Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hiding Adolph Eighmann and "The War on Terror."

On NPR’s ‘Weekend Edition,’ there was a reflection by Daniel Schorr, one of my most trusted radio voices, on the trial and execution of Nazi SS Colonel, Adolph Eichmann. Schorr reported that from 1958 – 1960, the US Central Intelligence Agency knew of Eichmann’s whereabouts and was complicit in concealing it. In 1960 Israeli Intelligence discovered the fugitive’s false identity in Argentina on its own, captured him and deported him to Israel. There he was tried, over a two year period, judged guilty and executed.

Here is the lead of the news story reporting the events to which Schorr referred

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA suppressed the whereabouts of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann to help protect high ranking West German officials from possible revelations about their own Nazi pasts, according to CIA documents released on Tuesday.

The Reuters’ article and Schorr elaborated on the rationale for the decision, kept secret from Americans until now. The US was engaged in a ‘Cold War’ with Russia. Former high ranking Nazis were assisting the US in that ‘war.’ Protecting their position and ensuring their continued support was deemed essential to US ‘national security.’

In our time, news about a number of morally and legally questionable policies, justified in the name of ‘The War on Terror’ have already become public. None rise to the level of protecting Adolph Eichmann’s secret identity, but that does not mean practices which, if known, would seem equally repugnant are not now ongoing.

Decades may pass before we know, for sure.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Savoring life's small pleasures

In case Washington residents haven’t noticed, amidst political turbulence and scandal, this has been the most beautiful springtime I can remember. When I arise each morning at six or so, I listen to WAMU’s weather report. This time of year, I am checking to see whether ‘Kurta weather’ has arrived. (A Kurta is a light cotton overgarment often worn by Indian and Sri Lankan men – and by me in the summer months.) My Kurta collection is ironed and ready – these marvelously functional garments seem designed for easy ironing – but only a single day has seemed appropriate for breaking one out.

When I lived in North Arlington, Virginia, I used to get regular exercise commuting by bicycle to and AU’s Northwest Washington location. The convenience of Anderson Hall has ruled that out, but I try to do at least one circumnavigation of the entire campus each morning. This is also an opportunity to greet friends, touch base with an early arriving staff or faculty member with a problem; possibly spot something that needs fixing. And I try to take in the quiet beauty of it all. Those of us fortunate enough to have spent their lives working on a university campus may fail to appreciate the dreariness, by contrast of most other work places. An early morning – or late evening – walk or ride about the grounds is a good reminder.

‘The Dean’ is back from an extensive travel schedule and we played tennis for only the second time in several weeks. Our setting, described in previous blogs, is a beautiful hollow, surrounded by three shrouded hills. In the summer, we begin between 6 and 6:30 and yesterday, it was about as perfect a day for tennis as one could imagine. And surprisingly, my game seemed rejuvenated from a long slump. I won two fiercely contested sets: 6-4; 8-6! On days when I play especially well, I like to imagine that I have ascended to a plateau, rather than only temporarily perching on a peak, with valleys as well as additional peaks awaiting me. On my best tennis days, it might be a good idea, when I return home, to review one of The Buddha’s discourses on impermanence.

But I have decided, sitting here in my silo study, surrounded by fields and fenced paddocks, with my wife’s horses grazing in sight, that this is a day not to think of such things. This will be a day to live in the moment. I intend to savor life’s small pleasures and be thankful for them.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why I admire the United States Marine Corps

Reading over my blog on Kent State and policing, it occurred to me that some readers might might infer that I don't respect the the US Marine Corps or value the training I received from my gunnery sergeant. This would be wrong. My Ivy league platoon mates and I didn't take bayonet drill seriously because we mostly saw ourselves on a ships bridge as military officers, not engaged in hand combat as members of an infantry battalion. But we won't forget lessons learned from our gunnery sergeant or the example he set. A mentor who signficantly impacted my life when I served under him was a Marine officer who had risen through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel and my excutive officer.

Marines deserve our highest respect, and especially for the challenging work that have been tasked to do in Iraq. But training an effective Marine and traning an effecitve border patrol officer - or police officer - are entirely different matters.

Why Carl Rove worries me

As I was listening – on NPR – to ordinary Americans speak movingly about what our country means to them, a mental picture of Carl Rove, Counselor to President Bush, came to mind. I imagined him sitting and smirking as he contemplated how the speakers’ cherished beliefs and values could be manipulated to serve the one goal that seems to animate him, WINNING. The man worries me because, as best as I can judge, a moral compass is completely absent from his make up, at least when it comes to politics.

I reached this conclusion first when I read in Time Magazine some years ago how he had apparently orchestrated a rumor campaign in South Carolina alleging that Senator John McCain’s adopted daughter, from Bangladesh, was the product of an illegitimate liaison between the Senator and an African American woman. This played well in South Carolina where George Bush rebounded to win a critical primary that helped secure him the presidency. But it wouldn’t have played with me, even if I had not been a McCain supporter. I have an adopted South Indian granddaughter.

I worry about President Bush’s surveillance programs. They may well be useful weapons in the “war” on terrorism. But the results of surveillance are then also available to Mr. Rove and his minions. I have no doubt that he would use the information for political purposes and then dissemble artfully if called to account. He would not believe this is wrong, it seems likely, because the concepts of ‘right” and ‘wrong’ only exist to be manipulated.

I even worry a bit about writing this blog, On the off chance that Mr. Rove might read it and be angered by it, would I need to fear a telephone tap, tax audit, visit from the FBI or an ‘accidental’ listing on an airline watch list when I next travel internationally. Fortunately, Dormgrandpop operates far below Mr. Rove’s radar screen, but I grieve for those who do not. On Memorial Day I said a prayer that America would survive the remaining years of Mr. Rove’s time in power, without further compromise of its political institutions – and of the values that many Americans can speak of on Memorial Day, without smirking.

A human scale Memorial Day parade

In Washington DC, those attending Memorial Day festivities were advised to take metro, but it was not hard to find a parking space close to the old courthouse on Warrenton Old Town’s Main Street. The parade start time and been listed in THE FAQUIER DEMOCRAT, our local newspaper, at 10 AM, but there was plenty of space and event the stone steps of a building on which to sit when we arrived. And the Parade began a few minutes late. Participating were:

A police cruiser,
A local dignitary – I believe a State Senator riding in a convertible
4 members of a local unicycle club
About 20 veterans walking (my military service qualified me as a marcher, but I chose the role of spectator.)
Several older veterans, not up to the rigors of marching, riding in a convertible
A Cub Scout pack – about 30 cubs and parents
A Girl Scout troop and parents
A Boy Scout Troop, with a scoutmaster in uniform and parents
A Brownie Scout Troop with parents
The combined bands of Warrenton High School and Liberty High School, numbering about 100 total. And finally….
Two fire engines from the Warrenton Volunteer Fire Department.

The parade lasted about 20 minutes and was to be followed by speeches at the Cemetery. We gave those a pass, choosing instead to sit with friends in the beautiful garden of their ante-bellum home, sipping ice tea.

All in all, a very satisfactory Memorial Day celebration.