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, February 2006

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I wonder how U.S. officials reacted to the leaked draft of a report on Mexico’s “dirty war,” which was waged in part during the presidential regime of Luis Echeverria (1780-76) and three other Mexican presidents.

Under what they termed “Operation Friendship, “Echeverria’s military forces conducted ”illegal searches, arbitrary detentions, torture, the raping of women in the presence of their husbands, and the possible extrajudicial executions of groups of people.”

The National Security archive, which is based in Washington, D.C., and which posted the report on its website, said,

”This is the most extensive documented description of how the state unleashed a savage counterinsurgency campaign that targeted a tiny armed insurgency and swept up thousands of civilians in its wake.”

It’s just another example of what happens when citizens unleash their government officials, especially the military, to do whatever is necessary to smash “the insurgents” or “the terrorists.”

I don’t know if the report reveals where Mexico’s “dirty war” military personnel received their training but a good possibility is at the infamous School of the Americas, run by none other than the Pentagon.

As George Monbiot put it in his 2001 Guardian article “Backyard Terrorism,”

“Until January this year, Whisc was called the ‘School of the Americas,’ or SOA. Since 1946, SOA has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent’s most notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists. As hundreds of pages of documentation compiled by the pressure group SOA Watch show, Latin America has been ripped apart by its alumni.”

According to a CNN report,

“The SOA controversy intensified when a 1992 report declassified by the Pentagon in 1996 revealed the details of a manual used at SOA in the 1980s that advocated tactics such as beatings, false imprisonment, execution and bounty payments for enemy dead.”

Not surprisingly, high U.S. military officials denied that their School of the Americas trained Latin American military personnel in the art of torture. As most everyone knows, Pentagon officials are also denying responsibility for the torture, sex abuse, rapes, and murders committed at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere in their attempts to smash “the terrorists” and “the insurgents.” It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Mexican President Echeverria is also denying any wrongdoing as part of his “Operation Friendship.”

Monday, February 27, 2006

Already there are some conservatives, such as Bill Buckley, who are jumping off the pro-invasion-of-Iraq bandwagon. In a piece on the conservative National Review Online, Buckley acknowledged the discomforting truth: “One can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.”

As the situation in Iraq continues to degenerate, possibly into civil war, expect pro-war and pro-occupation advocates to begin mouthing a new mantra: “Please judge us by our good intentions, not by how things have turned out.”

Hopefully, Americans will not fall for this “We meant well” nonsense. Hopefully, the attack and war of aggression on Iraq will provide the impetus for people to question the entire militarist and imperial direction our nation has taken for the past several decades. It is a direction that, as the new film “Why We Fight” documents so well, has benefited no one except those in the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex.

Carpe diem! With the continued disintegration of Iraq, let us not settle for “business as usual,” which will continue to entail ever-increasing “defense” expenditures for the Pentagon and its “defense” contractors, more wars of aggression, more sanctions, more support of brutal foreign regimes, more militarism, more assassination, more coups, more taxes, more blowback, more assaults on liberty, and more big-government.

Let us instead challenge the premises of the entire U.S. Empire, its military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against, its enormous standing army that our American ancestors opposed, and its Roman-like glorification of militarism.

Indeed, let us seize the opportunity to challenge the premises of the entire welfare-warfare state paradigm that holds our country in its grip, including the immoral and destructive war on drugs, which is as big a failure as the federal war on Iraq.

Friday, February 24, 2006

For Americans who believe that the United States continued to be a free country after the Franklin Roosevelt revolution that brought the welfare state to our country, perhaps looking at the situation in China will help jar them to reality and cause them to see why libertarianism provides the hope for the future of our nation. After all, most everyone would agree that China is a socialist country and, therefore, provides a good benchmark for what socialism is.

Yesterday’s New York Times reports:

“The Chinese government, faced with rising inequality and unrest in the countryside, formally announced major initiatives this week to expand health, education and welfare benefits for farmers.”

It gets better:

“The program, which emerged in broad form in October, includes free education for many rural students, increased subsidy payments for farmers, new government financing for medical care and further government investment in rural public works. A specific price tag has not been announced, though rural spending is expected to rise significantly.”

Chinese officials are referring to this idea as the “new socialist countryside.”

Now, be honest: In which other country do you see these types of programs and government spending, albeit promoted under the rubric of “free-enterprise reforms”? In which other country do government officials proudly return to their home districts to announce “free” grants and subsidies to pacify the citizenry?

It gets even better:

“Illegal land seizures have caused rising rural protests and violence in recent years as local officials have confiscated farmland and resold it to developers for fat profits.” Kelo, anyone?

And then today’s New York Times reports that Chinese government officials are concerned about the enormity of social welfare obligations, including retirement pay and health care arising from China’s growing elderly population. Sound familiar? (If not, think about Social Security and Medicare.)

Of course, Republicans and Democrats would argue that all this is proof positive that China is moving in a “free-enterprise” direction, given that the United States has had these types of programs stretching all the way back to the Franklin Roosevelt era. But that would be just another example of the “life of the lie” that Republicans and Democrats have been living ever since the Roosevelt revolution, when American life was transformed so radically.

Goethe once pointed out that no one is more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Wouldn’t that mean that the Chinese people, who know they live under socialism, are freer than the American people, who continue to believe they live under a system of free enterprise?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Noted conservative George Will attempts to distinguish between conservatives and liberals in his Washington Post column today. He suggests that conservatives are happier people than liberals because they view the role of government differently than liberals do.

What planet could Will possibly have been living on for the last several decades? I don’t know why conservatives are happier than liberals but my hunch is that the real reason is that they’re wielding political power over the American people. But what if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2008 and the Democrats take control over both houses of Congress? Who can doubt that all that conservative “happiness” will plunge into deep depression and despondency for the next four years?

What Will, like so many other conservatives, cannot face is that conservatives have been living the “life of the lie” for decades. Fearful of losing political power or “credibility and respectability,” conservatives long ago embraced liberal (socialist, interventionist, big-government) principles long ago, even while maintaining their old 1950s mantra of “private property, free enterprise, and limited government.”

For example, conservatives declare, “We oppose socialism!” and yet ardently support the existence of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, foreign aid, grants, and subsidies.

Or conservatives declare, “We oppose interventionism!” and yet ardently support the existence of such interventionist programs as the drug war, economic regulations, and trade restrictions.

Or conservatives declare, “We favor traditional American values!” and yet ardently support the forcible repatriation of Cuban refugees into communist tyranny and the building of a Berlin Wall along our nation’s southern border.

Or conservatives declare, “We favor limited government!” and yet ardently support a massive military-industrial complex, a militarist society, illegal wars of aggression, and a ruler with omnipotent powers over the citizenry.

Conservatives now devote their lives to reforming the socialistic/interventionist welfare state whose roots, as Will points out in his column, go back to the Franklin Roosevelt revolution. Will’s implication that conservatives no longer endorse the Roosevelt revolution is laughable and reflects a very grave denial of reality — a life of the lie.

Bottom line: Conservatives are not libertarians. Only libertarians maintain a genuine and consistent devotion to the philosophy of private property, free markets, and limited government. While conservatives propound the same principles, they support programs that violate those principles, while libertarians do not.

The American people would be wise to reject the conservative-liberal socialist, interventionist, empire, big-government paradigm, which has led our nation in a very bad and destructive direction, and instead embrace the philosophy of our Founding Fathers, the philosophy of libertarianism, which would lead our nation toward freedom, free markets, republic, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One of the downsides to 9/11 and the president’s “war on terrorism” and his war on Iraq is that U.S. foreign policy has detracted from important issues that would ordinarily be discussed and should be discussed, such as abolishing the U.S. Postal Service and turning first-class mail delivery to the private sector and the free market.

The U.S. Postal Service is nothing more than a good-old fashioned government monopoly. That means that the law gives this government entity the sole prerogative to deliver first-class mail. If anyone else tries to compete in the delivery of first-class mail, government lawyers will immediately go to federal court and secure an injunction against the competitor. If the competitor violates the injunction by continuing his business, the federal judge will order his arrest and confine him to jail until he agrees to rescind his recalcitrant ways and shut down his business.

We also shouldn’t forget the historical fact that government monopolies always have inefficient service, which is the big reason that people throughout history have opposed government monopolies.

In fact, that’s what motivated me to blog about the Postal Service today. FFF mailed a check to the Postal Service last week to pay for postage on our business reply permit. We mailed the check to “Postmaster, 3951 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, VA 22030,” where the Fairfax post office has been located for at least a decade, well, until recently when it moved to a new facility a few blocks away. The Postal Service returned our envelope containing our check with the notation “Returned to Sender. Attempted—Not Known. Unable to Forward.”

If that’s not reason alone to end the postal monopoly, what is?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NEWS FLASH update on this blog: Reuters is reporting that Iraq is angrily telling U.S. officials that it will not accept their interference in its affairs.

Yesterday I blogged about how the general public is gradually becoming aware of the actual results of President Bush’s invasion of Iraq—the installation of a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself not with the United States but instead with arch-U.S. enemy Iran, a regime that also rivals that of Saddam Hussein for cruelty and brutality.

In an article entitled, “US Threatens to Cut Iraq Aid Over Tehren Links,” the London Times is reporting that U.S. officials are threatening to cut foreign aid to Iraq (yes, Iraq, the country that the U.S. just invaded and is occupying) in part because of the close ties that the new regime has established with Iran.

In other words, as more and more Americans are going to discover in the months ahead, “democracy” in Iraq is not producing the results that U.S. officials hoped for, i.e., a puppet regime that will do the bidding of U.S. officials. Of course, U.S. officials are also threatening a cut off of foreign aid to Palestine for essentially the same reason.

How much more absurd can the Iraq situation become? The U.S. has installed a regime that has established close ties with Iran, which U.S. official hate because the Iranian people ousted the U.S.-installed Shah of Iran from office (after the CIA had ousted the Iranian people’s democratically elected prime minister).

As this discomforting truth seeps into the consciousness of the American people, how does President Bush explain what U.S. soldiers have killed and died for?

As more Americans start to realize what the president’s war as actually wrought, how many “supporters of the troops” would themselves be willing to go to Iraq and give their lives (or limbs) in the protection of a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself with Iran—a regime whose prime minister was the candidate of an Iraqi ayatollah who just recently was killing American troops in fierce battles?

Meanwhile, Iran is telling the Brits to get out of Basra and U.S. officials are telling Iran to butt out of Iraq, audaciously saying that this was “uncalled for interference” in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Also, officials in the Iraqi province of Karbala have suspended contacts with U.S. forces.

Meanwhile, as the LA Times is reporting today, the newly installed Iraqi regime is deeply involved in both torture and death squads. In other words, the harsh reality is that President Bush’s invasion has done nothing more than substitute one cruel and brutal regime for another, minus tens of thousands of innocent people now dead or maimed.

As I wrote yesterday, the developing situation in Iraq might well dissuade President Bush from leveling an attack on Iran, given that the result might be that U.S. forces might have to fight not only Iran but also Iraq. How in the world would President Bush explain that to Joe Six-Pack who has blindly placed his faith in the president (as his “commander in chief) ever since Bush and Vice President Cheney began terrifying Joe with Saddam’s (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Imagine that President Bush had ordered U.S. troops to invade Palestine to establish “democracy’ and that Hamas won the U.S.-approved elections. During the U.S. occupation of Palestine, U.S. troops would be killing and dying to protect the Hamas regime, in the name of “democracy.” Would that be perverse or what?

Well, now switch to Iraq because the situation there is, in principle, no different. President Bush hoped to replace Saddam Hussein with CIA or Pentagon favorites Iyad Allawi or Ahmad Chalabi. But as we here at FFF have been long pointing out, what Bush got instead was a radical Islamic Shi’ite regime that has now established close ties with Iran. That important discomforting fact is gradually hitting the mainstream media, which means that it will slowly start seeping into the consciousness of the American people.

Yes, during the occupation of Iraq American troops are killing and dying to protect a radical Shi’ite regime that has aligned itself with Iran, which President Bush is now threatening to attack with another war of aggression. Not only that, but the newly installed regime might well have as its prime minister Ibrahim Jafari, a man who is the favorite of Moqtada Sadr. You’ll recall that he was the guy who led his militia against U.S. forces in a violent gun battle during the occupation, a battle in which several on both sides were killed. In fact, he’s also the guy against whom the Pentagon had issued a pocket arrest warrant for suspicion of murder; apparently the Pentagon has quietly re-pocketed its warrant because you don’t hear much about it anymore.

No wonder those people who desire to “support the troops” by keeping them in Iraq are increasingly going silent! How would you like to be “supported” by being put in a position to kill or be killed in the protection of a regime that is just as cruel and brutal as Saddam’s regime? As the Palestinian elections remind us, democracy, like war, sometimes produces unintended results. In this case, it’s the American people, and of course the troops, who will bear the cost of this latest example of presidential folly.

But perhaps there’s a bright side: perhaps President Bush will think twice before instigating another war of aggression, this time against Iran, not simply because of the perverse result in his war on Iraq but because of the distinct possibility that the new Iraqi regime, including its U.S-armed and trained military forces, could well align with Iran, not the U.S., in the event the president starts his new war against Iran.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The invasion of Afghanistan might not have resulted in the capture of Osama bin Laden but it certainly has boosted the need for increasing the budget of the Drug Enforcement Administration. This year will produce another bumper crop of poppy, which is processed into opium and heroin. In fact, Afghanistan has become the world’s leading producer of opium. Part of the problem, not surprisingly, is that the Afghan police, like everywhere else in the world, is subject to being bribed to look the other way, and Afghan farmers have lots of money to spend on bribes these days. Even the Taliban is reaping the benefits, having entered into a partnership with drug smugglers.

All this should continue giving not only the DEA but also the Pentagon lots to do. It’s just another day in the life of the U.S. Empire and the perverse blowback that its policies continue to produce, to the detriment of the American people but to the benefit of the voracious budget-busting bureaucrats who inhabit the federal government.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pentagon officials are confirming that the most recent photos from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison are, in fact, authentic. According to The Australian, the newly released photos “show naked inmates at the jail forced into sexually humiliating positions, handcuffed to beds and hooded.”

The Independent says that the 60 pictures appear “to show a man with a cut throat, another suffering from severe head injuries and a naked man hanging upside down from a bed.”

(What is it about the U.S. military and its obsessive preoccupation with weird sex acts?)

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, explaining the reason why the Pentagon is fighting fiercely to prevent the balance of the Abu Ghraib photos from being released, said, “The (Defence) Department believes that the further release of images could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world and would endanger our military men and women that are serving in places around the world.”

Well, hello?! Mr. Whitman, would you please get word of this to President Bush and Vice-President Cheney and their neo-con cohorts? They’re still operating under the misconception that the foreigners hate us for our “freedom and values” rather than for the bad things that U.S. government personnel have done to people overseas, as we here at FFF have been claiming since even before the 9/11 attacks.

After all, if the bad things that the U.S. government has done to people overseas don’t matter—that is, if foreigners are indifferent when their loved ones are killed, maimed, tortured, sexually abused, raped, or murdered by U.S. personnel, then why would it matter to that the torture and sex abuse photos were released?

The fact is that the anger and rage that the terrorists—from the 1993 WTC attack, to the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, to the 1998 attack on the USS Cole, to the 9/11 attacks—are rooted in the bad things that the U.S. government has done to people overseas for decades. The “they hate us for our freedom and values” canard is just one more federal falsehood, one designed to distract the attention of the American people away from the Empire and its overseas operations.

Contrary to what the Pentagon claims, the problem is not with the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs. The problem is the U.S. Empire, including the CIA and military-industrial complex, and especially the rot that exists at the center of the Empire.

The Abu Ghraib photos reflect once again the urgency of dismantling the Empire and restoring a constitutional republic to our land. Hasn’t the abandonment of our nation’s founding principles caused enough damage already?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In the Pentagon’s quest to “rebuild Iraq,” Pentagon officials somehow forgot to include a judicial system that provided for people to challenge their detention by U.S. forces by appealing to independent judges. In the minds of the Pentagon’s master rebuilders, “liberation” means omnipotent military power to take whomever it wants into custody, and hold him as long as it wants, without any judicial interference whatsoever. That is, no arrest warrants issued by independent judicial magistrates and no habeas corpus proceedings by which people can challenge their detention.

The person who might pay the price for this “rebuilding oversight” is 28-year-old American journalist Jill Carroll, whom insurgents in Iraq have kidnapped and are threatening to kill unless the U.S. releases the Iraqi women it has in custody.

We don’t really know why U.S. forces are holding the women because the women have no judicial means by which to challenge their detention. That is, they don’t have the right to file a petition for writ of habeas corpus before an independent judge who could order the Pentagon to charge the women or release them, as the U.S. Supreme Court did in the case of Yaser Hamdi.

One reason that U.S. forces might be holding the women could be what Knight Ridder recently reported: that U.S. forces take Iraqi wives and daughters of suspected insurgents into custody as hostages with the taunt to their husbands and fathers: “Come and get them.” Given the torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the taunt undoubtedly has a certain degree of power to it.

The situation reminds me of the early scene in the movie Braveheart, where the British imperial chief takes William Wallace’s wife into custody, slashes her throat, and then declares, “Let this scrapper come to me.”

The Pentagon’s failure and refusal to establish an independent judiciary with the power to issue writs of habeas corpus against U.S. forces in Iraq, along with the taking of female hostages, just brings more shame to our country. Unfortunately, young Jill Carroll might become the latest innocent casualty of a brutal invasion and occupation that should never have taken occurred in the first place.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Periodically there are reports of heroism by U.S. soldiers in Iraq. But we should never permit such individual heroism to suggest that the war in Iraq is anything but an illegal and unconstitutional war of aggression against an innocent country, that is a country whose citizenry and government never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.

After all, when Germany and the Soviet Union attacked and waged a war of aggression against Poland in 1939, undoubtedly there were German and Soviet soldiers who performed acts of courage and heroism in their battles against the Polish forces that were defending their country. But individual acts of heroism by such soldiers did not change the fact that their heroics were committed in an illegal war of aggression against a country that had not attacked Germany or the Soviet Union.

Citizens must also always be cautious not to permit their government officials to use the “support the troops” mantra to cause people to support an illegal and wrongful war against another country. In the Iraq War and occupation, tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed—some estimates go as high as 100,000 but the Pentagon decided early on that Iraqi deaths were not going to be counted. On top of the deaths, of course, are the maiming, which are undoubtedly aggravated in a country where medical care is abysmal. We must always keep in mind that all of those Iraqi people would have been alive and whole but for the U.S. invasion and occupation of their country, notwithstanding any acts of heroism on the part of the soldiers who did the killing or the maiming.

That’s why the Iraq War, like all other wars, should be judge not by its success or failure but by the morality or rightfulness of the war itself.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Last Tuesday (Feb. 7), I blogged on how U.S. officials had pressured Sheraton Hotel officials into evicting Cuban officials from a Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City, under the rationale of the brutal U.S. embargo that has caused so much harm for the Cuban people for decades. (The purpose of the embargo, like the sanctions against Iraq, has been to squeeze the Cuban people into forcibly removing their ruler from office.)

As I reported in my blog, Sheraton officials, presumably terrified that U.S. officials would retaliate with regulatory power here in the United States, cow-towed to their federal masters, not only evicting the Cuban officials but also sending their room deposit to the U.S. Treasury instead of returning the deposit to the Cubans themselves.

Well, Sheraton officials are now paying a price for their obsequiousness, at the hands of Mexican government officials, who are doing the same thing that Sheraton officials obviously feared from U.S. officials — using their regulatory power to punish Sheraton for what it did. According to the Associated Press, “Local authorities on Wednesday moved to close the hotel for close the hotel for alleged city code violations, including a lack of proper licenses for two bars and not having a menu in Braille.”

Sheraton has 10 days to fix the violations, but Borough chief Virginia Jaramillo “said it was unlikely the hotel could rectify the problems in time and called closure ‘imminent.’”

It’s just one more example of the blowback and perverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy and of the U.S. government’s self-appointed role as international cop, meddler, and intervener.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More moral bankruptcy of the conservative movement was on display at the annual convention of the Conservative Political Action Committee. According to the Washington Post,

The attendees gave a cold reception to former Congressman Bob Bar because of his efforts to require President Bush to comply with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Barr received stony silence when he told the crowd,

“Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country? I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes.”

One attendee even booed Barr loudly, saying, “I can’t believe I’m in a conservative hall listening to him say [Bush] is off course trying to defend the United States.”

The crowd then proceeded to loudly cheer Vice President Cheney.

With conservatives believing that the president should be permitted to exercise omnipotent power, motivated mostly by their deep fear of the “terrorists,” it will interesting to see how they react if someone they hate, such as Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency in 2008 and, thus, has the same omnipotent powers that they were so eager to relinquish to Bush. Some conservatives, of course, will support her since she would be their “military commander in chief.” But my hunch is that other conservatives will be crying and lamenting, “Oh, she’s abusing her powers over us,” not recognizing that the problem lies not in the abuse of such power but in people’s willingness to permit any ruler to even possess omnipotent power over them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The New York Times reports today that conservatives attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference are despondent, apparently over the fact that conservatives have abandoned conservative principles.

Well, hello!? Isn’t that what libertarians have been telling conservatives for years?

How can a person who publicly professes a devotion to “freedom, free enterprise, and limited government” not be depressed when he publicly supports socialist, interventions, and pro-empire policies and practices?

You know, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public (government) schooling, education grants, SBA, economic regulations, income taxation, the drug war, gun control, FEMA grants, government sports arenas, foreign aid, foreign wars, wars of aggression, attacks on immigrants, Berlin walls along the border, repatriation of Cuban refugees into communist tyranny, overseas military empire, torture and sex abuse of prisoners, spying on citizens, an ever-growing military industrial complex, and a host of other such socialist, interventionist, pro-empire policies and programs that violate the mantra of “freedom, free enterprise, and limited government” that conservatives still preach.

Indeed, even when conservatives still rail against out of control federal spending, they subconsciously know that they’re supporting the very government programs that depend on the federal spending against which they’re railing. How can such a massive internal inconsistency not depress a person who is afflicted by it?

As the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck pointed out, there is a positive side of depression. It tells a person that something is wrong internally and that he needs to work on it in order to clear up the depression. Paraphrasing Ayn Rand, “Conservatives, check your premises and compare them to the government programs you support and therein you will find the cause of — and the solution to — your depression “

Thursday, February 9, 2006

As I suggested in my article “Democracy, Hypocrisy, and U.S. Foreign Policy,” the American people might become the financial beneficiaries of the anti-U.S. democratic “blowback” that is taking place around the world. I pointed out that the U.S. government was likely going to terminate (U.S.-taxpayer provided) foreign aid to the Palestinians because they had overwhelmingly voted for Hamas candidates despite the fact that the U.S. government was supporting Hamas’s opponents.

Well, now U.S. officials are terminating military aid to Bolivia for the same reason — Bolivian voters have voted “wrongly” by electing a socialist president, and an independent one to boot. In fact, much to the chagrin of U.S. officials, he’s promised to end U.S.-financed programs to eradicate Bolivia’s coca crop, which is a real no-no given that the war on drugs is one of the biggest boons to the power and budgets of U.S. officials in history.

