Printed letters, June 23, 2011

The use of remote-controlled, aerial Predator drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past two years has escalated out of control and beyond any reasonable moral justification.

The U.S. military use of Predator drones to kill suspected “high value targets” in the war on terrorism has led to a situation where extrajudicial killings by U.S. forces of large numbers of civilians has become the new norm.

Just three days after Osama bin Laden was killed, a drone attack killed 15 villagers in Pakistan and wounded four. CNN reports from its Islamabad bureau that there have been 21 drone strikes this year, after approximately 111 in 2010, including an attack on March 17 that killed 44 villagers in Pakistan’s tribal region. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates that in the 111 attacks last year 957 innocent civilians were killed, and thousands of survivors were pushed into wretched refugee camps.

I can’t stand by silently any longer while my tax dollars are spent to kill innocent, impoverished civilians in a method of warfare that accepts taking on “collateral damage” at such shocking levels. I urge members of Congress to investigate these atrocities, to hold hearings about the drone decision-making and insist that each mission have public accountability.

I realize there is a great deal of money to be made in the United States, particularly in a recession, by the manufacture of Predator drones, Apache attack helicopters and missiles, but that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t win hearts and minds in the Middle East. In the end, we will simply have to change our tactics or get out of the region, preferably both. The poor people of Afghanistan and Pakistan can no longer fight both the Taliban and the U.S. military at the same time. Give them a chance to survive.


Grand Junction

Should New York decide Statue of Liberty status?

Recently, a candidate for county commissioner wrote, “Local control of our county is clearly a far better alternative to federal government control.” If local entities should make decisions about use of local federal property, does that mean New York City makes decisions about the Statue of Liberty, Philadelphia about Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. about Arlington National Cemetery or Estes Park about Rocky Mountain National Park?

Does that mean that western Colorado residents can just take a hike if they think their opinions should matter on how federal property is managed in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. or even Estes Park?



Plagiarism didn’t doom the McInnis campaign

If you’re former Congressman Scott McInnis, you’ve probably been dreaming about holding up an official report telling the world you’re innocent.

It sounded like McInnis relished telling exactly that to Daily Sentinel columnist Rick Wagner, who interviewed McInnis on a radio show May 26.

He told Wagner an investigation by Colorado’s Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel had given him “complete vindication” but “just a little too late.”

The Sentinel’s Charles Ashby blogged June 13 about a letter from “Friends of Scott McInnis” claiming that McInnis was “completely and honorably” vindicated. Say what?

McInnis has been cleared to practice law, that’s true. But vindication, no.

The plagiarism problem doesn’t go away just because McInnis told his research assistant in advance not to plagiarize, which is what the Attorney Regulation Counsel report states.

Still, McInnis didn’t need an official report for voters to forgive him of plagiarism. Most of us know that important people like McInnis have ghostwriters who make mistakes.

The problem was how McInnis handled the scandal.

No investigation will clear McInnis of acting like a mean politician last year. Nothing will make his behavior then look, shall we say, gubernatorial.

When the plagiarism story broke, McInnis’ campaign drafted a letter for his research assistant to sign, stating that the plagiarism was not McInnis’ fault. His assistant refused to sign and gave an explosive TV interview.

Voters would have come around to forgiving McInnis for not catching the mistakes of his ghostwriter.

But McInnis’ handling of the plagiarism sunk his campaign. He can’t clear his name of those mistakes. That was his problem then, and that’s what he’s going to have to live with.



Airport may exclude business from our area

Is Grand Junction Regional Airport management fencing the airport to “secure” their jobs or to force Grand Junction aviation business away? Haven’t increased government rules, fees, fines and taxes driven billions of dollars of formerly U.S. business overseas to China, India, etc.?

Is our regional airport to serve a few elite rulers, political wannabes and TSA and inconvenience the general public or to serve the community with as little interference as possible?

How many cities succeed financially by cordoning off their airports? Perhaps Mack, Mesa, Delta and Montrose will attract business no longer welcome at Grand Junction Regional Airport, as other countries have attracted business regulated out of the United States.

Can we learn from others’ mistakes? Must we emulate Detroit and Chicago?




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