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, June 2004

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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The neoconservative commentators who believe that patriotism means blind support of government, especially during times of war, are stunned, shocked, and paralyzed over the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Hamdi, Guantanamo, and Padilla cases because they now can’t decide which branch of government to support — the executive branch’s claim to dictatorial powers or the judicial branch’s striking down of such powers as inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Supreme Court’s rulings yesterday against President Bush and the Pentagon in the Guantanamo Bay and Yaser Hamdi cases should bring a sense of relief to the American people, especially given that the Congress has played such a pathetic and cowardly role in the defense of civil liberties during the most massive presidential and military assault on the rights and freedoms of the American people since at least the time of the Civil War. (The Court deferred ruling on the merits in the Jose Padilla case on a technicality but the rulings in the other two cases will clearly inure to Padilla’s benefit.)

For three long years, neoconservative elements within our society, who have suffered from an overwhelming fear that terrorists were going to come and get them, have eagerly supported the president’s and Pentagon’s destruction of our rights and freedoms, some of which stretch as far back as Magna Carta, in the hopes that by doing so, the government would protect them from the terrorists.

As a result of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, every single American is freer, safer, and more secure. That’s assuming, of course, that the president and the Pentagon decide to comply with the Court’s judgment.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I just returned from my hometown of Laredo, Texas, which is located on the Texas-Mexico border. Advocates of immigration controls might want to visit Laredo to see what life is like when federal officials have omnipotent power to control the movements of people across the border. I saw more Border Patrol agents than I’ve ever seen, and a friend told me that they’re now commonly seen patrolling the streets of downtown Laredo (in addition to the highways and ranches, where they traditionally could be found). People are already talking about the distinct possibility that military troops will soon be joining them. For those who love the idea of Border Patrol entering onto people’s private ranches to “control the borders,” a prominent Laredoan’s experience with these people might change their mind about such tyrannical power: http://www.laredosnews.com/usbp.html

A friend of mine told me about an “ingenious” multimillion federal project to catch illegal immigrants heading north. The feds cleared a strip of land between the fence line and a major state highway that runs somewhat parallel to the Rio Grande. The feds would then grade the strip every morning. The idea would be that the feds would be easily able to spot footprints of illegal aliens and then radio for helicopters to go look for the immigrants. So, how did the illegal immigrants respond? They took some brush and simply brushed away their footprints behind them as they walked across the strip. A rather inexpensive response to a multimillion (taxpayer-funded) government boondoggle!

I took my niece, who is from Dallas, to the Laredo airport, where immigration officials have the power to ask airline passengers their citizenship. Mind you, this is inside the United States and my niece never entered Mexico during her trip to Laredo. The same, of course, happens to automobiles traveling north, which was my experience since I had rented a car in San Antonio and had driven down to Laredo. Again, I never entered Mexico, and on the way back north, I encountered the infamous immigration station which is located about 20 miles north of the city. It’s quite surreal and except for the fact that many immigration officials are now Mexican Americans, one gets the distinct feeling that he’s entering the Soviet Union.

