On the Road… a repost for 9/11

I come from a long line of people that felt service to country was an honor.

My Grandad served in both World Wars. In the second WW his eldest sons went with him. Uncles served in Korea. My dad was too young and became a police officer and volunteer fireman. Many family members still live in the New York area. We had a family member missing that day as his office was in the Trade Center… he was ok but it was a very frightening time.

I am reposting an article I wrote that was published in a few venues over the winter… it just strikes me as appropriate for this weekend.

What Does America Stand For?

Our founding fathers made an incredibly brave stand and wrote the Declaration of Independence. They knew by making a stand for what they believed in that they would not win an across the board popularity contest.

Next came the great Constitution of the United States.

The premises within that document began to build the consciousness of a nation. When I walk through the law libraries and touch the pages (yes, I feel books give a sense that the electronic age desensitizes) you literally feel the development of the identity of this nation.

Case law that demonstrates the evolution of the premises within the Constitution can literally remind you of the pride that is “America.” Sometimes it appears this occurs in spite of ourselves. Civil and human rights cases exist that when you read the cases themselves there is shame that what seems like a “no brainer” in current times was actually an issue that had to be decided within the judicial system. The pages are filled with “bad children” being given rules filtered through the guidelines our “founding fathers” left for us.

Within the Bill of Rights a concept was so important to our “fathers” that it was listed first. (The right to bear arms was second).

“The founding fathers gave the press the mission to inform the people and promote the free flow of facts and ideas, however untimely or challenging or disagreeable those facts and ideas may be.” — Katharine Graham, publisher, The Washington Post, 1973

The concept of a free press is to allow the public an opportunity to investigate and report on the activities of it’s government without fear of reprisal and censorship. The intention is that the true power of decision making in a Democratic society comes from an educated public conveying ideas to a representative that then advocates those positions in debate within a Senate and House toward shaping our nation.

Within the dialogue of “Wild Horse and Burro Program” implemented by the BLM we have a serious breakdown of this process. Plain and simple the public, Congress and often BLM employees themselves are seriously uninformed.

There is currently a lawsuit that has been patiently waiting to actually be heard within the judicial system.That case has been joined in an Amicus brief by the Reporters Committee for a Free Press and the National Press Photographers Association. (This case is also one I am Plaintiff).

Congress asks for information and the BLM will chose an “independent” organization (read “pro-slaughter”) to do an investigation or an investigation occurs in house. The reports are continually bias or outright filled with omissions and inaccuracies. Would we allow the tobacco industry to self-police? Would we make an appointment before showing up to do a search of a crime scene with a suspected perpetrator?

It appears yet again that an “independent” review is being prepared for the BLM by those chosen by the BLM. Those doing the review were supposedly on site Wednesday and Thursday of last week. I was not given the same access to the trap that they were. Activity at holding was very different when the government observers showed up with BLM public relations.

Last week Representative Burton made these statements to the House as a proposal to cut the BLM’s budget in a “slap on the wrist” gesture was made: “It seems to me that we ought to be frugal with the public’s money. We ought to cut the Bureau of Land Management’s budget so that we can save the money and save the mustangs.”

The wild horse advocate community has expressed sincere gratitude toward Burton. He has demonstrated bravery displayed by our founding fathers in bringing this dialogue into a forum that has the power to effect the change needed.

But in all honesty how can any dialogue be effective if that dialogue addresses symptoms of a long standing problem without taking the time to look for the root cause? Any symptomatic reaction has the potential to create a reality that has consequence worse than the current situation. A full investigation of the program and the consequence of placing the implementation of the 1971 Legislation into the hands of an agency with an apparent conflict of interest and often literally “inbred” with those that perpetrated the actions that spurred the need to pass the 71 Act in the first place is sorely absent. Why would any “change” be expected to be implemented any differently? It’s like changing the product you put in a meat grinder… it still comes out in the same fashion.

Until a dialogue actually begins to exist that addresses the root causes, arbitrary boundaries and policy that caters to special interests, the change needed to protect the “living symbol of the pioneer spirit of the west” will not happen.

If the information about the hands on care being done “humanely,” the most basic premise of the 71 Act, remains in the realm of “content control” … how can dialogue in any real fashion exist?

The first step in achieving that dialogue are independent observations that can only occur when the rights of the public to investigate and formulate opinion is protected. The closed door facilities must be open. Records must be made available in a timely manner for review without the need to file Freedom of Information Act requests. The ability to independently observe the hands on actions of contractors and government employees must occur on an extended basis and not in “periodic windows” at the discretion of those under scrutiny.

“I have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States more times than I can count,” said attorney Gordon Cowan, “that’s what this case is all about.”

