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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunamis touch down hitting Ian Spiers and Marine Cpl Hassoun

Comparing Ian Spiers and Marine Hassoun: One is a Patriot the other ...

Although the two are, now, on completely different sides of the world and spectrums, it is noteworthy to contrast the two cases. Let us look broadly at the two cases to understand why innocent behavior is treated with scorn; and outlandish behavior faces meaningless sanctions.

  • Ian Spiers is the gentleman in Washington State who was minding his own business taking photographs for a photography class.

  • Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was in Iraq, charged with desertion, and has subsequently fled to Canada then back to native Lebanon.

    The common element is the United States government.

    We can compare how the US government deals with two Americans as a proxy for the state of the US society. America has three classes:

  • Government officials
  • The sheep
  • The scapegoats

    The goal of the US government is to convince the sheep that the scapegoats deserve a great deal of wrath. This is why Spiers was targeted.

    The problem the US government has is that it let one of its own do what the government does all the time: Lie, betray, and then avoid accountability. This is Hassoun.

    Contrasting approaches are telling

    What is most striking when contrasting the two situations is the differing approaches the US government took to both individuals. Spiers, despite going about constitutionally protected activity, was repeatedly hounded, threatened, verbally abused while going about his business.

    Cpl Hassoun, despite desertion, was treated far more respectfully, even afforded the opportunity for home visits.

    Why someone in the Marines afforded so many privileges despite being charged with a crime; yet a private citizen is treated as if they have committed treason?

    It is all well and good to talk about the "post 9-11 world" which warrants "greater scrutiny", but it is clear the government has things turned upside down.

    It remains to be explained by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense why their approach to private citizens is so egregious, but when it comes to in-house accountability suddenly those same forces prove wanting.

    The country may ultimately conclude America's national security interests are best served by Patriots like Ian, who under great scrutiny, remained calm and resolute in their conviction and faith in American principles; and that America's government ought to first put their own personnel under greater surveillance before imposing that standard on the wider population which does the real fighting for American principles. Day in, day out, around the globe.

    Fundamentally it remains a leadership problem. The country saw at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that, when caught, it will deny. The country learned that CBS was under pressure to delay releasing the Abu Ghraib tapes because the case was about to go before the Supreme Court.

    The world is once again reminded that when under scrutiny, the Senior Executive Service will chase a scapegoat like Ian, and refuse to hold government workers accountable to clearly promulgated standards.

    Arbitrary standards

    One standard imposed on Ian remains arbitrary. The other standard, to which the American government continues to woefully fall short, is a clearly promulgated standard under the UCMJ requiring "flight risk" to be detained.

    The problem is not isolated to DoD. Rather, the ICE SAC in Washington State creates a climate sending a green light to its agents to abuse people like Ian; while DoD, DoJ, and the US Marshalls can only stand by watching as one of their own flees to Canada then Lebanon.

    Harry Houdini once commented that it is easy to escape from a safe. Safe designers design safes to keep people out. They are not designed to keep people in.

    So too is the porous problem with America's borders. Each day, people like Ian are put under the gun with frivolous and demeaning intrusions. The borders are sealed.

    But those borders, albeit marginally, only protect the nation from attacks from without. Cpl Hassoun shows us that the border security is like a bad filtration system. It only works one way.

    Where was the screening system at the border?

    How was an alleged deserted allowed to leave the "most secure" nation on earth?

    This is why the problem is not isolated to the Department of Defense. Nor just to homeland security.

    Someone inside the Department of Justice is in charge of the US Marshalls. And others maintain liaison with the FBI and JTTF to ensure that personnel on "watch lists" are scrutinized. Detained. And sent to where they are supposed to go.

    Not this government. It doesn't dare challenge its own. This government only acts when it is embarrassed, or the facts so obvious it can only move forward by doing the least respectable thing.

    Is the public outraged that Cpl Hassoun lied, betrayed their trust? You bet they are. Because the American public enjoys being lied to only by the government.

    And the government enjoys lying to the sheep.

    What has changed is that the American government suddenly had "done to them" what the government and the media do every day: Lie, betray, and make up stories.

    The US government is upset because it dares not blame one of its own: A Marine. Whispering Semper Fi. Always faithful. And this government, like the American people, now realizes, albeit slowly, that it was taken for a ride.

    Watch the US government come unglued. The Senior Executive Service within all the branches of government are currently backpedaling to circle the wagons.

    It is becoming woefully obvious that despite the catalyst of 9-11 and the commission report, that the same problems continue: Double standards, lack of accountability, and a gross disregard for requirements.

    How do we come to understand how a high-flight-risk individual was able to leave, unattended, and tracked as he used his credit card, boarded a plane, and then departed the North American continent?

    Memories of 9-11: Failed checks

    Surely, there is a system in place to ensure that a known problem is quickly communicated. FAA has yet to explain how an individual was able to board an aircraft, and nobody in the United States or Canada dared stop them.

