Sunday, March 06, 2005
America has a government founded on the principles of freedom and liberty. The founding fathers were inspired and motivated to form a separate nation from Great Britain for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons or principles were summarized in the original statement of "Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness . . . That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Though Great Britain was supplying America with safety and security as its mother country, as an imperialist government it failed to bestow on its citizens certain liberties and rights deemed important to the new Americans who chose to explore and stake out a life in the New World. The principles of freedom and liberty are paramount to a strong nation made up of creative and inspired individuals who can tackle the challenges of making a new and better life for each and all of its citizens. Without freedom and liberty, how else can one truly explore and investigate, experiment and experience, and learn by failure and success, on the awesome journey of discovery in any new world or on any new knowledge frontier. America therefore chose freedom and liberty as its founding principles in government, and the nation has grown strong and prospered accordingly for over 200 years.
Freedom and liberty must be balanced with safety and security, which necessitates a government and nation of laws and protections for its citizens. These laws by their nature limit some of our personal freedoms and liberties, and are necessary to maintain our civilized society and culture. The 9/11 event brought into focus the importance of safety and security in a free society. It was an attack using methods of terror that motivated our country to implement more laws and regulations with the goal of creating better protection for its citizens. Therefore, to some extent the terrorists have won a battle by forcing us to give up some of our freedoms and liberties in favor of safety and security. It is critical, therefore, that we as a nation maintain a clear and strong balance between freedom & liberty and safety & security.
Currently at Los Alamos National Laboratory safety and security has mostly eliminated the freedom and liberty of its employees. Dr. Oppenhiemer, the Laboratory’s founding father and first director, had many conflicts with General Groves, the military leader of the project, regarding how much freedom and liberty should be allowed to the laboratory scientists. Dr. Oppenhiemer’s leadership prevailed and the scientific community was free of most of the more unreasonable restraints to its freedom and liberty. Recently the mission of the Laboratory has radically changed from that of doing research and science to maintain our personal and national freedom and liberty to that of regulating and documenting safety and security in order to maintain our livelihoods. Fear and intimidation are the driving forces that now direct Laboratory employees’ efforts. Employees are no longer free to do the jobs they were trained for and do not have the liberty to investigate new discoveries. I believe the director said something to the effect that we will have no safety incidents and no security infractions. I interpret that to mean we will have no freedom and no liberty at Los Alamos National Laboratory! Laboratory management says we are going in the right direction now. Do we really want to go there?
The problem is very simply a management that does not tolerate people who disagree with its actions, and does not give individuals the right of due process by prejudging them.