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, September 2006

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Do you recall when the neocons were justifying their war of aggression on Iraq and their subsequent military occupation of the country by saying, “The Iraqi people like our occupation because we’re bringing them peace and freedom”?

Well, the Associated Press is reporting that 61 percent of the Iraqi people support attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, including a majority of both Sunnis and Shiites. Eighty percent of them want the U.S. out of their country within a year. Eighty percent of Iraqis believe that the U.S. occupation of their country is provoking more violence than it prevents.

Question: If an Iraqi supports the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, doesn’t that make him a terrorist? And isn’t the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq to kill terrorists? Doesn’t that mean that U.S. forces will have to kill 60 percent of the population in Iraq to finally “win” the war on terrorism — or at least the portion of the global war on terrorism that is being waged in Iraq?

There is some “good” news coming out of Iraq — well, sort of “good” news. The inmates at Abu Ghrab prison want U.S. officials to return to run the prison because the torture they’re now receiving from the newly installed Iraqi Islamic regime is much worse than it was when Abu Ghraib was being run the U.S. military. It’s not yet clear how the new Iraqi torture at Abu Ghraib compares with the torture that Saddam Hussein’s regime was committing when it ran Abu Ghraib.

Just keep repeating the following mantra to yourself for the next two years: “Everything in Iraq is fine. Our troops are killing and dying for freedom. We must stay the course.”

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just like he did with the Patriot Act, President Bush is rushing Congress to approve his detainee bill that I wrote about yesterday in my article “Decimating the Constitution with Military Tribunals” before the nation has a chance to realize what is included in it and to debate and discuss it. Here’s the lead editorial in today’s New York Times that details the critical and dangerous flaws in the bill.

So, why is the president rushing through his legislation this time? Well, it can’t be because he feels a sudden urge to grant speedy trials to people in detention. The detainees have already been held for years without trials or hearings, and the last thing the president and his advisors desire to do at this point is ensure that any of the detainees are accorded the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. In fact, it’s the exact opposite, as I pointed out in my article—they’re doing everything they can to deny the detainees the protections in the Bill of Rights, which is why they’re setting up the kangaroo military courts and denying the detainees access to the federal courts.

The president is rushing the legislation through because he knows that it’s his best chance to do so one month before the election. He knows that he’s got those brave and courageous (not!) Democratic members of Congress in the same spot he had them in when they voted in favor of the Patriot Act without even reading it and in favor of authorizing force against Iraq before the 2002 congressional elections.

The Democrats know that if they vote against the bill on the eve of congressional elections, the Republicans will accuse them of hating America and loving terrorists. And that prospect scares those congressmen more than even the terrorists do. The appropriate term for this phenomenon would be “cowardice.”

But of course, in the back of the minds of the Democrats is the possibility that with a bit of luck, President Hillary Clinton and the Democrats will be wielding these dictatorial powers before long. Can’t you just hear Republicans complaining in 2009, “Commander-in-Chief Clinton and her husband are abusing the dictatorial powers we vested in the presidency back in 2006”?

The losers in this entire process continue to be the American people, who continue to bury their heads in the sand, hoping that even though their liberties are being forsaken, the federals will keep them safe from those big, bad terrorists.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An accidental shooting of a 5-year-old girl in Philadelphia, Caesa’e Rivers, once again shows how one government intervention inevitably leads to more government interventions.

The girl was shot during a gun battle while she sat in her mother’s car. Not surprisingly, the girl’s death is resulting in calls for stricter gun-control measures in Pennsylvania.

However, harsher gun control would not have prevented the killing and won’t prevent future such killings. Why? Because as the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting today, the gun battle was between rival drug gangs—that is, people who are not going to obey gun-control laws.

What’s the root of the problem here? If you answered, “the drug war,” you’re right.

It is the drug war that gives rise to the violent drug gangs who fight over turf and territory, just as Al Capone and other alcohol lords fought violently over turf and territory during Prohibition.

If the drug war were ended, the drug gangs would be put out of business immediately, just as the alcohol gangs were put out of business immediately when Prohibition was repealed.

Drug laws produce violent drug gangs, who engage in shootouts, which kill innocent bystanders, which then produce calls for gun control, which then disarm peaceful and law-abiding people from protecting themselves from violent criminals who don’t obey gun-control laws.

The solution is obvious: Rather than enact a new intervention—gun control—to deal with accidental shootings arising from the drug war, the solution is to eradicate the original cause of the problem—the drug war itself. By legalizing drugs, drug-war violence would be eliminated, leaving peaceful and law-abiding people still armed to protect themselves from other violent people (i.e., murderers and rapists) who aren’t going to obey gun-control laws anyway.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Amidst all of the conservative uproar over Hugo Chavez’s speech at the UN castigating President Bush, we should keep in mind how well Chavez’s remarks go over in Latin America, where people despise and resent U.S. government officials for their decades of arrogance, hypocrisy, and brutal interference with the internal affairs of Latin American countries.

This is what U.S. officials, especially in the State Department and the Pentagon, just don’t get. They can’t understand why the average Latin American doesn’t love U.S. officials. After all, federal officials say, “We’re from the U.S. government and we’re just here to help you.”

A classic example of this phenomenon involves Cuba. U.S. officials continue to labor under the quaint but false notion that the Cuban people love the U.S. government and would support a U.S. government ouster or assassination of Cuban president Fidel Castro. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I discovered when I visited Cuba several years ago and spoke to many people on the street. While many (but certainly not all) Cubans resent Castro’s socialist system, they revere Castro for having had the courage to do what many Latin American rulers don’t have the courage to do: stand up to the U.S. government and declare, “Butt out of our affairs.”

Whatever criticisms might be leveled at Chavez and Castro, it would be unwise to underestimate their political acumen. Like President Bush, they are masters at using crises and emergency to mobilize the citizenry behind the government and centralize their political power.

That’s where U.S. officials play into their hands perfectly. Every time U.S. officials even hint at intervention or interference in Venezuela or Cuba, Chavez and Castro issue the same standard warnings that Bush and Cheney issue about the “terrorists”: “We are facing the prospect of an attack, and the security of our nation is at stake. Rally to the flag and help us defend our homeland.”

Chavez and Castro know that the Cuban and Venezuelan masses will respond to the crisis or emergency in the same “rally-to-the-government” manner that the American masses respond when President Bush and U.S. officials raise a red-colored terrorist alert in the United States.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A classified document, the National Intelligence Estimate, reports news that is sure to startle the neocon supporters of President Bush’s war on Iraq: The war has spawned a brand new generation of terrorists against the United States. According to the New York Times, “the intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began.” One American intelligence official put it bluntly: The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.”

Well, duh! That’s exactly what we’ve been saying here at FFF, even before the invasion of Iraq. How can killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent people, especially in a wrongful war of aggression against an independent country, not add to the recruiting efforts of violent Islamic groups?

After all, if Americans got angry over the deaths on 9/11, why would people in the Middle East not also get angry over the deaths in Iraq? People are people, and they usually get angry when their families, loved ones, or countrymen are wrongfully killed.

Will neocons take individual responsibility for the increased terrorist threat their war against Iraq has wrought? Of course not! They will say, “Please judge us our good intentions. We didn’t intend to kill and maim all those 50,000 people in Iraq — they just happened to be accidentally nearby when we dropped our 500-pound bombs on their country.”

Of course, one primary beneficiary of all this is the military-industrial complex, whose budgets were increased not only to invade Iraq but now will be increased even more to deal with the adverse consequences of the invasion of Iraq. And another beneficiary is the president, whose powers as a “commander in chief” have increased exponentially.

The losers, of course, are the American people, who must pay for all this through higher direct taxes or increased inflation and who will continue living their lives in fear of the terrorists for the indefinite future.

