Abandoned Symbols: Confederate Flags and Criminal Justiceby Joseph Margulies

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Old Confederate FlagIn the wake of the horrific massacre in Charleston, leading social conservatives across the country have loudly called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from public display. But some people have wondered whether their call, however welcome, will prove nothing more than an empty gesture, a cynical strategy to woo moderate whites to the conservative camp in the 2016 election.
As is my wont, I am more hopeful. In ways that have not been adequately appreciated, the elite repudiation of the flag in the wake of Dylan Roof’s murderous rampage could be an important step, not simply in the debate over slave-era symbolism but in the contemporary struggle for criminal justice.
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Why do we care about symbols? They don’t put food on the table, money in your pocket, or a roof over your head. You can’t eat a symbol. But they are nonetheless as important to our lives as anything we can buy.
Symbols play two equally important roles in American life. In the most obvious sense, they represent a belief system. The Constitution, for instance, symbolizes our belief in and commitment to the rule of law. Yet symbols also signal our membership in a particular community. For many years, Christians have used the ixthus to signal their faith to fellow believers, and many conservative Christians now display the symbol in their home or business or affix it their cars.
This dual role makes symbols vital to both our personal and communal identity; they declare what we believe as individuals and confirm our place in a tribe of like-minded others. We could never survive without symbols, and if suddenly they were taken from us, we would surely create others to take their place.
Yet symbols are deliberately vague and ambiguous. That’s part of what makes them so valuable. It is important that the Constitution, as a symbol, not be given a single, inflexible meaning, since that would prevent it from accommodating the shifting demands of the day. Equality, for instance, means something very different today from what it meant during the heyday of Jim Crow. In fact, historians have shown that its meaning today bears only a distant “family resemblance” to its meaning at the time of the Founding.
What is true for equality is no less true for many of the other terms and expressions in the Constitution, as recent historic events in the Supreme Court have made abundantly clear. What we mean by liberty, wrote the historian Michael Kammen, has “changed and broadened over time, . . . ranging from constraints upon authority to improvements in the conditions of social justice, of privacy, and a growing concern for the protection of personal liberty.”
This process is not only natural but inevitable, despite what Justice Scalia might think. As Justice Felix Frankfurter once observed, “Great concepts like . . . ‘due process of law,’ ‘liberty,’ [and] ‘property’ were purposely left to gather meaning from experience. For they relate to the whole domain of social and economic fact, and the statesmen who founded this Nation knew too well that only a stagnant society remains unchanged.”
The meaning of symbols is thus perennially a work in progress, continually renegotiated in the many spaces occupied by both the individual and the community—the private space, where the individual reflects on her own beliefs; the communal space, where the community speaks with its own members; and the public space, where the community speaks with the wider world.
In this never-ending negotiation, we have long understood the prominent role played by the community’s elites. These are the politicians, religious leaders, and other public figures that are widely believed by the community itself to be the keepers of the flame, the men and women who best represent the ideas and ideals of the belief system.
And that brings us at last to the Confederate Flag. In the days since the massacre in Charleston, elite social conservatives have consciously redefined the flag in both its individual and communal sense. Consider this statement from South Carolina State Senator Paul Thurmond, the son of arch-segregationist Strom Thurmond:
I think the time is right and the ground is fertile for us to make progress as a state and to come together and remove the Confederate battle flag from prominent statue outside the Statehouse and put it in the museum. It is time to acknowledge our past, atone for our sins and work towards a better future. That future must be built on symbols of peace, love, and unity. That future cannot be built on symbols of war, hate, and divisiveness.
. . .
Now we have these hate groups and the symbols that they use to remind African Americans that things haven’t changed and that they are still viewed as less than equal human beings. Well, let me tell you: Things have changed. Overwhelmingly, people are not being raised to hate or to believe that they are superior to others based on the color of their skin. My generation was raised to respect all people, of every race, religion, and gender.
At the individual level, Thurmond declares that the Confederate flag cannot be a legitimate representation of the southern, socially conservative belief system. A true southern conservative, he admonishes, does not believe in these things.
But the communal redefinition is even more important. Pronouncing that “things have changed,” Thurmond emphasizes the need “to come together” as a state and build a future around “symbols of . . . unity” rather than “divisiveness.” The implication is unmistakable. Contrary to the long-held socially conservative mantra, Thurmond says the flag does not represent fidelity to an honorable heritage, but to a racist, violent, sinful past.
In announcing this change, Thurmond has declared that the voice of the black community, which long called for this change, is more important than the voice of a significant portion of the white community, which had for just as long called to maintain the status quo. Inclusivity, with its explicit appeal to common membership in a broader community that transcends race, has trumped the traditional exclusivity of southern, white, social conservatism.
This is an extraordinarily potent declaration. Calling divisive symbols into question, demanding anew that they prove themselves worthy of inclusion in the conservative canon, and repudiating them if they are found wanting implies a healthy receptivity to profound change. And if applied conscientiously, a determination to denounce symbols deriving from a racist, divisive past would sweep away much of the iconography of modern conservatism.
In particular, we have known for years that much of the architecture of the criminal justice system has been built around precisely such symbols: Willie Horton, the welfare queen, the crack whore. These and other symbols have generated an entire set of divisive law enforcement and prosecution strategies, like the war on drugs and “zero tolerance” policing, that have been broadly endorsed by whites but widely deployed against blacks. If the denunciation of the Confederate flag implies a willingness to revisit these toxic symbols and failed strategies, and to heed the voice of the black community, then criminal justice reform is truly upon us.
I may be hopeful, but I am not naïve. I have no illusions that the repudiation of the Confederate battle flag, by itself, will eliminate racism in this country or make the criminal justice system fair. But the combination of message and messenger—elite social conservatives siding with an historically marginalized black community over numerically, economically, and culturally dominant whites to remove a divisive symbol of oppression—is an enormously important step that should be encouraged.

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Follow the Money . . . to Ferguson

March 9, 2015., by Joseph Margulie

Original Article



“Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.” So began the report written by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, a 100-page indictment of the Ferguson Police Department. The entire document repays careful study, but at its core, the report describes a department—and municipality—beset by two overlapping problems.

First, the City uses its police to close gaps in the city budget rather than deter or investigate crime. As a result, the police in Ferguson are fee- and fine-producers instead of peace officers, which has predictably led to chronic over-policing. “Many officers,” the report found, seem to view Ferguson’s residents “less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.”

Second, the Ferguson Police Department has developed an adversarial culture that routinely trumps the restraints imposed by the Constitution. “Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority.” As symbols of authority so often do, Ferguson police apparently confuse disagreement with disobedience, and mistake a legitimate exercise of constitutional rights with an unpardonable display of disrespect.

The report implies that the second condition follows from the first, but in this regard it is mistaken. The fact that the police are misused as revenue agents need not make them hostile to the community they ostensibly serve. One can imagine, in other words, an officer handing yet another ticket to a Ferguson resident for some trivial or non-existent offense with an apology instead of a snarl.

The problem of an adversarial police culture—in which the police view themselves as operating in hostile territory and treat the community as the dangerous enemy—has been recognized for decades. It was immortalized in the movie, Ft. Apache, the Bronx, and helps account for the too-quick decision to acquire and deploy the latest and most advanced weapons of war on neighborhood streets. I hope to address this problem in future columns, since it is almost impossible to imagine meaningful reform of the criminal justice system so long as it persists.

But today, I want to address the first problem identified by DOJ—viz., the distorting influence of money. More than anything, the DOJ report confirms the familiar insight that financial incentives can have a profound, if not always dispositive, influence on behavior. Implicit in this insight, and similarly confirmed by the lesson of common experience, is that if you alter the incentives, you can influence the behavior.

Ironically, this was a key insight in the earliest years of the punitive turn in American life. In 1975, conservative political scientist James Q. Wilson published, Thinking About Crime, where he argued that offenders were fundamentally rational actors who assessed the relevant incentives and chose crime because the anticipated balance of risk and reward favored lawlessness. Change the balance and you will alter the behavior, or so he thought. His work was exceptionally important in advancing the view that punishment should be far more swift, certain, and severe, a view which many legislators and criminal justice policymakers quickly endorsed.

Tinkering with incentives is also an essential component of the neoliberal approach to crime control, which relies on, among other things, the management and control of physical space to corral and redirect would-be offenders. Have you ever noticed that newer park benches use metal armrests to divide the bench into two or three distinct seats? That’s not for comfort. It prevents the bench from being used as a bed, and therefore deters the homeless from mixing with the good people of the city.

To date, proposals to redirect the flow of money have not played a prominent part in the discussion of criminal justice reform, which has focused instead on statutory changes, mostly at the state level. But there is some evidence this may be changing. Recently, the MacArthur Foundation announced a $75 million grant to develop programs aimed at reducing jail populations. Last week I spoke with Nancy Fishman, the Project Director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the VERA Institute, a major player in criminal justice reform and one of four groups charged with administering the MacArthur grant.

As Fishman explained, the idea of the grant is to create incentives for municipalities to think systemically about how to eliminate what has become a reflexive over-reliance on jail. Over the past two decades, violent crime has fallen by nearly 50 percent and property crime by 44 percent. Yet annual admissions to jails in the United States have almost doubled, from six million to nearly 12 million. The great majority of these people, perhaps as many as three-quarters, are held for nonviolent traffic, property, drug, or public order offenses. Many are mentally ill or have alcohol or drug dependencies but are warehoused in jail for want of alternatives. Finally, to compound the crisis, pretrial detainees are held far longer than in the past: over the past three decades, the average stay has increased from 14 to 23 days. (VERA’s report is available here).

MacArthur, VERA, and its partners hope to identify and fund creative proposals from municipalities that will reward alternative strategies. Backed by MacArthur’s resources and tied to VERA’s technical expertise, these alternatives will—one hopes—change the incentives in a way that encourages police, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, and legislators to think of jail as the last resort rather than the first. This, after all, is the intended purpose of pretrial detention, which should be limited to those very few who cannot safely be returned to the community. All evidence shows that jails long ago took on a far different role.

One lesson of the DOJ report is that if you reward municipalities to think and behave differently, they will. If cash-strapped cities are paid to reserve jail for the appropriate population, they will, and the message will gradually spread from the mayor in city hall to the cop on the street, and all the actors in between. Prosecutors will learn not to seek pretrial detention for those who should be diverted elsewhere, judges will no longer impose bail that sounds reasonable to a middle class sensibility but is far beyond the reach of a poor man or woman, and legislators will think twice before creating yet another category of crime that calls for presumptive pretrial detention.

No one remotely thinks that the MacArthur grant will solve the problem of distorted incentives and misallocated money in the criminal justice system. After all, $75 million is almost literally nothing compared to the tens of billions of dollars awarded by the federal government to states and local municipalities across the country over the past 50 years to shape and expand their criminal justice system. But all of this money represents an extraordinarily powerful resource, if only it can be harnessed in the service of a new vision of criminal justice. Ferguson points the way, and MacArthur is taking the first step.


The Sad Facts People Forget, Because They Don’t Pay Attention To History

Sunday, 12 October 2014

IRISH – ‘THE FORGOTTEN WHITE SLAVES’

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Rebecca Harvey’s photo.

IRISH – ‘THE FORGOTTEN WHITE SLAVES’ claims expert The Irish slave trade began when the Proclamation of 1625 James II required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70 percent of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.” “Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants and the majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.”

“During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, [Oliver] Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.”

Martin goes on to explain that for some reason, the Irish slaves are often remembered as ‘indentured servants.’ However, in most cases during the 17th and 18th centuries, they were no more than “human cattle.”
“…the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period,” writes Martin. “It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.”
During the late 1600s, writes Martin, African slaves were far more expensive than their Irish counterparts – Africans would sell for around 50 sterling while Irish were often no more than 5 sterling.

The Irish were further exploited when the British began to “breed” Irish women – or girls, sometimes as young as 12 – with African males.
“These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of breeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/whtslav.htm

REAL ID IS COMING TO BITE AMERICA…NAZI-LIKE TENDENCIES & HISTORY REPEATS

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> W A R N I N G A M E R I C A <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Oklahoma residents will soon need passport to hit the skies
SEPTEMBER 18, 2014
BY HEATHER WARNER

Traveling out of the airport is about to become a little bit harder in Oklahoma. That’s because an Oklahoma driver’s license will no longer be accepted at security at the beginning of the new year.

All Oklahoma residents will need a passport, even on domestic flights. The state never signed on to the federal government’s Real ID act, which is supposed to make it harder for potential terrorists to get a fake i-d. Now travelers will have to bring extra identification with them to the airport.

“You would be required to have a drivers license or passport or some other federal id to actually go through the TSA checkpoint or fly on a commercial aircraft,” says Karen Carney of Will Rogers World Airport. One passenger at the airport says he’s all for it. “If everybody does it and I do it, it makes it safer for all of us I guess.”

Oklahoma citizens will also have to bring their passport to get through security at federal buildings, such as a federal courthouse.

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REAL ID Implementation Embraced by 41 States
Driver’s Licenses Still at Risk of Terrorist Abuse

Janice Kephart is the Director of National Security Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies.

While driver’s licenses and birth certificates remain a tool sought by terrorists to support jihad in the United States, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is still pushing for repeal of driver’s license and birth certificate standards supported by 9/11 Commission recommendations. Ironically, Secretary Napolitano continues to assail the REAL ID Act’s standards despite new statistics — still held tightly within DHS — showing that 41 states, plus D.C., have embraced REAL ID implementation even without DHS support or new monies.

The importance of secure identification was re-emphasized just last month in Senate testimony by the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission:

Standardize Secure Identifications

Eighteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers obtained 30 state-issued IDs amongst them that enabled them to more easily board planes on the morning of 9/11. Due to the ease with which fraud was used to obtain legitimate IDs that helped the hijackers embed and assimilate in the U.S. for the purpose of carrying out a terrorist act, the 9/11 Commission recommended that ‘The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’

The REAL ID Act established these standards by statute. In 2008, detailed regulations were issued setting standards and benchmarks for driver’s license issuance. While nearly one-third of the states have complied with the first tier of benchmarks, the deadlines for compliance have been pushed back twice to May 2011, and a recent announcement pushed back compliance again until January 2013. The delay in compliance creates vulnerabilities and makes us less safe. No further delay should be authorized, rather compliance should be accelerated. [Emphasis added.]

Terrorists Still Seek Driver’s Licenses. On February 23, 2011, the FBI filed an extensive, detailed criminal complaint with a tremendous amount of forensic evidence indicating that a Saudi foreign student, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who entered the United States on a student visa, had done so for the sole purpose of using our educational and visa system to commit major terrorist acts. His targets included former President Bush’s home and dams and other key infrastructure, intending to use a variety of homemade car bombs assembled with knowledge gained in chemical engineering classrooms and chemicals and materials purchased here in the United States. What did Aldawsari intend to use in order to embed in the United States and avoid detection? Multiple state-issued driver’s licenses and a U.S. passport based on fake birth certificates, not a particularly dissimilar method to the 19 9/11 terrorists who had 30 state-issued IDs between them and also used fraud to game the driver’s license system. The Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari criminal complaint specifically mentions that his plan for jihad depended in part on well-known terrorist travel methodology:

