then went back inside and took hostages.

There were about 320 people inside the club at the time of the shootings and about 100 people were taken hostage.

At around 5am authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages. Nine hero officers used a ‘controlled explosion’ to distract the shooter before fatally shooting him and were able to rescue about 30 hostages who were hiding in the bathroom of the club.

During the gunfire, an officer was shot, but he was saved by his helmet.

Scroll down for video 

Pictured: US citizen Omar Mateen, 29, the suspected Islamic extremist who slaughtered at least 50 people inside a gay club in Orlando

Omar Mateen

Pictured: US citizen Omar Mateen, 29, the suspected Islamic extremist who slaughtered at least 50 people inside a gay club in Orlando

Attack: A woman sits on the ground outside the club while another party-goer, whose legs are covered in blood, stands beside her

Attack: A woman sits on the ground outside the club while another party-goer, whose legs are covered in blood, stands beside her

Response: Emergency services are pictured at the scene outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida following this morning's shooting

Emergency services at the scene

Response: Emergency services are pictured at the scene outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida following this morning’s shooting

Distraught: A woman sits outside the nightclub following the mass shooting. Around 50 people were killed by the suspected gunman

Distraught: A woman sits outside the nightclub following the mass shooting. Around 50 people were killed by the suspected gunman

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during following the shooting at Pulse nightclub

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during following the shooting at Pulse nightclub

Ray Rivera, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend outside of the Orlando Police Department following the shooting

Ray Rivera, a DJ at Pulse Orlando nightclub, is consoled by a friend outside of the Orlando Police Department following the shooting

Demetrice Naulings (left) sobs outside the Orlando Police Headquarters where police are interviewing witnesses

People wait outside the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after the shooting at Pulse gay club

Demetrice Naulings (left) sobs outside the Orlando Police Headquarters where police are interviewing witnesses. Right: People wait outside the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after the shooting at Pulse gay club

Friends and family members embrace outside Orlando Police Headquarters following the deadly shooting in the early hours of this morning

Friends and family members embrace outside Orlando Police Headquarters following the deadly shooting in the early hours of this morning

SWAT: Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT members arrive at the scene of the fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando

SWAT: Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT members arrive at the scene of the fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando

Fatalities: At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting. Pictured: An Orange County Sheriff's Department SWAT member

Fatalities: At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the shooting. Pictured: An Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT member

Police, army and FBI surround the club after a suspected Islamic extremist wielding an assault rifle and a handgun killed about 50 people

Police, army and FBI surround the club after a suspected Islamic extremist wielding an assault rifle and a handgun killed about 50 people

An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism

Pictured: Forensics at the scene of the shooting

An FBI spokesman said the mass shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Pictured: Forensics at the scene of the shooting

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3637414/Everyone-running-Gunman-bursts-gay-nightclub-Florida-shoots-20-people-taking-hostages.html#ixzz4BTJRShIs
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Ex-CIA Directors: Interrogations Saved Lives

CIA copy

Ex-CIA Directors: Interrogations Saved Lives

The Senate Intelligence investigators never spoke to us—the leaders of the agency whose policies they are now assailing for partisan reasons.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its majority report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation in the wake of 9/11. The following response is from former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden (a retired Air Force general), and former CIA Deputy Directors John E. McLaughlin, Albert M. Calland (a retired Navy vice admiral) and Stephen R. Kappes :

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Central Intelligence Agency detention and interrogation of terrorists, prepared only by the Democratic majority staff, is a missed opportunity to deliver a serious and balanced study of an important public policy question. The committee has given us instead a one-sided study marred by errors of fact and interpretation—essentially a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks.

Examining how the CIA handled these matters is an important subject of continuing relevance to a nation still at war. In no way would we claim that we did everything perfectly, especially in the emergency and often-chaotic circumstances we confronted in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. As in all wars, there were undoubtedly things in our program that should not have happened. When we learned of them, we reported such instances to the CIA inspector general or the Justice Department and sought to take corrective action.

