Fort Hood's Nidal Hasan – or – Why Today's Soldiers Go Crazy

The tragic recent murders by Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood are part of an epidemic of suicides, violent crimes, and shooting sprees among active-duty and former soldiers which stem in great part from their understandable moral and ethical confusion about the nature of war and the uses of power and violence. Women soldiers newly serving in combat positions often struggle with their uncertainties about adopting formerly-despised “male” traditions of violence and dominance, especially since their use of such power—as male soldiers have always known—can and does often lead to a sense of separation from the human race, to feelings of isolation, aloneness, difference, wrongness, fear, inadequacy, failure, loss and rejection.


Add to these moral conundrums of conscience the fact that soldiers are expected to behave in uncivilized and dominating ways while “at work,” and then nimbly revert back to behaving civilly and helpfully at home, flexibly “getting back in touch with their feminine sides” and working in equitable partnerships, building family affection, connections and wholeness. Clearly, twenty-first century soldiers have their hands full to be all they can be.


Military trainers work very hard to try to turn selfless, idealistic, caring young recruits into good soldiers who can be both safe and effective in war zones, prepared to perform as knee-jerk killers, to instantly shoot down complete strangers—often innocents themselves who are protecting their own homes and families and comrades-in-arms—and to carry out the cold-blooded duties of snipers, bombers, interrogators and other executioners who must kill with no hesitation or trace of due process random members of any population demonized as “the enemy,” “others”—i.e., people it’s OK to treat as non-humans.


Good soldiers are offered a fuzzy kind of contextual logic to (temporarily) ethically “cover them” and their bloodiest actions, for at least as long as they can believe that their killing and dying serves a worthwhile purpose—that is, to protect their friends and families and fellow-citizens, or to serve their country in some way, or to further its noble ideals and purposes. Soldiers can often do their duty if they can cling to some hope that their “jobs” are generally positive ones, that they are necessary, valuable and moral, that their terrible personal losses and cruel sacrifices were not in vain, and that they wasted neither their own lives nor the lives of others.


Unfortunately—or perhaps, fortunately—it’s much harder nowadays in the age of media for us to continue to see complicated human instances of violence in simple black-and-white terms. The rapid pace of change, the continual clashing of conflicting old ideas and emerging new ones, our own American biggest-kid-on-the-block mentality, and our often-thoughtless, retributive, greedy habits of government policy-making with respect to war, empire and militarism—added to our too-violent and vengeful culture—together create a mentally and emotionally combustible, dangerous, crazy-making conundrum for even our best, most well-intentioned and professional soldiers.


“Schizophrenic behavior” is defined as behavior which is motivated by contradictory or conflicting principles, or which results from the co-existence of disparate or antagonistic activities. In other words, when your ideals frequently conflict with each other, and when your actions feel equally conflicted, it can drive you nuts. Fallible human attempts to live up to one’s ethics, values, standards and goals can make even the best soldiers feel schizophrenic.


Growing up on military posts, I believed, just as most citizens of most countries are taught to believe, that our military forces were always a force for good, an organization that helped people, supported peace, promoted freedom and democracy. Since then, I’ve learned that military forces everywhere—like violence of all kinds, from abuse to crime to terrorism—usually harm many more people than they help. I’ve also learned that peace, freedom and democracy cannot co-exist with war, because wherever war goes, anything resembling peace, freedom and democracy quickly disappear.


Even the best-trained soldiers—those convinced that military actions are all about duty, honor and country, taking care of one another, following orders, and serving with excellence, integrity and honor in order to further the protection and interests of loved ones and the best nation on earth—in the midst of war, wonder whether their actions are truly helping or hurting people, whether they are on the “giving” or on the “taking” “side.” Every soldier prays that he will someday look back and believe his life and work have served the best interests of humanity—and heaven forbid that they have served on the side of darkness, pain, grief, and cruelty. In the midst of actions far from their homes, all soldiers wonder at times whether their devotion to military ideals and country may not conceal larger, deeper, sadder contradictions about the nature and missions of militarism and war.


When soldiers from any nation come home from their wars, of course they have trouble rectifying all they've participated in, with their peacetime ethical, spiritual and religious beliefs about what it means to be humane, caring, good—all the many understandings parents and teachers carefully taught them about what makes relationships work, and what make life worth living. Many returning war veterans basically go insane for years. Others are unstable or crazy for the rest of their lives.


Everyone insists that training and fighting animals—cocks, dogs, bulls—is an outrage. We wouldn't, they say, we couldn’t, we shouldn’t do this to a dog! So why do we keep doing it to people?


Every soldier I have known, at one time entered the military with selfless ideals and the best intentions. Sadly, military training and war often work subtly against soldiers’ best interests, leaving them confused about what power and leadership really mean, as well as poorly-prepared for the peaceful, productive civilian relationships they spend years dreaming of forging, at war’s end.


Unfortunately, the many sad, lingering side-effects of military training and war include a heightened tendency to polarize even small conflicts into black-and-white situations requiring a quick, habitual adversarial or violent response to conflict—habits which later work insidiously against both the soldiers and their loved ones. Quickness to violence—while perhaps an asset in effective soldiering—is a terrible emotional burden in civilian life. Recent public-safety statistics indicate that too many soldiers attempting to re-enter civilian life—having spent their impressionable youth on high alert, in kill-or-be-killed situations—have become habituated to violent, lawless behavior, and continue to pay huge, never-ending psychic prices for their previous military involvements after their return to “civilization.”


The number and types of military resources America should maintain may be a matter of reasonable debate, but what is not arguable is our need to develop more thoughtful and deliberate processes for deciding when and why to send our soldiers into war.


The great writers and filmmakers who have told their stories of past wars have consistently described war as “insane.” Insanity is also the only word that most reasonably describes any future war, since humanity has the knowledge and the means now—if only we develop the will—to resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the holocausts which the law of unintended consequences, along with our ghastly weaponry, inevitably spiral us into.


Ethical soldiers like my father relive the remembered insanity of war for the rest of their lives, alternating between waves of the deepest humane compassion, pride and camaraderie, to long periods of dark, impenetrable, self-protective anger, fear and cynicism.


The cruelly gruesome extremes of war sometimes contaminate and twist even the highest traditional military values into thuggery. Professionalism can be turned, at times, into barbarism. Selflessness can be turned into greed. Idealism can become cynicism. Courage can become savagery. Strength can become dominance. Love of country can turn to jingoism and chauvinism. Obedience, leadership and respect for authority can be warped by exigency into a numbed conscience and momentary group-think. Loyalty can become a destructive “us/them” mentality. Integrity can become a morally confusing paralysis, while duty can be pushed into rote obedience.


However admirably motivated, however morally unambiguous in the midst of a firefight, violent military actions still have the look and feel of chaotic lawlessness. No matter how patriotic or mentally-prepared soldiers may be, the act of killing complete strangers goes queasily against soldiers’ moral teachings about how to treat other people.


