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 2005

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Have you ever noticed that the august members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who are forever proposing a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, never propose a Constitution-burning amendment along the same lines? You know — as in making it illegal to burn your own private copy of the Constitution, just as they want to make it illegal to burn your own private flag.

There are three reasons for this.

One: The Constitution constitutes limitations on the power of government officials, including the Congress, and so public officials couldn’t give a hoot if people burn it.

Two: The Constitution is a higher law that the people have imposed on the government, which reminds them that the people ultimately are in charge in this country, something that “public servants” (read: rulers) don’t want to think about.

Three, most of these people (Ron Paul being a notable exception) hold the Constitution in contempt, which is why they didn’t even read the PATRIOT Act before blindly enacting it, why they have chosen to remain silent about the torture and sex abuse scandal at Gitmo (which the Pentagon set up for the express purpose of avoiding the Constitution), and why they didn’t require, on pain of impeachment, that President Bush secure the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war before waging war on Iraq.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

One of the ironies of George W. Bush’s presidency is his ardent support of a strong federal government and his correlative opposition to “state’s rights.” Why is that ironic? Because Bush hails from Texas, a state that once formed a part of a northern province of Mexico. And why is that ironic? Because the residents (later the revolutionaries) of Texas were initially fighting for “state’s rights” and a weak central government in Mexico City. Santa Anna, the dictator of Mexico, however, believed as President Bush does — that a strong central government was essential to a nation and that it should have the power to regulate and control even the minute activities of the Mexican people. Thus, the Texas Revolution, which Bush undoubtedly would have opposed, was born out of resistance to what both Santa Anna and Bush favor — a strong centralized federal government.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Not surprisingly, the new U.S.-installed Iraqi regime is intimidating, beating, and torturing prisoners.

There is also widespread corruption within the government, including “sweetheart deals on leases, exorbitant contracts for services such as garbage hauling, and payments for construction that was never done.”

The government is killing insurgents by the dozens every week.

There are warrantless searches of people and their homes and businesses; shutting down of critical newspapers; shooting of demonstrators; curfews; and indefinite detentions without any hope of judicial hearings or trials to establish guilt or innocence.

Remind me again: How is all this different from Saddam Hussein’s regime?

Expect President Bush to tell us once again in his television address on the eve of the Fourth of July that all this is “freedom” and that the Iraqi people are now “free” because the U.S. invasion and occupation, which has killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people, have produced a national election that has resulted in an Islamic Shi’ite regime that is closely aligned with Iran, which President Bush says is evil.

Heaven help us if these people — the president, the Congress, and the Pentagon — are ever permitted to import the “freedom” they have brought to Iraq back to the United States. While libertarians would know better and resist the tyranny, there’s no doubt that most Democrats and Republicans would be proudly unfurling their flags (which they will have made illegal to burn) in celebration of having finally brought Iraqi-type “freedom” to America.

Monday, June 27, 2005

In defending the Pentagon’s detention operations in Cuba, President Bush says that the detainees are “dangerous, and they’re still around, and they’ll kill in a moment’s notice.”

Oh? And how exactly does he know that? Did a birdie whisper it in his ear? Did God tell him? Or was it the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who heard it from a general, who heard it from a colonel, who….

That’s the point of a criminal trial, President Bush — to determine whether someone has committed a crime or not. After all, if you’re able to tell us who is guilty and who isn’t, perhaps simply by looking into a person’s heart, then why do we need courts and jury trials for any criminal offense? Let’s just parade everybody by the Pentagon and let the president and military officials look at them and determine who’s guilty or not.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. President, since when does a free nation jail people for being “dangerous” if they haven’t committed any criminal offense?

Isn’t the entire Cuban operation based on contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights? First, the reason the Pentagon set up its camp in Cuba was so that the president and the U.S. military could establish a dictatorial criminal-justice system there that would enable them to punish those whom they concluded were “terrorists” without having to prove guilt in a federal court of law. In other words, they wanted to use the same methods that Fidel Castro uses to deal with suspected terrorists. Thus, they didn’t want any interference by the Constitution or the federal courts or the press into their operations, which is the same position they take today.

Never mind that their Gitmo camp has been infected by one of the biggest torture and sex abuse scandals and cover-ups and whitewashes in U.S. history. Why, it’s just a few bad apples in the dictatorial barrel, or so they claim.

One big problem that the president fails to recognize is that federal officials make mistakes, they lie, they falsely accuse people, and they abuse power. As discomforting as it might make modern-day Americans, the whole idea behind the criminal-justice rights set forth in the Bill of Rights is to protect people, both Americans and foreigners, from the president, the Congress, and the military.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A person could be excused for concluding that the members of Congress have been slumbering or comatose for the past three years, given their silently and cowardly acquiescence to the president’s invasion of Iraq (including no declaration of war and an unconstitutional delegation of such power to the president), their failure to read the PATRIOT Act before voting for it, their silence in the face of the biggest torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal in U.S. military history, and their silence in the face of the Pentagon’s policy of punishing Americans and foreigners without due process of law, jury trials, and other fundamental rights.

Well, put your minds to ease! According to the New York Times, the august members of Congress have indeed been hard at work. Starting June 15, airlines were required to report how many pets have been killed, lost, or injured on their flights, compliments of a law enacted by Congress.

Feeling better, safer, and more secure?

Friday, June 24, 2005

As most everyone probably knows by now, the Supreme Court yesterday dealt a body blow against property rights in the Kelo case, which involved the use of the state’s eminent domain power. While the dissenters clearly have the better of the constitutional arguments, we should also keep in mind the political and economic aspects of what is going on here.

First, what is involved here from an economic standpoint is that city councils are involved in socialist central planning in the purported hope of abolishing poverty and improving economic conditions. What they are doing when they engage in such central planning is no different, in principle, from what Fidel Castro did when he took power in Cuba — he seized the homes and businesses of the wealthy in order to help the poor and to equalize the wealth. City councilmen’s seizure of homes and businesses in a purported attempt to “eliminate blight” or “revitalize the city” or increase tax revenues is, in principle, no different, from Castro’s central planning, which simply is more evidence of the socialist mindset that pervades ordinary Republican and Democratic politicians at all levels of government.

Second, from a political standpoint we should not ignore the power of bribes in this eminent-domain process. That is, when big businesses and influential corporations desire property at a lower cost than what it would cost them to purchase it from the landowner, all they have to do is secure the voting assistance of city council members to take the property, use taxpayer money to pay for it, and then sell it at a good price to the influential businessmen and corporations. And secret bribes via cash under the table, or sweetheart land deals in which city councilmen are invited to participate, are a time-honored way of securing assistance from politicians in deals such as these.

Of course, the people who will ultimately pay the price for the Kelo decision are the poor and middle-class — that is, those who lack political influence as well as the financial means to bribe city councilmen. Under the guise of “economic revitalization,” their homes and businesses will be seized and redistributed to the rich and powerful businessmen and corporations — that is, those who have the means to purchase votes on the city council members, especially with well-placed cash lining their pockets of those city council members.

Maybe the Kelo ruling will be just one more wake-up call to the American people as to the immoral and destructive socialist direction which Republican and Democratic politicians continue to take our nation.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Here’s a good example of the much-vaunted Republican-Democrat “democracy” that President Bush and the members of Congress are trying to spread to Iraq: House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been using his powerful position in Congress to direct millions of dollars in federal welfare to his home district in Illinois. And, of course, he isn’t the only one. That’s what most members of Congress believe “democracy” is all about: fighting as hard as they can to secure both military and non-military-type welfare for privileged persons and politicians in their districts.

Here’s how the scam works. The Congress requires everyone to send a large portion of their income taxes to the IRS, which will do very bad things to people if they refuse to comply. The IRS, after deducting a portion to cover its own expenses, including nice fat bureaucratic salaries and retirement pensions, then turns the money over to the control of the Congress.

The members of Congress then fight like cats and dogs to get as big a percentage of the booty as possible, not only to reward their business friends with juicy contracts but also their political friends with juicy welfare grants, usually in the hope that this will generate votes and campaign contributions down the line.

The welfare recipients (and recipient-hopefuls) support their favorite candidate and party with generous campaign contributions (sometimes bundled) in the hope of securing one of the lucrative grants in the future. The contributions are not considered bribes because they are made only in the hope and expectation, not an express agreement, that the campaign contributor will be rewarded down the line with a juicy welfare contract or welfare grant or simply “access.”

The American people, unfortunately, continue to support this entire corrupt scheme despite the fact that it is they — the people — who are getting fleeced and serviced by this entire corrupt process. In fact, some of the fleeced and serviced even express gratitude for the honor of being fleeced and serviced by their democratically elected officials, even while lamenting the fact that they can’t make ends meet with what is left after the federal politicians and bureaucrats take their share of people’s income.

The more I reflect on our Founding Fathers, the more I realize how brilliant they were: Hating and fearing democracy, unlike all too many Americans today, they actually prohibited, through constitutional restrictions, Congress not only from interfering with their political and religious liberty but also from taking any portion of their income whatsoever for any purpose whatsoever. That is, the American people kept 100 percent of their income and there wasn’t anything the federal politicians and bureaucrats could do about it.

That’s what being an American was once all about. That’s the freedom that Americans once celebrated on the Fourth of July. Compare that freedom to the corrupt “democratic freedom” under which Americans now suffer and which President Bush and the Congress so proudly export to faraway foreign lands through brutal and deadly U.S. military force, funded, of course, by the IRS-collected income-tax booty.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

President Bush greeted Vietnam’s Prime Minister Phan Van Khai at the White House, where the rulers talked about the mutual benefits of trade between the United States and Vietnam.

Keep in mind the following incontrovertible facts: (1) Van Khai is an admitted communist; (2) Van Khai’s regime killed and maimed tens of thousands of Americans; (3) Vietnam has a non-democratic regime; (4) Van Khai’s political regime is one of the most brutal in the world, especially with respect to the suppression of dissent within Vietnam; (5) Vietnam’s economic system is even more socialistic than America’s.

Do you see Bush invading Vietnam, killing and maiming thousands upon thousands of ordinary Vietnamese in the process? Do you see him claiming that U.S. military forces must invade Vietnam to “liberate” the Vietnamese? Do you see him talking about the use of military force to “democracy-spread” in Vietnam? Do you see him wreaking vengeance for the killing of some 50,000 American men?

No. Instead President Bush greets a Vietnamese communist leader in the White House and talks about the virtues of peaceful trade between the two nations.

Remind me again: Why did Bush order the invasion of Iraq, which has resulted in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent people, both American and Iraqi, rather than simply treating Iraq as he has Vietnam? Good question, one that fortunately an increasing number of Americans are asking, especially in light of the Downing Street Memo.

In fact, Saddam himself is undoubtedly asking himself that question. According to guards who have spoken to him, Saddam is rhapsodizing about President Ronald Reagan, who had such a good relationship with Saddam that he even furnished him the WMD that President Bush later fixed as one of the many excuses for going to war.

And while we’re on the subject of U.S. officials’ establishing close relationships with some brutal, non-democratic dictators and not others, let’s not forget the cozy relationship that President Bush has established with the Uzbek dictator who recently killed hundreds of peaceful demonstrators with forces that have been trained by the Pentagon and the CIA as part of Bush’s much-vaunted “war on terrorism.”

The solution to America’s foreign-policy woes: (1) Rein in the federal government overseas, dismantling the U.S. military and diplomatic empire, which foreigners despise because of the customary arrogance, pomposity, and hypocrisy of U.S. government officials; and (2) Liberate the American people, the finest diplomats in the world, to trade and interact with people all over the world, including Vietnam, North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba, without federal interference.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Yesterday, I noted that over the weekend, President Bush returned to the terrorism card to justify his invasion of Iraq and that one likely reason for doing so was to prepare people for what increasingly appears to be some bad results from “democracy-spreading” in Iraq.

But another reason that Bush is resorting to the terrorism card could be that he knows the effect that that term (“terrorism”) has on the American people, especially in the wake of 9/11: It induces massive fear within the American people and motivates them to support whatever U.S. officials do in the name of the “war on terrorism.” As Kerri Hassell, a 32-year-old single mother in Florida who is questioning the occupation, put it, “The government uses the word ‘terror’ and it just sends us all into a frenzy.”

But Bush isn’t the only smart politician. In Uzbekistan, the ruling dictator is now employing the same term (“terrorists”) to justify his recent military crackdown on demonstrators, which killed hundreds of demonstrators.

By the way, in the same linked article about the Uzbek crackdown, some of the brutal Uzbek personnel who did the killing received their training from Bush’s military and intelligence forces. Yes, you guessed it: as part of the “war on terrorism.”

Monday, June 20, 2005

Over the weekend, President Bush said that the reason the U.S. government attacked Iraq was because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ignoring the quite obvious point that neither the Iraqi people nor their government were involved in those attacks. Bush also said that the “world’s terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror,” ignoring the quite obvious point that it is U.S. government interventions in the Middle East in the first place that has motivated people to commit terrorism against America, including the 9/11 attacks. Why would the invasion of a country that had not attacked the United States or participated in the 9/11 attacks produce any different consequences than other U.S. interventions in the Middle East, especially when the invasion has resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people being killed or maimed?

Why is Bush now downplaying the “democracy-spreading” rationale and returning to the “terrorism” card? One reason might be to prepare Americans for what might be unsavory results from “democracy” in Iraq. That is, not only is it possible that the new Shi’ite regime will align itself with Iran (which the U.S. government is considering invading), it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the new Islamic Shi’ite regime, which was installed compliments of the U.S. invasion, will result in any more freedom for Iraqis than they had under Saddam’s regime. In fact, the L.A. Times reported over the weekend that the new Iraqi regime is now employing the same tactics that Saddam employed against his insurgents:

“Public war on the Iraqi insurgency has led to an atmosphere of hidden brutalities, including abuse and torture, carried out against detainees by the nation’s special security forces, according to defense lawyers, international organizations and Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights. Up to 60% of the estimated 12,000 detainees in the country’s prisons and military compounds face intimidation, beatings or torture that leads to broken bones and sometimes death, said Saad Sultan, head of a board overseeing the treatment of prisoners at the Human Rights Ministry. He added that police and security forces attached to the Interior Ministry are responsible for most abuses.”

