Tag Archives: today

The morning digest: In the news | April 14, 2015

1. CLINTON STARTS IOWA CAMPAIGN

The big rallies can wait for now as the presidential hopeful opts for a small-town gathering with Iowans reminiscent of her Senate “listening tour.”

2. WHO’S CHALLENGING OBAMA ON IRAN DEAL

A Senate committee will vote on a bill giving Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with the Iranian leaders.

3. NEXT STEP FOR EX-GUARDS SENTENCED FOR IRAQ SHOOTINGS

Attorneys identify several issues as likely forming the basis of an appeal they intend to file, including vindictive prosecution.

4. IRAQI PM MAKING IN-PERSON APPEAL TO OBAMA FOR HELP

Haider al-Abadi says added international military support could help “finish” the Islamic State group.

5. U.S. VETERANS RETURN TO MIDEAST TO FIGHT EXTREMISTS

They are making their way back to the battlefields of the Middle East to fight a still unvanquished enemy and wrestle with the demons of their past.

6. FADING HOPES TO FIND NIGERIA GILRS

Activists are marking the anniversary of the mass abduction that outraged the world with a change in their slogan from “Bring Back Our Girls – Now and Alive” to “Never to be Forgotten.”

7. USE OF POLICE RESERVE OFFICERS IS COMMON

Typically unpaid volunteers, many reservists are authorized to carry firearms, even though they generally undergo far less training than regular officers.

8. HOW MOTHER OF SOUTH KOREA FERRY VICTIM COPES WITH GRIEF

Shin Jumja uses rituals – visiting her son’s empty desk at school and gardening – to deal with her rage over his death.

9. WHY YOUR RENT WILL RISE AGAIN THIS YEAR

The main reason: More people than ever are apartment hunting.

10. AIRPORT WORKER FINDS HIMSELF TRAPPED

An Alaska Airlines flight is forced to return to Seattle when a pilot hears banging after a baggage handler fell asleep in the plane’s cargo hold.

Today in History,Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 16, the 350th day of 2014. There are 15 days left in the year. The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, begins at sunset.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Dec. 16, 1944, the World War II Battle of the Bulge began as German forces launched a surprise attack against Allied forces through the Ardennes Forest in Belgium and Luxembourg (the Allies were eventually able to turn the Germans back).

On this date:

In 1653, Oliver Cromwell became lord protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place as American colonists boarded a British ship and dumped more than 300 chests of tea into Boston Harbor to protest tea taxes.

In 1809, the French Senate granted a divorce decree to Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine (the dissolution was made final the following month).

In 1811, the first of the powerful New Madrid earthquakes struck the central Mississippi Valley with an estimated magnitude of 7.7.

In 1907, 16 U.S. Navy battleships, which came to be known as the “Great White Fleet,” set sail on a 14-month round-the-world voyage to demonstrate American sea power.

In 1930, golfer Bobby Jones became the first recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award honoring outstanding amateur athletes.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a national state of emergency in order to fight “world conquest by Communist imperialism.”

In 1956, Francis Cardinal Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, personally denounced the about-to-be released movie “Baby Doll” starring Carroll Baker, saying Catholics would be committing a sin if they saw it.

In 1960, 134 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over New York City.

In 1976, the government halted its swine flu vaccination program following reports of paralysis apparently linked to the vaccine.

In 1982, Environmental Protection Agency head Anne M. Gorsuch became the first Cabinet-level officer to be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to submit documents requested by a congressional committee.

In 1991, the U.N. General Assembly rescinded its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism by a vote of 111-25.

Ten years ago: Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, of Skidmore, Missouri, was found dying in her home, her unborn baby cut from her womb. (The baby was recovered by authorities in Melvern, Kansas; Stinnett’s killer, Lisa Montgomery, was later sentenced to death). Britain’s highest court dealt a huge blow to the government’s anti-terrorism policy by ruling that it could not detain foreign suspects indefinitely without trial. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer for the first time since his capture a year earlier. Agnes Martin, one of the world’s foremost abstract artists, died in Taos, New Mexico, at age 92.

