Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg Address 150 Year Anniversary 19 November 2013


“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.”
~ Abraham Lincoln, 19 November 1863

Google Cultural Institute

Googlers today may notice a link below the Google search box stating, “150 years ago, a 2-minute speech shaped a nation. Read Lincoln’s handwritten words.” The link is an invitation to visit the Google Cultural Institute where Google has assembled and elegantly delivers historic and cultural presentations. On the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, several exhibits are featured and available online:

Full Text of Gettysburg Address

Among the many copies made of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, the following text is considered the most accurate.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


“Political Gridlock” – Jim Leach Speech Transcript – Veterans Day – 11 November 2013

The following text is the transcript of a public speech delivered by Jim Leach on Veterans Day, 11 November 2013 in Iowa City. Header descriptions and links have been added to make the text more accessible.

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All People are Created Equal

As this is Veterans Day, I would like to begin with an historical perspective on the citizen soldier.

Our system of government emanated from war — a revolutionary war against the then mightiest army and navy in the world. The war was precipitated by a radical idea: that all men are created equal and endowed by a Creator with inalienable rights.[1]

Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

I mention the intertwining of the idea framework with war for a number of reasons, the most important being that we owe our freedom to the army of George Washington and the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who followed in war -making and peace-preserving. The rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been protected in a myriad of ways. For instance, in the 20th century our armed forces fought in two world wars, stood up to Communist aggression in two Asian conflicts, and over eight presidencies — from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush — kept the peace during the Cold War in Europe. And at home in a traumatic moment, Dwight David Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock to protect seven young black students entering a segregated high school.

Leaders and Public Servants Must Be Selfless

We owe particular respect to those who wore and continue to wear the uniform in combat, especially those who have served in circumstances where domestic dissent has been greatest. We can disagree with political decision makers but we are obligated to respect those in the armed forces who sacrificed so much for so many. Just think how much more dangerous a world we would live in if our military was as dysfunctionally organized as today’s politics and if our soldiers cared more for their self-interest than the national interest.

Two Famous Iowa City Residents

World War II ended 68 years ago, and because so few veterans of that war are still with us, I would like to reference two Iowa City residents who symbolize the greatest generation.

James Van Allen

The first is James Van Allen, the great space pioneer for whom the Van Allen Radiation Belt is named. But few in this town where he lived and worked for more than half a century knew anything about Jim’s role in World War II until a celebration of life ceremony took place at Hancher Auditorium a decade ago. Four people were asked to speak about segments of Jim’s life. The first was an elderly physicist at Johns Hopkins who surprised the packed audience by announcing that he wanted to address Jim’s time working for and then within the United States Navy, a time that he had simply noted in his c.v. had been spent as an “assistant gunnery officer.” It was a bit more than that.

The scientist told how after war broke out in Europe, Jim as research fellow at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. with a recently minted Iowa Ph.D. joined a top secret technology group called Section T of the Department of Terrestial Magnetism. Section T was part of the work associated with the National Defense Research Committee where atomic research also was supervised. The Navy had a serious problem with the effectiveness of shells shot from its shipboard cannons, and Section T was tasked to improve naval firepower capacities.

Of the shells fired from U.S. ships, fully a third either ignited in flight or failed to go off on striking a target. The German and Japanese navies had a similar but somewhat less intense problem. So Jim’s Section T group rented an abandoned Chevrolet garage in Silver Spring, Maryland and proceeded to experiment with developing a proximity fuze. Upgrading work that had commenced a few years earlier in Great Britain, the Section T group advanced the technology and solved the ruggedness problem (Jim’s principal contribution) of transferring theoretical methodology to usable weaponry. To test for ruggedness, Jim determined that he needed land to experiment upon, so he rented 40 acres of farm land in a suburban Washington county. Upon being told he should carry a firearm (in this case a .45 automatic) because of the presumed possibility that spies might be interested in his work, he was sworn in as a deputy sheriff of Montgomery County.

Working with others, he developed a proximity fuze, a key component of which he patented, that increased the effectiveness of shells from 67 percent to more than 99 percent — thereby increasing the firepower of the U.S. Navy by 50 percent.

The researchers in Section T eventually developed a ruggedly sophisticated proximity fuze, a key component of which Jim patented, that increased the effectiveness of shells shot from the navy’s long guns from 67 percent to over 99 percent —thereby increasing the firepower of the United States Navy by 50 percent. Jim’s group then turned to investigating the prospect of applying upgraded technology to anti-aircraft shells to replace the “ack-ack” we see in old World War II movies. Using radio signals to sense the presence of a plane, Jim and his Secton T colleagues developed the first “smart” precision weapon in the history of warfare.

Initially, gunners in the Pacific theater refused to use these new anti-aircraft shells. They loved their “ack-ack” because they could see how close they were coming to their targets. The problem was that the “ack-ack” pops that they could follow registered misses rather than hits. Understanding that the shells with the new detonation fuze represented a quantum improvement in anti-aircraft capacities, Jim accepted a commission as a Naval officer so that he could “commandeer” a vessel and hopscotch from ship to ship in the Pacific to persuade forces at sea to use the new technology. An inventor turned salesman, he eventually persuaded the captains and skeptical gunners to put their trust in the shells with the proximity fuze. At the same time he organized a Pacific Island supply train for the new shells and for the replacement of faulty batteries in older ones.

