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, March 2005

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

According to the Pioneer Press, Dan Gartrell, a former Head Start teacher at Red Lake High School in Minnesota, said public-school student killer Jeff Weise

“would have been just fine if teachers ‘had time to greet students in the morning, easing them through conflicts since the previous day that may be getting them down.’ He went on to suggest that we need full-time mental health professionals in our schools, from preschool through college.”

A good place for those mental-health professionals to start would be to counsel public-student students on the psychological consequences of state compulsory-attendance laws, which force families to send young people into government-approved institutions to receive government-approved “education” from government-approved schoolteachers using a government-approved curriculum that follows a government-approved schedule of bells.

How can such a dysfunctional concept not have psychological consequences, not only with respect to aberrant behavior among students but also on adults, including those who propose such unreal solutions to school violence as “greeting students in the morning, easing them through conflicts since the previous day that may be getting them down”?

The only solution to all this bizarre behavior is a complete separation of school and state: repeal compulsory-attendance laws, abolish school taxes, and sell off public school assets; turn education over to the free market entirely. A second-best solution would be to no longer force families to send their children into the public-school system, leaving public schools to people such as Weiss and his mental health professionals.

(For more, please see my article “Educational Coercion and Aberrant Behavior” [1999].)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Undoubtedly much to the chagrin of the CIA, which specializes in kidnapping, torture, and murder, the New York Times has tracked down the logs for the jet plane that was used to send Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Syria after he was kidnapped by U.S. agents. (According to the Times, it cost the CIA more than $100,000 in U.S. taxpayer money to provide Arar with his involuntary one-way special flight to Syria. Hey, no big deal — U.S. taxpayers are rich, right?)

After Arar arrived in Syria, he was kept in a grave-like cell for almost a year. Fortunately for him, he was only tortured and not executed and was finally released when it turned out that the CIA suspicions that he was an “unlawful combatant” in the “war on terrorism” proved ill-founded.

The CIA is claiming that Arar’s lawsuit against the U.S. should be dismissed because it might entail disclosure of secrets that could jeopardize “national security.”

Yeah, like maybe the CIA’s hiring of Nazi thugs after World War II and its partnership with Mafia officials in the 1960s, where the CIA undoubtedly learned much of its kidnapping, murder, and torture techniques. (Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.)

Meanwhile, undoubtedly fully aware of the omnipotent and somewhat scary power that the CIA wields — and given its will to use it, the “brave and courageous” members of Congress continue to remain silent and supine about the CIA’s Nazi-Mafia-like actions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Warning! Long blog today!

A Mr. Eshaya Youkhana has published an interesting blog addressing my article “The Schiavo Case Is Not Judicial Suicide” which is posted on an interesting Catholic website entitled PhilosophyNotes.com. Youkhana entitled his blog “Terri Schiavo case incites libertarian’s endorsement of morally impermissible.”

Youkana’s blog raise two major points: one relating to Terri Schiavo’s own intent and, two, issues involving euthanasia and assisted suicide.

On the first point, Youkhana questions the trial court’s finding that Terri Schiavo’s own intent was to “pull the tube” if she were to find herself in the situation at hand. He states that an “objective consideration of the entire web of evidence in regard to Terri’s alleged statement in this matter leaves one, at best, with serious doubts regarding Michael Schiavo’s statements, and with many critical questions unanswered.”

Yet, unfortunately, as “objective” as Youkhana might find the evidence with respect to Terri Schiavo’s intent, he cannot deny that there is evidence on both sides of the issue. He himself points out that there is the testimony of Michael Schiavo, although he questions its veracity. Fine. But someone’s doubts about a witness’s veracity cannot preclude that witness from testifying at trial. It simply means that the witness’s veracity can be attacked when he does testify, which is exactly what the attorney for the parents did at the Schiavo trial. Moreover, in his analysis Youkhana conveniently omits that there were two other witnesses whose sworn testimony buttressed the claim made by Michael — that of his brother and sister-in-law. Were they committing perjury too? Perhaps, but through cross-examination and argumentation, the parents’ attorneys had the opportunity to make that point and undoubtedly did.

It was ultimately up to the judge to decide which witnesses were telling the truth or not, just as it would have been up the jury to decide the same issue if it had been a jury trial. As I stated in my article, the finder of facts (jury or judge) is in the best position to make that determination because he watches the witnesses, studies their demeanor, and sees how their testimony stands up under rigorous cross examination.

Youkhana’s knowledge of the case, like most everyone else’s, is presumably based on what he’s read on the Internet and watched on television. Yet, how can such “knowledge” substitute for a judicial determination involving conflicting facts based on competent evidence presented in a highly disputed case in a court of law?

In fact, how does Youkhana suggest that such a critical disputed fact be determined? By everyone agreeing with him, given that his version is presumably based on his careful study of Internet websites? By a vote by everyone on the Internet? By a national call-in on a 900 number? Gun fights in the street? As I stated in my article, the best place to resolve such factual disputes is in a court of law, which is the case under our system of government.

Does this mean that juries (or judges in non-jury trials) render verdicts with which we all agree? Of course not. Many people, for example, disagreed with the jury’s verdict in the O.J. Simpson case. Does that mean that the president should take O.J. into custody and send him to Guantanamo Bay for execution or torture? Of course not. Under our system of government, the state court’s judgment of acquittal in the O.J. case is — and should be — final

By addressing the issue of intent, at least Youkhana is getting close to recognizing what I wrote in my article — that the Schiavo case involved an inquiry into the nature of Terri Shiavo’s own intent, not the involuntary taking of a person’s life. Youkhana might disagree with the judge’s verdict with respect to Terri Schiavo’s intent (just as people disagreed with the O.J. verdict) but he cannot deny what the court of appeals found — that the issue in Schiavo was the nature of Terri Schiavo’s own intent — and that there was sufficient evidence, given the oral testimony of Michael Schiavo, Scott Schiavo, and Joan Schiavo, to support the trial court’s factual finding, even if others would have found differently had they been on the jury listening to the same testimony.

Yet, even though Youkhana begins to recognize that the Schiavo case does involve a judicial determination of a critically important fact (that is, Terri’s Schiavo’s own intent), he nevertheless goes further and questions where libertarians stand on such issues as euthanasia and attempted suicide. Fair enough.

But first I’d like to clear up a common misconception from which he might be suffering, given the title of his blog. Libertarians believe that people should be free to make whatever choices they want in life, so long as their conduct is peaceful. But that doesn’t mean we support, from a moral standpoint, the exercise of the “wrong” choices that people make under those circumstances. For example, libertarians oppose laws that criminalize drug usage but that doesn’t mean we approve of drug use. We oppose laws that criminalize adultery but that doesn’t mean we condone adultery.

There is a wide range of moral and ethical choices that people are faced with during the course of their lives which do not involve the initiation of force against others. We might not agree with their choices but, to paraphrase Voltaire, libertarians defend people’s right to make them.

Suppose I get throat cancer and am unable to swallow. The doctor says, by sticking a feeding tube in you, I can keep you alive for 2 months. If you reject the feeding tube, you’ve got two weeks.

As a libertarian or individualist, that would be my decision, not Youkhana’s and not the government’s. Youkhana might disagree with me. He might try to persuade me to change my mind. He might tell me that I’m going to hell because I’m violating Church doctrine. But he has no moral right to use force to get that feeding tube into me and no right to use the state to accomplish the same thing. (Or if the tube is already in me, he has no right to use force to prevent me from taking it out.) In fact, I would submit that his coercive interference with my exercise of free will and his forceful imposition of his will on me would border on evil.

Now, let’s assume I say the same thing in a “living will” and the same thing happens but this time I’m in coma. Has anything really changed? Of course not. The only difference is that in the first instance I’m expressing my current will and in the second I’m expressing my will in advance.

Compare the libertarian position to that of collectivists or statists. They say that people belong to society — to the collective — sort of like drones in a bee hive. Thus, just as people should not be free to leave the country without permission of the government, they claim that people should not be free to exit life without permission of the government.

Libertarians would support all laws that criminalize the involuntary termination of life — murder, manslaughter, etc. If someone says, “I want a feeding tube,” no one has the right to deny that feeding tube to that person or to pull it out of the person without the person’s consent. Thus, I agree with Youkhana that if the court had found that Terri Schiavo had expressly stated, “Don’t pull the tube if I’m ever in that situation,” the court would have no moral or legal authority to order that the tube be pulled.

If she had never expressed her intent one way or the other, then that raises the difficult moral, ethical, and legal issue of whether the decision should turn on the person’s legal guardian, the family, or a court in the event there is a conflict within the family as to the best way to proceed.

While some libertarians would find suicide morally objectionable, they would not approve of laws that criminalize attempted suicide. The same principles would apply with respect to assisted suicide. Euthanasia, it seems, comes in two forms — at the request of the victim and against his consent. While some libertarians would find both forms morally objectionable, they would support criminal laws against the second but not the first.

Ultimately, the true test of a free society is not whether people are free to make the “popular” or “responsible” choice with respect to peaceful choices. The test of a free society is whether people are free to make the “unpopular” or “irresponsible” choices, so long as their conduct is peaceful.

Monday, March 28, 2005

It’s good to see that at least one Bush acknowledges that he cannot legally exercise powers that are not authorized by the Constitution. Responding to requests that he intervene in the Schiavo case, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stated, “I don’t have power from the U.S. Constitution, or the Florida constitution for that matter, that would allow me to intervene after a decision has been made.”

Maybe Jeb will speak to his brother, the president, and explain to him that under the Constitution, the president lacks the power to wage war without a declaration of war from Congress — and that the president is also required to obey the Constitution. After all, if the president had followed the law, there might still be an estimated 100,000 innocent people in Iraq still alive along with more than 1,500 U.S. soldiers, and that’s not even counting the people who have been wounded or maimed.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Pakistan “made clandestine purchases of U.S. high-technology components for use in its nuclear weapons program in defiance of American law.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting that President Bush “rewarded a key ally in the war on terrorism Friday by authorizing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, a move that reversed 15 years of policy begun under his father and that India warned would destabilize the volatile region.”

And don’t forget that Pakistan’s national hero Abdul Qadeer Khan delivered nuclear technology to Iran, which President Bush calls a part of the “axis of evil” and which he’s threatening to attack.

Let’s keep in mind, also, that Pakistan is run by a non-elected military dictator who will not permit democracy in his country.

Don’t you just love the U.S. government’s foreign policy?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Have I got an uplifting story for you all at Easter time! It will raise goose bumps all over you — guaranteed!

First, please read my Feb. 3, 2004, blog about the Cuban family who attempted to drive their automobile from Cuba to the United States (and be sure to click on “the photograph” link to see the picture):

***

“The Coast Guard has intercepted and captured on the high seas — for the second time — a group of people fleeing communist tyranny — in a car — from Cuba! Take a look at the photograph of the 1959 Buick in which the refugees were traveling across the ocean from Cuba to Miami. (Federal officials had captured and repatriated them back into communist tyranny the first time but at least didn’t attack them with water cannons, as they did a few years ago to another group of Cuban refugees escaping communist tyranny.)

