Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Burke short of facts

In Mike Burke's letter in last week's Idaho Mountain Express, he was simply wrong on all of his statements. He seems to let his dislike for Democrats and liberals overrule his grasp of the facts. Ignoring his little digs at Dems and libs, let's examine the facts. First his statement that Dems are really good with the pardons.

From the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney, facts are as follows: If one counts only pardons during the modern era, President Eisenhower issued 1,110 Pardons, Kennedy 472, Johnson 960, Nixon 863, Carter 534, Reagan 393, Bush I 74, and Clinton 396. If one wanted to include amnesties, communications and remissions as well, Mr. Burke would not want to go there.

The site also lists the most egregious pardons in our history. Other than a general pardon for the participants in the Whiskey Rebellion and a pardon for nearly all who lived in the Confederate States and those refusing to serve in the proven unnecessary Vietnam war, the other important ones are as follows: Reagan pardoned George Steinbrenner, who was indicted on 14 criminal counts for violation of campaign contributions made to Richard Nixon. Nixon pardoned Jimmy Hoffa on the condition he would not enter union business again. Bill Clinton's mistake was pardoning Marc Rich.

George H.W. Bush pardoned Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and six other defendants in what was known as the Iran-Contra affair. In doing so, Bush essentially halted the legal proceedings against Weinberger and his fellow defendants, including Bush himself, who could have been called to testify as former members of the Reagan administration. The Independent Council investigating the affair after hearing of the pardons stated, "The Iran-Contra cover-up ... has now been completed."

And the mother of all pardons was President Ford's pardoning former President Nixon. Most legal scholars agree that the most egregious and dangerous pardons are those that involve the president himself or members of his administration and friends. Using that criterion, the most egregious pardons are those of Bush I, Ford and can anyone quickly say Scooter Libby?

Regarding Mr. Burke's statement that "every poll taken of military deployed to those places shows overwhelming support of our presence there." As an old army man myself during the Vietnam era, I know that those enlisting in any branch of the armed services take an oath to obey orders, without question, of their commanders. They are required (ordered) not to divulge information and their opinions, only to follow orders, no matter how good or bad. If one watches any number of news reports, whether liberal, conservative or neutral, we see more and more of those involved speaking out against Bush's war.

There are many groups of Middle East veterans speaking out daily against the war in all parts of the media. Also many are simply not reporting for duty and just last week one filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense after receiving his fifth call for duty. He had bravely served four already and during each of those his and his family's lives had been totally disrupted.

Mr. Burke further states that "all the services are meeting their enlistment and re-enlistment goals." That simply is not true. The armed services have drastically dropped their requirements to try to keep up. Those dropped are education requirements, age requirements, past criminal requirements, etc. They are spending millions on advertisements and have enlarged their numbers of recruiters. Still they cannot keep up. Experts agree that our military is broken because of this war. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been disrupted or devastated because of this war to say nothing of the grief of families and friends at the loss or injuries of their brave loved ones. Also, many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocent Iraqis have been killed or maimed needlessly. They are people too, just like us. They feel love, fear, hatred, pain, sorrow, cold and heat just as we do.

I have no idea of Mr. Murphy's position's or writings but do know that the statements by Mr. Burke are simply wrong. I have no problem with people being biased. I am pretty biased myself, but I do believe that one cannot let his biases overcome the facts. To do so simply diminishes one's self respect, and shows one's lack of fairness, their grasp of the facts and creates nothing but embarrassment for themselves and their positions.

Don Leon

Sun Valley

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