Friday, May 06, 2011

Unfurl this Flag!

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Time to unfurl this flag.

It was nine years, seven months, and twenty days, since I picked up this car radio aerial flag; I found in the weeds along Lomas Boulevard near the University of New Mexico Hospital.

I had just been challenged by UNMH security and told that my Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search had been suspended because of what happened more than two thousand miles away – the hijacking of four airplanes that fateful day – September 11, 2001.

It was the first indication that, as many would call, “the world has changed,” using the tragedy of an undeclared act of war from a non-nation group of warriors to cause otherwise trained law enforcement officers, educated legal professionals, government officials, with the backing of the general public’s encouragement, to suspend the very principles of our nation, the rule of law, to make everybody a suspect.

Fear gripped our nation. Though flags flew, there was a naked aggression against the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights.

I took the miniature flag, folded it into the triangle used when the flag is lowered, retired for the night, and not on display, the triangle that the military honor guard can fold so precisely before presenting it to the widow, widower, mother, father, or next of kin of a member of the armed services who has, as Abraham Lincoln called, the last full measure of devotion.

I placed the flag in the pocket of my photo vest where it has remained, undisturbed.

Osama Bin Laden is dead, President Barack Obama told the nation, late Saturday night.

Not for a moment do I believe that the war in Afghanistan is over, not for a moment do I believe Al Queda is defeated, not for a moment do I believe this is the end of terrorist attacks on our nation, nor around the world.

Quite the contrary, I suspect Al Queda will mount a serious attack to show that, though their leader is gone, they are not.

Osama Bin Laden was hunted down in northwestern Pakistan, in the village of Abbottabad and killed during a firefight with Navy SEALS according to rapidly unfolding news accounts by the Associated Press.

We aren't any safer now than we were last week from possible terrorist attacks.

Osama Bin Laden wasn't living in a cave, but he may as well have been. Hopefully, as the terrorist mastermind, he had been neutralized.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation he was also known as: Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Ladin, Shaykh Usama Bin Ladin, the Prince, the Emir, Abu Abdallah, Mujahid Shaykh, Hajj, the Director. He had a reward of up to $25 million for his capture or conviction offered by the US government with an additional $2 million offered by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.

Osama Bin Laden was not always our enemy. He was a financial backer of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union occupation in the 1980s. Then President Ronald Reagan praised the revolutionaries who fought the Afghan government, which sought the assistance of the USSR.

The United States provided the Mujahideen with weapons and they drove off the Soviet Union forces.

Osama Bin Laden became angered when, after Desert Storm, the United States maintained a military presence in his homeland of Saudi Arabia. It was untenable to him for foreigners to be in the same country as the Muslim holy shrines of the cities of Mecca and Medina.

So, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Though the attacks took place in the United Sates and were directly aimed at symbols of American economic and governmental power, the world was involved.

Yes, I called them warriors; their methodology was to terrorize, but they committed an act of war for their cause. The fact that Al Queda is not a sovereign entity, reinforces the ever changing nature of war and revolution on a global scale.

The idea that there are actually are rules in war is mind boggling. The victors extract revenge and write the history as they see it. If there ever was a accurate book on the rules of war, its been out of date for a very long time.

A Coup de grace?

What information is coming out from our government about how Osama bin Laden was killed indicates that he resisted, by using one of his wife’s as a human shield. After she was killed by Navy SEALS, he continued to move. The sailors considered his actions to be furtive movements, going for a weapon. Before it could be determined if he had access to a weapon; he was dead.

There is a question of whether it was necessary to kill Osama Bin Laden as a matter of personal self-preservation. After the shooting, it was announced that he was unarmed and had no immediate access to a weapon.

There was an ongoing firefight.

I wasn’t there, I don’t know, and the government isn’t releasing any audio, video, or photographic evidence. This is no great conspiracy, our government is just not going to lay out the evidence, it would be better if they just say so and lock it in a box for the next 50 years.

I suspect that for most Americans, it simply doesn’t matter. Good riddance.

Knowing what the rules of engagement are, knowing that for one who is trying to take a person into captivity in a confined space, there is a distinct advantage of having weapons trained on Osama bin Laden; the need to fire doesn’t arise, at least until the hands disappear, or a weapon is seen. The time it takes to pull a trigger of an aimed gun is much shorter than the time it takes to go from an empty hand to a grasping a weapon and bringing it to bear.