This time I got a bit nervous because they had a German Shepard approaching each car to search for drugs. The reason for my nervousness is that it is so easy for anyone (including federal officials) to plant drugs on the underside of a car—or there’s a risk that the previous renter of the rent car has left some drugs in the car. If such were to happen, the feds’ position would be to charge you with illegal possession and let you explain it all to a federal jury—which entails spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorney’s fees and incurring the risk that they don’t believe you. When I was in high school in Laredo, one of the major concerns was the large number of “dropsie cases” at the international bridge, where the feds would “drop” some drugs into the cars driven by hippies and then “find” the drugs and charge the hippies with possession, knowing that it would be the word of the federal agent against the word of a hippie and knowing that a jury would almost always believe the agent.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Have you ever wondered how many Americans who support the invasion and occupation of Iraq would have done so if it had been the Soviet Union doing the invading and occupying rather than the U.S. government? Think about it: Suppose the Soviet Union had invaded Iraq based on the threat of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and also to “liberate” the Iraqi people from tyranny. Suppose also that Soviet troops had killed thousands of innocent Iraqi people, had captured Saddam and were holding him without charges or trial, and were enforcing a brutal occupation that was contributing to the deaths of hundreds more innocent people. Suppose also that U.S. officials, from the president and vice president on down, were railing against the Soviet Union for its attack and war of aggression on a sovereign and independent country. Wouldn’t Americans who are today supporting the U.S. government’s invasion and occupation of Iraq oppose the exact same actions by the Soviet Union? Don’t such Americans still support the U.S. government’s alliance with Osama bin Laden to oppose the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Bringing to mind the brutal 10-year embargo against the Iraqi people in an attempt to induce them to oust Saddam Hussein from office, which contributed to the deaths of multitudes of Iraqi children, the Bush administration is reinforcing its embargo against Cuba, with the intent to squeeze the Cuban people into ousting Fidel Castro from office. (If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!) The U.S. government is now restricting the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba to visit family members or engage in cultural or educational missions, which is causing tremendous economic pain for the Cuban people and also tremendous emotional pain for both Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

Of course, U.S. officials justify such pain on the basis of U.S. “foreign policy” (just as they did with the embargo against Iraq). Much more tragic, however, is how supporters of this immoral and horrific policy have convinced themselves that it’s all part of the “freedom” Americans enjoy (as compared to Cubans, who are not free to come to the United States)-the “freedom,” that is, of the U.S. government to regulate and control what Americans do with their own money and where they choose to travel.

Of course, I can just hear it now–If a Cuban citizen whose children have died as a result of the embargo commits a terrorist act against the United States, it will be because of his hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and will have nothing to do with the U.S. government’s morally bankrupt foreign policy.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

A very special thanks to Anthony Gregory, one of the libertarian movement’s brilliant upcoming writers, for including me in his very humorous and eye-opening article “A Libertarian in Berkeley,” which was posted on LewRockwell.com:

“And then there is top dog, a delicious hot dog establishment with three locations right off campus. top dog is owned by a libertarian, and while eating one of the best hot links or bockwursts you’ve ever tasted you can read the literature strewn across the walls – quotations, articles, and comic strips each with a libertarian message. The words of Jacob Hornberger, Ludwig von Mises, Thomas Jefferson, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek, Lysander Spooner, Herbert Spencer, and of course Lew Rockwell are all showcased on the walls and in pamphlets and magazines. I first visited top dog before I enrolled at the university, and seeing such a glorious display of free market and individualist ideas adjacent to an equally glorious display of kielbasa and bratwurst made me realize it was the right town for my college years.”

Of course, it’s an honor to be included in Gregory’s piece but what bigger honor than to have one’s libertarian thoughts to be posted on the walls of a prominent eating establishment in the middle of one of the biggest bastions of socialism in the world?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

According to an annual survey of charitable contributions, Americans made an estimated $240.72 billion in charitable contributions in 2003, which was about the same level of giving as the previous year. Of course, those who advocate coercive government confiscation of wealth in order to give the loot to the needy (“from those according to ability, to those according to need”) would argue that Americans can’t be trusted to voluntarily help others and that such voluntary donations are made only for purposes of income-tax deductions.

Nonsense!

Prior to the time that the income tax was adopted in 1913, Americans were free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, and the result was not only the most prosperous society in history but also the most charitable society in history. This was how the opera houses, museums, and churches got built. In fact, in his book Democracy in America, the 19th-century writer Alexis de Tocqueville observed the countless voluntary associations and organizations that existed in America. One man, John D. Rockefeller, whom U.S. statists revile as a “robber baron,” gave away $500 million.

The most important point, which our ancestors recognized, is that government has no legitimate role in the charity business. To have meaning, charity must be voluntary, not coercive. That means, as a corollary, that people should be free to make such choices for themselves. Not only is the right to make such choices an essential aspect of individual freedom but it also is the best process to nurture compassion and caring decisions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Amidst all the fanfare in Washington over whether there was a “relationship” between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, it’s important that we not miss the obvious “relationship”: that among the principal reasons that bin Laden declared war on the United States was the brutal 10-year UN and U.S. embargoes against the Iraqi people, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. That’s what bin Laden said and, in fact, it’s what convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef said at his federal court sentencing for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. That is undoubtedly why President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are so convinced that Saddam had to have conspired to commit the September 11 attacks-because, as president of Iraq, where the children were dying, Saddam had much more motive to commit the September 11 crime than bin Laden.

Monday, June 21, 2004

In a traditional campaign ploy to buy votes, presidential candidate John Kerry is proposing an increase in the minimum wage to $7. Unfortunately, the people who will pay the price for Kerry’s ploy will be those at the bottom of the economic ladder—that is, those whose labor is valued less than $7 in the marketplace. They are the ones who will be put out of jobs as a result of Kerry’s attempt to get elected. Then Kerry will propose increased welfare for the unemployed, who will then be under continued government care and control and, thus, more susceptible to being scared into voting for people like Kerry because, otherwise, someone might terminate their welfare narcotic, causing them to starve to death. Just one more example of how damaging campaign ploys to buy votes can be for people, not only the poor but also for employers and taxpayers.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

After their failure to find WMD in Iraq, U.S. officials justified their invasion and occupation, which have killed, maimed, tortured, and brutalized thousands of Iraqi citizens who had nothing to do with 9/11, by saying that the Iraqi people are now “free.”

I wonder if they were referring to Falloujah, where according to an article in the Los Angeles Times,

“Vigilante-style enforcement of religious edicts by the insurgents has been on the rise in recent weeks. Barbers have been warned not to shave men’s beards. Several beauty parlors have been shut down, and four purveyors of illicit alcohol were publicly flogged and paraded through town in the back of a pickup truck last month, according to witnesses.”

The sad part is that many U.S. officials and neo-conservatives honestly believe that a regime in which such moral edicts are coercively enforced by the authorities really is “freedom,” which is one reason the neo-cons would love nothing more than to bring much of such Falloujah-type “freedom” (think drug war), along with U.S. military “freedom” in Iraq (indefinite detentions, no due process, shutting down newspapers that criticize the military, etc.) here to the United States.

Meanwhile, the new interim prime minister of Iraq, whom the CIA has long supported, is threatening to impose martial law, to be enforced no doubt by U.S. military forces. Be prepared for more neoconservative paeans on how martial law, when it’s imposed and enforced by the U.S. military and CIA appointees, is actually the greatest “freedom” a people can ever experience.

Friday, June 18, 2004

In my series, “Obedience to Orders,” which was written as U.S. forces were invading Iraq and which generated white-heat criticism from Pentagon brass, West Point cadets, and a VMI alumni official, I wrote:

“Moreover, every officer worth his salt should know that torture and mistreatment of enemy prisoners of war is the worst possible military strategy one’s side could employ. If the enemy knows that he is going to be treated well, he is much more likely to surrender. Why else were German soldiers desperately fighting (and dying) near the end of World War II to surrender to U.S. forces rather than to Soviet forces? Therefore, any officer who gives a hoot for the welfare of his men will do his best to ensure that such a wrongful policy is abandoned posthaste. Moreover, while there is no guarantee that enemy forces will honor the same rules of right conduct, it’s much easier to call on them to do so when you are on the moral high ground.

A few days ago (June 14), CNN reported the following:

“The prison abuse was cited by Islamic militants who kidnapped an American in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. On an al Qaeda-linked Web site, the group said its members have the ‘legal right to revenge their brothers and treat the hostage in the same way the Americans treated our brothers in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib based on the legal right to treat others as they treat you.’”

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The commission investigating the 9/11 attacks has concluded that Saddam Hussein played no role in the September 11 attacks, bursting one of the principal deceptions that Bush-Cheney and the neo-con cabal surrounding them used to justify the invasion and war of aggression against Iraq. (Another deception, of course, was that Saddam Hussein was about to unleash on the American people the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. had delivered to him during the Reagan-Bush administration.) Meanwhile, Vice-President Cheney continues his obsessive insistence that Saddam not only had “links” to Osama bin Laden but also that Saddam’s WMD are going to be found any day in a secret, air-conditioned, secure underground facility in the Iraqi desert.