The ideal of freedom itself—the dream comprising healthy, productive human lives spent in peaceful pursuit of individual dreams—can feel, during war, quite unrelated to the specifics of what soldiers are often asked to do, because serving the freedom of one group often entails dominating and killing another, something which feels less noble in practice than what most soldiers hope for, particularly when their personal boots-on-the-ground experience has already offered clear evidence that many—perhaps most—of war’s victims are as innocent as the soldiers who kill them. Soldiers don’t sign up to defend moral ambiguities. And yet the first victim of war is truth, followed closely by moral clarity, and, too often, by despair.


However high-minded the justifications given during a soldier’s training, the actual waging of war—the killing, the maiming, the brutalizing—feels more “against” than “for” humans. Unless “the enemy” has successfully been completely dehumanized in the minds of soldiers by war propaganda, military fighting too often seems rather more against than for human value and worth, human liberty; love, individuality, uniqueness; against the highest religious and moral traditions, against human ideals, values, beliefs, against the teachings of history’s great moral teachers, against humanity itself.


Soldiers schooled in war fortify their emotions against moral confusion by coldly dehumanizing and demonizing their enemies, but such temporary moral adjustments don’t serve nearly as well at war’s end, when all the former “non-humans”—the Vietnamese, Germans, Irish, British, Russians, the terrorists, whomever—experience a miraculous rebirth, having been rediscovered somehow to be human beings after all. Soldiers who wisely shut down their feelings against tragically ambiguous memories unfortunately also become emotionally unavailable to their children, parents, and spouses. This happened in my family.


Soldiers who have followed orders to loose destruction and death upon “combatants” and “noncombatants” alike in someone else’s country, often become cynical later even about their own country, about the human capacity for goodness, and the worth of people in general.


“Human” values which specifically exclude certain portions of humanity—Muslims, for instance, or Christians, or certain races or ethnicities —ultimately prove uncomfortingly weak and useless. Nations claiming a constitutional and traditional embrace of “human ideals” and “human rights”—who then insist upon them only for their own citizens and at the expense of citizens of other countries—rapidly lose not only their allies, but also the loyalty and pride of their own citizens; while patriotism which rests shakily upon chauvinism and exceptionalism breaks down quickly into partisan bickering, and too-easily collapsing into division, bigotry, political hatred and violence, and even civil war.


Wars’ costs go far beyond blood and treasure.


All the war books and movies I’ve “enjoyed” shared similar conclusions about their experiences of war. Over and over, each artist expressed the point of view that their war had been insane, cruel, hard, sad, misguided and stupid, and created more problems than were resolved. The grisly killings aspects of war were consistently experienced as pointless, chaotic, numbing, unreasonable, inhumane, confusing, wrong—and sometimes thrilling, in that the pointy end of the sword went into the other guy, and not them. Soldiers throughout history have been urged by their leaders to keep such stories to themselves, or share them only with other soldiers who were there, so as to avoid bringing harm or shame to a unit, or turning the next generation against war itself. 


In nearly every war book and movie, bleak, terrified, mutilated children emphasize the meaninglessness and human tragedy of war, while fear for oneself and one’s friends drives soldiers to acts of cruelty and immorality unimaginable during peacetime.


War never turns out to be at all what anyone expects when they join up, and not much like what they train for either. When at war, every soldier longed for home, and when finally back home, they missed having friends they could talk to, buddies who understood them and their experiences.


All these artists told how their necessary training in hate and fear had carved a black chasms into their psyche, changing them (and their families) forever in ways inexpressible to anyone who hadn’t shared such experience—so mixed are war’s memories with guilt, pride, and loyalty.

Biological Arms Races, Biocontainment Labs, Hazards and Assessments

No one wants peace more than a soldier who’s been to war. Military men were my first heroes, my first saints. My darling Dad earned a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, and a chest-full of campaign ribbons and medals. My childhood “hometowns” were Army posts scattered around the U.S., and Japan and Germany.  I went to twelve different schools before college. A civilian now, I’ve listened nostalgically for twenty years to the bugled sounds of Taps floating in my bedroom window near Ft. Detrick.


My husband and good friends working at Ft. Detrick convinced me long ago that the technicians and scientists there have the best intentions, the highest skills, admirable goals, and very conscientious safety precautions.


Unfortunately, they’ve not been able to convince me that the planned Level 3 and 4 labs will be safe in Frederick. The record shows that research lab workers, even those with the highest security clearances and the best available training, are still fallible human beings who can and do become victims of blackmail, fall in love unwisely, get into desperate financial situations, hide growing prescription and other drug problems, and develop volatile feelings about co-workers. Lab workers sometimes become blind to their own religious and political biases and bigotry, and are thus susceptible to involvement in illicit covert operations, conspiracies and cover-ups.


Sometimes they get in a hurry and make professionally embarrassing mistakes and bad decisions. Sometimes they hide evidence, fudge records and fake procedures in order to save their jobs and livelihoods, and then rationalize the risks they’re taking—escalating and exponentially complicating situations already perilous.


Also sadly, no one yet has been able to explain to me why it wouldn’t be easy, temptingly easy, to kamikaze an airplane flown from the Frederick Airport into a targeted Ft. Detrick building, or lob a well-placed rocket over the Ft. Detrick fence. Either of these unpreventable actions would very legitimately throw chaos and panic into the post, city and metropolitan area, creating unforeseen, complicated, dangerous situations.


Scientists in these labs will be genetically-engineering (from diseases with no cures), completely new, highly lethal and contagious life forms, life, life so new that no one yet understands how it works. What if a newly-mutated strain somehow finds a way to attach itself to a lab worker in some unpredictable way, some way that defeats the protections put on it, so that the lab workers carry it outside unknowingly? I plead for humility in the face of nature’s chaotic, awesome genetic power.


Furthermore, if we build the facility, we’ll scare other countries into creating their own labs, creating something like an arms race with ourselves, and increasing the threat. I can’t think why Detrick’s scientists, or the Post Commander, would welcome such dangerous projects, which only complicate, compromise and jeopardize all the other crucially important and valuable research currently being done at USAMRIID and elsewhere on post.


I know we can’t avoid all risks in today’s angry and violent world, but we can avoid adding recklessly to their sum. We can choose not to consolidate, in a metropolitan area, an unpredictable mix of risky components with an infinite potential for dangerous permutations.


I was almost raped as a young mother. A very caring policeman later sternly warned me, “Don’t be so stupid as to leave your window-shade up! You’re attracting every pervert in the county. Eventually, they’ll all make a beeline to your window!”


These labs leave the window-shades in Frederick up. Their very existence in Frederick asks, perhaps begs, for trouble, and that trouble will make its dangerous beeline straight to our area.


Before we expose huge populations to catastrophic risks with BSL 3 & 4 labs, we need to ask why. If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it is needed? Wouldn’t we have to vaccinate people before the threat reaches them? Perhaps an antidote, not a vaccine, will be needed. And how much vaccine, and when, would be considered a good solution? And who would be vaccinated? Only the government? The military? The medical community?  Who might our solution actually save?


And finally, has anyone examined the probability that these risky efforts can even be successful? We’re considering exposing huge populations to catastrophic risks. For what? If someone does attack the U.S. with biologicals, what is the likelihood that we’ll have the right vaccine, in enough quantities, available when it’s needed?