Saturday, June 18, 2005

President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are back in their lecture-the-world mode. This time, they’re telling the regime in Iran that its national elections ignore the “basic requirements” of democracy by eliminating candidates and that the U.S. government will be “watching” the new Iranian government.

Too bad Bush and Rice failed to use to occasion to talk about U.S. ballot-barrier laws and campaign-finance laws whose purpose is to make it difficult or impossible for third-party and independent candidates to run against the Democrat and Republican candidates.

The ballot-barrier laws require third-party candidates and independents to spend thousands of dollars on professional petitioners to secure thousands of signatures from complete strangers to secure permission to be put on the ballot. The process is so arduous and expensive that third-party candidates and independents are oftentimes dissuaded from trying it, especially because if they fail to secure the required number of signatures, they still lose all the money they’ve spent getting the signatures. And if they do get on the ballot, they’re usually left with little money to run against the major-party candidates.

What’s the rationale for this “pro-democracy” signature-requirement? That Americans are too dumb to choose between large numbers of candidates (even though most of them graduated from U.S. public schools). Yet, in the Arnold Schwarzenegger campaign for governor, which had a large number of candidates, Californians seemed to have had no trouble choosing whom to vote for.

The campaign-finance requirement limits the size of donations to candidates, which precludes third-party and independent candidates from securing a few large donations from committed, wealthy benefactors. What a convenient way to ensure that unknown candidates are unable to financially compete against the major-party candidates, who are either independently wealthy (or see: Georgia’s millionaire congressmen) or who have a large base of major-party support.

What’s the rationale for the campaign-finance limits? That they’re needed to secure ethical federal candidates whose votes won’t be influenced by money. Now, that’s been a big success story!

Rather than lecture the world on democracy, wouldn’t everyone be better off if U.S. officials, both Democrat and Republican, simply offered a course to the world, perhaps even on the Internet, in Hypocrisy 101? After all, where would you find more competent teachers?

Friday, June 17, 2005

One of the reasons that the Iraq war will likely to turn out to be a disaster for the United States lies with the U.S. soldiers whom U.S. officials have been placed in a position of “Kill or be killed” in Iraq. Given the confusion over why President Bush invaded Iraq in the first place, the soldiers themselves have to be filled with confusion as to what they’re killing or dying for.

WMD? Democracy-spreading? Liberation? Establishing an Islamic Shi’ite regime? Getting Saddam? Fighting the “war on terrorism”? Serving as magnet for “terrorists”? Vengeance for 9/11? Anger over the assassination attempt on the president’s father? Oil? Protecting Israel? Regime change? Each U.S. soldier has probably settled on one or two favorite rationales as a way to motivate himself. But how can he really be sure as to the real reason for going to war?

And the disclosure of the smoking-gun Downing Street Memo only makes things more confused for the individual soldier. Imagine lying there on the ground in Iraq, dying with shrapnel in your gut and asking your commanding officer, “Sir, what exactly was this all about again?”

Contrast the plight of the American soldier with that of the Iraqi insurgents. They’re fighting to oust a foreign invader and occupier from their country. Not only is that reason enough to motivate a person, they’ve also got the anger engendered by the Persian Gulf War, which killed untold numbers of Iraqis, the intentional targeting of water-and-sewage treatment plants during that war followed by the more than 10 years of brutal US and UN sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, the arrogant stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands for years, the unconditional foreign aid to Israel and such nondemocratic authoritarian regimes as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the deadly bombing campaigns to enforce the illegal “no-fly zones” over Iraq, and now an invasion that has killed or maimed tens of thousands of innocent people and laid waste to their country.

Ask yourself: Who is the motivated fighter — the one who’s confused over what exactly he’s fighting and dying for or the one who knows exactly what he’s fighting and dying for?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Another example of the growing corruption that the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq was reported yesterday in the Washington Post:

“Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims. Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the Kirkuk police chief.”

Not surprisingly, U.S. military officials are issuing the standard denials that they’ve been part of this, just as they denied helping Saddam to use the WMD that the U.S. delivered to him during the 1980s when he was a U.S. government favorite and the Kurds were not.

Now, remember: This is post-Abu Ghraib and post-all-the-whitewash “investigations” conducted by the Pentagon into its torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal.

This is what happens when high government officials “condemn” torture even while winking and nodding and failing to punish superior officers who are apparently playing dominoes or sun-bathing while the wrongdoing is taking place.