In a ‘synopsis of important steps,’ ALDAWSARI listed: obtaining a forged US birth certificate; applying for a US passport and driver’s license; traveling to New York for at least a week; renting a car via the Internet; changing clothes and appearance before picking up the car; using a different driver’s license for each car he rents; preparing the bombs for remote detonation; putting the bombs into the cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city for a safe place. [p. 10]

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari might have been successful but for his dogged determination to accumulate as much precursor chemicals as possible (for the explosives), for which Carolina Biological Supply rightly reported his purchases to law enforcement. The Aldawsari case shows that not much has changed in the world of terrorist travel since the publication of the 9/11 Commission Report and the supporting staff monograph, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel: driver’s licenses are still an important tool in the terrorists’ toolbox, whether a lone actor or a member of a larger organization. Aldawsari is a significant example of why it is important to prevent fake birth certificates and other lies about identity from being used to obtain legitimate state-issued driver’s licenses. It is important to remain vigilant about assuring that people are who they say they are. At its base, that is what the REAL ID Act is about: assuring that driver’s license applicants are who they say they are, from the sum-total of the identity documents they present as applicants.

REAL ID Implementation Embraced. Secretary Napolitano has again extended the deadline for states to comply with the minimum standards of REAL ID, to exactly the time frame she could be leaving office: January 2013. Ironically, however, the states have not paid much attention to Napolitano or to the fact that federal monies for REAL ID have all but dried up. Instead, the states are complying with REAL ID in numbers that exceed what I published in January 2011 in “REAL ID Implementation: Less Expensive, Doable, and Helpful in Reducing Fraud”, which is summarized as follows:

[The] 2005 REAL ID law … based on recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, is proving to be easier to implement and less expensive than critics have alleged for years. In fact, 11 states have already fulfilled the critical first stage of REAL ID compliance — meaning they have fulfilled all 18 REAL ID security benchmarks for material compliance — ahead of the May 2011 deadline. Additionally, many other states have implemented or are in the process of implementing more secure procedures, systems, and documents consistent with the requirements of REAL ID. The next stage requires all individuals under age 50 as of December 1, 2014, to be issued (by that date) a driver’s license or identification card that complies with all of the REAL ID requirements if the document is to be presented for official federal purposes such as boarding a commercial aircraft. The final stage requires all eligible individuals using a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for official federal purposes to be issued REAL ID-compliant licenses by December 1, 2017.

According to internal, official government information which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not shared with Congress beyond the House and Senate appropriators, there are not only 11 states that have fulfilled the first 18 material compliance benchmarks as I reported in January, but another five that have submitted full compliance packages to the DHS, meaning they are asking DHS to certify that the state has met all the criteria for REAL ID, criteria that were not required to be completed even under the old deadline until December 1, 2014. Twelve more states have told DHS they are fully committed to meeting material compliance, but need more time, while another four states have comparable Enhanced Driver’s License programs that former DHS Secretary Chertoff stated were REAL ID-compliant.

Beyond these 32 states that have already met at least REAL ID material compliance, another 12 states have written and assured DHS that they are seeking to meet at least 15 of 18 of the material compliance standards. In total, of the 50 U.S. states and six territories, 44 (41 states and three territories) of them have given DHS the green light that they are on board and working toward REAL ID compliance. Of the remaining nine states and three territories, three of those states have laws banning the state from compliance yet two of them are meeting REAL ID standards without using the REAL ID name. All in all, that leaves only six states that appear to have little interest in REAL ID implementation.