The State Department says that the real reason for the termination is that Bolivia is refusing to enact legislation that will exempt U.S. officials from being indicted and tried by the International Criminal Court. You know, for such things as torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of prisoners and detainees, not to mention the illegal invasion of foreign countries.

It’s all just part and parcel of U.S. foreign policy. “Do as we say and we will continue to send you (U.S.-taxpayer-provided) foreign aid. Refuse to do as we say, and be prepared to be punished with a termination of aid, or assassination (Castro), coup (Iran and Guatemala), or invasion (Iraq, Panama, and Grenada).

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

What hasn’t yet hit many Americans is the extent of the power that President Bush is now claiming over them as their military “commander in chief” as part of his “war on terrorism.” Since the entire world is the now the battleground in the “war on terrorism,” the United States is part of that battleground, as the president has long pointed out. Therefore, under his reasoning, the president now wields the same power here in the United States to fight the “terrorists” as he does in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is, the power to conduct military arrests and military punishments of Americans (Jose Padilla), the power to conduct warrantless searches and seizures of Americans (NSA wiretaps), and the power to have the military torture and sexually abuse American detainees (Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and Bergstrom).

Unfortunately, however, given the denigration of the Constitution that U.S. officials have ingrained in the American people for so long, and given the deep-seated fear that American grown-ups, both men and women, have of the “terrorists,” and given the likelihood that panic-stricken and terrified Americans will not resist more oppressive laws if there is another massive 9/11 terrorist attack on American soil, the powers that the president and the military are wielding today over a few Americans will almost certainly be expanded to include lots of others if such an attack takes place.

After all, don’t forget that according to the president and the Pentagon, in the “war on terrorism” you’re either “with us or against us.” In another big terrifying 9/11 terrorist emergency, when terrified and panic-stricken American grown-ups are begging for more protections from the “terrorists,” guess which side in the “war on terrorism” the commander in chief and the Pentagon will consider those who oppose the U.S. foreign empire, foreign policy, foreign wars, and illegal detentions, wiretaps, and torture.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

This week, U.S. officials provided more evidence of why foreigners despise the U.S. government and its policies so much. It also provided more evidence of how terrified American businessmen have become of U.S. officials.

Cuban officials were staying in the Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City for meeting with American businessmen to discuss the possibility of drilling for oil off Cuba’s shore. As a point of emphasis, the meeting was in Mexico, not the United States.

U.S. officials, who remain furious over Fidel Castro’s decades-long refusal to become a U.S. puppet, as was his predecessor Fulgencio Baptista, advised Sheraton officials that they were violating U.S. law by permitting the Cuban officials to stay in their Mexico City hotel. According to federal officials, such dreadful conduct violates the U.S. embargo against Cuba, an embargo that has caused untold misery for the Cuban people since it was implemented many decades ago as a way to “squeeze” their ruler Fidel Castro by hurting his taxpayers.

Undoubtedly expressing the views of most of Mexico’s citizenry, Mexico’s foreign minister said, “There does not exist and neither should there exist the extraterritorial application of this law in our nation.” Apparently, he, like so many other foreigners, is unaware of the U.S. Empire, whose laws, rules, and regulations, like those of the Roman Empire, extend to the farthest corners of the globe.

Sheraton officials, presumably terrified by what U.S. officials would do them if they refused to follow federal orders, hastened to evict the Cuban officials from their hotel. Their terror even caused them to send the Cuban’s room deposit to the U.S. Treasury rather than return it to the Cubans.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Sheraton officials had instead issued the following declaration:

“We are an American company, which means that we stand squarely in favor of the libertarian principles of economic liberty, free markets, and limited government. The U.S. government’s economic embargo against Cuba, which has hurt the Cuban people for decades, violates these freedom principles and, in fact, embodies the interventionist principles that Cuban president Fidel Castro stands for. U.S. officials have no business sticking their nose into our business, especially when we are operating in a foreign country. Therefore, we are taking a public stand against our own government’s wrongful policy and wrongful conduct. Not only are we refusing to obey orders of U.S. officials to evict the Cuban officials from our hotel, we are inviting them to stay as long as they want, so long as they pay their bill. If U.S. officials want to make something of it, we’ll be happy to see them in court.”

Alas, however, such corporate resistance to federal wrongdoing is now unlikely in a world in which U.S. officials have the power to indict for income-tax violations, indict for hiring illegal aliens, indict for violating Sarbanes Oxley, indict for violating federal economic regulations, and indict for violating economic embargoes.

It’s just another example of why foreigners despise the U.S. government so deeply. It also another sad example of how omnipotent government has converted American businessmen into terrified sheep who are all too eager and willing to kneel and kiss the boots of their federal masters at the first sign of a federal threat.

Monday, February 6, 2006

The Zacharias Moussaoui jury trial begins today. You’ll recall that Moussaoui has already pled guilty to involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The purpose of the jury trial will be to determine punishment.

