Saturday, July 30, 2005
I wonder if Martha Stewart, whom the feds convicted and punished for lying to a federal bureaucrat even though she wasn’t under oath at the time she supposedly lied, noticed the latest news about President Bush’s nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.
In conjunction with his ratification hearings, Bolton was asked in an official U.S. Senate questionnaire whether he had ever been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry during the past five years. He answered in the negative.
The problem? Bolton had been interviewed in an inquiry during the past five years. In other words, his statement in an official U.S. Senate questionnaire involving official federal business was false. In fact, as U.S. officials are now acknowledging, Bolton was interviewed by the State Department inspector general in conjunction with the infamous CIA-Niger-Iraq matter (i.e., the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson matter).
Bolton’s response? Oh, well, you see, it seems that he just “forgot” about that official interview when he was filling out those forms for the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, President Bush, whose Justice Department put away Martha Stewart amidst federal righteous indignation over private citizens who supposedly lie to federal bureaucrats when they’re not under oath, is reported to be giving Bolton a “recess” appointment to his new position, which will permit the man with the poor memory to be ambassador without U.S. Senate confirmation.
Let’s hope that new federal PR person, Karen Hughes, whose job will be to improve the image of the federal government overseas, doesn’t forget to focus on the hypocrisy for which U.S. officials are widely known all over the world.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Those who still maintain the hope that the military invasion and occupation of Iraq will result in a free country under the rule of an Islamic Shi’ite regime might also want to consider the type of political system being pushed on Iraq by U.S. officials:
“Although the administration has been pushing for a strong central government, Iraqi officials involved in drafting the constitution say the final document will call for a federal system, with a weak center and powerful regional councils.”
Imagine that: U.S. officials are pushing for the type of government that our Founding Fathers revolted against (i.e., a strong central government), and Iraqi officials are fighting for the type of political system our Founding Fathers implemented (a federal system).
Is that revealing or what?
In fact, don’t forget that in President’s Bush’s native state of Texas, the Texas rebellion was inspired by the rebels’ opposition to Mexican dictator Santa Anna’s push for a strong central government and by the rebels’ support of the federal system set up in the Mexican Constitution of 1824.
Is that ironic or what?
As things continue to spiral out of control in Iraq, let’s also not forget the things that U.S. officials installed in Iraq that they think constitute “freedom”: mandatory curfews, warrantless searches of people and their homes and businesses; arbitrary arrests; indefinite detentions; gun control; denial of due process, right to counsel, and jury trials; closure of newspapers critical of the military; shooting of demonstrators; and torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: If there is another major terrorist attack in the United States, we can only hope that the president, the Pentagon, and the Congress don’t decide to impose the “freedom” they have brought to Iraq on the American people.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It will be interesting to see if British authorities treat suspects arrested in connection with the recent terrorist strikes as criminal defendants within the British criminal-justice system or turned over to some kangaroo military commission for punishment as combatants in the “war on terrorism.” My bet is that they follow the criminal-justice route and reject the Jose Padilla route that U.S. officials are employing.
Of course, the Bush administration — and many U.S. conservatives and neo-conservatives — say that suspected terrorists (such as Padilla) should be treated as “war combatants” and thereby denied due process guarantees for criminal defendants, some of which stretch all the way back to Magna Carta.
Even worse, they say that the federal government should feel free to torture the suspects to secure valuable information from them. Their rationale is that because the suspected terrorists don’t wear uniforms, they are illegal war combatants and therefore not worthy of humane treatment.
Unfortunately, however, the pro-torture crowd never addresses one big fundamental problem in its praise of torture of suspected terrorists: Innocent people don’t wear uniforms either. So, what happens if government officials arrest someone whom they suspect is a terrorist but who in fact is innocent?
The pro-torture crowd, both conservative and neo-conservative, has multiple, alternative positions to address this problem:
First, they would say that government can be trusted and that we should in fact place our trust in the government, especially the military, not to make that kind of mistake. Of course, they’d have a hard time convincing the parents of that Brazilian guy the British police executed a few days ago, who turned out to be innocent even though the cops were 100 percent convinced that he was guilty. They’d also have a hard time convincing Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield, who the feds accused of participating in the Madrid terrorist bombings but who also turned out to be innocent.
Second, they would say that to make an omelet, it is necessary to crack eggs, even innocent ones, blocking out of their minds that Lenin, a communist who himself wasn’t a piker when it came to torture, made the same point.
Third, they would say that there’s nothing wrong with sacrificing a few innocent people for the greater good of society.
Meanwhile, in their domestic-policy articles and speeches, conservatives and neo-conservatives continue to rail against Big Government and to praise “free enterprise, individual liberty, the Constitution, and limited government.”
Of course, they never explain (perhaps because they can’t) how their free-enterprise, limited-government bromides can be reconciled with the system they wish to implement, a system in which government has the omnipotent power to seize any citizen, label him an illegal combatant, and torture and execute him.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
If it’s any consolation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s eminent domain ruling in the Kelo case, Chinese residents are also suffering eminent-domain takings by communist officials. Government officials tried to take farmland away from residents of Shengyou village, about 100 miles from Bejing, in order to “build a facility for storing coal ash from a state-owned power plant.”
The victims, however, decided to fight back–violently, which resulted in the deaths of six villagers at the hands of armed thugs wielding shotguns, clubs, and pipes. This in turn caused the authorities to back off, at least temporarily. According to the Washington Post,
“The clash was among the deadliest known to have occurred in rural China in recent years and quickly emerged as a symbol of the Communist Party’s inability to deal with a growing problem in the countryside: the seizure of farmland by local officials to build roads, dams, factories and other projects, often for personal profit. Peasants have complained about receiving little or no compensation for their confiscated plots and have staged hundreds of demonstrations over the issue.”
