Leakers are heroes, they hardly deserve to be prosecuted
How dare the government prosecute Bradley Manning [June 7 Gazette] and [former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of defense contractor] Edward Snowden [June 13 Gazette], who have done a service to our democracy by bringing to our attention the malfeasance of our government?
This is a job that Congress has failed in. The government acts above the law, in the name of security.
Congress should be asking the right questions and getting answers about what the secrets are hiding. Is our intelligence effort so inefficient that we get no evidence of threats except by terrorists blabbing over open lines? How much of our money goes to unreliable sources and eventually into terrorist coffers? What do we accomplish by occupying other countries, supporting repressive, collaborationist governments abroad, and killing innocents? Many people abroad already know this.
As [former Defense Department analyst] Daniel Ellsberg showed in the Pentagon Papers, what is secret here is how much we are not told about our own government. The Constitution and our legal system should be creating accountability. Secrets betray that. The right against “unreasonable search and seizure,” the regulation of war powers and all the processes of justice are to make the state accountable.
Secrets become an excuse to prevent that accountability. We have to distinguish when a secret protects us, and when it just hides government, military and security malfeasance. If a secret is exposed, the burden of proof must be on the government to show its harm. Congress should constantly be monitoring the use and abuse of secrets. Lacking that, leaks are a service to democracy.
Manning leaked the unaccountable murder of civilians and reporters in Iraq. I would like a leak of how many people have been killed, kidnapped and interned in the name of security without evidence that would satisfy a court.
Snowden has raised the right questions about warrantless, blanket telecom surveillance: Congress should give us what percentage of the tapped conversations have any prior evidence to support reasonable search, how many actually concern security threats, and what security is provided for the bulk of our data that has nothing to do with security.
We have no idea what is done with our data if that is “secret.” Secrets are a cover for bad policy and failures. With so much justice traded for security, with the attorney general defining what is “legal,” no one should be gullible about the claim that secrecy is protecting us instead of hiding what we deserve to know.
With search and seizure without specific warrant, we have no privacy. Secrecy means that only what the government does remains unknown, and that is not tolerable to democracy.
Or do we trade democracy for security?
Paying for quality education pays off
On June 10 the Gazette printed an article stating that the Capital Region’s technology sector is a “growing percentage of the economy.” This translates to an increase in our local population and an increase in families buying homes in our area.
The first thing families with school-age children seek is a highly rated school system. It is essential that we maintain the quality of our local schools.
Anyone interested in selling a home, particularly our senior citizens, should be aware of the relationship between good schools and good real estate values.
Therefore, vote “yes” on June 18 for the Niskayuna school budget. Our children deserve the best education we can provide. It helps us all.
An appropriate day to promote breast-feeding
It’s Father’s Day on June 16, a day we thank our dads for all they do.
This Father’s Day, I’m thanking my father for the support and encouragement he provided my mother while she was breast-feeding me.
Many dads think that breast-feeding has little to do with them. Not true. Breast-feeding takes time, dedication and support. As a new father, one of the best gifts you can give your baby is supporting his/her mother with breast-feeding.
Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It contains the right balance of nutrients to encourage growth and fight against disease. All of the cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk provide your baby with unique protection that cannot be matched by formula.
Research shows formula-fed babies are more likely to suffer from ear infections, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, respiratory infections, asthma, obesity and Type II diabetes than breast-fed babies. Conversely, breast-fed babies have reduced risk of developing diseases like Type I diabetes and childhood leukemia as they age.
So this Father’s Day, I encourage all new fathers to take some time to give back to the little gift that made you a dad and support breast-feeding.
A dad who supports breast-feeding is a dad who supports lifelong protection for his child.
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