Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 11, 2011

The jury is still out on Veterans Day

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on November 11, 2011

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Edmund Burke gets credit for those words, but there’s no proof he’s the author.  Nonetheless, I think he would have agreed with the sentiment.

Burke supported the American revolutionaries.

“Reflect,” he wrote in 1774, “how you are to govern a people who think they ought to be free and think they are not.”

He could have been writing about governance in these days of Occupiers and Tea Partiers.

Burke helped create modern conservatism. He was also a classical liberal.  He lived in the days when conservative and liberal meant something more than a mindless curse or a cloak of ignorance.


I first saw the “good men do nothing” quote taped on the wall of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent I worked with.  He lived those words.

I thought about the quote watching the turmoil unwrap at Penn State this week.

Penn State is my undergraduate alma mater. Students rioted the other night apparently because the university trustees and the media forced a football coach to resign because he did not do more to report a man accused of raping a boy.

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

The quote echoed again watching University of California police break up an Occupy protest that apparently involved students violating rules about putting tents on the Berkeley campus.

Berkeley is my graduate alma mater.  Was it the police or the demonstrators responding to the imperative that good men — and women — must do something in the face of evil?

Alma mater means “nourishing mother.”  What a deceptive marketing shroud for a 21st century corporate education enterprise.


I thought about the quote on my way to jury duty earlier this week.  I was trying to remember which amendment guarantees the right to trial by jury.  I thought it was the 5th.

Wrong.  It’s the 6th amendment.

Since I had the Constitution open I kept reading and realized — to my untutored surprise — five of the first ten amendments have to do with the judicial and trial process: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th.

The Declaration of Independence is included with the copy of the Constitution I have.  Although I have read it often, I guess I glossed over one of the colonists’ complaints: The King of Great Britain has deprived “us, in many cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury.”

Trial by jury is a big deal in the security of our homeland.


I took my place in a room along with 129 other people who had been called to serve that day on a jury.  Most of the people seemed nervous, out of place.  It’s not normal for us to be on a jury.  Most of the people were white, male and somewhat past their mid-40s. The women too were mostly white; a few were young enough to need an excuse slip to give their teachers as a justification for missing class.  I saw one Asian woman.

The conversations I heard were a variation of “too bad for us we couldn’t get out of jury duty.”  As if receiving the jury notice was like getting a tax audit, or a draft notice, or a DUI.

“They took a look at me last time,” said one guy with two 00 ear gauges, each as big as a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, “and let me go.”

“I was called 6 months ago,” said another man. “I think they can only make you do this once every two years.”

“Do you think we’re going to be here all day?” a woman asked to no one in particular.

“Yeah, I’m stuck with jury duty,” said another guy into his cell phone, a little louder than he should have.


At 9:30 the jury coordinator — I think that’s what her title was — stood in front of a microphone and with her pleasant, easygoing voice welcomed everyone to the jury staging room.

She said the words “jury service is important.”  But her side comments, her ad hoc remarks, were all about “I know it’s inconvenient,” and “sorry it was your turn,” and “hey; it’s not going to be too painful,” and “it’ll be over soon.”

She explained there were two trials today.  Each trial needed a 6-person jury, and to get that number in a fair way they needed a 60-person pool. The rest of the people would be able to go home and that would be the end of their obligation for the next two years.

“I already let one man go today,” she said, as if jury service was about catch and release.  “He was on a jury a few months ago and he does not need to serve again for 18 more months.”

Her tone — not her words – said the man had won a prize, and you might too.

“I’ll be playing you a short video,” she went on, “that describes what you can expect today.”

She changed the channels on the two TVs that had been showing Regis Philbin’s apparently final week on television, and pressed play on what I think was a VCR.

For the next 15 minutes, I watched one of the best orientation videos I’d seen about anything government does.  You can watch the video here and judge for yourself.

I found the video to be informative, serious, and significant.  It did an outstanding job describing what would happen that day, and why jury service was an important part of being an American — maybe even more important than voting.

My words, not the video’s, but the video portrayed jury service as the Constitutional mechanism good men and women use to help make sure evil does not triumph.  I thought of it as the We The People part of homeland security.

Then we had a 20-minute break while we waited to get called.


“I had to work really hard not to bust up laughing at that video,” said my new friend with the 00 earrings.

“If I don’t say anything to him,” I thought, “am I helping evil triumph, or would I just be wasting my breath?”

I didn’t know the guy, but my gut told me he did not really believe what he was saying.  I figured he was trying to fit in with this crowd of still mostly nervous strangers by saying what he thought was expected, like being in Boston and pretending to be a Red Sox fan.

I kept my mouth shut.

When we came back from the break, the jury coordinator said, “I’ve heard from the judges.  A few minutes ago, the people in one of the two cases decided to settle out of court, so we are only going to need 30 people. We’ll pick the 30 of you at random. I will call your juror number in a moment.  If you are not called, then bye bye.  You’re done for the day.  And you’re done for the next two years.”

The odds of being on a jury had just plunged.  I wondered how many people thought, “Damn!”

