Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, July 2003

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

In view of the guerrilla warfare that is being waged against the U.S. military occupation of Iraq, perhaps this is a good time to remind ourselves of how President Lincoln dealt with a similar wartime situation in the South, but only as a model for what should NOT be done in Iraq:

As Tom LiLorenzo pointed out in his article “Lincoln’s Culture of Death,”

In 1861 federal commanders began taking civilians hostage and sometimes shooting them in retaliation for Confederate guerrilla attacks. As Colonel John Beatty warned the residents of Paint Rock, Alabama: “Every time the telegraph wire is cut we would burn a house; every time a train was fired upon we would hang a man; and we would continue to do this until every house was burned and every man hanged between Decatur and Bridgeport.” The town of Paint Rock was burned to the ground.

Ironically, Adolf Hitler ended up adopting the same tactics in World War II. As R.J. Rummel points out in “Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder”:

For the partisans or underground to kill a German soldier could mean that the Nazis would round up and execute all the men in a nearby village, burn the village to the ground, and send all the women and children off to concentration camps. In retaliation for sabotage, they would shoot dozens and even hundreds of hostages.

We must continue doing our best to reverse the empire-interventionist, global-policeman, perpetual-war role that our federal government has established for itself in the world — not only because of the death and destruction it has wrought, including the daily deaths of U.S. servicemen in Iraq — not only because it violates the principles of limited government on which our nation was founded — not only because there is no warrant for such a role in our Constitution — not only because it constitutes an enormous ever-growing drain on our economic well-being — not only because it constitutes a perpetual threat against our civil liberties — but also because it will inevitably diminish the moral consciousness of our people.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Well, I hope everyone’s feeling safer … because the Federal Trade Commission has voted to uphold price-fixing charges arising from a 1998 recording by the Three Tenors.

Whoopdeedo. Give me a break!

Doesn’t the federal government have anything better to do than to harass the likes of Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti or Martha Stewart or any of the other great people who have done so much to make our lives so enjoyable and pleasant?

May I make a modest suggestion? How about abolishing the FTC (yes, I said abolish, not reform) along with all the other nonessential regulatory agencies whose bureaucrats do nothing constructive for American society. These agencies consist of nothing more than non-elected authoritarian dictocrats, the likes of which were the bane of English colonists in 1776. (You remember that part of the Declaration of Independence, right? The part about “He has sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”)

Remember: the modern-day bureaucrats in the FTC and other nonessential government agencies enforce the same types of economic rules and regulations that King George enforced during the time of our rebellious ancestors. For that matter, in enforcing economic crimes these bureaucrats really don’t do anything different from their communist counterparts in China, North Korea, and Cuba. (After all, economic crimes are a central element of socialist countries.)

It’s time for a revival of free-market thinking in America. What better place to begin than with abolishing nonessential government agencies that consist of modern-day harassing and substance-eating bureaucrats whose mission in life is to interfere with the laws of supply and demand and whose working hours are spent destroying the lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of others?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The missing 28 pages from the congressional report on the September 11 terrorist attacks purportedly implicate Saudi Arabian government officials. If this allegation turns out to be true, the Bush administration obviously has some explaining to do:

1. Why has that information been kept secret from the American people for three years?
2. Why was there a presidential war against Afghanistan and not Saudi Arabia?
3. Why was there a presidential war against Iraq and not Saudi Arabia?
4. Why has the Justice Department failed to seek criminal indictments against those Saudi officials?

The Washington Post today asks why Bush is avoiding press conferences. (The last one was March 6, before the war on Iraq.) Perhaps to avoid having to answer questions. Much easier to just keep trying to capture Saddam Hussein, in the hope that the hype will cause everyone to forget everything else.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Great news for the American people came this morning … in the form of the lead editorial in the New York Times,The Trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.” The editorial stands foursquare in favor of the Constitution of our country in the case of one of the most unpopular criminal defendants of our time. As our readers know, FFF has taken a leading role in arguing that if we permit the government to abandon constitution guarantees for unsympathetic defendants such as Moussaoui, then none of us is safe. The Times’ editorial board also stands foursquare against the federal government’s implicit threat to remove Moussaoui from the civil court system and transfer him into the hands of the Pentagon for “trial” by military tribunal if the presiding federal judge in the case continues to enforce the Constitution. The Times editorial is a healthy antidote to the Washington Post, whose editorial board has taken a different position on the Moussaoui case — a quite shameful one in my opinion.

The Times’ Sunday Magazine published one of the finest and most well-balanced analyses on the sanctions against Iraq that has been published on the subject: “Were Sanctions Right?” Not only does it delve into the horrific death and destruction that the sanctions caused, it also documents how the “food for oil” program had the perverse consequence of giving Saddam Hussein more control over the Iraqi people. The article is long but well worth reading.

Also, take a look at the article entitled “Roots of Distrust: Betrayal, Real or Feared ,”which delves into the double cross that the first Bush administration pulled on Iraqis after it encouraged them to rise up against Saddam Hussein in 1991, which helps to explain one reason the Iraqi people distrust and dislike U.S. officials: “President George H. W. Bush publicly encouraged ‘the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.’…. Days later, [American forces] stood by as Mr. Hussein sent his helicopters to quash uprisings, or intifadas, that were spreading quickly from Basra across southern Iraq. Mr. Hussein’s forces also lashed out furiously at rebellious Kurds in the north. During the uprisings, southern Iraqis killed Mr. Hussein’s local henchmen and Baath officials in large cities like Kerbala and Najaf. Once the rebellions had been quelled, thousands of young men — and often whole families — who were suspected of disloyalty to Mr. Hussein were driven to mass grave sites, where they were machine-gunned or buried alive.’”

