Tuesday May 21, 2013
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CIA Director David Petraeus made a statement a few days ago that is still echoing in my head. I wonder if you heard it? I wonder if it struck you as it did me?
He said, "Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy."
He was referring to the conviction of John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to leaking the identity of one of the agency's covert operatives to a reporter. Kiriakou, who not only leaked the name, but actually wrote a book about his years in the CIA, will be sentenced to more than two years in prison.
In court papers, prosecutors said the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities became alarmed after discovering that detainees at Guantanamo Bay possessed photographs of CIA and FBI personnel who had interrogated them. The investigation eventually led back to Kiriakou.
All I have to say is this: When a man raises his hand and swears an oath to protect his fellow officers it ought to mean something.
Am I wrong?
An oath is something you swear to do or die trying.
It all comes back to individual character and principles. The Marine Corps did one thing if nothing else. It taught me the meaning of trust. If a person takes an oath and swears to do certain things, then that person has committed themselves to adhereing to that oath even as Pat says, to the point of death. People who likewise took that oath had the certainty and right that I would not violate that oath, hence the trust aspect. Once violated, trust is very difficult if not impossible to regain. Just ask those in Washington. I suspect that it is so many people's failure to honor the oaths they took under various circumstances, that frustrates me so.
When I took my marriage vows, that was an oath I swore before God and I stuck to that through thick and thin until such time as He called my wife of 47 years to Himself. Most folks take the same vows as my wife and I, but today it seems that the moment the first bump in the road appears, they simply throw in the towel as if the vows were meaningless. Just words one was required to say for tradition sake. From that point on, who could possibly ever trust them at their word again?
It was the same when I raised my hand and swore allegience to "God, Country, and Corps" when I joined the Marines. Possibly losing my life was certainly something to think about but it was eclipsed by the unthinkable, that I would not follow through on that oath. Others were betting their lives that they could trust my intent to never violate that oath and the committment that came with it.
I am not so nieve that I don't know that in today's world, where there are no longer any "absolutes" or the desire of many to even recognize right from wrong, that vows or "oaths" have any value at all. Look at Washington. Every one of those elected to office take an oath to "Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States". ALL of IT!! Yet they are continually trying to ignore that oath, undermine or misinterpret that document, and violate the very oath they swore to. It is a shame that 4+ million people have to depend on the NRA to protect their "rights" under the Constitution. The last people we should have to fear of violating our rights under that document, are those we elect to uphold it. Sadly, nothing could be further from reality today.
I kind of figure you knew you would be getting a response from me when you posed that question.;-)
"When I took my marriage vows, that was an oath I swore before God and I stuck to that through thick and thin..."
Remember the old saying? "A man is only as food as his word."
That's the way I look at people.
"I kind of figure you knew you would be getting a response from me..."
Yes, I did. :-)
"An oath is something you swear to do or die trying."
Right! No one makes anyone swear an oath. It's voluntary. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. I am not kidding when I say that my absolute bottom line view of someone is how he or she adheres to promises.
Been like that all my life. I don't know when I started refusing to make a promise unless I KNEW I could keep it. I must have been very young because it seems to be the way I have always been. You'll never know how many people have tried to get me to promise to do something I didn;t want to do by saying things like, "Well, you don't have to do it today. You can do it..." And all those other put-it-in-the-future or make-it-sound-easy arguments. They don't work with me. I refuse to budge an inch, or to make a half-promise because I know that if I do I will keep it no matter how much I don't want to keep it.
A promise is a promise.
Now, as to someone in government who "leaks" information? Or some company that uses bait-and-switch techniques, or someone who slips something into the fine print, or someone who lies while running for office?
They better be glad I don't make the laws.
I'd go to the prisons, clear out the druggies, and replace them with people who REALLY harm the nation.
Looks like this string has run its course, so I'd just like to add one last comment.
Over the past year or two I have probably read 25 to 30 books about Washington, primarily about the presidency. It has disgusted me to read over and over again how people have constantly and consistently violated the trust placed in them by "leaking" information. It is sickening to think that people we place in positions of great trust cannot even be trusted to honor the oath of office that they take. It says a lot about the people who run for office, about their honesty, their overall moral character, and the reason they run for office.
As Ron pointed out, it is all about individual character and principles. Either a person has them or they don't.
I am with the 2 of you regarding the taking of an oath, however, I go a few steps further and I feel that whether one takes an oath or not, a persons word should mean something. And an oath? Why, that should be ironclad.
Marriage vows? They are typically spoken before each other, your family and friends, and God. I don't remember anything in my vows about, "until I find someone I like better", or "until I don't feel like making an effort to make it work". Nope, what I do remember is, "until death do us part". I took that seriously.
You do realize that those who think like we do are anachronistic in today's "Brave New World, don't you? You don't have to answer as I know where you are on the matter as you said so well in the above post. You know, I sleep quite well at night in spite of being old fashioned, and will not apoligize for being "behind the times". It is who I am. And I know there are many, many more out there who have the same moral compass I do, so I never worry about being some outcast. I have many friends who share my views. ;-)
There's nothing out-of-date about being honest. I sincerely believe that the vast majority of people everywhere are still as honest as ever. There have always been the fringe group--the weak minded and the genuinely evil. The problem lies in that we have allowed that fringe to do: To take over.
Hollywood makes movies that are pure trash. The media puts up programs that encourage anything that gets people to stick their heads in a boob tube. Books and magazines foster filth. Look at the reality programs that encourage people to lie, cheat, and steal to come out on top. What are they teaching?
It isn't the people themselves who come up with these ideas; it's people who are out to make money by deliberately "stretching the envelope." And they know exactly what they are doing. They are pandering to lowlest of the low and trying to get the young people to join them--with some success.
I'm telling you, Hollywood was once a place where every movie was a little morality play, but it is now a place that panders to the lowest, and most stupid, and most venal people in our society.
All for money.
The question is, of course, what do we do about it?
As long as we have venal people in public office the answer is: We do nothing. We do nothing because nothing is all we can do.
The basic problem is the way our laws are written. They focus on things that are not the real problems. The real problems are those things which CAUSE the nation to go downhill, but our laws focus on the people who get on that slippery slope and end up at the bottom of the hill wondering what happened as they spend ten years in prison for doing something that harms no one else and which they had a right to do, while at the same time robber barons steal from all of us.
I'll give you an example: I put some of this up, but I'll repeat it. Over in California a hospital went out on the street, found homeless people, brought them in, treated them for things they didn't have, and made a fortune doing it.
They were caught at it. What happened? The same thing that always happens: They were fined.
What's wrong with that? The crooks who thought up the plan should be in prison, not counting their profits. The fine is less than the amount made, not more. This is what happens every time a large company is taken to court. The fines are far less than the profit made and the people guilty of fraud are not even charged with a crime, much less tried and imprisoned.
The conclusion? Lawmakers are in the hands of corporate crooks. Until we fix that there is no use in worrying about the drop in morality. As long as it is profitable to be a white collar crook, as long as you can steal fifty million but you better not steal fifty bucks, as long as there is no criminal penalty for crimes of profit, we are headed straight for Hell. The only difference is that we don't have to wait to die to get there; it is being created right where you sit at the moment.
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