Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, June 2009

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seven Days in May
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The military coup in Honduras, which some U.S. conservatives are already hailing as a pro-democracy coup, as they did after military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military coup in Chile, brings to mind a fantastic movie — Seven Days in May, starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Ava Gardner.

The movie is about a group of U.S. generals who planned to pull off a pro-democracy coup here in the United States in order to protect the country from a president whose policies threatened “national security.”

According to Wikipedia:

The scenario of the film may have been inspired by the clash between General Curtis LeMay and President John F. Kennedy. It is suspected that LeMay, furious after the Cuban missile crisis for not being allowed to use his atomic bombs, talked to some of his staff about removing the President from power….

[Director Frank] Frankenheimer said that [White House Press Secretary] Pierre Salinger conveyed to him President Kennedy’s wish that the film be made, “these were the days of General [Edwin] Walker” and, though the Pentagon did not want the film made, the President would conveniently arrange to visit Hyannis Port for a weekend when the film needed to shoot outside the White House.

In his excellent book JFK and the Unspeakable, James W. Douglass writes (scroll down to page 12):

The president’s friend Paul Fay, Jr., told of an incident that showed JFK was keenly conscious of the peril of a military coup d’état. One summer week-end in 1962 while out sailing with friends, Kennedy was asked what he thought of Seven Days in May, a best-selling novel that described a military takeover in the United States. JFK said he would read the book. He did so that night.

The next day Kennedy discussed with his friends the possibility of their seeing such a coup in the United States. Consider that he said these words after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and before the Cuban Missile Crisis: “It’s possible. It could happen in this country, but the conditions would have to be just right. If, for example, the country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a little criticizing behind his back, but this would be written off as the usual military dissatisfaction with civilian control. Then if there were another Bay of Pigs, the reaction of the country would be, ‘Is he too young and inexperienced?’ The military would almost feel that it was their patriotic obligation to stand ready to preserve the integrity of the nation, and only God knows just what segment of democracy they would be defending if they overthrew the elected establishment.”

Pausing a moment, he went on, “Then, if there were a third Bay of Pigs, it could happen.” Waiting again until his listeners absorbed his meaning, he concluded with an old Navy phrase, “But it won’t happen on my watch.”

On another occasion Kennedy said of the novel’s plot about a few military commanders taking over the country, “I know a couple who might wish they could.” The statement is cited by biographer Theodore Sorensen as a joke. However, John Kennedy used humor in pointed ways, and Sorensen’s preceding sentence is not a joke: “Communications between the Chiefs of Staff and their Commander in Chief remained unsatisfactory for a large part of his term.”

Director John Frankenheimer was encouraged by President Kennedy to film Seven Days in May “as a warning to the republic.”

Kennedy’s concern about a democracy-defending coup at the hands of U.S. military generals followed President Eisenhower’s warning in his Farewell Address to the American people about the growing dangers to the American people posed by U.S. military-industrial complex.

Of course, needless to say, the last thing President Obama needs to fear is a military coup here at home, given that he, unlike President Kennedy, is doing everything the generals and the CIA want him to do.

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

Monday, June 29, 2009

Iranians Have Two Options: Obey or Die
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Many Europeans love to look down their noses at Americans over the issue of gun rights. They just cannot understand how Americans can be so uncivilized as to leave people free to own guns.

Whenever I discuss the gun-rights issue with Europeans, I point out one fundamental fact, one with which they can never disagree. The fact is this: When European citizens become the victims of a tyrannical political regime within their own country, they have no effective choice but to submit to its dictates and obey its commands.

Americans, on the other hand, would have at least one last option if a tyrannical regime were ever to assume power in the United States. That last option is violent resistance against the forces of government.

Consider Nazi Germany. The Nazis were able to take power in Germany through democratic means (a point that democracy lovers often forget). After assuming power, they used two threats to assume tyrannical power: terrorism and communism. The threat of terrorism was rooted in the terrorist attack on the Reichstag. The communist threat was rooted in the Soviet Union.

Using those two threats, Hitler induced the German parliament to grant him emergency powers by which civil liberties were suspended. Even though the suspension was supposed to be temporary — that is, until the crises over terrorism and communism were over — as a practical matter it became permanent.

The Nazis used the period to consolidate their power over the citizenry and impose their tyrannical regime onto the German people. As a result of gun control, violent resistance to Nazi tyranny by the German people was not an option. As a result, most Germans became submissive, loyal, and obedient.

This same phenomenon is now playing itself out in Iran. At first, the post-election demonstrations challenging the validity of the election results were drawing hundreds of thousands of people. Today, the protests are drawing only a few thousand.

The reason? The tyrants in Iran are killing protestors and promising to execute many more after kangaroo tribunals find them guilty of acts that threaten national security. Everyone in Iran knows that there are now only two options: obey and meekly submit to the orders of the tyrants or die. Owing to gun control, shooting back at the tyrants’ police and military, who are faithfully and loyally following the orders of their superiors, is not an option.

Ironically, the right to keep and bear arms actually serves as an inhibitor to would-be tyrants. When they know that hundreds of thousands of protestors have the ability to shoot back at the police and troops, they inevitably factor that into their decision-making when deciding what steps to take against the citizenry.

Could the United States ever end up with a tyrannical regime? Of course. And make no mistake about it: Such a regime could easily count on many members of the police and the military to faithfully and loyally follow orders to kill, torture, and incarcerate the citizenry. All the regime would have to do is tell the police and the troops that they’re targeting communists, terrorists, and other serious threats to national security.

In the recent case of D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court pointed out that the primary purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that Americans were not deprived of the means to resist tyranny by force. What the Court was referring to, of course, was not the tyranny of some foreign government but rather the U.S. government. Federal appellate Judge Alex Kozinski expressed the matter well in the 2003 case of Silveira vs. Lockyer:

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.

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Federal Fraud in the Kahre Case
by Jacob G. Hornberger

As Christopher Maietta, the Justice Department prosecutor in the current trial of Las Vegas businessman Robert Kahre, was making his opening statement, the following sentence appeared on a screen inside the courtroom: “This is a case about money, greed and fraud.”

The case is certainly about money, because it involves Kahre’s use of gold coins and silver coins issued by the U.S. government to pay his workers.

The case is likely about greed as well, given that most people in life, including no doubt attorney Maietta himself, prefer more money to less.

Regarding Maietta’s claim that the case is about fraud, the facts would indicate that the perpetrator of the fraud isn’t Kahre but rather the U.S. government itself.

Under the law, fraud involves the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact, with the intention that it be relied upon, to the detriment of the victim.

Based strictly on newspaper accounts of the case, it seems that the important facts in the case are undisputed. The U.S. government issues gold and silver coins in various denominations and publicly represents that they are legal tender at face value. Kahre enters into agreements with his workers to pay them with the coins at face value. The face value of the coins significantly reduces the taxable income of the workers, placing them beneath the minimum income threshold for filing income-tax returns.

The IRS gets upset. It says that Kahre’s workers should have reported the fair market value of the coins as their income rather than the face value of the coins. If the fair market value had been reported, they would have had to file income tax returns and pay taxes on the income.

Yet, it would seem that at no time did Kahre misrepresent any material fact, either to his workers or to the IRS. In fact, it would seem that he has been up front and truthful the entire time with what he has been doing. While the IRS is obviously upset with what he did, it is difficult to determine how the facts sustain a finding of fraud.

But can the same be said of the government? I don’t think so. It seems to me that the facts indisputably establish that U.S. officials have defrauded Kahre and every other American. Here’s why:

The government has affirmatively represented to the American people that the gold coins and silver coins it has issued can be used as legal tender at their face value. Moreover, the government leads people into believing the truthfulness of that representation through actual conduct.

Let’s assume that a person owes the IRS the sum of $1,000 in taxes. He decides (stupidly) to pay the taxes in gold coins and silver coins having a face value of $1,000 but a fair market value of $10,000 in Federal Reserve Notes.

In other words, the taxpayer could go out and sell the coins for $10,000, use $1,000 to pay his taxes, and pocket the other $9,000. Instead of doing that, he simply sends the coins to the IRS.

Would the IRS refund to the taxpayer the difference between the fair market value of the coins and the face value of the coins? Of course not. The IRS would say, “This guy is incredibly stupid to use these gold and silver coins to pay his taxes, and we don’t have to refund anything because these coins are legal tender under the law.”

How can we be confident that U.S. officials would not issue a refund and instead simply accept the coins at face value (as Kahre’s workers did)? Several years ago, Kahre filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against U.S. officials. He used gold or silver coins to pay the filing fee, at their face value, notwithstanding the fact that the market value of the coins was much higher. Did the court personnel refund the difference between the fair market value of the coins and the face value? No! They kept the coins and issued no refund, obviously figuring that the coins were legal tender at face value (as Kahre’s workers did).

Thus, the government not only represents that its coins are legal tender at face value, its very own conduct lulls people into believing the truthfulness of that representation and relying on it.

Why don’t the Feds simply amend the tax code to provide that U.S. gold and silver coins cannot be used as legal tender for payroll purposes? Because that would shed light on what the Federal Reserve has done to debase its paper money over the past several decades, enabling them to effectively defraud Americans of a sizable portion of their incomes without raising taxes. It’s much more important to U.S. officials to maintain the charade of gold and silver coins as legal tender and then prosecute Americans who innocently trust that their government’s representations are true.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Suppressing Free Speech Here at Home
by Jacob G. Hornberger

While the Ayattolahs in Iran are intimidating people into ceasing their criticism of the government, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors are doing the same here in the United States, specifically in the trial of U.S. vs. Robert Kahre, which is currently taking place in Las Vegas. Upset with critical comments posted by American citizens regarding the prosecution of a man who used gold and silver coins issued by the U.S. mint as legal tender, the prosecutors have been abusing their power to issue grand-jury subpoenas.

This prosecutorial-abuse saga, which I blogged about here, began with an ordinary news article in which the Las Vegas Review Journal explained what the Kahre prosecution was all about. Dozens of people posted comments under the article, most of which were critical of the government and the prosecution.

Obviously stung by the criticisms, the prosecutors responded by serving a grand-jury subpoena on the paper demanding that it produce all identifying information on all of the people who had posted the comments.

After the paper resisted the subpoena, the prosecutors issued a new subpoena that limited their request for identifying information to only two commentators. One commentator wrote: “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.” Apparently the other commentator bid 12 Quatloos (Star Trek money) that one of the prosecutors would not celebrate his next birthday.

It would seem rather obvious that the issuance of the narrower subpoena is prima facie proof that the primary aim of the prosecutors was intimidation when they issued their original subpoena. After all, if they really were concerned about only two comments, why subpoena identifying information about all the other commentators?

Moreover, in my opinion the aim of the narrower subpoena is about intimidation as well. Here’s why:

The central issue is: Is there any reasonable possibility that the Justice Department is going to prosecute the commentators for the precise words they used in their comments?

The answer to that question has to be “No.” After all, this is not Iran but rather the United States, a country in which people are still free to express critical opinions about what their government is doing, no matter how repugnant.

Consider the first comment — that the jury “should be hung along with the feds.” The word “should” is a subjunctive and, as such, does not connote anything but an opinion. It is, in fact, a common figure of speech that has long been used in this country. If it were a criminal offense to use it, the penitentiaries would be even more filled than they already are.

Consider the second comment, where the commentator bids Quatloos that the prosecutor does not celebrate his next birthday. Is there any reasonable possibility that a jury would convict a person of a crime or that a federal court would uphold a criminal conviction based solely on the utterance of that precise phraseology?

Again, the answer is “No.” After all, it is impossible to determine any objective meaning to the phrase. Is the commentator suggesting that the prosecutor might not reach his next birthday because of a heart attack brought on by the stress of the Kahre trial? Or is he implying that someone might do harm to the prosecutor? We don’t know. Far more information would be needed to sustain a criminal conviction on the mere utterance of those precise words.

So, what’s the point of subpoenaing the newspapers records in an attempt to secure the identity of the commentators, if it’s not to intimidate and scare the commentators and everyone else? After all, everyone knows that the commentators can refuse to answer any questions before the grand jury based on the Fifth Amendment, something they would almost certainly do. In that case, the prosecutors would be left with nothing more than the phrases posted on the newspaper’s website.

But in the process, the prosecutors will have forced the newspaper to identify commentators on its website and forced the commentators to appear before a federal grand jury. They will also have threatened the commentators with the prospect of a federal criminal prosecution for what they wrote.

In other words, the prosecutors will have sent a powerful message to the American people, the same message those Ayatollahs are sending to the Iranian people: “If you know what’s good for you, shut up and stop criticizing what we’re doing.”

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Right to Torture Americans
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Conservatives are protesting a federal judge’s ruling that torture victim Jose Padilla’s civil lawsuit against former Justice Department attorney John Yoo be permitted to continue. The conservatives feel that Yoo, who authored some of the infamous torture memos for the Bush White House, should be immune from lawsuits from Americans who were tortured as a natural consequence of such memos.

Let’s sum up what conservatives (and neo-conservatives) are saying about the America in which we now live. They’re saying that the federal government now wields the power to torture Americans and that Americans had better get used to this new way of life. Any American who is tortured should forget about ever suing any federal official who either does the torturing or who authorizes or facilitates it.

At the same time, conservatives say that federal torturers should be immune from criminal liability for torturing Americans, no matter how many criminal laws against torture they violate. The idea is that the federal torturers would become despondent and demoralized if criminal prosecutions were initiated against them. And how could we expect the torturers to continue torturing Americans if the torturers faced the prospect of criminal prosecution in the future?

Of course, the same rationale holds true for official investigations into the torture of Americans and others. If such investigations were to be conducted, then how could we count on the torturers to be ready and willing to torture in the future?

What Jose Padilla’s lawsuit is exposing is the harsh truth about the country in which we now live. Padilla is an American citizen. He was tried and convicted in a federal district court of a federal criminal offense, to wit: terrorism, and he is now serving time in a federal penitentiary for that crime.

But prior to the time that Padilla was convicted, federal officials incarcerated him in a military dungeon run by the Pentagon, where he was held for years and intentionally denied a speedy trial and due process of law. U.S. officials made it clear that if they wanted, they could keep Padilla incarcerated for the rest of his life without a trial.

During the time this American was incarcerated in that military dungeon, he was knowingly and deliberately tortured through isolation and sensory deprivation. Moreover, he was subject to being treated to the entire panoply of torture and sex-abuse techniques that the Pentagon and the CIA have imposed on people in their prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.

Padilla’s civil lawsuit is not just about him. It’s about what federal officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA, can now do to all Americans.

That’s a discomfort, not only for the American people, who are now subject to be treated in the same way that Padilla was treated, but also for those who wish to continue portraying the United States to the rest of the world as a paragon of freedom, morality, human rights, and due process of law.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that when it comes to torture, liberal icon Barack Obama has turned out to be no different from conservative icon George W. Bush. They both utter the same anti-torture mantras (“We don’t torture” or “We won’t torture anymore”) while steadfastly insisting on civil and criminal immunity for federal torturers and steadfastly opposing official investigations into the federal government’s torture regime.

Was John Yoo simply delivering a good-faith legal opinion on torture or was he instead knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately participating in and facilitating an illegal torture regime through the issuance of bogus legal memos? Jose Padilla’s lawsuit, which will likely entail depositions under oath, might go a long way to answering that question, much to the chagrin of the defenders of torture.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Interventionism and Gun Control in Iran
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The situation in Iran is providing liberals with a harsh lesson about the First Amendment and the Second Amendment. It’s a lesson that our American ancestors understood very well.

Here’s the lesson: Without the right to keep and bear arms, the rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly are meaningless. If tyrants own all the guns, then they know that they can suppress fundamental rights of the people without worrying about violent resistance to their tyranny.

With a monopoly on guns, what incentive do tyrants have to end their tyranny? The tyrants know that a disarmed citizenry has but two options: obey the tyrants by submitting to their tyranny or die at the hands of loyal and obedient (and armed) military and police forces.

Meanwhile, conservatives and neoconservatives are criticizing President Obama for not more openly supporting the Iranian protestors. Perhaps they have forgotten what happened to the Kurds and Shiites in Iraq after conservative President George H.W. Bush encouraged them to rise up and try to overthrow Saddam Hussein at the end of the Persian Gulf War. They got massacred, as Bush’s military forces stood by and watched.

While we’re on the subject of democracy, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the secondary rationale that conservatives and neoconservatives used for invading Iraq — “democracy spreading.” It went like this: Even though we invaded Iraq because we were certain that Saddam was about to explode mushroom clouds over American cities, after we failed to find any WMDs we decided that we actually invaded Iraq because we love the Iraqi people and wanted to bring them democracy. That’s why we killed, maimed, tortured, sexually abused, and exiled millions of them and destroyed their country — so that the survivors could enjoy democracy.

Well, we all know that there is no democracy in Iran. After all, despite those elections, the big elephant in the room is that those Ayatollahs who really rule the country aren’t elected at all. They’re the ones who decide who gets to run for office.

Yet, do you see even one conservative or neoconservative traveling to Iran to stand with the protestors and defend democracy? Do you see even one of them demonstrating in the streets of Tehran and standing up to the Ayatollah tyrants?

No, of course not, just as you never saw any conservatives or neo-conservatives standing and fighting with the Shiites and Kurds who were fighting against Saddam. That would entail taking individual responsibility for their beliefs, an anathema for conservatives and neo-conservatives. When they say that “we” need to be tough, what they mean is a vicarious “toughness,” one that is measured by the toughness of the U.S. troops that they are so eager and willing to send into battle against the forces of the tyrants.

But as with Iraq, it would be morally wrong and illegal for the U.S. government to invade and occupy Iran. It is up to the Iranians, not the U.S. government, to decide whether to resort to violent revolution to free themselves from tyranny, just as it was the right of the Iraqi people. If the Iranian people decide that they would rather submit to the tyranny than incur countless deaths in a violent revolution, that is their right, just as it was the right of the Iraqi people.

The Iranian situation helps to remind us what a disaster conservatives, neo-conservatives, and liberals have been for our country and why the only hope out of the morass in which we find ourselves is with libertarianism. Liberals are obviously pleased that the Iranian people lack the means to violently resist tyranny and wish to disarm Americans too. Conservatives and neo-conservatives would use the U.S. Empire to invade Iran for the purpose of reinstalling a U.S. stooge into power and kill, maim, torture, and exile countless Iranians in the process.