Finally, today’s FFF Email Update includes a very moving story of a mother and her family from Portland over the loss of her Marine Corps son in occupied Iraq: “A Marine Is Killed in Iraq, and Grief Ripples at Home.”

P.S. Check out the “Latest News” section of website of The Foundation for Economic Education, now headed by Richard Ebeling. It provides short snippets of current-day news with links to analytical articles in FEE’s archives.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Has it not occurred to anyone that the reason they rubbed out Uday and Qusay rather than attempting to negotiate their surrender (as civilian police in the United States are taught to do in similar circumstances) is that they might have had their fingers on the nuclear button that everyone is still looking for?

In what seemed to be an attempt to justify the extra-judicial killings, commentators on Fox News were asking, “Don’t you agree that the world is better off without them?” But wouldn’t Uday and Qusay have said the same thing about the people they purportedly killed?

Meanwhile, in Russia an army colonel who was accused of murdering an 18-year-old woman in Chechnya. “admitted taking her from her home, beating her, and finally strangling her but he said he did so in an emotional rage, believing that she was a sniper who had killed his soldiers.” A Russian military court rejected the defense and convicted the colonel of murder. No word on whether the defendant claimed as a defense that the world was better off without the accused sniper.

Practically every day, the U.S. military occupation of Iraq takes the life of another U.S. soldier (including 3 more yesterday). The question is: Is it also taking our sense of morality and justice here at home?

Friday, July 25, 2003

Who’s supporting the troops now?

Before the president’s invasion of Iraq, supporters of the war were claiming that they were “supporting the troops” by blindly supporting the president’s decision to go to war. Their rationale was the one that is taught in public schools all over the world — that it is the duty of the good citizen to blindly trust his ruler’s decision to go to war.

“The president has access to information that we don’t have,” was the common refrain before the war. “We cannot wait until the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud.”

We now know that such blind trust was misplaced. The president’s primary justification for going to war in Iraq — to “disarm Saddam” of his so-called weapons of mass destruction and to require him to comply with UN resolutions requiring him to dismantle such “weapons of mass destruction” lacked any foundation whatsoever. Yet, no one can deny that the president’s repeated attempt to frighten the American people into placing their blind trust in his decision to go to war was totally successful.

What about those troops who lost their lives or their limbs in the process? Who’s morally responsible for their deaths and maiming? There are those who say that the numbers are relatively low and therefore “acceptable.” Try telling that to the families of those troops. If it was your spouse or your son or daughter, how “acceptable” would be your loss, especially when the justification for the loss was ill-founded?

There are also those who are now claiming that they were actually “supporting the troops” in a quest to oust a brutal dictator from power. But where’s the moral justification for that type of “support,” given that the purpose of U.S. military forces is to protect America from attack, not to oust brutal foreign dictators from power? Indeed, where is the constitutional justification for such action?

Moreover, as we all know Saddam Hussein has now been ousted from power. Thus, where is the moral justification for “supporting the troops” by leaving them in Iraq to be killed in a daily round of “Iraqi roulette?” Where’s the moral justification in sacrificing even one U.S. soldier in the attempt to “rebuild Iraq”? Why shouldn’t Iraq now be left to the Iraqis?

Who’s supporting the troops now, in occupied Iraq? Those who are blindly supporting the president’s decision to keep them there as well as his call to Iraqis to “bring it on”? Or those who are saying, “Bring our troops home now”?

Meanwhile, all those in favor of “supporting the troops” by sending them to settle the civil war in Liberia, raise your hands.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Bush administration and Fox News must be going bonkers over what is happening in France! No, not because U.S. officials are having to ask the French to help extricate themselves from the Iraqi quagmire into which the president has led us. Instead, the president and Fox News officials must be going haywire with all the publicity that American cyclists Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton are receiving in the Tour de France.

In Cycling, Winning With Honor Means Everything

Tour Cyclists: From Pain Comes Pleasure

Have the president and Fox News condemned Armstrong and Hamilton for unpatriotically failing to boycott the Tour de France? Indeed, has the president threatened to withhold federal monies from the U.S. government’s favorite monopoly — the U.S. Postal Service — for its audacious support of the French event? Has Fox News declared a moratorium on Tour de France television coverage or called for a boycott of the U.S. Postal Service or even a repeal of its privileged monopoly status?

What if Lance Armstrong ties the record by winning his fifth consecutive Tour de France? Will the president refuse to congratulate him? Will Fox News refuse to cover the victory? Will they question his patriotism?

Don’t count on it. This is election season. Bashing the Dixie Chicks is one thing. Bashing Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton, and the other great American cyclists who are competing in the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France is another.

P.S. This year’s race is one of the most exciting ever. If you would like to watch the closing stages (the race ends Sunday in Paris), it’s being covered extensively (and repeated often) on the Outdoor Life Network. Why, I’ll bet that even the president and Bill O’Reilly are sneaking a few peeks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

In response to small-arms fire in Iraq from accused terrorists Uday and Qusay Hussein, U.S. forces let loose with “wire-guided TOW missiles, rockets fired from Kiowa OH-58D light assault helicopters and Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher systems.”

Wow! We haven’t seen a show of force like that against resistance to federal search and arrest since … well … Waco!

Result: Four people dead, including Saddam Hussein’s two sons.

Never mind that a 14-year-old boy was killed in the raid. He was Saddam’s grandson — much more potentially evil than even the Branch Davidian children who were killed in the Waco raid.

Today, the Washington Post editorializes that it was “a good day in Iraq” and CNN reports that “one administration official said confirmation that the two sons were killed would ‘brighten’ spirits in an administration that has been accused of exaggerating the threat posed by the former Iraqi regime.”

And why not? When evil people are killed resisting search and arrest, there’s no need to fret about due process of law, trials, pesky defense attorneys raising questions about military occupation and jurisdiction, or even military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.

Two more evil people down. Countless more to go.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Visiting U.S. occupying forces in Iraq, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz declaimed, “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.”

Hey, isn’t that what we’ve been saying for more than 10 years? Or does Wolfowitz somehow believe that Iraq has become the 51st state?

“Those who want to come and help are welcome. Those who come to interfere and destroy are not,” Wolfowitz continued.

Great! But why didn’t he tell that to Presidents Clinton and Bush during the 10 years of economic sanctions against Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including children, and destroyed the economic fortunes of the Iraqi people?

Indeed, why didn’t Wolfowitz tell that to the president before the recent invasion of Iraq, which interfered with and destroyed the lives and fortunes of thousands of innocent people, both Iraqi and American?

Typical Washington hypocritical doublespeak: Do as I say, not as I do. And U.S. officials continue to wonder why foreigners everywhere hate U.S. foreign policy.

Monday, July 21, 2003

As most everyone knows, practically every day another U.S. soldier loses his life in occupied Iraq. We also often hear that other soldiers are injured in these attacks but for some reason, the media usually fails to detail the nature and extent of those injuries.

In today’s FFF Email Update, we’ve linked to Part 1 of a two-part Washington Post series entitled, “The War After the War.” (Part 2 is here.)

Do you remember the Iraqi kid — 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas — who lost his arms and legs and parents in a U.S. bombing raid on his home during the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

Well, this two-part series describes the ordeal of those American men who are coming back from Iraq minus arms and legs and the horrible pain, both physical and emotional, they and their families are suffering in the process.

As many of us said before the president’s invasion, nobody genuinely “supports the troops” when he blindly supports his ruler’s decision to go to war. This is especially true when such blind support ends up sacrificing another person’s life or limbs based on a ruler’s errors and miscalculations at best or his lies and deception at worst.

One can only hope that by reading accounts such as these, the American people will begin reflecting upon the wisdom of our Founding Fathers in bequeathing to our nation and the world the anti-imperial and noninterventionist vision that served America so well for more than 100 years and how foolish and destructive it was to abandon that paradigm. It’s the least that we owe ourselves. It’s the least we owe our troops.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

In response to Senator Orrin Hatch’s proposal to repeal Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, Matt Nosanchuk, litigation director for the Violence Policy Center, which advocates gun control, said, “If Senator Hatch really believes that people are safer when they are carrying handguns, then why doesn’t he advocate lifting the ban on bringing weapons into the U.S. Capitol?”

Sadly, Nosanchuk misses the point. The issue is not whether each individual owner of property should or should not let armed people enter his property. The issue is whether each individual owner should be free to make that decision.

A city-wide ban on handguns effectively says: No one shall be permitted to defend himself with a handgun. If such a ban were repealed, a store owner or a homeowner or building owner could still decide not to permit visitors carrying a handgun into his buildings.

In other words, just because someone has the right to carry a handgun doesn’t mean he has the right to enter into another person’s property with that handgun. That remains up to the owner of the building. That’s why ultimately life, liberty, and property are inextricably intertwined.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Are you wondering what U.S. officials are going to do with those Cuban refugees who are sitting in international waters after hijacking a Cuban ferry in an attempt to come to the United States? U.S. law requires the Coast Guard to repatriate such refugees into Cuban communist tyranny — a law that both the president and the Congress have fully embraced and supported for many years.

Keep in mind that the last group of “terrorists” who hijacked a Cuban ferry got executed by the Fidel Castro regime after they were accorded the same type of swift “justice” in Castro’s “war on terrorism” that the Pentagon intends to accord its prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as part of its kangaroo military tribunals.

So, will the U.S. government continue one of the most immoral repatriation policies in the history of our country? Will it cooperate with Fidel Castro in the execution of those freedom-loving Cuban “terrorists”? Will it violate U.S. law by letting these particular Cuban refugees step foot on American shore? Or will it wash its hands of the entire problem by aiming the boat in the direction of another country?

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Would someone mind explaining to me the justification, both moral and legal, for the continued U.S. military occupation of Iraq?

Whether the president intentionally deceived the American people about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction or whether it was just a good-faith mistake, doesn’t the fact remain that the principle justification for invading Iraq (that Saddam Hussein was violating UN resolutions and threatening an imminent attack on the United States) was unfounded?

And if the principle justification for invading was unfounded, then what effect does that have on the post-invasion military occupation, both morally and legally?

Even if the justification for invading Iraq was to oust a foreign dictator from power (which neither the UN Charter nor the U.S. Constitution permits), once Saddam was ousted from power by virtue of the invasion, why would such an ouster then justify an indefinite military occupation of the country?

If the fear among U.S. officials is that the Iraqi people might end up with another dictator to rule over them, or even Saddam Hussein, why shouldn’t that be a problem for the Iraqi people to address rather than American GIs, whose principle mission is to protect us — the United States — from attack?

