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I’m a Soldier, Not a Spy

by Pamela Leavey

An OP/ED in the WaPo takes a look at the implications of the domestic warrantless eavesdropping that many may not have thought about. Grant Doty is a lieutenant colonel in the Army who ‘took an oath to defend the United States against all enemies “foreign and domestic”.’ His feeling is “the implication of domestic intelligence-gathering by the military, even by a limited number of soldiers, should be sufficiently disturbing for American citizens in and out of uniform that we think long and hard about crossing the line, even a little.”

The Justice Deptartment announced today that they will be investigating the “leak” of NSA wiretapping story but what is really needed is an investigation as to why Bush secretly authorized the program in the first place. While more conservative hawks (and chicken hawks) will decry Grant Doty for speaking out and also admittantly being a liberal, what he shares in his OP/ED should be food for thought for everyone, liberal or conservative…

Although the government may be interested in my ACLU membership, my wife’s participation in war protests or my affiliation with the liberal United Church of Christ, my real anxiety stems from the fact that I am a soldier and may now be under suspicion from my friends and neighbors.

Specifically, given the information slowly leaking out of Washington, it may not be farfetched for some to think that when I “stumble across people or information” that might be of interest to the government, I might report it to the Pentagon’s three-year-old Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA).

While such a conclusion would be false (I hadn’t heard of CIFA before reading about it in the news this month), in an Orwellian world, the protestations of someone labeled the “eyes and ears” of the state are reasonably suspect.

What makes me think that the people with whom I interact regularly will somehow believe I won’t report suspect words and actions? When I walk to my bus stop in Bethesda each morning, I see who has a “War Is Not the Answer” yard sign. One of the people I regularly see on my commute wears a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals button on her overcoat. My church, which prayed for me during my year in Iraq, has an e-mail list that informs me about local civic actions, including war protests. I attend night law school, frequently in uniform, and through the social network of law students know when the gay, lesbian and bisexual organization is planning to lead the picketing of Judge Advocate General Corps recruiters who come to campus.

Now that we’ve learned that the military may be collecting such “raw, unverified information” in the form of “Talon reports,” my fear is that when friends and neighbors see me, in or out of uniform, their speech could be chilled. I wonder: Will I begin to see a change in behavior? Will my neighbors draw their shades more often? Will they think twice about putting a bumper sticker on their car? Will I be deleted from the church list? Will my law school class discussions be more reserved?

“Paranoia,” some may say. The only people who need to worry are those with something to hide. This may be true. In fact, being with the president or against him in the war on terrorism may be the current controversy, but I can envision a time when antiabortion groups and churches might fear soldiers attending meetings or services if such groups are labeled “threats” by a subsequent administration. Are they sincere pro-lifers or moles? Perhaps gun owners’ groups might feel that soldiers are joining to get access to membership lists or activities if such groups are deemed “dangerous.” Is one a Second Amendment defender or domestic spy?

Kudos to Grant Doty for speaking out. We need more like him who are not afraid to speak the truth to power.

6 Responses to “I’m a Soldier, Not a Spy”

  1. Hello, Folks–

    First, I want to say that I appreciate your dedication to the cause of the Democratic Party. We all need to remain true!

    I think we should celebrate the trends and smaller victories which are piling up in our direction as time goes on. The Repugnicans cannot continue!

    I do have a couple of thoughts which I wanted to share with you–since we are now nearly in 2006 and, unfortunately, have had to live with the “results” of the 2004 “selection”, I am wondering whether we shouldn’t, with all due respect to John Kerry and the excellent human being and patriot that he is, look ahead to a broader field of candidates for our future. I feel that, as a party, we should think about winning for our views and standpoints, rather than through one individual.

    Also, what are your thoughts about what we as a party should do to continue to strengthen and empower ourselves so that we can take back America and make it right again for everyone? I will look forward to your comments.

    Happy New Year!

    Jane Collins
    Seattle, WA

  2. Jane,

    I am always happy to promote the views of other Democrats, however there is also a need to balance the biases seen elsewhere in the blogosphere, and to correct the misinformation being spread in liberal (as well as conservsative) blogs about Kerry.

    While most of the Democratics being discussed as possible 2008 contenders have talking about moving to the center, it is John Kerry who has been sticking to principles and been discussing the need not to compromise on basic beliefs.

    Many of the same reasons which caused me to support Kerry in 2004 still apply. I find his views preferable to moderates like Warner, Edwards, and the “new-Hillary.”

    The blogosphere seems to prefer Dean and Clark. While I support much of what Dean has been saying and hope for great success for him as DNC Chair, his positions on Medicare make him unacceptable to me as a President. Clark has a great biography, and I love hearing a general speak about the basic values of a liberal democracy, but in 2004 he was clearly not ready for prime time on domestic issues.

    Filnally, Kerry has shown more understanding than most Democratic leaders as to forming a European-style opposition to try to prevent a further move to the right and ultimately retake control. As portions of the liberal blogosphere are dedicated to undermining Kerry when he takes such a leadership position, we feel the need to counter this and show support for such efforts.

  3. Jane

    Writing about Kerry isn’t the primary focus of The Democratic Daily, though we do tend to post more Kerry news than most liberal blogs. Personally, as a former constituent of Kerry’s and a former resident of MA for 33 years I admire Senator Kerry a great deal and I welcome the opportunity to continue blogging about Kerry. He’s newsworthy, he does a lot for the Democratic Party and our country.

    We do post a varied selection of news here on The Democratic Daily and as the 06 races heat up we will focus more on various races around the country.

    I think that liberals on a whole need to learn to work together with out the sniping that is prevelent in the liberal blogosphere and on the ground as well. We have many great Democratic leaders in our country who deserve our support – Kerry is one of them.

    In working together more closely we can only empower ourselves and our leaders, tearing them down and tearing ourselves down is not at all empowering. We can disagree, but at some point we all need to realize there are no perfect politicians as there are no perfect individuals. Empowerment comes from standing shoulder to shoulder, covering each other’s back, even when we don’t always agree.

    I think 2006 will be an interesting year and I welcome the upcoming races in the Senate and the House. We have an opportunity to regain power for the Democratic Party.

  4. Dear Ron and Pam:

    I am not sure quite where to reply except here, so I hope it is OK!

    I appreciate your thoughtful replies to my comments. I have come up with a few more questions for you!

    First of all, can you confirm something for me? Since I am new to your site, I want to understand more of your mission and objective in The Democratic Daily.

    From what I have read so far, I think you are saying that you think that Kerry is the top Democratic contender for the 2008 election. Heaven knows, if I could wave my magic wand and put sense into the other 49% of the American public, he already would be President now! This seems to be the best reason why you want to clean up the misperceptions out there about Kerry.

    Otherwise, it would seem to be that you are spending a lot of time if you didn’t believe he had that in his future. From what I have read (and I am still on his e-mail list from the campaign), he is continuing to work hard for the future, with perhaps a Presidential rerun in mind.

    But, I wonder, what should we do if he does not get nominated? What do you think is the thinking among Democrats in power at this point about Kerry? Can they think he is viable for 2008?

    If he does not get nominated, then we will be up a creek without a you-know-what unless we also prepare with alternate candidates. God knows, we cannot endure another four or eight years of the Repugnicans! We already are being ruined by the dunce in the White House! I also wonder whether Clark or Edwards are also truly viable. I am not sure that Clark thinks he is although I really liked him. Edwards might, but he is not in Congress right now. Dean seems to be content being the head of the DNC, which is where I think he belongs.

    This is my biggest fear and concern—that the Democrats start getting ready now. I know that this is extremely important on all the levels. I have heard, for example, that Ted Strickland, a well-thought-of Congressman from Ohio, is leaving his post to try and become the next governor of Ohio. And you know what kind of difference that may make, in bringing Ohio to the blue side of the column! (At least some honesty in the election process!) And that election is in 2006.

    And, what about candidates that we may never have considered or known of before: remember that happened in 2004 (Dean, Clark, Edwards, et al)! It may happen again.

    So, while I think you are doing an amazing job covering the Kerry and current issues bases, I also would like to know what you think we can do to be prepared for all possibilities, now and for 2008.

    I look forward to your comments.

    Thank you for your time—

    Jane Collins
    Seattle, WA

  5. Jane

    Personally looking at the field of possible contenders for 08 I don’t see any other choice as viable as Kerry.

    Our primary objective here is to keep people informed (break through the noise machine)and support our Dem leaders in office. I/we tend to post a lot of Kerry news for a mulitude of reasons.

    I was a writer for the Kerry campaign blog from Aug ’03 through the election. There are a lot of people on the internet who are hungry for Kerry news. With out an actual Kerry blog, The Democratic Daily has taken on the task of keeping those people informed. Because I have maintained a good rapport with members of his staff, I get advance copies of his speeches, etc and our readership is largely composed of longtime Kerry supporters and some new Kerry supporters.

    If Kerry runs in 08 I will support him, no doubt many of regulars here will as well. Until he annouces that he will, it’s my feeling (and the feeling of Ron and others here) that news about Kerry is viable and liberals and progressives are interested in what he’s doing.

    We fill a niche here at the Dem Daily, providing Kerry news, that other liberal/progressive bloggers tend to ignore.

    I believe that Kerry has a much larger support base than most bloggers give him credit for. His email list has grown in the past year from 3 million to (I believe) 5 million. If he is to run again, there needs to be a network of support here on the blogosphere and that is what we help to provide.

    The republicans would prefer that Kerry not run again and thus the noise machine consistently pushes the meme of “other” Democratic contenders being the “top contenders”. This was their objective early in the 04 race and it will remain their objective. Kerry is their worst nightmare.

    As for support for Kerry from Democrats in power now, I feel he has it. he’s out there campaigning for leading Democrats in the 06 races, he campaigned for Dems in the 05 elections. He’s admired and respected by his peers in office.

    We’re still a long way for 08 and the 06 elections take precedence at this point. Kerry will not announce that he will run (if he does) until after the 06 elections. If he chooses not to run, at that time I will make a choice as to who I will support, until that time I personally am firmly committed to supporting him if he does run.

    We do need to gear up for 08 now, but we also need to focus on 06 first. There will no doubt be many great candidates in 08, and whoever the nominee ends up being, we will need to work together to successfully win the election. Democrats need to learn to stay on message and be supportive of their leaders. In my opinion that means building them up, not tearing them down – which tends to be the modus of many liberal blogs. We focus on the positive here not the negative.

    I hope this has helped to answer your questions. Many of us are long time Kerry supporters here who were actively involved in the Kerry blog, during the campaign. We’re all happy to continue supporting his work in the Senate and for other candidates in the 06 races and hope beyond hope that he will run again.

  6. Jane,

    Presenting news on Kerry is valuable regardless of a 2008 run as he is a leading force to fight the Republicans. This is especially important due to other portions of the liberal blogosphere not only ignoring Kerry news but often attacking him for rather bogus reasons.

    It is the potential contenders who must come forward. At teh Dmeocratic Daily we have no say on who will be seen as a viable candidate. We will continue to evaluate potential candidates as they arise, but so far I see no candidates who can compete with Kerry on the issues.