And don’t forget that this is the exact same type of misconduct that the federals are accusing Saddam Hussein of having committed, which is one of the post-no-WMD excuses that they’ve trotted out for invading Iraq — that Saddam’s forces were kidnapping opponents and insurgents and jailing them without charges and torturing them — that is, exactly what U.S. officials and Kurdish officials are also doing.

All the while, U.S. officials, following in the footsteps of Baghdad Bob, keep putting out their silly “all is great” pronouncements on how things are going in Iraq, ignoring the increasingly corrupting effect that the invasion and occupation are having not only on U.S. soldiers but also on the American people, many of whom are blocking out of their minds that their government has done a very bad thing in invading and waging a war of aggression against a country that had not attacked the United States and that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, resulting in the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent people, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of innocent children who died as a result of the brutal sanctions imposed during the 1990s by the U.S. and UN against Iraq.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

U.S. officials have just agreed that $40 billion in Third World debt can be cancelled. And guess who has agreed to replenish the coffers of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for the loan monies that don’t have to be repaid.

You guessed it! You — the American taxpayer — because your good, caring, and compassionate federal politicians and bureaucrats have agreed to use “federal funds” to do so. But, hey, but don’t feel too bad because other “rich nations” are “contributing” too.

Even though Americans are no longer able to save any money out of their income, especially given federal income taxes and such big-ticket expenses as college tuition for their children, they should look at the bright side: The goodness shown by federal politicians and bureaucrats with “foreign aid” reflects the goodness of the American people because after all, as they teach us in public (government) schools, “we are the government,” right?

So, when the IRS takes our money, which the politicians and bureaucrats then send to foreign regimes, which foreign officials then use to line their pockets and their Swiss bank accounts, we — the taxpayers — are good, caring, and compassionate, or so they say.

Oh, here’s some related news — U.S. officials have assured the world community that the use of U.S. taxpayer money to replenish the World Bank and IMF coffers will not stop the U.S. government from making new “loans” to the Third World regimes that have defaulted on the old loans. On the contrary, U.S. officials have assured the world community that U.S. taxpayer monies will continue to flow to those bankrupt regimes. Just don’t call it “welfare” because it’s really loans that will ultimately be paid back!

Why continue making such “loans”? Well, as John Perkins suggests in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, how else could the Empire secure international support of its foreign policy, including favorable votes in the UN, except by ensuring that foreign rulers and their minions are assured of a continuous flow of U.S. taxpayer money that is lining their pockets?

Do you ever wonder how long the American people are going put up with junk like this? It’s almost like the battered-spouse or abused-child syndrome: “Oh, despite the abuse it heaps on me, the federal government really does love me, and I’m certain that it will start treating me better next year … or at least when it finally kills all the terrorists who are coming to get me.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Supreme Court’s refusal to consider accused terrorist Jose Padilla’s request for an accelerated appeal involves procedural issues only and is not any ruling on the merits of Padilla’s arguments.

Padilla is the American citizen whom the Pentagon is using as a test case for the U.S. military’s having the power to arrest any American whatsoever and punish him without a trial simply on a written presidential statement “certifying” that such American is a terrorist. As I have written so many times, if the federal courts approve the Padilla doctrine, life in the United States will never be the same again because the Pentagon will hold the ultimate “trump card” against any and every American citizen, including newspaper editors who get out of line, dissidents, government critics, etc. In other words, the military would essentially possess the same power over the citizenry that the military possesses in places like Burma, Cuba, and Iraq.

Fortunately for the American people, the U.S. district court ruled in favor of Padilla (and freedom) and against the Pentagon. Not surprisingly given the military power that is at stake, the Pentagon has appealed to the federal court of appeals. Whichever side loses in the court of appeals will undoubtedly appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Padilla had requested the Supreme Court to bypass the court of appeals and take up Padilla’s appeal directly from the U.S. district court. While the Supreme Court has the power to grant such a request, it is very rarely exercised because the Court traditionally wants the benefit of the reasoning of the court of appeals. Thus, it is not surprising that the Court would deny Padilla’s request and such a denial, although delaying the ultimate resolution of Padilla’s case, does not constitute any ruling on the merits of the case.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Out of the 14 Cuban refugees whom federal officials intercepted on the high seas recently, four were permitted to seek asylum in the United States because they had valid immigration papers that had been issued to them by Castro’s government in an immigration lottery. Those four were then taken to the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay.

The other 10 were forcibly repatriated to Cuba under a longstanding policy of joint cooperation between U.S. officials and Cuban communist officials to repatriate escapees from communism back into communism. U.S. officials said that they were unlikely to persecuted upon their forcible return to Cuba. Of course, there’s always the possibility that when the repatriated ones heard that the four refugees who were being granted asylum were being shipped to Guantanamo, they said, “Gitmo? No way! We don’t want to be tortured or sexually abused! Send us back to Havana instead!”

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The drug war has resulted in the killing of the newly installed chief of police in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the sister city of my hometown of Laredo, Texas, which the federal government is now telling tourists to avoid because of drug-war violence.

Of course, will any drug warrior stand up and say, “I am morally responsible for this death as a result of my support for the drug war”? Of course not! Holding the concept of personal responsibility up to a drug-war supporter is like holding a cross up to a vampire.

The position of drug warriors is the same as that of conservatives and leftists who, when confronted with the failures and destructiveness of their other welfare-state programs (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, etc.) cry out, “I won’t take personal responsibility for the crises and woes of the government programs I support because I meant well and I did not intend for the programs to have bad consequences,” ignoring of course that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Bottom line: It’s time to end the drug war immediately, which would put the drug lords and the drug gangs out of business immediately. Continuing to wage the drug war keeps the drug lords and the drug gangs in business, which means more death and destruction and, of course, more avoidance of moral responsibility by supporters of the drug war.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Two of the articles we link to in today’s FFF Email Update deal with Cuba.

One article calls for the federal government to close its torture-and-sex-abuse camp at Guantanamo Bay, which has brought so much shame to the United States. Even while superior military officers play innocent by claiming that they just had no idea of the perverse acts being committed by enlisted personnel (maybe all those officers were playing dominoes or sunbathing the entire time), it’s important to keep two things in mind about Gitmo: (1) The precise reason that the Pentagon set up the camp in Cuba was to avoid the Constitution, which reflects the deep contempt that Pentagon officials have for its principles; and (2) When President Bush sent out the message that the Geneva Convention was suspended for terrorist detainees at Gitmo (and elsewhere), that sent a powerful message to enlisted personnel at Gitmo as well as to their commanding officers.

When Gitmo is finally shut down, which is what it should be, the American people should demand more — they should demand that the federals abandon the base entirely and permanently relinquish control to Cuba. The property is nothing more than a throwback to empires and colonies, stretching all the way back to Spanish-American War in 1898, the war which started the United States down the immoral and destructive road to foreign intervention and empire.

The second article deals with the U.S. government’s recent attack on Cuban refugees who were fleeing Cuba in an automobile on the high seas, another attack that the war-on-immigrants crowd is undoubtedly celebrating, as it does every time that U.S. officials attack and repatriate Cuban refugees into communist tyranny. Isn’t it so ironic that the feds willingly sacrificed 50,000 American men in a purported attempt to protect people from communism in Southeast Asia and now eagerly repatriates back into communism defenseless people, including women and children, trying to escape communism?

Federal officials should be ashamed of themselves on both accounts—the torture-and-sex-abuse camp they’ve set up in Cuba and the attack and forcible repatriation of Cuban refugees into communist tyranny.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

It seems that Iraqi officials are backing off from announced plans to finally grant a trial to Saddam Hussein, after a year and half in U.S. captivity. Could the reason for the delay be the discomfort that such a trial will have for U.S. officials, given the specific charges on which they intend to try Saddam?

One set of charges relate to the gassing of the Kurds in Halabaja and his prosecution of the war against Iran in the 1980s. But what if Saddam and his attorneys show where Saddam acquired his chemical and biological weaponry (i.e., the U.S.). Equally important, what if they show that U.S. officials actively helped Saddam to utilize the WMD that the U.S. had given him? Wouldn’t that increase the likelihood that more Americans would find out about the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and its supposed devotion to “liberation” and “democracy-spreading” in Iraq?

Another set of charges relates to Saddam’s suppression of the Shi’ite and Kurd uprisings after the Persian Gulf War. But what if Saddam and his attorneys show that Saddam’s suppression of those insurgencies was no different in principle from the U.S. government’s and its new Shi’ite government’s suppression of the current Sunni uprising in Iraq? And what if they show that it was President Bush’s father (President H.W. Bush) who encouraged those uprisings, only to have U.S. forces stand aside and watch them being massacred by Saddam? Wouldn’t that also expose the callous and hypocritical nature of U.S. foreign policy?

If they end up charging Saddam with torture, sex abuse, rapes, and murders at Abu Ghraib prison, then what if Saddam and his lawyers respond that he had no earthly idea that such things were taking place there, which is, of course, the same claim made by high U.S. officials with respect to the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murders committed by U.S. troops at the same prison. What if prosecutors respond that Saddam is responsible for the actions of his troops but that high U.S. officials are not responsible for the actions of their troops? Wouldn’t at least some people wonder why double standards are being applied?

For two years, U.S. officials have held Saddam in captivity and, during much of that time, denied him access to counsel, due process of law, a speedy trial, and other fundamental procedural rights that any civilized regime accords criminal defendants. When Saddam is finally accorded a (non-jury) trial — assuming he doesn’t die beforehand — expect to see the same kangaroo type of proceeding that Saddam himself would have accorded his enemies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

One of the letters to the editor regarding the recent New York Times story about parents who are protecting their children from the military raises an interesting question: Why isn’t President Bush cajoling and encouraging his two daughters, Jenna and Barbara, to join the U.S. military in order to fight for “freedom” in Iraq? Doesn’t his failure to do so imply that Bush places a higher value on the lives and limbs of his children than on the installation of an Islamic Shiite regime in Iraq, even a democratically elected one?

The problem, of course, is that the president — along with the fearless members of Congress and other Washington “leaders” — believe that the successful installation of a democratically elected Islamic Shiite regime is more valuable than the lives and limbs of the children of regular Americans, not to mention the lives and limbs of the tens of thousands of Iraqi people who have paid a big price for this military adventure.

As I suggested in my article, “Parents Are Right to Protect Their Children from the Military,” parents are right to take the same position that President Bush, the fearless members of Congress, and Washington “leaders” take with respect to their own children: The successful installation of an Islamic Shiite regime in Iraq simply isn’t worth the lives and limbs of your own children — or, for that matter, anyone else’s children.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the government in the medical-marijuana case (Gonzalez vs. Raich) brings sad reminders of the post-1937 Supreme Court, which, in the wake of President Franklin Roosevelt’s infamous and disgraceful court-packing scheme, effectively ruled that never again would the Court declare any exercise of federal regulatory power over economic activity unconstitutional.

One of the early post-court-packing-scheme cases was Wickard vs. Filburn (1942), which held that the federal government, under the Interstate Commerce Clause, could even control the economic activities of a man who was growing crops on his own land for his own consumption.

The Court’s rationale? The man’s failure to purchase the goods that he was growing would have an effect on interstate commerce, which, therefore, meant that the feds had the power to regulate his activities under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Wickard is also famous for the line that would perfectly describe the federal strings (read: federal control) that always come with federal “assistance”: “It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.”

Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court cited the decision in Wickard as precedent for regulating the decisions of medical marijuana users to grow pot on their own property. That is, since their decision to grow their own pot would obviously have an impact on the national market for drugs, the feds are empowered to control their activity under the Interstate Commerce Clause.

Ultimately, the solution to all this lies with a constitutional amendment: “No law shall be enacted, by either the states or the federal government, respecting the regulation of commerce or abridging the free exercise thereof.” By constitutionally prohibiting both the federal and state governments from regulating economic activity, such an amendment would enable the American people to lead the world in the restoration of economic liberty. And Supreme Court decisions such as Wickard and Raich would be tossed into the dustbin of judicial history, where they belong

Monday, June 6, 2005

The hypocrisy and lies underlying the invasion of Iraq was again evidenced by an interesting story in Sunday’s New York Times. It details the emigration of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens to Syria because of the threats leveled against them in their own country for working for the U.S. government in Iraq. (Shades of the Vietnam War!) Many of these Iraqis would like to come to the United States but the U.S. government is barring them because of — yes, you guessed it — immigration controls!

So, the U.S. government invades Iraq because of its supposed love and concern for the Iraq people, enlists the assistance of thousands of Iraqis, and then says: Well, we regret that you and your family are now being threatened with death by your fellow citizens for working with a foreign invader and occupier but we simply don’t love you so much that we’re going to let you come to the United States to live.

As we have stated from the beginning, the purported love and concern that U.S. officials have for the Iraqi people is one of the Big Lies that underlie the Iraqi invasion and, like the WMD and “democracy-spreading” Big Lies, is designed to distract attention from the real reason for the invasion — “regime change” — the ouster of a non-friendly foreign regime and the installation of a new U.S-government-friendly regime. That’s what all those deaths and maiming in Iraq have been all about, including the hundreds of thousands of deaths arising from the US and UN sanctions throughout the 1990s.

Where’s the morality in all that?

Saturday, June 4, 2005

President Bush is rapping (his non-democratically elected allies) Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates for slavery and trafficking in human beings.

Unfortunately, he didn’t take the time to address the trafficking of human beings currently being held at Gitmo, the prisoner gulag that the Pentagon set up in Cuba to avoid the constraints of the Constitution and the interference of the U.S. federal courts.

As the Associated Press reported last week, a favorite practice of U.S. “friends” in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan is to sell their enemies to the U.S. government by labeling them “terrorists” (the buzz word that strikes fear into everyone’s heart) and collect the bounty that the federals are offering for “terrorists.” The sold “terrorists” are then transferred to Gitmo for “treatment.”