Indeed, would someone mind explaining to me why U.S. servicemen are being placed in a position of playing “Iraqi roulette” for the indefinite future through their military occupation of Iraq? Is it simply because U.S. officials fear that the Iraqi people might permit the rise of another dictator, a dictator who obviously would have no weapons of mass destruction that would violate UN resolutions or threaten America?

Just thought I’d ask.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Do you all remember those days when Republicans used to say, “The only reason we can’t reduce federal spending and regulations is that we don’t control the Congress and the presidency”?

Yeah, right!

As the New York Times reports in its lead editorial today, the budget deficit “has ballooned 50 percent in just five months, to $455 billion and counting.”

And the Washington Post reports that the Bush administration “issued a record-high number of pages of new federal regulations last year, according to a study to be released today by the Cato Institute. The libertarian think tank found that the Federal Register boasted 75,606 pages of federal regulations in 2002, up from a high of 74,528 pages in 2000, when President Bill Clinton was still in office.”

My prediction: If all this socialism and fascism ultimately produce an economic crisis, you can bet your bottom dollar that those “small-government” Republicans will be saying what Democrats were saying during the Great Depression — that America’s “free-enterprise system” has failed again and that we just need more federal spending and more federal regulation to get us out of the crisis.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

According to the New York Times, congressional Republicans are criticizing a U.S. law that “bars the deportation of immigrants, including those with criminal records, who are likely to be tortured when they return to their countries.” Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about Republicans here — you know, those “compassionate” people — you know, the ones who are always trying to be good with the money that the IRS takes from the American people — you know, the ones who want to help starving and ill people in Africa with U.S. taxpayer money — you know, the ones who now say that the real reason they invaded Iraq was not to “disarm Saddam” but rather to free the Iraqi people from tyranny — you know, the ones who endorsed the cruel and brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, including children — you know, the ones who say that lying is no big deal unless it involves sex — you know, the ones who cooperate with Fidel Castro to repatriate Cuban refugees into communist tyranny and who harass and fine Americans for exercising their right of freedom of travel by visiting Cuba — you know, the ones who adore and praise Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man who used U.S. immigration laws to prevent German and Eastern European Jews from escaping the Holocaust — you know, the ones who have done absolutely nothing to investigate the use of torture by U.S. officials around the world — you know, the ones who always purport to love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged around election time. Don’t you just love Republicans? Let’s give credit where credit is due: For all their faults, Republicans do give renewed meaning to the word “hypocrisy.”

Monday, July 14, 2003

Doing her part to try to quell the controversy over whether deliberate deception over Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” played a key role in the invasion of Iraq, National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice said, “It is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa. This was part of a very broad case that the president laid out in the State of the Union and other places.”

Rice misses the point. The point is not what motivated the president to go to war but rather whether he knowingly and deliberately deceived the American people into supporting his decision to go to war. After all, assuming that the president actually did convince himself that Saddam Hussein had WMD, would that justify his use of deceit to persuade others to arrive at the same (erroneous) conclusion? And even if the WMD that the president convinced himself were in Iraq were ultimately found, would that morally justify pre-invasion deceit in convincing people that they were there?

Saturday, July 12, 2003

With CIA Director Tenet now “taking the blame” for President Bush’s use of a deceptive statement in his State of the Union address regarding the purported Niger-Saddam-uranium connection, the president is saying that the matter is now “closed.”

Say again? How so? The primary issue is not whether the CIA put its stamp of approval on a deceptive statement. The issue is whether the president made the statement knowing that it was deceptive, with the intent to frighten and deceive the American people into supporting his upcoming war on Iraq. If the president is guilty of doing that, the CIA’s approval of the deception does not acquit the president; it simply involves the CIA in the wrongdoing.

The circumstantial evidence of knowledge of falsehood and intent to deceive on the part of the president is growing. Keep in mind that a few months before the State of the Union address, the CIA expressed doubts about the Niger-Saddam uranium connection to British intelligence officials. Keep in mind also that the CIA had received a report from its envoy Joseph Wilson 4th indicating that the connection was bogus, a report that, at the very minimum, is very likely to have reached the desk of Vice President Dick Cheney (who continues to remain remarkably silent about the issue).

Are we to honestly believe that the CIA never communicated its conclusion that the Niger-Saddam-uranium connection was bogus to the president before he made his speech? Then, why were there negotiations between the president and the CIA regarding the exact wording to use in the speech? Are we supposed to believe that the CIA’s conclusion was never communicated during those negotiations?

Among the most incriminating evidence is the exact words that the president used in the speech: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Why didn’t Bush instead simply say, “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” If he truly believed that was the case, why would he condition such an important contention with the qualifier “The British government has learned”?

Why indeed? The most likely explanation is that he did it in order to get the CIA’s stamp of approval on the speech so that he could later claim that he relied on the CIA in making the statement.

Despite the fact that the CIA knew that the entire matter was bogus and had even expressed that conclusion to the British, the CIA was obviously “brought on board” to Bush’s State of the Union address by acceding to the president’s argument that the “The British government has learned” qualifier supposedly made the president’s statement technically correct. (Whether the British government really did learn such a thing is an entirely separate issue.)

If Bush’s State of the Union statement was technically correct at the time that Bush made it and if the CIA endorsed the wording of the statement before the speech was delivered, what’s the problem?

The problem revolves around what is known as a “half-truth.” A half-truth is a statement whose words are technically correct but which is actually designed to deliver a false impression. Arguably, in moral terms a half-truth is actually much worse than a direct lie because it uses truth as a way to deceive.

If President Bush knew that the CIA had expressed serious doubts about the Niger-Saddam-uranium connection, then it became incumbent on him to express those doubts at the time he used the statement in question. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that what he actually did was carefully construct the sentence with a dual purpose in mind — one, to deceive and frighten the American people into supporting his invasion and, two, to garner the CIA’s support of the statement in case the sentence ever blew up in his face.

Indeed, ask yourself: How many Americans, after listening to that statement in a State of the Union address, would think to themselves, “Oh, well, that’s just the British government, not the CIA. I don’t need to be frightened.” Isn’t it much more likely that the average American would say, “The president is telling us that Saddam Hussein is on the verge of firing a nuclear weapon at America”? Wouldn’t that have been the president’s intention in using the sentence? Isn’t that in fact one of the primary reasons that Americans were absolutely frightened to death in the months leading up to the invasion?

Does CIA Director Tenet’s attempt to “take the blame” end the matter, as Bush hopes? How can it? The issue is whether the president knowingly deceived the American people into supporting his invasion of Iraq. Given Tenet’s acknowledgment that the CIA endorsed the president’s statement in advance, the issue now becomes: Did both the president and the CIA knowingly deceive the American people into supporting the invasion of Iraq?

Friday, July 11, 2003

We have devoted the entire issue of today’s FFF Email Update to Military Tribunals because of the critical importance of this issue. For the reasons I explain in my article, “Crossing the Rubicon,” I personally consider the power now wielded by Bush, Ashcroft, and the Pentagon to seize anyone within the United States on terrorism-related charges and send him into the clutches of the military authorities to be the most dangerous threat to our liberty in our lifetime — much more so than that posed by such agencies as the DEA, ATF, and IRS — especially given that such charges usually carry the death penalty.

An interesting side note to the articles occurred this week when federal agents arrested a man in Chicago and charged him with serving as an unregistered agent for Saddam Hussein’s government. According to the Washington Post, U.S. prosecutors allege Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, a foreigner, “produced phony press passes for Iraqi intelligence agents, reported to Hussein’s government about the activities of opposition leaders based in the United States, traveled to Iraq to celebrate the former Iraqi leader’s birthday and received several thousand dollars in exchange for his assistance.”

Today, Dumeisi ought to be counting his lucky stars. Further reflecting the ad hoc and arbitrary manner in which federal officials are deciding people’s fate, the feds (believe or not) are permitting Dumeisa to be treated as a criminal defendant within the federal court system (with due process of law) rather than transferring him to the control of the Pentagon as a prisoner of war in the “war on terrorism” (and denied due process of law). After all, don’t forget the purported link between Saddam and al-Qaeda that the president used to justify his invasion of Iraq.

However, if Dumeisi begins to fiercely defend himself (as Zacarias Moussaoui has done) or if it looks like he might be acquitted (as a jury in Detroit recently did with two men the feds were accusing of terrorism), the feds could easily change their mind, remove Deumeisi from the jurisdiction of the federal court, and send him into the grip of the Pentagon, which in turn could fly him during the dead of night to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — beyond the reach of U.S. courts — and execute him, after giving him a kangaroo military trial.

Therein lies the danger to all of us — not only in the arbitrariness of the selection process but also in the denial of the due process of law that is guaranteed by our Constitution for all people, foreigners and citizens alike, who are accused of a crime by the federal government. Unfortunately, the decades of contempt and ridicule that the feds have heaped on the Constitution and our “consitutional rights” are now paying off, given the relative lack of interest of the American people to this major government threat to our freedom. And keep in mind that the U.S. government’s decision to set up shop in Cuba in order to avoid the constraints of the Constitution is just one more reflection of the contempt that all too many federal officials have for the sacred document that was bequeathed to us by our forefathers.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Surprise, surprise! Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld announced that costs for running Iraq — $3.9 billion — are running almost double than what government officials estimated in April and that troop levels won’t be reduced “for the foreseeable future.”

But hey, what’s the big deal, right? As President Bush just told Botswana’s president Festus Mogae as he announced a $15 billion “gift” to him, “We’re not only a powerful nation, we’re also a compassionate nation.”

Of course, our Founders and ancestors, who rejected socialism, imperialism, and interventionism, would have seen things differently. They would have asked some challenging moral and economic questions of Rumsfeld and Bush:

1. Under what moral principle does a nation militarily occupy another nation when the occupation arises from an invasion that was based on error, falsehood, exaggeration, and deception?

2. Under what moral principle does a government take money from a person to whom it belongs in order to give it to someone to whom it does not belong?

3. Doesn’t compassion depend on the voluntary and willing heart of an individual rather than the coercive apparatus of government?

4. If out-of-control government spending — along with a monetary policy that is expanding credit and printing paper money to accommodate such spending — is the key to economic wealth and prosperity, why has it always produced economic crisis and devastation for societies throughout history?

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Many years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people about the growing power of the military-industrial complex. Unfortunately, given the Pentagon’s repeated warnings of the dire dangers posed by the Soviet Union, many of which turned out to be false, the American people failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

Decade after decade, the power and influence of the U.S. military has continued to grow, not only in terms of all the military bases that so many American cities are now dependent upon, not only in terms of all the people who are dependent on military spending programs, but also in terms of the many congressmen who wouldn’t dare take on the military establishment.

One of the most ominous dangers is the one our Founding Fathers warned us about when they opposed standing armies in America — that the military sector would grow so powerful that it would not have to heed orders from the civilian sector.

Today’s New York Times once again brings to mind the warnings of Eisenhower and our Founding Fathers. A front-page story entitled “ 9/11 Commission Says U.S. Agencies Slow Its Inquiry,” points out:

“The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony.”

You’ll recall that the 9/11 Commission is charged with investigating the circumstances leading up to the September 11 terrorist attacks. It is also the commission that President Bush appointed Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, to head. Kissinger later resigned and was replaced by Thomas H. Kean, former governor of New Jersey.

What’s particularly disconcerting is that President Bush has already “directed federal agencies to cooperate and to do so quickly.” Thus, that means either that Bush secretly winked at the Justice Department and the Pentagon or, even worse, that those two agencies have so much power and influence in America that they don’t feel that they need to comply with the president’s directive.

The article also points out that the Bush administration is insisting that officials cannot be interviewed without having “colleagues” present, which the 9/11 investigatory panel has correctly observed amounts to “intimidation.” You’ll recall that that was the same conclusion that U.S. officials reached when Saddam Hussein set the same condition with respect to interviews of Iraqi scientists regarding Saddam’s so-called weapons of mass destruction.

As the Times states in its lead editorial today, “ Wrestling for the Truth of 9/11

“When these seasoned, mild-mannered men start complaining that the administration is trying to intimidate the commission, the country had better take notice.”

P.S. You might want to check out a great new website, sponsored by the Independent Institute: onpower.org. Sheldon Richman contributed the introductions to the various sections on the website.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

After the federal government’s attack on Waco, the general mood of the country was “Good riddance. They deserved what they got. Our government officials were in the right. They were trying to save the Branch Davidian children from sex abuse.”

Over time, however, people’s consciousness began to elevate, primarily because there were courageous people, such as James Bovard whose critical editorials on Waco were being published in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, willing to stand up and say, “No! What the government did at Waco was wrong. We must never permit them to do it again.”

Prior to President Bush’s attack on Iraq, there were those of us who were contending that the president’s repeated claim about the dire threat that Saddam Hussein supposedly presented to the American people with his so-called weapons of mass destruction was based on falsehood and deception. Readers will recall, for example, my article “The Rot at the Center of the Empire,” (originally published on March 14), which detailed a long history of lies emanating from the federal government, including the following introductory paragraph about the president’s reliance on forged documents to make his case for invading Iraq:

The announcement that the U.S. government had relied on fake and false evidence in the attempt to secure approval of its invasion of Iraq was, by and large, met by a collective yawn from the American people, especially the members of Congress. It’s just one more example of the depths of moral depravity to which our nation has fallen.

Today, in an article entitled “White House Backs Off Claim on Iraqi Buy,” the Washington Post reports that President Bush, for the first time, admits that he “should not have alleged in his State of the Union address in January that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program.”

The president’s admission comes in the wake of a recent New York Times article entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” by Joseph C. Wilson 4th, which pretty much provided a “smoking gun” of White House deception.

Moreover, what began as only a small number of writers publishing articles demanding the truth regarding the administration’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s so-called weapons of mass destruction has turned into a veritable tide of people from all walks of life demanding to know the truth. That is a very healthy sign, and hopefully the federal government will respond positively to it.

Unfortunately, it has come too late, given that the invasion of Iraq is over and given that President Bush is now trapped between sacrificing a U.S. soldier a day for the indefinite future and evacuating the troops and leaving Iraq in chaos, strife, and possibly even a civil war.

Ultimately, however, the solution to the problems that beset us as a nation lies not in confessions and apologies by government officials. As I stated in the concluding paragraph of “The Rot at the Center of the Empire,”

Neither Saddam Hussein nor Osama bin Laden nor North Korea nor Iran nor the Islamic world is the biggest threat to the liberty, health, safety, and welfare of the American people. Instead, that threat lies with the cancerous rot that continues to grow at the center of the American empire — a rot that in fact comes with empire. Until Americans finally confront that uncomfortable truth, they will continue to suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, it might take a catastrophe before they decide to do so.

Monday, July 7, 2003

With all the U.S. government’s anti-France tirades, have you noticed that not one single federal official, from the president on down, has called on America’s favorite monopoly — the U.S. Postal Service — to boycott the Tour de France? As most everyone knows, the U.S. Postal Service sponsors the cycling team headed by four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

A boycott of the Tour de France would, of course, be as silly and nonsensical as the calls to boycott French wine, cheese, and all the rest. But it is interesting to note one more example of federal hypocrisy.

The important question, of course, is, Why in the world do the American people meekly accept a government monopoly in their midst, especially when monopolies are nothing more than a throwback to the old system of mercantilism that existed during the Middle Ages?

Or to put it another way, why are American entrepreneurs prohibited by the federal government from establishing competitive first-class mail-delivery businesses? Isn’t that what free enterprise and free markets are all about? Why should the U.S. Postal Service and its employees hold privileged positions in American society? Why shouldn’t they have to answer to consumer sovereignty and the free market like most of the rest of us?

The next time there’s another bureaucracy-approved rate hike for postage (as compared to the way that pricing takes place in a free market), you might want to think about the millions of dollars that the U.S. Postal Service is spending to promote itself among European cycling enthusiasts. Better yet, think about everything you learned in your Economics 101 class about monopoly pricing and monopoly abuse and why our ancestors rejected monopolies in favor of the free market.

