Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) made headlines yesterday, after he grilled National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis at a U.S. House hearing concerning the closure of national parks and monuments during the partial government shutdown. Rep. Gowdy ripped Jarivs for treating “pot-smoking” demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement with more respect than the nation’s war veterans.
“Let’s go to Trey Gowdy because Trey Gowdy makes me feel good. Trey Gowdy was talking to the head of the park rangers, the park police, on why’d they shut down everything.”
GOWDY: October of 2011, Occupy protestors descended upon McPherson Square and they decided to stay. Despite the clear language of the law, these protestors camped at McPherson Square with the definition of camping being sleeping or preparing to sleep. For 100 days they camped in violation of the law and you did not make a single solitary arrest for camping. So Congress decided to have a hearing and asked you why you were not enforcing the law when you told us, Mr. Jarvis, that you had a great deal of discretion in how and when to enforce the law. You told us that you were, after 100 days of not enforcing the plain language of the statute working with protestors to, quote, gain compliance, whatever the hell that means, with the law and what you called, quote, a measured and reasoned approach. By the way, Mr. Jarvis, those were your words, not mine. So the law says no camping but the protestors did anyway and you didn’t do anything in terms of arrests or citations for over 100 days. So Mr. Jarvis, I want you to fast-forward two years. Parks are closing, access to monuments is restricted, even access for those who helped build the monument in the first place. You didn’t wait 100 days to enforce the law, Mr. Jarvis, with veterans who wanted to see their monument. You didn’t work to gain compliance. Veterans weren’t greeted with a measured and reasoned response, Mr. Jarvis. They were greeted with barricades on the very first day.
“I just want you to take a second, and I just want you to know this is a guy the TEA Party got in. This is a guy the TEA Party got in,” Glenn said. “Now that we’ve taken a moment and recognized how great this guy is and that because TEA Party people stood up, this guy is able to ask this mustachioed little worm of a man sitting there in his park ranger’s outfit not arresting anyone for sleeping and camping and defecating on our Mall in our nation’s capital. After not arresting, not making a single arrest, he’s about to answer why he barricaded the World War II veterans.”
GOWDY: Furthermore, they could not exercise their First Amendment rights to walk to a monument that they helped build but yet some of our colleagues were allowed to exercise their First Amendment right to protest whatever it was they were protesting on the National Mall. So I’m going to read something to you, Mr. Jarvis, and I want you to ask me if you recognize who said this. Because of the lapse in funding, you are having to deliver difficult news to our visitors and partners. The functions we must perform under a shutdown are not the reasons any of us join the National Park Service, but they are the duties we are required to perform by law and regulation. Do you know who said that, Mr. Jarvis?
JARVIS: I believe I said that.
GOWDY: You’re right, you did. Can you tell me why you would not enforce the law at McPherson Square but yet you greeted veterans with barricades on the very first day? What regulation can you cite to me that required you that required you to erect barricades?
JARVIS: The contingency plan that was approved on September 27th for the national park system is in compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act. Under criminal –
GOWDY: I’m looking for a statute, Mr. Jarvis. I am looking for –
GOWDY: I am looking for a citation to the Code of Federal Regulation or the U.S. code for why you erected barricades. We’ve established you did not enforce the law for 100 days for protestors, agreed? You agree with me you did not issue a single citation for camping, right?
JARVIS: I believe that is correct.
GOWDY: Okay. Well, I can cite you the regulation that you did not follow two years ago. Can you cite me the regulation that required you to erect barricades to prevent veterans from accessing a monument that they built?
JARVIS: I can cite the Anti-Deficiency Act.
GOWDY: Can you cite a regulation that would require you to erect barricades, Mr. Jarvis? That is not a complex question.
JARVIS: The Anti-Deficiency Act requires that I reduce all employees down to only those that are necessary for life and property. That required the closure of all 401 national parks.
GOWDY: Mr. Jarvis, why did you fail to enforce the plain language of a statute for 100 days for protestors and yet on the very first day you denied access to a monument that veterans helped build.
JARVIS: On the very first day of the closure, I implemented a closure order for all 401 national parks in the compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act and immediately, immediately that day also included as a part of that order that First Amendment activities would be permitted on the national mall.
GOWDY: Do you consider a First Amendment activity to walk to a monument that you helped build, or is it only just smoking pot at McPherson Square?
“This guy, he is so great,” Glenn said.
As Glenn explained, Rep. Gowdy’s questioning of Jarvis proves just how out-of-control the government bureaucracy has become. Jarvis knows he has no logical defense as to why the OWS crowd illegally occupied a space for over three months, while the veterans are kept away from their memorial after just one day, but he is so desperate to keep his job, he cannot tell the truth.
“Here’s why he did it. This little worm wants his job. That’s what [Jarvis] wants. He wants his job. He’s a guy who has worked his whole life to get up to be the head of the Park Service,” Glenn explained. “Every single one of us have to decide right now: What is the price of our soul? Really that’s what it is. What is the price of our soul? I’m telling you courage is contagious. If this guy would have stood up and he would have said, ‘Congressman Gowdy, I want to speak in front of Congress, few weeks ago. I am being pressured to put barricades around all of the monuments and I will being told that I will lose my job and they will make my life miserable, but I’m not being told in direct terms. It is all being insinuated. Here is my badge. I put it on the table but I wanted to do this in front of a session of Congress. Here’s my badge.’”
“Can you imagine,” Glenn asked. “There is going to come a moment, there is going to come a time that somebody will put it all on the line and they will do it in a peaceful and respectful way.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP