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October 24, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

America should be better than this

When I was a young person in school, I was told that America was better than Russia and China because we did not have secret police.

Just like everything else, we grow up and find out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy do not exist. George Orwell was on the right track with his negative utopias. I think I liked “Animal Farm” and “1984” the best. The leaks have clearly divided our country. On one side, we want to be safe, but on the other side, we do not feel free when we are being spied on.

I believe that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are heroes. The government is busily trying to scare us into submission with its current tactics. These seem like test cases. Kurt Vonnegut once wrote about a dictator who hung a tremendous hook in the public square and told his subjects that he would hang anyone who got “out of line” on this hook. Well, I think the current hook is the antiquated Espionage Act that was created during World War I to discourage war protesters, especially Eugene Debs.

I once saw on TV an investigative report of the CIA and its huge spying apparatus. The reporter suggested years ago that the majority of their work was spying on American citizens. We live in interesting times. I think we are better than this.

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  1. Is fleeing to, first China, and then Russia a heroic act? Hardly! Snowden is no more a hero than a soldier fleeing the battlefield and deserting his unit.

    At a minimum, it's poetic justice that the refuges available to this alleged "freedom loving hero" are hardly bastions of freedom.

  2. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind". -George Orwell

    Collateral murder was commonplace in Iraq. One of the information gems from Bradley Manning and Wikileaks was this video, de-encrypted showing Apache helicopters gunning down civilians and journalists in 2007.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3...

    The pilots reported seeing six AK-47s but only a shoulder camera and cell phone were visible with nine people standing close together. After reporting a falsehood, they asked permission to fire from someone who could see nothing.

    You must believe this information should be kept secret, but I don't.

    We were in Iraq because George Bush claimed Saddam Hussein was building a nuclear bomb, another amazing falsehood. Al Qaida was not involved with Saddam Hussein but we were told the opposite. 150,000 innocent Iraqi civilians were killed in a few short years, none of whom was a threat to this country and all because of a paranoid response to a clearly, non-existent bomb project.

    We need heroes like Bradley Manning to uncover the deceit and murderous intent of those who aspire to politics to make themselves wealthy on war.

    Once a digital information collection system is in place as there is now, it can be changed over at the 'flip of a switch' to record any amount of personal and political information needed, the the public will never know. They will tell you it's innocent on Monday but by Friday the collection profiles have changed.

    They spy for a lie and the budget is 'black' - the public isn't allowed to know much money is being spent, and you trust a system like that? Black Cadillacs don't carry pay phones.

    The Vietnam war was started because of the second Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which, like the justification of the Iraq War, was a complete lie, against two countries both populated by Godless people. Isn't that the definition of Evil, being Godless? Ah, the axis of Evil. We are now fighting wars against Evil and not because they are threats to America. They are Forever Wars because Evil never retreats.

    Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are heroes. Their faith was in information and reality, not Egyptian myths.

  3. Snowden was a hero for disclosing the unrestricted scope of government spying on innocent Americans. That violates the Constitution's 4th Amendment. He became a traitor when he fled to China and Russia for asylum. Why? Because he defected and is using classified information to secure a deal with foes of the U.S. government for asylum.

    Carmine D

  4. I agree with the letter writer.
    America has certainly disappointed me with its conduct. The western world expected better from the USA.
    Instead of remaining as the fountain of justice and liberty, Uncle Sam has become the embarrassing uncle discovered abusing not only strangers (foreign governments) but also spying on his own kids (the American public) when they thought they were talking privately.
    I'm sorry to say this, but America now seems corrupt. It chooses to punish those of its citizens who seek to reveal its underbelly to the public.

    Donald W. Desaulniers

  5. I agree with the author. America's policy of open season spying on its citizens,any time,is wrong.

    This is not what most Americans expect from the ones they sent to DC to run the nation's business.

    I am not angry or disappointed in Snowden. He got swept up in highly contoversial and secret government spy program that he thought was highly oversweeping and unconsttional. He believed that based on the values that he had always been taught that this secret program was contrary to those values that his fellows would find egregiously unacceptable. Snowden is obviously passionate in these beliefs.

    After all the shocking revelations of government intrustions,corruption and abuse in recent weeks,there is every reason to interpret and treat Snowden's actions with understanding--even appreciation.

    For one,I cannot comprehend those who believe Smowden is a traitor. Unfortunately, Snowden has become an international political pawn in the process of attempting to evade the CIA and other stalkers who are angry that their own evil plots and actions have been uncovered. The government is far from innocent in this matter.

    What America has become today under this adinistration is nothing less than shocking and highly disturbing! nnyone placing blind trust in the current government miscalculates seriously.

  6. Spying on Americans? Probably necessary to SOME extent. Those who are or pretend to be Americans but act in their self interest however misguided. Snowden, for example. Hero-wanna-be without regard for the intended and unintended consequences. What employee (fairly low level) can believe that he can comprehend the entire structure of the information he sabotaged? It is necessary to spy (on those few) who are close relatives and maintain ties with unfriendly nations, factions, groups. We've let in a million or more every year with little regard for their allegiance to us. We've let in 20-50 million illegal invaders via failure to track and enforce Visa laws and failure to secure our southern borders. Al Quaida and friends have cells and factions in Mexico and points beyond. Any wonder they MIGHT be interested in infiltrating? Any other reason to secure our borders--first by refusing economic viability (free welfare, food stamps, housing, JOBS) and secondly by REFUSING ENTRY at our borders. How about ENFORCEMENT of immigration laws by locating, arresting, confiscating, removing illegals? Instead of endless economic rewards, give them what they deserve.

  7. I think this issue is important but difficult.

    I am not a conspiracy theorist, so I find it difficult to believe the following theory and others like it:

    The decisions to involves ourselves in Vietnam and Iraq as two examples, were made at the highest levels of our government, while at those levels, the people involved knew everything the public was being told was untrue and that these people had 'other' motives for involving us. It could be true because I cannot prove it wasn't but the conspiracy theorists cannot prove it is true either. It's like my friend who claims that Bavarian Elites control the whole world and tell every world leader what to do. I don't believe that but he can't prove it is true and I can't prove it isn't.

    Our government has made and is making a determination that we, as individuals, are threatened by terrorists who would murder millions of us if given the means and opportunity. In our technological world, the means for one person to murder millions do exist.

    Our job as citizens is to decide just how much of what our government decides it must do to 'protect' us are things we will allow. If you believe what Jeff believes for example, that people at the highest levels of our government do what he claims were done regarding Vietnam and Iraq, I don't see how you would be able to trust government to do anything honestly. That flies in the face of the fact that these same people seem to love government and want it to do more and more. That seems a little strange to me.

    I'm still trying to decide how I feel. Like I said, this is a difficult issue.

    Michael

  8. Sorry Jeff, the comments I was referring to were made by Jon Becker, not you.

    Michael

  9. "Kurt Vonnegut once wrote about a dictator who hung a tremendous hook in the public square and told his subjects that he would hang anyone who got "out of line" on this hook. . . . .I think we are better than this."

    Price -- Vonnegut got it right, as he did so many other things. So it goes. Yes, America IS better than this. The problem is too many can't tell the difference between the current bloated bully federal government and "We the People of the United States."

    "...so you actually believe that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are heroes and not traitors? Well, that's just great Norma. Nothing much worse can be printed by the Las Vegas Sun..."

    BChap -- you're obviously one of those who can't tell the difference between the two Americas described above. For one who once took the oaths, that's such a pity.

    "Snowden is no more a hero than a soldier fleeing the battlefield and deserting his unit."

    pisces -- your expressed loyalty to our current rulers instead of our republic shows you have zero understanding of our organic law they all swore their oaths to.

    "The people should not be deceived ... a major, undemocratic restructuring of our national institutions and mores is constantly in progress." -- Justice Scalia dissenting in Board of County Commissioners, Wabaunsee County, Kansas v. Umbehr, 518 U.S. 668, 709-10 (1996)

  10. At 8 a.m. Roslenda (Roberta Anderson) commented "Spying on Americans? Probably necessary to SOME extent. Those who are or pretend to be Americans but act in their self interest however misguided."

    That seems to pretty well justify spying on 310 million Americans. The balance, some 6 million or so, are probably too young or otherwise mentally unable to understand where their self-interest actually lies and can be safely ignored - for now...subject to change without notice...

  11. Bradley,

    Maybe you need to cool your jets a little. Progressives and Conservatives, both I think, find the trade off between security and freedom and privacy a difficult thing to navigate. I know I find it difficult.

    Everybody wants to be safe and not be blown up or murdered in some way. The question is how much do we allow the government to do to protect us. You've been real tough on Norma and again seem to see so many things as attacks on President Obama. He took what President Bush had started and in some cases, expanded it. Either you are OK with that or you are not.

    Michael