P.S. The 3-week Tour de France began on Saturday and is being covered in full on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN).

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Talk about revising history! Yesterday, President Bush compared the U.S. government’s imperial and interventionist foreign policy to the English colonists’ revolution against their own government.

Puhleeze!

The colonists took up arms against their own government because it was doing some very bad things, many of which are being engaged in by … you guessed it … our very own federal government!

President George needs to be reminded of those bad things that King George was doing to his own people, including the following:

1. Conducting warrantless searches of people’s homes and seizing and detaining people without due process of law.

Sound familiar?

2. Confiscating guns, such as at Lexington and Concord.

Sound familiar?

3. Waging foreign wars, requiring the imposition of ever-increasing taxes on the people.

Sound familiar?

4. Expanding the ambit, influence, and control of the British Empire around the world.

Sound familiar?

6. Restricting immigration into the colonies.

Sound familiar?

7. Regulating trade and other economic activity and prosecuting the colonists for economic crimes.

Sound familiar?

8. Engaging in out-of-control government spending.

Sound familiar?

9. Condemning and punishing the colonists for tax resistance and smuggling.

Sound familiar?

10. Canceling trial by jury, habeas corpus, and due process of law.

Sound familiar?

11. Maintaining a large standing army, which ultimately was used against the people.

Sound familiar?

12. Accusing the colonists of being “unpatriotic traitors” for having the audacity to resist the wrongdoing and tyranny of their own government.

Sound familiar?

Many years ago, American statists corrupted the libertarian term “liberal” so that it now connotes socialism and interventionism. Must we now permit them to do the same with our Revolution? Perish the thought!

Friday, July 4, 2003

Those men who signed the Declaration of Independence are sometimes referred to as great Americans. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. They weren’t Americans. They were British. They were as much British as you and I are Americans. As British citizens, they had pledged allegiance to their government — the British government.

When they placed their signatures on the Declaration, they weren’t just signing a pretty, historical piece of paper. They were signing their death warrants. Because anyone who takes up arms and begins shooting and killing officials of his own government is going to be tried and executed as quickly as possible. That’s what treason is all about. It’s why the British government hung some of those British citizens who signed the Declaration and took up arms against their own government.

An important question is: Why do we consider those radical rebels patriots rather than traitors? Why don’t we instead honor those colonists who supported the government and the troops, especially in a time of great crisis? After all, don’t forget: The revolutionaries consisted of only an estimated one-third of the colonists. The other two-thirds either chose to support their government or remain neutral in the conflict.

The colonists who revolted against their own government were devoted to a certain set of immutable principles regarding liberty that they believed are fundamental and which no government — not even one’s own government — can legitimately take away.

When one’s government becomes destructive of the rights and freedoms of the people, the revolutionaries held, it is the right of the people to revolt against their government with the intent to alter or abolish it and form new government designed to protect, not destroy, the rights and liberties of the people.

That’s why we consider the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Henry, and Adams to be the patriots. It’s also why we don’t honor those on the other side who chose to blindly support their government.

Thursday, July 3, 2003

There are definite upsides to the U.S. government’s recent decision to terminate military aid to 35 countries that have refused to agree to Washington’s demands for immunity for war crimes before the newly established International Criminal Court. These upsides are:

(1) The American people can see that U.S. foreign military aid has absolutely nothing to do with the defense of the United States but is instead simply a means by which U.S. taxpayer-earned money is placed into the pockets and Swiss bank accounts of foreign officials in return in return for granting favors to the U.S. when such favors are needed;

(2) The American people can see that foreign aid in general is nothing more than a means by which U.S. officials bribe, extort, blackmail, and cajole foreign rulers into supporting the U.S. government’s foreign policy, including the waging of foreign wars and interventions;

(3) The entire world is able to witness the hypocrisy of advocating war-crimes tribunals for the leaders of foreign countries while objecting to the same treatment for U.S. rulers.

It’s all just more evidence of the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy. The good part, however, is that more and more people are now starting to notice.

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

In our FFF Email Update today, we have included a link to the extensive bibliography of “revisionist” literature that we included in our book The Failure of America’s Foreign Wars, as well as links to my preface and Richard Ebeling’s introduction from the book. The book was published in 1996, and this is the first time these items have been posted online.

The bibliography was compiled by Richard and is one of the finest compilations of revisionist work you’ll ever find.

What is “revisionism”?

In response to questions about his scaring the American people half to death for more than a year with Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent “weapons of mass destruction,” President Bush said, “Now there are some who would like to rewrite history — revisionist historians is what I like to call them.”

What the president is referring to is a subject about which most Americans are totally unfamiliar, primarily because it is not taught in U.S. public (i.e., government) schools: “war revisionism,” which includes a large body of literature regarding the official versions of the causes and consequences of both World War I and World War II.

What the term means in the context of the two world wars is this: Prior to U.S. intervention into World War I, the philosophy of the American people had been to stay out of Europe’s endless wars. After all, many Americans in 19th-century America had actually fled Europe because of those wars, including the conscription, death, and destruction that came with them.

The American vision and ideal was: We’ll create a model society of freedom for the world, and if anyone is suffering in other countries, he will always have the hope that there is at least one country in the world that will take him in if he is able to escape; we will not, however, in the words of John Quincey Adams, “go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

The U.S. intervention into World War I was an abandonment of that American philosophy. The war was billed as a war to “make the world safe for democracy” and “the war to end all wars.” That was the “official, government-approved version” of events at the end of the war, along with the claim that Germany alone was responsible for causing the war.