Five years ago: Two hundred Mexican Marines raided an upscale apartment complex and killed drug cartel chief Arturo Beltran Leyva in a two-hour gunbattle. Iran test-fired a missile capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe. Police fired pepper spray and beat protesters with batons outside the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. Tiger Woods was voted Athlete of the Decade by members of The Associated Press. Yegor Gaidar, 53, who oversaw Russia’s painful transition from communism to a free market economy, died in Moscow. Roy E. Disney, 79, the son and nephew of the Walt Disney Co. founders, died in Newport Beach, California.

One year ago: In the first ruling of its kind, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon declared that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records likely violated the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search. Ray Price, 87, one of country music’s most popular and influential singers and bandleaders, died in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

Today’s Birthdays: Civil rights attorney Morris Dees is 78. Actress Joyce Bulifant is 77. Actress Liv Ullmann is 76. CBS news correspondent Lesley Stahl is 73. TV producer Steven Bochco is 71. Former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons is 70. Pop musician Tony Hicks (The Hollies) is 69. Pop singer Benny Andersson (ABBA) is 68. Actor Ben Cross is 67. Rock singer-musician Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) is 65. Rock musician Bill Bateman (The Blasters) is 63. Actor Xander Berkeley is 59. Actress Alison LaPlaca is 55. Actor Sam Robards is 53. Actor Jon Tenney is 53. Actor Benjamin Bratt is 51. Country singer-songwriter Jeff Carson is 51. Actor-comedian JB Smoove is 49. Actor Daniel Cosgrove is 44. Rhythm-and-blues singer Michael McCary is 43. Actor Jonathan Scarfe is 39. Actress Krysten Ritter is 33. Actress Zoe Jarman (TV: “The Mindy Project”) is 32. Country musician Chris Scruggs is 32. Actress Amanda Setton is 29. Rock musician Dave Rublin (American Authors) is 28. Actress Hallee Hirsh is 27. Actress Anna Popplewell is 26.

Thought for Today: “There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.” — Helen Keller, American author and lecturer (1880-1968).

Today in History, Monday, Dec. 15

Today is Monday, Dec. 15, the 349th day of 2014. There are 16 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On Dec. 15, 1944, the U.S. Senate approved the promotions of Henry H. Arnold, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and George C. Marshall to the five-star rank of General of the Army and the nominations of William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King and Chester W. Nimitz as Admirals of the Fleet. U.S. forces invaded Mindoro Island in the Philippines, encountering little resistance from the Japanese. A single-engine plane carrying bandleader Glenn Miller, a major in the U.S. Army Air Forces, disappeared over the English Channel while en route to Paris.

On this date:

In 1791, the Bill of Rights went into effect following ratification by Virginia.

In 1814, the “Hartford Convention” began as New England Federalists opposed to the War of 1812 secretly gathered in the Connecticut capital. (America’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans and the war’s end effectively discredited the Convention.)

In 1864, the two-day Battle of Nashville began during the Civil War as Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas attacked Confederate troops led by Gen. John Bell Hood; the result was a resounding Northern victory.

In 1890, Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull and 11 other tribe members were killed in Grand River, South Dakota, during a confrontation with Indian police.

In 1938, groundbreaking for the Jefferson Memorial took place in Washington, D.C. with President Franklin D. Roosevelt taking part in the ceremony.

In 1939, the Civil War motion picture epic “Gone with the Wind,” starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, had its world premiere in Atlanta.

In 1964, Canada’s House of Commons approved dropping the country’s “Red Ensign” flag in favor of a new design, the “Maple Leaf” flag.

In 1965, two U.S. manned spacecraft, Gemini 6A and Gemini 7, maneuvered to within 10 feet of each other while in orbit.

In 1974, the horror spoof “Young Frankenstein,” starring Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Brooks, was released by 20th Century Fox.

In 1989, a popular uprising began in Romania that resulted in the downfall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (chow-SHES’-koo).

In 1991, an Egyptian-registered ferry, the Salem Express, hit a reef and sank in the Red Sea; at least 470 people died, although some estimates are much higher.

In 2001, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, was reopened to the public after a $27 million realignment that had dragged on for over a decade.

Ten years ago: Time Warner Inc. agreed to pay over $500 million to resolve federal securities fraud and accounting investigations of its America Online unit. American telecommunications giants Sprint Corp. and Nextel Communications Inc. announced they would merge in a $35 billion deal. Pauline Gore, mother of former Vice President Al Gore, died in Carthage, Tennessee; she was 92. The boxing drama “Million Dollar Baby,” starring Clint Eastwood (who also directed) and Hilary Swank, was put in limited release by Warner Bros.

Five years ago: World leaders formally opened a U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen. The Washington, D.C. City Council voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Boeing’s new 787 “Dreamliner” jet went on its long-delayed first test flight, lifting off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Evangelist Oral Roberts died in Newport Beach, California, at age 91.

One year ago: Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood hometown, ending a 10-day mourning period for South Africa’s first black president. Michelle Bachelet easily won Chile’s presidential runoff. Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, 96, died in Carmel, California. Harold Camping, 92, a California preacher who’d used his radio ministry and thousands of billboards to broadcast the end of the world and then gave up when his date-specific doomsdays did not come to pass, died in Oakland, California.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 81. Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 75. Rock musician Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 72. Rock musician Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge) is 68. Actor Don Johnson is 65. Actress Melanie Chartoff is 64. Movie director Julie Taymor is 62. Movie director Alex Cox is 60. Actor Justin Ross is 60. Rock musician Paul Simonon (The Clash) is 59. Movie director John Lee Hancock (Film: “Saving Mr. Banks”; “The Blind Side”) is 58. DNC Vice Chairwoman Donna Brazile is 55. Country singer Doug Phelps (Brother Phelps; Kentucky Headhunters) is 54. Movie producer-director Reginald Hudlin is 53. Actress Helen Slater is 51. Actress Molly Price is 49. Actor Michael Shanks is 44. Actor Stuart Townsend is 42. Figure skater Surya Bonaly is 41. “Crowd-hyper” Kito Trawick (Ghostown DJs) is 37. Actor Adam Brody is 35. Actress Michelle Dockery (TV: “Downton Abbey”) is 33. Actor George O. Gore II is 32. Actress Camilla Luddington (TV: “Grey’s Anatomy”) is 31. Rock musician Alana Haim (HYM) is 23. Actress Stefania Owen is 17.

Thought for Today: “Silence is more musical than any song.” — Christina Rossetti, British poet (1830-1874).

Today in history: Dec. 12

Today is Friday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2014. There are 19 days left in the year. 

Highlights in history on this date: 

1574 – Murad III succeeds as Sultan of Turkey on death of Selim II. 

1642 – Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovers New Zealand. 

1677 – Brandenburg’s Frederick William I takes Stettin, Poland; Denmark’s King Christian V is defeated by Swedish forces at Cassel, Germany. 

1742 – French forces evacuate Prague, Czechoslovakia, and return to France. 

1800 – Washington, D.C. is established as the capital of the United States. 

1804 – Spain declares war on Britain. 

1870 – Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina takes his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first black congressman. 

1875 – Sultan of Turkey promises reforms throughout Ottoman Empire to meet rebel demands. 

1887 – Turkey appeals to Western powers to mediate its war with Russia. 

1894 – Japanese troops invade Korea. 

1899 – African-American George Grant receives the first patent for a golf tee. 

1905 – Russia’s Czar Nicholas II grants constitution in Montenegro. 

1913 – The Mona Lisa is recovered in Italy, two years after it was stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris. 

1920 – Martial law is declared in Cork, Ireland. 

1935 – Nationalists demand restitution of Egypt’s Constitution of 1923. 

1937 – Japanese aircraft sinks the U.S. gunboat Panay on China’s Yangtze River. Japan later apologizes and pays $2.2 million in reparations. 

1946 – A U.N. committee votes to accept a six-block tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to be the site of U.N. headquarters. 

1953 – U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager reaches Mach 2.3 (2.3 times the speed of sound) in a Bell X-1A rocket plane. 

1963 – Kenya becomes independent within British Commonwealth and a republic a year later. 

1969 – Greece, under fire on charges of violating human rights, withdraws from the Council of Europe before it can be expelled. 