Saddam Hussein, it goes without saying, was not the only Iraqi who was innocent of the September 11 attacks. We should always remember that the thousands of Iraqi citizens, including ordinary soldiers, who have been killed, maimed, detained, tortured, raped, sexually abused, and murdered as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq also had nothing to do with attacking Americans on that fateful day. Every single one of them is an innocent victim of the neo-cons’ attempt to use September 11 to justify attacking, invading, and occupying an independent and sovereign nation whose leader and citizenry were innocent of the September 11 attacks.

Finally, President Bush told an audience in Florida this week, “We have come not to conquer, but to liberate people and we will stand with them until their freedom is secure,” bringing to mind the words of British General Stanley Maude who captured Baghdad in 1917: “Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.” Ironically, the “liberated” people themselves are having nothing of it. In the recent poll conducted by the occupiers themselves, only 2 percent of the Iraqi people said that they consider the occupying forces to be liberators.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

While many Americans unfortunately continue to believe that life under military rule is “freedom” as long as the military is American, the Iraqi people, despite U.S. claims to the contrary, aren’t buying it, most likely because they’re the ones suffering under the iron boot of military rule. According to a MSNBC-Newsweek article today,

“The first survey of Iraqis sponsored by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shows that most say they would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately, without even waiting for elections scheduled for next year. An overwhelming majority, about 80 percent, also say they have ‘no confidence’ in either the U.S. civilian authorities or coalition forces.”

“Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed also said they believed violent attacks have increased around the country because ‘people have lost faith in the coalition forces.’”…

“Of the Iraqis surveyed, 71 percent said they had been surprised by the Abu Ghraib revelations. Most, however, said they now believe the abuses were widespread.”

As I have previously written, in my opinion one result of the torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib is that the Iraqi people, especially the religious ones, will never ever trust U.S. government officials or the U.S. military and, therefore, it makes no sense to continue an occupation that is resulting in the deaths of innocent people on both sides. That’s not to say, of course, that the neocons who pushed America into invading and waging a war of aggression against Iraq, especially without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, will not be morally responsible for the outcome, whether the occupation continues or not.

One of the most interesting results of the Iraqi poll was: “Fifty-four percent agreed with the statement that ‘all Americans behave this way,’ and 61 percent said they believed no one would be punished for the abuses.”

As I’ve also previously written, this is one important reason why we, the American people, need to rein in both the State Department and the Pentagon and put a stop to their obnoxious, deadly, and destructive adventures overseas. These people provide the very worst example of what America and Americans stand for.

The private sector, on the other hand, should be liberated to interact with foreigners, for it is private Americans who exemplify everything great about America and, thus, provide the very best diplomats overseas for our country.

Finally, it’s not surprising that most Iraqis don’t believe that anyone will be punished for the Abu Ghraib abuses (except, of course, for the standard sacrificial underlings), especially given that it is becoming increasingly clear that the climate for the abuses was established at the highest levels of government. Sad to say, it is also becoming increasingly clear that the higher-ups are doing whatever is necessary to protect the higher-ups, including enlisting the assistance of an old, tired, decrepit congressional complacency that has long stood squarely in favor of blind “patriotic” support for any presidential military adventures overseas.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is perhaps a good time to review one of the principal claims of Hitler apologists regarding the Holocaust. Pointing to the fact that no written memorandum by Hitler has ever been found in which he ordered the Holocaust, the Hitler apologists suggest that he might not have actually known that the wrongdoing was going on or approved of it.

What nonsense! No head of state, not even Hitler, would be so stupid as to put that type of order into writing. All Hitler had to do was quietly indicate to a few close and trusted advisers that it would not be objectionable if “bad things” were to be done to the Jews. That message would then quietly be sent down the chain of command, and everyone would then know that mistreatment of the Jews was acceptable to the higher-ups, perhaps even encouraged. As those at the bottom discovered that mistreating and killing the Jews did not result in punishment but instead in praise and reward, the killings and mistreatment continued. Ask yourself: Would German subordinates throughout the entire chain of command commit such egregious acts if they didn’t think that their immediate superiors approved, all the way up to Hitler?