After the war, “revisionist” historians began publishing articles and books questioning that “official” version of events. They pointed out all the political machinations of the other world powers that contributed to the outbreak of the war, including those by Russia, as revealed by the previously secret documents of the Czar that the Russian communists had opened up after the Russian Revolution.

In fact, the revisionists also pointed out that one of the perverse consequences of World War I was the triumph of the communists in Russia.

Moreover, as time went on, Americans saw that a devastated, defeated Germany contributed to the conditions that gave rise to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.

Thus, by the time that war broke out between Germany, France, and Great Britain in 1939, the American people realized that the causes and consequences of World War I had been adverse and perverse. That was why they overwhelmingly opposed entry into World War II and why there were planks in the party platforms of both political parties opposing U.S. involvement in any more foreign wars. It’s why President Franklin Roosevelt himself promised the American people that American boys would never die in foreign wars.

The attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, changed the course of events for the American people. The “official,” government-approved version was that President Roosevelt was totally surprised over the attack. As the years went, the revisionist historians began turning up strong circumstantial evidence that FDR was not as surprised as he appeared to be and that he had, in fact, been maneuvering both the Germans and the Japanese into attacking the United States, thereby providing him with a means to overcome the resistance of the American people to entering another major foreign war. In fact, as result of the revisionist historians, some FDR apologists even now admit that FDR was in fact lying about trying to keep America out of the conflict but that he was lying for the good of the country.

Over the years, U.S. officials have steadfastly refused to open all the files on Pearl Harbor but as some of the files have periodically been opened over the years, the evidence had grown stronger and stronger that Roosevelt was fully aware that an attack was coming somewhere in the Pacific and was not disappointed when it finally came.

At the end of the war, the “official” version was, of course, that the world had been spared the threat of Adolf Hitler. The revisionists began pointing out some uncomfortable and perverse consequences of the war. For example, while Great Britain and France had declared war on Germany to free the Polish people from tyranny, the Poles ended up suffering for some 50 years under America’s ally, the Soviet communists. The same was true for Eastern Europe and East Germany.

Moreover, while Japan was defeated, its previous enemy, China, was also soon taken over by the communists.

The triumph of the Russian and Chinese communists ultimately gave rise to the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It also presented the West with an enemy that was just as cruel and brutal as Nazi Germany, if not more so, and which vowed to “bury” us. Yet that enemy had initially been the friend of Nazi Germany and had even invaded Poland at about the same time that Nazi Germany did in 1939, which raised the interesting question as to why France and Great Britain declared war on Germany and not on the Soviet Union.

Later in the war, Russian communist leader Joseph Stalin, who arguably was as bad as Hitler, became Hitler’s enemy and FDR’s friend. Then, after the war Stalin and the communists became our enemy. Ironically, while the U.S. government ended up executing people for helping the Russian communists after the war, FDR is still praised for helping the Russian communists during the war. Unfortunately, FDR and his court historians could not recognize that Nazism and communism were equally evil before the war, during the war, and after the war.

The “official” or “court” historians, of course, hated the revisionists for pointing out the truth. The former wanted people to simply accept the official version of events and not ask any questions. The revisionists performed the invaluable function of challenging people to not only see the truth but also to think about all the causes and consequences of foreign conflicts — that is, to see the “big picture” rather than focus narrowly on what public officials preferred them to focus on.

We’re now seeing the pattern repeated in President Bush’s war on Iraq. The president, the Pentagon, and the State Department would prefer that people not focus on the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, despite the fact that that was what was used to scare the American people half to death up to the time of the invasion.

They also don’t want people to focus on what is going on in the occupation period—killings of both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers, warrantless searches of people’s homes and warrantless seizures of criminal suspects, gun control, censorship, banning of elections, political appointments of Saddam’s henchmen, and all the rest.

They once again want people to accept the “official,” government-approved version of events and to not ask any questions about that version: that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction really do exist and they’re going to be found some day in the future, that the Iraqis are enthusiastically embracing the military rule of a foreign power, and that that omnipotent rule constitutes “freedom” for the Iraqi people.

And once again, the revisionists are correcting the “official” version of events by disclosing the truth. What is interesting is that there are lots of Americans considering, thinking, and reflecting about what the revisionists are saying, just like after World War I. And that is what is undoubtedly scaring U.S. interventionists and their court historians.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

U.S. troops have arrested the U.S.-appointed mayor of Najaf, Iraq, for kidnapping and corruption. Why, that’s enough to make anyone think of Washington, D.C.!

And given that our nation’s capital is also suffering the adverse effects of the same socialist programs that Saddam’s socialist Baath Party embraces (i.e., government-provided health care — Medicare, old-age retirement — Social Security, and education — public schooling,) Washington and Najaf might just end up competing for honors as the world’s best “Model City.”

The “Model City” program (together with Medicare), was, of course, one of the central-planning tenets of President Lyndon Johnson’s socialist “Great Society” program during the 1960s, while Social Security was the socialist program that his mentor President Franklin Roosevelt foisted upon the American people during the 1930s.

And one thing that LBJ, FDR, and Saddam all understood is the critical importance of socialized education, as Butler Schaeffer so eloquently explains in the lead article in today’s issue of LewRockwell.com.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.