The country and the CIA would have benefited from a more balanced study of these programs and a corresponding set of recommendations. The committee’s report is not that study. It offers not a single recommendation.

Our view on this is shared by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Republican minority, both of which are releasing rebuttals to the majority’s report. Both critiques are clear-eyed, fact-based assessments that challenge the majority’s contentions in a nonpartisan way.

What is wrong with the committee’s report?

First, its claim that the CIA’s interrogation program was ineffective in producing intelligence that helped us disrupt, capture, or kill terrorists is just not accurate. The program was invaluable in three critical ways:

• It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield.

• It led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives.

• It added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it.

A powerful example of the interrogation program’s importance is the information obtained from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda operative, and from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, known as KSM, the 9/11 mastermind. We are convinced that both would not have talked absent the interrogation program.

Information provided by Zubaydah through the interrogation program led to the capture in 2002 of KSM associate and post-9/11 plotter Ramzi Bin al-Shibh. Information from both Zubaydah and al-Shibh led us to KSM. KSM then led us to Riduan Isamuddin, aka Hambali, East Asia’s chief al Qaeda ally and the perpetrator of the 2002 Bali bombing in Indonesia—in which more than 200 people perished.

The removal of these senior al Qaeda operatives saved thousands of lives because it ended their plotting. KSM, alone, was working on multiple plots when he was captured.

Here’s an example of how the interrogation program actually worked to disrupt terrorist plotting. Without revealing to KSM that Hambali had been captured, we asked him who might take over in the event that Hambali was no longer around. KSM pointed to Hambali’s brother Rusman Gunawan. We then found Gunawan, and information from him resulted in the takedown of a 17-member Southeast Asian cell that Gunawan had recruited for a “second wave,” 9/11-style attack on the U.S. West Coast, in all likelihood using aircraft again to attack buildings. Had that attack occurred, the nightmare of 9/11 would have been repeated.

Once they had become compliant due to the interrogation program, both Abu Zubaydah and KSM turned out to be invaluable sources on the al Qaeda organization. We went back to them multiple times to gain insight into the group. More than one quarter of the nearly 1,700 footnotes in the highly regarded 9/11 Commission Report in 2004 and a significant share of the intelligence in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on al Qaeda came from detainees in the program, in particular Zubaydah and KSM.

The majority on the Senate Intelligence Committee further claims that the takedown of bin Laden was not facilitated by information from the interrogation program. They are wrong. There is no doubt that information provided by the totality of detainees in CIA custody, those who were subjected to interrogation and those who were not, was essential to bringing bin Laden to justice. The CIA never would have focused on the individual who turned out to be bin Laden’s personal courier without the detention and interrogation program.

Specifically, information developed in the interrogation program piqued the CIA’s interest in the courier, placing him at the top of the list of leads to bin Laden. A detainee subjected to interrogation provided the most specific information on the courier. Additionally, KSM and Abu Faraj al-Libi—both subjected to interrogation—lied about the courier at a time when both were providing honest answers to a large number of other critical questions. Since other detainees had already linked the courier to KSM and Abu Faraj, their dissembling about him had great significance.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, shown in an undated photo from the FBI.ENLARGE
Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, shown in an undated photo from the FBI. ASSOCIATED PRESS

So the bottom line is this: The interrogation program formed an essential part of the foundation from which the CIA and the U.S. military mounted the bin Laden operation.

The second significant problem with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is its claim that the CIA routinely went beyond the interrogation techniques as authorized by the Justice Department. That claim is wrong.

President Obama ’s attorney general, Eric Holder , directed an experienced prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate the interrogation program in 2009. Mr. Durham examined whether any unauthorized techniques were used by CIA interrogators, and if so, whether such techniques could constitute violations of U.S. criminal statutes. In a press release, the attorney general said that Mr. Durham “examined any possible CIA involvement with the interrogation and detention of 101 detainees who were alleged to have been in U.S. custody” after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The investigation was concluded in August 2012. It was professional and exhaustive and it determined that no prosecutable offenses were committed.

Third, the report’s argument that the CIA misled the Justice Department, the White House, Congress, and the American people is also flat-out wrong. Much of the report’s reasoning for this claim rests on its argument that the interrogation program should not have been called effective, an argument that does not stand up to the facts.

Fourth, the majority left out something critical to understanding the program: context.

The detention and interrogation program was formulated in the aftermath of the murders of close to 3,000 people on 9/11. This was a time when:

• We had evidence that al Qaeda was planning a second wave of attacks on the U.S.

• We had certain knowledge that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists and wanted nuclear weapons.

• We had reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled into New York City.

• We had hard evidence that al Qaeda was trying to manufacture anthrax.

It felt like the classic “ticking time bomb” scenario—every single day.

In this atmosphere, time was of the essence and the CIA felt a deep responsibility to ensure that an attack like 9/11 would never happen again. We designed the detention and interrogation programs at a time when “relationship building” was not working with brutal killers who did not hesitate to behead innocents. These detainees had received highly effective counter-interrogation training while in al Qaeda training camps. And yet it was clear they possessed information that could disrupt plots and save American lives.

1998 al Qaeda Press Conference

The Senate committee’s report says that the CIA at that point had little experience or expertise in capture, detention or interrogation of terrorists. We agree. But we were charged by the president with doing these things in emergency circumstances—at a time when there was no respite from threat and no luxury of time to act. Our hope is that no one ever has to face such circumstances again.

The Senate committee’s report ignores this context.

The committee also failed to make clear that the CIA was not acting alone in carrying out the interrogation program. Throughout the process, there was extensive consultation with the national security adviser, deputy national security adviser, White House counsel, and the Justice Department.

The president approved the program. The attorney general deemed it legal.

The CIA went to the attorney general for legal rulings four times—and the agency stopped the program twice to ensure that the Justice Department still saw it as consistent with U.S. policy, law and our treaty obligations. The CIA sought guidance and reaffirmation of the program from senior administration policy makers at least four times.

We relied on their policy and legal judgments. We deceived no one.

The CIA reported any allegations of abuse to the Senate-confirmed inspector general and the Justice Department. CIA senior leadership forwarded nearly 20 cases to the Justice Department, and career Justice officials decided that only one of these cases—unrelated to the formal interrogation program—merited prosecution. That person received a prison term.

The CIA briefed Congress approximately 30 times. Initially, at presidential direction the briefings were restricted to the so-called Gang of Eight of top congressional leaders—a limitation permitted under covert-action laws. The briefings were detailed and graphic and drew reactions that ranged from approval to no objection. The briefings held nothing back.

Congress’s view in those days was very different from today. In a briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee after the capture of KSM in 2003, committee members made clear that they wanted the CIA to be extremely aggressive in learning what KSM knew about additional plots. One senator leaned forward and forcefully asked: “Do you have all the authorities you need to do what you need to do?”

In September 2006, at the strong urging of the CIA, the administration decided to brief full committee and staff directors on the interrogation program. As part of this, the CIA sought to enter into a serious dialogue with the oversight committees, hoping to build a consensus on a way forward acceptable to the committee majority and minority and to the congressional and executive branches. The committees missed a chance to help shape the program—they couldn’t reach a consensus. The executive branch was left to proceed alone, merely keeping the committees informed.

How did the committee report get these things so wrong? Astonishingly, the staff avoided interviewing any of us who had been involved in establishing or running the program, the first time a supposedly comprehensive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study has been carried out in this way.

The excuse given by majority senators is that CIA officers were under investigation by the Justice Department and therefore could not be made available. This is nonsense. The investigations referred to were completed in 2011 and 2012 and applied only to certain officers. They never applied to six former CIA directors and deputy directors, all of whom could have added firsthand truth to the study. Yet a press account indicates that the committee staff did see fit to interview at least one attorney for a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay.

We can only conclude that the committee members or staff did not want to risk having to deal with data that did not fit their construct. Which is another reason why the study is so flawed. What went on in preparing the report is clear: The staff picked up the signal at the outset that this study was to have a certain outcome, especially with respect to the question of whether the interrogation program produced intelligence that helped stop terrorists. The staff members then “cherry picked” their way through six million pages of documents, ignoring some data and highlighting others, to construct their argument against the program’s effectiveness.

In the intelligence profession, that is called politicization.

As lamentable as the inaccuracies of the majority document are—and the impact they will have on the public’s understanding of the program—some consequences are alarming:

• Many CIA officers will be concerned that being involved in legally approved sensitive actions can open them to politically driven scrutiny and censure from a future administration.

• Foreign intelligence partners will have even less confidence that Washington, already hemorrhaging with leaks, will be able to protect their cooperation from public scrutiny. They will cooperate less with the United States.

• Terrorists, having acquired now the largest haven (in the Middle East and North Africa) and string of successes they have had in a decade, will have yet another valuable recruitment tool.

All of this means more danger for the American people and for our allies.

Anyone who has led a U.S. intelligence agency supports strong congressional oversight. It is essential as a check on leadership judgment in a profession that deals constantly with uncertainty, crises and the potential for surprise. We have all experienced and benefited from that in our careers, including at times when the judgment of overseers was critical.

When oversight works well, it is balanced, constructively critical and discreet—and offers sound recommendations. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is disrespectful of that standard.

It’s fair to ask whether the interrogation program was the right policy, but the committee never takes on this toughest of questions.

On that important issue it is important to know that the dilemma CIA officers struggled with in the aftermath of 9/11 was one that would cause discomfort for those enamored of today’s easy simplicities: Faced with post-9/11 circumstances, CIA officers knew that many would later question their decisions—as we now see—but they also believed that they would be morally culpable for the deaths of fellow citizens if they failed to gain information that could stop the next attacks.

Between 1998 and 2001, the al Qaeda leadership in South Asia attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, a U.S. warship in the port of Aden, Yemen, and the American homeland—the most deadly single foreign attack on the U.S. in the country’s history. The al Qaeda leadership has not managed another attack on the homeland in the 13 years since, despite a strong desire to do so. The CIA’s aggressive counterterrorism policies and programs are responsible for that success.

Go Ahead, Admit It: George W. Bush Is a Good Man

Go Ahead, Admit It: George W. Bush Is a Good Man

In the rush to mythologize and demonize our presidents, we forget they’re human.

By Ron Fournier

Updated: April 23, 2013 | 10:24 a.m.
April 22, 2013 | 7:40 p.m.

(AP/Ron Edmonds)

More on the Bush Legacy

 White House press secretary Ari Fleischer walked into the media cabin of Air Force One on May 24, 2002, and dropped identical envelopes in the laps of two reporters, myself and Steve Holland of Reuters. Inside each was a manila card – marked by a small presidential seal and, in a simple font, “THE PRESIDENT.”

Handwritten in the tight script of President George W. Bush, both notes said essentially the same thing: “Thank you for the respect you showed for the office of the President, and, therefore, the respect you showed for our country.”

What had we done? Not much, really. An hour earlier, at a rare outdoor news conference in Germany, Steve and I decided to abide by the U.S. media tradition of rising from our seats when the president entered our presence. The snickering German press corps remained seated. “What a contrast!” Bush wrote. “What class.”

I dug out Bush’s thank-you note this week while contemplating the opening of his presidential library Thursday, a milestone that most journalists will use to assess the 43rd president’s legacy. The record includes Bush’s responses to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and bogus claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – all worth exploring skeptically.

But I’m going to take a few paragraphs to discuss something that gets less attention from the White House press corps – the essential humanity and decency of our presidents.

Bush’s note, a simple gesture, spoke volumes about his respect for the office of the presidency. He did not thank us for respecting him. He knew it wasn’t about George W. Bush. He was touched instead by the small measure of respect we showed “for our country.”