Monday, June 14, 2004

For one of the best analyses on the Jose Padilla case — and why it is so important — see “ Trial by News Conference? No Justice in That” by Scott Turow, the noted attorney-novelist, which was published in yesterday’s Washington Post Outlook section. The article also explains why the Justice Department’s recent press conference in the case was highly unethical under the Code of Professional Responsibility, which governs the ethical conduct of lawyers.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

In case we needed more proof of our ancestors’ wisdom in guaranteeing the right to jury trials in criminal cases by enacting the Sixth Amendment to our Constitution, it came in the form of a jury verdict yesterday in Boise, Idaho.

The feds had accused a Saudi college student of terrorism and, for some unknown reason, had decided to prosecute him in federal court rather than turn him over to Pentagon control for execution as an illegal “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism.” Just as in the Detroit terrorism cases several months ago, the jury voted to acquit the student of the terrorism charges. One juror, John Steiger, put the matter succinctly: “There was a lack of hard evidence. There was no clear-cut evidence that said he was a terrorist, so it was all on inference.”

The Boise verdict comes on the heels of the feds’ recent mistaken accusation of terrorism against Portland lawyer Vincent Mayfield, whom the feds were certain was involved in the Madrid terrorist bombings. (The feds later “apologized” for their mistake, after holding Mayfield incommunicado for two weeks.)

Other accused terrorists, including Americans Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, and foreigner Ari S. Marri, as well as countless other foreigners, are not so lucky. They’re being held by the Pentagon, which claims the omnipotent power to punish, even execute, suspected terrorists in its clutches without due process of law and a jury trial.

Do you now see why the Pentagon set up its prison camp in Cuba rather than the United States? It did it to avoid pesky little problems like evidence, due process, jury trials, and independent-minded jurors with consciences in cases where the government is “certain” that the person they’re accusing is really guilty of terrorism. And to avoid such bigger pesky problems as the U.S. Constitution (which they publicly swear to support and defend) and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Friday, June 11, 2004

One of the great tragedies of the invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq is that none of the thousands of Iraqi people who have been killed, maimed, raped, tortured, or sexually abused by U.S. military forces had anything to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In fact, quite the contrary — I’d venture to say that up until the invasion and occupation, many of the victims of the war had the utmost respect for our nation, its values, and the American people.

Perhaps that’s why I was struck when I recently read an account of what one Iraqi man at Abu Ghraib prison said as he was getting his hands stomped on by a U.S. soldier. As he was getting brutalized, he said “Please, Mister, you are hurting me.” I couldn’t help but wonder whether the man’s use of the word “Mister” didn’t still connote the respect that he had for Americans in general.

That was one of the principal reasons that many of us opposed the invasion in the first place. As we repeatedly emphasized prior to the invasion, it was never a matter of “getting Saddam” but rather a matter of how many innocent Iraqi people would have to pay the price for “getting Saddam.”

An equally sad part of this tragedy is how the invasion and occupation have induced Americans into hating or resenting people who have never done anything bad to Americans except perhaps resist an unlawful invasion and occupation of their country by the U.S. government.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

In my May 28 blog, I described the tragic tale of Specialist Sean Baker, who was beaten up by U.S. soldiers in a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay. Baker was playing the role of a detainee, and he played the role too well because the soldiers who were beating him honestly believed he was a real detainee.

More details of the story were posted in the June 7 issue of our FFF Email Update in an article entitled “Beating Specialist Baker” by Nicholos D. Kristof.