That time has to be one of the scariest experiences, not for the fear of you being under attack, but the fear that you might fire before the immediate deadly threat matures.

The difference between a civilian police action and an act of war is the military personnel isn’t going to be second guessed in a court of American justice.

The fact he wasn’t dragged into a public criminal trial to stand trial for mass murder; where he might choose to excoriate his enemy, is beyond comprehension for most citizens who have long ago grown weary of the constant loss of life in a far off inhospitable land that has little if any chance of joining the civilized world.

Yet it has been the consistent effort, day after day, sifting through scraps and bits of intelligence of dedicated analysts and establishing informants and sources to track down the world’s number one fugitive.

And he was assassinated. Our government hasn't said it in those words yet. However, then President George Bush did with his:

I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, "Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Congress approved a list of targeted individuals as military targets for assassination meant not to violate the ban on political killings, signed by President Gerald Ford, according to a New York Times article.

As to the use of torture and “enhanced interrogation techniques”, however, they don’t pass muster, as I see it.

Government is bound by all the same laws that apply to every resident of this country. The Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights are restrictions or outright prohibitions against governmental actions.

Battery is against the law for everyone. Torture is battery, it also constitutes a violation of the middle of the batting order of the Bill of Rights; hitting the Fourth, Search and Seizure, Fifth, Due process and prohibition against compelled testimony Sixth, right to a trial, confrontation, and counsel, and the Eighth Amendments, prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment after conviction.

It is just more convenient to ignore them.

Just remember the next time it might be convenient to ignore the laws and civil rights, the precepts upon which we claim the moral high ground, it might be you who is not protected.

The reaction in this country runs the gamut, from euphoria, to ambivalence, yet no one seems unmoved.

There was dancing in the streets in front of the White House, as noted by New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce.

It was a different feeling than other national celebrations.
Someone planted a flag in the beak of this statue located in Battery Park at the south tip of Manhattan Island is a tribute fallen soldiers. This picture was taken August 13, 1969, after the ticker-tape parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts in New York City. Talk about dancing in the streets.

Maybe part of the reason is the war continues. There is no one to surrender. There is no surety that hostilities will cease, There is no actual end in sight,

My Take

On September 10, 2001, the issue of the day was the "Drug War."

Wava Porter-Kilby, right, of November Coalition for Albuquerque and Santa Fe, graduate student Ryan Davis, and Frank Scaltrito, of NORML, hold a "drug war vigil" across the street from the Continuing Education Building during a debate on drug policy.

New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson entered a National Public Radio debate with Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration William Asa Hutchinson, R – Arkansas, at the University of New Mexico.

The face of the drug war was Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Raymond Melick here providing security for Hutchinson.

On September 11, 2001, I was assigned by the UNM Daily Lobo, campus newspaper, to cover a monthly demonstration in support of Palestinian issues in front of the campus bookstore at noon.

Events overtook that planned demonstration, it was replaced by spontaneous reactions.

Watching television news at Saggio's, from left, junior Sierra Stockdale, Martin McEnery, graduate student Chris Niles, and Associate Professor Rob Robergs react to terrorist attacks in Washington D.C., and New York City Tuesday.

Freshman Cheyenne Crawford writes "USA = ignorance" on a painting developed by local artist Vanworth to give people an outlet to express feelings about Tuesday's attacks outside UNM's Center for the Arts.

I photographed the shocked reactions of these UNM students, also at the Pizza parlor. these three photos were used by the Daily Lobo; the top picture was on the front page, the middle picture was on page two, and lower was used exclusively on the paper's website with the others.

So the flag is unfurled, hung with others in ad-hoc display from the top of a tall bookshelf.

Hopefully, the war will wind down in Afghanistan, the suspects of Al Queda are hunted down and dealt justice.

My nephew Greg Bolin is in the U.S. Navy and completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

This coming week, he's going on a world cruise. OK, he's boarding the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. as an aircraft maintenance specialist.

I hope the rest of his career is ensuring peace, not enforcing peace; I hope it for all our forces. However, I have to be a realist at the same time.

I have another flag, that flew over Iraq, that still needs to be unfurled; may it not take 10 years or anymore lives lost.