None of my concerns are even mentioned in the current USAMRIID hazard assessment, much less addressed.


What is needed is a mature, high-quality thought process developing an informed equation comparing the risks and costs of the potential biowarfare threat itself with the risks and costs of attempting to address the threat. At what point are they equal?


Merely by building such facilities, aren’t we unreasonably augmenting the threat? Aren’t we creating/driving a biological arms race with ourselves, since other threatened countries will feel it necessary to build their own labs, requiring us to expand ours again in an expensive, pointless, dangerous, ineffective, wasteful and infinite cycle?


Here is what a credible, predictive and useful BSL 3 & 4 hazard assessment might look like:


1. Estimate the cost of the planned response to perceived Biological Warfare (BW) threats

   –  List the possible negative events which inspired the proposed solution.

   –  Estimate the probability of each negative event occurring.

   –  Estimate the impact of each negative event, if it occurred.

   –  Estimate the risk (the probability of occurrence times impact) of each negative event.

   –  Estimate the expected cost associated with these possible negative events (some sort of group probability—a statistician would be required.)

   –  Estimate the actual costs of responding to perceived BW threats (labs, people, security, maintenance, upgrades, social, political, other costs…)

   –  Add actual and expected costs.


2. Estimate the benefits of the suggested solution (which is essentially a list of the costs of the negative events that would happen to the U.S. as a result of the perceived BW activities of other countries, assuming that the U.S. does nothing to ward off such possibilities.)


3. List the additional possible negative events that could happen to the U.S. as a result of other countries’ feeling threatened by our new labs and then building similar BW efforts, including the costs of expanding the U.S. response to these rising threats.


4. Using the list produced in step #3, proceed with the steps described in #1 above to determine the benefits of the planned solution.


5. After completing steps #3 and #4 above, we would have an informed decision-makers’ estimate of the costs and benefits of the planned response to the perceived BW threats.


6.  Evaluate the assumption that the planned solution to the perceived BW threats would actually be effective, (i.e., what is the likelihood of the US having an appropriate and effective vaccine or antidote ready when it was actually needed during a BW event? Etc.)


7. As a final step, do a sensitivity analysis.  Determine how much the result of the cost/benefit analysis above would change as a result of changes in the assumptions used to create it.


8. At what point does the risk of the threat itself equal the risk of trying to address the threat?


Essentially, we need to develop an equation, a model, which will allow decision-makers to make a practical and informed comparison weighing and comparing the risks and costs of the BW threat itself to the risks and costs of addressing the threat. A mature, high-quality thought process comparing the risks with the solution would allow for decision-makers’ discussions, and even some disagreement about the assumptions and decisions, but at least all involved would be assured that all issues were addressed in a systematic way.


Sometimes the “costs” in the above equation would be expressed in terms of dollars, sometimes in terms of human life, sometimes in terms of political costs, i.e., international opinion, good faith, trust, health, environmental costs, social costs, risks of increased anger, terrorism, war, etc. A complete list of costs and risks would of course also include the cost of the additional threats which will inevitably emerge as a result of the U.S. building such a facility to address the perceived threats. The list of expected monetary costs should thus include the costs of building the facilities, securing them, running them, maintaining them, and upgrading them again and again as response-threats spiral. Do we really want to start this death-spiral?





A Very Good Save-the-World Software Development Idea. Please Help Yourself! :-)

Will some brilliant programmer please step up and design a google-type software program that can linguistically analyze and determine a speaker/writer’s cooperative tone and intent?


Your new program could identify and distinguish among those writers/speakers whose communications promote a sense of division, partisanship, negativity, polarization, blame, attack, incivility, rudeness, destructiveness, unfriendly competition, bickering and hate—and those promoting a sense of positivity, creativity, life-affirmation, support, harmony, acceptance, forgiveness, productivity, civility, courtesy, equality of opportunity, caring, cooperation and unity.


Your software could have endless useful and profitable applications. For immediate profitability, please consider using your product for security purposes, to helpfully ward off unfriendly attacks and attackers (of whatever kind) upon individuals and enterprises (of whatever kind.)


Imagine leaders young and old in every field vying for their communications to be screened and certified via your software. Why not simultaneously award a “Truth-bearer” (or some other such logo) “gold seal of approval” identifying individuals and organizations as positive communicators, healers, light-bearers?


Your prestigious and desirable software “accreditation” could motivate many people to investigate and understand the important distinctions between peaceful and contentious communication purposes, and to recognize and encourage humanity-unifying goals as non-threatening and potentially beneficial to all earthlings, while discouraging communications with adversarial, hostile ends. Your software would also surely stoke national dialogue, while heightening awareness about the many distinct (although often confusingly-disguised) differences between helpful and harmful human communications. Your software would take care not to exclude any gentle, friendly, cooperative practitioner of any ideology, religion, political party, nation, organization, affiliation, etc.


One important goal of your software would be to educate. Hopefully, everyone would eventually become enlightened enough to merit universal inclusivity (by acting as good, positive communicators) according to your accrediting software, which might also be developed Wikipedically, or perhaps Amazon-style—i.e., open-sourced, by inviting motivated reviewers and voters opportunities not only to build your site, but also to offer feedback opportunities and provide needed talent to shape and debug upgrades and develop next-generation software.


Recipients of your approving nods (such as Nobel prize winners and mild-mannered third-graders) could proudly display and announce their cherished new affiliation and certification on their websites, on Facebook, business cards, in TV commercials and advertising, on coffee cups, tee-shirts, shopping bags….


Additionally, your software could assist web surfers to more-judiciously select helpfully-screened websites, products and opinions as the very ones they will most benefit from investigating. Perhaps your software could also eventually include a function which would recognize and refute inappropriate co-opters of your symbol of acceptance and stamp of approval—an iterative process that would call out abusers while encouraging more awareness and discussion.


Your software will stimulate lively dialogue; increase the impact and number of creative, thought-provoking, and controversial-but-civil exchanges; reduce (by virtue of indifference and neglect) the quantity and influence of divisive communications arising anywhere in the world; universally improve facility in verbal and mental processing of complexities, innuendo and nuances; and inspire us all to pull together cooperatively to resolve our common personal, local and global problems.


While you're programming, please give extra points for humor?


And if you're not a programmer, but merely a earthlinged, godlinged promosapient like me, please pass this idea on to any similarly-inclined programming/software folk or foundations, or to whomever might be interested!


Thank you…. 🙂


Nancy Pace




















































































I’ve Finally Decided That Barack Obama Will Pick Bob Casey for His Vice Presidential Running Mate. Or Maybe Mark Warner.… Or Maybe Kathleen Sebelius… Or Bill Richardson? Jim Webb? Or maybe Gore. Or Biden. Or…#@%*!!??

I’m enjoying watching the Obama veepstakes unfold….


If Hillary doesn't want the job, which she isn't right for (although I love her) maybe Barack will pick either Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey or Jim Webb.


Obama and Casey like, respect and enjoy each other. How well they work together really is an important selection criteria in choosing a VP to help Barack move forward on America’s mandate for change.