When the U.S. government’s programs are mirroring those of communist countries (including not only Kelo-type eminent domain takings but also such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, public housing, subsidies, and welfare), shouldn’t that be reason enough to challenge the direction in which our nation is headed in with the aim of moving instead in the private-property, free-market direction that guided our American ancestors?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
People who are agog over the British police’s pumping of seven bullets into the head of the unarmed innocent Brazilian fail to understand that the killing was simply part and parcel of how U.S. and British officials view the “war on terrorism.” Keep in mind that according to President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, terrorism is not a criminal offense but instead an act of war. Moreover, as the Pentagon’s lawyers suggested recently to the Court of Appeals in the Jose Padilla case, the entire world, including the United States and Great Britain, is the battlefield in the “war on terrorism.”
So, in war do armies arrest people and read them their rights and secure indictments against them and bring them to trial? Of course not. In war, armies kill the opposing armies. So, since this is “war” and since the entire world is the battlefield, in the minds of these people, there’s nothing wrong with simply killing people who they believe are on the opposing side—i.e., “terrorists.” Thus, when a cop or a soldier sees someone who he thinks is “the enemy” (i.e., a suspected “terrorist”), all he has to do is shoot to kill, no questions asked. Forget that “constitutional nonsense” that is required when someone is suspected of having committed a crime.
Of course, there are those who might suggest that U.S. officials would never do what the British cops did but that’s only because they’re not familiar with the missile that U.S. officials fired at a car in Yemen, killing “suspected terrorists,” including an American citizen, as part of the “war on terrorism.”
And this the same type of power federal officials are claiming in the Padilla case—the unrestrained power of the Pentagon to take any American into custody anywhere in the country as a “suspected terrorist” and to treat him accordingly, that is, without federal court interference and without any legal protections against torture, sex abuse, rape or murder.
As I suggested in my article “Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America,” this is the same mindset that guided the Pinochet regime when it sent agents to Washington, D.C., to kill suspected terrorist Orlando Letelier, whose car they bombed, which also cost the life of fellow passenger Ronnie Moffit, who was innocent of terrorism but who was unfortunate “collateral damage” in the “war on terrorism.”
Ludwig von Mises pointed out that government’s interventions into economic activity inevitably lead to further interventions to fix the problems associated with the previous interventions. As we are learning, the same principle applies to foreign interventions. U.S. foreign policy, especially federal meddling in the Middle East, produced terrorism and 9/11, which led to the “war on terrorism,” which led to the PATRIOT Act, to the TSA, to Gitmo, to the invasion of Iraq, to kidnappings and “renditions” to foreign countries, to torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of suspected terrorists, to the Padilla doctrine of military power to punish suspected American terrorists without due process of law, to the killing of suspected terrorists, to searches and seizures of people riding on trains.
After all, if there is another terrorist strike in the United States, who doubts that the meek, mild, and scared members of Congress, who click their heels and salute whenever the president wants more power to wage the “war on terrorism,” won’t immediately rush to enact more attacks on the freedoms of the American people, perhaps agreeing to suspend our rights and liberties entirely, “temporarily” of course and all in the name of the “war on terrorism”?
And it’s all going to continue — and get worse — until the American people rein in the federal government and put a stop to the its serving as the world’s policeman, meddler, and interloper.
Monday, July 25, 2005
The appointment of Karen Hughes, former counselor to President Bush, as “ambassador and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs” is a perfect example of the blindness, not to mention the arrogance, of federal officials. Hughes is returning from Texas to Washington to take charge of improving “America’s image” abroad. And how does she propose to do that? By “confronting hateful propaganda, dispel myths, and get out the truth.” And as part of her quest, she intends to “marshal the great creativity of the private sector.”
In Hughes’s mind, the U.S. Empire is a given, including its support of brutal foreign dictators, its corrupt foreign-aid and foreign-loan programs, its policies of secret kidnappings and use of brutal regimes to torture the kidnap victims, its torture, sex abuse, rape, murder of foreigners, its drug war that ravages foreign countries, and its invasions and occupations that kill or maim thousands upon thousands of innocent people, even while isolating the American people from the rest of the world through its brutal embargoes and ever-increasing harassment of immigrants.
After all, what better way to improve America’s image than by simply reining in the federal government (including impeaching any president who wages war without a congressional declaration of war), dismantling the federal government’s overseas military empire, bringing all overseas troops home and discharging them into the private sector?
Instead, Hughes wants to “marshal” (that is, collect, group, and use) people in the private sector to improve the image of the Empire, even as it continues to dictate, dominate, order, bribe, invade, kidnap, rendition, torture, and abuse people overseas.
Hughes’ mindset perfectly reflects that of other federal officials, especially those in the Pentagon and the State Department: The U.S. Empire is America, and it is good, supreme, and permanent. People overseas simply need to accept its domination and submit to its order and rules and everything will be fine. Those who resist are terrorists.
These people simply block out of their minds that people throughout history have despised and resisted empires (including a small band of British colonists in 1776) and no amount of federal propaganda will ever change that.
Hughes is right about one thing — the importance of the private sector in making friends and establishing bonds with people overseas. In fact, unlike the pompous and arrogant federal diplomats in the State Department, private Americans are our nation’s greatest diplomats, which is why foreigners generally love American tourists, businessmen, and cultural groups even while despising U.S. bureaucrats.
Where Hughes goes wrong, however, is in failing to recognize that the ultimate solution to our nation’s woes lies not in “marshaling” people in the private sector as federal pawns to improve the image of the Empire but instead with simply dismantling the Empire, bringing all overseas troops home and discharging them into the private sectors, and lifting all controls and restrictions on the freedom of the American people to interact with foreigners.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
In a Washington Post article describing how the Army is upping its offer to $100,000 in bonuses, college funds, and extra pay for those young Americans who volunteer for army “priority units” (i.e., infantry), Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, misspoke when he said, “There are thousands of young men and women out there who want to serve their country.”
Pace was referring to serving the federal government, and specifically the Army, but makes a common mistake by conflating the “government” and the “country.”
The distinction between the federal government and the country was well understood by our American ancestors, which is perhaps best reflected by the Bill of Rights. Contrary to popular opinion today (and what students are taught in U.S. public schools), the Bill of Rights does not give anyone rights. Instead, it prohibits the federal government from taking away the rights of the people. If the government and the country were the same thing, why would the Bill of Rights protect the country from the government?
Moreover, as we have seen in the Iraq military adventure, the federal government has taken an action that is proving to be deeply harmful to the country. Its “accomplishments” include: tens of thousands of innocent people, including children, killed or maimed, massive destruction of Iraq, more anger and hatred for the U.S. government (and possibly for the country as well, since the terrorists might well conflate government and country, as Pace does), more threats of terrorism, shame and humiliation arising out of the torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison along with the resulting Pentagon whitewashes and cover-ups of the scandal, indefinite detentions, warrantless searches and seizures, gun control, and the installation of a radical Shi’ite regime whose religious and morality police seem to be copying the Taliban and which is now aligning itself with arch-U.S. government enemy Iran, not to mention the denigration of the Constitution (i.e., no congressional declaration of war), governmental attacks on civil liberties, and unrestrained federal government spending.
General Pace, government “servants” who are responsible for these “accomplishments” are serving the president and they’re serving the Pentagon, but make no mistake about it: They are definitely not serving the country.
Friday, July 22, 2005
One of the favorite pro-Iraq War rationalizations, after the infamous WMD failed to materialize, has been “We have liberated the Iraqi people.”
However, as we here at FFF have argued over and over again ever since the invasion, there is no freedom in Iraq and there never has been. After all, as our Founding Fathers understood so well and which current U.S. officials do not understand very well, genuine freedom does not consist of military rule, dictatorial rule (even democratic dictatorial rule), warrantless searches of people’s persons, homes, and businesses, gun control, indefinite detentions, denial of due process, mandatory curfews, closing of newspapers that criticize the government, shooting of demonstrators, and torture and sex abuse of detainees.
Pro-war advocates have consistently retorted that “democracy is freedom” and, therefore, that President Bush’s national election in Iraq has brought freedom to the Iraqi people.
Moreover, slowly but surely it will begin to dawn on the American people what U.S. officials, including those at the Pentagon, have actually wrought in Iraq with their election. As a growing number of writers are pointing out, “democracy” in Iraq has succeeded in installing a radical Islamic regime that is not only establishing mandatory morals and religious codes for the Iraqi people (as the Taliban did in Afghanistan) but is also establishing close ties with the radical Islamic regime in Iran, which U.S. officials consider is a member of an international “axis of evil” and which is even the potential target of a Pentagon attack.
The following excerpt from “Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic” by Peter W. Galbraith states the problem most succinctly:
“The shortest speech was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine [the head of the American embassy office in Kirkuk], he said simply, ‘This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power.’ He did not add ‘Thank you, George Bush.’ The unstated was understood.”
This is what U.S. troops have killed and died for in Iraq and continue to do so. Keep this in mind whenever you see one of those “Support the Troops” magnets on the back of some vehicle.
Here are some pertinent articles that reflect the growing realization of what the Iraq War has wrought:
The Pentagon: Islam’s Newest Department of Defense by Jacob G. Hornberger
Iraq: Bush’s Islamic Republic by Peter W. Galbraith
The Iraq War Is Over, and the Winner Is Iran by Juan Cole
Iraq’s Dangerous New Friend by Robert Scheer
Iraq: What Are We Fighting For? An “Islamic Republic,” That’s What by Justin Raimondo
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The government’s arguments at the Court of Appeals hearing in the Jose Padilla case confirm the extreme dangers that we here at FFF have been warning about for the past three years. The government lawyers told the 3-judge panel that the entire United States is part of the worldwide battleground in the government’s “war on terrorism,” entitling U.S. military forces to seize any American (or foreigner) anywhere in the United States and treat him as an “unlawful combatant.”
Now, combine that with the recent D.C. Court of Appeals decision (Note: pdf) (in which new Supreme Court nominee John Roberts ruled in favor of the government), where a 3-judge panel unanimously (1) upheld the government’s “unlawful combatant” denomination; and (2) held that the protections of the Geneva Convention don’t apply to suspected terrorists; and (3) upheld the government’s power to punish suspected terrorists through the use of military commissions (despite the fact that their kangaroo Soviet-like procedures bear no resemblance whatsoever to trials under the U.S. Constitution in U.S. district court).
What does all this add up to? As we’ve been saying ever since Padilla was arrested, a ruling in favor of the government in the Padilla case would mean: The U.S. military, which claims to be subservient to the American citizenry, would now have the power to seize any American, lock him away incommunicado, ship him to Gitmo or Uzbekistan or Egypt, torture, rape, sexually abuse him, or murder him, or execute him after a kangaroo military proceeding whose only purpose will be to cloak the murder with the trappings of judicial proceedings. And without any fear of federal court interference or application of the U.S. Constitution.
As we have been repeatedly stating, such power, if ultimately upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Padilla case or by the U.S. Supreme Court when the Padilla case gets there, would constitute the most ominous transformation in American life since our nation’s inception, bigger even than the advent of the socialistic welfare state in the 1930s.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Not surprisingly, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is repeating President Bush’s line about 9/11 — that the 7/7 terrorists were motivated not by anger arising out of the U.S. pro-empire foreign policy (which Blair embraces) but rather hatred for Western “freedom and values.” (It’s not clear whether Blair, along with Bush, take the same position about Muslims that U.S. Army General William Westmoreland, U.S. commander in the Vietnam War, took about Orientals: “”The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient.”)
Blair’s “they hate us for our freedom and values” thesis would undoubtedly have surprised Shahzad Tanweer, 22, one of the 7/7 suicide bombers whose friends have told the Associated Press that “he became withdrawn and increasingly angry over the war in Iraq.”
One of Tanweer’s friends echoed the sentiment: “They’re crying over 50 people while 100 people are dying every day in Iraq and Palestine.”
Blair tried to buttress his point by pointing out that the 9/11 attacks could not have been inspired by the War on Iraq given that the 9/11 attacks came first.
True. In fact, the same reasoning would apply to the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.
But what Blair forgets, among other things, are the brutal sanctions, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children through infection and disease, along with the same callous attitude that U.S. officials displayed toward those deaths (“The price is worth it”—U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright) that they’ve displayed toward the dead in the Iraq War (“We don’t do body counts.”—Gen. Tommy Franks).
Perhaps Blair (and Bush) would be wise to read what Ramzi Yousef, one of the 1993 WTC bombers, angrily said to the federal judge at his sentencing hearing to determine whether he was motivated by hatred for Western “freedom and values” or anger arising out of U.S. (and British) foreign policy. Here’s an excerpt from his statement:
“…. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people…. You are the ones who invented terrorism and using it every day. You are butchers, liars, and hypocrites.”
Of course, there’s always the possibility that both Bush and Blair continue to spout the “they hate us for our freedom and values” line so that the American and British people don’t put 2 and 2 together and begin focusing on the U.S. Empire and how it has treated people overseas for decades, including supporting their brutal dictators (i.e., Saddam himself, the Shah of Iran, Musharraf, Pinochet, Latin America, etc. etc.)
As I pointed out in my recent article “Terrorism Comes with Empire,” there are two choices facing Americans (and the British people):
(1) Maintain the Empire and suffer perpetual terrorism and perpetual government assaults on civil liberties; or
(2) Dismantle the Empire and thereby restore peace and freedom to American (and British) society.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Well, well, well.
Last February I wrote the following in a blog:
“Before the election [in Iraq], both U.S. officials and Allawi thought that they were surging in the polls, especially after Allawi spent $4 million in a glitzy Madison Avenue television advertising campaign that was strangely similar to the type that Republicans run over here. (Allawi had a plan to bring jobs to Iraqis. I don’t know where he got the $4 million to run his television campaign.)”
According to a January 7, 2005, article on MSNBC.com,
“Wealthy interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has spent at least $4 million on TV ads, avoiding contact with crowds.”
Now, we learn from a new investigative article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh that President Bush approved a covert CIA plan to subsidize Allawi’s campaign and that in fact the CIA subsidized Allawi’s campaign despite opposition from Congress.
Why subsidize Allawi? Because Allawi was the puppet they hoped to install in office who would do their bidding, which was the goal of the invasion in the first place — the installation of a U.S.-friendly regime. After Ayatollah Sistani outmaneuvered Bush into calling for a national election, it obviously began to dawn on U.S. officials that if Sistani’s Shi’ite faction were to win the election, the new regime might align itself with arch-U.S. enemy Iran, which would foil the true goal of the invasion. Of course, that has turned out to be the case, as I pointed out in my recent article “The Pentagon: Islam’s Newest Department of Defense.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says that President Bush ultimately nixed the CIA plan to help Allawi because Bush supposedly didn’t think it would be right to influence an independent democratic election in Iraq and also supposedly because the elected representatives in Congress were opposed to such influence.
Yeah, right! As if McClellan has any shred of credibility left after the lie he has promulgated without apology or shame for some two years with respect to Karl Rove’s attempt to punish Joseph Wilson for exposing the Bush administration’s WMD deception for invading Iraq. And hey, if Allawi didn’t get that $4 million from the CIA, Mr. McClellan, then where did it come from — royalties from Iraqi oil wells? And how did Allawi come up with those savvy Madison Avenue-type campaign advertisements — from Saddam’s campaign consultants?
I suppose the next thing Bush and McClellan are going to tell us is that the U.S. government didn’t fund $41 million (yes, million, in U.S. taxpayer money) to oust Milosevic from power and $14 million to influence the election in Ukraine, as the Guardian pointed out last November.
How long before the American people break through all the lies, myths, and deception and come to the realization that this is what the U.S. Empire is all about, including its invasion of Iraq — the installation and control of U.S.-friendly regimes around the world, either by foreign aid (Turkey and Pakistan), threats (Uzbekistan), assassinations (Panama, Cuba, and maybe Venezuela upcoming), coups (Iran, Chile, and Guatemala), or invasions (Panama and Iraq)?
That’s what U.S. soldiers have died for in Iraq, and that’s why the Iraqi people have been killed and maimed, including the Iraqi children who died as a result of the brutal sanctions. It was never about WMD, “democracy-spreading,” 9/11, “magnets for terrorists,” the “war on terrorism,” or any of the other rationales promulgated by the Bush administration for invading Iraq. All those rationales have been nothing more than fake and false smokescreens to disguise the real reason for invading — “regime change” for the purpose of installing a U.S.-friendly regime in Iraq that would become the newest member of the U.S. Empire.
Monday, July 18, 2005
I wonder if Martha Stewart, who served time in a federal penitentiary for lying to a federal bureaucrat, is keeping track of the Rove/Plame/Wilson scandal.
On October 3, 2003, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan stated, “I spoke with those individuals [Rove, Abrams, and Libby], as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that’s where it stands.”
Now that it is clear that Rove was involved in the matter, someone has to be lying. Either McClellan is lying when he said he spoke to Rove or he is lying about Rove’s response to him. Or Rove lied if he told McClellan that he wasn’t involved in the leak. And White House officials have permitted the lie to stand for some two years.
Of course, the big lie was with respect to the invasion of Iraq, which was why White House operatives were outing Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent in the first place — to smash his credibility, to punish him, and to send a message that this is what happens to people who publish the truth about the deception leading up to the war. (That’s also why they went after Scott Ritter.)
The WMD rationale, the “democracy-spreading” rationale, the “liberation” rationale, the 9/11 ratonale, the “magnet” rationale, the freedom rationale, the “war on terrorism” rationale, and all the other rationales for invading Iraq were nothing more than fake and false smokescreens to disguise the real purpose of the Iraq invasion, which was simply to oust Saddam from power and install a U.S.-friendly regime into power.
That’s what U.S. soldiers have died for in Iraq — not WMD, not “democracy-spreading,” not “liberation,” not freedom, not “magnet,” not 9/11, and not the “war on terrorism.” Instead, they have died for Empire — the ouster of Saddam with the aim of installing a regime that is friendly to the U.S. government. (Of course, the aim might turn out to be less successful than hoped, given the installation of a regime that is closing aligning itself with Iran, which U.S. officials say is part of an “axis of evil.” See my article “The Pentagon: Islam’s Newest Department of Defense.”)