Only after hours of Jim’s signature low-key persuasiveness and months of trial in combat engagements in which Jim participated were the new anti-aircraft shells fully accepted by the Pacific fleet. Then, when the Japanese launched a massive kamikaze attack in the largest naval engagement in history — the Battle of Leyte Gulf — the shells with the newly developed proximity fuse helped knock down thirty-eight of the forty-one attacking planes. Until this point, any ship without air cover was a sitting duck to air attack. And when the Germans started attacking London with V-1 buzz bombs, shells with the new detonation fuze dramatically upgraded British capacities to defend the city.

In a recent biography of Jim by Abigail Foerstner, the author cites reports that the radio proximity fuze worked so well that it allowed British anti-aircraft gunners in one instance to shoot down 35 German planes in 30 minutes and in another to destroy 68 of 72 buzz bombs bound for London. The fuze was first used in land artillery in Europe by allied forces in December, 1944, at the Battle of the Bulge. The shells which were set to explode 10 feet or so above ground rather than on contact with earth were far more devastating than earlier generation shells. General George Patten later observed that “the funny fuze” had been so effective at the Battle of the Bulge that its use required a full revision of the tactics of land warfare.

At Hancher, the Johns Hopkins physicist ended his talk by reading a sentence from a citation signed by the Secretary of the Navy in 1946. It read: No one is more responsible for the success of the United States Navy in World War II than Lieutenant Commander James Van Allen.

In her biography of Jim (available on Amazon), Foerstner cites recent World War II histories noting that in the war the United States benefitted from four science and mathematical break-throughs. The first was the a-bomb; the second, upgraded radar capacities; the third, the breaking of the German and Japanese codes; and the fourth, the proximity fuse. The reason so few in Iowa City or the public ever knew about Jim’s role in the war was that the technology associated with the proximity fuse was kept top secret through the Cold War.

Jim Van Allen was Iowa-modest. And, arguably, the single most important combatant in World War II.

Donald Showers

The second Iowa City resident I would like to reference is Donald (Mac) Showers. This afternoon, a close friend of Showers, a classmate of his at City High and the University of Iowa, and fellow hero of the war in the Pacific — Col. Richard Feddersen — dropped by my office to ask if I would mention Showers’ contribution to the war effort in this Veterans Day talk. I am honored to do so.

Showers was an intelligence officer who was part of a small group responsible for breaking the Japanese code. It was the breaking of the code that made possible, for example, a preemptive strike against the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway where four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk. Showers eventually rose to admiral rank and became chief of staff of the Defense Intelligence Agency and later a senior officer at the Central Intelligence Agency. He received a Distinguished Service Medal from both the Navy and the CIA.

There was a second aspect of the breaking of the German and Japanese codes that stands out. That being that we not only knew in advance about much of the key planning of our adversaries but we also knew that they didn’t know how much we knew. This knowledge was a key to strategies in the Pacific and for the landing in Normandy.

My father, for instance, a graduate of this great university and the law school where I now teach, was Executive Officer of a regiment that in its trek from Omaha Beach through Normandy and the Bulge to the Elbe came to be the fourth most casualty inflicted regiment of the war. Like so many others, Dad never spoke much of the war, but I’ll never forget the time he commented while watching a news analysis of a breaking revelation in Washington, that hundreds of Americans, including some press, must have known that Ike was planning a Normandy landing. But that secret was kept, just as was the Manhattan Project, the upgraded radar, the proximity fuse, and the code breaking. Lives were at issue, including his and so many others. Now we live in a world of wiki-leaks.

I mention these men and what they went through because we have to ask ourselves: are we letting them down?

Dysfunctional Governance

The founders envisioned a political system that divided power between branches and levels of government in order to circumscribe power and ensure that a kaleidoscope of perspectives would be considered in decision making. But no founder ever suggested that dysfunctional governance was a worthy goal. And no soldier who serves in the greatest equal opportunity employer in the world deserves to see our government shut down as life and limb is risked in combat.

Yet today we have a House divided and a Senate “snafued” by rules of its own making. These 20th-century rules do not deserve hallowed status. They were not envisioned in the Constitution. Indeed, the filibuster was originally designed to block civil rights legislation — i.e., undercut the intent of the Constitution as amended in the wake of the Civil War. In addition, various rules that are designed to enhance the prerogatives of individual senators have the effect not only of thwarting the will of the Senate but undercutting the relative position of the House of Representatives and the ability of the Executive branch to function effectively.

It is no mystery why gridlock exists and why dysfunction seems to rein. Nor is it a mystery why it matters.

Public Dissatisfaction

Public angst is understandable. After all, we have been immersed in our two longest and most debilitating wars. We have witnessed an avoidable recession and now find ourselves with high unemployment and tepid growth. Public debt has mushroomed and disparities in income grown. These circumstances have been manipulated by influence wielders who have exacerbated polarizing political trends for several decades. Now, rather suddenly, polarization is the order of the day. Matters of degree have become matters of kind.

Short Courses on Governance

To elaborate on the changing background of American politics, I developed a series of what I call two-minute courses in democratic governance when I left Congress for a teaching career.

