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.”