REAL ID Implementation Status State / Territory
Submitted full compliance certification packages to DHS1 Conn., Del., Md., S.D., Tenn. (5)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) + compliance mark (gold star) Ala., Fla., Ind., Utah (4)
Self-certified: Issuing materially compliant licenses (meeting the first 18 benchmarks) Ark., D.C., Iowa, Kan., Ky., Miss., N.J. (7)
Committed to meeting material compliance but need time Colo., Hawaii, Ill., Neb., Ohio, Puerto Rico, R.I., Texas, Va., W.Va., Wis., Wyo. (12)
Certifiable Enhanced Driver’s License programs N.Y., Mich, Vt., Wash. (4)
Committed to meeting 15 of 18 benchmarks Ariz., Calif., Ga., Minn, Mo., Nev., N.H., N.C., N.D., Pa., S.C., U.S. Virgin Islands (12)
Will not meet four or more benchmarks in the next 12 months Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Idaho, La., Maine, Mass., Mont., N.M., Okla., Ore., N. Marianas2 (12)
Note 1 According to DHS, other states have assured DHS that once DHS proves its willingness to certify states’ compliance packages, they will take the extra steps to assemble and submit the required packages.

Note 2 Montana, Oklahoma, and Washington have laws preventing REAL ID implementation, although Washington state has tried to repeal the law, and does have an Enhanced Driver License. Montana has strict issuing standards but they are not intended to be in line with REAL ID.

Birth Certificate Standard Implementation. The 9/11 Commission also recommended minimum standards for birth certificates, for reasons made evident in the above excerpt from the Aldawsari criminal complaint. In February 2011, I updated birth record standardization implementation in “Update on Digitization of Vital Records.” The good news is that in the past month, Georgia and New York City have completed installation of the hardware and software necessary to support electronic vital records checks, and Vermont has begun the process (as shown in the updated map below). This means there are now 30 states online ready to perform birth certificate verification for other state DMVs and other users. If states want to shore up against attempts by terrorists such as Aldawsari, criminals, and illegal aliens, they should consider providing DMV connectivity as soon as practicable, even though it is not a strict requirement of REAL ID.

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Congressional Annoyance. While the congressional disillusionment with the REAL ID Act that existed from 2005-2009 has now shifted with proof and value of REAL ID implementation, Secretary Napolitano has kept that implementation hidden from view and continued to seek the law’s repeal. She has now extended the compliance deadline of the REAL ID Act rule by 20 months, citing that, “[t]he inability of States to fully comply with the requirements of REAL ID by May 11, 2011, is the result of a number of factors, including diminished State budgets caused by the economic downturn and the uncertainty throughout much of the 111th Congress about Congressional action on the PASS ID Act.” Her statement, as shown in the numbers being held by her own department, implies noncompliance, rather than the truth: “uncertainty” was created by her push for repeal of REAL ID.

Here are some of the secretary’s statements creating that “uncertainty;” note the erroneous assertion that REAL ID repeal meets the intent of 9/11 Commission recommendations regarding the setting minimum standards for driver’s licenses:

April 22, 2009: “And so we’ve been, over the last weeks, meeting with governors of both parties to look at a way to repeal REAL ID and substitute something else that pivots off of the driver’s license but accomplishes some of the same goals.”
— Speech delivered before the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Conference

June 15, 2009: “I am committed to supporting this important bill and it is my hope that Congress will pass it into law as quickly as possible.”
— DHS Press Release regarding the PASS ID Act (“Providing Additional Security in the States” )

June 25, 2009: “Now, when I get back, I will turn my attention immediately to a bill that was proposed in the Senate this past week known as PASS ID. PASS ID is a national security measure. It fulfills one of the key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which was that the Federal Government set a national standard for identification.”
— Remarks at “Pen & Pad” Session with DHS Beat Reporters

July, 15, 2009: “PASS ID is a critical piece of national security legislation that will fix the REAL ID Act of 2005 and institute strong security standards for government-issued identification…PASS ID will enact the same strong security standards set out by REAL ID as quickly as REAL ID – but, critically, this bill provides a workable way to get there.”
— Testimony delivered to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee

July 20, 2009: “Pass ID provides a strong yet flexible framework for states to implement secure identification,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I am proud to join our nation’s governors in supporting Pass ID – a cost-effective, common-sense solution that balances critical security requirements with the input and practical needs of state governments.”
— “DHS Press Release, Secretary Napolitano, Governors Show Support for Pass ID in Mississippi

December 2, 2009: “Pass ID helps us meet the 9/11 commission recommendations and at the same time addresses issues that were legitimately raised by the states. And so what I would prefer to urge the Senate to do and use the – this hearing as an opportunity to really urge it to do is to move to floor action and move Pass ID through so we can get it over to the House. I think it could go very quickly over there and we could solve this issue, as opposed to extension after extension, which not only doesn’t deal with the 9/11 commission recommendation but it’s just another year of uncertainty.”
— Hearing before the before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

December 9, 2009: “Should Congress not act before it adjourns this year, we have planned for contingencies related to REAL ID implementation to minimize the impact to U.S. citizens. Any of these steps, however, would represent a temporary approach that does not advance our collective security interests over the long-term.”
— Testimony delivered before the Senate Judiciary Committee

March 9, 2011: “I would encourage Congress to take a fresh look [at the PASS ID Act].”
— Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Congress has begun to show its annoyance with the secretary’s unwillingness to implement REAL ID as the federal law she has a duty to uphold. No longer does Secretary Napolitano’s PASS ID have champions in either chamber. Moreover, the quiet that permeated both chambers while PASS ID was being considered in 2009 has turned into outright support for REAL ID, especially since publication of facts pertaining to the current status of implementation.

On March 28, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) put out a searing press release regarding a letter jointly sent to Secretary Napolitano criticizing the delay in REAL ID implementation by 20 months and yet another call for REAL ID repeal by the secretary. Rep. Smith stated: “To undermine the REAL ID law is to make it easier for terrorists to operate in the U.S. The Administration should stop trying to undercut REAL ID and instead support the full implementation of this critical national security law.” Ranking Member Chuck Grassley was equally pointed:

REAL ID is more than protecting an individual’s identity; it’s about protecting the American people by making sure licenses are secure and impede a terrorist’s ability to carry out attacks. The REAL ID Act was a direct result of the 9/11 Commission Report, and was signed into law to improve our national security and protect the American people from terrorist attacks. It’s clear from recent arrests that terrorists want to exploit our weak identification requirements to carry out attacks on Americans. The administration needs to commit to full implementation of current law, instead of kicking the can down the road.

On March 2, 2011, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security, held a hearing on the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal year 2012 budget request. Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) noted that the “The Department of Homeland Security cannot operate in a world as it would like to be. Instead it must follow the law as it is written. This assertion not only applies to the budget realities I have just outlined but also to areas where this administration has been reluctant to fully engage, such as immigration enforcement, REAL ID, and the biometric exit solution for US-VISIT. These are mandates the Department of Homeland Security must plan for, budget for, and perform.”

Aderholt’s comments were preceded by a February 28, 2011, letter to Secretary Napolitano sent by Republican leadership with jurisdiction over REAL ID implementation, stating that “[r]ather than usurping Congress’s authority in writing policy, DHS should commit to the law and fully support implementation.” The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee leadership, former Chairman and REAL ID author Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and Chairman of House Judiciary Lamar Smith (R-Texas), as well as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).

Marathon: The War For The West By Van Bryan

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The battle of Marathon has, for millenia now, been firmly planted within the annals of western history. A decisive battle, a clash of cultures, the narrative describes an outnumbered Athenian army staying off the Persian invaders who would see the Greek civilization consumed within their empire. And as we gaze through the looking glass of time, thousands of years into the past, what began as a simple military engagement is now often considered a philosophical war between two cultures. ‘The war for the West’, that is what some believe Marathon to be. And if Greece is the cradle of western culture, could Marathon be the stance to defend it? Or has centuries of war divided us, polarized our understanding of each other? The answers, much like history, can be rather messy.

It all began with the Ionian revolution and Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus, who would resign his tyranny and accept a constitutional position in order to dismantle Persian control of the Greek city states in Asia Minor. This was largely done without bloodshed and Aristagoras would attempt to gain support for his endeavor from mainland Greece. After being denied by the Spartan king, Cleomenes, Aristagoras would find support from the Athenian government who viewed the massive Persian empire with suspicion and concern. The Athenians dispatched several naval war vessels to aid the Ionian Greeks in this rebellion.