Obama took Casey for a long test-drive as they campaigned together across Pennsylvania. Casey seems a bit low-key to me, but his mild demeanor seems to have grown on his loyal down-home constituents. Casey is experienced–if not day-one-experienced–in foreign policy. His interests, expertise and politics are very similar to Barack’s. Casey's solid, well-vetted personal background will contain few surprises, if any. He seems to have unshakeable integrity, quiet confidence, little ego, considerable calm and coolness, deep faith, wonky attention to detail, poise on his feet, and a lifetime commitment to challenges and service.


Casey was Jesuit-trained, which says to me he and Barack share values and perspectives. Both Obama and Casey served on the senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees together, so they know each other fairly well.


Bob’s father was a beloved Pennsylvania Governor, so he is not new to political life and its unpleasant realities. Bob’s four beautiful daughters and wife are very much an asset; they twisted his arm to get him to go ahead and support Barack. Barack said Casey’s endorsement meant more to him…as much to him… as any endorsement he’d received in his whole campaign. A telling comment indeed. 


Casey is a devout Catholic and thoughtfully pro-life, which will bring in many new voters, including previous non-political voters, Hispanics, Evangelicals, religious voters in general, and Catholics. Pro-lifers will just have to settle for having a very liberal, pro-life president.


I think Barack is looking for a relatively youthful partner, a natural leader who will share leadership loyally beside him to achieve his agenda of change, and who might, having learned and earned the job over eight years, step into Barack’s shoes as he eases himself over to the Supreme Court when ready for a nice long useful, interesting rest.


Pennsylvania is a state Barack would like to win and Casey could get for him, although regional considerations are less important than all the above factors, since Barack cannot legitimately be said to “belong” to any single region of the U.S.


Casey is a populist who would appeal to Hillary’s current voters—particularly the blue-collar folk slow to see in Barack one of their own, who take a little longer to recognize his integrity, vision and trustworthiness, and might need some significant convincing to understand Barack's unique ability and credible plan to bring about the changes they want to see. Casey seems to be a good manager and a good debater. He's hard-working, productive, ambitious, and attentive to quality and detail.
Casey is a quietly authentic, genuine, natural leader who will help Barack get elected and won't hurt him. If he turns out to be the strong, complementary partner Barack needs to successfully move his agenda forward, if he learns and earns the job of president during the next eight years, then Barack will have exercised his own good judgment to make a selection in the best interests of the all the people, which is what Barack does best.
Both Casey and Obama have a few endearingly sweet but flitty mannerisms which demagogues will use to smear such a team (see Casey's endorsement announcement) so they'd have to be warned to avoid giggling enthusiasm and girlish delight when campaigning together. 
I have adored Jim Webb since I read Fields of Fire when it first came out, and the man just keeps on getting more and more wonderful. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's such a uniquely powerful and thoughtful leader, and a great populist. But perhaps Obama wants someone younger, more religious, a little more like himself in his politics, and a little less-burdened with a strong personality, personal distractions, historical skeletons and wives. If these issues don't bother Barack, they won't bother me. I'm a bit concerned about Webb's health; despite his evident fitness, he just looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. I hope I'm wrong.

Each of the other impressive leaders currently exuding gravitas and national/international military/foreign policy experience (Al Gore, General James L. Jones, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson….) is either too old for the sixteen-year tough-hoeing job, or somewhat reluctant to take it on, although I suspect they would all agree to do whatever might be necessary for the good of their country and/or party. I still think Al Gore must be Barack's intended answer should the party try to foist Hillary on him. The name, Al Gore, is unfortunately still very polarizing to non-Democrat voters because of his past Clinton associations, but his internationally acclaimed environmental activism has made him less-so. Young people love him, and he's learned to be a more natural, relaxed campaigner and leader.

I like Mark Warner for many of the same reasons that I like Casey, but I really don't know anything about him that I haven't learned on the internet. He may not be sufficiently “with” the Obama program, I just don’t know. If Barack is confident of Warner's loyalty and integrity and their shared vision, then he is also a good choice for some–but not all–of the above reasons.


I just love Bill Richardson, who is morally courageous and upright, committed to Barack’s agenda, will bring in Hispanics, runs a tight ship, and gets it done. He's not a lightweight, but he's perceived by some to be one, congenial as he is, so that would have to be worked on. I can't imagine anyone saying Richardson wouldn't be ready on Day One, or not liking him, or finding skeletons in his closet, which is all good.


Another good choice for Barack right now, based, again, only on internet research and reading, is Kathleen Sebelius, also for many of the above reasons. If I knew more about her, or even more about Casey and Warner, perhaps she would be my first choice. She's had a lifetime in politics, and seems accessible, bright, admirable, hard-working, politically correct and savvy, low-key and appealing. She's powerful in distinctly feminine ways–a real plus–and future presidential material to be sure.


In recent history, both Presidents Bush, Clinton and Gore demonstrated how important and difficult it is to make a good VP choice. Choosing a running mate can be a thankless, nearly impossible task, one best made on one’s own terms and not, ultimately, by committee. Every VP choice inevitably comes with a certain amount of baggage and drawbacks. No single choice can compete with all the best arguments for all the other candidates, of course.


I’m enjoying playing this little veepstakes game along with the thousands of other people who are interested in playing it, too, so I thought I might as well share my conclusions and my reasons for having them (total value: about two-cents) with my loyal readers…..


…About whom I know little, although I’m now happily averaging 2,000+ hits a day, and recently reached 8,957 hits on one very nice day earlier this month. Who are you guys? Why do you read my blog? Where do you live? What would you like to hear more about? Any questions you’d like me to blog about? I would love to hear from any of you…. Please send me a note at And thank you for reading my blog…. JJ









Black Styles, White Racism, and the Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright Controversy