    Bluntly, these are the same problems which have been allegedly "solved" in the wake of the 9-11 Commission. Back to Houdini. America is clearly putting its efforts on the wrong things. Indeed the security situation, screws, and arrogance are there. They are just poorly focused.

    It is time the American people demand a full accounting for the Cpl Hassoun situation and demand why their fellow citizens are treated so arrogantly, when that arrogance needs to be brought to full bear on the most arrogant within the US government.

    But, we are not going to hold our breath waiting for miracles. America has other distractions to create. Other excuses to fabricate. And more pointing fingers to go through before we get to the bottom of this.

    The American government remains in denial about its own problems. Remains quick to blame others. Quickly to blame that which it does not understand.

    Two men. Ian and Marine Cpl Hassoun. One a fellow citizen. Another, a fine Marine who brings great credit upon what the American government best does in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: In denial, blaming, excuses, and refusing to follow procedures.

    It should be no surprise why we have such a stark contrast. A nation that prides itself on lying about the reason for going to war. About the evidence needed to justify an invasion. And the standards to justify holding people without trial.

    All these standards thrown out the window. Ignored. Labeled from a "bygone era" and "no longer relevant."

    These are the same excuses they now give to justify why clear policy about a "high risk" personnel were ignored. Why the SACs refused to step in. And why this nation's borders were unable to detect the movement of a high profile person.

    Standards are guides to be followed not explained away

    This government, as we saw in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, likes to ignore the standards when it comes to accountability on its own. We should not be surprised by fine Marines like to take advantage of that "special trust."

    Thursday, the American people will see another spectacle. The sham hearings of Attorney General Gonzalez. The Senators will be allowed only a short time to probe into the mind of the man who says it's "no problem" to ignore the international laws.

    This is the same man who will shortly be in charge of the Special Agents in Charge, the US Marshalls, and those fine US Attorneys charged with enforcing the law.

    Compare how the current system responded to Marine Hassoun. Attorney General Gonzalez will continue the same sham oversight on government officials. And continue to put greater focus on those who dare challenge the government malfeasance.

    Gonzalez shows every prospect of continue to chase ghosts like Ian, all the while those who are alleged criminals will be given safe passage. Like the Anderson-Enron lackies. To hide. Avoid accountability. And remain above the law.

    Ian, like the American people, was treated inappropriately.

    Hassoun, like the government officials, has inappropriately escaped accountability.

    Nothing has changed since 9-11. Or Guantanamo. Or Abu Ghraib. And soon-to-be rubber stamped Attorney General Gonzalez plans to continue. Business as usual. Finding more scapegoats like Ian. And giving safe passage to more Hassouns.

    The legacy of Ian Spiers is telling. Nothing will be done to right the wrong. There will be no formal apology. And in the case of Marine Hassoun, the government will also take no responsibility. Blaming the public for the problem. Making excuses.

    The abuses will continue. The scapegoats will be labeled to avoid changing the system. And ultimately, rest assured, the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security will once again take credit for failing to reform and impose consequences on those truly accountable.

    Not the American people. But the Senior Executive Service. Which failed us prior to 9-11, and continues to fail us to this day. How are they going to turn this incident with Hassoun inside out to blame someone else?

    The Marines have a rich tradition. Semper Fi. There is a monument to their bravery at Iwo Jima in Washington DC. Brave soldiers who risked their lives to raise flag. They fought and died around the globe. To this day.

    We owe them a great tribute for their continued sacrifice under harsh circumstances. Mostly, because they continue to fight and die in support of principles that White House Counsel Gonzalez plans to continue to ignore as their Attorney General.

    Recurring accountability problem

    Today, one of the Marines' own risked his life to run back to Lebanon. Marines around the globe you can be proud that one of your own has done what all other government officials aspire to do: Avoid accountability.

    Today, we might ask what is going on with the Joint Terrorist Task Force; where were they at the border, and why were they unable to screen someone from cross the border that was charged with a crime?

    Will NAVY Seals be dispatched by the Joint Chiefs to invade a sovereign country like Lebanon; or will the CIA work with Massoud to spark another border conflict, and create the necessary cover to get Hassoun?

    Will the DHS ICE SAC in Washington State apologize to Ian Spiers, or will ICE finally admit that the border screening process is worthless, and that innocent Americans are regularly harassed all the while internal corruption within DHS remains rife?

    Will DoD admit that it failed to apply the necessary standards, lessons, and procedures in re Marine Hassoun, just as it failed in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo?

    On all counts, the American people can fully expect more non-sense, diversions, and excuses. The number of people applying for Canadian Citizenship will be ignored.

    What is most absurd is that the media channels are talking about the entire disaster surrounding Marine Hassoun as if he just wandered out of the country on his own. In fact, he went through the border, boarded a plane, and used a credit card.

