Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, March 2007

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Eminent-Domain Tyranny in Communist China and the U.S.

As the federal government continues to move in a pro-empire, pro-militarist direction abroad, rattling its swords against Iran thousands of miles away from the United States, we shouldn’t forget how, at the same time, state and local governments continue to move in the direction of communist China with respect to private-property rights here at home.

The New York Times recently carried a front-page story about a woman who is resisting the taking of her home by Chinese government officials and developers operating in cahoots with one another. Of course, that’s no different from what government officials and developers are doing here in the United States, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.

The Chinese controversy involves a huge redevelopment project in the city of Chongqing. Most of the homeowners who had their property taken away just resigned themselves to the inevitable, took the money the government paid them, and rolled over, much as American homeowners do in similar circumstances.

However, one Chinese woman, Wu Ping, refused to leave her home quietly and submissively. The Times’s story has a picture of her home in the middle of a huge pit in which the developers are excavating all around the home. They’re calling it the “nail house” because of Wu’s tenacity in refusing to give in. She continues to actively protest the taking of her home outside the excavation site.

The Times states of Wu’s protest: “It has a universal resonance in a country where rich developers are seen to be in cahoots with politicians and where both enjoy unchallenged sway.”

That, of course, describes the situation here in the United States—developers and politicians working in cahoots with each other to take people’s homes and businesses away from them in order to enrich the coffers of the developers and the governments and perhaps even the personal pockets of the politicians.

With Americans’ having traded away their civil liberties to federal officials in return for safety after 9/11 and with the Supreme Court’s having approved the same eminent-domain powers of the communist regime in China, there are actually Americans who still proclaim the United States to be a “model of freedom” for the world. The words of the great German thinker Johann Goethe best sum up their plight: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flexing Imperial Muscles in the Middle East

In the wake of the Iranian capture of British sailors, U.S. Naval forces are conducting “exercises” in the Persian Gulf, heightening tensions against Iran. (Surprise, surprise!)

Bush administration officials say that the exercises are intended to send a message — that Iran is not going to be permitted to expand its influence and power in the Middle East. (You would think they would have thought about that before installing a pro-Iran regime in Iraq.)

As one anonymous senior U.S. official put it, “Iran has been trying to send a message for some time that we are on the way out, that they are the natural great power of the region and that everybody should circle around Iran. This whole thing [the Naval exercises] is designed to send a message to the region. We are sending a message that we are here to stay.”

That is classic empire talk! Isn’t that exactly the way officials in the Roman, Soviet, and British empires spoke?

Suppose Iran sent a fleet of battleships and carriers into the Gulf of Mexico and declared to Washington, “This exercise is designed to send you a message about your aims to expand your power and influence in Latin America. You will not be permitted to do so, and we are here to stay.”

U.S. officials would have a conniption fit, no doubt about it.

Now, suppose some Iranian soldiers “strayed” into U.S. territorial waters and were taken into custody by U.S. officials. What do you think would happen to the Iranian captives?

They would never be permitted to set foot on American shores. Instead, they would be shackled and goggled and then shipped to Guantanamo Bay or one of the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, where they would be subject to torture and sex abuse as “enemy combatants” in the “global war on terror.”

Now, how do you think U.S.-British Empire officials would respond if the British soldiers who were recently taken captive were whisked off by Iranian officials to some secret Iranian prison camp, where they were disrobed and subjected to the same mistreatment, torture, and abuse that prisoners have been subjected to at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and the CIA’s prison camps?

U.S. and British officials would have a conniption fit, no doubt about it.

The U.S. Empire is currently engaged in the same imperial misconduct in the Middle East in which it has been engaged for decades, which has caused untold damage to America, including the 9/11 attacks. And to what avail? People in the Middle East hate the U.S. more than ever, which makes the threat of terrorism that much greater, which only solidifies the Pentagon’s power over the American people.

Why, even longtime ally Saudi King Abdullah is now calling the U.S. occupation of Iraq “illegal” (which, of course, it is). How long before Abdullah becomes the new Official Enemy, just as former U.S. partners and allies Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden did?

The basic issue is: What business does the U.S. government have occupying Iraq, conducting naval exercises in the Persian Gulf, and threatening Iran with war? Answer: No more business than Iran would have occupying Mexico, conducting naval exercises in the Gulf of Mexico, and threatening the U.S. with war.

When Americans finally wish to restore freedom, harmony, and peace of mind to our land, they’re going to have to confront the paradigm of empire, militarism, and interventionism that holds our nation in its grip. Otherwise, if they want their empire, they need to get used to imperial muscle-flexing, perpetual war and international tensions, and to the loss of their liberty, prosperity, and harmony.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gitmo’s Kangaroo Court

Pentagon officials are undoubtedly celebrating their kangaroo proceedings at Guantanamo Bay in which Australian David Hicks ended up pleading guilty to the crime of providing material support for terrorism, which actually is a criminal offense that properly belongs in U.S. District Court. After all, don’t forget that it’s one of the offenses for which U.S. officials are prosecuting Jose Padilla in a Miami federal district court right now.

Ever since 9/11, U.S. officials have had the option of treating accused terrorists as “enemy combatants” or as federal-court defendants, an option that no one has yet reconciled with the legal principle of “equal treatment under law” or the political principle of the “rule of law.”

Of course, the difference between the two options is night and day. Under the enemy-combatant option, the accused undergoes a kangaroo military tribunal at the Pentagon’s prison for foreigners in Cuba. Under the federal-court-defendant option, the accused receives all the rights and guarantees in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Why did Hicks plead guilty after five years of imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay claiming his innocence?

One reason, of course, might be that he truly is guilty.

However, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Hicks had to know that he had no chance whatsoever to be found not guilty by the Gitmo military tribunal, no matter what the evidence showed. After all, which carefully chosen military official is going to have the courage to lose his military career by humiliating President Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff by acquitting the man that they’ve held in jail for five years as a dangerous terrorist?

Moreover, Hicks had to know that if he attempted to summon witnesses to establish his innocence, the ruling would be the same as it was in the recent Gitmo “enemy-combatant” hearing of accused terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “Request denied!”