Ironically, on June 4, 2003, just a few months before the McClellan press conference, the feds indicted Martha Stewart for lying to a federal bureaucrat. She wasn’t under oath when she supposedly lied, just as McClellan wasn’t under oath when he spoke to those reporters and just as Rove wasn’t under oath when he purportedly answered McClellan’s question.
Since at least one important White House official lied to the American people about something as important as war, a war that has left tens of thousands of innocent people dead or maimed, while Martha Stewart supposedly lied about some stock trade that harmed no one, President Bush should do the right thing, even if it is a bit late, and pardon Stewart. Since it’s not a crime for a federal bureaucrat to lie to the American people, it shouldn’t be a crime for a citizen to lie to a federal bureaucrat.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
We’re now getting another lesson in what happens when a member of the U.S. Empire “goes independent.” The brutal dictator of Uzbekistan, whose military forces have been trained by U.S. imperial forces and which tortures people at U.S. request, is upset because U.S. officials have, as a result of political pressure, criticized the dictator’s brutal crackdown on his own people.
Not surprisingly, however, the Empire, is striking back by one of its customary methods: threatening the Uzbek regime with a cutoff of the U.S. foreign-aid welfare dole. The Empire is even lashing out against China and Russia for meddling in U.S. imperial affairs.
Of course, it brings to mind Saddam Hussein, another former Empire team player who discovered the consequences of “going independent” after receiving U.S. “foreign aid,” including those infamous WMD. The Uzbek people had better hope that the Empire does not punish their ruler in the same way that it punished Saddam because if it does, thousands of them will die and be maimed in the process, not to mention having their country destroyed.
Friday, July 15, 2005
In the wake of the terrorist bombings in Great Britain, some British politicians are taking a cue from U.S. politicians by claiming that the attacks have nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy and instead are rooted in anger and hatred for Western “freedom and values,” just as U.S. politicians after 9/11 claimed the same thing.
What’s interesting about these officials, both British and American, however, is that they never say whether, in their opinion, the killings of Iraqis generate anger and hatred independent of the anger and hatred that some foreigners might already have for Western “freedom and values.” When Iraqis are killed by U.S. and British troops or by sanctions, is it considered no big deal by Iraqi families or others within the Middle East? Is losing an Iraqi child or brother or father simply like losing a widget or a machine part — expendable and replaceable? Do people in the Middle East put no value on human life, just as U.S. officials said that the North Vietnamese (or gooks, as they called them) put no value on human life? Is it only Americans and Brits who put a high value on the lives of their loved ones or countrymen? Could that be why the term “collateral damage” is always applied to Iraqis (or Afghans) who are killed but never to Americans or Brits? Is that why the Pentagon’s official policy has always been: Don’t bother counting Iraqi dead? Is it because the lives of Iraqis just don’t count?
Let’s just assume that there are people in the Middle East who hate Western values (just as we can assume that there are people in the United States and Great Britain who hate Muslim values). Let’s even assume that hatred of Western “freedom and values” causes some people to go kill other people (or that hatred of Muslim values causes some Americans to kill Muslims).
Does that still mean that killing Iraqis has no adverse effect on people? That is, simply because some foreigners hate America for its “freedom and values,” does that mean that killing Iraqis has no effect on foreigners, including those who don’t hate America for its “freedom and values”?
Consider, for example, the effect that the 9/11 attacks had on Americans. Those attacks made many Americans so angry that they were willing to wreak vengeance on the perpetrators, and it didn’t matter how many innocent Muslims were killed in the process as “collateral damage.” And it’s a safe bet that prior to 9/11, many of these angry and vengeful Americans didn’t hate Arabs or Muslims for their values. The 9/11 killings themselves made many Americans angry and perhaps made those who hate Muslims for their values even angrier.
Why would the same reaction not be felt by people in the Middle East when Iraqis are killed? Why wouldn’t there be many people in Arab countries who would become so angry that they would have the exact same mindset of anger and vengeance as Americans? Why should we believe that only Americans care when Americans are killed but that people “over there” couldn’t give a hoot when people “over there” are killed?
The refusal to confront those critical questions — or the suggestion that people “over there” don’t care when their loved ones and friends are killed — or that foreign anger and hatred has absolutely nothing to do with U.S. killings of Iraqis — obviously has one purpose in mind: to ensure that the American people don’t ever start questioning the U.S. government’s pro-empire foreign policy and the negative influence and destructive domination that the massive Cold-War military-industrial complex has in American and overseas life.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Among President Bush’s many rationales for invading Iraq is the “magnet” rationale — that the U.S. is using Iraq as a “magnet” to attract terrorists, thereby keeping the fight against the terrorists “over there” rather than here at home.
Of course, that rationale is now problematic given the terrorist attack in Great Britain, but a more fundamental question arises: Where is the morality in using another country as such a “magnet,” especially given that so many innocent Iraqis, including children, have died as “collateral damage,” the Pentagon’s term for the Iraqi dead and maimed?
After all, the Iraqi people, including the dead and maimed ones, had nothing to do with 9/11. Their government, albeit tyrannical, never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
Yet, the Iraqi people have been made to suffer tens of thousands of dead and maimed and the destruction of their country, not to mention the fact that anti-U.S. terrorists are now using their country as a training ground.
And all because President Bush and the Pentagon decided that it’s better that Iraq, not the United States, bear the consequences of the “war on terrorism” — a fight that was rooted in U.S. government foreign policy, not Iraqi foreign policy.
I repeat: Where is the morality in the “magnet” rationale? Why is it morally right that the people of an innocent country be made to pay the price for U.S. foreign policy and the terrorist reaction to that policy?
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
The Karl Rove episode holds valuable lessons for Americans about federal officials.
Even if Rove is never indicted for disclosing that Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA agent, there can be little doubt that Rove’s motive for disclosing such information was to inflict severe harm on Wilson and his wife, which reflects two things:
(1) how important it was to federal officials to protect the lies and deception surrounding President Bush’s declaration of war and war of aggression against Iraq. After all, if the President had told the truth — that his purpose in invading was Iraq was nothing more than “regime change,” plain and simple — that would not have infected the Congress and the American people with the terrifying war fever that the WMD scare was able to accomplish;
(2) the extreme viciousness of federal officials toward people who tell the truth and do the right thing, at least when such rightful conduct exposes falsehood, deception, and wrongdoing among high U.S. officials who mislead a nation into war, especially a war that has taken the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of innocent people, both Iraqi and American.
(Also, see “The Real Rove Scandal” by Robert Scheer.)
Moreover, by declining to fire Rove immediately, Bush sends a powerful message to his underlings: If you’re caught trying to harm or destroy those who would attempt to disclose our lies and deception to the American people — I will remain loyal to you by keeping you on the federal payroll, perhaps even reward you by promoting you to a higher federal position. Of course, it was the same type of message Bush sent when he declined to fire any army generals or legal advisers involved in the U.S. military’s torture, rape, sex abuse, and murder scandal.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Last week, Iraq and Iran entered into a military pact with each other.
Now, there’s a glorious cause for U.S. troops in Iraq to kill and die for — to protect a regime that has entered into a military alliance with a regime that President Bush and the Pentagon say is a sworn enemy of the United States.
Oh well, at least Iraq’s defense minister has assured everyone that the military agreement did not provide that Iran would train Iraq’s troops. That job, he insisted, remained with the U.S. government.
Whoop-dee-do! That should make everyone feel better. Of course the question arises: If Bush and the Pentagon invade Iran, which side will the Pentagon-trained Iraqi troops fight on — the U.S. side or the Iran side? And if on the U.S. side, if you were an American soldier in the invading force, how good would you feel having those Iraqi soldiers behind you “supporting” you?
Monday, July 11, 2005
Lea Fastow, the wife of ex-Enron official Andrew Fastow, has been released after serving a year in jail. She had pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false tax returns in an attempt to hide some of her husband’s illicit income at Enron.
Apparently feeling that Lea was a dangerous threat to society, U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, threw the book at her and gave her the maximum one-year sentence. The judge’s heavy-handed sentence came after he had rejected a plea bargain in which prosecutors had agreed that she would be sentenced to only 5 months in jail and 5 months in home confinement, to enable her to take care of her minor children before her husband was carted off to serve 10 years in jail to the Enron fraud charges to which he has pled guilty.
As the feds continue to put away regular Americans for violating bureaucratic regulations of the socialistic welfare state and regulated society (i.e., Martha Stewart and Lea Fastow), the easier it gets to see how correct our American ancestors were. Their income philosophy was: If you earn it, it’s yours, not the government’s and not “society’s.” That’s why Americans lived without federal income taxation (and a welfare state and a regulated society) for more than 100 years of our nation’s existence. Unlike modern-day Americans, they rejected the temptation to enshrine envy and covetousness into their political system. That’s why there was no income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare (not to mention economic regulations and drug laws).
Imagine: No income tax. No IRS. No income-tax returns. No April 15 deadlines. No federal prosecutions for non-filing or false filing of income-tax returns. If you made it, you kept it. It belonged to you. You decided what to do with it.
That’s what it once meant to be free. That’s what once distinguished Americans from people all over the world.
No more. Now, everyone’s income has been nationalized and if you don’t send in your proper share of the booty, you get sent to your room, just like a child on an allowance. The idea is to use the force and terror of the IRS to take from those who have more so that the government welfare agencies can give to those who are in “need” (including Third World dictators), which makes us all so very “compassionate,” or so they say. And anyone who “cheats” by keeping more of what is actually his own money and lying about it, thereby denying the feds from equalizing the wealth, is considered a “bad person” and deserving of punishment. Just like in Cuba.
What this country needs is a good revolution, one that would restore the principles on which our nation was founded. What better place to start than by repealing the 16th Amendment and abolishing all welfare?
Saturday, July 9, 2005
The consequences of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq grow more interesting with each passing day. Yesterday I blogged about the type of conservative “freedom” that the Shi’ites are bringing to Iraq — where the Shi’ite religious and morals police are controlling and punishing immoral albeit peaceful behavior. Not surprisingly (especially given drug, pornography, gambling, and prostitution laws here in the U.S.), this Shi’ite “freedom” is what U.S. conservatives and neo-cons are celebrating as the “liberation” of Iraq. This is the “freedom” for which U.S. soldiers are fighting, killing, and dying.
It gets better. Last week Iraq’s defense minister was in Iran where he met with the president of the country. The purpose of their meeting? To announce plans for closer cooperation between Iraq and Iran.
This is what the U.S. invaded Iraq for? I thought Iran was supposed to be in President Bush’s “axis of evil.” Isn’t that what he was saying a few months ago? And now the new Iraqi regime, which U.S. soldiers are killing and dying to preserve, is establishing closer ties with a member of Bush’s “axis of evil”?
President Bush obviously thought he could easily invade Iraq, oust Saddam, and install a puppet regime headed by Allawi, Chalabi, or some other such person. Don’t forget that the original “democracy plan” was to use some type of caucus system that obviously was designed to ensure the installation of a U.S. puppet.
After all, consider this excerpt about the mayor of Baghdad from yesterday’s New York Times, which gives a fairly good indication of the type of “democracy” that U.S. officials had hoped for when they invaded Iraq:
“It is a sore point with the council that Dr. Tamimi [the mayor] himself was put in office last year not by a direct election but by a vote of local leaders who were carefully chosen by the American occupation.”
But Iraqi Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Sistani would have none of that caucus system, especially because he knew that the Shi’ites had most of the votes. Thus, he successfully convinced Bush to abandon the caucus system and instead have a national “democratic” election, an election whose results were pre-ordained given the number of votes that the Shi’ites controlled.