I was raised to think that fidgeting, shouting and mopping one’s brow when speaking in public was unrefined. My mom only meant to teach me how to act, but her instructions left me judgmental of other cultures and styles. I squirmed with her when Elvis Presley gyrated and grunted and sweated. Together we hated Hitler’s rants, and shrank in dismay from Khrushchev’s noisy shoe. Loud, angry, confrontive voices still do nothing for me. They feel rude and threatening. And I’m not alone in this.
Maybe it’s my Calvinist streak, but I like my leaders calm, cool, and collected, like my man Barack Obama. To be sure, I would wager that Barack could make any congregation anywhere jump out of the aisles and pour into the streets anytime he wanted, as Jeremiah Wright can. And certainly Reverend Wright, a caring if conflicted Christian, has demonstrated on Bill Moyers's show that he can do scholarly and cerebral analysis along with the best of them.
I was also raised to be snobbish about grammar and diction. But people learn to speak however their families speak. Changing one’s everyday speech is an unimaginably arduous, individualized, time-consuming transformation not “covered” in English classes. Nowadays, many pop and sports celebrities who've won fame with colorful urban dialects will hire highly-trained linguistic coaches to give them personalized instruction in accent, vocabulary, grammar, and cultural modifications.
Every human being alive would like to be able to switch occasionally into more felicitous professional, business and academic English dialects should occasion arise, especially if one's dialect reflects a limited, impoverished or unlettered childhood. People are just more comfortable being around people who sound like them; fewer doors slam shut, and more open. Unconscious linguistic prejudices may not always be deliberate, but they’re very real and very limiting.
I can assure you that if Barack started writhing and sweating and screaming street slang in my face, I wouldn’t be able to focus on his logical argument. No, I’d be too worried about whether he was in good-enough physical shape to let himself get so worked up, or if he might be about to have a heart attack, or fall off the stage, or embarrass himself linguistically, chase somebody around the room maybe, or shoot somebody.
And if people around me, black or white, start to sway and wave their arms and call out and fall out? Well, I’m just not used to that. There’s nothing wrong with such choices, but people in my stuffy childhood churches just didn’t do those things. Where I came from, such behavior was considered, dare I say it, uncivilized, primitive, even tribal.
But what's so wonderfully “civilized” about a culture with a long sad secret record of exploiting and even obliterating other, weaker cultures? Civilization is as civilization does. I like the way people from so-called “primitive” southern-hemisphere cultures so generously share their time, money, warmth and help with one another. That kind of behavior sounds like pretty advanced-civ to me, more advanced in many ways than the often cold, hostile, lonely, so-called “modern” cultures of today. Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of western civilization, said he thought it would be a good idea.
All I'm saying is, there is no one single “way” to “be” that is universally “right.” All cultures, young and old, techy and traditional, have much to learn from one another, and much to teach.
I’m finally getting used to all the shouting and signifying so many people delight in, and I certainly know there’s nothing wrong with it. My kids love the loud emotional unity of rock concerts, and even I have a bit of the wild thing in me at times. But my mom’s early strictures insured that I wouldn’t come around easily to accepting other people’s different stylistic expressions. It’s all about what you’re used to.
But it’s not, as my mom believed, about what is “nice” or “right” or “correct” or even “appropriate,” because styles vary from culture to culture. It's about different ways of being civilized (and uncivilized.) And it's about holding to the highest standard of respect and support for human life everywhere, the Golden Rule of treating all others as we would want to be treated. It's certainly not about some picky stylistic stuff.
I was a military brat, so my far-flung army-post classrooms were racially-integrated long before the civil rights movement nudged America toward living up to more of its ideals. My classmates were pretty much all courteous, well-spoken, middle-class students of a remarkable variety of races, because in those days, the military establishment required cultural, stylistic and linguistic conformity. Non-white families could find reasonable welcome in the military if (and only if) they could demonstrate that, aside from skin color, they weren’t any different from most middle-class whites. All my classmates back then, regardless of race, seemed indistinguishably mainstream.
I didn’t grow up around many poor or uneducated people, or around any charismatic preachers and congregations, for that matter, although happily, I've had broader exposure to the world’s diversity since then, thanks in part to more representative television programming. I try to remind myself that my own carefully-taught class and race prejudices are limitations I want to remedy, both as a Christian and as a caring citizen of the world. Fortunately for me, I’ve been privileged in adulthood to spend time with good, patient people from all backgrounds, and have become comfortable with a broader range of personal styles.
Like everyone else, I acquired my own personal and linguistic styles from my parents, peers, and “neighborhood.” My family was a WASPy, bookish clan which gifted lucky-me (through no particular effort on my own) with a style and dialect acceptable in most circles. But there are many other delightfully valid ways of being an American swirling around me today in this great country—native and immigrant styles from all over, academic and business styles, hip-hop and Hispanic, inner-city and down-home country, Islamic, Asian, Caribbean, and a whole slew of other newly-blended personal styles I can’t begin to keep up with, but my kids can.
But the thing about personal style is, nowadays, it’s a positive, fluid thing, individual, unique, interesting, entertaining, and not so tied to race or ethnicity or social class as it once was. And voters are finally figuring all this out.
It seems to me that despite all the fuss about the particular words that Jeremiah Wright used, demagogues replaying his sound bites over and over don’t really care what Wright thinks or means, but rather, they're bent on dividing us along prejudicial lines. The small-minded con-men guiding the anti-Obama smear campaigns are absolutely thrilled to jump on any available excuse to show us ad nauseum how Barack once befriended a black man whose personal style makes a lot of voters uncomfortable.
The hucksters replaying such tapes are hoping white voters will conclude that “those people” “like Barack” are different from “us,” that “we” will think we have little in common with “them, ” that Barack won’t understand us and can’t represent our interests. Dirty politicians manipulate our unconscious racism so that we will see only difference, separation and error, instead of our many commonalities, our shared American dreams and challenges.
Such politics of division, hate and fear have a long successful history of convincing Americans time and again to vote against their own best interests. But as Barack keeps reminding us, American voters are smarter than that now. We’re becoming more enlightened, more open-minded and inclusive, more loving.
Smears-by-association can no longer distract us for long from the common pressing issues we all face, the real threats which ignore borders and cannot be solved competitively, but only through global cooperation, like a faltering economy, a culture of violence, costly wars, growing energy demands, poverty, political corruption, inadequate access to education, weapons proliferation, organized crime, infectious disease, poor health care, environmental degradation, mass migrations, crumbling infrastructure, pornography, homelessness, natural disasters, addictions, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, prejudice, civic alienation, and apathy itself.
Americans are finally seeing the relevance and possibility inherent in the American ideals which Jesus, Jefferson, Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Mandela and so many other great leaders have urged upon us with one voice. We are finally turning away from the mean-spirited thinking which created all our problems in the first place, and toward the higher shared consciousness of universal brotherhood that alone will save us and our tiny blue planet.

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Thoughts for Hillary-Voters (of a Certain Age)

Many of my women friends want to see Hillary Clinton elected President so much that they refuse to seriously consider Barack Obama at all. They’re curious about him, to be sure–no one could overlook all the campaign excitement or miss seeing at least a few of his ads. But they would never be so disloyal as to actually listen to one of his speeches or read his campaign literature for more details. They tell me quite frankly, they’ve got a nominee, one who looks a lot like them, so would I please just leave it alone?
I've always admired Hillary’s dignity, and of course, her many achievements. She's a survivor in what many women have experienced as a rough-and-tumble man’s world. We identify with her tragic husband-troubles, and respect her commitment to her marriage. We celebrate her moxie when men have dismissed her contributions and disrespected her ambitions. We’ve waited breathlessly our whole lives for this chance to elect a smart, capable woman President of the <?xml:namespace prefix = u1 />United States, and we know what a strong woman-Presidency could mean to our daughters and granddaughters. As years have passed, as she's won battles for women and children, we’ve smiled with Hillary because we know what she knows, that doing well is the best revenge.
What we are not doing is asking the question that we as patriots, citizens, and voters should ask, are duty-bound, even, to ask: Which candidate would make the best President?
However generously we acknowledge Hillary’s abilities and achievements, we should thoughtfully consider Barack’s as well, if only because our long experience informs us that the next President must be armed with an unusually fine and rare combination of strengths and abilities to successfully navigate the dangerous shoals ahead.
Of course Hillary and Barack are both well-informed about the state of the world. But Barack is truly gifted in human relations—in people skills, diplomacy, and communication. He empathizes uniquely with difference and diversity—with those having different agendas, cultures, perspectives, memories, and understandings than his own. Our next President must be brilliant, but also extraordinarily able to relate to disparate viewpoints and interests in order to arrive at the inclusive solutions which alone can resolve complex global problems.
Of course Hillary and Barack are both experienced public servants. Hillary’s seven years, and Barack’s eleven, of public accountability in elected office are just the beginning. Hillary’s many years as an attorney and as first lady gave her just as much opportunity for growth as did Barack’s years of community organizing, his work as a civil rights attorney, and his professorship in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School.
Hillary’s whole life has prepared her to be a tough political in-fighter, capable of ramming through incremental changes in the face of almost insurmountable opposition. Barack, on the other hand, disarms both potential and perceived adversaries through his non-polarizing approaches to problem-solving. He seeks, finds, and articulates common ground and mutual goals, disagrees amiably, and steadily builds both consensus and grassroots support through his hard work and clear, eloquent, impassioned communications.
Of course both Hillary and Barack have achieved great things, or they wouldn’t be where they are today. But Obama’s years of greatest productivity and achievement are arguably still ahead of him, while Hillary seems thrilled with her chance to put the finishing touches on her once-aggressive 60’s-era agenda. She has earned her recognition and vindication, but while she’s enjoying it, Barack and his generation, and the next one too, have rocketed past her into a tomorrow Hillary can’t visit even in her dreams.
Both Hillary and Barack are tested and tenacious campaigners and fearless competitors. Hillary has fifteen years of Washington experience on Barack, whose present stature derives mostly from his work ethic, brilliant planning and organizing, and charismatic leadership born of strong character, values, empathy, wisdom, and hope. Barack has risen to every challenge on his path, and he has always emerged ever-closer to a national mandate for leadership.
In their very differently-conducted campaigns, Hillary and Barack have given us new insight into their personalities and character. But Barack has also given those who’ve followed his trajectory a tantalizing taste of what it would be like to have a strong, candid, universally-respected, and visionary President on whom we could rely for trustworthy, respectful leadership, for inspiration, and example.
Hillary is burdened with our nation's collective memory of past nasty campaigns and embarrassing setbacks. Unfortunately, she is a somewhat polarizing figure, distrusted and disliked still by too many voters. Barack, too, has fought difficult campaigns—beginning in Illinois, a state famous for its tough political climate—and has emerged squeaky-clean, greatly loved, and consistently elected in landslides by a constituency mirroring the wide range of backgrounds, interests, ages, genders and ethnicities found across America.
Ever since a skinny guy with a funny name no one could remember took on Hillary’s formidably-organized, well-heeled and internationally-recognized campaign, Americans who have read his books and listened to him speak about his plans for America have begun to write their own hopes and dreams upon the fresh new slate which is Barack Obama.
If nothing else, we’ve learned from our beloved civil rights and feminist leaders of the past that we cannot make good decisions about the best person for any job by considering the color of their skin, their race, or their gender. We must instead carefully weigh the content of their character, and thoughtfully consider their suitability for the job at hand. I think Hillary well-suited to be a Secretary of Health and Human Services, and her husband would be a formidable Supreme Court Justice. Consider, ladies, that a unifying Obama Presidency may be just what we need to help us find our way through today's troubles, toward a future we’ll be proud to leave our grandchildren.
(Nancy Pace blogs on breaking news at the intersection of politics, peace, culture, and spirituality at
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A Clinton Coronation or an Obama Revolution?

Hillary can’t wait to put the finishing touches on her wonderfully aggressive 60’s agenda, while Barack is at home in a tomorrow Hillary can’t visit even in her dreams.


Hillary is thrilled with the chance to add more contributions to her amazing lifetime list, while Barack is thrilled with America’s chances for real change when he is President.


Hillary is amazed at where she’s been and what she’s been able to accomplish, looking forward to recognition and vindication for her life’s work, while Barack envisions efficiently accomplishing today’s most pressing American policy goals and then moving forward to heal the world’s common global challenges.


Hillary loves herself-in-power ruling over her former enemies, while Barack loves the-power-in-himself leading a unified America and world into a hopeful 21st century.


Shall generations await coronation of Jeb Bush into an inevitable succession of Clinton and Bush kings (and queen) reigning in hubris over a 20th century past? Or will we charge our servant Barack Obama to lead us into an American future of unimaginable possibilities?




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Take This 40-Question Quiz: “Hillary or Barack???” (My Score Was Barack 40, Hillary 0)

Hillary and Barack both have wonderful abilities and qualities.

However, pick only the one candidate whom you feel is the BEST qualified:



Whose campaign runs like the country should run?


Who believes in a transparent government?


Who will tell the truth if they do something wrong?


Who trusts the public to be able to handle the truth?


Who values advisors who disagree?


Who respects and welcomes opposing points of view?


Who won’t hurry into war?


Who will resist the pressures of special interests and big money?


Whose family will be a credit to (and a delight in) the White House?


Whose tenure will reflect most positively upon America?


Who is liked and respected by all members of Congress and the Supreme Court?


Who can explain confusing issues to the American public?


Who can we believe when we hear conflicting stories?


Who is the least partisan candidate?


Who has the most global perspectives?


Who has an audacious vision of where to go, and a detailed plan for how to get there?


Who has the leadership and executive skills to solve even our biggest problems?


Whose example inspires us all to make personal sacrifices for the common good?


Who will guide us thoughtfully through national emergencies, tragedies, and catastrophes?


Who inspires our youth to greater effort, contribution, and productivity?


Who are national and world leaders eager to work with?


Who is it impossible not to like and admire?


Who do we most want to see succeed?


Who can heal our many divisions?


Who holds to moral principles under pressure?


Who has sound judgment under pressure?


Who reaches out in friendship to all foreign leaders and ordinary citizens?


Who will bind up the nation’s wounds?


Who can be counted on to defend us wisely from those who would do us harm?


Whose leadership inspires all the world’s peoples?


Who will move citizens of all ages and backgrounds toward greater civic involvement?


Who is the most intellectually broad-banded?


Who has the best “people skills”?


Who understands minority perspectives?


Who can offer global leadership toward solutions to common problems?


Who can sell tough solutions to the American public?


Who do Republicans not mind losing to?


Who inspires the confidence of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike?


Who do I look forward to listening to, weekly or more often, for the next eight years?


Who has the potential to become America’s greatest President, in her time of greatest need?



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Questioning the Wisdom of Secret Biowarfare Research at Fort Detrick, MD

The Expansion of Biowarfare Research
Laboratories at USAMRIID, Fort Detrick:

A Call to attend a Public Forum before the Frederick Board of
County Commissioners (BOCC)
Monday, November 19 at 7 pm, 1st Floor Meeting Room,
Winchester Hall 12 East Church Street Frederick

This is
the time, the only public opportunity to persuade our Commissioners
that we want them to obtain a Court Review of the USAMRIID Environmental Impact
Statement. A court review will hold the Federal Government accountable for complying with
NEPA- the National Environmental Policy Act, which is designed to protect communities
from development harmful to health and safety.
The Commissioners are holding this public forum
to hear from us about the public health,
safety and environmental concerns associated with the expansion of biological research
laboratories at Fort Detrick. USAMRIID is planned to be the cornerstone of a massive
expansion of such laboratories, involving at least 6 different Federal agencies on what would
be named the National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC). NIBC would occupy 200
acres at Fort Detrick. This would be by far the largest biowarfare research complex in the

What can you do?

