Harvard Disgraces Itself to Appease CIA Crybullies


By Bradley Manning Support Network [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
 

The Washington Post reports that Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government has rescinded its offer of a visiting fellowship to whistle-blower Chelsea Manning.

Following tantrums from Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo (who withdrew from a planned speech) and Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director (who resigned his own fellowship at the school), Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf issued a statement calling the invitation a “mistake” and denying any intent to “honor [Manning] in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds.”

Harvard is a private university (to the extent possible in a mixed economy featuring various sorts of government funding for students, researchers, etc.). Its leaders are entitled to discriminate as they wish regarding faculty and curriculum. But the Kennedy School’s action and Elmendorf’s statement are a stain on the nearly 400-year-old university’s honor.

A ping on the ol’ irony meter:

Among those who contend that the assassination of JFK was not the act of a lone gunman, the CIA tends to move to center stage as the likely center of a conspiracy to kill the president. While Kennedy’s intent to thwart the military-industrial complex in general and the CIA in particular may be exaggerated, he nonetheless enjoys a posthumous reputation for attempting to rein the agency in.

Now, more than half a century later, the school that bears his name kowtows to that same CIA over what Julian Assange of WikiLeaks accurately deems a “cry-bully complaint” from Pompeo and Morell. It’s sickening.

Chelsea Manning is an American hero who, after an illegally long pre-trial detention and a show trial lacking even the pretense of due process, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing the crimes committed by numerous actors within the US government. Former president Barack Obama deserves plaudits for his decision to commute her sentence, and condemnation for not going further with a full pardon, lavish financial compensation for the wrongs done her, and an apology and thanks for services rendered on behalf of of a grateful nation.

The Kennedy School’s motto is “ask what you can do,” presumably as excerpted from JFK’s inaugural address: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Chelsea Manning asked herself what she could do for her country and for the freedom of man. She then proceeded to act — at great personal cost to herself — on the answers she found to that question. No person on the Kennedy School’s current list of visiting fellows is even close to as qualified as Manning to teach the mission implied by the school’s motto. Douglas W. Elmendorf’s denial of intent to honor Manning or endorse her deeds is a confession that appeasing reprobates like Pompeo and Morell comes before doing the right thing for his students.

Shame on Harvard.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Trump on Debt: Even More Establishment Than The Establishment

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The Washington Post reports that US president Donald Trump and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “have agreed to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling.”

That must be a bitter pill to swallow for those who thought they were electing an “anti-establishment” president to “drain the swamp” in Washington, but it should be no surprise. After all, Trump built his business career on going into debt up to his neck, taking a profit when things worked out, and leaving his partners holding the bankruptcy bag when they didn’t.

The political establishment’s way of handling the debt ceiling is for all of the allegedly competing sides to rattle sabers and threaten a fake “government shutdown” if they don’t get their way. Then, before such a “shutdown” (or after a few days of one), the politicians get together to “responsibly” and “reluctantly” authorize  a bigger line of credit for themselves, with you named as guarantor whether you like it or not.

In keeping with his authoritarian dislike of red tape that restricts government from doing anything it might take a notion to do, and in fine establishment style, Trump intends to do away with the theatrics. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders characterizes the Trump/Schumer proposal as “a more permanent solution to the debt ceiling.” By which she means that in the future, no one on Capitol Hill or at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will even bother to put on a burlesque of fiscal responsibility. Any time the credit card is about to max out, the limit will just go up automatically.

But of course it isn’t quite that simple.

The politicians’ debt (they call it the “national” debt in hopes that the rest of us will go along with the fiction that WE borrowed the money and are obligated to pay it back) will soon top $20 trillion. The entire US Gross Domestic Product for 2017, if seized and liquidated for the purpose of paying down that debt, would not quite completely pay it off.

That debt is never going to be repaid in full. In fact, the Trump/Schumer plan is an open statement of intent to never even begin paying it down. The politicians intend to keep on spending more than they take in and borrowing the difference until nobody’s willing to loan money to them anymore.

The US national debt will, sooner or later, be defaulted on. That will damage the American economy badly. But the sooner it’s done, the less the damage will be. If Trump was really an anti-establishment president, he’d veto any attempt to raise the debt ceiling, repudiate the existing debt, and demand a balanced budget from Congress.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Utah Case Highlights Need for Separation of Medicine and Law Enforcement

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In July, Salt Lake City detective Jeff Payne violently abducted Alex Wubbels, a nurse at University of Utah Hospital. Most accounts don’t put it that way — they use the word “arrested” instead — but Wubbels was released without charges because Payne’s actions were clearly an extralegal physical power play by a police officer who was angry at not getting his way.

At issue: Payne wanted to draw blood from a patient who’d been involved in a traffic accident, presumably to test that blood for drugs and alcohol. The patient was not under arrest. He was unconscious and couldn’t consent. And Payne didn’t have a warrant. So Wubbels, in accordance with hospital policy, refused to let him molest her patient.

Since the incident, the hospital has revised its procedures to protect members of its staff. Law enforcement personnel are no longer allowed into patient care areas where they might bully doctors and nurses. They’re required to check in at the front desk and deal directly with supervisors instead.

That’s a good start, but it’s only a start. Instead of merely changing the way they assist police, hospitals should make it clear that assisting police isn’t their job.

Around the country, police have long conscripted medical professionals as investigative assistants, demanding not just blood draws but forced catheterizations,  enemas, and colonoscopies.

The purpose of a hospital is to treat the sick and injured, not to act as an arm of law enforcement. If police bring in patients to treat, of course conscientious doctors and nurses will treat those patients.

But medical professionals have an ethical obligation “to abstain from doing harm.”  A medically unnecessary procedure exposes the patient to potential harm, as all such procedures come with risks. Furthermore, when a hospital develops a reputation for acting as an adjunct to law enforcement, that reputation will likely scare patients with potential legal entanglements into forgoing treatment, likely resulting in harm.

Hospitals should, as a matter of strict policy, refuse to perform unnecessary procedures for police evidence collection purposes, or to allow police to perform those procedures on their premises. And if, after the fact, a law enforcement agency wants access to patient specimens or patient information gathered  for legitimate medical purposes, those things should be turned over only in response to a valid search warrant, issued on probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and signed off on by a judge.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY