The Aldrich Alert
Gary Aldrich

A Publication of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty

First Casualty of War

March 3, 2001

by Gary Aldrich - Volume 2, Issue 11

This article appeared on on Thursday, February 28, 2002.

They say the first casualty of war is truth. Most people probably think that means the U.S. government is empowered to lie about anything, if it means weíll win a war sooner.

This assumes that the lie is made to fool the enemy, not ourselves.

Most trusting Americans cannot imagine the "fat times" this war footing provides for the herds of incompetents that occupy so many of the cubicles of our vast government structure. These burrowed parasites are willing to lie about anything if their laziness and corruptions remain undiscovered. All federal slugs relish times of war since they know that much can be hidden in the name of "national security."

In a small conference room at the U.S. Capitol yesterday, whistleblowers – old and new – gathered with foundations that sponsor them, for a meeting with politicians in Washington who think honesty is always the best policy when it comes to the peopleís business, war or no war.

Leading the parade of the wounded warriors for truth is none other than Frank Serpico, a former New York City cop who testified many years ago to serious corruption in the ranks of New York Cityís finest. There were whistleblowers before Serpico, and there will be many more after, but his cause was captured in a best selling book and later made into a major motion picture. Because of this unusual exposure, a disgusted public demanded reforms that not only cleaned up the corruption, but also protected future whistleblowers.

Many think itís time for another period of reform. Present at the Paul Revere Forum are groups devoted to surfacing the truth, such as the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight and my own Patrick Henry Center. These groups are concerned about truth and the rights of whistleblowers, but since September 11, 2001 there is also a deeper concern about our nationís security.

Joining the conference was a recently resigned U.S. Customs federal agent, Darlene Catalan – a modern day Serpico. She attempted to protect our borders by aggressively pursuing a major investigation involving numerous shipments of contraband across the Mexican border. For her dedication she was rewarded with harassment, ridicule, retaliation and wholesale assault on her professional and personal reputation. Why? Because Catalan was getting too close to corruption that apparently went high up the chain-of-command.

Catalanís complaints to her management finally led to her resignation when she could no longer justify remaining a part of such major corruption. She either had to resign and surface the truth, or she had to go along with the fraud.

To her dismay, she learned that the lone U.S. senator who had seemingly taken up her cause was seen in a cozy social setting with none other than the U.S. Customs manager believed to be most responsible for the incompetence and corruption. When Catalan later learned that this same manager had been selected to fill yet another plum political job, it became clear to her and her fellow agents that the "fix" was in at the highest levels of government.

Catalan concluded it was impossible – absent a lawsuit – to get any justice for what had happened to her and her fellow U.S. Customs agents, the ones who were honest. So she and others filed federal lawsuits to recover their good names and some of the salary they were denied because they had been harassed off the job.

Iíve spent a good deal of time with Darlene, a delightful lady who is honest and dedicated to surfacing the full truth about the dismal state of our border protections, especially along the Mexican border. Darleneís beat has been the thousands of railcars coming over the border, each and every day. Few pressurized rail tank cars are inspected, yet secreted inside so many of these huge metal cylinders are tons of narcotics, enough to keep the price of cocaine on the street low, and the quality of dope very high.

Darlene Catalan, a devoted wife and mother of three children, worries about drugs and drug addiction, but what worries her more is the real chance these tanker cars could be used to make the "worldís biggest pipe bomb." She knows some terrorists are bright enough to grasp the potential that our corrupted border inspection system holds.

Catalan points out to any who will listen that a single tanker filled with chemicals identical to those used in the Oklahoma City bombing would have 20 times the explosive power. Whatís more, these uninspected rail cars can be shuttled to any large city and parked in a rental rail spur, waiting for some date and time for detonation.

Congressmen and senators attending the Paul Revere Forum yesterday should walk outside and count the few steps that it takes to walk from the U.S. Capitol to the nearest active rail yard. If theyíll do that, perhaps then they will pay closer attention to what Darlene Catalan and other whistleblowers attending the conference are trying to tell them.

But if after hearing Catalan, and peering over at the nearby rail yard our elected officials canít figure out how to protect their own backyard, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Truth may, in fact, be the first casualty of war, but letís fix what our whistleblowers tell us is broken, and not lie about it because weíre embarrassed to learn the federal government is riddled with incompetence and corruption after eight years of debating the meaning of "is."

This conference will prove why itís important to praise our truth-telling whistleblowers and at the same time use their insider knowledge to perhaps save some lives.

Editorís Note: For more information on this topic, visit the Patrick Henry Center.