Bush also failed to mention the draft, or “conscription,” which is the more formal term for the military slavery which the U.S. government has no problems engaging in, should circumstances require it. With conscription, the government forces a citizen to work for it—to fight for it even thousands of miles away—even to die for it. Sure, the conscripts get paid but slaves get paid in other parts of the world too. What matters is not the rate of pay but rather that the conscript or slave has been denied the freedom on how he himself chooses to live his life and instead has been taken from his family and chosen line of work and forcibly put to work for his superiors.

Friday, June 3, 2005

In today’s FFF Email Update, we are carrying three articles on the drug war (A Letter to My Friend who supports the Drug War by James R. Muhm, Profits from Selling Cocaine Make It a Lucrative business Venture by David Krotz, and How FBI Drug Sting Spread in Arizona)which together explain why the drug war will never be “won,” thereby making it nothing more than just another giant boondoggle for federal politicians and bureaucrats.

The harder the government presses to stop drug supplies, the higher the price goes. It’s just a simple matter of supply and demand, a principle that everyone learns in Econ 101. Restrict the supply and the price goes up.

That increased price then makes it more attractive to sell the drugs, even as the punishment for drug sellers is increased as part of a fiercer waging of the drug war. And that includes the very cops and government agents who are charged with stopping the drug supply in the first place.

Read the “drug sting article,” we link to today and you will see this phenomenon in action: The more money there is to be made in drugs, the more federal, state, and local law-enforcement agents are tempted to take a bribe to let a drug shipment go through.

Thus, as much as U.S. officials have traditionally loved to look down their noses at their Mexican counterparts for being “on the take,” the fact is that there are untold numbers of U.S. law-enforcement agents on the take too, which is just one more reason that the drug war should be ended, not reformed — it corrupts law enforcement.

Isn’t it ironic that Christian Americans regularly ask God to lead them not into temptation and yet steadfastly support a failed and destructive government program that continues to lead both law-enforcement officers and private citizens into temptation?

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Reacting to the conviction of Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorsky, President Bush made one of the most startling comments of his presidency: “Here [in the United States], you’re innocent until proven guilty and it appeared to us, at least people in my administration, that it looked like he had been ajudged guilty prior to having a fair trial,” Bush said. “We’re watching the ongoing case.”

My gosh, surely the president has been also watching the ongoing case of Jose Padilla, the American whom the Pentagon has been held for almost 3 years in a military brig without due process of law, a trial, and without benefit of counsel for most of that time. The reason the president must know about Padilla is that the president is the one who signed the order authorizing the U.S. military to take him into custody as a suspected terrorist and punish him without federal court interference.

How can the president’s remarkable claim be reconciled with his treatment of Jose Padilla? Answer: It can’t be. If the president had spoken the truth in his lecture to the Russians, he would have said, “Here, you’re innocent until proven guilty unless the Pentagon and I say otherwise, in which case you’re guilty without even a trial and you will be punished by our military accordingly.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The disclosure of Deep Throat’s identity once again opens up the fault line between those citizens who believe that patriotism entails blind support of their own government and those citizens who believe that patriotism entails opposing their own government when it is in the wrong.

Those who believe in the blind-support theory will undoubtedly say that Deep Throat Watergate leaker Marc Felt was a traitor for disclosing President Richard Nixon’s illegal cover-up of the Watergate burglary. They would undoubtedly say the same thing about Daniel Ellsberg’s disclosure of the Pentagon’s lies regarding the Vietnam War in the Pentagon Papers.

Carried to its logical conclusion, the blind-support mindset ultimately enables even democratic regimes to become tyrannies, Nazi Germany being a good example. Of course, even in totalitarian Germany, which killed dissenters without hesitation, there were German citizens both inside and outside the government who had the courage and conviction to oppose their own government and who were considered to be unpatriotic and traitorous.

To be a blind supporter of one’s government entails no exercise of conscience and no act of courage. All it entails is a steadfast mindset of “My government, right or wrong.” On the other hand, the standing-up-to-government wrongdoing concept entails both an exercise of conscience and an act of courage.

There is no more powerful institutional force than government, given its monopoly of force and given the propensity of government officials to use such force against those who don’t blindly support their actions.

Thus, the reason that Marc Felt remained anonymous during the Nixon administration is a simple one: he knew that Nixon and his vicious minions would smash him if they knew his identity, just as they did their best to smash Ellsberg.

We should all be grateful for the likes of Marc Felt and Daniel Ellsberg. People who have the courage and conviction to risk their lives and liberties in opposition to government wrongdoing make life better and safer and freer for the rest of us. Let’s hope that such people continue to exist, especially within the bowels of the federal government.

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.