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Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 27, 2015 at 2:41 pm •  Published: May 27, 2015

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:


May 26

New York Times on Bid Laden's bookshelf:

The release of a partial list of books, documents, press clippings and other materials the United States government says were seized from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan does make for some intriguing rummaging. We imagine Bin Laden cooped up in his hideaway devouring reports on 9/11, trying to figure out his nemesis America through stacks of mainstream and fringe books and articles, boning up on France, firing off messages to Al Qaeda lieutenants, or penning the occasional love note to a wife. It makes for rich speculation, but the question at the end is whether this trove obtained when Navy SEALs raided Bin Laden's hideout and killed him four years ago tells us anything useful about the architect of the great crime of 9/11.

One problem is that the material declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is only part of the cache; the rest is still secret. Another problem is the timing of the release, and the choice of what was made public. Finally, it is not clear whether the books and articles were selected or sought by Bin Laden, or were just materials brought to him by visitors and lieutenants. That makes a difference: The books found in Hitler's bunker after he shot himself were those he chose to bring there, and so can speak to his state of mind at the end.

Given those caveats, "Bin Laden's Bookshelf," as the intelligence office dubbed the cache, is not particularly surprising for a reasonably well educated and narcissistic leader of a terrorist organization studying his enemy and trying to maintain control of an increasingly decentralized network. As with the banality of all evil, there is certain to be a humdrum quality to the daily reading and communications of a man who requires practical information and managerial skills, even if it is in pursuit of a fanatical idea through mass murder. What is interesting is not that Bin Laden read "The 9/11 Commission Report," but whether he felt the least bit of remorse or only malicious pride. That we can only surmise.



May 21

Seattle Times on the US icebreaker fleet:

On a crisp November day 41 years ago, Champagne was cracked over the massive hull of the icebreaker Polar Star on the Seattle waterfront. The ship cranked up its 78,000-horsepower engines and churned off toward the Pacific Ocean. A few days later, it was joined by its sister icebreaker, the Polar Sea, also built at Seattle's now-closed Lockheed shipyard.

That was the last time the United States built new heavy-class icebreakers. Since then, the government-owned icebreaker fleet has dwindled to just two working vessels, the medium-class Healy, primarily used for research, and the aging Polar Star — both based in Seattle. The Polar Sea is mothballed on the Seattle waterfront, potentially bound for the scrap heap.

That neglect exposes important strategic interests. Arctic ice has shrunk 13 percent each decade since the 1970s. Climate change, as President Obama said this week, poses national security threats.

For much of the year, icebreakers are the ships capable of exerting sovereignty in the U.S. territorial waters that stretch 200 miles off the Alaskan coast. Icebreakers operated by the U.S. Coast Guard are the United States' eyes and ears, whether the issues are illegal fishing or rescue operations. Commercial vessel traffic in the Bering Strait has doubled since 1998.

Meanwhile, Russia's icebreaker fleet has grown to 40, including a new supersized icebreaker ominously called "50 Years of Victory." Canada, Sweden and Finland have larger fleets than the United States. China expects a new icebreaker to come online in 2016.

The U.S. Coast Guard needs a more robust icebreaker fleet. In a 2010 study, the agency said it needs six heavy-duty icebreakers and four medium-sized ones to serve the Coast Guard and Navy missions in the Arctic. It is well past time for Congress to act.

This week, in a welcomed outbreak of bipartanship, U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., — the chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Energy committee, respectively — introduced legislation to build six new icebreakers.

At $856 million per vessel, that is a huge request. If fulfilled, Puget Sound shipyards stand to gain.

Congress, like the American people, must recognize the strategic threats and necessities as climate change melts the Arctic. In the past decade, U.S. strategic actions were focused in the desert, not on the ice.

In the meantime, the Polar Star has outlasted seven presidencies. It is now officially on "caretaker" status and is projected to reach the end of its usable life in 2020. That would leave the United States without a heavy icebreaker.



May 23

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on President Obama being no friend to police:

Police officers across this country should have everything they need to protect themselves and the citizens they are trying to protect and serve.

Whether it be batons, shields, machine guns, personnel carriers, Humvees, helmets, battering rams or camouflage uniforms, police officers should have access to this equipment.

After what we witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri, and more recently in Baltimore, where lawless thugs were throwing large rocks and large pieces of concrete at police officers, it is quite obvious they need these things to protect themselves from people who wish them harm.

Most would agree police need certain types of equipment to protect themselves, people and property during riots.

Apparently, President Barack Obama doesn't see it this way.

It's no surprise coming from a president who has made his disdain for law enforcement well known in his coded speeches about them. We believe that in Ferguson and in Baltimore, Obama added fuel to an already ongoing fire when he talked about how law enforcement doesn't get along with minorities in their communities.

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