It would do little good. The rebellion would fail miserably with a decisive naval defeat at the island of Lade, near Miletus. Aristagoras’ city would fall. The women and children of Miletus became slaves and the men that were left alive were expelled from their lands. Early in the campaign, the capital city of western Persia, Sardis, had been burned to the ground. And while the Greeks mourned for the loss of Miletus, the birthplace of the philosopher Thales, King Darius of Persia would not soon forget the destruction of Sardis. It was too late for reconciliation. War was coming.

After a failed invasion through northern Greece in 492 BCE, King Darius made plans to dispatch a large invading force across the Aegean to overthrow Athens and capture mainland Greece. Mindful of the fate of Miletus, many city-states, including Thebes and Argos, submitted to the Persian king. It was only Athens and Sparta who stood firmly in defiance. When the heralds of King Darius appeared at the gates of Athens and Sparta, the messengers were not only denied, but were promptly killed. Legend has it that soldiers of Sparta threw the emissaries into a deep well when the heralds suggested that the Spartans surrender. Did they scream “this is Sparta!” right before they dropped kicked the men into the abyss? We may never know, but I like to think so.

Meanwhile, Athens had a decision to make. The Athenians would be vastly outnumbered if they decided to face the Persians. We do not know the exact numbers, but we do know that Persia possessed a much larger infantry as well as superior cavalry and archers. It was at this time that the Stratego Miltiades, would play a critical role in the salvation of Athens. Miltiades,a man who spent much of his life ruling in a remote military outpost in the Chersonese, would return to Athens in 493 BCE. He was promptly accused of tyranny while ruling in the Chersonese and put on trial. It is difficult to imagine why Athens would concern themselves with one of their own citizens tyrannizing abroad, especially with a massive Persian army at their doorstep. It is not unreasonable to believe Herodotus when he tells us that the persecution of Miltiades originated from the mans political enemies.

Miltiades was a gifted general and had served in the Persian army while living in Asia Minor under Persian control. He would be familiar with Persian tactics and was most qualified to lead a defense against the invaders. Perhaps it was the thought of Athens burning to the ground that persuaded the Athenians to acquit Miltiades, it would appear they had bigger fish to fry. Miltiades was allowed to attempt to persuade the polemarch Callimachus to allow him to go to war. Herodotus offers a stirring rendition of this speech.

“…It is up to you right now, to enslave Athens or to make her free, and to leave for all future generations of humanity a memorial to yourself such as not even Harmodius and Aristogiton have left. Right now, Athens is in the most perilous moment of her history. Hippias has already shown her what she will suffer if she bows down to the Medes, but if the city survives, she can become the foremost city in all Greece…” -Herodotus (The Histories)

Athens would accept Miltiades into their army and make plans to confront the Persians. Early one morning in late September of 490 BCE, the Athenian army assembled on a hill overlooking where the Persian forces had landed on the beaches of Marathon. Knowing they were severely outnumbered, Miltiades concentrated his forces in a narrow pass that would block the Persian advance to Athens. Layers of bronze shields overlapped among the Greek soldiers and created a phalanx formation that was capable of repelling waves of enemies.

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The Persian army advanced and found themselves crushed against the shields of the better equipped, better prepared Athenian army. With the advantage of longer spears, sturdy shields, and superb tactical placement, the Athenians managed to continuously push back the Persian advance. The Persian army meanwhile was improperly equipped for such warfare. Many infantrymen possessed wooden shields or shields constructed from wicker. With the Athenian army confined in a narrow corridor, the Persian cavalry was ineffective and unable to outflank the Greeks. After several days of battle, the Greeks pushed the invaders back to their ships. The Persian army would suffer heavy casualties and be forced to return home.