It's been a while since I had the energy to post more than once in a day, but I can't resist commenting on this gem. Please compare and contrast this gentleman's cheerfully robust approach with the limp response of British citizens to state salami-slicing of our liberty. Here speaks a free man.
He is Pete Martino, a retired colonel in the US Marines. He was speaking at a council meeting in Concord, New Hampshire on a proposal to equip the police there with an armoured vehicle. This story has already hit the news because the local police chief named legitimate protest groups as reasons he might need such equipment. Fortunately, someone leaked his proposal document to a civil liberties organisation. Col. Martino is articulate, frank and funny. I loved his comment that he told his kids
...there's always free cheese in the mousetrap...
That's a lesson our entitlement-crazed fellow-citizens could usefully learn.
Those who mock American democracy because of the low turnouts in Presidential elections should note the active local democracy here. Would any British council or any other organ of the state hold a hearing like this on a line item of public expenditure? Please note however the left-liberal Huffington Post's attempt to discredit Col. Martino by pointing out that had been fired by a British defence contractor. Apparently he spoke out on its underbidding for a US embassy security assignment for which it was allegedly not equipped.
If only more of us had 'form' for such principled behaviour. Without courageous whistle-blowers such as Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and whoever leaked the Concord armored car proposal, America's current civil liberties debate would not be taking place. It is certainly shocking that the US government has been caught out implementing nation-wide surveillance on the scale of East Germany's Stasi. It is certainly shocking that, if Col. Martino is right, it is trying to circumvent the US Constitution's rule against troop deployments on US soil. But at least, thanks to the whistle-blowers, there's a discussion. If America goes down the road to a police state, its people will have approved it. Will the same be true in Britain?
If we are ever to speak as freely again as Col. Martino does here, a useful first step would be to afford total legal protection to whistle-blowers. Revealing a crime or abuse of state power should never have negative consequences. That would put us ahead of the USA on civil liberties and might begin to reverse our long slide into authoritarianism.