“When I call your number,” said the coordinator, “come up here and take your paper work.  Then sit down until we release the others.”

She called thirty numbers.  Mostly men — including the ear ring guy — and a few women.  They walked to the front of the room, picked up their papers, and sat back down.  They did not look happy or disappointed.  Resigned may be a better word.  I couldn’t really tell.  I was trying to summon all the mystical power I possessed to have my number called, all the while knowing that using mystical powers for something this worldly automatically neutralizes — if not reverses — magic.

I was right.  And disappointed.  My number was not called.

“And to the rest of you, bye bye” said the coordinator again.  “And,” she ad libbed with a smile in her voice, “please don’t gloat over the others as you leave.”


On this date 93 years ago, World War I came to an end.  116,516 members of the U.S. armed forces died in that war.

405,399 died during World War II.

36,516 died in the Korean War.

58,151 died in the Vietnam War.

6,280 – and counting – died in the Terrorism Wars.

622,862 members of the military died in the 35,000 days between World War I and today.

That’s an average of 18 people a day, every day, for 93 years.


History is too messy to make many unambiguous claims. But I want to think these good men and these good women gave their lives to prevent the triumph of evil.

For this Veterans Day — as the good men and women in the Tea Party and the Occupy, and the mainstream, and its tributaries, and the police, and the candidates for office, and the people they want to replace, and the people called to service on a jury and elsewhere work, with mindfulness, to prevent the triumph of evil — it is what I wish to hope.





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Comment by William R. Cumming

November 11, 2011 @ 7:23 am

First to FREEDOM! Reading Professor Eric Foner’s wonderful book “A Story of American Freedom” tracing the concept of freedom and analysis of its use in American history. Published in 1998 by Norton. Definitely worth a read. And Monday’s Federal Register has the President proclaiming a National Day of Freedom. Wonder how he defines it.

As to JURY duty yes a Constitutional guarantee and lawyers and judges seem to swear by it even when Juries reject what seems their rightful decision. But Juries serve a justice system not a truth system.

Disclosure: I never served on a Petit Jury finding guilt or innocence but did serve on 13 local grand juries finding probably cause. Actually relished see what the Justice sysem served up. At least 75% of the cases involved drug issues. Gave me insights as to how drugs have helped destroy the American family and life in general.

I have advocated before the creation and after that DEA be made part of DHS and now essentially the role of drugs and terror pretty well linked as funding mechanisms. And of course Afghanistan poppy crop largely fully restored with the US helping that restoration. While I worry about the Taliban one thing they did accomplish in Afghanistan during their previous rule was destroying the drug trade and poppy growing. One of the reasons that the WARLORDS were very happy to see the US knock them out of power. And sure enough drug testing in the military has again largely collapsed with heavy drug usage reported. Perhaps the story of the Viet Nam War and its implications on drug use in the US should be studied more closely.

And over 60% of Federal judges are recorded in favor of legalizing MJ! Treatment and rehab not criminal convictions for those dependent and not traffickers would seem to be the way to go.

The real drug dangers to me are the prescribing of psychotropic drugs by untrained GPs to over 40% of the population. Why do we allow this misuse?

Comment by Dan O'Connor

November 11, 2011 @ 11:30 am

Duty (from “due” meaning “that which is owing”; Old French: deu, did, past participle of devoir; Latin: debere, debitum, whence “debt”) is a term that conveys a sense of moral commitment to someone or something. The moral commitment is the sort that results in action.
Selfless Service is a commonly used term to denote a service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for the person performing it.
Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

Veterans Day

We all have opinions and points of view and I like the rest of you try to “listen” and weigh each one I come across as objectively as I believe I can…a bit of an oxymoron though; objective listening.

And I am biased because I am a fan of Chris and his points of view…call me what you will.

We all have filters, points of view, dispositions, bias’ heuristics, etc. So here are a couple of mine;
I think most people who carry on for veterans and thanking people for their service either don’t get it, never served, or are simply feeling guilty. Tough words I know.

Why? Because every year the amount of veterans shrinks in relation to overall population. Each conflict this Nation has been in since WWII has targeted a smaller segment of the population. When war touches everybody, everybody grasps the consequences. The inverse is to me true as well. The rules for draftees were different in Viet Nam than WW2.

There are no draftees now, but screened volunteers. Less and less people today serve their military. Fewer and fewer still fight. Volunteers plucked from arduously studied demography’s within the United States. Volunteers who overwhelmingly over-represent a political and religious point of view. No axe to grind here, just pointing it out.

Now, with an all-volunteer force, it is easier to commit these kids to fight because they “volunteered”. Draftees keep the Generals honest or words to that effect…thanks to Prof Mike Kowalski, circa 1982. I don’t know if that’s true, but it should be given some credence. I am sure some will see this as mere rhetoric or perhaps not well researched or cited.