1975 – Sara Jane Moore pleads guilty to trying to kill U.S. President Gerald Ford; a group of generals, led by Maj. Gen. Chun Doo-hwan, stage an army coup in South Korea and seize power. 

1985 – An Arrow Air charter flight crashes after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland, killing 248 American soldiers and eight crew members. 

1989 – British begin forced repatriation of Vietnamese refugees from camps in Hong Kong. 

1990 – Bangladesh’s deposed President Hossain Muhammad Ershad is put under house arrest. 

1992 – A strong earthquake kills 2,500 people on Flores Island, eastern Indonesia. 

1993 – President Boris Yeltsin wins approval of his new constitution, but extreme nationalists and Communists make a strong showing in Russia’s first multiparty elections since the 1917 Revolution. 

1994 – The Brazilian supreme court acquits former President Fernando Collor de Mello of corruption charges.  

1997 – Russia reaches an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for $1.7 billion in loans, giving the state a chance to pay back wages to millions of public employees. 

1999 – A Maltese-registered tanker, the Erika, breaks in two during a violent sea storm off the northwest coast of France, spilling some 3 million gallons (11.4 million liters) of heavy oil. 

2000 – The U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Florida Supreme Court’s order to begin manual recounts of presidential votes in certain counties and Democrat Al Gore concedes defeat to Republican George W. Bush. 

2003 – Germany says it will build a national memorial to gays persecuted or killed under the Nazis, complementing the planned German memorial to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived. 

2004 – Mexican authorities request a local warrant for the arrest of former Guatemalan Interior Minister Donaldo Alvarez Ruiz, who is wanted in Spain for his alleged role in the 1980 attack against the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala. 

2005 – Anti-Syrian journalist Gibran Tueni is killed in a car bomb in Lebanon on the day the United Nations is expected to release a follow-up report implicating Syria in the slaying of a former Lebanese prime minister. 

2006 – Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, known as “the butcher of Addis Ababa,” is convicted of genocide in a rare case of an African strongman being held to account by his own country. 

2007 – A car bomb attack kills one of Lebanon’s top generals, Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj, and his driver. The blast was the first such attack against the Lebanese army, which has remained neutral in Lebanon’s yearlong political crisis. 

2008 – A British jury decides that a string of police failures caused the death of a Brazilian electrician shot by anti-terror police on July 22, after being mistaken for a suicide bomber. 

2009 – Emails stolen from climate scientists show they stonewalled skeptics and discussed hiding data – but the messages do not support claims that the science of global warming was faked. 

2010 – Israel’s leader dismisses a call from a key government partner to share the holy city of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, a reminder of the obstacles facing already troubled peacemaking efforts. 

2011 – Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal says he is surprised and somewhat disappointed that he did not get a new sentencing hearing in the racially charged U.S. murder case that had kept him on death row for nearly 30 years. 

2012 – North Korea successfully launches its first satellite into space, heightening concerns it has moved one step closer to being capable of lobbing nuclear bombs over the Pacific.

2013 – The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial says he suffers from schizophrenia and hallucinated while gesturing incoherently just 3 feet (1 meter) away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders, outraging deaf people worldwide who said his signs amounted to gibberish. 

Today’s Birthdays: 

John Jay, U.S. revolutionary, diplomat, Supreme Court Justice (1745-1829); Gustave Flaubert, French author (1821-1880); Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist (1863-1944); John Osborne, English playwright (1929-1994); Frank Sinatra, U.S. singer/actor (1915-1998); Bob Barker, U.S. game show host (1923–); Jennifer Connelly, U.S. actress (1970–). 

Thought For Today: 

There are two cardinal sins from which all the others spring: impatience and laziness — Franz Kafka, Czech author (1883-1924).

6th Circuit hears 6 equality cases from 4 states

UPDATED: The outcome of a lengthy session in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 6 could impact the lives of an estimated 52,400 same-sex couples and 18,300 children.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School estimates there are 19,684 same-sex couples residing in Ohio, 14,598 same-sex couples in Michigan, 7,195 same-sex couples in Kentucky and 10,898 same-sex couples in Tennessee.

