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




















































































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?




Please send comments to . Thank you!











The Winning Factors that Obama and Huckabee Share

Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are unique among the Presidential candidates in relishing honest opportunities to think on their feet. They are visibly energized by being publicly asked to consider hard, original questions on-the-spot, answering them directly and freshly.

From the other candidates, we mostly get their rehashed and rehearsed campaign rhetoric, no matter the questions. Despite their varying perspectives and strengths, no other candidates have that star-quality ability to rise to the challenge of thinking and speaking and leading under pressure, on-the-fly, extemporaneously, critically, creatively, and even charmingly, which Huckabee and Obama share.

I'm unnerved at the prospect of listening for another four years to more canned nonsense, pre-masticated gobbledygook, and predictable ideology from some partisan political hack speaking on behalf of the corporate and political power elites.

Obama and Huckabee could not possibly be more different in their thinking and perspectives, and, to be honest, I have little confidence in the breadth and robustness of Huckabee's world view, while I have great confidence in Obama's inclusive, visionary one. But at least both are honest and self-consistent. A few of the other candidates are also trustworthy, but either they are unelectable, or they're too polarizing, too contentious, too partisan, too 20th-century / old-world, too boring, too opportunistic, too old, too out-of-touch, too fringey, too militaristic, or too unprincipled to earn the necessary universal respect and trust required by the mass of American citizens who are frantic to move forward on change.

If what we need is a President with the fine mind, listening skills, and good judgment necessary to consider and evaluate and act confidently upon a blurringly-fast array of hugely complex and pressing problems almost instantaneously, while offering continuous, passionate, vigorous leadership, then we would be wise not to entrust our future into the hands of someone who responds to difficult questions by nervously squeezing out yet another familiar, practiced, safe, distantly-related soundbite-of-choice.

Make no mistake, only a President embodying a combination of trustworthiness, charisma, confidence, and instantaneous brilliant articulation of principled policies can lead everyday Americans into pressing Congress for sweeping policy reforms in a multitude of urgent issue-areas. A trustworthy, kick-ass leader unafraid to lead will cut through the crap and point us toward truth and away from hucksterism, using his reputation for straight-shooting to aggressively and successfully pursue policy changes.

Consider that, if a (theoretically) beloved and trusted President Obama pushing for health care reform informed us on television that “Harry and Louise are lying,” ordinary citizens with faith in his judgment and good heart would inundate Congress with supportive phone calls. The primary reason our citizenry is currently apathetic is our universal paralysis arising from fear and confusion from too-much conflicting “information”; we're so overwhelmed we don't know who or what to believe. Only a universally-trusted President can lead us confidently toward real change.

Relatively few Americans share Mr. Huckabee's doctrinal and theological beliefs and assumptions. Nevertheless, I would (almost) rather see Huckabee become President than endure another four years of listening to yet another political hack, another timid pawn owned by today's national political and corporate power elites, mouthing appropriately soothing platitudes and selling a self-interested agenda.

We need a President committed to change, one who is brilliant, knowledgeable, a non-polarizing problem-solver who loves grappling with complex issues, who easily, persuasively, and usefully reframes and explains issues and solutions, who will use the bully pulpit to convincingly build the citizen consensus and power-base so necessary to moving forward to solve today's global pressing problems.

And only one candidate meets that description.

Roadmap to Peace

Peaceful political arrangements in the Middle East are a good place to start, but real and lasting peace will come only when, one-by-one, we in the United States and Iran and Iraq and China and Israel and Palestine and everywhere else, we Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and atheists alike, first humbly strive to embrace peace in our own hearts, endure injustices without adding to their sum, renounce violent resolution of conflicts, and offer to all others in this and every nation that same forgiveness, acceptance, and love we so long for ourselves (the universal “Golden Rule.”)

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:

A Department of Peace?

“The people of the world genuinely want peace. Some day, the leaders of the world are going to have to give in and give it to them.”- Dwight D. Eisenhower



A cabinet-level Department of Peace is a fundamentally conservative idea.  Peace in America and throughout the world has become an urgently practical mainstream goal for generations of Americans wishing to conserve lives, resources, good will, money, health, our American ideals, principles, and values, our traditional way of life, our environment, and our talents, time, energy, and property.