It’s also possible that Hicks decided to plead guilty because the judge refused to permit two of Hicks’ civilian lawyers from representing him at trial. Ask yourself: When a man isn’t permitted to have the attorney of his choice represent him in criminal proceeding, especially one in which he is facing the death penalty, what effect is that likely to have on his mental state going into what is obviously a kangaroo court in the first place? The judge was upset because one of Hicks’ lawyers would not agree in advance to abide by unknown rules and regulations that could be issued in the future. And Hicks’ remaining lawyer, Major Michael Mori, who actually has been doing a good job representing Hicks, was recently warned by the chief prosecutor of the kangaroo tribunal that he could himself be criminally prosecuted for criticizing President Bush’s detainee policies.

Like I say, a kangaroo court!

Another reason that Hicks might have pled guilty was as part of a plea bargain in which U.S. officials would return him to Australia to serve out whatever sentence the kangaroo court gives him. But everyone will know that it’s all a charade to permit Bush and the Pentagon to save face because everyone knows that the Australian people will never permit Hicks to serve any time in an Australian jail for a conviction received in a U.S. kangaroo court.

How long will the American people continue permitting the Pentagon to hijack their criminal-justice system? How long will Americans countenance the contempt for the Constitution and our federal-court system manifested by the Gitmo prison and its kangaroo “judicial” system? How long will the American people continue trading their constitutional order and their centuries-old rights and freedoms for the pretense of safety from “the terrorists”? How long will Americans stand for this military injustice simply because it is being employed against foreigners?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Trading Liberty for Safety Was a Bad Idea

In the Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, published by Benjamin Franklin, it is said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

That is exactly what Americans did after the 9/11 attacks — they traded liberty to achieve safety from “the terrorists.” Thanks to the trade that was made, we now live in a nation in which the president and the Pentagon wield the omnipotent power to arrest, torture, jail indefinitely, rendition, and even execute after a kangaroo proceeding any American they label an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror.”

No one can deny that that power strikes at the very heart of a free society. It is the most direct, the most tyrannical power of all, much more so, for example, than the power to infringe economic liberties, including taxation, regulation, and inflation.

Ironically, however, even though after 9/11 Americans relinquished to President Bush every single power he asked for — plus more — many of them are more frightened than ever. In fact, for some what began as a generalized fear of “the terrorists” has now morphed into a fear that one billion Muslims are going to invade, conquer, and enslave the United States. It only goes to show that trading liberty for safety oftentimes does nothing to assuage the fears of those who would trade liberty for safety.

If there is another terrorist attack on American soil, the logical and rational reaction would be that trading liberty for security didn’t work, which wouldn’t be surprising given that U.S. foreign policy hasn’t changed and, therefore, continues to engender the same anger and hatred that led to the previous acts of terrorism.

However, frightened American are likely to draw the exact opposite conclusion — that the president and his military were not given enough omnipotent power after 9/11, despite the obvious fact that they were given all the power they wanted, considering the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the NSA spying, the “enemy combatant” labeling, the military tribunals, rendition, torture, Gitmo, secret prison camps, invasions and occupations, and signing statements.

Franklin was right: Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither liberty for security. He might have added that they also will get neither liberty nor safety nor peace of mind.

The question is: How do we now regain the freedom that was traded away for safety? The place to start would be to dismantle the pro-empire, pro-militarist foreign policy that engenders the anger and hatred that then produces the terrorism that then ignites the fear in people that then induces them to trade liberty for safety.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Fear, Paranoia, and the “War on Terror”

The New York City government provides a good example of what happens to a society under a constant, never-ending “war-on-terror” environment. Prior to the 2004 Republican National Convention, NYC police officers flew around the country and the world to spy on people who were planning to attend the convention and produce “havoc.” NYC officials are now fighting fiercely to keep the details of those activities secret from the American people.

The atmosphere produced by the federal “war on terror” inevitably brings out the worst in paranoia and fear in the police. The NYC cops obviously believed that American antiwar protestors included dozens of terrorists who were planning another 9/11 attack on the city during the Republican convention. Rather than focus on reliable leads of criminal misconduct, however, the police instead decided it would be better to spy on everyone who was planning on coming to the convention, just like the authorities do in, say, communist China.

Perhaps the residents of NYC, however, should be thankful that it’s the cops and not the military that still handle these sorts of things in the United States. In the orderly and structured mindset of the military, the “chaos” and “disorder” associated with protests and demonstrations brings out the worst in fear and paranoia. The threat becomes an overthrow of the entire federal government, with “the terrorists” taking over the IRS and the welfare departments. The issue of “national security” inevitably rears its ugly head. The military solution is an unbending harshness toward those who break the rules: military arrests, kidnappings and rendition, round-ups, indefinite detentions, torture, enemy combatants, military tribunals, and even executions. It doesn’t matter how many innocents are swept up in the process. All that matters is that “order” and “stability” are maintained.

Ultimately, the solution to all this fear, paranoia, and militarism — both at the cop level and the military level — is not simply to rein in the police or the military. The solution is to bring an end to the “war on terror” atmosphere by dismantling the U.S. military empire overseas and prohibiting the federal government from ever again serving as the world’s international policeman, interloper, judge, and executioner.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Rights of Business Owners in the Immigration Controversy

The federal government’s immigration raids on Swift and Co. in Iowa and the Michael Bianco leather-goods factory in Massachusetts have, needless to say, brought untold misery on the families of immigrants who were committing the heinous American “crime” of working to sustain and improve their lives.

However, have you noticed that overlooked in all this are the property rights of Swift and Bianco?

Swift and Bianco own their own money. It belongs to them, not to society and not to the government.

Therefore, under classical principles of property rights, why shouldn’t they be free to do whatever they want with their own money? If they want to open a business with their money, that’s their moral right. And they have the correlative moral right to use their money to hire anyone they wish. Again, it’s their money, not society’s and not the government’s.

Thus, it is amazing to me that there are so many Americans who call on the federal government to punish people for doing what they want with their own money.

A related complaint, which is often made by the same people, is that the government isn’t prohibiting American businesses from closing down and moving their operations overseas. Isn’t that amazing? Again, doesn’t the money belong to the business owner? Why shouldn’t he be free to spend, invest, purchase, hoard, or save it the way he wants? Wouldn’t we condemn tyrannical foreign regimes for depriving their citizens of the freedom to invest their own money in the United States?

Moreover, it’s not as if the controllers and complainers don’t have a free-market solution to satisfy their laments. All they have to do is go buy out the business owners and then hire whomever they want in their newly acquired businesses. Of course, that would mean taking individual responsibility for their beliefs as well as risking their own capital. It’s much easier to run to the government and use illegitimate force to impose their beliefs on others.

Of course, the controllers and complainers would say, “But it’s illegal to hire illegal aliens, and therefore, the law should be enforced.” They’re missing two important moral points: One, why should it be illegal to do what you want with your own money, including hiring whomever you want in the business that you’ve opened with your own money? And, two, not all laws are moral, as those who used to be on the western side of the Berlin Wall will attest.

Anyway, criminalizing the hiring of illegal immigrants was just one long step in an endless series of interventions to deal with the ever-growing “crises” associated with government intervention into immigration. In fact, when I was growing up, it wasn’t illegal to hire illegal immigrants — we hired them all the time on the farm in South Texas on which I grew up. At that time, there weren’t very many Americans who wanted to put other Americans into jail for hiring whomever they wanted with their own money.

There is one — and only one — solution to the illegal immigrant “crisis.” It is the same solution to the education “crisis,” the drug war “crisis,” the Social Security “crisis,” the Medicare and Medicaid “crisis,” the dollar “crisis,” and all the other governmentally induced crises: stop the government from intervening in economic activity, which includes protecting the right of people to do what they want with their own money.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Frightened Conservatives Are Costing Us Our Freedom

The political world is buzzing about the Big Brother video ad entitled “Vote Different” in which presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is speaking to a 1984-like America.

The discomforting fact is that the ad could apply to any of the presidential candidates, not just Hillary. For the last six years, deeply frightened conservatives have been surrendering our liberty to federal officials by permitting them to wield ever-growing Orwellian powers to protect us from “the terrorists” and, more recently, from the Muslims.

What conservatives didn’t stop to think about was that as they were selling out our rights and freedoms, there was always the possibility that a new president, a Democratic liberal, would be elected who would wield the omnipotent powers they were relinquishing to President Bush, including the powers to treat Americans as “enemy combatants,” to spy on Americans, to send the nation into war without a congressional declaration of war, to engage in warrantless searches, and to sign “signing statements” that nullify congressional restrictions on power.

Conservatives have never lost their deep fear of “the terrorists” even though the 9/11 attack took place several years ago. Continuing to shake in their boots, they have convinced themselves that the terrorists and, more recently, the Muslims are about to use their hundreds of thousands of ships and planes to cross the ocean, invade, conquer, and occupy the U.S., take over the IRS and the public schools, and require that their wives wear burkas. All that matters to frightened conservatives is, “Please do whatever is necessary to keep me safe. I don’t care about habeas corpus, due process, trial by jury, or the Bill of Rights. I just want to be kept safe from the terrorists and the Muslims.”

Thus, when it comes to the protection of our civil liberties post-9/11, conservatives have been disasters. They’re like frightened little adult-children who are willing to let their federal daddy do whatever he wants to protect them from the bogeyman. Even as they continue to extol the virtues of the Founding Fathers, they block out of their minds two important points that our ancestors emphasized: (1) That the federal government is the biggest threat to our rights and freedoms, which is why we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and (2) those who trade their liberty for safety will get neither and deserve neither.

When it comes to the protection of civil liberties, liberals have been showing great courage and fortitude. But they are big disasters on domestic policy, given their ardent devotion to socialist programs, which, along with conservative foreign-policy programs, now threaten our nation with a severe monetary crisis arising out of out-of-control federal spending, not to mention the destruction of such important values as self-reliance, independence, and voluntary charity.

The future of our nation lies with libertarianism, given its deep-seated commitment to both civil liberty and economic liberty. It is up to us libertarians to lead the nation out of the deep morass of socialism, militarism, empire, and interventionism into which conservatives and liberals have plunged our country. It is up to us to continue having the courage to stop the horrific erosion of both civil liberty and economic liberty and to restore the principles of a free-market, constitutional republic to our land.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Put Them Under Oath and Make Them Testify

President Bush has placed an interesting condition on permitting senior adviser Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to talk to Congress about the widening scandal over the firing of U.S. Attorneys by Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Bush says that Congress has to agree that Rove and Miers will not be put under oath when they answer questions.

Bush’s condition reminded me of a story my father, who was an attorney, once related to me. After interviewing a witness in a case, he called the witness to testify at trial. As the witness began answering questions, his answers shocked my father, who said to him, “Isn’t what you’re now saying completely opposite to what you told me when I interviewed you?” The witness responded, “Yes, sir. But when you interviewed me, I wasn’t under oath and today I am.”

Now, ask yourself: Why would President Bush insist that his aides not be sworn to tell the truth when they answer Congress’s questions about why Bush and Gonzales fired those federal prosecutors? When a person intends to tell the truth, why should it matter to him whether he is under oath or not under oath?

Rove and Miers are much more likely to tell the truth if they’re under oath, especially knowing what happened to their cohort Scooter Libby for lying under oath to the grand jury. The American people have a right to know why the president and his attorney general wanted those federal prosecutors fired, and they’re entitled to truthful answers. Put Rove and Miers under oath and make them testify.

Unrelated interesting tidbits: Fans of the television series “Lost” might have noticed that in last week’s segment, the book that Sawyer was reading while lounging on the beach was Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” Fans of the movie “Dirty Dancing” (starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray) will recall that “The Fountainhead” was also the book that Robbie the creep gave to Baby Houseman in the scene where he was waiting tables and learned from Baby that his girlfriend Penny was pregnant.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Torture, Disappearance, and Secrecy

U.S. officials are trying their best to keep Americans and the rest of the world from learning the details of the waterboarding and other “alternative interrogation” techniques to which they’ve subjected Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and other “enemy combatants” in CIA custody during the past several years. They’re doing the same thing in the Jose Padilla case, where they’re trying to keep Americans from learning what they did to Padilla while they had him in military custody for some three years as an “enemy combatant.” And don’t forget that as part of their plea bargain with John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” they prohibited him from ever disclosing what they did to him.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans, still walking in fear and numbness from 9/11, want the feds to succeed in this quest for secrecy. It’s easier to keep mumbling to one’s self, “It can’t happen to me. This is America” than it is to accept the post-9/11 reality that the Pentagon now has the authority to subject any American (and any foreign citizen) to everything that the CIA and the Pentagon have done to Padilla, Lindh, Mohammad, and every other “enemy combatant” in CIA and Pentagon custody.

But maybe Lindh, Padilla, and Mohammad are the lucky ones. As Human Rights Watch attorney Joanne Mariner pointed out in a recent article, there are many “enemy combatants” who were once in CIA custody and who are now unaccounted for. Not surprisingly, U.S. officials are keeping their disposition secret too. National security, you know.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Terrorist or Freedom Fighter?

On Sunday, the New York Times carried a very interesting obituary of a woman named Lucie Aubrac, who, along with her husband Raymond, were French resistance fighters during World War II.

Lucie Aubrac’s courage in resisting the Nazi occupation of France was audacious. After the capture of her husband, for example, she personally met with Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo officer known as the Butcher of Lyon, told him she was a pregnant and unmarried woman (actually they were married) whose boyfriend had been arrested by mistake, and requested his release so that they could get married.

Barbie’s response was striking. He called Aubrac’s husband a “terrorist.”

Now, why would Barbie call Raymond Aubrac a terrorist? Because Aubrac was an insurgent who was resisting the foreign occupation of his country. In Barbie’s mind, all Frenchmen had a moral duty to accept the inevitable and cooperate with their occupier, as many of the French did. Aubrac’s refusal to do that and his violent resistance of the occupation of his country rendered him, in Barbie’s mind, a “terrorist.”

As the old adage goes, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Be Careful What You Cheer for in the Mohammed Case

The Pentagon is sending a powerful message to the American people with its treatment of accused terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: “This is how we military types handle accused terrorists. Turn your federal criminal justice system over to us and you won’t ever have to worry about an independent press, impartial federal judges, and pesky criminal-defense lawyers ever again.”

Keep in mind that the Pentagon’s proceedings depicted in the transcript of Mohammed’s “enemy combatant” hearing had already taken place in Cuba when the transcript was released. Reading the transcript, I found the entire process quite eerie. In fact, it reminded me of a similar proceeding I witnessed on Cuban television several years ago while I was visiting Havana. It just so happened that Cuban authorities were putting on trial some suspected terrorists with CIA-connections who had allegedly bombed some Cuban hotels, including the one in which I was staying.

The trial was on national television and so I was able to watch parts of it. As I read the transcript of the Pentagon’s proceedings on its side of Castro’s island, I couldn’t help but think about how similar it was to the Cuban government’s proceedings that I saw on television. Military officials. No independent press. Terrified defense attorneys really working for the government, not their clients. No cross examination of witnesses. No calling of witnesses favorable to the defense. A pre-ordained outcome. A kangaroo proceeding.

Any U.S. criminal defense attorney reading the transcript in the Mohammed hearing would be aghast. Mohammed’s unidentified “personal representative,” who no doubt works for the military, is helping his client make a confession instead of fighting to protect his client’s life, as the lawyers are doing, for example, in the Jose Padilla case and as they did in the Zacharias Moussaoui case.

How would you like a lawyer like that — a lawyer that actually works for the other side and assists you to incriminate yourself and get yourself executed? Any lawyer worth his salt would have been fighting to protect the interests of his client, including the filing of motions relating to the waterboarding, isolation, sensory deprivation, and other techniques of torture that the CIA has utilized against Mohammed.

Like I say, the Pentagon is sending a powerful message to the American people: “See how effective we are in getting confessions out of people. See how effective we are in getting people executed, unlike those juries of your peers in federal court, who oftentimes acquit accused terrorists, such as in federal district court in Detroit, or let them live, such as in the federal district court trial of Zacharias Moussouai, who, like Mohammed, was accused of being a 9/11 co-conspirator.”

Before Americans cheer too effusively over how the Pentagon is handling Mohammed, everyone should bear in mind that the Pentagon also now has the post-9/11 authority to treat American citizens as “enemy combatants.” If you don’t believe me, just ask American citizen Jose Padilla or any of the judges of the conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the Pentagon’s “enemy combatant” theory as applied to American citizens as part of the “war on terror.”

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Destroying Freedom to Protect Freedom

As the military proceedings against accused terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed proceed forward at the Gitmo prison, Americans might want to compare them to the recent judicial proceedings in federal district court against Scooter Libby.

Libby had an attorney who put up a fierce defense on behalf of his client. The attorney had the right to cross examine all the witnesses that the prosecutors brought against Libby in an attempt to discredit them. While Libby was being prosecuted for false statements made to the grand jury, no one forced him to testify before the grand jury—he voluntarily chose to do so. Libby was also entitled to call witnesses on his behalf in an attempt to show he was not. He was entitled to have a jury of his peers decide his guilt. The trial was presided over by an independent federal judge who, from all appearances, was fair and impartial to both sides. The trial was open to the press and public.

Now, compare the military hearing before Mohammed’s “combatant status review tribunal” that was recently held at the Gitmo prison facility to determine if Mohammed is an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror.” (The main “trial” before another military tribunal will come later.)

The Pentagon would not permit Mohammed to have an attorney present to represent him. All he could have was a “personal representative,” whatever that is. The military panel refused to permit him to call any witnesses on his behalf. It also said that the panel could consider secret, classified evidence to which Mohammed would not have access.

Amidst tremendous fanfare, the government announced that Mohammed had confessed to having conspired to commit the 9/11 attacks, but the likelihood that the military judges will ever permit Mohammed a full public hearing to establish that the CIA tortured him into making the confession, as he has alleged, is nil. It goes without saying that the CIA is denying the torture allegations.

Another terrorist suspect at the prison, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, refused to participate in the proceedings until he receives traditional U.S. judicial proceedings (i.e., such as those that Scooter Libby and, for that matter, 9/11 coconspirator Zacharias Moussaoui and many other accused terrorists have been tried under in federal district court).

Since the Pentagon and the president have already designated Mohammed and others as “enemy combatants,” there is no likelihood that military judges will find them anything but “enemy combatants.” The military proceedings are nothing more than kangaroo show trials designed to place an aura of judicial legitimacy on a pre-ordained outcome. The Pentagon’s proceedings will closely resemble the proceedings for suspected terrorists on Castro’s side of Cuba.

Did I mention that thanks to a judicial decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the president and the Pentagon now wield the post-9/11 power to designate American citizens as “enemy combatants”? Like I say, Americans would be wise to watch how the military treats “enemy combatants” in post-9/11 America. After all, given the right “emergency” or “crisis,” why should the Pentagon treat American “enemy combatants” (and traitors) differently than foreign “enemy combatants”?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Power of the Power Bug

People are agog over the latest scandal in the Bush administration involving the mass firing of U.S. attorneys. What I can’t understand is why so many people are surprised about what has happened.

When the power bug bites people, their obsession with acquiring omnipotent power becomes uncontrollable. Thus, it’s not enough to become president. Also necessary is getting control over both houses of Congress.

But even that amount of power isn’t sufficient for victims of the power bug. Also necessary is the appointment of lackies to the federal judiciary — that is, the types of federal judges who faithfully render their judgments in accordance with the wishes of the Justice Department and the president.

But even controlling all three branches of government isn’t enough for power-bug victims. That’s why they spend so much of their time, energy, and money feverishly campaigning at the state and local level, attempting to extend their control all across the nation.

But even control over all three branches of the federal government and many of the state and local governments isn’t enough once the power bug bites. It also becomes necessary to bring about “regime change” in foreign nations, in order to get as many foreign puppets into positions of power as possible. That’s what U.S. foreign policy is all about. That’s where invasions, assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, foreign aid, coups, bullying, and intimidation come in.

The easiest place to achieve control though is within the executive branch itself, through the appointment of sycophantic, submissive, and obedient lackies. That’s how Cabinet members, presidential advisors, and other appointed officials are selected.

The part of the executive branch in which it is most important to have such lackies is in the Justice Department, especially federal prosecutors who have the power to indict and prosecute, including for crimes committed by government officials. That’s the last place a victim of the power bug wants independent-minded people.

This is especially true with respect to the position of attorney general. The last thing that a victim of the power bug wants is the type of lawyer as attorney general who has integrity and independence of mind. Better to have the type of lawyer who, when asked for a legal opinion on a questionable course of action, responds, “Of course, Mr. President. What do you want it to say?”

Please don’t get me wrong—I’m not suggesting that the power bug bites only Republicans. The insatiable thirst for more power over the lives of more human beings strikes Democrats as hard as it strikes Republicans.

Fortunately, the Framers understood the dangers posed by the power bug, which is why they imposed the Constitution as a straightjacket over federal officials. Too bad modern-day Americans have permitted the victims of the power bug to break free of its constraints.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Illegal Aliens Are Stealing Jobs from Convicts in Colorado

The New York Times recently reported that prison inmates in Colorado will soon replace illegal immigrants on Colorado farms. Why? Because the immigrants are no longer coming to Colorado because of stringent anti-immigrant legislation enacted by the state. I suppose the convicts are the people whom the anti-immigrant crowd feels have had their jobs stolen by illegal aliens.

Isn’t it ironic? Prior to the anti-immigrant legislation, there were two willing participants to employment on Colorado farms — the farm owner and the immigrant. Both sides were willing to enter into a labor agreement with each other because from their own individual perspective, they both benefited from the exchange. While we do not know the precise reasons each of them entered into the exchange, we do know that they each gave up something they valued less for something they valued more. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have entered into the exchange.

The farmer valued the work he received from the immigrants more highly than he did the money he was paying them. This is not surprising, given that immigrants are customarily very hard workers. The immigrants valued the money they received from the farmer more highly than they did the time and energy expended in doing the work. They customarily would use the money to support their families back in Mexico.

The New York Times article points out the workers would work on the Colorado farms from May through fall and then return to their families in Mexico. Now, as a result of the state’s anti-immigration legislation, the workers are going elsewhere in the United States where their labor is more appreciated, causing no small amount of pain for Colorado farmers who now don’t have enough workers to harvest their crops. As Colorado farmer Joe Pisciotta Jr. put it, “It’s very frustrating. I’m definitely going to lose customers. We’ve never had an issue like this. With all of us trying to get enough workers on our farms, I’m worried this is going to turn into farmer against farmer.”

But hey, surely those Colorado convicts, who will be paid at the generous rate of 60 cents a day, will be just as hard-working as those Mexican immigrants, right? And perhaps Colorado officials can persuade federal officials to help out. Isn’t Colorado where Zacharias Moussaoui, Ramzi Yousef, Terry Nichols, and the Unabomber are incarcerated? I’d bet that they’d love the opportunity to pick crops on those Colorado farms.

So far, none of the anti-immigrant legislators who enacted the legislation are volunteering to join the prisoners on the farms. Of course, that shouldn’t be too surprising since that would mean taking individual responsibility for what they have wrought.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Overturning D.C.’s Gun Ban Will Make D.C. Residents Safer

Last Friday, in a surprise decision, the D.C. Court of Appeals overturned D.C’s longstanding ban on the ownership of handguns. In a 2-1 decision, the court rejected the District’s view that the Second Amendment was intended only to protect the right of the National Guard to possess weapons, holding instead that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right belonging to all individuals.

The District’s lead attorney, Linda Singer, said that the decision was a “huge setback” because “we’ve been making progress on bringing down crime and gun violence, and this sends us in a different direction.”