Political Science 101

The first course I call Political Science 101. It has a mathematical dimension. Over the past generation America has been approximately one-third Democratic, one-third Republican and one-third no party. Half of a third is one-sixth. So one-sixth of America controls each of the two major parties. But in primaries where the real weakness in our democracy resides, at most one in four eligible voters participate in legislative races and often only one in eight or even less. Accordingly, if one multiplies 1/4th times 1/6th, it becomes evident that in a legislative primary with participation rates larger than average 1/24th of the electorate controls the choice of nominees.

Who is this 1/24th? In the Democratic Party it is rather liberal with consistent leadership coming from teachers, academics and union members. In the Republican Party, it is rather conservative with this philosophical term undergoing substantial change over the past generation.

When I entered politics conservatism was of a Goldwater bent — i.e, concern for military preparedness and opposition to high taxes and large social expenditures. But Goldwater’s brand of individual rights conservatism was pro-choice and pro-gay rights, views which would make him a liberal Republican outlier today.

In recent years the activism in the Republican Party has become more of a social conservative nature – i.e., pro-life, anti-gay rights, anti-U.N., with an infusion of global warming deniers. In addition, there has been a remarkable increase in the last half dozen years of libertarians who often but not always are pro-choice, pro-hemp, and less inclined to military options than either old-fashioned conservatives or liberals.

What these figures mean is that the largest group that is suddenly under-represented in Congress and increasingly state legislative chambers is the center-left and center-right who traditionally, although perhaps not now, are the largest segment of the electorate.

Political Science 102

Political Science 102 is a course about which everyone knows half, but many haven’t thought about the other half. The first half relates to presidential elections. It is generally understood that a Democratic candidate in a primary can be expected to attempt to appeal to the liberal voter and a Republican vice-versa. Once nominated, however, both can be expected to scoot a bit to the center to attract the undecided and philosophically more moderate.

But in Congressional races where 85 percent or so of all seats are safe for one party or the other, the first phenomenon (the candidate effort to appeal to the left if a Democrat and right if a Republican) also exists in a primary setting. But there is no scoot to the center in the general election or moderating in Congress because if such a movement occurs, a candidate or elected representative can expect a stiff primary opponent with significant organization and fundraising capacity to emerge. It is now primaries rather than the general election where many incumbents are most vulnerable.

Physics 101

Physics 101. Sir Isaac Newton once set forth three laws of nature, the third of which was that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. One day on the House floor I discovered as a pun a fourth Newt-onian Law. Watching the then Speaker of the House deliver a blistering critique of the opposition and then watching the Democratic reaction, it dawned on me that in social physics unlike natural physics reaction could be greater than action. I initially considered this was a law of partisan politics but I soon realized it also applied to relations between people in general and countries at large. If, for instance, someone calls someone else a “bum,” the chances are not insignificant that an escalated response of one kind or another may result. Likewise, if a leader calls another country “evil,” one can expect escalation of verbiage and possibly actions on the other side.

Words are Important

Why does all this matter? The health of politics in a democratic society as well as peaceful relations between nation-states is often related to the temperance of statecraft. It is also related to basic policies and governmental stability. Inability to work together and resolve inevitable differences affects reputation. Today reputation risk is high on Wall Street and in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.

Words are important.

Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 election hired a journalist who labeled John Adams a “hermaphrodite.” Our last president, George W. Bush, was called a “fascist” and our current resident has been termed a “fascist” and a “communist,” often by the same people at the same time.

What is the matter with hyperbole? Plenty.

In Adams’ case the description was intended as a character slur. In the case of both Bush and Obama the criticism is more dangerous because the words “fascist” and “communist” have warring implications.

Four hundred thousand American patriots lost their lives defeating fascism. Tens of thousands fell and trillions of dollars were spent holding communism at bay. As for the “birther” denial that President Obama was born in Hawaii, at issue becomes the Constitutional legitimacy of the presidency.

What kind of tragic action might commence from someone who holds these kinds of views?

If all men are created equal, doesn’t if follow that it is important to respect someone else’s views even if one thoroughly disagrees? And doesn’t it follow that a better perspective can be had if one looks at anything from more than one set of eyes?

Alexandria Quartet

When I was in college, a fashionable set of books to read was the Alexandria Quartet by the British author Lawrence Durrell. Durrell wrote four books, each titled with an individual’s name, set in the years between World War I and II in Alexandria, Egypt.

Each book was about the same, rather minor happenings in an exotically vibrant city. One might wonder why read about the same events four different times.

It ends up that all four stories are dramatically different. The literary moral is that each participant witnessed happenings of the day in a different way and that to get a sense for reality it is helpful to see things from a variety of perspectives.

This is why two people in a court room may testify truthfully but quite differently to the same events. It is why it may be helpful at a dinner table, in a legislature, or in international relations to listen to what others think and say.

Understanding other perspectives is particularly important today because the challenges of mankind have undergone radical change in the capacities of warfare. In the profoundest political observation of the last century, Einstein observed that splitting the atom had changed everything except our way of thinking.

What Einstein meant was that man suddenly has developed the capacity not just to wage war but destroy all life forms. We have no choice except to change our way of thinking, and this surely begins with trying to understand how and why others think the way they do.