In an era in which Americans are wallowing in their socialist welfare-state opium den, wondering how they could ever survive without their welfare narcotic, people who are willing to risk their lives to come to America for the chance of working hard and bettering their lives are the best elixir to help Americans beat their welfare addiction. Eduardo Perez, a relative of one of the refugees put the matter succinctly, “The United States should have a little bit of compassion and value the determination of these people. They are clean people. All they want to do is live and work.” Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation said, “On ingenuity alone, they should be allowed to stay.”

Here, here! No doubt that closed-border advocates are lighting their cigars and sipping their rum in celebration of their federal daddy’s capture of these courageous people and their anticipated re-repatriation into communist tyranny.

I say: Ignore the immoral immigration law and let them in!”

***

Well, U.S. officials did not let them in, instead opting to forcibly repatriate them to the land of communism (despite the fact that U.S. officials are still claiming that the fight against communism was worth sacrificing 60,000 American soldiers in Vietnam).

Well, guess what happened. The family didn’t give up! They tried a third time … and have succeeded! They are now in Miami because while U.S. law permits U.S. officials to forcibly repatriate Cuban refugees captured on the high seas, it prohibits them from forcibly repatriating Cuban refugees who make it to American shores. (Go figure!)

The route they chose this time was on land, rather than by sea, through Central America and Mexico. Luis Grass, the father, said, “It was hellish; we suffered a lot. But we’re finally here.” Making the journey with him were his wife Isora and their young son Angel Luis. They traveled through jungles, encountering snakes, wild monkeys, and insects. Having little money, they oftentimes slept out in the open.

One really funny aspect of this is what actually happened to him when he escaped Cuba in one of his cars. According to the Miami Herald, “Grass later learned the officers’ superiors first ignored their frantic late-night call to report that ‘’a truck was headed to Miami.’ They were chastised and told to stop drinking at night while on patrol.”

Asked what he now plans to do, Grass said that he plans to find work and buy a car. “’There are so many kinds here,” he said.

How can anyone not love these people? They embody the values that every single American should treasure. How can the U.S. government, which professes to love poor people and hate tyranny, continue its longtime policy of forcible repatriation of Cuban refugees into Cuban communist tyranny?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense in a government that is responsible for the sales of millions of dollars in weapons sales around the world, doesn’t understand why the Venezuelan government is purchasing 100,000 AK-47s from the Russian government?

No, it’s not that Rumsfeld doesn’t like the competition, it’s that he doesn’t understand why Venezuela would even want to have so many guns.

What?

The U.S. government has an announced policy of invading and “regime changing” sovereign and independent countries that don’t toe the U.S. line and who don’t do the bidding of U.S. officials, and Rumsfeld doesn’t understand why a country might want to defend itself from such an attack? Surely Rummy is familiar with the U.S. government’s interventions and regime changes in such places as Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, and Grenada, yes, even Venezuela itself, and that’s only in Latin America! If we throw in Iraq, Iran, and the Middle East, we’ve got some more to add to the list!

As I stated in my article, “ Murder or Ouster for Chavez?” the president of Venezuela is an absolutely perfect candidate for “regime change,” either through CIA murder or Pentagon invasion, especially given that Venezuela is an oil-rich nation. How can Rummy be surprised that the president of Venezuela would want to defend his nation against an invasion and war of aggression against his country? Wouldn’t the U.S. government do the same if it were threatened by a foreign regime’s invasion and war of aggression against America?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

We all have something to celebrate! The FCC has approved our watching of a television advertisement featuring “Desperate Housewives” Nicollette Sheridan’s shedding a towel on national television just before a NFL Monday night football game.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Or is it? Are these people really doing their job or not?

Oh well, isn’t this “freedom”? You know, where we have the “freedom” to be taken care of by our federal political daddy (or god), not only with welfare, retirement, health care, unemployment, exploitation, drug abuse, religion, and education but also with respect to what we see, hear, and watch.

Gosh, maybe they’ll even change the name of the FCC to the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which was the name of the Taliban’s counterpart to the FCC.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Congressional Republicans, who have done their best to capitalize on and make political hay out of the Terri Schiavo tragedy, are undoubtedly surprised that a U.S. district judge has ruled against interfering with the jurisdiction and judgment of the Florida state courts despite the Republicans’ hasty midnight action attempting to vest jurisdiction over the matter in the federal judiciary.

Unlike the members of Congress, the judge obviously understands the nature of America’s federal system — that is, that the Framers did not intend to set up a centralized federal government that would have the power to control, regulate, and manage the daily affairs of the American people and to overturn state court judicial decisions whenever the members of Congress believed that doing so would bring them votes.

Actually though, the Republican’s “this applies only to Terri Schiavo” law is consistent with the “the end justifies the means” mindset they’ve had for at least the past 3 years.

After all, wasn’t it that “the end justifies the means” mindset that guided congressional support of the president’s attack and war of aggression on Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war and despite the fact that Iraq had not attacked the United States?

And hasn’t it been that “the end justifies the means” mindset that has caused Congress to sit back supinely while Pentagon and CIA personnel have tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered detainees and then attempted to whitewash and cover up such misconduct?

And hasn’t it been that “the end justifies the means” mindset that has caused Congress to remain silent in the face of the Pentagon’s seizure and punishment of American citizens without due process of law and other protections of the Bill of Rights?

Monday, March 21, 2005

To the men and women of Congress:

“I am so pleased to see that the Terri Schiavo case has caused you all to break out of your coma. Wow! It’s great to see you people wake up and speed back to Washington on a moment’s notice and fight for this woman’s life. Don’t you pay any mind to those people who are accusing you of playing politics. They’re just cynical. Everyone knows that once the members of Congress woke up from their 3 years of coma, they would immediately begin fighting for the lives and well-being of human beings.”

“By now, you probably have discovered that a lot has been going on since you slipped into your coma. There have been some 100,000 innocent Iraqi people whom the U.S. government has killed (those people at the Pentagon haven’t been keeping count of the dead because they think that the lives of Iraqi people aren’t worth it). Obviously taking advantage of your coma, President Bush invaded Iraq without a declaration of war from Congress, as the Constitution requires. He now says that killing those innocent people was worth a national election in Iraq, just as Madeleine Albright said that killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children during the 1990s was worth trying to oust Saddam Hussein from power. Given your strong pro-life mindset, maybe you could issue a criticism of this. But would you do it quickly, just in case you slip back into your coma?”

“Also, now that you’re out of your coma, you’ll undoubtedly learn that the Pentagon and the CIA have been torturing, sexually abusing, raping, and murdering people during the past 3 1/2 years. Given your strong pro-life mindset, maybe you wouldn’t mind issuing a criticism of this. But would you do it quickly, just in case you slip back into your coma?”

“Oh, you’ll also learn that while you’ve been away, the Pentagon has been seizing and punishing Americans and others, denying them the protections of the Bill of Rights. Given your strong pro-life mindset, maybe you could issue a criticism of this. But would you do it quickly, just in case you slip back into your coma?”

“Thanks!”

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Those professional baseball players weren’t the only ones who didn’t want to talk about their misdeeds to Congress. The same held true for CIA Director Porter J. Goss, who refused to answer questions about past CIA torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder since 9/11. The most Goss would do is to say that “at this time” (as in “at that particular moment when he was testifying,” which really doesn’t preclude tomorrow and thereafter) the CIA isn’t engaging in such wrongful conduct. Goss did volunteer to “elaborate” in a “closed session,” implying that it would jeopardize “national security” if the American people were to discover some of the dark, nefarious, shameful secrets of the CIA.

Goss also told Congress that Syria and Iran were helping the insurgents in Iraq. Of course, no one reminded Goss that that’s exactly what the U.S. government did when it supported Osama bin Laden and his fellow insurgents when the Soviet government invaded and occupied Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Congress, which has steadfastly resisted conducting a genuine investigation (that is, not a sham, pretend one) into the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal and the resulting whitewash and cover-up, found time yesterday to intervene in a purely state matter involving a state judge’s decision removing life support for Terri Schiavo. Hey, I thought Republicans believed in federalism and “state’s rights.” And how come they prate against “judicial activism” even while engaging in “congressional activism”?

Finally, the Washington Post reports that the occupation of Iraq is hurting the Pentagon’s recruitment efforts. Well, duh! Why would a smart young person want to kill or die for nothing—oh, excuse me, to kill or die to help foreigners, who can’t come to the U.S. because of immigration controls, have a national election in their country, especially one that still hasn’t even produced a government more than a month after the election? We can only hope that many young people in America are coming to the realization that not only do U.S. wars of aggression sacrifice their lives for nothing but also that it’s morally wrong, especially under the Ten Commandments, to kill another human being in a war of aggression and its resulting occupation.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wouldn’t you just love to see at least one of those professional baseball players say to those pompous, self-righteous, hypocritical congressmen when asked about steroid use:

“None of your business, congressmen.”

Wouldn’t it be great if another one added:

“How come you congressmen are so good at bullying people in the private sector but when it comes to standing up to the Pentagon and conducting a genuine investigation (rather than a sham, pretend one) into the torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal and the Pentagon’s whitewash and cover, you brave, bullying congressmen roll over like silent, meek little lambs? What are you people scared of — that they might close the base in your district or even call you ‘unpatriotic’?”

And then a third:

“Hey, if you people spent less time bullying us in baseball, wouldn’t that mean you’d have more time to read the laws you’re passing against the American people, such as the infamous and misnamed PATRIOT Act?” Why, you people are a bigger rubber stamp for George W. Bush than Saddam’s legislature was for him!”

And then a fourth:

“How many box tickets slipped into your pockets would it take to get you people off our backs?”

Well, it’s nice to daydream, especially on the eve of spring, right?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

China is giving fits to U.S. officials and their imperial plans to spread “freedom and democracy” to regimes where people are suffering under tyranny.

For example, while the U.S. government is engaged in perpetual war, spending the American people into bankruptcy and alienating people around the world with its aggressive foreign policy and isolationist anti-immigrant and anti-trade policies, China has been moving in the exact opposite direction — in the direction of free enterprise, free trade, and peaceful relations with the people of the world. The policies that the Chinese are following are what strengthen a nation while big the tax-and-spend policies that U.S. officials are following weaken a nation, which is undoubtedly why U.S. officials are getting very, very nervous and very, very paranoid about Chinese “intentions.”

Meanwhile, China just enacted an anti-secession that threatens to use force if Taiwan declares its independence. U.S. officials are outraged but the problem is that China is comparing its anti-secession law to Lincoln’s anti-secession actions against the Confederacy. Whoops! Talk about being hoisted on your own petard!

Given that U.S. officials are now dedicated to invading countries to bring “freedom and democracy” to people suffering under tyranny, let’s just hope that the Taiwan tension doesn’t provide them with the “opportunity” to initiate a preemptive military attack on China. After all, they might start thinking about how many people a war against China would “free.” That is, the ones that don’t die in the war, but they’d undoubtedly consider the ones who do die a small price to pay to gain the “freedom” of the survivors. And, sure, there’d be some U.S. servicemen killed in a war against China but I’m sure that U.S. officials would say that they died for their country and for “freedom and democracy.” Hey, if it’s good for the Iraqis, they’d undoubtedly argue, why isn’t it equally good for the Chinese?

On a related note, I recommend reading Chalmers Johnson’s new article “Coming to Terms with China,” which is linked in yesterday’s FFF Email Update to see how U.S. foreign policy is orienting toward getting our nation in a war with China. In fact, if you haven’t read Johnson’s two books Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire, I highly recommend reading them, as these two books provide some of the best analyses of U.S. foreign policy around.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Federal prosecutors are celebrating the conviction of Bernard Ebbers, former WorldCom president, despite Ebbers’ claims that he didn’t know that his subordinates at WorldCom were committing fraud. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors continue to look the other way as Pentagon generals and CIA officials say they didn’t know about the torture, sex abuse, rape, weird sex acts, and murders being committed by their subordinates.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The U.S.-installed Iraqi regime has returned the body of Qahtan Jouli to his family. The authorities had detained Jouli on suspicion of being an insurgent. He had in fact confessed on a national Iraqi television reality show that he was an insurgent. His father, however, said that the authorities had tortured his son to death and that Jouli’s confession was a result of such torture. Interestingly, the faces of many of the suspects who have appeared on the reality show have been bruised.

Undoubtedly, the U.S.-installed Iraqi officials deny that they engage in torture, just as U.S. officials are claiming that Saudi officials didn’t torture a confession out of U.S. citizen Ahmed Omar Abu Ali during the 20 months that U.S. officials kept him in Saudi custody without charges or trial.

Does this make much sense? If the Saddam Hussein regime and the U.S. government and the U.S.-installed Iraqi regime tortured, raped, sexually abused, and murdered people, how can they stand there with a straight face and innocently claim that the Saudi government, which is a U.S.-approved brutal authoritarian regime, wouldn’t do the exact same thing, especially to a person whom they’ve taken into custody and held for 20 months at the request of U.S. officials with the intent of securing a confession that he conspired to commit terrorism against the United States?

I mean, let’s get real here. Why else would U.S. officials have wanted Abu Ali held in Saudi Arabia rather than immediately having him extradited to the United States to stand trial? Why else would they have an American citizen held by a brutal dictatorial regime for 20 months without protest? Ordinarily, you’d call this insulting people’s intelligence but they’re undoubtedly counting on the same blind obedience and blind support that people have given them in the past.

Make no mistake about it: If those Abu Ghraib photos had not been taken and released, U.S. officials would be issuing the same denials about torture that they’re making in the Abu Ali case. In fact, before those infamous photos did surface, federal officials were steadfastly making the same denials regarding torture, sex abuse, rape, weird sex acts, and murders committed in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Cuba that they’re now making in the Abu Ali case.

U.S. officials are obviously counting on two things in the Abu Ali case: (1) the proclivity of the American people and federal judges to believe that U.S. officials (and Saudi government officials) would never lie; and (2) the hope that no one in Abu Ali’s Saudi prison had a camera.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The capture of accused Atlanta killer Brian Nichols shows once again why we don’t want the Pentagon handling law enforcement in America. Even after purportedly killing four law enforcement officials, Georgia law-enforcement officers took Nichols into custody, and he will be brought to trial, where he will be accorded all the protections of the Bill of Rights. That’s the way the Framers intended things to work.

On the other hand, as we have learned from Baghdad, where there is no Bill of Rights or federal court interference and where the Pentagon has free and omnipotent rein, when someone kills a U.S. government official over there, the Pentagon’s response is to respond with a massive amount of force—indiscriminate and arbitrary searches and seizures of people’s homes and businesses, curfews, bombs, missiles, 50-caliber machine guns, mortars, gun confiscation, etc.—all of which inevitably kill or maim or humiliate lots of innocent people. When the family members, friends, and countrymen of those innocent victims then get angry and hateful (as Americans did after 9/11), they decide to do some killing of U.S. personnel in revenge (as U.S. officials did to Iraqis after 9/11). And, not surprisingly, the cycle of violence just continues and escalates.

How would the Pentagon have handled Nichol’s capture if they had had full control, with no Bill of Rights restrictions or federal court interference? The same way they handle things in Iraq. They would have immediately begun busting down doors in Nichol’s neighborhood without warrants, especially those of his friends and relatives, looking for any evidence they could find. They would have tortured or sexually abused his family members and friends into divulging important information as to his whereabouts. They would have fired missiles or bullets at every car that was similar to the last one that Nichols had stolen. Finally, they would have fired missiles at the apartment complex where he was holed up, apologizing for any “collateral damage” they caused, including the loss of innocent life. And when someone ended up retaliating for all this mayhem, as Iraqis are doing, the Pentagon would have announced that it was because these terrorists hate America for its “freedom and values.”

