May: Images of children in cages 'disturbing'

After British Prime Minister Theresa May's called images of children in cages "disturbing," Rep. Bob Goodlatte says that although "no one likes to look at pictures of children who are in unhappy situations," their parents are the "root problem."

Posted: Jun 21, 2018 3:05 AM
Updated: Jun 21, 2018 3:05 AM

Those who have served overseas representing the United States know the awesome power of the nation's brand. Our reputation as a country dedicated to freedom and justice precedes all who are honored to identify themselves as American officials.

While serving diplomatic and operational assignments with the FBI in over 20 countries, I saw the power of that brand up close.

When I spoke, people listened. Not because I was an inordinately gifted orator, but rather because I was speaking on behalf of the United States government, an imperfect but often emulated conglomeration of agencies known throughout the world as reflecting righteousness, fairness, and truth. As my former boss, FBI Director James Comey, would explain to fellow employees, an agency's strong reputation garners immediate trust, even from total strangers.

The benefits derived from such a powerful national brand were not limited to law enforcement, but extended to an array of colleagues I worked alongside in the foreign service, CIA, and military. As one American ambassador in South Asia described it to me, we are effective in every corner of the globe because of the moral authority generated at home by the manner in which we govern ourselves and our commitment to the rule of law.

It is this moral authority that is currently threatened by elected officials who continue to steamroll norms associated with equal justice. Shrewd calculations focused on short-term political survival and misguided notions of what constitutes "strength" appear to outweigh any consideration of how political actions domestically might be perceived abroad. This departure from established norms has manifested itself in how our leaders treat law enforcement investigations and how our leaders have used law enforcement officers to repugnantly treat outsiders.

We can rest assured the world is watching.

Take, for example, the ongoing attacks on our institutions of justice by a White House seeking to undermine the ongoing investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While destroying the credibility of the Department of Justice and FBI may serve their immediate purposes, they either fail to realize or care that this campaign of destruction will cause ripples that will limit our global effectiveness.

I know from experience that America's legal system is among the most respected in the world and is often looked to by developing nations as the model for ordering their own affairs. Our basic tenets of fairness and independence from meddling by those in power ensure justice is served without fear or favor.

I have lost count of the number of times foreign law enforcement or intelligence officials in countries where corruption was rampant lamented to me about the outsized influence their political leaders had on how they did their jobs. Many longed for the day they were free to administer justice without powerful people tipping the scales.

What are these same countries to make of recent developments in America, where each new day seemingly brings some new example of overzealous elected officials exerting improper influence on law enforcement? The President and his allies in Congress continually attack law enforcement officials conducting investigations uncomfortably close to their own interests, and now routinely call for the imprisonment of American citizens they perceive as enemies. How can America serve as a beacon to others if it continues to backslide?

Then there is the separate but equally disturbing manner in which law enforcement is being used along our southern border to enforce a hardline immigration policy that may stain our global reputation for a generation. The now ubiquitous images of children being separated from their families and housed in cages have garnered calls of condemnation at home and overseas.

These practices are un-American, yet they persist. If seeing pictures of people in cages doesn't shake us to our core, we must not see them as people. Wednesday, the President indicated he would be signing an executive order to detain families together, but initial reports suggest he will not back off the zero tolerance policy.

To be clear, most people are not advocating for open borders or for law enforcement to pack up and go home. We must maintain effective immigration policies in order to ensure our national security. But our leaders must also weigh this new zero tolerance policy of prosecuting undocumented immigrants against the corrosive damage these barbaric actions and images will have on America's moral authority abroad.

Every time a politician attempts to undermine an ongoing investigation for personal political reasons or uses the incredible powers of law enforcement to target afflicted people coming to this country in hopes of a better life, our standing in the world diminishes.

Although we are a sovereign country, it would be foolish to ignore how our actions at home impact our image globally. To remain a global superpower, we cannot arrogantly discount the views of others.

To maintain influence, we must also maintain respect. That respect only comes from approaching law enforcement in a manner consistent with our national values. Anything less will cause us to find ourselves even more isolated on the international stage, even further down the path of becoming a country unmoored from the rule of law, and one we ourselves no longer recognize.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55947

Reported Deaths: 1654
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
Stearns281720
Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
Dodge1220
Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
Brown832
Meeker832
Morrison831
Faribault820
Sibley782
Wabasha780
Koochiching733
Rock730
Jackson700
Pennington701
Mille Lacs643
Fillmore610
Cass582
Renville585
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau450
Houston400
Pope390
Norman340
Redwood300
Aitkin280
Hubbard280
Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
Winneshiek821
Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur210
Ringgold211
Adair200
Adams160
Wayne151
Unassigned70
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