The same sense of dignity compelled Bush to forbid his staff to wear blue jeans in the White House. Male aides were required to wear jackets and ties in the Oval Office.

He was a stickler for punctuality. Long-time adviser Karen Hughes asked him years ago why he was always early for appointments. “Late is rude,” Bush replied. He thought that if people were going to take the time to see him, he shouldn’t keep them waiting.

He remembered names of the spouses and children of his staff, and insisted that hard work at the White House not be an excuse to let family life suffer. One steamy summer day in 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush called me with an exclusive interview and interrupted my first question. “What’s all that noise in the background, Fournier?” he asked.

“I’m at the pool with my kids, governor.”

Bush replied, “Then what the hell are you doing answering your phone?”

Damn good question, sir. We quickly ended the interview.

His record as commander-in-chief will be long debated, as it should be. But for this story, at least, let’s remember that Bush insisted upon meeting U.S. troops and their families in private and after his public events, so that he could give them undivided attention.

He told his staff, “I never want to look at my watch and say, ‘I’ve got to go.’ ”

Presidents Clinton and Obama also visited troops, in private and for hours at a time. I could tell you many stories about their basic decency, too – of then-Gov. Bill Clinton quietly helping the family of an ailing state employee or of Obama reading 10 letters each night from ordinary Americans.

For as much time as we spend understanding our presidents’ policies and politics, relatively little effort is spent trying to understand them as people. We mythologize them as candidates and demonize them as presidents, denying our leaders the balm that soothes mere mortals: benefit of the doubt.

Disclosure: I am the worst offender. I get paid to hold leaders accountable, not to walk in their shoes. Conversely, I am also a bit biased. Presidents Bush and Clinton agreed last year to meet privately withmy autistic son for a project on the presidency. But that is the point: Neither man had anything to gain by agreeing to meet Tyler. They’re not running for office. I don’t cover them anymore.

Fact is that both Bush and Clinton do small acts of kindness every day, with little or no public notice.

Why? Because, like past presidents, they realize the office is bigger than they are. Because they are deeply grateful for the job we gave them, and they feel obliged to return the favor.

Our presidents and ex-presidents are not perfect. You won’t always agree with them. You might not even think they’re worthy of the office. But try to remember what Clinton told me a few days before he left Arkansas for Washington (and a few years before the Lewinsky affair made it sadly ironic): “You don’t check your humanity at the Oval Office door.”

Remembering that is to respect the office. And it’s the decent thing to do.

Fort Collins students read Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic

school kids insert

Fort Collins students read Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic

10:33 PM, Jan 29, 2013

FORT COLLINS – A Fort Collins principal stands by his decision to allow students from a multicultural group to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic on the school’s intercom.

“We do say the Pledge of Allegiance on Mondays at Rocky Mountain High School,” principal Tom Lopez said.

Students have always said it in English. This year, a group with about 30 students approached Lopez with a request to translate and recite the pledge in other languages.

“They had to go through me for approval, and I reviewed it pretty carefully,” Lopez said.

First, the students translated and read French. Then they recited the pledge in Spanish last fall. Monday, students read the pledge in Arabic.

“We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school,” Lopez said. “This is very American, not un-American.”

The response has been mostly positive, said Lopez, though the calls and emails from upset parents have been very negative.

“I guess I’m getting worn down a little bit by how intense their sense of hate has been represented in some of the things they’ve written and said,” Lopez said on Tuesday.

Lopez says Rocky Mountain High School is a place of inclusion.

“When they pledge allegiance to United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying — they’re just using another language as their vehicle,” Lopez said.

He says it’s likely the group will have other opportunities to recite the pledge in other languages, though he concedes it’s a wise idea to recite the pledge in English that day as well.

The Real Obama comes out in a speech the media did not want you to see.

 

In a video obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama tells an audience of black ministers, including the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, that the U.S. government shortchanged Hurricane Katrina victims because of racism.