Bottom line: Our Founders were right to oppose standing armies, especially with respect to law enforcement.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The news media is reporting that President Bush is “softening his stance on Iran,” agreeing to offering “incentives” to Iranian rulers in return for Iran’s abandoning its nuclear development program.

What?

I thought the idea behind bombing Iran was to establish “freedom and democracy,” just like in Iraq. Remember that the bombing of Iraq really had nothing to do with Iraq’s nuclear development program (or lack thereof) after all but was instead designed to bring “freedom and democracy” to Iraq.

According to President Bush, there is no “freedom and democracy” in Iran either and he tells us that Iran is even included in an “axis of evil”!

Yet, apparently the purpose of “bombing Iran” has nothing to do with “freedom and democracy” after all but instead with WMD. Isn’t that what happened with Iraq?

Apparently it’s now okay to cut a deal in which “incentives” are offered to the Iranian rulers in return for a U.S.-approved WMD program, even thought the Iranian rulers are denying their own people “freedom and democracy,” as Saddam did. And now it all has to do with WMD, the same thing that was initially used to scare the American people into supporting the bombing of Iraq. Does this mean that if the president decides to bomb Iran after all (without the constitutionally required a congressional declaration of war, of course) that it will be for the purpose of spreading “freedom and democracy” to Iran, just like with Iraq?

Now, mind you, I’m not complaining because despite the fact that the Iranian people are not living in “freedom and democracy” is no valid reason for President Bush to order B-52s and other U.S. aircraft to bomb them, which is exactly what I said about the president’s bombing of Iraq as part of the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq.

Just think: If President Bush had take the same position toward Iraq that he is now taking toward Iran — cutting a deal with former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein in which “incentives” would be offered in return for Saddam’s agreement to destroy his (nonexistent) WMD, an estimated 100,000 innocent Iraqi people and some 1,500 U.S. soldiers would still be alive today and countless more who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, or whatever would still be whole.

Now, it’s true that those dead and maimed people would still be living under tyranny, but at least they would be alive and whole, just like the people of Iran, Pakistan, Cuba, North Korea, and the former Eastern bloc countries (where people lived under the tyranny of another former U.S. ally, the Soviet Union).

Also, the American people would have been spared the shame and humiliation of the Pentagon’s torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal at Saddam’s prison, Abu Ghraib, along with the Pentagon’s whitewash and cover-up of such scandal.

Friday, March 12, 2005

Isn’t it odd that President Bush is suggesting that Syria’s occupation of Lebanon will interfere with free elections there while at the same time suggesting that the U.S. government’s occupation of Iraq doesn’t?

Moreover, given that 500,000 Syrians turned out in a massive demonstration in favor of the Syrian occupation, an obvious question arises: When was the last time that that many Iraqis turned out in favor of the U.S. occupation? In fact, has there ever been a pro-U.S. demonstration in Iraq?

U.S. officials continue to tell us that the Iraqi people favor the military occupation of their country. Yet, public opinion polls in Iraq have consistently reflected the exact opposite, which is undoubtedly why U.S. officials have steadfastly refused to put the issue to a vote.

Oh well, I guess the feds figure that given that the U.S. government’s steadfast commitment to an interventionist foreign policy, no matter how much anger, hatred, and terrorism it continues to fuel against our country, they might as well add a bit of hypocrisy grist to the mill.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Pity President Bush’s supporters, especially the commentators on cable-news television stations. The president has been giving his people some really bad headaches lately, with respect to which country to bomb — Iran or Syria.

Day 1: “Support the president. Bomb Iran.”
Day 2: “Support the president. Bomb Syria.”
Day 3: “Support the president. Bomb Iran.”
Day 4: “Support the president. Bomb Syria.”
Day 5: “Support the president. Bomb Iran.”
Day 6: “Support the president. Bomb Syria.”
Day 7: “Support the president. Bomb Iran.”

Hey, why not bomb both Iran and Syria at the same time? It would certainly seem to be more efficient.

After all, the bombing would be for the purpose of spreading “freedom and democracy,” as it was in Iraq, right? Yes, it’s true that tens of thousands of Iranian and Syrian people would die as a result of the bombing, but so what — they would just be “collateral damage,” right? It wouldn’t be like anyone had intentionally targeted innocent people, right? So we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with killing them, right? And Iranian and Syrian troops killed defending against the attacks wouldn’t count because they would be “terrorists,” right? And anyway, we wouldn’t have to keep track of the number of Iranians and Syrians killed because they’re just, well, Iranians and Syrians, right? And so what if a few American soldiers are killed — it wouldn’t be many and, anyway, they will have died defending their country and for “freedom and democracy,” right?

On a related note, China is in the news:

“China’s national congress unveiled its highly anticipated anti-secession bill Tuesday, staking out the right to use military force against Taiwan and making it clear that Beijing will brook no dissent on its claims of sovereignty over the island.”

Oddly, the president and his supporters don’t seem to be welcoming this grand opportunity to bomb China for the sake of “freedom and democracy.” Think about it: millions and millions of people being accorded “freedom and democracy.” Sure, it would take more bombs than Iraq, Syria, and Iran, but so what—we’d be “liberating” lots more people and giving them “freedom and democracy” (well, the ones who aren’t killed). And replacing the bombs would give prosperity to the Pentagon and military industrial complex and provide jobs for our communities. And don’t forget—these people are communists and, even worse, if they fought back they’d be “terrorists!”