What is happening behind closded doors?

No Kidding.

"Hope" died of hoof slough, Calico Complex 2010

Triple B, Do we stand for this?


5 thoughts on “On the Road… a repost for 9/11

  1. Honor Hannon says:

    Well said Laura. If only Congress would read—-our letters, your blogs etc—the Constition and the Bill of Rights!

  2. Forest Horse says:

    Great article Laura. Freedom and access of the press to our horses seems like such a no brainer in a free country.

  3. Maya Spies says:

    Below is a letter I sent to BLM to meet an Aug 30 deadline regarding the Pryor Mountain Herd.
    Who can I cc in Washington who might care about our wild horses?
    Thanks for doing all you do, Laura.

    August 30, 2011

    Mr. Jim Sparks
    Field Manager
    BLM Billings Field Office
    5001 Southgate Drive
    Billings, MT 59101

    RE: ‘Do No Harm’ to Pryor Mountain Wild Horses and Other Wild Horse Herds In BLM Care

    Dear Mr. Sparks:

    America’s mustangs were protected from being rounded up and turned into dog food many years ago. They were put under the U.S. Government’s care, with the Bureau of Land Management appointed as their stewards. The BLM, in essence, is charged with managing what belongs to the American people.

    By insisting on conserving our nation’s mustang heritage, and writing it into law, America’s citizens mandated a policy toward these horses of ‘protect ‘ and ‘do no harm’.

    In recent years, including today, harm is being done to America’s wild horses and they are not being protected: with the best intentions perhaps, mustangs are being made to suffer and die in the BLM’s care. Suffering and dying is not the intent of the law that protects these wild animals, and not what the majority of America’s citizens would want. The public trust is being broken.

    Perhaps measures must be taken to ensure horse herds do not overpopulate their legal grazing grounds. If that is so, the greater American public must be included in the decision-making process regarding how to proceed. Stewardship and doing no harm to all wild horses must be the overarching goals.

    As an American citizen who strongly believes in my government and values its laws, I want to be assured that my trust in the BLM is not in vain.

    Running down animals from the air, over rough terrain, in extreme heat, endangering the pregnant and very young, and causing avoidable death, is not humane regardless of the creature being chased. Nor is caging wild creatures in over-crowded pens, with no shelter, in fear, and with no guarantee that each individual’s ultimate safety and care is ensured.

    In our nation, humans who treat animals in this way, whether wild or domesticated, would ordinarily be charged with animal cruelty, and also be shown what humane treatment is. There are far better ways to handle wild animals, and there are numerous enlightened animal professionals and citizen volunteers who will gladly assist BLM in their care of the public’s wild herds, to identify best methods and implement them.

    Involving the American public in the stewardship of our nation’s mustangs could save a great deal of taxpayer’s funds. It would also ensure the public’s trust in the BLM and the democratic process.

    I respectfully request that you, personally, and all others at BLM, and any outside contractors charged with managing our nation’s wild horses, cease and desist from inflicting conditions on them that cause injury, suffering, and death.

    I also respectfully request that the BLM seek ways to ‘do no harm’ to all wild horse herds, including those in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, by cooperatively joining with a truly representative group of wild horse and rangeland advocates to determine what is best for everyone involved.

    This is what democracy means, a government by and for the people – including me and what I care about: keeping wild horse herds intact as much as possible, treating them gently and without alarm, never causing undue death. I want to believe in my government and its employees, and I can if you do what’s right, for the nation’s wild things and its people.

  4. Pam says:

    Laura is was so great to read this…….my dad was also in World War I and World War II, at age 17 he was involved in the chase of Pancho Via….he was Military Police (I have a picture of him on a horse in his uniform) and later he became a Col….he met my adoring mom, whom was the secretary to Foreign Affairs…they later were married in Shanghai China……

    I so feel the standing up for what is right and honorable and have done this all my life…..people who will fight you……have other undercover intentions to benefit themselves, which is so evident…..we all stand behind you Laura, ….the strong have the courage to do it all for the right reasons, it’s in their blood, they don’t know any other way to be, except honest……sooner or later you will lead them all………stay focused Laura….the road has been long, but the fight is not over until in the end you, we all, the horses mostly are returned to the “Land Of The Free” and the ” BLM and their Holocuast” is totally disolved……….they feel no shame…..and can’t even respond in a manner that makes sense…Instead they hide behind their “untruths and lack of compassion” which just keeps exposing them more and more…..how stupid can you be……

    We all are behind you, and appreciate you standing and marching on……hold your head high……..travel safe and know that our God is embracing you all the way…….<3

  5. Mar Wargo says:

    Hugs, stay safe. mar

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