I am a proud resident of Boulder. I am proud because this city is a leader in how we live our lives. We are active, we are healthy, we are educated, and we are green. We live in a great place that attracts people from across the nation to come and get a taste of our lifestyle. I work on Pearl Street, and I can attest that every summer thousands of people visit our unique city and are blown away. Boulder is a leader.
Renewables are the wave of the energy future. This is not a recent revelation. The opportunity is at the doorstep and all Boulder has to do is embrace it. The creation of a municipal electric utility would place our city at the forefront of sustainability nationally. It can be done and it needs to be done. The status quo does not work for me. We need to step up and answer the call. We have a chance to redefine how we power our everyday lives and I am excited to take the next step.
Let’s talk drones
The U.S. has been very active in the overseas business of targeted killings with its arsenal of flying robots, but, until fairly recently, this has been something seldom discussed outside of confidential reports and closed doors. Last month, John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA sparked some much needed controversy that culminated with Senator Rand Paul’s heroic thirteen-hour filibuster. More recently, the CIA has signaled that it will be transferring drone operations to the more transparent Department of Defense, an encouraging sign that the government is working to resolve their injustices, and an important step in the right direction if they are to remain true to the principles of a democracy.
It has been less than one year since the government first publicly acknowledged the existence of its covert assassination program. In a speech titled “The Efficacy and Ethics of U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy,” Brennan, the mastermind behind the drone wars, outlined his rationale behind extending operations out of designated war theaters in order to hunt down al-Qaeda members. As legal justification, he cites the Authorization for Use of Military Force that was hastily passed by congress immediately following the September 11 attacks. He also points to the “surgical precision” and “laser-like” focus with which these weapons strike, arguing that this high-tech weaponry is safer and more effective than traditional military tactics.
However, collateral and psychological damage caused by these drone strikes may be doing little more than galvanizing the youth and breeding a new generation of resentful terrorists. Critics also frequently attack the shaky legal footing of this operation. For example, the ACLU harshly criticizes the 2011 killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen in Yemen. He was denied due process simply because a group of politicians deemed him an “immediate threat.”
The real problem with drones is far bigger than the legal and ethical issues above — it is an issue of government secrecy. Just this past February, the Washington Post and the New York Times published articles exposing a secret CIA drone airbase in Saudi Arabia. It was later revealed that these news organizations intentionally withheld knowledge of the base at the behest of the government, ultimately choosing to release the articles years later.
Obama promised to establish a more transparent government as part of his campaign platform. Unfortunately, he has failed to deliver on this promise. Obama, Brennan and the CIA, operating behind their thick veil of secrecy, are answerable to no one but themselves when sanctioning these killings. This type of secrecy and complete disregard for accountability flies directly in the face of the democratic principles on which this country is founded. And when this happens, the president has become no better than the lawless, indiscriminate killers that he so vigorously opposes.