Libertarians, on the other hand, would prohibit the U.S. government from invading and occupying Iran or any other nation. Moreover, understanding that the right to keep and bear arms is the best check against tyranny, libertarians will continue resisting any effort by the gun-control crowd to disarm the American people here at home.

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jacob Hornberger is now on twitter:

http://twitter.com/JacobHornberger

Using Waco “Blowback” to Suppress Dissent
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Now that the Democrats are in charge of the White House, liberals are doing all they can to suppress criticism of big government. The newest strategy is to link criticism of big government to unlawful acts of violence, such as the shooting at the Holocaust Museum or the shooting of the abortion doctor.

A good example of this phenomenon appeared in the Saturday New York Times in an op-ed by liberal columnist Bob Herbert. His liberal agenda includes gun control, which was the focus of his article.

Herbert took us back to the federal massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco and Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City a year later. Guess where Herbert places the blame for the Oklahoma City bombing. He blames “right-wing craziness” in which gun-rights advocates were pointing out that the right to keep and bear arms “protects against the tyranny of our own government.”

In other words, if critics had remained silent about the Waco massacre and gun rights, McVeigh might never have committed his act of terrorism.

What palpable nonsense. When government massacres its own people, including children, it is the duty of the citizenry to criticize and condemn. This is especially true when there is significant evidence to suggest that U.S. officials intentionally injected flammable agents into the building with the intent that they would be ignited or when federal agents deliberately bulldozed the site after the massacre, thereby preventing a full investigation into the massacre.

Of course, Herbert is not unmindful of the fact that the Waco massacre occurred on orders of two liberal paragons: Bill Clinton and Janet Reno. In the immediate aftermath of the Waco massacre, it was the liberals who were questioning the patriotism of government critics. It was, after all, a liberal, Bill Clinton, who proclaimed, “You can’t say you love your country and hate your government.”

Fortunately, none of this dissuaded libertarians from criticizing and condemning the Waco massacre and challenging the official account of what happened there. In fact, it was the libertarians who led the way in persistently raising the conscience and consciousness of the American people to finally realize the horror that Waco represented.

Of course, we saw this same phenomenon, from both liberals and conservatives, after the 9/11 “blowback” from U.S. foreign policy.

Recall that after the conservative George H.W. Bush administration had imposed sanctions on the Iraqi people, the Clinton administration brutally enforced them for 8 years, contributing to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. As anger and rage boiled over in the Middle East, U.S. liberals remained silent, notwithstanding their purported love for the poor, needy, and disadvantaged. Madeleine Albright, who was serving as U.S. ambassador to the UN, perfectly expressed the liberal mindset when she proclaimed that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions had been “worth it.”

Then, when the 9/11 attacks occurred, both liberals and conservatives banded together to suppress any criticism of U.S. foreign policy. To place any responsibility for the attacks on the U.S. government would be unpatriotic, even treasonous, they suggested, and would only encourage and give comfort to the terrorists.

But libertarians would not be silenced. Just as we did after Waco, we have led the way in raising people’s consciences and consciousness about the horrors of U.S. foreign policy, including the brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people.

In an attempt to silence gun-rights advocates who have been warning about the danger of another gun ban, Herbert suggests that we can trust Obama not to follow in Clinton’s footsteps by enacting another gun ban. Why, just ask those liberal defenders of civil liberties how much Obama can be trusted. What Herbert, in his innocence and naïveté, fails to recognize is that given the right crisis Obama would enact a gun ban in the blink of an eye. Gun-rights advocates are wise to remember that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Herbert pooh-poohs the principle rationale of gun ownership — to resist tyranny, notwithstanding that that was the express reason our American ancestors insisted on the inclusion of the Second Amendment. We can see the effects of gun control now playing out in Iran. The Iranian people can protest all they want but everyone knows that they lack the ability to resist the tyrants’ guns with guns. Of course, no doubt Herbert would agree with the Iranian tyrants — that the responsibility for bloodshed at the hands of government gendarmes lies with those who are criticizing the government rather than with those who pull the trigger.

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

Friday, June 19, 2009

Were the Myerses Spying against U.S. Assassinations, Coups, Embargoes, and Invasions Against Cuba?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Washington establishment is agog over the arrest of Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers on charges of spying for Cuba. He’s the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell who worked for 30 years at the State Department, and she’s a housewife turned political activist.

According to a front-page article in the New York Times today, “American officials say they are still trying to determine what secrets were stolen and the consequences for the nation’s security.”

May I hazard a guess as to what was stolen? I suspect that what was stolen involved U.S. regime-change schemes against Cuba, including such things as assassinations, embargoes, sanctions, invasions, and acts of terrorism within Cuba. And I also suspect that the items stolen had absolutely nothing to do with U.S. “national security” and instead everything to do with Cuba’s “national security.”

After all, no one is going to seriously contend that Cuba has ever had any plans to attack, invade, conquer, and occupy the United States.

Instead, it’s the exact opposite. It is the U.S. government that has been obsessively committed to regime change in Cuba ever since Fidel Castro confirmed that he would not be a puppet or stooge for the U.S. Empire, as was his predecessor, Fulgencio Batista.

For decades, the U.S. government has imposed and enforced a brutal embargo against the Cuban people, in the hope that Cubans would suffer so much economically that they would finally overthrow the Castro regime and install a U.S.-approved regime in its stead.

There was the disastrous CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba, again with the aim of ousting Castro from power and installing a U.S. stooge or puppet in his stead.

There were also the numerous assassination attempts on Castro by the CIA.

News reports indicate that the Myerses visited Cuba many years ago and fell in love with the country. While in Cuba, they visited a museum devoted to showing the bad things that the CIA has done to Cuba. The news reports also indicate that the couple was deeply enamored with Fidel Castro and his socialist economic policies.

In 1999 I visited Cuba. I must confess that unlike the Myerses, I wasn’t enamored with Cuba’s socialist society but I did fall in love with the Cuban people, who generally speaking were among the most genuine and friendly people I’ve ever encountered.