There is no reason why the long-held American dream of “peace in our time” should not be the business of government. According to our Constitution, a good government supports domestic tranquility, a more perfect union, justice, the common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty. Without a citizenry and leadership skilled in non-violent resolution of conflict, all these goals are doomed to failure.


If we don’t stand for peace, what do we stand for?


What better way to show our heartfelt appreciation and support for our troops’ past and future selfless service, what better way to express our debt of gratitude, than to give them a Department of Peace charged with partnering with our military, diplomatic, and political leadership to insure that American soldiers never again march into ill-planned unnecessary wars?


Department of Peace legislation could be the unifying, groundbreaking, even visionary legacy needed by the Bush presidency.


Most importantly, a Department of Peace promises an effective new approach for solving our nation’s biggest and most costly problem—domestic and international violence.


Despite our many prisons, laws, and police forces, despite our huge nuclear and conventional arsenals, our vast military and seemingly limitless expenditures for espionage, we are less safe with every passing day.


America cannot shoot its way out of a world full of angry, well-armed enemies and criminals. Growing cycles of hatred, injustice, and violence increasingly threaten the very survival of mankind. Even with pre-emptive action, military solutions to global conflict are insufficient to keep even our own small part of the world safe and stable, unless we add to our military technologies the many equally sophisticated, powerful, and field-tested “technologies” of non-violent conflict resolution and pro-active peace-building.


Cooperative, harmonious relationships, rather than being a religious or utopian ideal, are a practical goal critical to our national security. The enormous costs of domestic and international violence—to our children, American society, and the world—are unsustainable. The World Health Organization estimates that the effects of domestic violence in the U.S. annually cost us over $300 billion. Annual defense expenditures in the U.S. top $600 billion. Roughly 100 million lives have been lost during the 20th century to war. We can sustain neither a desirable standard of living nor our beloved freedoms at our current levels of spending.


Yet the problems we face in a violent, unstable world relentlessly compound.


A cabinet-level Department of Peace, established with the equivalent of 2% of the annual budget for the Department of Defense, will analyze the root causes of violence including war, giving credibility and voice to non-violent, relationship-building conflict-resolution methods—resulting in less crime and war, fewer criminals and enemies, and thus, money to spend (or save!) for other urgent priorities like environmental protection, education, and health care.


To be sure, human conflict will always be a natural, even beneficial part of life, offering challenges necessary to growth and change. On the other hand, violent responses to conflict are nearly always inadequate and harmful in the long run. We can learn (and teach) different responses to conflict as readily as we have taught and learned destructive ones. War and violence are not inevitable. In fact, they are arguably the greatest threat to our nation and to mankind. The causes of violence, like the causes of disease, can be culturally eradicated one-by-one.


Our present approach to national defense is not working. We are very strong in conventional military operations, but weak in alliance-building (win-win negotiations and diplomacy) and very weak in the use of the many innovative non-violent peace-building technologies already available for addressing both domestic and international conflicts.


The common goal of all security departments—Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Peace—is to insure peace and stability. Their primary differences lie in their different strategies for achieving their common goal. A strong military force can be a deterrent, but without a cabinet-level Department of Peace, political leaders of all stripes too often allow war profiteers to rush them unwittingly into wars of aggression, greed, and domination, or turn too quickly to military forces to resolve political problems. A Department of Peace offers a strong counterweight to such commonplace misuse of our vast military might.


In this dangerous world, strong U.S. leadership can be invaluable in keeping the peace. Instead of arrogance which costs us allies, we can show the world through our support for a Department of Peace that our highest ideals and intentions lie in playing a peacekeeping role.


A Secretary of Peace can nurture a growing culture of peace both nationally and internationally, partnering with the President and his cabinet to provide cultural information and alternative strategies for every possible conflict area in the world, asking hard questions when war seems inevitable, and preventing, reducing, ameliorating, and de-escalating conflicts before they boil over into deadly violence. An Academy of Peace equivalent to our highly-respected military academies will research, evaluate, and teach alternative non-violent responses to conflict.


Domestically, a Department of Peace will support and disseminate best practices originating in neighborhood and faith-based programs, addressing drug and alcohol problems, crime, incarceration and recidivism, the spread of weapons, school bullying and violence, gangs, racism, ethnic and homophobic intolerance, child, elder, and spousal abuse, immigration pressures, and other domestic violence problems, through proven programs of peer mediation, violence-prevention counseling, restorative justice, and other successful non-violent approaches. Such grassroots efforts will, in turn, inform and inspire national policy.


Scattering leadership for peace-building and diplomatic efforts over various departments has not worked. Why not? Because peace-building technologies require the serious institutional heft, importance, and backing of a national platform.


Americans who hate war and who want to leave to future generations the same land of plenty, possibility, and freedom they have been privileged to enjoy have an opportunity to work with our many peace professionals—whether military, diplomatic, Republican, Democratic, or Independent—to institutionalize the pursuit of peace promised in our founding documents by urging the passage of H.R. #808 establishing a Department of Peace.


Peace-building through non-violent responses to conflict, like other historical grass-roots movements (e.g., civil rights, women’s suffrage, emancipation of slaves, etc.) may not have seemed obvious at first, but it is America’s best hope.  


“Through our scientific genius we have made of the world a neighborhood,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Now through our moral and spiritual genius we must make it a brotherhood.”


In today’s small, interconnected world, that which we do to others will always come back to help us or to harm us, as we have chosen. We cannot avoid all injustices, but we can seek to avoid adding to their sum. We no longer have the choice of changing or not changing. Our choice now is whether to change for the better, or for the worse. We have risked war. It is time to risk peace.






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Choosing Freedom from Fear (also see my photos attached)

Please read what I (helped) write about the upcoming elections–and check out my photo below–I'm the tall, smiley lady…. America's not perfect, and neither is our political/election system–but what is, in this world? We are so fortunate to have a chance to make our voices count…. Thank you for voting! – Eppy Harmon  (a member of Women in Black Frederick)
“America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way (in a) revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. These are the times for real choices and not false ones.” –Martin Luther King, 1967
All of us are inundated with images and messages that bathe us in fear. It has become the dominant, and numbing feature of our world. There is no doubt that we face many dangers. But living in fear is destructive personally and to our nation. The constant promotion of fear by all sides is driving policies and actions that have taken a toll on our nation’s soul and institutions.
It is important for us to understand the fears we are being urged to accept. We need to learn to live in this environment, and to find a way to put the dangers we face in proper context for our personal and national lives and actions. It is important that we learn how to not let fear dominate our lives and country in a way that loses the moral center of who we are.
We are hearing messages of fear from all sides of the political spectrum, and can easily feel manipulated, disturbed and confused. As a rational and moral people, we have it within our power to ask our own questions about what kind of America, what kind of world we want to live in. We can demand that our government take action guided from a moral center that represents the best of our American ideals.
Women in Black Frederick mourns the devastating consequences of fear-based politics in our country. We mourn the violence that has resulted from how we have responded to fear. We seek ways forward to build a strong and lasting peace, based on non-violent change and justice for all. We believe it is time to take a new approach to tackling the roots of global insecurity. It is time to invest in building the world we want.
The future of democracy in the U.S. depends upon our informed, active participation. Well-informed voters, high voter participation, and elected officials who feel a strong sense of accountability to voters are key components of a healthy political system. Political candidates—whether incumbent or new—“listen louder” during campaigns than at any other times in their careers. We shouldn’t miss this opportunity to speak our minds! It will be particularly important for us not to be swayed by the messages of fear, sent our way in order to gain our acceptance of the unacceptable: war, torture, abandonment of civil liberties and human needs. We will need to find ways to discern when candidates’ records are distorted in fear-based attacks. We need to ask hard questions of all the candidates.
Supporting U.S. Troops by Bringing Them Home:
After half a trillion dollars, and almost 3000 U.S, 100,000 Iraqi lives lost, we ask: What legislation did you support this year, or would you support to challenge the course of the failed war strategy in Iraq? Will you vote for a plan and timetable for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops if elected? Congress is not supporting U.S. troops in Iraq by simply endorsing the failed occupation of that country. The latest National Intelligence Estimate, U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq, and some of the U.S. generals running the war argue the U.S. occupation of Iraq is fueling the insurgency and helping to recruit anti-U.S. extremists around the world. A majority of Iraqis, including many in the Iraqi government, want foreign troops out within a year.
Supporting and Strengthening Nuclear Non-Proliferation Policy:
What policies and legislation will you support to make the nuclear non-proliferation policy of the US one that seeks to eliminate nuclear weapons at home and everywhere? Will you oppose funding and development of new nuclear weapons? Will you oppose any efforts to establish or implement a US nuclear first strike policy?
Current U.S. policy argues for maintaining thousands of nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future and nuclear weapons will continue to “play a critical role in the defense capabilities of the Unites States, its allies and friends.”
Additionally, U.S. policy promotes a more “flexible” role for nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons will no longer solely be used to deter a nuclear war but also to deal with multiple contingencies and new threats.
Making Sure There are No More Pre-emptive Wars:
Will you support dialogue and diplomatic negotiations with Iran? In the final hours of this congressional session the Senate passed the Iran Freedom Act of 2006 with no debate. This legislation imposes new unilateral sanctions on Iran, threatens to undermine the fragile international negotiations currently underway that would bring Iran into compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and further isolates the U.S. in the world community.
Investing in Peace:
Will you vote to provide more money for non-military tools—such as diplomacy, community-based development, and international institutions—to solve international problems before they lead to deadly violence? A huge portion, about 95 percent, of what the U.S. spends to engage with the rest of the world is allocated to the military budget.
A tiny amount, about five percent, is devoted to diplomacy, development, and supporting international institutions that can help to solve problems before they turn into wars. “….A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight ….” –MLK
Keeping People Safe at Home:
How do you think the U.S. government should prioritize the federal budget to keep us all safe from the aftereffects of natural disasters, from the effects of environmental degradation, from regional economic problems that cause widespread unemployment, and from the deprivations of poverty for those left out of the nation’s economy? Almost half of the federal budget pays for military responses to U.S. and global problems. Hurricane Katrina reminded all of us that not all threats to our safety are military threats. “…. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers…” MLK
Supporting Court Review of All Government Spying:
Would you vote to halt this massive domestic spying program, and to require U.S. intelligence agencies to get warrants so that we have at least some assurance that they’re focusing only on suspected terrorists or criminals? In the name of national security, the Bush administration has tapped into information on phone calls made by some 200 million U.S. residents. This invasion of privacy is unprecedented.
Outlawing Torture Now, with No Exceptions:
How did you or would you vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006? And would you continue to work for legislation to abolish torture and the opportunity for torture — without exceptions? On 9/28 and 9/29 2006 Congress approved legislation that authorizes the president to order torture and abusive, humiliating treatment; permits indefinite detention of human beings without safeguards recognized as essential by U.S. law and treaty obligations; and transfers significant congressional power to the president. This legislation is morally reprehensible.
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American Politics, Before the Next Terrorist Attack