Many of them will be looking for their federal appeals court to rule for equality in the six cases heard from the four states in one day — the most marriage cases that any federal circuit court has ever heard in a single day.

Oral arguments took place on Aug. 6 in Cincinnati, where a panel of three judges — Martha Craig Daughtrey, Jeffrey S. Sutton and Deborah L. Cook — weighed arguments to decide whether federal district judges made the correct decisions in ruling for marriage equality.

A rally took place outside the courthouse while the hearing was taking place, and another rally took place on the eve of the oral arguments.

Early reports from the hearing indicated that two of the three judges suggested marriage issues should be decided by the democratic process, not the courts.

A ruling against same-sex marriage in the Sixth Circuit would create a division at the federal appeals court level. Already this year, appeals courts in the Fourth and the Tenth circuits have struck down constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marrying. Ruling against amendments in Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma, the courts said that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.

In the decision that overturned Virginia’s anti-gay ban, Judge Henry F. Floyd said, “Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

The decision prompted North Carolina’s attorney general to say he would no longer defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. North Carolina’s amendment, enacted by voters in 2012, was the last to be approved before the tide of victories for marriage equality.

On Aug. 26, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is scheduled to hear arguments in the equality cases from Wisconsin and Indiana.

In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments in cases out of Idaho and Nevada.

Any of the appeals court rulings could end up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, making a final verdict on marriage equality possibly by next summer, two years after the Court’s landmark ruling against the federal ban on gay marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act.

The high court has been asked to review the decisions overturning Utah’s anti-marriage amendment and also Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality.

Circuit by circuit

There are some 75-plus marriage equality cases at various levels of consideration in U.S. courts — at federal and state levels.

Wisconsin’s case is before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois and Indiana.

FIRST CIRCUIT: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.

SECOND CIRCUIT: Vermont, New York and Connecticut.

THIRD CIRCUIT: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware.

FOURTH CIRCUIT: Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina.

FIFTH CIRCUIT: Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

SIXTH CIRCUIT: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

EIGHTH CIRCUIT: Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

NINTH CIRCUIT: Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Hawaii.

TENTH CIRCUIT: Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT: Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

— L.N.

Manning releases statement: I am Chelsea Manning. I am female

Updated: The soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for sending a trove of classified information to Wikileaks released a statement on Aug. 22 identifying as Chelsea Manning, announcing plans to live as a woman and begin the transitioning process.

The written statement was provided to NBC’s “Today” show. The show’s website contained Manning’s statement, which was headlined, “Subject: The Next Stage of My Life” and read:

I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.

As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.

Thank you, Chelsea E. Manning

Within an hour of Manning’s announcement, supporters updated their protest campaign to the Free Chelsea movement and flooded social media with positive and appreciative statements.

A number of LGBT civil rights groups also responded to the Manning’s formal coming out as transgender and encouraged people, especially those in the news media, to be respectful.

The Human Rights Campaign said in a release, “Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s transition deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As she requested in her letter, journalists and other officials should use her chosen name of Chelsea and refer to her with female pronouns. Using the name Bradley or male pronouns is nothing short of an insult. Media, having reported on her wishes, must respect them as is the standard followed by the AP Stylebook.”

HRC also said, “As Pvt. Manning serves her sentence, she deserves the same thing that any incarcerated person does – appropriate and competent medical care and protection from discrimination and violence. The care she receives should be something that she and her doctors – including professionals who understand transgender care – agree is best for her.  There is a clear legal consensus that it is the government’s responsibility to provide medically necessary care for transgender people and the military has an obligation to follow those guidelines.”

A military judge announced Manning’s prison sentence on Aug. 22.

Gender identity was a key part of the defense in the trial of Manning, who had previously identified as gay but has long talked about struggles with gender identity.

Attorneys had presented evidence that Manning was struggling with gender identity, including a photo of the soldier in a blond wig and lipstick that Manning had sent to a therapist.

Manning also wrote a letter to the president this week, which his defense attorney read into the record. The letter, which requested a pardon, explained concerns for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and expressed a love for country and people, read:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps – to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story that will be updated.