Come to the forum, whether or not you plan to speak. We need to fill the room! You
will learn a lot about the issue, and your presence is very important.
Learn more (resources and contacts below), and consider speaking. This meeting is
about the need for a court review, because health, safety and environmental impacts are
properly addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
NEPA requires, and the
USAMRIID EIS does not:

Evaluate alternate, less densely populated locations for these labs.
Provide a comprehensive evaluation of the cumulative impacts of the entire National
Interagency Biodefense Campus.

Address the many burdens upon our community’s public health, safety, growth, taxes and

Use your own unique background to talk about your concerns in your own words. Comments
will be limited to five (5) minutes per speaker and ten (10) minutes for recognized organizations.

Persuade everyone you know to come to the forum! Pass this on, BUT– talking
to people is much more effective!

E-mail the commissioners and tell them what you think. If you can’t come, tell
them you would be there if you could…..
Jan Gardner: David Gray:
Kai Hagen: Charles Jenkins: Lenny
Thompson: Send letters to the editor:

Learn More:
Informational meeting, open to all
: Viewing of recent PBS
documentary “The Living Weapon”, followed by discussion of the current situation
. 7 pm Monday
in the Notre Dame Room, Parish Center of St. John the Evangelist Church, 118 East 2nd St
Frederick. The parish center is two buildings to the right of the church. Sponsored by St John’s Peace
and Justice Committee
August 24, 2007

“It has been pointed out to me, by those that have read it thoroughly, that the Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) for the USAMRIID expansion does not adequately examine the following very
important question:
Why has an alternate location for the new BSL 3 and BSL 4 labs not been thoroughly examined? This
would be an ideal time to move these labs. They have been a source of concern in this county for
years. They will house the most dangerous pathogens known to man (ie Ebola, Marburg, etc).
Presently they are planned to be again located in the high population area where Fort Detrick is now
located. Public safety fears would be greatly alleviated if they were moved to a more remote and safe
I understand that the EIS is now subject to a court review if requested. I am willing to call for such a
court review before construction commences. I have also been informed that such a review by the
courts was requested when BSL 4 labs were planned to be installed at Boston University which is in a
similar high population area. In that case, in 2006, both the Massachusetts state court as well as the
U.S. District Court ordered that the labs not be operated until alternate (less populated sites) are
properly considered, and simulation of real-world disease transmission is properly analyzed. (This risk
analysis is expected to address in detail the potential threats to the community arising from the use of
several BSL 4 agents that are planned to be studied in the Boston labs. This risk analysis will examine
the effects of a laboratory-acquired infection of a laboratory worker with Ebola; the transportation of a
vector-borne agent, such as tick-borne encephalitis; an aerosol event involving a hemorrhagic fever;
and the use of rDNA in monkey pox.) Our situation in Frederick County seems very similar.
In October 2001 there was an anthrax attack on postal workers, members of congress and the media,
resulting in 5 deaths. This was the first known biological attack on US citizens. It is widely believed
that the source of that anthrax (the Ames strain) was Ft Detrick.
Last December I and four other County Commissioner were sworn into office and we took an oath to
“Preserve and protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Frederick County”. I am
committed to that oath.”

Much more information is available about this issue. Contact:
Beth Willis:
Barry Kissin: The BOCC obtaining a Court Review has been
endorsed by: Citizens for Quality of Life, Friends of Frederick County, St. John the Evangelist Peace and Justice
Committee, Sierra Club Catoctin Group, the Fort Detrick Watchdog Group, Women in Black Frederick, the Frederick
Peace Resource Center, FredPac, and many many citizens like you.

Breach of trust
Originally published November 07, 2007
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By Katherine Heerbrandt

A week before Sen. Barbara Mikulski visited Frederick County extolling the economic promise of Fort Detrick's expansion, Keith Rhodes, chief technologist for the Government Accountability Office, told members of Congress that the proliferation of high-level biolabs raises serious questions about public safety.
“The more BSL-4 labs there are, the more opportunity for mistakes and the more opportunities for release,” Rhodes told the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Oct. 4.
Since 9/11 the number of labs researching the most virulent pathogens — those with no cure — grew from two to 15. With no central oversight of the growing number of labs, and disincentives inherent in reporting safety breaches, the security and operations of BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs are in question.
The oversight of these labs is “fragmented and relies on self-policing. High-risk labs have health risks for individual lab workers as well as the surrounding community. The risks due to accidental exposure or release can never be completely eliminated, and even labs within sophisticated biological research programs, including those most extensively regulated, have had and will continue to have safety failures,” Rhodes said.
Burning to spend the billions unleashed for biodefense research, the feds rushed to act with little consideration of the consequences. A sadly familiar refrain.
The U.S. Army War College's 2005 “Assessing Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat” concludes money was spent with no analysis of the bioterrorism threat, which it called “systematically and deliberately exaggerated” by this administration.
More probable than a bioterrorist attack is that we infect ourselves by theft, design or mishap. With every new lab opened, every square foot added, the risk increases, according to the GAO.
The Associated Press produced an interactive map that reveals biolab breaches in the U.S. (
As recently as June, anthrax bacteria was found on a freezer handle, light switch and shoes in a changing room at USAMRIID.
With stories of accidents, breaches of protocol and incompetence from biolabs emerging with disturbing regularity, Detrick's refusal to participate in a public meeting isn't surprising.
Why subject itself to more national attention when biolabs are under assault?
The request came from County Commissioner David Gray, who issued a statement in August saying that federal officials ignored policy in their Environmental Impact Statement by not seeking alternate sites for the labs.
Detrick agreed to meet, then backed out, offering a private meeting with county commissioners. Gray wanted to bring community members and the press. Detrick declined that offer, too.
Detrick has already done its duty, says spokesperson Eileen Mitchell, providing ample opportunity for public comment and complying with federal regulations.
Maybe they weren't counting on anyone actually reading the EIS, but local attorney Barry Kissin and Beth Willis have made a thorough study of it, culminating in a 17-page statement including tough questions for Detrick officials. At best, the EIS is a cursory attempt to comply with federal guidelines. At worst, it ignores documented breaches and blithely concludes that any danger is “negligible.”
The lack of serious effort in such a critical report is yet another example of the arrogance characterizing the federal government's tactics in the name of keeping America safe from terrorists.
Wave the flag and our brains shut down?
Undeterred by Detrick's refusal, Gray will have his forum at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Winchester Hall. But it will take more than the usual 20 to 25 regulars to convince a majority of commissioners that the EIS is severely flawed and deserves a court review.
It's your last chance. Make it count.

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Why a Court Review on the USAMRIID Expansion?  
What would it do, and why support it?
The people and government of Frederick County need a court review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the USAMRIID expansion, because the FEIS does not comply with The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).   A court review would provide an independent, binding assessment and judgment about the specific ways the FEIS does not meet NEPA requirements in assessing whether Frederick is an appropriate location for these laboratories, and for adequately evaluating the health and safety issues these laboratories would bring to the community.
The purpose and spirit of NEPA requirements assume that a full and thorough environmental assessment is needed to properly make fundamental decisions about site location and risk mitigation.  A complete and thorough analysis of alternative sites is required in order to compare those alternative sites, leading to:
¨      information adequate enough for local elected officials to develop a full and informed understanding of  impacts, risks and issues
¨      information adequate enough for  citizens of the county and other affected parties to do the same
¨      a sound decision on the proper site, based on legally specified health, safety, environmental  and economic factors
The current FEIS does not provide the information needed for decision-makers to determine if these programs should be located in Frederick County.  It does not provide the information needed for officials and citizens to be adequately informed about the risks and impacts, as intended by NEPA.
A court review would, at a minimum, address the following NEPA-related FEIS defects:
¨      the failure during the FEIS process to squarely address fundamental issues raised repeatedly, verbally and in writing by residents of the community.
¨      the failure to properly identify alternatives sites, including one in a less populated area.
¨      the failure to provide credible and serious evaluations and comparisons of such alternatives.
¨      the failure to analyze the cumulative environmental impacts of the entire National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC). Facilities for NIH, DHS, USDA, CDC, BRAC (Naval and Army Bio-Labs), as well as USAMRIID are planned to be located on NIBC. NEPA clearly requires a “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” (PEIS) with respect to the NIBC, which has never been done.  Rather, there have been only cursory references to the full program in the USAMRIID EIS.
¨      the failure to adequately analyze the environmental impact of  BSL-3 and BSL-4 pathogens escaping from containment.
¨      the failure to evaluate potential environmental impacts of genetic engineering of BSL-3 and BSL- 4 pathogens.  The Army’s own regulations specifically refer to genetic engineering as an action that demands evaluation for potential impacts.
¨      the failure to explain in specific detail how the cumulative program would satisfy its water requirements, which would at least double the current water requirements of the Fort.
¨      the failure to analyze potential scenarios related to transport of bio-agents to and from facility and failure to include a threat and vulnerability analysis for a terrorist attack or infiltration.
Tell our County Commissioners:
You want them to obtain a Court Review
of the latest Fort Detrick Biocontainment laboratory expansion Environmental Impact Statement.
Women In Black, Frederick commends Commissioner David Gray for his statement questioning the thoroughness of the Environmental Impact Statement  (EIS) on the proposed USAMRIID expansion, especially as it pertains to site location, and calling for a court review of the EIS before construction commences.
The function of the planned Biosafety Level 4 labs scheduled for construction as part of the expansion is to house experiments on infectious pathogens for which there is neither vaccine nor cure. Activities planned at some of the new Fort Detrick labs include the acquisition, growth, modification, storage and packaging of those pathogens most adaptable to being used as bioweapons.
One does not need to read voluminous documents to question the wisdom of locating such a facility in a highly populated area of robust growth such as Frederick County, especially in light of the previous record of failed safety procedures and accidents. This is a rational and logical question and one the citizens of Frederick County cannot afford to take lightly. Once built, this facility will be a permanent part of our community environment. Do we really want to risk the health and safety of our families?  Many accidents at such labs have recently been in the news.  Congress is now holding hearings investigating safety failures in the nation’s 400+ biowarfare laboratory system, for which Frederick will be Headquarters. 
We thank Commissioner Gray for his integrity and commitment to his oath of office,  “to preserve and protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Frederick County.” We urge all our elected officials to meet this same standard, and we urge all Frederick County residents to hold them to that standard.
Please contact ALL of our County Commissioners now, and tell them you want them to protect our health and safety by calling for a legally binding, impartial Court Review of the Army’s USAMRIID expansion Environmental Impact Statement.  Tell them you want them to act on our behalf, and hold the Federal Government accountable for complying with the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act, which is designed to protect communities from development that is harmful to health and safety. 

Call: : (301) 600-9000   Email:
Jan Gardner:
David Gray:
Kai Hagen:
Charles Jenkins:
Lenny Thompson:

Everyone Says We Wouldn't, We Couldn't, We Shouldn't Do It To A Dog…. So Why Do We Keep Doing It to People?

I just read Sally Jenkins' sports column in the 8/22/07 Washington Post, about Michael Vick and his dog-fighting choices…. Jenkins said that people who train animals to fight, and then make them fight, are “brutal…sleaze…wallowing in gore by choice…out of sheer dumb meanness…punishing…torturing…battering…killing…enslaving and tormenting…with unnerving ruthlessness…. (Fighting animals is) a bloodsport…barbaric…a gratuitous form of cruelty…a calculating, deliberate and sustained cruelty….” 

If anyone did such things to people, Jenkins says, we would call it genocidal fascism.

No. We would call it military training, and war, and we would perpetrate such crimes without thought, everywhere, every day. We would take innocent, gentle, ethical young men, and put them through military (or terrorist) training, and then throw them into combat, to kill and maim or be killed and maimed, along with their buddies.

We would condition and indoctrinate our soldiers into forgetting everything they’ve ever learned about how to treat other people. We would turn them into knee-jerk mental, physical and emotional monsters, so that they can efficiently “do their jobs” without thinking of their victims as human beings.

After excruciating training, we would turn them loose upon strangers, many of whom are themselves innocents protecting their own homes and families. We would make our young heroes into snipers and bombers and interrogators and other cold-blooded executioners, to do “work” they can do only because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking of whole populations as demonized “others,” as “the enemy.”

Wars are about powerful, misguided leaders taking for themselves whatever they want—resources, power, money, land—by killing large swaths of people. But soldiers are carefully taught a very different kind of morality, a kind of contextual fuzzy logic that ethically “covers” their bloodiest actions for as long as they can believe that they’re fighting, killing, and dying to protect their friends and families, and to further their country’s noblest ideals and purposes. Soldiers cling to the illusion that that their jobs are necessary and valuable and moral, in hopes that their losses and sacrifices are not in vain, that they have not wasted their lives–and others'.

Unfortunately, when soldiers come home from wars, few can morally rectify the gore they've participated in with their peacetime ethical, spiritual and religious belief systems about what it means to be humane, caring, good—all the understandings which make relationships work, and which make life worth living. Many veterans basically go insane for years. Others are unstable or crazy for the rest of their lives. 

Everyone says training and fighting animals is an outrage. We wouldn't, we couldn’t, we shouldn’t do this to a dog. So why do we keep doing it to people?

It's time to reconsider the inevitability of our centuries-old practice of solving problems through violence.  Human conflict is perfectly natural and unavoidable, since people will always have competing interests, misunderstandings, old grievances…. In fact, conflict is very beneficial, because it nearly always points to inequities or confusions which need addressing.

But violent resolutions of conflict only make things worse.

We can teach all people to resolve conflicts peacefully just as easily as we can raise them to respond to problems violently. It's time for America the beautiful, the once and future leader of the free world, to take the first step toward committing to building a world culture of peace.