Friday, September 22, 2006

One of the favorite things that conservatives love to do is preach the concept of individual responsibility. In fact, one of their most favorite quotes is, “With freedom comes responsibility.”

Unfortunately, however, when it comes to taking individual responsibility for their own actions, conservatives run for the hills.

For example, a story on today’s front page of the New York Times describes the plight of California farmers who have lost tons of what farmers are describing as one of the finest crops of pears ever produced. As Nick Ivicevich, who had his best tree crop in 45 years, put it, “I felt like I went to heaven.”

Why were the pears left to rot on their branches?

Conservatives should know why because they’re responsible for this financial disaster. There weren’t enough workers to pick the fruit because of tightened immigration controls. As the Times story puts it:

“Stepped-up border enforcement kept many illegal Mexican migrant workers out of California this year, farmers and labor contractors said, putting new strains on the state’s shrinking seasonal farm labor force. Labor shortages have also been reported by apple growers in Washington and upstate New York.”

Yes, I know what conservatives will say: “It’s easy to find Americans who will do the jobs the immigrants want to do.”

Oh? Well, where were those conservatives when those farmers were desperately looking for workers to pick those pears? They certainly weren’t out in the fields helping pick that fruit!

Will conservatives reimburse the farmers for the estimated $10 million they have lost from the pear losses? Of course not. That would entail taking individual responsibility for their beloved immigration controls. And as everyone knows, taking responsibility for one’s actions is different from preaching that others should do so.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Amidst all the brouhaha in the UN regarding President Bush and Iran President Almadinejad, Americans should keep in mind a very important point: We now live in a country in which one person — the president — decides whether the United States will go to war against another nation.

When it comes to attacking another country and killing tens of thousands of foreigners in the process, no one can deny that President Bush — and he alone — is the decider. He — and he alone — has the power to make that determination, even though the Constitution requires him to secure a congressional declaration of war as a prerequisite.

Keep in mind also that the president, through the use of “signing statements,” also now wields the power to ignore laws enacted by Congress that purport to limit his powers as a military commander in chief.

Question 1: If the president has the power to flagrantly ignore one provision of the Constitution — and an extremely important one at that — why shouldn’t he feel that he has the power to ignore other restraints on power in the Constitution, such as those that require due process of law, right to counsel, the prohibition against unreasonable searches, bars against cruel and unusual punishments, and the right to keep and bear arms, especially if the American people don’t care?

Question 2: When the power to ignore constitutional restraints is combined with the power to ignore congressional restraints with “signing statements,” how exactly is the power that President Bush is now wielding different in principle from the type of dictatorial rule that characterizes the very countries that President Bush wants to “liberate” from dictatorial rule?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A development yesterday in the kangaroo trial of Saddam Hussein, which U.S. officials are helping to run, is undoubtedly making President Bush salivate with envy.

The prime minister of Iraq has just fired the presiding judge in the case. Yes, in the middle of the trial!

That’s what passes for an independent judiciary in what U.S. officials are still calling the free and democratic nation of Iraq.

And why was the judge fired? For telling Saddam Hussein in open court that he hadn’t been a dictator! Well, that’s not supposed to be the way that a judge is supposed to talk in a kangaroo proceeding. He’s supposed to toe the line and make only “proper” statements and rulings.

Needless to say, the judge’s statement outraged prosecutors (and undoubtedly U.S. officials as well). So, the prime minister simply fired the judge … in the middle of the trial.

Under the U.S. criminal justice system and the U.S. Constitution, there is an independent judiciary, much to the chagrin of President Bush and other U.S. officials. Unlike the system in U.S.-occupied Iraq, the president lacks the power to fire federal judges, including those who rule against him.

So, after 9/11 the president simply did what the Iraq prime minister cannot do. He set up an independent “judicial” system consisting of kangaroo military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a U.S. imperial outpost acquired during the Spanish American War. The kangaroo tribunals were expected to do exactly what the kangaroo court in Iraq is expected to do: Toe the line and render the “correct” verdict.

From the outset, President Bush announced that his new “judicial system” would be totally independent of the federal judiciary. Unfortunately, however, pesky criminal defense lawyers filed proceedings in federal court anyway and secured a ruling that Bush’s “judicial system” wasn’t independent of the federal courts after all.

Recently, however, Bush simply got his compliant and submissive Congress to pass a law removing federal court jurisdiction over his Cuban “judicial system.”

It’s not as direct as firing a recalcitrant federal judge, as the Iraq prime minister has just done, but it certainly accomplishes the same result — the issuance of “correct” rulings and verdicts in the president’s “war on terrorism.”

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Heaven forbid that the president and the Pentagon are ever permitted to import the “freedom” they have brought to Iraq back to the United States.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The FDA is warning people not to eat bagged spinach, after more than 100 people got E-coli poisoning by doing so.

But wait a minute! I thought the FDA was supposed to prevent these types of things. I thought that was what the whole idea of regulating and inspecting businesses was all about. What in the world are those regulators and inspectors doing? And if they can’t prevent these types of things, what good are they?

“But they can warn the rest of us after some people have gotten sick or died.” Yeah, but so can television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet. In fact, isn’t that how the FDA post-outbreak warning got disseminated? What’s the difference in principle between a television newscaster saying, “Don’t eat bagged spinach right now because people are getting E-coli sickness from it” and “Federal bureaucrats has issued a warning against bagged spinach because people are getting E-coli sickness from it.”

Ever since the advent of the paternalistic, regulatory state, people have been taught to believe that millions of federal rules and regulations and hordes of federal regulators and inspectors are protecting them from disaster, such as with E-coli sickness or the Enron financial disaster.

Thus, Americans have developed a mindset that is convinced that horrible things would happen to society if the federal bureaucracies were abolished and the rules and regulations were repealed. They are convinced that the reason that bad things don’t happen every day in the market place is that their federal daddy is looking over them and protecting them from harm. The situation is comparable to the rooster who crows each morning and becomes convinced that his crowing is bringing up the sun every day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What protects people from these types of things is the sense of self-interest that pervades businesses in a free, competitive market. Businesses know that one bad experience can not only expose them to lawsuits but also to the phenomenon of losing customers to competitors, even to the point of causing a business to go under.

That’s not to say that bad things aren’t going to happen in a free market. But at least a free market inculcates a sense of individual responsibility in the populace rather than tend to produce the child-like adult who has the innocent (and false) notion that the federal government is a daddy that is taking care of them by preventing bad things from happening to them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

By standing up to the president on the torture issue, the U.S. military is finally acknowledging what we have been saying here ever since the tortures allegations began surfacing a few years ago — that altering the Geneva Convention to permit U.S. officials to torture prisoners and detainees will only endanger U.S. soldiers who are taken captive in future wars. The attitude on the part of enemy countries will be: Don’t lecture us on altering the Geneva Convention — what you can do, we can do.”

Meanwhile, at least some U.S. military officials are also recognizing something else we have been saying here at FFF ever since 9/11. According to the New York Times, a senior Western military official in Afghanistan said, “We have killed a lot of Taliban, but they are not running out of foot soldiers, and for every one we kill, we create new families that hate us.” See my December 2001 essay “A Foreign Policy Primer for Children: The Fable of the Hornets.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting today that in the project to “rebuild Iraq” U.S. officials had one primary criterion for selecting contractors: Are you loyal to the Bush administration? The correct answer landed a 24-year-old without any finance experience the job of reopening Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a noted neocon got the job to manage the Iraq’s $13 billion budget.

With the military and some of the mainstream press now challenging Bush and Cheney, hopefully more Americans will begin to see the U.S. government’s interventionist and pro-empire foreign policy for what it is: a brutal, deadly, corrupt enterprise that has brought nothing but death, destruction, damage, and humiliation to our nation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Not surprisingly, pro-gun control advocates are drawing the wrong conclusion from the shooting at Dawson College in Montreal. They’re concluding that more stringent gun control is necessary after discovering that the killer’s guns had been lawfully acquired and registered. For example, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “I will say simply that the legislation we have in force today didn’t prevent the incident. We’ll try to find more effective legislation in the future.”