Our future safety and political freedoms rest upon whether Americans recognize sooner, rather than later, the terrifying truth that our traditional, well-intentioned and well-funded militaristic approaches to national defense and espionage have very limited preventative effects, and cannot keep us safe from the horrors of terrorism or global thermonuclear war during a century of instant communications and easily-accessible lethal weaponry.  Furthermore, such anachronistic, adversarial strategies actually provoke increasing threats to our country and our planet. Even as we squander more and more money, energy, and time, they advance the likelihood that our worst nightmares will become realities.


The next big terrorist attack on the United States will determine the direction of our political future. As 9/11 proved, confused and terrified Americans will support any leader who offers them reassurance, whether or not their proffered “plan” for safety is well-founded, tested, logical, reliable, understandable, open to public debate, cost-effective, democratic, credible, or even, in existence.


Rubber-stamping endless homeland defense expenditures primarily insures a politically-necessary illusion of security, since our “homeland” is clearly indefensible. Sending our grandchildren off to fight in distant, unwinnable pre-emptive invasions and occupations is morally unconscionable and fiscally reckless. Bankrolling unwieldy spy bureaucracies undermines the very freedoms such actions are meant to save. Focusing media attention on the weaknesses of our perceived enemies, and rattling our sabers self-righteously in their direction only heightens dangerous tensions. Pursuing “big-winner-takes-all” trade tactics lines a few greedy pockets and hurts everyone else. None of these strategies will keep us safe, and none can solve the real problems of the 21st century.