Throughout the controversy, the Pentagon publicly represented to the American people that Baker’s discharge had nothing to do with the injuries he received during the beating. See: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=602732004

But now the Pentagon has effectively announced that it lied to the American people about the reason for Baker’s discharge. According to an Associated Press release on June 8,

“Reversing itself, the Army said Tuesday that a G.I. was discharged partly because of a head injury he suffered while posing as an uncooperative detainee during a training exercise at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, the sentencing of Martha Stewart for her “crime” of lying to federal officials has been postponed until July.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

A front-page article in today’s New York Times details how the CIA helped Iyad Allawi, the current CIA-designated prime minister of Iraq, to bomb government buildings in Iraq during the early 1990s. According to the Times,

“The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many casualties. But whether the bombings actually killed any civilians could not be confirmed because, as a former C.I.A. official said, the United States had no significant intelligence sources in Iraq then.”

According to the Times, one CIA bomber, who blew up a car, worried that the CIA might view him as “too much the terrorist.”

Which raises two discomforting questions: If Saddam Hussein’s agents had been bombing private and public buildings and automobiles in the United States during the 1990s, wouldn’t U.S. officials have considered such bombings to be “terrorism”? (Think Timothy McVeigh.) If so, why is it “terrorism” when Saddam does it but “legitimate CIA activities” when the U.S. government does it?

In my (pre-9/11) June 2000 article “Terrorism … or War?,” I wrote,

“Let’s consider … the relatives of the 13-year-old boy killed in Iraq. Wouldn’t they have a powerful incentive to counterattack against the United States? And if they did, would their actions be legitimate acts of war or terrorism? Let’s assume that the father of the Iraqi child places a bomb at a U.S. military installation that ends up killing hundreds of U.S. military men. We would, of course, hear cries of ‘terrorism’ from U.S. government officials. But why would the Iraqi’s bombing be considered ‘terrorism’ while the U.S. government’s bombing of his son would be considered ‘war’”?

Given the CIA’s bombing campaign against Saddam’s regime during the early 1990s, combined with the brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children during the 1990s, is it any wonder that U.S. officials remain convinced that Saddam conspired with Osama bin Laden to commit the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? After all, despite its many failures and fiascos, CIA officials certainly do understand the meaning of the term “blowback.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

In his Washington Post column today on Ronald Reagan, Richard Cohen displays a serious blind spot held by leftists. He states:

“During Reagan’s 1984 reelection campaign, for instance, Lesley Stahl of CBS did a long (four-minute) piece about his contradictions. She showed him appearing at old-age homes and institutions for the handicapped, and then noted that he had reduced funding for those programs.”

Contradictions? Cohen’s blind spot is that he fails to recognize that it is entirely consistent for a person to believe in helping people on a voluntary basis while, at the same time, oppose the coercive use of government to achieve the same end. In other words, leftists believe that there’s no difference between people choosing to help others voluntarily and forcing people to help others. That’s why they see a contradiction when someone advocates helping others privately while, at the same time, calls for ending government assistance to people. As conservatives once recognized, the difference between coercion and freedom in the moral arena is the difference between night and day.

Monday, June 7, 2004

One of the good parts of Ronald Reagan is that he clearly understood the freedom philosophy and was ideologically committed to it. For example, he was well-versed in the writings of such freedom giants as Ludwig von Mises, Frederic Bastiat, and Friedrich Hayek. One of the bad parts is that the policies he implemented and endorsed as president — massive welfare-state spending (Bill Bennett was head of the Department of Education and later became national Drug Czar), brutal enforcement of economic regulations (Rudolph Guliani was U.S. Attorney under Reagan), the drug war (Edwin Meese of infamous Meese Commission fame was U.S. Attorney General), foreign invasions (Grenada), etc. — were exactly the opposite of the free-market and limited-government principles he expounded

Thus, one of Reagan’s lasting legacies for the conservative movement has been that conservatives preach the old 1950s’s mantra of “free enterprise, private property, and limited government” (printing it on their stationery, posting it on their websites, etc.) while, in reality, endorsing the continuation and even expansion (and, of course, “reform”) of such socialist and interventionist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the drug war, education grants, farm subsidies, economic regulations, foreign wars, and the other aspects of the massive socialistic welfare-warfare state.