I asked a Cuban taxi driver, “Why are Cubans so nice to me after what my government has done to them with its embargo.” His answer: “What responsibility do you have for what your government has done to us?”

Another time, a young Cuban man, about 20, approached me and said to me in a low voice, “I know you are an American. I just want you to know that I love everything the United States stands for. My biggest dream in life is to visit New York City so that I can just lay my eyes on the Statue of Liberty.”

My impression was that the Cuban people hate socialism but that they revere Fidel Castro for his courage in maintaining Cuba’s political independence from the United States.

The irony is that it’s not just the Myerses and Castro who embrace socialism. Many Americans, including people in Congress and the Obama administration, fully embrace socialism. The core elements of Castro’s socialism are free public schooling and free government-provided health care for everyone. How many Americans, including Barack Obama, oppose those socialist programs?

U.S. officials are also making a big deal out of the Myerses’ embrace of Fidel Castro. That’s ironic because U.S. officials embrace dictators all the time. Examples include: Saddam Hussein, Pervez Musharraf, the shah of Iran, Augusto Pinochet, Muammar Qaddafi, a long line of military dictators in Latin America, and authoritarian dictators in the Middle East who torture people on behalf of U.S. officials. The Myerses’ crime is in embracing a dictator that the U.S. government doesn’t like because he won’t obey orders of the U.S. government, as his predecessor Batista did.

While I was in Havana, I visited the same CIA museum that the Myerses visited. Like them, I was repelled over the things that my own government had done in Cuba, including assassination attempts, a military invasion, and a brutal embargo that has squeezed the life out of the Cuban people. The U.S. government’s actions against Cuba have been morally abhorrent and are deserving of contempt and condemnation.

The reason that I wasn’t enamored with Cuban society is that it’s a socialist system. The state owns most everything, and most everyone works for the government. It is a gray, depressing place where there is a dullness in people’s eyes and a lack of vibrancy in their activities.

Unlike the Myerses, I wouldn’t be too welcome if I returned to Cuba. After my return to the United States, I wrote a series of articles that were critical of the CIA, the U.S. embargo, and Cuba’s socialist system. My criticism of Cuban socialism resulted in a very nasty letter being sent to me from an official in Cuba’s Special Interest Section in Washington. I imagine, of course, that any U.S. officials who happen to have read my criticism of the CIA and the U.S. embargo against Cuba would be just as unhappy with me as that Cuban official.

If you would like to read my account of my trip to Cuba click here.

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Interventionism Comes with Empire
by Jacob G. Hornberger

American interventionists are upset with Barack Obama for not taking a more aggressive stand in favor of the protestors in Iran. Alas, the interventionists just don’t get it. While they themselves are lovers of the U.S. federal government, what they don’t understand is that such love is not shared by people in other parts of the world, including people who are resisting tyranny in Iran.

Unlike other empires in history, the U.S. Empire is not based on installing citizens of the empire in positions of power in foreign nations. Instead, the goal of the U.S. Empire is to install citizens of foreign countries into power but ones that will be loyal and beholden to the Empire itself.

Consider, for example, Cuba. The reason that U.S. officials have been obsessed with effecting regime change in Cuba for so long is not the fact that the country is headed by a dictator, that the dictator is brutal, or that the dictator is a socialist.

After all, the U.S. Empire aligns itself with brutal dictatorships all the time. Also, the empire itself embraces a multitude of socialist programs (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, public housing, etc.).

The problem with Cuba is that it is headed by a brutal dictator who has chosen to remain independent of U.S. Empire control. The same goes for North Korea. Venezuela. And others.

It is that independence that strikes at the heart of the Empire. It is that independence that Empire officials cannot countenance. That leads to interventionism, a policy by which U.S. officials devote themselves to ousting the recalcitrant ruler from power and replacing him with a U.S. stooge or puppet.

Once the stooge or puppet is installed into power, he is expected to do two things: (1) maintain order within the country, by brutal means if necessary, and (2) respond favorably when the Empire needs a favor, such as a favorable vote in the United Nations or membership in a coalition of the willing.

Thus, Empire officials don’t much care how a puppet or stooge treats his own citizenry so long as order is maintained. In fact, oftentimes U.S. Empire officials will support brutal actions by the stooge, especially torture, in order to ensure a continuation of power and a maintenance of order.

Examples include Saddam Hussein, the shah of Iran, Pervez Musharraf, Augusto Pinochet, and a long line of Latin American military dictators (whose military forces have been trained in brutality and torture at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas).

Other examples include brutal authoritarian regimes that torture people on behalf of the Empire, such as Egypt, Syria, and Libya.

Here at home, empire officials hail such countries as great friends and allies of the United States. Americans are taught to believe that the citizens of such countries are happy and pleased with their U.S.-supported stooge.

The problem, of course, is that the people who are tortured and brutalized by the U.S. puppet seethe with anger. Over time, such anger oftentimes boils over into rage.

That’s, of course, what happened in Iran in 1979. After some 25 years suffering under the terror and torture of the shah, whom the U.S. Empire had restored to power after ousting Iran’s democratically elected prime minister from power, the Iranian people revolted, ousted the shah, and installed a radical Islamic regime into power.

What many Americans could not understand is why there was simultaneous anger against the United States. They could not understand why the Iranian revolutionaries took hostages from the U.S. Embassy in Iran. Americans didn’t know about the U.S. Empire’s support of the terror and torture that its puppet, the shah, had inflicted on the Iranian people.

What should the U.S. government do with respect to the current situation in Iran? The same thing it should do with respect to the internal situation of every other country in the world: Butt out and stay out. In that way, whichever side prevails there is no anger or animosity within the losing side against the United States.

What should the American people do? Dismantle the U.S. Empire and restore a limited-government republic to our land, prohibit the U.S. government from interfering with the affairs of other nations, and liberate the American people — the private sector — to interact and trade with the people of the world.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Federal Prosecutors Buckle on Abusive Subpoena in Kahre Case
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Last Friday in my blog “Kahre’s Prosecutors Are Going Nutso,” I blogged about the abusive subpoena that federal prosecutors had served on the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The newspaper had published a news story about the trial of Robert Kahre, a Las Vegas businessman who is on trial in federal district court for paying his workers in gold and silver coins at their face value. The feds are prosecuting him for tax evasion notwithstanding the fact that federal law stipulates that the coins are legal tender.