In Western civilization’s most prophetic poem, “The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats observed that the center cannot hold when the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats was reacting to the seemingly senseless carnage of World War I trench warfare. But the chaos of modernity has produced a crisis of perspective as well as values that give his words contemporary relevance.

Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy

I stray into the politics of politics because political gridlock poses a challenge to national security just as it does to domestic tranquility and because the institutional shock of our times is the undercutting of our governance ethic by the principal balancing institution in our constitutional system: the Supreme Court.

In the most irresponsible decision since the 1857 Dred Scott ruling held that a class of human beings (those of color) could be bought and treated as property, the court in Citizens United determined that a class of property (corporations) had the rights of human beings and could invest directly in politics.[2]

The court’s grant of massive new power to corporations changes the chemistry of governmental decision-making. Based on the frail assumptions that corporations are individuals and that money is speech with its use therefore protected by the First Amendment, Citizens United genetically alters our democratic DNA, pushing American politics in an oligarchic, corporatist direction.

Governance is about choice making: how to tax, what to spend, how to protect the national interest. Because the how of democratic processes impacts the what of policy (and vice-versa), changes in political dynamics are of extraordinary consequence in the determination of public priorities.

Tax policy and all areas of federal spending from education and research to national security are vulnerable to significant change due to the Citizens United ruling.

Debt is a Threat to National Security

The build-up of debt has reduced federal options. Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has gone so far as to suggest that our debt may currently be our greatest national security threat.

The debt issue is aggravated by the fact that the wars we have been fighting and the interventions we have been making in this new century are unique in history. No shared sacrifice by the American people was called upon.

As citizens of the first country that has ever opted to finance war with tax cuts, we have passed on to future generations the obligation to absorb the multi-trillion dollar costs of an interventionist foreign policy. We forget the lessons of the “Greatest Generation” which not only won the greatest war in history but accepted financial and strategic responsibility to help re-energize Europe and prevail in the Cold War.

Debt — its existence and management — involves two dynamic paradigms of clashing economic theory:

  • John Maynard Keynes and his most vocal modern day disciple Paul Krugman point out that in times of weak economic growth and national emergency, deficit financing can boost economic output.
  • Friedrich Hayek and his modern day disciple Milton Friedman argue that monetary stimulus is preferable to fiscal and that whatever the circumstances, care must be taken to keep taxes low.

In the crisis we have just gone through, both monetary and fiscal policies have been pressed. Federal spending has vastly exceeded revenues, federal taxes have been kept lower relative to the GDP than in the Reagan administration, and monetary policy has been expanded in unprecedented ways.

The question is now one of balance.

A modicum of consensus may be developing that the debt issue cannot be ignored. But no consensus has developed on how to constrain it and pay for everything from health care, whether or not “Obamacare” stands, to the hanging burden of our multi-trillion dollar interventionist foreign policy.

The challenge for the public is thus to galvanize a new governance ethic that recognizes that elected representatives of both parties have a mutual obligation to foster balanced decision-making without sophistically jeopardizing our debt obligations and causing government shut-downs.

Here let me mention a historical anecdote and presume a contemporary speculation.

The father of Republican economics is Alexander Hamilton. Against a populist tide, he insisted, and George Washington concurred, that we honor our Revolutionary War debt. How could a Hamiltonian not be offended by aspects of this year’s national politics?

Likewise, it is difficult to conceive how a serious disciple of either Keynes or Friedman would believe it wise to toy with bond markets with political strategies that imply that the full faith and credit of the U.S. government are in jeopardy.

Introducing uncertainty into public debt obligations has the inevitable effect of increasing the likelihood that interest rates — i.e., the costs of borrowing — will go up in the public sector with probable spiking implications for private sector borrowing as well.

Citizens could be faced with a more expensive government that delivers fewer services in an economy that supports fewer jobs. This is why the turmoil of the last month seemed so irrational to many traditional conservatives as well as modern liberals.

The moral is simple: Debt reduction is a credible, perhaps even imperative, goal, but it remains a national obligation to honor debt once undertaken and ensure that government is a stabilizing force in the economy.

The dilemma of today’s politics is that America has an abundance of leadership in commerce, science, the arts and every facet of the academy but the political system is hamstrung by ideological cleavages.

The Political Ideological Complex

President Eisenhower warned years ago of a military-industrial complex. Today my worry is more about the rise of a “political-ideological complex.” Ideologues use politicians as pawns while politicians use ideologues, especially those with deep pockets, as enablers of personal ambition. This reinforcing set of mutual interests has little to do with the common good and much to do with the break-down in civility in public life.

Basketball as an Allegory of Functional Government

Let me conclude with an observation about another element of American society that is highly competitive: sports. On Sunday, like many in this room, I went to a women’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye arena. Iowa was playing the 14th ranked team in the country and it was a terrifically competitive contest which the Hawkeyes won in overtime.

What stood out was the character of the individual players and how well they played together. Everyone in the home town audience admired the Hawkeye coaches and rooted for the Iowa players, but by the end of the game deep respect had also developed for the opposing team.

It was hard not to be reminded of the words that used to be oft-quoted of a long passed sportswriter named Grantland Rice who once observed that winning and losing weren’t the most important thing; what mattered most was how the game was played.