    You can rest assured that because of this problem, there will be greater calls for credit card expenditures to be screened. Rest assured there are attorneys within the District of Columbia drafting legislation that will delay the efficiency of the US capital market, and ensure there are even more intrusive questions on innocent civilians.

    Be proud America. Just as your leadership failed you prior to 9-11. So too are they hoping to close the barn door after the fire has consumed what is most valuable.

    But today, with 150,000 people dead in Asia, the "mere" 3,000 deaths on 9-11 somehow pale in comparison.

    America has squandered its good will. And Marine Hassoun reminds us once again, that the leadership has squandered the American public's patience.

    Rocking more heads under Pyramids

    Fine Marines. Semper Fi. Let us recall the other "great sacrifice" of another fine Marine. LtCol Oliver North. Parroting, "Does Fox Rock?"

    The legacy of clear. America's government selectively follows and enforces standards. There is a discipline problem in government. Marines like LtCol North and Hassoun will cross the line for their own interests, or to serve some "greater interest", all the while the Constitution remains smoldering.

    This government fails because it ignores standards. Ignores principles. Ignores procedures. Then, after the disaster, fabricate stories to create the illusion that things are fine, there was no problem.

    Today, we are reminded in the wake of Marine Hassoun's decision, that noncompliance with procedures does mean something. And Attorney General Gonzalez needs to have a full accounting of the "tone at the top" that his good Marines continue to discharge. Around the globe. IN the prisons of Abu Ghraib. In the halls of Guantanamo.

    The US government violates the standards, procedures, and laws. It is no surprise they failed again. One one hand Marine Hassoun. On the other Ian Spiers.

    The questions remains the same:

  • What failed?

  • How could so many procedures prove to be like Swiss cheese: Flimsy, porous, and full of holes?

  • What oversight, checks, and monitoring have failed?

  • What kind of coordination problems are there?

  • Is the nation too busy violating the laws of war and torturing innocent people to bother following procedures on detention and confinement?

  • What will it take for the US people to require this government be held to account?

  • How will DoJ and DoD work together to ensure one of their own is disciplined before imposing that discipline on the innocent public?

    It is only when one of their own like Marine Hassoun, when he dared do what the government and media do all the time, that the government is given a jolt.

    Betraying the Constitution: No problem; Betray the leadership, that's a crisis

    This government doesn't like it when one of their own takes advantage of trust; when one of their own Marines lies to them. Yet, the nation loves lies. It believes in WMD. And it believes that torturing people is good for them. Ignore the Geneva Convention. All thanks to the to-be-confirmed Attorney General Gonzalez.

    We should not be surprised why this Marine took advantage of the system. His leadership is wanting. The Generals continue to pretend that destroying the Bill of Rights, to which they serve and give their oath, is somehow stronger when the American public like Ian is subjected to these arbitrary conditions in Guantanamo.

    DoD is so afraid of a backlash that its officers lie. Saying they are FBI agents. America, do you really trust your leadership? They will rubber stamped the man who will ensure there is more abuse on people like you and Ian. And ensure there are no consequences for a discipline problem within the ranks of the SES, departments, and government offices.

    There should be no surprise after Thursday why the fine Marine like Hassoun drifted and "found himself" in Lebanon. The American system failed. And it put the wrong focus on people like Ian.

    Gonzalez will not reform the Marshalls. Will do nothing for the problems in the US Attorney's office. He will give only excuses. Avoid accountability. And do nothing to solve the real problems with ethics within DoJ or DHS.

    You will see more handwaving. Yet, the American public will be asked to put up with more intrusions. More abuse. And more non-sense.

    More 9-11 memories: Inaction in Action

    Failures to take action. Meaningless oversight. Failures to act and comply with procedures. And ignore repeated warnings of problems.

    The problem is not isolated. It is across the board. And Attorney General Gonzalez has been given the charge to make sure we have more abuse on people like Ian, and less accountability on people like fine marine Hassoun.

    It remains to be seen which Inspector Generals are given the run around. We have seen in the wake of the Vice President's intrusion into the CIA, that the CIA agents were blamed for reporting what they were told to report.

    The Inspector General process is flawed. The reports used as an excuse to shield the Vice President. To protect people in the Vice President's office who are under investigation for leaking CIA agent names.

    It is this office to which Gonzalez ultimately serves. More Hassouns. More Ians. America wants it. And you voted for it in November 2004.

    The protection racket will continue. The Wizard of Oz's curtain will be redrawn to hide those who need to be removed from office. The discipline problem within the FBI, DoD, and DHS continues.

    Nevermind the background checks, security procedures, and training defects. The recurring problems which Sibel Edmonds pointed out will be explained away.

    They will cover-up. They will insulate. Create excuses. Do nothing. Divert attention. And blame more people like Ian. While fine Marines like Cpl Hassoun lounge on the beaches of Lebanon. Watching it all unfold on CNN. And Fox.

    The Tsunami may awaken the world from the nightmare. We can only hope more like Ian Spiers are spared before the Gonzalez Tsunami strikes land.