Also, while Reagan will always be remembered as the president who brought down the Soviet Union, sadly conservatives no longer explain how he achieved that — by causing the Soviet government to spend its way into national bankruptcy, especially on military matters. After all, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, if unrestrained government spending by the Soviet government brought down the Soviet Union, why won’t the unrestrained U.S. government spending that conservatives have brought to America ultimately do the same to our country?

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Yesterday, in a meeting that President Bush had requested with Pope John Paul II, the Pope, speaking of the president’s invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq, reminded the president: “You are very familiar with the unequivocal position of the Holy See in this regard, expressed in numerous documents, through direct and indirect contacts, and in many diplomatic efforts which have been made.”

The Pope was reminding Bush of what the Vatican had said to Bush prior to the president’s invasion of Iraq, an invasion that so far has killed and maimed thousands of innocent people, including children.

As most everyone knows, prior to the war President Bush had demanded that Saddam Hussein either “disarm” his “weapons of mass destruction” or his nation would face a military attack from U.S. forces. Saddam and other Iraqi officials continued their firm insistence that Iraq had, in fact, “disarmed” their “weapons of mass destruction.” Bush and other neoconservative officials insisted just as fervently that Saddam Hussein was lying and that Saddam was about to attack the United States with the WMD. U.S. officials claimed that only invasion and war, not more UN inspections, could “disarm” Saddam of the WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him during the 1980s.

The president and the other neoconservative officials in the executive branch told the American people: Trust us and support us; your lives are in extreme danger from Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction; we have information you don’t possess; you have a right to trust our claims and our judgment without demanding to see our evidence. We have no duty to show you or the Congress such evidence because we, not the Congress, decide whether to declare war against sovereign and independent countries despite the fact our Constitution states differently.

Among the many statements issued by the Vatican to President Bush and the neoconservatives about their plans to invade Iraq were: “Those who decide that all peaceful means that international law makes available are exhausted assume a grave responsibility before God, their conscience and history” and “a crime against peace that cries out for vengeance before God.”

Needless to say, the Vatican was also one of the main voices against the 10-year U.S. and UN embargoes against the Iraqi people, which took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

Friday, June 4, 2004

After two years of claiming that its information regarding Jose Padilla was “classified,” (i.e., that its disclosure would jeopardize the very security of the entire nation), the Justice Department, operating through a deputy attorney general named James Comey, decided to release its “classified” information to the general public in the form of a very public press conference.

Some might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Lots of things:

1. If the Justice Department is so convinced that Padilla committed a crime, then there’s a simple solution: charge him and bring forth its evidence in a court of law. That’s how things are supposed to be done in America. Unfortunately, the Justice Department, in cooperation with the Pentagon, is behaving just like the justice department in the Soviet Union used to behave, which is why Padilla has been sitting in a military brig for the past two years.

2. There is no guarantee that Comey’s conviction that Padilla has committed a crime is any more valid than the government’s conviction that such accused terrorists as Army Captain James Yee and Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield were guilty. (After being “certain” they were guilty, the government confessed that they were actually innocent.) That’s why we have courts of law and judicial processes in this country, Mr. Comey, because you people often charge innocent people with crimes. After all, why not simply charge Padilla with treason and prosecute him in federal court … as the Justice Department did with “the American Taliban” John Walker Lindh after the Pentagon took him into custody in Afghanistan?

3. Like many of its other “national security” claims that keep matters secret from the American people, the government’s claim regarding “national security” in the Padilla case has obviously proven to be false. The release of the previously “classified” information didn’t bring down the nation.

4. The Justice Department and the Pentagon have kept Padilla and his attorney muzzled for some two years, claiming that it would jeopardize the entire security of the nation if there were permitted to speak to the public. Even now, the government threatens to do bad things to Padilla’s lawyer for speaking publicly about the matter. So, while the Justice Department is flapping its lips about the case in a public press conference, it threatens to do bad things to Padilla and his lawyer if they respond to the charges in the same way. Does that sound like the Soviet Union or the USA?