After the article appeared on the newspaper’s website, dozens of people began posting critical comments about the prosecution, the Federal Reserve, inflation, and debasement of the currency.

Those comments obviously upset the prosecutors, who served the newspaper with a grand-jury subpoena demanding that the paper produce the “name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers … the IP address” of the people who posted the comments. (It’s not clear whether the prosecutors secured the permission of the grand jury before issuing the subpoena or whether they simply filled out and issued the subpoena without approval from the grand jury.)

As I suggested in my blog post, somebody needed to get word to these prosecutors that they’re operating here in the United States, not in the Soviet Union or Burma. Here, the fundamental rights of freedom of speech are still recognized, as reflected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Well, somebody might have done that because the prosecutors buckled and issued a revised, much narrower subpoena.

What happened first is that the newspaper announced that it intended to fight the subpoena. Then the ACLU jumped into the fray by announcing that it would be willing to represent for free any of the people who posted the comments in an action to quash the subpoena.

According to a news article in today’s Review-Journal, the prosecutors then reduced the scope of their subpoena to encompass only two people who posted comments. According to the Associated Press, one commentator stated, “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.” The other commentator wagered a bet that one of the federal prosecutors would not reach his next birthday.

Obviously, the prosecutors are feeling that such speech is subject to federal criminal prosecution.

The newspaper has agreed to comply with the revised subpoena.

Not so the ACLU though. Representing three anonymous posters, it intends to proceed forward with its action to quash the subpoena. According to the newspaper, “The organization does not view any of the remaining comments as posing a ‘true threat,’ which [it] defined as showing ‘a clear danger of imminent action.’

My hunch is that the ACLU is going to prevail with its motion to quash the subpoena. In my opinion, the comments about the jury and the prosecutor do not rise to the level of a credible threat of imminent action.

It’s clear to me that the prosecutor’s actions are nothing more than an attempt to intimidate people into silence, especially with respect to criticism of a prosecution of a man who has committed the cardinal sin of bringing much-needed light to the economic and monetary damage that the Federal Reserve and the IRS have done to the American people.

No doubt one of the prosecutors, J. Gregory Damm, a Justice Department lawyer from Washington who has traveled all the way to Las Vegas to participate in Kahre’s prosecution rather than simply leave the prosecution to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Las Vegas, is upset over comments that described him as a “socialist, fascist moron” and a “Nazi moron.” In my opinion, Damm would have been better off simply singing to himself, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” than issuing an abusive grand-jury subpoena to the newspaper.

No wonder our American ancestors rejected a central bank and an income tax for more than 100 years of our nation’s history. Since their monetary system was based on gold coins and silver coins, they didn’t need to worry about being prosecuted for using such coins in their everyday transactions. And since their tax system was devoid of an income tax and an IRS, they didn’t need to worry about having their lives destroyed in a federal prosecution for income-tax evasion. Our American ancestors knew what a free society was all about.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pull Out of Korea (and Everywhere Else)
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Notwithstanding its occupations of two nations — Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Empire is at it again, fulfilling its role as the world’s international policeman, this time with respect to North Korea. Americans should hope that things don’t get out of control because if they do, there is little doubt that if war were to unexpectedly and suddenly break out in Korea tens of thousands of young men and possibly young women would be drafted to fight and die in such a war.

Imagine the following scenario: North Korea warships begin intercepting American cargo ships, hailing them, and then requesting to board them to inspect their cargo.

Wouldn’t the response of most Americans be: What business does the North Korean government have interfering with the free movement of American vessels?

Well, that’s precisely what U.S. warships are going to be doing with North Korean vessels, thanks to a new UN Security Council resolution that has been enacted at the request of U.S. officials.

Fortunately, U.S. officials backed off from forcibly boarding Korean ships, an act that the North Korean government announced would be considered an act of war, which it would be. Nonetheless, when U.S. warships are approaching Korean vessels and requesting to board such vessels, there is always the risk of miscalculation, especially when one is dealing with an erratic and bizarre regime like that which rules North Korea.

The real issue is: Why does the U.S. government still have 25,000 American troops in South Korea, especially since that the Korean War ended more than 50 years ago? Why shouldn’t the South Koreans bear the responsibility for defending their own nation from attack? Why should Americans be forced to fight to fight and die in foreign war thousands of miles away from American shores?

Those 25,000 U.S. troops in South Korea serve one function — a tripwire that will guarantee U.S. involvement in such a war. Thousands of those troops would undoubtedly be killed in a sudden invasion by North Korea. Don’t forget that Seoul, South Korea, is only 25 miles from the North Korean border. Once thousands of U.S. troops are killed, the United States would be fully committed to the war.

That would mean another land war in Asia, a very nasty one. It would mean a military draft. Lots of body bags coming home. Soaring taxes, enormous tax surcharges, massive debt, and soaring inflation. More centralization of power for Washington, especially for the military and the military-industrial complex. Massive infringements on civil liberties.

What greater recipe for big government and loss of liberty than a confluence of the “war on terrorism” and the “war on communism”? What better opportunity for the full application of the enemy-combatant doctrine for American citizens here at home?

It’s best to treat the North Korean regime as a scuba diver treats strange and bizarre creatures in the sea — by simply leaving it alone. Unfortunately, that’s not what the U.S. Empire doing. Instead it’s instead poking and provoking the North Korean regime, increasing the possibility of a miscalculation whose consequences would be disastrous for America.

Americans would be wise to dismantle the U.S. Empire, bring all overseas troops home from everywhere, and discharge them, and end the U.S. government’s self-assumed role as the world’s international policeman, before the empire plunges our nation into bigger messes than it already has.

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

Monday, June 15, 2009

Padilla’s Lawsuit against Yoo to Proceed
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, who authored some of infamous torture memos for the Bush administration, has just received an adverse ruling in a federal lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla, the American citizen who was incarcerated and tortured for several years by the U.S. military.