Likewise, in politics. The temper and integrity of political discourse is often more important than the precise outcome of an election or issue.

When I first entered politics I used to make one-to-one analogies between sports and politics. As time went on, these analogies broke down. Despite the publicized misbehavior of a few, sports have a far higher competitive ethic than politics.

This may be the case because most sports have referees whereas politics have none. It also relates to coaches who teach athletes how to work together and respect their opponents. In politics the analogue to coaches are campaign advisers.

There is hardly a campaign adviser in the country who doesn’t urge a candidate in a close election to go negative. But how do people and political parties come together after accentuating the negative? In the wake of so many modern elections, how does a public respect the processes, the winners as well as losers?

Putting the Common Good First

Soldiers learn that working as a unit increases the chance of prevailing in combat. Athletes learn that team effort trumps individual stardom.

Should not the common good in politics come before self, the country before party?

Thank you.

Jim Leach represented Eastern Iowa in the U.S. Congress from 1976-2006. He is a visiting professor of law at the University of Iowa College of Law.


Endnotes. Below are links to additional resources referenced above.

  1. United States Declaration of Independence
  2. Corporate Personhood

Dennis Kucinich Prayer for America – Los Angeles, California on 2 February 2002


I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, as a celebration of our country. With love of democracy. With love of our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time. With the understanding that there is a deeper truth in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people, everywhere. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation; but interconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse to be and to breathe free.

I offer this prayer for America.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving and accomplishment of civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.

We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.

We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups.

We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere, including medical and financial records.

We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this country for domestic intelligence and intelligence surveillance.

We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total secrecy.

The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice exposing herself in this administration.

Let us pray, oremus, that our nation’s leaders will not be overcome by fear. Because today there is great fear in the Capitol. And this must be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in this current environment.

The great fear began when we had to evacuate the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned Washington during the anthrax scare, when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in the mail. It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror alert and then brought the destructive Patriot Bill to the floor of the House of Representatives. It continued in the release of the Bin Laden tapes at the very same time the president was announcing our country would withdraw from the ABM treaty.

It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we go to vote.

The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected president and his undisclosed vice president.

Let us pray. Let us pray that our country will stop this war. “To provide for the common defense” is one of the formational principles of America. Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy of September 11. We licensed a response to those who helped create the terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.

We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

We did not authorize assassination squads.

We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.

We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.

We did not authorize national identity cards.

We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.

We did not authorize an eye for an eye.

Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize this administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.

We did not authorize war without end.

We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The president has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.

Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an independent audit.

Consider that the Inspector General notified Congress, recently, that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion – that’s trillion – in expenditures. Correct, that it cannot account for $1.2 trillion in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Department of Defense could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it purchased. Consider that it has written off as lost billions of dollars worth of in-transit inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did not need.

Yet the Pentagon’s budget grows with more money for weapons systems to fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which follows the militarization of the budget.

Let us pray for our children. Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is not appropriate for the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for the survival of a nation, not appropriate for the survival of the world.

Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people, and as a nation, to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September 11th our democratic traditions.

Let us declare. Let us declare our love of democracy. And declare our intent for peace.

Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own society.

Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war, as being inevitable.

Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.

Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. This is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace envisions. Forty-three members of Congress are now cosponsoring the legislation.

Let us work for a world where America can lead the way in banning all nuclear weapons not only from our land and sea and sky but from outer space itself. This is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where we can look up at God’s creation in the stars and imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities. Not infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us pray. Pray that we have the courage to replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of September 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images of military mobilization, jump-cut into images of our secular celebrations of the World Series, New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us replace those images with the images of people working to rebuild their democratic institutions. With images of the work of human relations. Of the work of reaching out to people, helping our citizens here at home. Of lifting the plight of people everywhere.

That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the world.

That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil, but which is itself the axis of hope and faith and peace and freedom.

America, America. God shed grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood and sisterhood.

America, America. Long may Thy land be bright with Freedom’s holy light.

America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within.

America, America. Crown thy good. Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through establishing America as king of a uni-polar world. But through looking at America as a nation among nations and viewing the world as an interconnected whole.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with sisterhood and brotherhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and forbearance and a commitment to peace and democracy here at home and in the world. And a commitment to economic democracy here at home and throughout the world.

Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.



Donald Rumsfeld Speech About Bureaucratic Waste


(Source: “DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield,” Department of Defense, 10 September 2001, by Donald Rumsfeld. The posting date and location of transcripts is the same as the date for the event.)

DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield

Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, The Pentagon , Monday, September 10, 2001

[Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics)] Pete Aldridge, Service Secretaries, distinguished officials of the Department of Defense.

[Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Richard] Myers, thank you very much for those kind words.

The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.

Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone: our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day, too, is almost past, and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary.

The adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. Not the people, but the processes. Not the civilians, but the systems. Not the men and women in uniform, but the uniformity of thought and action that we too often impose on them.

In this building, despite this era of scarce resources taxed by mounting threats, money disappears into duplicative duties and bloated bureaucracy—not because of greed, but gridlock. Innovation is stifled—not by ill intent but by institutional inertia.

Just as we must transform America’s military capability to meet changing threats, we must transform the way the Department works and what it works on. We must build a Department where each of the dedicated people here can apply their immense talents to defend America, where they have the resources, information and freedom to perform.

Our challenge is to transform not just the way we deter and defend, but the way we conduct our daily business. Let’s make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is a matter of some urgency. In fact, it could be said that it’s a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s.

A new idea ignored may be the next threat overlooked. A person employed in a redundant task is one who could be countering terrorism or nuclear proliferation. Every dollar squandered on waste is one denied to the warfighter. That’s why we’re here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth.

We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it.

Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.

The men and women of this department, civilian and military, are our allies, not our enemies. They too are fed up with bureaucracy, they too live with frustrations. I hear it every day. And I’ll bet a dollar to a dime that they too want to fix it. In fact, I bet they even know how to fix it, and if asked, will get about the task of fixing it. And I’m asking.

They know the taxpayers deserve better. Every dollar we spend was entrusted to us by a taxpayer who earned it by creating something of value with sweat and skill — a cashier in Chicago, a waitress in San Francisco. An average American family works an entire year to generate $6,000 in income taxes. Here we spill many times that amount every hour by duplication and by inattention.

That’s wrong. It’s wrong because national defense depends on public trust, and trust, in turn, hinges on respect for the hardworking people of America and the tax dollars they earn. We need to protect them and their efforts.

Waste drains resources from training and tanks, from infrastructure and intelligence, from helicopters and housing. Outdated systems crush ideas that could save a life. Redundant processes prevent us from adapting to evolving threats with the speed and agility that today’s world demands.

Above all, the shift from bureaucracy to the battlefield is a matter of national security. In this period of limited funds, we need every nickel, every good idea, every innovation, every effort to help modernize and transform the U.S. military.

We must change for a simple reason — the world has — and we have not yet changed sufficiently. The clearest and most important transformation is from a bipolar Cold War world where threats were visible and predictable, to one in which they arise from multiple sources, most of which are difficult to anticipate, and many of which are impossible even to know today.

Let there be no question: the 2.7 million people who wear our country’s uniform — active, Guard and Reserve — and the close to 700,000 more who support them in civilian attire, comprise the finest military in the history of the world. They stand ready to face down any threat, anytime, anywhere. But we must do more.

We must develop and build weapons to deter those new threats. We must rebuild our infrastructure, which is in a very serious state of disrepair. And we must assure that the noble cause of military service remains the high calling that will attract the very best.

All this costs money. It costs more than we have. It demands agility — more than today’s bureaucracy allows. And that means we must recognize another transformation: the revolution in management, technology and business practices. Successful modern businesses are leaner and less hierarchical than ever before. They reward innovation and they share information. They have to be nimble in the face of rapid change or they die. Business enterprises die if they fail to adapt, and the fact that they can fail and die is what provides the incentive to survive. But governments can’t die, so we need to find other incentives for bureaucracy to adapt and improve.

The technology revolution has transformed organizations across the private sector, but not ours, not fully, not yet. We are, as they say, tangled in our anchor chain. Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it’s stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible.

We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. Fully half of our resources go to infrastructure and overhead, and in addition to draining resources from warfighting, these costly and outdated systems, procedures and programs stifle innovation as well. A new idea must often survive the gauntlet of some 17 levels of bureaucracy to make it from a line officer’s to my desk. I have too much respect for a line officer to believe that we need 17 layers between us.

Our business processes and regulations seems to be engineered to prevent any mistake, and by so doing, they discourage any risk. But ours is a nation born of ideas and raised on improbability, and risk aversion is not America’s ethic, and more important, it must not be ours.

Those who fear danger do not volunteer to storm beaches and take hills, sail the seas, and conquer the skies. Now we must free you to take some of the same thoughtful, reasoned risks in the bureaucracy that the men and women in uniform do in battle.

To that end, we’re announcing today a series of steps the Department of Defense will take to shift our focus and our resources from bureaucracy to battlefield, from tail to tooth.

Today’s announcements are only the first of many. We will launch others ourselves, and we will ask Congress for legislative help as well. We have, for example, asked Congress for permission to begin the process of closing excess bases and consolidating the B-1 bomber force.

But we have the ability—and, therefore, the responsibility—to reduce waste and improve operational efficiency on our own. Already we have made some progress. We’ve eliminated some 31 of the 72 acquisition-related advisory boards. We now budget based on realistic estimates. We’re improving the acquisition process. We’re investing $400 million in public-private partnerships for military housing. Many utility services to military installations will be privatized.

We’re tightening the requirements for other government agencies to reimburse us for detailees, and we’re reviewing to see whether we should suspend assignments where detailees are not fully reimbursed.

We have committed $100 million for financial modernization, and we’re establishing a Defense Business Board to tap outside expertise as we move to improve the department’s business practices.

We can be proud of this progress but certainly not satisfied.

To succeed, this effort demands personal and sustained attention at the highest levels of the Department. Therefore, it will be guided by the Senior Executive Council including Under Secretary Pete Aldridge, Army Secretary Thomas White, Navy Secretary Gordon England, and Air Force Secretary Jim Roche. These leaders are experienced, talented, and determined. I am delighted they are on our team. I would not want to try to stop them from what they came into this Department to do. I expect them to be enormously successful, as they have in their other endeavors throughout their lives.