“The people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!” Obama shouts in the video, which was shot in June of 2007 at Hampton University in Virginia. By contrast, survivors of Sept. 11 and Hurricane Andrew received generous amounts of aid, Obama explains. The reason? Unlike residents of majority-black New Orleans, the federal government considers those victims “part of the American family.”

The racially charged and at times angry speech undermines Obama’s carefully-crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups. For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he almost never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America. The mostly black audience shouts in agreement. The effect is closer to an Al Sharpton rally than a conventional campaign event.

Obama gave the speech in the middle of a hotly-contested presidential primary season, but his remarks escaped scrutiny. Reporters in the room seem to have missed or ignored his most controversial statements. The liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan linked to what he described as a “transcript” of the speech, which turned out not to be a transcript at all, but instead the prepared remarks provided by the campaign. In fact, Obama, who was not using a teleprompter, deviated from his script repeatedly and at length, ad libbing lines that he does not appear to have used before any other audience during his presidential run. A local newspaper posted a series of video clips of the speech, but left out key portions. No complete video of the Hampton speech was widely released.

Obama begins his address with “a special shout out” to Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago pastor who nearly derailed Obama’s campaign months later when his sermons attacking Israel and America and accusing the U.S. government of “inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color” became public. To the audience at Hampton, Obama describes Wright as, “my pastor, the guy who puts up with me, counsels me, listens to my wife complain about me. He’s a friend and a great leader. Not just in Chicago, but all across the country.”

By the time Obama appeared at Hampton, Jeremiah Wright had become a political problem. Wright told The New York Times earlier that year that he would no longer be speaking on the campaign’s behalf because his rhetoric was considered too militant. And yet later in the Hampton speech Obama explicitly defends Wright from unnamed critics, a group he describes as “they”: “They had stories about Trinity United Church of Christ, because we talked about black people in church: ‘Oh, that might be a separatist church,’” Obama said mockingly.

The spine of Obama’s speech is a parable about a pregnant woman shot in the stomach during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The baby is born with a bullet in her arm, which doctors successfully remove. That bullet, Obama explains, is a metaphor for the problems facing black America, namely racism. (At a similar speech he gave in April of 2007 at the First AME Church in Los Angeles to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the riots, according to a church member who was there, Obama described the slug as, “the bullet of slavery and Jim Crow.”)

At least 53 people were killed during the chaos in Los Angeles, many of them targeted by mobs because of their skin color. But Obama does not describe the riots as an expression of racism, but rather as the result of it. The burning and shooting and looting, he explains, amounted to “Los Angeles expressing a lingering, ongoing, pervasive legacy, a tragic legacy out of the tragic history of this country, a history this country has never fully come to terms with.”

And with that, Obama pivots to his central point: The Los Angeles riots and Hurricane Katrina have racism in common. “The federal response after Katrina was similar to the response we saw after the riots in LA,” he thunders from the podium. “People in Washington, they wake up, they’re surprised: ‘There’s poverty in our midst! Folks are frustrated! Black people angry!’ Then there’s gonna be some panels, and hearings, and there are commissions and there are reports, and then there’s some aid money, although we don’t always know where it’s going — it can’t seem to get to the people who need it — and nothin’ really changes, except the news coverage quiets down and Anderson Cooper is on to something else.”

It’s at about this point that Obama pauses, apparently agitated, and tells the crowd that he wants to give “one example because this really steams me up,” an example that he notes does not appear in his prepared remarks:

“Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt twenty months later,” he begins, “there’s a law, federal law — when you get reconstruction money from the federal government — called the Stafford Act. And basically it says, when you get federal money, you gotta give a ten percent match. The local government’s gotta come up with ten percent. Every ten dollars the federal government comes up with, local government’s gotta give a dollar.”

“Now here’s the thing,” Obama continues, “when 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’”

That’s not, Obama says, what is happening in majority-black New Orleans. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?” Obama shouts, angry now. “Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!”

It’s a remarkable moment, and not just for its resemblance to Kayne West’s famous claim that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” but also because of its basic dishonesty. By January of 2007, six months before Obama’s Hampton speech, the federal government had sent at least $110 billion to areas damaged by Katrina. Compare this to the mere $20 billion that the Bush administration pledged to New York City after Sept. 11.

Moreover, the federal government did at times waive the Stafford Act during its reconstruction efforts. On May 25, 2007, just weeks before the speech, the Bush administration sent an additional $6.9 billion to Katrina-affected areas with no strings attached.

As a sitting United States Senator, Obama must have been aware of this. And yet he spent 36 minutes at the pulpit telling a mostly black audience that the U.S. government doesn’t like them because they’re black.

As the speech continues, Obama makes repeated and all-but-explicit appeals to racial solidarity, referring to “our” people and “our neighborhoods,” as distinct from the white majority. At one point, he suggests that black people were excluded from rebuilding contracts after the storm: “We should have had our young people trained to rebuild the homes down in the Gulf. We don’t need Halliburton doing it. We can have the people who were displaced doing that work. Our God is big enough to do that.”

This theme — that black Americans suffer while others profit — is a national problem, Obama continues: “We need additional federal public transportation dollars flowing to the highest need communities. We don’t need to build more highways out in the suburbs,” where, the implication is, the rich white people live. Instead, Obama says, federal money should flow to “our neighborhoods”: “We should be investing in minority-owned businesses, in our neighborhoods, so people don’t have to travel from miles away.”

The solution, Obama says, is a series of new federal programs, including one to teach punctuality to the poor: “We can’t expect them to have all the skills they need to work. They may need help with basic skills, how to shop, how to show up for work on time, how to wear the right clothes, how to act appropriately in an office. We have to help them get there.”

In the prepared version distributed to reporters, Obama’s speech ends this way:

“America is going to survive. We won’t forget where we came from. We won’t forget what happened 19 months ago, 15 years ago, thousands of years ago.”
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/02/obama-speech-jeremiah-wright-new-orleans/#ixzz28FNTwUon

The breathtaking failure and indifference of Barrack Obama.

 

Even as the coffins containing the bodies of the Americans murdered at the Libyan consulate in Benghazi arrived back in the United States, Barack Obama’s twitter account let Americans know what really matters: “Winter is coming, but these sweatshirts are perfect for fall.

 

The breathtaking failure and indifference of Barrack Obama.  Yes, he did tweet while 4 coffins were being removed.  But his callous indifference is even more disgraceful.

1. He knew 48 hours in advance that the attack was coming and did nothing.  Of all the days of the year to ignore security September 11!  According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

2. Sensitive documents were stolen endangering even more lives.  The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

3.  He knows this was not about the movie but Al Qaeda made it about the movie and he is following that narrative because he cannot appear to have allowed an attack on 911.  Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

4.  He turns a blind eye to the outrageous behavior of supposed allies, even when it causes death to Americans.  Guards hired to protect Americans turned on them.  Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

5. His promised an  Arab Spring but instead has allowed a nuclear winter:  Obama said in 2007: The Day I’m Inaugurated the Muslim World Will Look at America Differently.   Then-Senator Barack Obama makes the case for an Obama Presidency on November 21, 2007 in a radio interview by saying he is uniquely qualified to bring stability to America’s relationships in the Muslim world because he lived in an Islamic country during his youth and his half-sister is Muslim.
“I truly believe that the day I am inaugurated not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at American differently. If I am reaching out to the Muslim world they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country, and I may be a Christian, but I also understand  their point of view.”
“… My sister is half Indonesian, I’ve traveled there all the way through my college years. So I am intimately… ehm… (He stalls. Feels like he wants to say he is Muslim but avoids it)… concerned… with what happens with these countries, and the cultures and perspective these folks have.”

In conclusion: I really, really, really want to hear someone try to explain how we keep this man in power.  Do not waste your time and mine with the deeply repulsive and hollow argument of asking “what choice do we have?”   Never has the choice been clearer.