That’s the wrong answer. The right answer is to repeal gun-control laws, so that peaceful, law-abiding citizens are not denied the means to defend themselves from violent criminals.

As libertarians have long argued, violent criminals are not likely to obey gun-control laws. But peaceful, law-abiding people are likely to obey such laws. Therefore, when a violent criminal hits the streets to murder or rob people, he acts with the confidence that the victim is unlikely going to be breaking the law by walking around armed.

Some violent criminals might think twice before doing their dirty deed if they know that people might be armed. But even if they don’t, at least his intended victim would be able to defend himself. For example, consider 56-year-old Margaret Johnson, a New York resident who was being robbed while she exited her apartment complex in a wheelchair. She was able to defend herself with her concealed .357 Magnum, which she used to shoot her surprised attacker.

Moreover, if everyone is authorized to carry firearms, everyone is safer, even those who don’t carry firearms. Why? Because prospective attackers don’t know who is carrying a firearm and who isn’t. That’s in fact why homeowners who don’t have firearms don’t put a sign in their windows “This is a gun-free home” — they don’t want a would-be burglar to know the truth.

Even if a killer wants to die, as in the case of the Montreal shootings, one armed student or school administrator would be able to grant his wish long before he takes down dozens of students with him.

Bottom line: Violent criminals will figure out a way to get a gun, legally or illegally. Gun-control laws disarm the peaceful and law-abiding people, making them perfect victims for the violent criminals. Gun-control laws are the violent criminal’s best friend. Repeal them.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Washington Post has reported this week that CIA agents are buying torture insurance. The insurance is intended to protect them from lawsuits brought by torture victims in the years ahead.

Maybe those CIA agents don’t realize that President Bush has repeatedly told the world, with a straight face, that “we don’t do torture.” In any event, according to the Post, the insurance purchases “reflect heightened anxiety at the CIA that officers may be vulnerable to accusations they were involved in abuse, torture, human rights violations and other misconduct, including wrongdoing related to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

This news comes on the heels of President Bush’s efforts to persuade his Congress to immunize federal officials from criminal liability for acts of torture committed during his administration, even though the president continues to tell people, again with a straight face, that “we don’t do torture.”

Even though there are still two more years to run on Bush’s reign, U.S. officials are obviously starting to get a bit nervous over the prospect of losing political power.

You’ll recall that this is exactly what happened when the Pinochet gang in Chile saw its reign of power coming to an end. The Pinochet regime, which had been one of the U.S. government’s favorite anti-democratic dictatorial regimes, secured immunity from its Congress for human-rights crimes that had been committed by Pinochet’s henchmen. Those crimes included the murder of Chilean citizen Orlando Letelier (along with the “collateral damage” death of American Ronni Karpen) on the streets of Washington, D.C.

If memory serves me correctly, Pinochet even made himself a lifetime member of the Chilean congress in order to ensure his own personal immunity for the crimes committed by his underlings.

But Bush and his people might not want to look to Pinochet and his people for hope and confidence. Some of Pinochet’s henchmen are now serving time in jail for what they did to detainees. And CNN reported last week that a Chilean court has stripped Pinochet of immunity to face charges of torture at Chili’s infamous Villa Grimaldi prison, where detainees were tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered.

The Chilean experience reminds us that ultimately the sun breaks through the dark clouds of fear and oppression that overhang a nation and that government officials who committed wrongful acts during such dark days are sometimes called to account for their actions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Iraq’s prime minister paid a friendly visit to Iran this week, shoring up relations between the two countries. The two regimes are friendly with each other because they’re both radical Islamic Shiite regimes.

