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 4:03 AM
Updated: Jun 21, 2018 4:05 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
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Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
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Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
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Shelby54627
Grant52630
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Morgan46734
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White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
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Greene24634
Franklin24114
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Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
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Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
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Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
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Jay910
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Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 99969

Reported Deaths: 3668
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18182523
Cuyahoga13414499
Hamilton9583255
Lucas5288323
Montgomery431894
Summit3523222
Marion292245
Butler289163
Mahoning2532255
Pickaway238342
Stark1813139
Warren176739
Lorain173678
Columbiana165660
Trumbull1518106
Fairfield136732
Delaware129219
Licking126049
Clark114214
Lake111138
Wood103058
Clermont92111
Medina91435
Miami83238
Tuscarawas78114
Portage75461
Allen73244
Greene68412
Belmont62126
Mercer60513
Richland60012
Erie57027
Ashtabula56246
Geauga55444
Wayne52958
Ross4684
Huron3955
Darke39329
Ottawa37726
Sandusky37316
Hancock3723
Athens3561
Madison35510
Holmes3276
Lawrence2790
Auglaize2506
Union2461
Muskingum2251
Jefferson2242
Scioto2241
Putnam20517
Seneca2043
Knox2037
Washington20222
Preble2012
Coshocton1926
Shelby1904
Crawford1745
Champaign1732
Morrow1682
Hardin16412
Clinton1626
Highland1561
Logan1522
Fulton1471
Wyandot1458
Ashland1433
Defiance1424
Williams1343
Brown1272
Perry1233
Guernsey1167
Henry1162
Hocking1169
Fayette1120
Carroll1115
Monroe9118
Pike760
Jackson740
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Gallia651
Adams592
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Morgan250
Noble170
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