- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

August 14

The Tampa (Florida) Tribune on keeping Iraq out of ruthless hands:

Less than 48 hours ago, it appeared virtually certain that the United States would have little choice but to intervene militarily in Iraq on a scale that President Obama clearly wanted to avoid.

That all changed overnight when American officials reported the thousands of Yazidis, a minority religious sect fleeing persecution by the advancing Islamist extremists rampaging through Iraq, had been safely removed from their vulnerable haven on Mount Sinjar.

Yazidi leaders and some emergency relief officials dispute that assessment. In any event, it does appear American airstrikes - and the dropping of relief supplies - paired with ground attacks by the Kurdish troops did provide some relief to the Yazidis.

The rescue effort is less likely, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reported late Wednesday.

If his assessment holds true, it will please most Americans, who thought our nation’s lengthy and costly involvement in Iraq had ended. But the situation remains dire and may soon enough require our nation’s involvement, however reluctant, on a considerably larger scale.

The sad truth is that Iraq is like a rudderless ship heading toward the rocks. If Iraq is overwhelmed by the murderous extremists, the entire region will be threatened.

This isn’t how it was supposed to be after the United States and our allies pulled out, believing the Iraqi people were prepared to govern themselves.

But now there’s a good argument for greater involvement by America and her allies. In fact, France, Britain and Germany have all decided to participate in the fight against the extremists, although not, so far, with troops.

There is no undoing past mistakes, but the United States should remain prepared to do whatever it possibly can to keep Iraq out of the hands of these ruthless murderers.




August 20

News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Florida, on marshals must end silence on shooting:

It has been a week since a Bunnell man was shot and killed by federal law enforcement officers serving a warrant at his home. The U.S. Marshals Service so far has not released any details about how the shooting occurred.

That silence is deafening. It creates an information void that often is filled by speculation and accusation.

The authorities need to fill in some blanks.

On Aug. 13, members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force descended on a house in the rural Flagler County community of Espanola to serve a fugitive warrant against 24-year-old Corey Levert Tanner. He was wanted on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery in connection with a July 23 incident in South Bunnell, a shooting that sent what police described as a bystander to the hospital.

U.S. marshals tracked Tanner to his sister-in-law’s house in Espanola. On the morning of Aug. 13, Tanner’s brother, John Johnson, told The News-Journal’s Julie Murphy that he left the house and was apprehended by marshals a short time later on County Road 13 near U.S. 1. He said he was handcuffed, placed in the back seat of a marshal’s car and driven back to the house.

There, Johnson said he asked marshals for the opportunity to speak with his brother to persuade him to leave the house and surrender. He said a bullhorn was put to his mouth and he implored Tanner “to come out, but don’t run.” He said he also told the marshals there were no guns in the house.

Johnson said he then heard shots.

Tanner died on the concrete stoop behind the residence.

This isn’t a plane crash investigation in which the pieces of the aircraft must be reassembled and examined to unravel a mystery and determine a cause. Officials know quickly if a suspect was armed. They can explain why they believe a shooting is justifiable. It’s up to an investigation to decide whether those reasons are valid.

U.S. marshals or the FDLE need to be more forthcoming about what happened with Corey Tanner to avoid unwarranted speculation and to maintain public confidence in law enforcement.




August 14

Miami Herald on CIA shameful secrets:

Official Washington is on vacation until after Labor Day, but behind the silence and apparent inactivity, a huge fight involving the public’s right to know is taking place. At issue is how far the Central Intelligence Agency can go in hiding shameful secrets and whether the Obama administration will tolerate CIA spying on the nation’s elected representatives.

This is not just one more partisan brouhaha inside the Beltway, but rather one that pits the intelligence community and its allies in the White House against lawmakers of all political stripes.

The outcome will determine whether the agency is above the law or a law unto itself - whether it can be called to account for its excesses or whether it will be allowed to hide behind the cloak of secrecy whenever it wants to evade responsibility.

So far, the agency has managed to keep a lid on a Senate report detailing the CIA’s notorious detention program in the post-9/11 era. The 6,300-page report was produced by the Senate Intelligence Committee and was supposed to be made public earlier this year following routine redaction by the agency to avoid disclosure of genuine national security secrets.

Yet it became apparent some weeks ago that the agency was censoring the report so as to render it virtually meaningless before releasing it to the public in a sanitized form. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who heads the panel and was once a staunch backer of the CIA, accused the agency of trying to obscure or eliminate “key facts” and pledged to fight for greater transparency.

One measure of how worried - or terrified - the CIA is about disclosure is that its own inspector general determined that the agency penetrated a computer network used by the Intelligence Committee in preparing its critical report, presumably in order to know what was coming.

That incredible breach of trust forced President Obama to acknowledge that “we tortured some folks,” but he insisted that CIA Director John Brennan still enjoyed his “full confidence.”

Many members of Congress have long been defenders of the CIA. They include Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Armed Services Committee, who said the CIA’s redactions are “totally unacceptable.”

If even the CIA’s legislative allies are shocked by the report’s findings, it’s all the more reason to shine a light on them. On this issue, Mr. Obama must be clearly and emphatically on the side of transparency.



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