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Ludwig von Mises observed that one government intervention inevitably leads to more government interventions because the problems that always arise from the previous intervention cause people to call for a continuous series of interventions to fix them. While Mises was referring to domestic interventions, the same principle can be applied to foreign interventions. A good example in the news today is terrorism and gun control. Here’s how it works:

U.S. foreign policy engages in a brutal and arrogant treatment of people in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf intervention, the intentional destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants with the intent to spread infection and disease among the populace, the decade of horrific sanctions against the Iraqi people knowing that they were contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi children, the stationing of U.S. military troops on Islamic holy lands in Saudi Arabia, the no-fly zones over Iraq, the unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government policies, and, of course, the invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq for the alternative purposes of “disarming Saddam,” protecting the world from WMD, installing a U.S.-friendly regime, securing oil supplies, and spreading “freedom and democracy.”

All those foreign interventions give rise to terrible anger and hatred among people in the Middle East, which generates terrorist attacks, including the terrorist attacks on the USS Cole, on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

This give rise to the “war on terrorism,” which the U.S. government uses as an excuse to “temporarily” suspend the Bill of Rights to secure protection from the “terrorists.”

Now, the feds are saying that the “terrorists” here in the United States are securing weapons due to “lax” gun laws. According to yesterday’s New York Times,

“Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, law enforcement officials and gun control groups have voiced increasing concern about the prospect of a terrorist walking into a gun shop, legally buying an assault rifle or other type of weapon and using it in an attack.”

So, it shouldn’t surprise you to know what that means — gun control to protect us from the “terrorists.” The idea is that since so many Americans are willing to “temporarily” suspend the protections in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments to protect them from the “terrorists,” they should be even more willing to suspend the 2nd Amendment too.

But as we have preached over and over again since our inception, the 2nd Amendment is the ultimate safeguard of our freedom, and big government advocates know it. As others have pointed out, a disarmed society is an obedient society. And an unfree one as well.

There is one — and only one — solution to all this and it lies not in a suspension, temporary or not, of the Bill of Rights. Instead, it lies in restoring the paradigm of freedom and nonintervention that our ancestors bequeathed to us by dismantling the paradigm of socialism, interventionism, and empire that currently holds our nation in its grip.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

There’s good news coming out of Chile. A Chilean judge has formally charged Manuel Contreras with torturing people. Contreras was the former head of Army Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s state-terror organization DINA, where he simultaneously worked for the CIA for a time.

As I indicated in my article “Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America,” U.S. officials supported the ouster of democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende and the installation of military strongman Augusto Pinochet.

According to the Santiago Times (linked above),

“According to the Valech Commission on Political Detention and Torture – which in November published the results of evidence from 35,000 people (ST, Nov. 29, 2004) – political prisoners from Santiago and San Antonio were transferred to the Tejas Verdes camp blindfolded in refrigerating vehicles which belonged to various fishing companies. Once in the camp, the prisoners were electrocuted and sexually abuse. A woman who was detained in Tejas Verdes when she was still underage reported that she was forced to take her clothes off and sit on the so-called parrilla (barbeque), an electric chair, where she was raped several times.”

Sound familiar? It should because countless Latin American military men received their training in detention and torture at the Pentagon’s School of the Americas, which in fact even employed printed training manuals for torture.

But don’t worry, it could never happen here in the United States, right? The U.S. military and the CIA would never do this to Americans, right? Torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder are things they teach Latin American military men for use in Latin America, right? It only happens in Chile, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, right? They just want to detain Americans, such as Jose Padilla, without due process or trial for mild questioning, right? They just want to send Americans to friendly authoritarian governments for mild questioning, not torture, right? You’ve got nothing to be concerned about, right? They do it only to foreigners, right?

You just keep telling yourself that. It’s what people throughout history have told themselves before it happened to them, their friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Accused BTK killer David Rader is a strange man, not only because he might in fact be the BTK killer (for “Bind, Torture, Kill) but also because of his job as the city of Wichita’s compliance officer.

“Compliance officer”? Yep. Apparently the city of Wichita had this guy driving around town looking for people who were violating the city code. You know, like someone’s grass being a little too high, or letting their dog run loose, or illegally posting a “garage sale” sign, or repairing roofs without official permission. Rader’s job was to drive around, spy, stop violators, and give them tickets.

Not surprisingly, the guy came across a bit weird. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Many of his neighbors saw him as arrogant and domineering; some called him the ‘compliance Nazi.’”

But isn’t that exactly the type of person a job such as “compliance officer” attracts?

Wow, if this guy gets acquitted, wouldn’t he make a perfect candidate for Homeland Security or maybe even the CIA?

P.S. A fascinating read on the topic of evil is People of the Lie by the noted author Scott Peck, who also authored The Road Less Traveled.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

The wounding of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and the killing of her security officer by U.S. troops is just a microcosm of the perverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy. Think about it: she escapes from insurgent captivity and heads to the airport. Big problem: insurgents shoot and bomb people on the airport road and so it’s wise to go fast. Bigger problem: U.S. troops at the airport road checkpoints get scared of fast-moving cars and shoot at them. So, dead if you go slow; dead if you go fast.

The problem with the U.S. government’s foreign policy is that oftentimes the perverse consequences of interventions and invasions don’t manifest themselves so quickly, which causes people to forget the critical link. For example, recall how people were celebrating the Persian Gulf intervention, which led to the brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people, U.S. troops stationed on Islamic holy lands, and the no-fly zones. When 9/11 struck, how many people realized that that attack was a direct consequence of the original Persian Gulf intervention and all that came with it, especially when U.S. officials were saying, “Oh, it has nothing to do with your government’s foreign policy; it’s because they hate our ‘freedoms.’”

