- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph, June 27, 2014

If President Barack Obama isn’t going to live up to the hope and promise of his Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps he would be willing to loan it out to someone who might put it to better use.

There were some who believed that Obama’s receipt of that award in 2009 - just five months into his presidency - was premature and undeserved, based more on his perceived potential than actual accomplishment.

The prize was awarded to him, the committee said, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

It’s still not clear if he’s really earned it.

And the president has fallen well short on at least one topic critical to the well-being of many who live in some of the world’s poorest, most war-ridden places: The issue of land mines.

As the Boston Sunday Globe pointed out in an article last weekend, the man who, as a U.S. senator, once purported to champion their removal and destruction has failed to live up to that as president.

Most conspicuously, Obama has not pushed for adoption of the Ottawa Treaty that calls for signatory nations to abandon the use, production and stockpiling of land mines.

The treaty, which has been signed by 161 other government, was an outgrowth of the International Campaign to Ban Land mines, which itself earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

Nobody knows for sure just how many land mines remain in the 60 countries where they were used for decades in various wars and then left behind, but the countries that have not signed the treaty are estimated to have about 160 million mines in reserve. What is clear is that most of the victims of the abandoned mines are unsuspecting children who are killed or maimed when they happen upon the devices.

The biggest obstacle to passage of the treaty in this country is, not surprisingly, the military - though not for the reason you might think. The U.S. hasn’t used land mines since 1991, but as the Globe story reported: “The thinking goes that commanders fear that giving up land mines could encourage similar efforts by human rights groups to seek to ban other types of controversial weapons, such as drones.”

In other words, the dogs of war fear that allowing the human rights doves to claim victory on the land mine front might spawn an outbreak of such movements in other areas that would target other favored weapons in the military stockpile.

Taking that logic to its extreme, we might still be fighting in Vietnam or Iraq (sorry - bad example) because the Pentagon wouldn’t want to hand anti-war demonstrators a victory, for fear that doing so might stoke the embers of peace.

It’s also a logic that falls well short of trumping the fundamental right of a child to not be blown up while walking through the countryside of their village.

As the Globe story pointed out, our nation has fulfilled many of the tenets of the Ottawa Treaty, but that’s not the same thing as ratifying it.

By failing to do so, we stand with China, Russia and Pakistan, among other nations, when we should be standing with - and for - the children who have lost lives and limbs to land mines.

The latter is a stand we might expect of a Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

The Caledonian Record of St. Johnsbury (Vt.), June 27, 2014

On Wednesday the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must secure a warrant before searching someone’s cellphone. The ruling resolved a pair of cases in which authorities used evidence obtained from cellphones to charge and convict defendants.

It was a big win for anyone believing in civil liberties and the Constitutional protections that guarantee them.

No big surprise. The Obama administration defended warrantless searches. Solicitor General Don Verrilli, Jr. argued that cellphones are no different than other items police find (and can use as evidence) on a person during an arrest.

But not a single justice bought it. Writing for the 9-0 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that modern day phones contain more information about a person than authorities could find rummaging through their home. That practice is unambiguously forbidden by the Fourth Amendment.

The decision pays appropriate deference to the role of technology in everyone’s lives today. “This is a remarkably strong affirmation of privacy rights in a digital age,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The court found that digital data is different and that has constitutional significance, particularly in the realm of (the) Fourth Amendment.”

It’s a good start. And one we hope will amplify protests against the National Security Agency’s practice of searching everyone’s phones, records and correspondences, at all times without warrant or cause.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide