On Poisoned Land | Contaminated Life on the Dine’ (Navajo) Reservation

A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council warns of the Navajo Nation as a case study in irresponsible nuclear resource extraction:

“For decades the Navajo Nation has been especially affected by boom-and-bust uranium mining. On Navajo land alone, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from 1944 to 1986; left behind were more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, four inactive uranium milling sites, a former dump site, and the widespread contamination of land and water. Only recently has the government attempted to assess and mitigate this contamination, but full reclamation of the land is unlikely.”
According to an international water charity, DigDeep, Navajo people are 67 times more likely than other Americans to live without running water or a toilet. In practice, this means families across the Navajo Nation have to wash their children’s hair in small washtubs. They have to haul all drinking and washing water from the closest towns and cities, with round trips sometimes reaching 100 miles. The tasks required for even the smallest of families are time-consuming and strenuous.
In September 2014, at Window Rock, Ariz., the Obama administration reached a settlement with the Navajo Nation after years of litigation over mismanagement of lease revenues and royalties from mining, ranching, and timber harvesting on Navajo trust lands. The United States will award the Navajo $554 million to settle claims arising from the federal government’s mismanagement of tribal trust funds dating back to 1946, making this the single largest settlement between the United States government and an American Indian tribe, reported The New York Times.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday, January 18, 2017, it reached a legal settlement with Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoran Inc. (NYSE: FCX) to clean up 94 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. The U.S. government will cover half of the costs of the clean-up settlement. Read the article here | Phoenix Business Journal

“This historic settlement will clean up almost 20 percent of the abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation,” said Acting Regional Administrator Alexis Strauss for the EPA Pacific Southwest. “Cleaning up the uranium contamination continues to be a top environmental priority for our regional office.”

The U.S. government and mining companies mined radioactive uranium from hundreds of mines on Navajo lands from the end of World War II and throughout the Cold War.

The last mine shut down in 1986.

An Open Letter To US Civil Rights Groups by a Whistleblower Who is Not a Celebrity | The Case of Jeffrey Sterling

JS

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is an American lawyer and former CIA employee who was arrested, charged, and convicted of violating the Espionage Act for revealing details about Operation Merlin to journalist James Risen. In May 2015, Sterling was sentenced to 3½ years in prison.

[Sterling’s case has drawn attention primarily for two reasons: it was part of the Obama Administration’s controversial crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers, and prosecutors had tried to force the Times reporter, James Risen, to divulge the name of his source, whom the government believed was Sterling. The case, known as United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, was treated mainly as a freedom-of-the-press issue, with Risen as theheroic centerpiece. Lost in the judicial briefs about the First Amendment was the black man in the middle.]

This is Sterling’s story:  The Whistleblower’s Tale | THE INTERCEPT

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Dear NAACP, National Action Network, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Congressional Black Caucus and others:

Where were you?

Where were you when I was faced with blatant discrimination at my job, when my employer told me I was “too big and too black” to do the job?

Where were you when I, one of the first black officers to do so, filed a discrimination suit against the Central Intelligence Agency?

Where were you when the justice system of the United States dismissed my discrimination suit because the U.S. government maintained that trying my suit would endanger national security?

 

Where were you during the many years I reached out to you, begging, pleading for help from you while the United States government pursued and tormented me for years, bent on retaliation and persecution?

Where were you when I begged for help from Congressman Lacy Clay’s office and they told me to run away, to leave the country? I was there … and I didn’t run.

Where were you when the United States government arrested me, put me in jail and branded me with espionage?

Where were you when the United States put me — the only person and only black face investigated over a 10-year period of time — on trial in federal court on Espionage Act charges, claiming that I am a traitor to national security? When the prosecution used against me the same issues from my discrimination case that I had not been allowed to pursue in civil court? When a jury without a single black member found me guilty, even when the FBI itself said there was no evidence?

Where were you when a white official, Gen. David Petraeus — accused of far more violations than I — was given a slap on the wrist?

Where were you when Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke up for me?

Where were you when the judge sentenced me to prison for 42 months?

I have seen you around.

I saw you when Michael Brown lay dead in the street only a few miles from my home.

I saw you when other black faces were either killed or mistreated. I was out there, too.

I felt the joy and promise of the Million Man March. I felt the joy and the promise when the first black president was elected. I was there with you then.

Though I am invisible to you, others, many others, see me and see the injustice that I have endured for a very long time. Have you not read the editorials, articles and commentaries?

I am now in prison for a crime I did not commit.

The many others I speak of do not claim to be mighty advocates for civil rights on the same level as you, but they are there and have been with me, and will be with me as I appeal. And, they will be with me when I am free.

Where are you?

Published on STLtoday.com |  An Open Letter to Civil Rights Groups in America | by Jeffrey Sterling