Being in the Army changed my perspective of America in several ways. Perhaps the most significant of these was the realization of the power of the press in the United States.
It is vital for operational security that the public not be made aware of everything going on in a war, but it goes way beyond that.
In coordination with the armed forces and the federal government, the press tightly controls what information is released to the populace.
One example of this is the ban on the media taking images of flag-draped coffins being returned to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan. These aren’t coffins per se, but instead, they are known as “transfer cases” used to transport the body back to their loved ones.
Other examples were how the war was spun from the perspective of indigenous people of a nation and misleading the country as to how long we were planning on keeping troops in the country.
It was like parents keeping delicate information from a small child. The attitude was, “They don’t need to know.” I don’t see it as a cover-up, but rather a careful picking and choosing information. Those choices occurred way above my pay grade.
** “You have arrived at your destination.”
I remember calling home and having my family say things like, “Sounds like you guys should be home in a few weeks.” All I could say to them at the time was something like, “That’s not going to happen.”
At the time, we had plans for extended deployments and troop rotations lasting years into the future.
I didn’t think I was naive, but one day the obviousness of it all smacked me upside the head, and I realized, “They (the American people) only know what they (the government and press) want them to know.”
The US military is poisoning the water in O’ahu
As Director for the Sierra Club of Hawai’i Wayne Tanaka recently wrote in The Guardian, the US Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility is “a massive underground ‘farm’ of 18-million liter fuel tanks and pipes just 100 feet above metropolitan O’ahu. Its construction began before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Since then, it has leaked over 180,000 gallons of petroleum into the groundwater aquifer that provides drinking water for over 400,000 residents and visitors from Hālawa to Hawaiʻi Kai.”
Regardless of the major threat the facility poses to the local water system and demands from Native Hawaiians and supporters to address the crisis and hold the US military accountable, it wasn’t until hundreds of military families living near Pearl Harbor reported symptoms of petroleum poisoning that Red Hill’s operations were paused in late November. But the root causes of the environmental and public health crisis remain untouched and the fight to shut down Red Hill is still very much ongoing. In this segment of The Marc Steiner Show, Marc speaks about that fight with Mikey Inouye, an independent filmmaker born and raised in Hawai‘i, community organizer, and member of O‘ahu Water Protectors. The O‘ahu Water Protectors is an organization that formed out of a coalition of Kānaka Maoli organizers, Sierra Club members and supporters, Hawai‘i Peace and Justice, and other groups working toward sovereignty, decolonization, and demilitarization.