Another good example is World War I, the original foreign war that was waged for the purpose of spreading democracy. At the end of the war, which had resulted in total victory against Germany, people celebrated because they honestly felt that the war had brought democracy to Germany. What U.S. intervention actually brought was the rise of Adolf Hitler, albeit some 15 years later. But that was 15 years later! How many people realized that the rise of Hitler was a direct result of U.S. intervention into World War I some 15 years before, especially when U.S. public (i.e., government) schools were preaching how successful World War I had been in bringing democracy to Germany?

One thing is for sure: the loss of tens of thousands of American men in World War I for the cause of foreign democracy was one big waste of life. No one can deny that those men died for nothing. Maybe that’s why Armistice Day was changed to Veterans’ Day — that is, in the hope that Americans wouldn’t look too closely at the abject and tragic failure known as World War I.

Friday, March 4, 2005

It’s good to see that Martha Stewart is coming out on top after her federal travail. Her stock price soared while she was in prison and she’s been retained to host an Apprentice reality television show.

Talk about gall. After all the lies that federal politicians and bureaucrats have told the American people, federal officials had the audacity to enact a law making it a crime for a citizen to lie to a federal bureaucrat. That’s the “heinous” crime they went after that fine woman for.

Mind you, I’m not talking about perjury, which should be a crime. I’m talking about politicians and bureaucrats lying to the citizenry and the citizenry lying to politicians and bureaucrats. Why should either of those be a crime? Equally important, why should lying to politicians and bureaucrats be a crime and not the other way around?

Thursday, March 3, 2005

In an official report, the U.S. government is reporting that the U.S.-installed regime in Iraq has engaged in “serious human-rights abuses,” including torture, illegal detention, and forced confessions, not to mention government corruption.

Well, duh!

But isn’t that sort of like the kettle calling the pot black? Isn’t the reporting government the same government that has engaged in systematic torture, sex abuse, sordid sex acts, rape, and murder of detainees, including those in Iraq, not to mention the resulting cover-up of involvement by high government officials in such misconduct? Why would it surprise anyone that a U.S.-installed regime in Iraq is engaging in the same wrongdoing as the regime that installed it?

Duh!

So, the U.S.-installed regime in Iraq tortures, it fills mass graves with bodies of dead insurgents, it has a non-elected dictator who faithfully served Saddam, it has no legislature or judicial system, it is corrupt, it has curfews, it has no freedom of the press, it has no due process, trials, or right to counsel for detainees, it barges into people’s homes and businesses without warrants, and it has gun control.

Remind me again, please: How is the new U.S.-installed regime different in principle from that of Saddam Hussein? But just keep repeating the official U.S. government freedom mantra: “Foreigners are free whenever their dictators are aligned with or installed by the U.S. government.”

Wednesay, March 2, 2005

Isn’t it interesting how so many people who look at government as their daddy or, even worse, as their god sicked the FCC on CBS for the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” but take a totally opposite approach to the sex abuse and rape scandal in the U.S. military? Unfortunately, their attitude toward what has to rank among the weirdest sex antics in pornographic history seems to be, “Oh, well, yawn, war is hell and military boys will be military boys and military girls will be military girls. Let’s move on.”

In other words, when it comes to morals why do such people draw a distinction between the private sector and the government sector? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that they do look upon government as their daddy, albeit an abusive one, or their god, neither of which countenances criticism or condemnation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Yesterday brought a tremendous victory for freedom, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the American people in the form of a major judicial loss for the president and the Pentagon. A U.S. District Court in South Carolina granted accused terrorist Jose Padilla’s writ of habeas corpus, ordering U.S. officials to either charge him with a crime or release him.

You’ll recall that we’ve been arguing here at FFF for more than two years that the Padilla doctrine poses what is probably the most ominous threat to the freedom of the American people in our lifetime. The Pentagon’s position has been that the “war on terrorism” has empowered it to seize Americans (and foreigners) and punish them without judicial interference as “enemy combatants” in the “war on terrorism.” As we have long argued, the assumption of power threatened to transform the American way of life. We consistently maintained that terrorism is a crime, not an act of war, and that anyone accused of terrorism had to be accorded all the protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, whose principles stretched all the way back to Magna Carta and which our ancestors had fought so hard to bequeath to us.

In yesterday’s ruling, Judge Henry F. Floyd squarely and completely rejected the Pentagon’s position. He wrote that to “do otherwise would not only offend the rule of law and violate this country’s constitutional tradition, but it would also be a betrayal of this Nation’s commitment to the separation of powers that safeguards our democratic values and our individual liberties.”

U.S. government officials, including Pentagon officials, and neo-con commentators, especially those on cable news networks, will undoubtedly condemn and castigate Judge Floyd for interfering with the military’s “war on terrorism.” Get ready for the standard catcalls that Judge Floyd is not a “patriot” and is instead standing with the terrorists. (“In the war on terrorism, you’re either with us or against us.”) After all, don’t forget that the reason that the Pentagon set up its torture gulag in Cuba in the first place was to avoid the constraints of the Constitution and any interference by U.S. federal judges.

Let us again thank our lucky stars for the wisdom and foresight of the Framers for providing for an independent judiciary and let’s thank Chief Justice John Marshall for confirming the supremacy of judicial review in the famous case of Marbury vs. Madison. Let us also be thankful for federal judges like Henry F. Floyd, who have the courage to stand up and defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the rights and liberties of the American people.

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.