What we can learn, before nuclear horror humbles us all beyond recognition, is that there is no exclusive way to provide safety for any single nation or group of nations, no way to guarantee peace for only U.S. citizens and their allies. There are no constructive pathways to safety that can be selfishly withheld from some, or from any, on this unpredictable, unmicromanageable globe.


Only a universally inclusive path of international cooperation and non-violence can offer any long-term safety to Americans and our fellow-earthlings. Before the next terrorist attack, we must embrace the ancient wisdom inherent in all religions, that violence engenders only more violence, that war creates new problems without solving old ones, and that hatred begets more hate. Citizens of all nations will inevitably suffer tragic injustices during this violent century. We need not, however, add to their sum.


People everywhere want to live their lives in liberty, and to pursue their individual and collective dreams uninterrupted by violence. The only path to the very peace we all want for ourselves and our friends and families, is a path we can only walk together, along with everyone else. If we want peace and safety, we must teach it, live it, and offer it to all, just as if we lived in a world of next-door-neighbors. Which we do.


The night before his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It’s nonviolence—or nonexistence.”


The world can learn peaceful ways without facing the devastation of nuclear annihilation. We can open our minds and hearts now to the practical promise of non-violence, before greater tragedies befall our world. Non-violence has come of age; it is an idea whose time has finally come.


The cancer of violence is insidiously attacking, organ by organ, the body of humanity, destroying the nature and quality of human life on our small planet. Only when we learn to apply non-violent solutions to this century’s most urgent problems—energy sufficiency, disease, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, environmental degradation, natural disasters, ignorance, addictions, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, crime, poverty, war, terrorism, and violence itself—can we restore health and safety to the embattled body of mankind and to our mother earth.


Which path to safety will we choose during our next elections? A violent, power-based one? Or the path of non-violence, Jesus’ path, Gandhi’s path, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s path, the gentle path of all those around the world who are now peacefully resisting tyrants? Do we want a path to a police state or a peace state?


In the past, we elected many representatives of the old politics of fear and aggression. During our next election, we can turn away from demagogues who rule our emotions with the fear of fear itself, turning instead to new, moral leadership which shows us peaceful pathways to greater global safety.


Nothing matters more than that our new leaders embrace the universal, timeless, and essential values of faith, hope, and love….




Only faithful leaders trust in God’s redemptive love for every one of earth’s children, and in international dialogue and peaceful cooperative efforts, disavowing the politics of exclusion, polarization, and dehumanization;


Only hopeful leaders join with like-minded light-bearers of other nations, stand with them, work with them, and lift all nations and peoples up, leaving no one behind;


Only loving leaders forgive, and let the past–and past blame–go, accepting, supporting, and respecting human life everywhere.


Led with faith, hope, and love, Americans can work with the whole global community to make the world a safer, more inclusive place for all. We can swing open, to greater cooperation and mutual support, the closed doors of secretive agencies. We can build new peace initiatives within our dedicated, patriotic Defense Department. We can develop a volunteer force of unarmed citizens to observe violent conflicts at home and abroad. We can establish a U.S. Peace Academy, equivalent in honor, distinction, and service to our proud military academies. We can found a cabinet-level Department of Peace, to influence policy, conflict resolution, and decision-making at the highest levels, as well as in our home towns and school curricula. We can apply cutting-edge peace research to the transformation of our combative diplomatic, justice, welfare, and education systems.


We don’t have to keep on contributing to an ever-more-insane world. We can decide now to work together to build a different one, where acceptance, respect, and support for human life everywhere is the new highest value, an inclusive world where Americans reach out in friendship and forgiveness to former enemies, and where all live together in safety and peace in a shared global home.


Wherever non-violent methods have been applied to political, personal, global, and local conflicts, they have proved to be successful, cost-effective approaches which defuse tensions, resolve conflicts, and heal past grievances. Non-violence, the best approach to a sound national defense program, offers us all the promise of a more effective, values-based, long-term path to a safer future.


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My Father the Terrorist

He was a man who would kill and maim innocent children and civilians if he was told to do so by his leaders … Who would boldly face certain death for his beliefs … Who believed that death and destruction solved problems … Who believed in retaliating violently, and avenging losses … Who would kill anyone he was told was a threat to his safety, home, land, family, traditions and beliefs … Who would kill and die anywhere in the world to further his people’s interests, and to spread their ways around the world ….


He was a man who thought terror a reasonable means of achieving political, social and economic goals.