Chuck Spinney, a Defense Analyst, John Boyd acolyte, and reform advocate said it best”; We got out of Vietnam effectively when the lottery started and middle class kids were getting killed. First thing that happened was that they went to this all volunteer army. And that solved that draft inequality problem, because everybody is a volunteer. And that makes the military much easier to use because: you are f***ing volunteers, screw you, you signed up for this. You know, the objections [against going to war] don’t carry as much water.
Now contrast this with Madeline Albright former Secretary of State in a conversation with then JCS Chairman General Colin Powell; “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?”
Finally, Major General Smedley Butler USMC and two time winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor; War is a Racket.

I draw these contrasts on purpose because they are the fillers in the gray area we find ourselves in. Did this Nation go to war September, 12, 2001? I say no. And what is the purpose of all these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines anyway? Do we send troops to stop genocide in Africa? Do we send them to feed those suffering from famine? Do we deploy them around the world to prevent skirmishes or dampen hostilities? Do they secure areas in earthquake and Tsunami struck geographies? Do we invade Iran? Do we occupy Syria? What is the purpose of the Department of Defense…These to me are really tough questions because are we convinced through rhetoric, historical dogma, and propaganda that we are good men (and women) and if we don’t do anything evil will triumph? Or is it just another business decision? And how does this grey area filler coincide with homeland security and the Occupy and tea party movements? Is the same metric used? They are all interwoven to me.

I suppose it comes down to how they and we all see service…is it a call to duty to protest what our elected officials are doing? With Congress’ approval rating dropping to its lowest level ever, bottoming out at a dismal 9 percent, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll…9% Do you believe they serve honorably and selflessly and as a call to duty? Many of them believe they do. Whose interests are they serving? What is accountability? So where is the issue? I am not bashing here per se but again drawing the contrast. Maybe I am bashing. Who do they serve?
Ask the family who just lost their Army Ranger son who was on his 14th deployment to a combat zone has been killed in Afghanistan. 14 times… 14 times in harm’s way.


Do you think Veterans Day sales, free and unlimited putt-putt/bowling package and politicians care about that?


Civic duty; voting, jury duty, taxes, service. Do your duty. This Army Ranger and many others were doing their duty… but they’re volunteers…

How a nation treats its veterans says a great deal about the kind of nation it is. How a Nation treats its weakest members also says what kind of a Nation it is. Hold that thought.

Recently Marine General Rich Mills who was the senior Marine commander in Helmand, Afghanistan recently spoke about the 3rdBn/5th Marines. He said that this Marine Battalion went through was as brutal as anything in the history of the Marine Corps. “It stands alone in the Afghanistan situation as probably being one of the tougher missions ever handed to an infantry battalion,” Mills says. “It’s very rare. I certainly would compare it to some of the amphibious assaults during World War II, places like Guadalcanal,” he adds.

Brutal as anything in the history of the Marine Corps…comparison to amphibious assaults in WW2…(Tarawa, Okinawa, Pelileu, Iwo Jima to name a few)what the hell are we reporting on? Where is the news, the understanding, the comprehension of what we are asking these kids to do? The military mission we put our “volunteers” through all but guarantees them to be in stark contrast with the 90%+ of the population who do not and have not served.

You want to stop evil…follow these kids selfless examples. Model your behavior after their call to duty, their zeal, fidelity, and obedience. Make yourself learn what their nation asks of them, no matter how arbitrary and fully grasp that they serve one another first, not themselves.

These are a few good men…and women…and Black and White…and Asian and Latino…They believe they are protecting the rights of the oppressed, the hungry, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Don’t pander to them-understand what their nation has asked them to do.

No one is asking those who choose another path to change their vocation and avocation. No one is asking everyone to align for the first to fight recruiting slogans. Be aware and understand what we’ve asked these people to do on our behalf. Embrace the words on behalf of a Grateful Nation. Understand it is easy to criticize those who exercise their constitutional rights afforded to them by “volunteers”.

It is not the President, the Congress, the Senate or any other elected official who changes the world. It’s the man in the arena, whose face is mired in dust and sweat… These young men and women do amazing, amazing, amazing things for this Nation. We ask a lot of them and they universally deliver…underpromise, overdeliver!

And don’t you dare whine about them getting paid too much, having too good a health care plan, and them not reflecting society…you’re right, they don’t and thank goodness for that. To all who have ever put themselves in harm’s way; Thank you.

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 13, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

Disclosure still absorbing Dan’s excellent comment. But although I did not watch it apparently the Republican candidates for President with the exception of Ron Paul did something quite unusual. In an amazing stance of proliferation issues and problems they announced that they if elected would be waging war against Iran to prevent that nation-state from becoming the possessor of nuclear weapons. No consultation or collaboration or Congressional mention just that they would be sending the nation to war. So there you have it. They also apparently were willing to adopt as their operating principal that if President Obama was reelected Iran would have nuclear weapons.

Does one of these candidates understand fully the “reveal” of their ambitions for an imperial Presidency and is that what they think their election would be about? Perhaps in addition to the Constitutional age criteria a new amendment concerning “gravitas” might be needed before more self appointed fools are made Command-In-Chief and Chief Executive.

Also a think tank report reveals that over 1 milliono of the current civil servants directly or indirectly support the military. Perhaps a new title for those doing so is necessary. A civil servant supporting the miitary category. CSSM? A new acronym for

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