Padilla had been arrested on American soil on suspicion of having conspired to commit terrorism. Rather than prosecuting him in federal court on terrorism charges, U.S. officials simply labeled him an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism” and delivered him into the clutches of the Pentagon, which incarcerated him in a military dungeon in South Carolina, denied him a jury trial and due process of law, and tortured him.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most conservative federal appellate court in the country, upheld the government’s enemy-combatant doctrine. When Padilla’s case was reaching the Supreme Court, the U.S. government suddenly shifted him to the status of a federal criminal defendant, notwithstanding the government’s longstanding argument that Padilla was an “enemy combatant” and not a criminal defendant. The reason for the government’s legal maneuvering was obvious: to prevent the Supreme Court from reversing the Second Circuit’s decision.

The significance of the Padilla case is that the government’s enemy-combatant power does not apply only to Padilla but also to all Americans. The government now wields the power to arrest any American on American soil, label him an enemy combatant, and do to him everything that it did to Padilla.

Padilla was ultimately convicted of terrorism in federal district court and is now serving time in a federal penitentiary. But that doesn’t prevent him from suing for the torture, abuse, and mistreatment after his arrest, which is precisely what he did. He sued for one dollar plus a declaration that what the government did to him was illegal and unconstitutional.

The Justice Department, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has been trying to get the suit dismissed, claiming that Yoo should be immune from suits from American citizens who are subjected to the mistreatment that Padilla was subjected to.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco denied the government’s motion to dismiss, staying that Padilla might be able to prove that Yoo’s memos “set in motion a series of events that resulted in the deprivation of Padilla’s constitutional rights.” The court stated, “Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct.”

The bad news is that Judge White, who was appointed to the bench by George W. Bush, obviously buys into the war on terrorism paradigm rather than simply recognize that terrorism is a federal criminal offense, not an act of war. In his 42-page opinion, White wrote, “This lawsuit poses the question addressed by our founding fathers about how to strike the proper balance of fighting a war on terror, at home and abroad, and fighting a war using tactics of terror.”

According to the Associated Press, “the ruling rejected the government’s arguments that the courts are barred from examining top-level administration decisions in wartime, or that airing ‘allegations of unconstitutional treatment of an American citizen on American soil’ would damage national security or foreign relations.”

It’s not clear yet what the government intends to do. Ordinarily, appeals cannot be taken from denials of motions to dismiss, but the government might well seek some sort of extraordinary appellate remedy to stop Padilla’s suit from going forward.

The government, however, is in a dilemma. On the one hand, the Justice Department clearly wants to stop the suit from proceeding to prevent Padilla’s lawyers from conducting detailed and extensive depositions, under oath, of Yoo and other high U.S. officials regarding the torture memos and the torture and mistreatment of Padilla.

On the other hand, the Justice Department knows that by seeking appellate review, the case could reach the Supreme Court, something the Justice Department clearly wants to avoid, as reflected by its legal maneuvering in Padilla’s criminal case to deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to overrule the Second Circuit’s decision.

Perhaps that’s why the Justice Department’s on-duty spokesman did not return the AP’s telephone calls or email messages on Saturday.

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

Friday, June 12, 2009

Kahre’s Prosecutors Are Going Nutso
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I have a hunch that things are not going well for the prosecution in the case of U.S. vs. Robert Kahre, which I blogged about last week. The reason that I say that is that it would seem the most likely explanation for the Las Vegas U.S. Attorney’s office going what can only be described as nutso.

You’re not going to believe what those federal prosecutors have done. I’ll guarantee it: You’re just not going to believe it because it just so happens to be one of most bizarre instances of federal prosecutorial abuse you’ll ever hear about.

Here’s what’s going on.

On May 26, a news article in the Las Vegas Review Journal detailed the U.S. government’s prosecution of a businessman named Robert Kahre. The feds are prosecuting Kahre for paying his workers in gold and silver coins, which U.S. law says is legal tender.

What’s wrong with that? Exactly! That’s what motivated me to blog about the case on June 3. As I stated in my blog, “What have they done that is illegal? If federal officials are stupid enough to make gold coins and silver coins legal tender, then what’s wrong with Americans’ using such coins as legal tender?”

In any event, like many other newspapers and websites, the Las Vegas Review Journal permits people to post comments underneath the article. So, innocently and naively thinking that people are free to do that sort of thing in America, several people posted critical comments about Kahre’s prosecution, paper money, the Federal Reserve, and inflation underneath the article.

That caused those federal prosecutors to go ballistic! So, guess what they did. Again, you’re not going to believe this. According to an article by Thomas Mitchell, the editor of the paper, the feds have served the paper with a grand-jury subpoena demanding the production of the “name, date of birth, physical address, gender, ZIP code, password prompts, security questions, telephone numbers and other identifiers … the IP address” of the people who posted those comments.

Like I say, nutso! Have these people never heard of freedom of speech and the First Amendment? Can somebody get word to them that this is not the Soviet Union or Burma?

But maybe I’m being a bit hasty here. Maybe those federal prosecutors have secret information that I’m not privy to. Maybe those critics are … terrorists! Yikes!

After all, don’t forget that one of al-Qaeda’s expressed aims is to make the U.S. government spend its way into bankruptcy. Well, maybe those critics are acting on behalf of al-Qaeda in exposing how the U.S. government is, in fact, spending our nation into bankruptcy.

As I pointed out in my June 3 blog, it’s clear to me that they’re going after Kahre for one reason only: He’s embarrassing the U.S. government by shining the spotlight on what the Federal Reserve has done to people with its paper-money scheme for the past several decades. They don’t like that, and so they doing precisely what Russian officials do to recalcitrant businessmen. They figure out some ridiculous tax or regulatory violation to go after the guy with.

My hunch is that the prosecutors might be sensing that the jury is seeing through their prosecutorial scam, causing those prosecutors to go off the deep end with their ludicrous and laughable abusive subpoena.

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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Idiocy of Gun Control
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The news media is reporting that an armed man shot and killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum yesterday with a 22-caliber rifle.

That’s impossible. It just cannot be true.

Don’t the media know that the Holocaust Museum is located in Washington, D.C.? Don’t they know that despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller, our nation’s capital nonetheless has maintained a strict regime of gun control? Don’t they know that it’s illegal in D.C. for people to carry a loaded rifle and fire it within the jurisdiction of the district? Don’t they know that there is even a law in D.C. against shooting someone else with a gun?

