Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Having already lived through Michael Jackson’s death this summer I found it very difficult to expend anymore days watching Edward Kennedy’s burial play out on national television. He was a great legislator that served as a bookend of history, and he did deserve the gracious send off if for nothing else being the only Kennedy brother the country got to see grow old. Still, I could not bring myself to sit down and watch the two-day event for the simple fact that I thought privacy should have been extended to the Kennedy family after the point that Senator Kennedy’s body left his brother’s presidential library. Very personal speeches given from family members and close friends are not built for national television and broadcasting them often trivializes the true emotion, pain, and grief that the speakers are experiencing. Case and point is the speech Brooke Shields gave at the Staples Center for Michael Jackson. I cringe at the thought of pundits evaluating and critiquing these very personal accounts in real time. I can’t imagine what is going to happen when we lose a sports icon the size of Michael Jordan. ESPN will probably run a 48 hour live feed with Marv Albert and Mike Tirico giving color commentary while Hubie Brown and Jeff Van Gundy use their Wacom pens to draw X’s and O’s as well as pick and roll graphics on top of the procession.

In studying the shots of the packed church in Boston for Edward Kennedy I was more surprised with who skipped the event than with the caliber of those who attended. Notably absent from the gallery that included most of the powerful members of congress, most of the sitting cabinet, the CIA director, 3 former presidents and the current one, was Dick Cheney. To me, that proves just what a partisan hack Mr. Cheney is. George W. Bush came to pay his respects. John McCain, who arguably has the sourest taste of partisan politics in his mouth, was present. Dan Quayle made it out from whatever potato he lives under these days. President George H. W. Bush did not attend because of his health, but sent along a note with Mr. Quayle. Where was Mr. Cheney? Simple, he was on Fox claiming that Attorney General Eric Holder’s probe into the CIA’s Inspector General’s report is completely political.

I find it interesting that the man who was part of the administration that politicized the Justice Department more than any administration in our nations history is out throwing stones on the issue. Just maybe the justice department during the Bush administration over looked facts in the CIA torture cases because it was politicized in the opposite direction. Until we have a Justice Department and Inspector Generals who are independent from the White House we will never know truly where their allegiances lie. I do know one thing for sure however, and that is that the top brass structured the torture regimen outlined in the IG report and it is the latest in a series of examples where the federal government has taken the war on terror too far.
If in protecting the country from “terror” we destroy the very fabric it is made of, is the war worth it?

The Bush and Obama administrations have presented the country with a false choice between security and civil rights. There are technologies out there like those made by Alex Karp of Palantir Technologies that allow us to mine date, monitor terrorists, and protect civil liberties all at the same time. Oh, and Palantir can uncover patterns that terrorists don’t even know that they are leaving. Therefore we can continue to thwart their plans even after they change their habits after watching others fail, and the best part is that all intelligence gathered by Palantir happens on the front end so that in the future we will be able to prevent the types of 9-11 attacks on our country that Dick Cheney allowed.

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