He was also a U.S. Army career officer, a highly decorated war hero, attorney, horseman, poet, woodsman, musician, scratch-handicap golfer, linguist, historian, and gentle, patriotic, idealistic, loving son, husband, brother, friend … father.


My father.


With such an admirable, lovable person in my family, how could I ever come to see soldiers in any way similar to terrorists, when they seem so completely different to everyone else?


True, both soldiers and terrorists deal in violence and death. But surely a righteous cause justifies a violent means? So, are terrorists ever right? Are soldiers often wrong? Is it possible that the problem is violence itself?


What could soldiers and terrorists possibly have in common?


Both soldiers and terrorists are often idealistic (or religious) youth, drawn to the disciplined, hard, masculine life and camaraderie of like-minded patriotic friends who share their desire to contribute to a better world. Soldiers and terrorists alike hope they won’t have to kill or be killed, and certainly not maimed, tortured or imprisoned, but yearn instead to do some good, to see the world, make a living, and maybe get in on some of the action they’ve seen in the movies.


Soldiers and terrorists often join up because they haven’t found alternative work they feel as passionate about. Both soldiers and terrorists often feel angry about the way the world is, and about their own lives, too. They feel their backs are against the wall, it’s someone else’s fault, and blood must be shed to right the wrongs.


Both soldiers and terrorists are fiercely loyal to armed forces of sorts, especially to their esteemed leaders and fellow-travelers. Soldiers take pride in being part of thrilling national armies; terrorists take equal pride in being part of glorious insurgencies against tyrannies or foreign invasions. Soldiers everywhere fight for governments they look up to and trust. Terrorists fight against governments they consider oppressive, illegitimate, unfair or unrepresentative. Both soldiers and terrorists, however, believe that what they’ve learned from their culture is true; both also believe they are right.


Statesmen put their faith in negotiation, believing that even infinite diplomacy is ultimately more effective, humane, lasting, ethical—and less costly, in every sense—than recurrent, endless escalations of violence which create new problems for future generations while leaving old ones unresolved. Seasoned diplomats resign themselves to accepting that a certain amount of horrific injustice will unavoidably be inflicted upon even the just. Nevertheless, they resist threatening more violence, or using past injustices to argue for adding to the total sum of injustice.


Soldiers and terrorists, on the other hand, trust that somehow their violent acts will alleviate conflicts, solve problems, and create lasting peace. Soldiers and terrorists alike count on charismatic political leaders who often possess dubious legitimacy and logic, unreliable integrity, small abilities and selfish hidden agendas. Soldiers and terrorists nevertheless count on such fallible leaders to negotiate for them, and to tell them when their approaches to political change (peaceful protest, diplomacy, cooperative organizing, and other tedious and deliberate efforts within “the system”) seem not to be “working.” Both soldiers and terrorists believe their decisions to use violence are moral, since they’re following orders from a higher, more knowledgeable authority.


Many youthful idealists sign up for soldiering and terrorizing because they find action more comfortable than talk. Compared with diplomats and statesmen who’ve spent lifetimes acquiring subtle understandings of regional issues, history, culture, conflicts old and new, trade, treaties, protocol, language, negotiation and communication, soldiers and terrorists (and politicians) often have short fuses, and limited, black-or-white/right-or-wrong views on political realities and options.


One reason so many young men (and women) are enlisted to die in terrorist violence and war is that those with more life experience are less likely to jump in to violence as wholeheartedly and innocently as the more easily-persuaded young.


Soldiers and terrorists alike, in a sad, special sense, are defeatists; they’ve chosen their careers because they are philosophically prepared to turn to violence at a moment’s notice, whenever politics-as-usual is declared to be insufficient to insure their group’s safety or to protect or promote their interests. Although both soldiers and terrorists are often religious, they both reject, as unrealistic, too-difficult and “vague,” the universal teachings of religious faiths everywhere: treat others as you would wish to be treated, love thy neighbor as thyself, be meek and mild, thou shalt not kill, blessed are the peacemakers, be as gentle as doves, forgive seventy times seven, turn the other cheek, do unto others as you would have them do to you….