The trial reminds us of an important point: Contrary to what George W. Bush and his war-on-terrorism supporters have been claiming since 9/11, terrorism is a crime, not an act of war. After all, ask yourself: If terrorism was an act of war, as Bush and his supporters have claimed, why would a federal grand jury have indicted Moussaoui, why would a federal judge have considered his plea, and why would a federal jury be assessing punishment?

The problem, however, is that Bush (wearing his commander-in-chief hat) and the Pentagon have hijacked America’s criminal justice system with their claim that they have the option of treating a terrorism suspect as a “unlawful combatant” in their so-called war on terrorism (which replaced communism as America’s official threat after the fall of the Berlin Wall).

The difference between being treated as a criminal defendant and an “unlawful combatant” is day and night. In the former, the defendant is accorded all the protections and guarantees of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. With the latter, he is denied such protections and is also subject to being tortured, sexually abused, raped, or murdered by the military, or sent to a brutal, U.S-friendly regime for such treatment.

So, which people get the criminal defendant treatment and which ones get the unlawful combatant treatment? Well, there’s the rub. The decision is entirely arbitrary. Some are lucky, such as Moussaoui and John Walker Lindh, and others are not, such as Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi.

It would be difficult to find a better example of the violation of the principle of the “rule of law” than that.

What is the “rule of law”? Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a principle that requires people to obey the law. Instead, it is a principle that says that whenever a person commits an offense, he should be answerable only to a pre-established, clear-cut law rather than answerable to a government official who simply makes up the rules as he goes along. That’s what is meant by the “rule of law” vs. “the rule of men.” The “rule of men” requires people to kneel, beg, and supplicate before their masters in the hope of better treatment. The “rule of law” requires people to simply answer to the charges in a court of law, including through trial by jury.

Under the rule of law, all terrorist suspects are entitled to the same treatment—that is, the right to answer in a federal court of law for the crime for which they are indicted and where they are accorded all the protections and guarantees of the Constitution Bill of Rights. The power now exercised by Bush and the Pentagon’s to send some terrorist suspects down the dark alley of unlawful combatant treatment has long been a core characteristic of totalitarian regimes and is the very essence of a tyrannical regime.

Friday, February 3, 2006

As Americans begin preparing their tax returns for the mandatory April 15 deadline, the Bush administration has announced that it would “seek about $120 billion in additional financing to pay for continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2006.” Overall, Bush is seeking a 5 percent increase over last year’s budget for the “Defense” Department.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, the U.S. savings rate has plummeted to its lowest level since the Great Depression.

Of course, federal officials would undoubtedly claim that increased government spending and lower savings rates are the key to economic prosperity, contrary to what they used to say after the fall of the Berlin Wall — that they brought down the Soviet Union by making it spend its way into national bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, a former Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Robert Stein, a previously convicted felon, has just pled guilty to corruption and bribery involving millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money sent to “rebuild Iraq.” According to MSNBC,

“Luxury cars, a $20,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle, $10,000 Breitling watches and mountains of cash were all part of an elaborate corruption scheme in Iraq which — court documents allege — involves at least seven Americans, including five Army reserve officers.”

(Of course, don’t count on those Fox News commentators who love to rant and rail against Saddam’s “oil-for-food” scandal spending the same amount of their time ranting and railing against Bush’s “rebuild Iraq” scandal.)

Meanwhile commodity prices, reflecting the debasement of the dollar from out-of-control federal spending, continue soaring. The advantage of taxing people indirectly by simply printing massive amounts of paper money to pay for such adventures as Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than raising income taxes, is that it enables government officials to blame economic problems on everyone else. Thus, as prices continue to rise, expect to hear more federal abuse heaped on Big Oil, oil “addiction,” profiteering, speculators, OPEC, immigrants, and everyone other. Expect to see Bush administration officials behaving innocently when, in fact, it is they and their big-government, big-spending, conservative-liberal cohorts in Congress who are the real culprits in all this.

Oh well, as Americans rush to the post office on April 15 to meet the income-tax filing deadline, at least they can sleep well knowing that their federal officials are rich, not only with the income-tax money they receive from the taxpayers but also with the printing presses that are able to print unlimited amounts of more money to help fund their domestic programs, their overseas empire, and their military adventures.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Pro-empire Americans continue to operate under the illusion that it is possible to keep out a foreigner who is determined to retaliate with terrorist acts in the United States. The operative word is “illusion.”

It simply cannot be done. People need to accept that reality. Let’s assume that the pro-empire people were to get their wish: A Berlin Wall is built all along the Southern border, manned by former East German sharpshooters.

Well, what about the tunnels that are discovered on a monthly basis, stretching from Mexico to underneath some house on the U.S. side? Can’t a terrorist or two get through one of those?

What about tourists? Couldn’t a new terrorist recruit come in as a tourist and simply overstay his visa while he was planning his attack? Wouldn’t it be necessary to ban all foreign tourism into the United States? Are Americans willing to bear the financial costs associated with a ban on tourism? The New York Times reports today estimates that the current visa bottleneck alone with France could mean $500 million in lost revenues for Americans. Imagine the costs if all tourism were banned.

And what about Americans? Isn’t it possible that they could sympathize with foreigners and become terrorists? Wouldn’t it be necessary to restrict Americans’ travels overseas to prevent contacts with foreigners?

Look, they can’t even keep drugs out of prisons. They can’t keep 10 million illegal aliens out of the United States, despite decades of an army of bureaucrats along the U.S.-Mexico borders and criminal punishments for transporting, harboring, and hiring illegal aliens. How can anyone rationally believe that 3 or 4 terrorists who wish to enter the U.S. won’t be able to do that?

So, even if the feds were able to construct a system that would keep out every potential terrorist, people need to ask whether continuing to move in the direction of the former Soviet Union is worth it, including Berlin-type walls, barriers, restrictions, rules, guards, sharpshooters, searches, document checkpoints, spying, monitoring, indefinite detentions, torture, camps, etc.

So, is there a solution to the terrorism? Yes, but it lies with defeating the pro-Empire advocates — defeating them with moral, economic (i.e., Big Spending), and political arguments. For example, it entails showing pro-empire conservatives that their purported devotion to empire cannot be reconciled with their longtime mantra favoring “limited government.” And that wars of aggression cannot be reconciled with their purported commitment to “defense.”

The reality is that there is just one solution—repeat: only one solution to blowback terrorism against Americans: Dismantle the U.S. overseas empire, which is what is producing the anger and hatred that is fueling the terrorism.

That is, no more overseas bases, no more foreign aid, no more invasions and wars of aggression, no more sanctions, no more embargoes, no more empire. It means a restoration of the limited-government republic that our American ancestors bequeathed to us and that 20th-century Americans abandoned in favor of empire. And a restoration of the right of the American people to travel and interact with foreigners, entailing a dismantling of the many barriers, restrictions, rules, and regulations that the U.S. government has implemented to isolate the American people — the private sector — from the rest of the world.

With empire comes terrorism. If Americans choose empire rather than republic, then they simply need to accept that terrorism is the necessary by-product. The worst thing we can do is permit the pro-empire people to take away our liberties in the purported attempt to protect us from the terrorists that they have brought into existence with their pro-empire policies. Better to die standing as a free man than as a subjugated citizen who gave up his freedom for empire and the illusion that the empire could stop terrorist retaliations.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

In today’s FFF Email Update, we link to a drug-war article entitled “Sick” by Radley Balko. The article was published last October but the subject of the article, a drug-war victim named Richard Paey, is back in the news. The story was covered by Sixty Minutes last Sunday, which was followed by an excellent op-ed entitled “Just Doing His Job” by John Tierney this week in the New York Times. Unfortunately, the Tierney article cannot be accessed unless you subscribe to the Times. But the article that we link to today provides a good summary of the case.

The Paey case perfectly encapsulates the immoral horror of the war on drugs, which as everyone knows is embraced by both conservatives and liberals but not by libertarians. Paey is not a drug lord and has never been in a drug gang. He’s just a regular person — a lawyer with a family. He was struck by an illness that required massive amounts of pain-killers. He is now sitting in a wheelchair in the state penitentiary for 25 years because he was caught possessing “too large” a quantity of painkillers that supposedly weren’t prescribed by his physician.

While there is a dispute over whether Paey’s doctor prescribed the medicine or whether Paey forged his signature to secure the painkillers, the Paey case exposes in all its naked glory what the drug war is all about: “You (Paey) do not have the right to ingest medicine or anything else without our explicit or implicit consent or the consent of a physician whom we have licensed. We own you, and thus we control you. You belong to us. You are a member of society, of the collective, of the hive. We will decide what you will be permitted to ingest. If you disobey, you will be punished. We are the state. We are your rulers. We are your masters. Now go back to your room for the next 25 years. Your disobedience of our rules and the punishment you must now bear will serve as a valuable lesson for others.”

Lest anyone think that this is just a drug-war aberration, they’ve done the same thing to a physician named William Hurwitz in Maryland and to cancer sufferer Steve Kubby in California.

Meanwhile, President Bush went on national television last night, where he pronounced, “We strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society … and we seek the end of tyranny in our world.” A good place to start, Mr. President, would be right here at home by ending the conservative-liberal drug war that has proven so immoral and destructive to so many people, a war that has been anything but compassionate, decent, and hopeful to such victims as Richard Paey, Steve Kubby, and WIlliam Hurwitz.

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.