Exactly which planet has Singer been living on? Washington, D.C., has long been one of the leading cities in the world for gun-related murders. All that the ban has accomplished is to prevent peaceful and law-abiding citizens from defending themselves against violent criminals who don’t gave a hoot about obeying gun-control laws.

After all, ask yourself: If a person is prone to murder or rob another person, what are the chances that he is going to say to himself, “Well, I can’t do it with a gun because possessing a gun in D.C. is illegal”?

It’s not difficult to see that D.C. is one of the safest cities in the world — safe for violent criminals, that is. They know that the likelihood that D.C. residents will disobey the law and have a gun in their homes is very low. If you were a violent person, where would you go to accost someone with a gun — in D.C., where the citizenry is disarmed or in Virginia, where people are free to have handguns in their homes? In fact, even D.C. residents who choose not to have guns in their homes will be safer without the gun ban because criminals won’t know which houses have guns and which don’t — unless, that is, gun-ban advocates post a prominent sign on their windows announcing, “This is a gun-free home.”

While self-defense against violent criminals is an important reason for the right to keep and bear arms, we should always keep in mind the ultimate purpose of the Second Amendment: to ensure against tyranny on the part of the federal government. As Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Konzinski put it in his dissenting opinion inSilveira vs. Lockyear:

The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Cheney, Libby, and Latin Americans

Following up on my March 8 blog entry, Cheney-Libby supporters continue to claim that Cheney and Libby outed Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent not because they were retaliating against Wilson for showing that the Bush administration’s WMD claims for invading Iraq were bogus but rather because Cheney and Libby were just interested in refuting Wilson’s claim that Cheney sent him on his Niger mission by showing that it was actually his wife that did so as part of some nepotism deal.

There’s one big problem with that theory, however: the manner in which the outing was carried out. Imagine this: Suppose, say, that Hillary Clinton had been the one who had actually sent Wilson on his mission. What would Cheney and Libby have done? They would have immediately called a public press conference and announced “Wilson is lying. It was Hillary, not Cheney, who sent him on the trip.”

But that’s not what they did with Valerie Plame. Instead, they obviously engaged in a sneaky, surreptitious plan to leak her name to the press, trying to keep their own role in the affair secret from the public. If they really believed that what they were doing was legal and proper, then they would have done it openly and publicly and above board, not sneakily, secretively, and surreptitiously.

Confirming what I wrote in my March 7 blog entry about President Bush’s trip to Iraq, Reuters reports that thousands of protestors marched through Sao Paulo to protest Bush’s visit to Brazil, demanding “an end to the war in Iraq and what they called state-sponsored torture, U.S. imperialism and growing economic inequality.” Brazilian Artour Barbosa de Queiroz, 29, said, “We’re fighting against imperialism and Bush, who’s interested in dominating countries in this region. We’re protesting against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Bush and other U.S. officials will undoubtedly return to the United States and make the same baseless claim they made after the 9/11 attacks — that foreigners hate America for its “freedom and values.” Examine the Reuters report and see if Latin Americans protestors are saying that they hate the First Amendment or the American people. No, they are arguing against the same thing that people in the Middle East have been arguing against — U.S. foreign policy.

This is why Bush’s trip to Latin America to “make friends” is as doomed as his escapades in the Middle East. He just doesn’t get it. Most foreigners have nothing against our country, their grievances are against our federal government and its wrongful policies.

Governments all over the world engage in wrongful policies. But the world has always expected America to be different — to be the model for all other nations when it comes to the principles of morality and freedom. With the U.S. government’s extensive overseas military empire, militarism, torture, wars of aggressions and occupations of countries that haven’t attacked the United States, protectionist economic policies, the drug war, support of brutal dictators, longtime interventions in Latin America, we have let the world down and we have let ourselves down. Americans need to lead the world once again by restoring the principles of freedom and republic on which our nation was founded.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Don’t Try to Out-Socialize Latin American Socialists

President Bush is on his way to Latin America in an attempt to shore up support for the United States in the wake of the increasing popularity of socialist rulers, such as Chavez of Venezuela, Morales of Bolivia, Ortega of Nicaragua, and da Silva of Brazil. U.S. officials are particularly chagrined that Chavez has been purchasing popularity with Venezuela’s oil riches, which are government-owned.

So, what does Bush do? You guessed it! He uses U.S.-style socialism and interventionism in an attempt to outbid Chavez in the quest for popularity and acceptance in Latin America. For example, Bush is asking Congress for $756 million to fund a new education program that will promote study in the United States, $385 million for federal programs that promote home ownership, and a new health care training facility in Panama that will serve Central Americans. This is on top of the $1.6 billion in foreign aid for Latin America, most of which falls into the coffers of Colombian officials for the drug war.

Unfortunately, Bush and other U.S. officials just don’t get it.

Latin Americans don’t despise the United States because it hasn’t sent enough U.S. taxpayer money to Latin America. Like much of the rest of the world these days, they despise the U.S. because of the foreign policies and hypocrisy of the U.S. government.

Like much of the rest of the world, Latin Americans are angry over the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people. Latin Americans can relate — they still have burned into their memories the U.S. invasions and interventions in Latin America which produced military crackdowns, insurgencies, and civil wars, along with ardent U.S. support of brutal Latin American military regimes, all of which resulted in the torture, rape, deaths, and maiming of thousands of Latin Americans.

Latin Americans have also suffered decades of the brutal U.S. war on drugs, which has converted Latin America into a narcotics wasteland of violence, gang wars, drug lords, drug cartels, and crooked cops and military.

Latin Americans are also fully aware of the U.S. government’s protectionist barriers that protect American businesses from Latin American competition.

And, of course, they are aware of the brutal war on immigrants that the U.S. government has waged for decades, especially on Latin Americans.

Yet, Bush thinks that buy funneling more U.S. taxpayer cash into the pockets of Latin American rulers, he will ingratiate himself with the Latin American people.

It won’t work. Bush will never be able to out-socialize Latin American socialists. There is one — and only one — way for the United States to regain the respect and admiration of Latin Americans and, for that matter, the rest of the world.

