Do the right thing
ESCANABA — Dear Mr. John Bergman,
I write this in the Daily Press because I doubt you see most of your mail and your office has not responded to a short, handwritten note I sent more than two months ago.
In town hall meetings held by members of Congress, it was apparent that members failed to understand the cause of the anxiety and anger at the meetings. It is basic. People feel abandoned by members of Congress who they believe hold party above patriotism.
Once the U..S was protected by oceans. Pearl Harbor demonstrated that a naval force using airpower compromised that security. The U.S. developed large naval and land forces to deter another Pearl Harbor. Nuclear weapons threatened the U.S. from silos half way around the world. The U.S. is able to defend itself from brute force, but the digital age brought a new weapon. Russia used the web to interfere in elections throughout the world. It aims to destroy democracy by weakening the legitimacy of elections.
Vladmir Putin’s Russia acts like the Soviet Union of the 1950s. Iron Curtain was an apt metaphor. American children practiced duck and cover. Soviets sent nuclear weapons and missiles to Cuba to be aimed at Americans. Its leaders vowed to bury us.
Now, Mr. Putin’s opponents are found dead. Russia is engaged in overthrowing the Ukrainian government, was complicit in shooting down a Malaysian airliner, supports the Taliban in Afghanistan, sends its warplanes to buzz U.S. planes and ships, and backs Syria’s Assad.
It appears that members of Mr. Trump’s campaign helped Russia tamper in our elections. The President may have been compromised when he visited Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe contest. His comments about women make those allegations plausible. Major officials in Mr. Trump’s administration and social circle continue to have close Russian ties. Russian oligarchs populate Trump Tower in New York. Officials, including his Attorney General, lied about meetings with Russian officials. The president notified Russia in advance of U.S. missile attacks in Syria. Syrian jets were able to launch within 24 hours.
Last week Mr. Trump fired the FBI director leading the investigation into Russian election meddling. The next day Mr. Trump met with Russian officials in the Oval office. One of the Russians, Ambassador Kislyak, was the same official Trump people had lied about meeting on other occasions. The official Russian news agency TASS was invited to the meeting. U.S. news organizations were not invited. TASS transmitted photos of smiling Russian officials with the President. At that meeting Mr. Trump shared highly classified intelligence with the Russians. It was Vladmir Putin’s victory lap. Russia had more access to Mr. Trump than did Americans.
Your oath of office said in part, “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” It is the same oath you took as a young Marine officer in the spring of 1969. You can disagree with citizens on policy but the defense of our country is not optional.
Mr. Trump gives the impression that he does not have our backs. You have the duty to oversee him. Even the White House website explains, “Oversight of the executive branch is an important Congressional check on the President’s power and a balance against his discretion in implementing laws and making regulations.”
The Marine Corps taught you to do the right thing, even if alone. The July 30, 2015, edition of the “Marines” website cited an example of doing the right thing. In 1968 an Army pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, saw the massacre at My Lai taking place. He landed his helicopter, saved innocent lives and threatened to use gunfire to stop the killing. You probably crossed paths. He talked to Marine officers at Quantico and was a counselor for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
The people you represent would like to hear a statement similar to that of the interim director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, “You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing.”
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Richard Clark practiced law for 41 years in Escanaba.