When urgently exhorted to war or to terrorist action by demagogues and impatient, opportunistic leaders, inexperienced soldiers and terrorists often turn too quickly toward alpha-male, testosterone-based, kill-or-be-killed, survival-of-the-fittest solutions. They and their less-experienced leaders find protracted negotiating an effeminate sign of weakness, a waste of time, preferring instead to rely upon immediate, power-based solutions such as lethal weaponry and overwhelming force.


When soldiers and terrorists see trouble coming, they are trained to shoot, not talk, to prevail and overpower, to shock and awe, never give a inch, and never show weakness. They look for advantage, not fairness; dominance, not equality. They see enemies, not future allies, and react to fear by inducing more fear in their foes.


Of course, both soldiers and terrorists alike invariably fervently believe that they are the good guys, “our” guys in the white hats—valiant saviours, protectors—while the evil ones opposing them are the bad guys in the black hats, the “enemy”—blood-thirsty, soulless, unfeeling, vicious, ignorant, faithless, cowardly, stupid, inhuman.


Sadly, both soldiers and terrorists believe in and contribute to the widely-accepted cultural notion that their violent roles are necessary and useful ones that will make an overall positive difference, at least for their side. Both soldiers and terrorists justify the chaos they leave behind them—the blighted lives, shattered dreams and pointless, gruesome deaths of civilians and combatants on both sides, the wanton killing of innocents from accidents, starvation, disease, economic disruption, and conventional and nuclear bombs—by blaming the stupidity, intransigence, and cruelty of their enemies, or by chalking up their own abhorrent results to “necessary collateral damage”—morally virtuous, because essential to a worthy cause.


Both soldiers and terrorists believe that violence saved “us” in the past and will save “us” again in the future—forgetting that only living victors get to write the history books, and that alternative non-violent solutions have never been given anything like a fair trial, have never received anything like equivalent consideration and financial and leadership support.


Both soldiers and terrorists choose any time, place or method necessary to defeat their enemies and win their wars, maximizing strategic, economic and political advantages, and minimizing losses. Both soldiers and terrorists believe that any means, however cruel and unfair, are justified by their own often changing noble ends and causes.


Older, battle-weary soldiers and terrorists gradually lose their faith in violent solutions, bitterly shutting down their sad memories. A few hold onto their past convictions even more strongly, angrily defending them. Many keep right on walking the lonely paths they’ve carved out. A gutsy few manage the difficult shift to exploring new kinds of civilian or military contributions.


Ninety percent of the victims of both terrorism and war are civilians….


It is difficult indeed to change the way one has traditionally seen soldiers and terrorists, to reverse millennia of cultural conditioning, to come around instead to recognizing that both soldiers and terrorists began as well-meaning, misguided victims themselves, brainwashed into analogous goals, methods and results which both later find repugnant, impossible to live with and to explain.


Every mother’s son, every child’s father, every lover’s darling, every beloved brother and friend, whether soldier or terrorist, was born to be a giving, kind, tender and beautiful good soul, the person we love and know them to be.


The only difference between our soldiers and their terrorists (and soldiers) is that the ones we love use violence for our side, to defend and further our interests, while the ones we hate use violence to fight for their side. Without a doubt, both ours and theirs, soldiers and terrorists alike, resort to unspeakably appalling violent solutions to achieve political, social and economic goals.


My gentle father would, I think, have been proud to honor the selfless sacrifices of all our courageous and well-intentioned dead and maimed, past and present … all our brave revolutionary sons and daughters … all our uprising slaves and civil war champions on both sides … in fact, all courageous soldiers and veterans and impassioned idealists everywhere, from every time and place … and all their victims, with this request:


May we reconsider whether we wish to repeat the violent mistakes of the past. May we recognize that there are as many ways to live in this world as there are people who live in it. May we accept that people everywhere want the same thing—to live out their lives in peace. May we all work non-violently to understand and serve the priorities of others everywhere who are different from us. May we learn the thousand and one non-violent ways to resolve conflicts….


Life on earth is at stake.


I think my father would have been proud to see today’s soldiers and terrorists put down their weapons and become non-violent warriors fighting this century’s magnificent battles by protecting people everywhere from the ravages of disease, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, environmental degradation, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, crime, poverty, war, terrorism, and yes, violence itself. I think my father would have saluted their expanded allegiance and heartfelt pledge, to protect, respect, and support, with their lives, and not only their deaths, human life everywhere.


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