An article posted online with the Harvard Business Review asks, “Leadership After Tucson: Will Anything Change?”
The change needed is to give Americans the presidential leadership necessary to investigate Jared Loughner, who’s likely to spend the rest of his life locked up behind bars for the Tuscon events referenced in the article. It appears as if Loughner may have tried to take the law into his own hands, after his awkward 2007 attempt to petition the government for a redress of grievances was neglected.
In remarks at a Tuscon memorial service, Barack Obama talked about how the health care system may have helped prevent the tragedy. But apart from suggesting more gun control, he failed to mention how the political system may have helped.
We’ve seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health system. And much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.
Loughner was reported to show signs of paranoia, telling others that the government was trying to control people. So amid the many angles being pursued to make sense out of what’s needed after Tuscon, it’s shocking that none are asking a question that’s much more relevant than arguments in the media about tactics used in political campaigns.
Was Jared Loughner right to claim government abuse?
Another Brick in The Wall
In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed the existence of Project MKULTRA, a covert program of illegal human experiments that were conducted on unwitting Americans. Its objective was behavioral modification by thought control, using methods that would result in previously normal citizens like Loughner to be “discredited in public.”
Despite several deaths associated with Project MKULTRA and the purposeful destruction of evidence by government officials, none of the changes that resulted from the Senate investigations included the development of any way for Americans to report suspected cases of government abuse.
Specificity and Sensitivity
Long after Americans presided over the Nuremberg Trials, which outlined directives for human experimentation, an essential change was never made to improve our own experiment with democracy, even after infamous episodes like Project MKULTRA and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment that didn’t end until 1972, when the Associated Press broke the story after 40 years of secret and illegal experimentation.
We still don’t have a way for the Legislative Branch to check the abuse of Americans by Executive corruption.
A recommendedation could take inspiration from the worlds of sports and statistics, by tasking the CIA to conduct a “Red Flag” challenge in cases of suspected abuse, with complainants agreeing to psychiatric evaluations in cases that yield negative results.
“How do you know words mean anything?”
Representative Gabrielle Giffords should have been given an opportunity to provide Loughner with the help he desperately needed, with the red flag raised by Loughner at a 2007 constituency meeting.
None of this is meant to say that the White House is presiding over a dark side of government that conducted illegal experiments on Loughner. But Obama’s failure to recommend improvements to the political system after Tuscon is further evidence that he’s an ineffective executive and not up to the standard demanded for America’s commander in chief to succeed.
Needed: Real Presidential Leadership
Facing constant threats from enemies domestic and abroad, Americans need a president with the content of character that truly understands the objects at which all political institutions aim – greater safety and happiness.
Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona,” The White House, January 12, 2011.