Because the Department must respond quickly to changing threats, we’re overhauling the 40-year-old Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System, or PPBS, the annual process of forecasting threats for the next several years, matching threats to programs and programs to budgets.

It’s really a relic of the Cold War, a holdover from the days when it was possible to forecast threats for the next several years because we knew who would be threatening us for the next several decades. It’s also a relic of the Cold War in another regard. PPBS is, I suppose, one of the last vestiges of central planning on Earth. We’ve combined the programming and budgeting phases to reduce duplicative work and speed decision-making. The streamlined process that should result will be quicker and cheaper and more flexible.

In order to make decisions more quickly, we must slash duplication and encourage cooperation. Currently the Departments of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy operate separate but parallel staffs for their civilian and uniformed chiefs. These staffs largely work the same issues and perform the same functions. Secretaries White and Roach will soon announce plans for realigning the Departments to support information sharing, speed decision-making, integrate Reserve and Guard headquarters into Department headquarters. Secretary England is engaging a broad agenda of change in the Department of Navy as well.

It’s time to start asking tough questions about redundant staffs. Let me give you an example. There are dozens of offices of general counsel scattered throughout the Department. Each service has one. Every agency does, too. So do the Joint Chiefs. We have so many general counsel offices that we actually have another general counsel’s office whose only job is to coordinate all those general counsels. [Laughter.] You think I’m kidding. [Laughs.] [Laughter.]

The same could be said of a variety of other functions, from public affairs to legislative affairs. Now, maybe we need many of them, but I have a strong suspicion that we need fewer than we have, and we’re going to take a good, hard look and find out.

Department headquarters are hardly the only scenes of redundant bureaucracy. Health care is another. Each service branch has its own surgeon general and medical operation. At the department level, four different agencies claim some degree of control over the delivery of military health care.

Consider this snapshot. One out of every five officers in the United States Navy is a physician. That’s not to single out the Navy or to suggest that too many doctors wear uniforms. The Navy and Marine Corps’ forward deployments generate unique medical needs. Rather, it’s to say that some of those needs, especially where they may involve general practice or specialties unrelated to combat, might be more efficiently delivered by the private sector. And all of them would likely be more efficiently delivered with fewer overlapping bureaucracies.

We’ve begun to consolidate health care delivery under our TriCare management activity. Over the next two years we will reform the procurement of care from the private sector. I’ve asked the military departments and Personnel and Readiness organization to complete a revamping of the military health system by fiscal year 2003.

DOD also has three exchange systems and a separate commissary system, all providing similar goods and services. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that consolidating them could save some $300 million. I’ve asked that we promptly explore the use of tools, like consolidation and contracting, to ensure our uniformed personnel and their families get the very best.

Congress has mandated that we reduce headquarter staffs by 15 percent by fiscal year 2003. I have ordered at least an overall 15 percent reduction from fiscal year 1999 levels in the numerous headquarter staffs overall throughout the department, from the Pentagon to the CINCs to every base headquarters building in the world. It’s not just the law, it’s a good idea, and we’re going to get it done. It’s the right thing to do.

To transform the Department, we must look outside this building as well. Consequently, the Senior Executive Council will scour the Department for functions that could be performed better and more cheaply through commercial outsourcing. Here, too, we must ask tough questions. Here are a few:

Why is DOD one of the last organizations around that still cuts its own checks? When an entire industry exists to run warehouses efficiently, why do we own and operate so many of our own? At bases around the world, why do we pick up our own garbage and mop our own floors, rather than contracting services out, as many businesses do? And surely we can outsource more computer systems support.

Maybe we need agencies for some of those functions. Indeed, I know we do. Perhaps a public-private partnership would make sense for others, and I don’t doubt at least a few could be outsized — outsourced altogether.

Like the private sector’s best-in-class companies, DOD should aim for excellence in functions that are either directly related to warfighting or must be performed by the Department. But in all other cases, we should seek suppliers who can provide these non-core activities efficiently and effectively. The Senior Executive Council will begin a review of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Defense Logistics Agency and Defense Information Service Agency.

Harnessing the expertise of the private sector is about something more, however. The Department of Defense was once an engine of technological innovation. Today the private sector is leading the way in many respects, yet DOD makes it harder and harder for us to keep up and for those who do keep up to do business with the Department. Consider that it takes today twice as long as it did in 1975 to produce a new weapon system, at a time when new generations of technology are churned out every 18 to 24 months.

That virtually guarantees that weapon systems are at least a generation old technologically the day they’re deployed. Meanwhile, our process and regulations have become so burdensome that many businesses have simply chosen not to do business with the Department of Defense.

To transform the Department, we must take advantage of the private sector’s expertise. I’ve asked the members of the Senior Executive Council to streamline the acquisition process and spur innovation in our traditional supplier base.

Finally, and perhaps most important, we must forge a new compact with war-fighters and those who support them, one that honors their service and understands their needs and encourages them to make national defense a life-long career.

Many of the skills we most require are also in high demand in the private sector, as all of you know. To compete, we need to bring the Department of Defense the human resources practices that have already transformed the private sector. Our compact with war fighters will address quality of life issues—like improvements in health care and housing—where we will make more use of public-private partnerships, and by working to reduce the amount of time they must spend away from their families on deployment.