And so now we have the spectacle of the U.S. military operating as the military enforcement branch of an Islamic Shi’ite regime whose morals and religious police are roaming about the country while its diplomats are establishing closer ties to Iran, which is in President Bush’s “axis of evil” and which the Pentagon might still invade.
Meanwhile, the president’s “magnet” justification for invading Iraq has disintegrated, just as WMD justification did, given that the “magnet” obviously didn’t pull those British terrorists to Iraq.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” What a shame that so many innocent people have to die for it.
Friday, July 8, 2005
Americans need look no further than Basra, a major city in the southern part of Iraq, to witness the “liberation” and “freedom” for which American soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times entitled “Shiite Morality is Taking Hold in Iraqi Oil Port,” the once “libertine” city of Basra has now been taken over by Iraqi Shi’ite conservatives, who are forcing people to close music stores and video stores and requiring women to dress more conservatively, just like their conservative counterparts have done in Iran.
Of course, this is a dream come true for many American conservatives and neo-conservatives — that is, the forcible imposition of a religious and morals code on the citizenry in the name of “freedom.” (Think about obscenity, gambling, prostitution, and drug laws here in the United States.) That’s undoubtedly one reason that conservatives and neo-conservatives continue to insist that President Bush’s invasion has brought “freedom” to the Iraqi people.
Yes, this is the conservative and neo-conservative brand of “freedom” for which U.S. soldiers continue to die and for which Americans continue to be subject to terrorist retaliatory strikes — an Islamic Shi’ite “freedom” to do whatever you want, so long as it’s religious and moral, as defined by Iraqi conservatives. What could make their conservative counterparts in America happier as they continue to “support the troops” in bringing conservative “freedom” to Iraq?
Oh, did I mention that a Basra music store that was recently bombed for selling the wrong kind of music was just a block away from the Ministry of Religious Affairs? No doubt we’ll soon hear U.S. conservatives and neo-conservatives proposing a “Department of Religious Affairs” for our government too — in the name of “freedom” of course.
Thursday, July 7, 2005
As most everyone knows, one of President Bush’s principal rationales for invading Iraq, after the WMD rationale failed, was to “liberate” the Iraqi people, which of course connotes a deep and abiding concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people. (Of course, the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed in the invasion and occupation cannot be liberated because they are dead.)
Well, interestingly, the U.S. government is today prosecuting activists for taking medicine into Iraq during the time that the U.S. government was carrying out one of the most brutal embargoes in history, an embargo that contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi children in the hope that Iraqi adults would rise up and risk their lives to violently oust Saddam Hussein from power.
Question 1: How can the concern that U.S. officials supposedly had for the well-being of the Iraqi people, which the “liberation rationale” connotes, be reconciled with the brutal decade-long embargo against Iraq as well as with the current federal prosecution of people who were violating the embargo by bringing medicine to the Iraqi people?
Question 2: Is it possible that the feds are lying about the “liberation rationale” for invading Iraq (and the WMD rationale and the many other alternative rationales) and that the true rationale for invading Iraq was simply regime change (which was the goal of the sanctions) — that is, the ouster of Saddam Hussein from power and replacing him with a U.S.-approved regime?
Question 3: Is it possible that the reason for all the alternative rationales for invading Iraq (including the WMD one) was not only to make it easier to garner public support for the invasion but also as a way to protect British Prime Minister Blair from being indicted in the International Criminal Court (which Britain, but not the U.S., ratified) for the war crime of attacking and waging a war of aggression against a sovereign and independent country, a war crime punished at Nuremberg and barred by the UN Charter?
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Consider this excerpt from a New York Times article that explains the manner in which U.S. officials take people’s property for the purpose of building their Berlin-like “freedom” Wall around their “liberated” “green zone” in Baghdad, where they work out of Saddam’s former palace:
“The American military arrived with a crane and tore up the trees in his garden, smashed the low wall surrounding it, swung the slabs into place and topped them with concertina wire. Later they put up on the other side a brilliant floodlight and a guard tower that is manned 24 hours a day. With their privacy gone, his wife and daughter must now tend the garden in their abayas, or loose robes, and the family no longer sleeps outside when electricity failures at night shut down the air conditioning. ‘I feel like it’s going to choke me,’ Daoud said of the wall…. Daoud, whose garden was ruined, said he complained and was simply told that the city had approved the work and there was nothing he could do. ”
So, despite the Supreme Court’s decision in the Kelo eminent domain case, perhaps we ought to count our blessings. At least here in the United States, the feds are still required to pay for property they forcibly take from people, unlike the situation in the “free” and “liberated” country of Iraq.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Heaven forbid that the U.S. military is ever permitted to import the “freedom” it has brought to Iraq to the United States, not that the “liberated” mess it has brought to Iraq has dissuaded the military from extending its control over the United States, as the following front-page article in today’s Washington Post reflects: Military Expands Homeland Efforts.
Our Founding Fathers warned us of the dangers of standing armies, a warning that was echoed by President Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. We would be wise to pay heed to those warnings before it is too late. Otherwise, we might well end up with the same “freedom” that Iraq now has — where an omnipotent government, powered by an all-powerful military, is “free” to do whatever it wants to whomever it wants and to take whatever it wants from whomever it wants.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
In the wake of President Bush’s recent speech to the nation on Iraq, one might be left wondering if the president has dropped his “democracy-spreading” rationale for invading Iraq. If so, he has once again left his die-hard supporters in the lurch — those whose rationale for the invasion began with WMD and shifted to immediately match each of the president’s many rationale changes.
Why would the president now be abandoning his “democracy-spreading” rationale and returning to the good old standby of 9/11? One reason is that he knows the immediate paralyzing effect on thinking that “terrorism” and “9/11” have on a certain strata in American society.
Another reason though could be that the president realizes that Americans might start recognizing what a tragic rationale for the deaths of U.S. troops the “democracy-spreading” rationale has become. After all, as we have learned time and again here in the United States, voting for Democrats and Republicans is nothing more than voting for the lesser of two evils. Is it really any different for Iraqis, who were choosing between a Sunni regime and a Shi’ite regime (or even a Kurdish regime)? That is, ask yourself: Are either of these regimes, if given power, going to bring freedom to Iraq or are they going to use political power to impose their form of tyranny on Iraq (in the name of “freedom,” of course)?