The United States must (1) dismantle and end the U.S. government policy of empire, militarism, invasions, interventions, and occupations all over the world, and (2) unleash the private sector — the American people — to interact with the people of the world through trade, investment, commerce, tourism, and cultural exchanges.

By standing squarely in favor of America’s heritage of limited government and free markets, Americans will be restoring our nation’s rightful place in the world.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cheney’s and Libby’s WMD Message

Some people are suggesting that Scooter Libby should not have been prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice because it’s no big deal to lie under oath, they say, when there is no underlying crime.

But they’re missing an important point, one which the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, made, both when Libby was indicted and then again during jury arguments. The point is that it is entirely possible that the lies that people are telling in a particular case are the shield that is preventing discovery of the underlying crime. Thus, if people are not going to be prosecuted for perjury unless there is an underlying crime charged, the incentive will be to simply lie to prevent disclosure of the underlying crime.

The fact is that Libby did lie to the federal grand jury, as the jury found. We still don’t know his reasons for lying because he chose not to testify. Why did he choose not to testify? After all, his defense was entirely predicated on the idea that he had not deliberately lied but instead had suffered a memory lapse due to his heavy workload. But the only way to sell that defense to the jury would have been to take the witness stand, look the jury in the eye, and say, “It was a memory lapse, not an intentional lie. I was just too busy.”

My hunch is that the reason he lied and the reason he didn’t take the stand were the same: to protect Vice President Cheney, the man whose boss has the power to pardon him.

ORIGINAL BLOG PARAGRAPH: Some people are pointing out that Cheney and Libby (and possibly others) couldn’t have committed a crime by conspiring to disclose Valerie Plame’s CIA identity because she didn’t meet the technical requirements of a covert agent. Even if that’s true, however, while it would exculpate Cheney and Libby from a criminal conviction, we should keep in mind that it’s entirely possible that Cheney and Libby thought they were committing a crime even if they weren’t.

MODIFIED BLOG PARAGRAPH Some people are pointing out that Cheney and Libby (and possibly others) couldn’t have committed a crime by conspiring to disclose Valerie Plame’s CIA identity because she didn’t meet the technical requirements of a covert agent. However, it’s entirely possible that Cheney and Libby thought they were committing a crime by illegally outing a CIA agent but, in actuality, weren’t because of technical reasons relating to her status. That’s not to suggest that they should be convicted of such a crime, of course. It’s just to suggest that if they thought they were committing a crime, even mistakently, it would help to explain why Libby felt the need to perjure himself. Moreover, there is also the possibility that Cheney and Libby conspired among themselves to have Libby perjure himself, which would of course expose Cheney to an conspiracy to obstruct justice charge.

We shouldn’t let the failure to commit an underlying crime distract us from the political aspects of what Cheney and Libby were obviously doing. It is obvious that they wanted to send a powerful message to anyone challenging their WMD rationale for invading Iraq. After all, this was long before they had switched to “democracy-spreading” as their primary rationale for invading. The message was this: Anybody who questions our WMDs claims is going to pay for his “misconduct.” And to make certain the message was received, they obviously decided to out Valerie Plame’s CIA position.

Now, it’s true that both Cheney and Libby could now say, “But we didn’t do anything legally wrong because Valerie Plame didn’t meet the technical requirements of a CIA agent.” They might be right in a legal sense but ask yourself what would have happened if some antiwar critic, such as Michael Moore, had done the same thing Cheney and Libby did — publicized a person’s employment with the CIA when that person didn’t want to be outed and who 99.99 percent of the world didn’t know was a CIA agent.

Nothing, not even the CIA employment of Wilson’s wife, could stand in the way of the message that Cheney and Libby (and possibly others) were determined to send: This is what happens to people who question our WMD rationale for invading Iraq.

What will happen now? Lots will depend on what the judge does. Prosecutors will hope for a high sentence to “encourage” Libby to sing against Cheney. Meanwhile, President Bush no doubt is countering that strategy by readying his pardon pen, just like his father did with the Iran-Contra defendants. Since an appeal will last around a year, we might not know the final outcome until then.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hectoring China Is Not a Good Idea
by Jacob G. Hornberger

U.S. officials are expressing their concerns to Chinese officials about China’s decision to increase its military budget by 17.8 percent this year, to around $45 billion. They’re concerned that China’s military could be used for offensive purposes.

As foreigners all over the world know, among the most fascinating characteristics of U.S. officials are arrogance, pomposity, and, of course, hypocrisy. Guess how much the U.S. government spends on its military: 10 times more than China does — $481 billion! — and that doesn’t even include military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan! And guess who claims the “right” to wage offense operations against any country in the world, especially as part of its “global war on terror.” And guess who claims the “right” to sanction and invade countries for the purpose of “regime change”?

Instead of lecturing foreign officials, U.S. officials would better serve our nation by doing what they should have done when the Berlin Wall came crashing down — dismantling the U.S. overseas military empire and the enormous military-industrial complex that feeds off it. We’ve seen results of empire, militarism, and intervention — terrorism, torture, invasions, occupations, the Patriot Act, foreign anger and enmity, cancellation of habeas corpus, military tribunals, suspensions of due process, renditions, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, etc.

By their fruits, you will know them!

Why would it surprise anyone that China or any other country would want to protect itself from being involuntarily “regime-changed” by the U.S. Empire? Anyway, is it really a good thing for U.S. officials to be hectoring Chinese officials, given that China is holding hundreds of millions in U.S. government bonds — bonds that have financed the U.S. military machine — bonds that they could dump at a moment’s notice?

SIDE NOTE: I’ll be speaking to Congressman Ron Paul’s Liberty Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The CIA Is the Law
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The U.S. Court of Appeals, the most conservative court in the country, has rendered another ludicrous but ominous decision. As I pointed out in my article “The Pentagon’s Power to Arrest, Torture, and Execute Americans,” this is the federal court of appeals that upheld the government’s “enemy combatant” theory for American citizens suspected of terrorism in the Jose Padilla case. Never mind that as soon as the court bought into the government’s “enemy combatant” theory and rendered its decision, the government turned around and decided to treat Padilla as a criminal defendant after all, leaving the judges on the Fourth Circuit with a bit of egg on their faces but unfortunately also leaving their “enemy combatant” holding intact.

Now, in the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen kidnapped and tortured by the CIA before it realized that it made a mistake, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that foreigners who are kidnapped and tortured in foreign countries by CIA agents will not be permitted to have their lawsuits seeking relief considered in U.S. federal courts.

The court’s reason?

You guessed it! The old standby for protecting wrongdoing by federal officials — “national security.” The court feels that by permitting lawsuits against the CIA for kidnapping and torture would reveal government “secrets” that would better be left secret. Presumably the court’s holding would also apply to crimes other than kidnapping and torture, such as murder.

Meanwhile German prosecutors have indicted the 13 CIA agents involved in Masri’s kidnapping and torture. However, the possibility that U.S. officials and U.S. federal courts would permit their extradition to Germany is nonexistent. The same applies to the case that Italian prosecutors have brought against other CIA agents for kidnapping and conspiracy to torture in that country.

Germany and Italy, like the rest of the world, are learning an important lesson, one that Americans learned long ago: The CIA is not above the law — it is the law, all over the world.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Iraq Is Sucking America into Deeper Immorality
by Jacob G. Hornberger

An internal political battle taking place in Iraq reflects, once again, the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy.

Over the objections of Iraqi officials (whose government is supposed to be sovereign and independent), U.S. officials are insisting that the Iraqis permit members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to serve in the Iraqi government.

Think back to the 1990s, when conservatives and neo-conservatives were supporting the Persian Gulf intervention, the brutal sanctions against Iraq, the illegal no-fly zones, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq. What were they saying? They were saying that Saddam was a new Hitler who tortured and killed his own people and who threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction and, therefore, that he needed to be removed from power.

Yet, when one carefully considers all the bad things that Saddam did, one cannot help but conclude that he himself personally committed very few of them. Instead, most of the bad things were carried out by regular Iraqis who were loyally serving their government. When prisoners were tortured at Abu Ghraib (under Saddam), it wasn’t Saddam who was torturing them but rather regular Iraqis loyally serving their government. When Saddam used poisonous gas on his own people, it was not he who did it but rather regular Iraqis loyally serving their government. When Saddam waged the war against Iran, it wasn’t he who was killing Iranian forces, it was regular Iraqi citizens loyally serving their government.

Even Hitler didn’t personally commit most of the horrible things that occurred in his regime. The Holocaust was carried out not by Hitler personally but rather by German citizens loyally serving their government. It was not Hitler who personally terrorized and brutalized the German people, it was the members of the Gestapo — German citizens who were loyally serving their government. It was regular Germans loyally servingtheir government, not Hitler, who attacked, Poland, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union.

So, now you have the spectacle of the U.S. government calling for the reinstallation into power in Iraq of the very people who were carrying out Saddam’s policies. Without those people, Saddam could never have been able to do all the bad things that supposedly served as one of the many justifications for sanctioning, invading, and occupying Iraq.

The U.S. government’s response is that this is the only way to establish order and stability in Iraq. But doesn’t such a position just reflect ever more deeply the moral bankruptcy of having invaded and occupied Iraq in the first place? After all, what moral principle is there in killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people in order to oust a dictator from power, only to fight to retain in power those who were loyally carrying out the dictator’s policies?

With every passing day, the Iraq morass plunges our country into a deeper quicksand of immorality. With U.S. troops now killing and dying to restore Saddam’s people into power, what better reason to withdraw from Iraq now, rather than later?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

What Are the Rules for Foreign Meddling?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Bush continues to complain that Iran is furnishing weapons to Iraqi insurgents that are being used to kill American troops. He says that Iran shouldn’t be meddling in Iraq.

But does the U.S. government really have moral standing to complain against meddling in the internal affairs of other countries?

After all, don’t forget that the U.S. government was furnishing weaponry to Osama bin Laden and other Islamic extremists when they were trying to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. When he was asked if he regretted the U.S. role in luring the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan, which was then used as an excuse to furnish weapons to bin Laden and the other insurgents to help them kill Soviet soldiers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, said, “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?”

Moreover, let’s not forget the Iran Contra scandal where U.S. officials illegally, secretly, and surreptitiously furnished weaponry to the Nicaraguan contras so that they could use them to kill Nicaraguan government personnel. Where did they acquire the weapons? From Iran! Of course, President Reagan and Vice President Bush claimed that they didn’t know that their officials were doing this, much as Iranian officials today are claiming about the Iranian weapons going into Iraq.

And let’s not forget the U.S. meddling in Guatemala and El Salvador through the support of brutal, right-wing regimes that were torturing and murdering tens of thousands of their own people, as well as the role played by the CIA in such activities.

And of course there was the U.S. meddling in Chile, in which the CIA supported a coup that brought a military strongman into power whose personnel tortured, raped, and murdered thousands of his own people, not to mention the murder of an innocent young American journalist with the involvement of the CIA.

And let’s not forget the U.S. meddling in Iran itself, where the CIA secretly and surreptitiously ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and installed the Shah of Iran, who proceeded to use a brutal secret police that tortured Iranian dissidents until Iranians succeeded in ousting him from power. And also the U.S. meddling in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S officials were furnishing their ally Saddam Hussein with WMDs so that he could use them to kill Iranians.

And let’s keep in mind the U.S. meddling in Iraq, including the brutal sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and the U.S. invasion and occupation, which have killed another 650,000 or so Iraqis, whose purpose was to install a regime that would be friendly to U.S. officials.

Perhaps it would be helpful if U.S. officials announced the rules for meddling in the affairs of other countries. That is, is the U.S. government the only government that is entitled to meddle in the affairs of other countries? If not, what are the rules that the U.S. government has established under which other countries are entitled to meddle in the affairs of other countries?

In the meantime, isn’t there another way for President Bush to protect American troops from Iranian weapons smuggled into Iraq? Simply stop meddling in Iraq by withdrawing U.S. troops and bringing them home.

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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.