5. The release of the information regarding Padilla’s alleged involvement in terrorism is an obvious attempt to get extra-judicial information to the Supreme Court justices who are deliberating the Padilla case, an act that is highly improper and unethical under the Code of Professional Responsibility that guides all attorneys, including even those in the Justice Department. The Justice Department attorneys are obviously regretting their decision to keep all that “classified” information from the judiciary and are obviously now hoping that the Justices will get the information extrajudicially (and improperly and unethically) by reading the newspaper. If you want to get that information before the Supreme Court, Mr. Comey, do it the right way by filing a motion for rehearing but, beware: a rehearing might also mean the court will consider the recently disclosed evidence regarding the sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal involving the U.S. military and might conclude that that’s how you people secured a confession from Padilla.

6. In a classic ends justifying the means form of reasoning, Comey suggested that the denial of due process of law, habeas corpus, right to counsel, and other constitutional guarantees in Padilla’s case turned out to be a good thing because otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten him to confess to the charges. Excuse me, but isn’t that the attitude that Castro also takes in his “war on terrorism”? Isn’t that the attitude that the authorities in Chile and Argentina took in their “wars on terrorism”? Isn’t that the attitude that the Soviet Union took and that China takes today? In fact, isn’t that why our ancestors demanded the inclusion of the Bill of Rights as a condition for permitting the federal government to come into existence — to ensure that the feds don’t do to us, the American people, what they’re doing to Jose Padilla?

Thursday, June 3, 2004

In an editorial entitled “Castro’s Delusions,” the Washington Times suggests that Fidel Castro, with the goal of causing the Cuban people to rally to the Cuban government, is conjuring up a threat by the U.S. government to attack Cuba. Why, I wonder where Fidel came up with that strategy!

Suggesting that Castro is delusional and paranoid, the Times apparently forgets about the U.S. government’s policy of imposing embargos against sovereign and independent nations, including Cuba, as well as assassinating or ousting their rulers and invading, waging wars of aggression, and occupying them, especially if they have cruel and brutal dictators that refuse to do the bidding of U.S. officials. Thus, a paranoid and delusional foreign ruler who refuses to become a U.S. puppet, such as Castro, could be excused for arriving at the rational conclusion that he could be near the top of U.S. targets.

It’s interesting that the Times failed to note that given the infamous WMD scandal that resulted in the invasion and occupation of Iraq — and given the obsessive-compulsive conviction of Vice-President Dick Cheney (and his fellow neo-cons who got our nation into this mess) that those infamous WMD (which the U.S. delivered to Saddam in the 1980s) are yet to be discovered in some modern, underground, lighted, air-conditioned facility in the middle of the Iraqi desert — the Castro folks certainly have no monopoly on paranoia and delusions.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

In her excellent (and courageous) Washington Post op-ed today, “In Warsaw, a ‘Good War’ Wasn’t,” Anne Applebaum delves into the infamous but little-known Soviet-U.S.-British double-cross of Polish resistance fighters during World War II. (Recall that the purported reason that France and Britain declared war on Germany in the first place was the save the Polish people from tyranny.)

Applebaum also makes reference to the infamous U.S.-British repatriation of anti-communist Russians to the Soviet communists, who were close allies of the U.S. and Britain: “But there are many such stories. No less terrible are the tales of the Allied troops who forced White Russians and Cossacks into trucks and returned them to the Soviet Union — at Stalin’s request — where most were killed.” For more information about this sordid and murderous part of what U.S. officials still celebrate as the “Good War,” please see my article “Repatriation: The Dark Side of World War II.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times regarding the selection of Iraq’s new prime minister:

“Founder of the Iraqi National Accord, an exile political party, [Iyad] Allawi has long been known for his close ties to the CIA. In fact, some Iraqis interpreted his elevation Friday to prime minister-designate as evidence that the CIA had trumped the Pentagon in the administration’s internal war over which agency should shape Iraq. The Pentagon’s civilian leadership had backed Allawi rival Ahmad Chalabi for years. Chalabi’s home and headquarters were raided last week by Iraqi police, backed by U.S. troops, as part of a corruption investigation.”

Who says that U.S. officials haven’t brought democracy to Iraq? After all, what better proof of democracy than a two-party political system—the CIA vs. the Pentagon?

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.