No business I have known could survive under the policies we apply to our uniformed personnel. We encourage, and often force, servicemen and -women and retire after 20 years in service, after we’ve spent millions of dollars to train them and when, still in their 40s, they were at the peak of their talents and skills. Because our objective is to produce generalists, officers are most often rotated out of assignments every 12 to 24 months, giving them a flavor of all things but too often making them experts at none. Both policies exact a toll in institutional memory, in skill and in combat readiness. To that end, we intend to submit revised personnel legislation to the Congress at the beginning of fiscal year 2003.

If a shortcoming on the uniformed side is moving personnel too much, on the civilian end we map hardly any career path at all. There, too, we must employ the tools of modern business — more flexible compensation packages, modern recruiting techniques and better training.

Let me conclude with this note. Some may ask, defensively so, will this war on bureaucracy succeed where others have failed? To that I offer three replies. First is the acknowledgement, indeed this caution: Change is hard. It’s hard for some to bear, and it’s hard for all of us to achieve.

There’s a myth, sort of a legend, that money enters this building and disappears, like a bright light into a black hole, never to be seen again. In truth, there is a real person at the other end of every dollar, a real person who’s in charge of every domain, and that means that there will be real consequences from, and real resistance to, fundamental change. We will not complete this work in one year, or five years, or even eight years. An institution built with trillions of dollars over decades of time does not turn on a dime. Some say it’s like turning a battleship. I suspect it’s more difficult.

That’s the disadvantage of size. But here’s the upside. In an institution this large, a little bit of change goes a very long way. If we can save just 5 percent of one year’s budget, and I have never seen an organization that couldn’t save 5 percent of its budget, we would free up some $15 billion to $18 billion, to be transferred from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to tooth. Even if Congress provides us every nickel of our fiscal year ’02 budget, we will still need these extra savings to put towards transformation in this Department.

Second, this effort is structurally different from any that preceded it, I suspect. It begins with the personal endorsement, in fact the mandate, of the President of the United States. President Bush recently released a management agenda that says that performance, not promises, will count. He is personally engaged and aware of the effort that all of you are engaged in. The battle against a stifling bureaucracy is also a personal priority for me and for the Service Secretaries, one that will, through the Senior Executive Council, receive the sustained attention at the highest levels of this Department. We have brought people on board who have driven similar change in the private sector. We intend to do so here. We will report publicly on our progress. The old adage that you get what you inspect, not what you expect, or put differently, that what you measure improves, is true. It is powerful, and we will be measuring.

Our strongest allies are the people of this department, and to them I say we need your creativity, we need your energy. If you have ideas or observations for shifting the department’s resources from tail to tooth, we welcome them. In fact, we’ve set up a dedicated e- mail address: http://www.tailtotooth@osd.pentagon.mil where anyone can send in any thoughts they have.

Finally, this effort will succeed because it must. We really have no choice. It is not, in the end, about business practices, nor is the goal to improve figures on the bottom line. It’s really about the security of the United States of America. And let there be no mistake, it is a matter of life and death. Our job is defending America, and if we cannot change the way we do business, then we cannot do our job well, and we must. So today we declare war on bureaucracy, not people, but processes, a campaign to shift Pentagon resources from the tail to the tooth. All hands will be required, and it will take the best of all of us.

Now, like you, I’ve read that there are those who will oppose our every effort to save taxpayers’ money and to strengthen the tooth-to- tail ratio. Well, fine, if there’s to be a struggle, so be it. But keep in mind the story about the donkey, the burro, and the ass. The man and the boy were walking down the street with the donkey and people looked and laughed at them and said, “Isn’t that foolish—they have a donkey and no one rides it.” So the man said to the boy, “Get on the donkey; we don’t want those people to think we’re foolish.” So they went down the road and people looked at the boy on the donkey and the man walking alongside — “Isn’t that terrible, that young boy is riding the donkey and the man’s walking.” So they changed places, went down the road, people looked and said, “Isn’t that terrible, that strong man is up there on the donkey and making the little boy walk.” So they both got up on the donkey, the donkey became exhausted, came to a bridge, fell in the river and drowned. And of course the moral of the story is, if you try to please everybody, you’re going to lose your donkey. [Laughter.]

So as we all remember that if you do something, somebody’s not going to like it, so be it. Our assignment is not to try to please everybody. This is not just about money. It’s not about waste. It’s about our responsibility to the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk. We owe them the best training and the best equipment, and we need the resources to provide that. It’s about respect for taxpayers’ dollars. A cab driver in New York City ought to be able to feel confident that we care about those dollars.

It’s about professionalism, and it’s also about our respect for ourselves, about how we feel about seeing GAO reports describing waste and mismanagement and money down a rat hole.

We need your help. I ask for your help. I thank all of you who are already helping. I have confidence that we can do it. It’s going to be hard. There will be rough times. But it’s also the best part of life to be engaged in doing something worthwhile.

Every person within earshot wants to be a part of a proud organization, an organization that cares about excellence in everything it does. I know it. You know it. Let’s get about it.

Thank you very much. [Applause.]