Keep in mind that the current position of the U.S. government is that U.S. troops will stay in Iraq indefinitely to preserve the newly installed Islamic Shiite regime in Iraq but that U.S. troops might soon have to attack Iran in order to oust the Islamic Shiite regime in Iran.

Of course, the president hasn’t answered (or asked) the critical question: If the U.S. attacks Iran, which side will the Iraqi regime be on? Sure, the Iraqi regime likes the fact that U.S. forces are killing and dying in Iraq to preserve its hold on power in Iraq, but does that mean that it will look favorably if U.S. forces are killing and dying in a war that is killing thousands of Iranians?

It’s helpful to delve back into history to grasp a sense of U.S. foreign policy. In the 1980s, the Reagan-Bush administration supported Saddam in his war against Iran, even ensuring that Saddam received those infamous WMD that were later used as the excuse for the current President Bush to frighten the American people into supporting his invasion.

In other words, Saddam Hussein, the dictator who was attacking an independent country, was one of “our guys,” much as other dictators are today (i.e., Pakistan).

Later, when George H.W. Bush was president, he turned on Saddam with his Persian Gulf intervention, but when it came time to trying to oust Saddam from power, he balked by refusing to assist the Kurdish and Shiite rebellion that the president himself had encouraged. That enabled Saddam to slaughter the rebels and fill mass graves with them, for which he is now being prosecuted.

Why did the first President Bush balk at ousting Saddam from power? Because he figured out that if he helped oust Saddam from power, the result would be the installation of a radical Islamic regime that might well align itself with Iran. And the first President Bush hated the Iranian regime as much as his son does because that regime had ousted the Shah of Iran, whom the U.S. had installed into power after secretly ousting the democratically elected prime minister of Iran from power.

Yet, the installation of a radical Islamic Shiite regime in Iraq, which President George H.W. Bush feared, is exactly what his son has accomplished with his invasion of Iraq and his ouster of Saddam from power. And the close alignment of the two radical Islamic Shiite regimes in Iraq and Iran, again manifested by the Iraqi prime minister’s visit to Iran this week, is exactly what the current president’s father feared.

It’s just another day in the life of federal programs — along with their perverse, unintended consequences. Unfortunately, this federal program—the attack on a country that never attacked the United States—has much more potentially ominous and dangerous consequences for our country than the standard federal program here at home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The posturing on the Iraq War continues apace. Supporters of the war and the occupation are doing their best to put themselves into a position of avoiding individual responsibility for this deadly and destructive debacle and blaming someone else for it.

Vice President Cheney is blaming critics of the war, claiming that they are emboldening the enemy. I wonder if he is including Col. Peter Devlin, chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq, whose recently prepared secret assessment suggests that Iraq’s western Anbar province has been lost and that there is little that can be done to regain it.

According to the Washington Post, “One Army officer summarized it as arguing that in Anbar province, ‘We haven’t been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically — and that’s where wars are won and lost.’”

Of course, in Cheney’s mind, it’s because of those “nattering nabobs of negativism,” as a former vice-president, Spiro Agnew, used to describe the critical press.

It’s not difficult to see that Cheney is simply posturing for the day that U.S. forces must leave Iraq — it will all be the fault of those hippie war critics, just like when U.S. forces were forced to exit Vietnam.

Another example of obvious posturing comes today from another neocon, William Kristol, one of the biggest supporters of the war. He says that if the U.S. will just send in more troops to enforce the occupation, all will be hunky-dory. In other words, more killings, more curfews, more prisoners, more detentions, more oppression, and voila! — freedom at the other end!

But what Kristol is really doing is placing himself in a position of later being able to say, “It wasn’t my fault. If only they had followed my plan — more troops — everything would have been fine.”

What these people have yet to face is the basic moral issue: What gave them the right, from both a moral and legal sense, to attack and invade a foreign country that had not attacked the United States, especially knowing that they would have to kill and maim tens of thousands of Iraqi people in the process? For that matter, what gave them the right to impose and enforce more than a decade of brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?

While the Iraqi people were in fact suffering under a brutal dictatorship, the final say on what to do about it lay with them, just as is the case with people suffering today under brutal dictatorships in Pakistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Burma, and elsewhere, not with the pointy-head, know-it-all neocons in Washington.

They can posture all they want, but when all is said and done, it is the neocons who got us into this war who are morally and legally responsible for the deadly and destructive results.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Amidst all the five-year anniversary commemoratives of 9/11, no U.S. official and hardly any mainstream commentators are asking the critical question: What did the 9/11 victims die for? Most of the commentators will simply focus on the horrors of the attacks themselves and the tragedy of the deaths. Yet, as discomforting as the question is, it must be asked and answered if we are ever going to bring back a sense of normality to our nation.

The people who died on 9/11 died because of U.S. government policies in the Middle East. That is, they didn’t die for freedom. They didn’t die as a result of a random act of violence. They died in terrorist attacks that were in retaliation for what U.S. government officials had done previously to people in the Middle East.

After all, don’t forget that this wasn’t the first attack on the World Trade Center. The terrorists had previously attacked the WTC in 1993. Why? Again, in retaliation for U.S. policies in the Middle East.

What were those policies?

For one, there was the Persian Gulf intervention, where U.S. officials intervened in the dispute between Iraq and Kuwait, killing countless Iraqis in the process, after having supported Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran by giving him those infamous WMD.

That was followed by the brutal sanctions against Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

The sanctions were accompanied by the callous attitudes of U.S. officials to the brutal sanctions, not only in terms of the mocking attitude by which they enforced the sanctions but also in their indifference to the deaths of Iraqi children, as reflected by UN Ambassador Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children were “worth it.”

There were the illegal no-fly zones, which had been authorized by neither the Congress nor the UN, which killed an additional unknown number of Iraqis.

There was the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands in the Middle East.

There was the unconditional foreign aid provided Israel as well as the corrupt Arab regimes in the Middle East.

That’s what the 1993 attack on the WTC was all about. It was what the terrorist attacks on the USS Cole and on the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Tanzania were all about it. It was what the 9/11 attacks on the WTC and on the Pentagon were all about.

The U.S. government’s attitude is: We’ve got the right to do whatever we want to the people of the Middle East and they must learn to accept this. But as we have learned time and time again, not everyone in the Middle East agrees. That’s why those people died on 9/11.

Friday, September 1, 2006

The Washington Post carried a story this week about how the Bush administration is catering to “the leader of Kazakhstan, an autocrat who runs a nation that is anything but free and who has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of pocketing the bulk of $78 million in bribes from an American businessman.” President Nursultan Nazarbayev has also accepted an invitation to stay at the Kennebunkport home of former President George H.W. Bush.

This is the reality of U.S. foreign policy, not the “we invaded Iraq because we love the Iraqi people and wanted to spread democracy” claptrap.

These people—the feds—care as much about the Iraqi people as they do for the people of Kazakhstan. All that matters to them is whether the ruler in power is in the camp of the U.S. government overseas empire. If the ruler does what U.S. officials want him to do at opportune times, he’s considered a good ruler who will not only be permitted to remain in power and do whatever he wants in his country, he will also be the beneficiary of U.S. taxpayer funds.

After all, look at the U.S. government’s close relationship with Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf. Do you see any threats to invade and occupy Pakistan in order to help the Pakistani people and to spread democracy? After all, Musharraf is a brutal military dictator, who took power in a coup and who will not permit elections. U.S. officials adore him because after 9/11, he agreed to become a “player” in the U.S. Empire.

And that’s in fact why U.S. officials supported Saddam Hussein when he was in power. And why they supported the Shah of Iran. And why they supported Pinochet.

It’s all about power and control. That’s what American troops are killing and dying for in Iraq. That’s what Americans are paying for with their hard-earned money. That’s what terrorist threats against Americans are all about. That’s what Americans are losing their freedom for.

Oh, did I mention that Kazakhstan is sitting on massive oil reserves?

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.