Now that the Islamic Shi’ites have won the election — something that was not difficult to predict given their overwhelming numbers — U.S. troops have now been put in the interesting position of protecting — and dying for — an Islamic Shi’ite regime, one which is quite similar to the one in Iran, which Bush says is evil. Of course, the irony is that the new Shi’ite regime is “supporting the troops” because it knows that U.S. troops are being used to smash the Sunni resistance on its behalf.
But as U.S. troops continue to die, an increasing number of Americans might be tempted to ask, “Hey, wait a minute! Is this really any way to support our troops — by having them fight and die to ensure the continuation of an Islamic Shi’ite regime?”
Perhaps that’s why President Bush might be now downplaying the “democracy-spreading” rationale for invading Iraq and returning to his “They attacked us on 9/11” rationale.
Monday, July 4, 2005
The Fourth of July provides us with a good opportunity to compare what our ancestors believed was freedom and what Americans today celebrate as “freedom.”
Consider Americans who were celebrating Independence Day on July 4, 1889. Their life had little or no: income tax, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, Federal Reserve System, paper money, foreign wars, torture, war on drugs, war on terrorism, war on poverty, war on illiteracy, denial of due process, occupational licensure, economic regulation, militarism, military-industrial complex, gun control, and immigration controls.
That is what it once meant to be an American. That is what it once meant free. That’s the freedom that our ancestors were celebrating on the Fourth of July.
Isn’t that different from what an American celebrates as “freedom” on today’s Fourth of July?
Having abandoned the philosophy of individual freedom, free markets, and republic in favor of socialism, interventionism, and empire, modern-day Americans have successfully been taught (primarily in their public schools) that their welfare-warfare state is “freedom” too. In fact, the tragic irony is that many of them honestly believe that all these federal programs are what “save” freedom and free enterprise.
As the great German thinker Johann Goethe pointed out, none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. But the point also raises hope — because as Americans increasingly realize that they’ve been lied to once again, they might be even more willing to reject the false socialist, interventionist, and empire notion of “freedom” and restore the genuine American heritage of freedom of our forefathers — individual liberty, free markets, and republic.
One final point that is oftentimes missed on the Fourth of July: The people who sided with their government and “supported the troops” during the war are not the ones who are being honored on the Fourth. Instead, the ones being honored are those who had the courage to oppose their own government because their government was engaged in wrongdoing. After all, don’t forget that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not Americans but instead were British citizens.
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Given that U.S. officials are very sensitive to having their torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and Afghanistan compared to operations conducted by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin (even though Stalin was a close friend and ally of President Franklin Roosevelt), perhaps a more acceptable tyrant to compare the U.S. operations in Iraq to is, well, King George.
As far as I know, there is nothing that King George was doing in the British colonies that the U.S. military is not doing in Iraq. In fact, arguably the U.S. regime in Iraq is significantly worse. Because as bad as King George’s troops were, I could be wrong but I don’t think they ever engaged in perverted sex acts or rapes of prisoners.
In Iraq there are warrantless searches of persons, homes, and businesses, denial of due process, indefinite detentions, denial of counsel, and no jury trials. At least King George’s minions used general warrants and had jury trials, due process, and attorneys.
In Iraq, there is also gun control, immigration controls, curfews, arrogance, brutality, killings, censorship, shooting of demonstrators, closing of the critical press, and so forth.
Now, ask yourself: If the British colonists hated what their own government officials were doing to them, to the point of becoming insurgents and, well, “terrorists” (according to British officials) and rebels and violent revolutionaries who shot and killed their own military officials, then why in the world would anyone expect the Iraqi people to react any differently to what is arguably even worse tyrannical conduct, especially when it is being committed by foreign (U.S) troops? (The British troops in America were not foreign, given that the British “terrorists” were British citizens.)
And why wouldn’t Jefferson’s edict in the Declaration of Independence, which presumably applies to all people — to the effect that whenever any government becomes destructive of the legitimate ends of the people, it is the right of the people to alter or even abolish it, even with force if necessary) — not equally apply to the Iraqi people and their resistance to the democratic despotism under which they now suffer?
Friday, July 1, 2005
U.S. officials are investigating whether the newly elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was among those Iranian students who took members of the U.S. embassy in Tehran hostage in 1979. The downside to such an “investigation,” however, is that the American people might start asking an important question: Why were Iranians students (and lots of other Iranians) so angry at the U.S. government in 1979? Of course, the official U.S. answer would be: “They hated us for our freedom and values.”
The truth, however, as I pointed out in my article “An Anti-Democracy Foreign Policy: Iran,” is: Because the U.S. government, through the CIA, had ousted the Iranian people’s democratically elected prime minister many years before and then had supported the brutal, tortuous dictatorship of the Shah of Iran up until the time the Iranian people rose up against his tyrannical rule some 25 years later. The reason that the Iranian students took U.S. embassy members hostage was because they feared that the U.S. government was going to do what it did in the 1950s — restore the Shah to power.
Speaking of the CIA and hostages, an Italian judge has indicted 13 CIA agents for kidnapping a person in Italy, after which they forcibly took him to Egypt for torture. The Italian government has now officially denied giving the kidnappers any approval for their misconduct, not that that would have made the kidnapping and torture any more legal or moral anyway.
As I indicated in my article, “Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America,” the Bush administration is increasingly mimicking the Pinochet regime’s war on terrorism, not only in kidnapping but also in killing people without trial (as the Pinochet regime did), not to mention torture, sex abuse, and other cruel, unusual, and perverted forms of punishment, which the Pinochet regime engaged in as well.
The good news is that the Pinochet wrongdoing was ultimately brought to a halt by the Chilean people and the some of the wrongdoers have even been brought to account. As the consciences of the American people continue to be aroused, there is rising hope that U.S. federal wrongdoing will be brought to a screeching halt in our country as well.