Well, then pray tell: How is it possible for a killing with a gun to have taken place in the middle of D.C. when such an act would violate D.C.’s system of gun control? It just cannot be true.

In fact, the media is even claiming that the alleged shooter had previously been convicted of a felony. Don’t the media know that the law prohibits a convicted felon from carrying a weapon? So, if it’s illegal to for a convicted felon to carry a weapon, how is it possible that a convicted felon committed the shooting at the Holocaust Museum?

As gun-control advocates tell us over and over again, all we have to do is enact gun control and all the would-be murderers in the world will obey the law. Gun control will bring a nirvana, one in which there are no more murders with guns because it would be illegal for would-be murderers to possess a gun. Voila!

A good example of this pro-gun control idiocy was reflected yesterday by D.C. Council Member Vincent C. Gray, who stated that the Holocaust Museum shooting showed the need for D.C. to fight for its gun-control laws.

Hello, Mr. Vincent! This is Earth calling. We’d like to remind you that D.C. has among the strictest gun-control laws in the world. And not to burst your bubble, but your laws didn’t stop the Holocaust Museum shooter from violating your laws. So, what good are your gun-control laws?

As a matter of fact, the shooting yesterday actually showed the horror of D.C.’s system of gun control. Because guess what all the tourists at the museum were doing. You know — the people who were visiting from around the country, including families with children. They were hiding on the floor, cowering in fear that their lives were about to be snuffed out by the shooter because they didn’t have the means to defend themselves because they, unlike the would-be murderer, were obeying D.C.’s gun-control law. D.C.’s gun-control laws disarmed them, not the guy who was threatening to murder them and their families with a gun.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, if a person has no intention of obeying a law against murder, what are the chances that he’s going to stop and think to himself, “Golly, I had better not commit this murder with a gun because that would be against the gun-control law”?

So, there you have it. Yesterday’s shooting at the D.C. Holocaust Museum once again shows what gun control is all about. It prevents peaceful and law-abiding citizens from defending themselves and their families from would-be murderers who don’t give a hoot about obeying gun-control laws.

If that’s not idiocy, what is?

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who Are They Protecting?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Pentagon and the CIA are opposing the release of photographs that depict the torture and sex abuse of prisoners and detainees while in their custody. The basis for their objection is “national security.”

Their argument goes like this: “Our personnel have done some horrendous things to people in our custody, so horrendous that we can’t even release the photographs that we took of them committing these horrendous acts. If the insurgents and the terrorists learn about the horrendous things we have done to people in our custody, they’ll not only be able to recruit more people to their side, they also will be more motivated to exact revenge on the United States. Therefore, in the interests of national security, we need to keep these photographs secret.”

I confess that I don’t really see the logic of that argument. In fact, my hunch is that the real reason they want to keep these photographs secret is so that the American people won’t see the horrendous things that U.S. personnel have done in obedience to orders and in loyalty to their superiors. It’s not anger and outrage among the insurgents and terrorists they’re worried about. It is the anger and outrage among the American populace they’re concerned about.

Let’s assume, for example, that the secret photographs show U.S. personnel raping prisoners and detainees. I don’t think that would be a farfetched assumption. Consider the recent flap in the London Telegraph over the photos. Concluding that the photos must depict rape, the paper cited the following statement by retired U.S. General Antonio Taguba, who wrote a critical report on Abu Ghraib in 2007: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”

Later, Taguba stated that while the Telegraph had reported his statement accurately, he wanted to clarify that it did not apply to the photos that are currently in dispute in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which he said he had not seen. Taguba clarified that his remark referred to a previous batch of Abu Ghraib photos.

But that raises a problem, doesn’t it? While the batch of Abu Ghraib photos that the public has seen depict many sordid sex acts, they don’t depict rape. So, why would a respected and highly decorated retired military general say they did? Why would he lie or make up something that serious?

It seems to me that there can be only one explanation: Assuming he’s telling the truth, Taguba has got to be referring to the batch of Abu Ghraib photos or videos that were previously put under strict lock and key and classified Top Secret and that are not the subject of the current ACLU lawsuit.

Now, assuming that Taguba is telling the truth, doesn’t that mean that the people who did the raping or other horrendous things get go scot-free if the photos depicting their crimes are buried? After all, wouldn’t the photos be the best evidence to use to convict them of their crimes? In the process of burying the photos, doesn’t it also become necessary to bury any possibility of criminal prosecution for rape or other such crimes?

Moreover, it’s not as if the victims of the rapes or other such acts are necessarily going to remain silent about what was done to them. Assuming that the Pentagon and the CIA didn’t kill the victims of these horrendous acts to silence them, as soon as they’re released what’s to stop them from relating what was done to them to the insurgents and terrorists?

Sure, the CIA and the Pentagon can deny torture and sex-abuse allegations all day long, especially when there isn’t photographic evidence of such acts. But while the argument “Who are you going to believe — a terrorist or a U.S. official?” might work with Americans, it’s not going to work with friends, relatives, and countrymen of the victims. They’re going to believe the victims, especially given the Pentagon’s and CIA’s history of deceit.

So, given that the victims are presumably free to tell the insurgents and the terrorists what was done to them, what’s the point of keeping the photos depicting what was done to them secret? The point is very simple: They’re keeping those photos secret not only to protect the people who actually committed these horrendous acts from criminal prosecution but also to protect themselves from an outraged citizenry whose consciences might be pierced and who just might demand full and complete official investigations and accountability.

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Boumediene Confirms the Wisdom of Our Ancestors
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In the debates leading up to the enactment of the U.S. Constitution, our American ancestors made a demand. If we accept the Constitution and the federal government it is calling into existence, they said, then we demand passage of a Bill of Rights immediately after the Constitution is adopted.

The reason they made that demand was twofold. First, they didn’t think the Constitution, as written, adequately protected them from potential abuses of power at the hands of federal officials. Second, they were certain that in the absence of express protections of rights and guarantees, federal officials would do very bad things to people, including innocent people.

They were right on both counts. Just ask Lakhdar Boumediene.

For 8 years we’ve been told by federal officials, including the president, the vice president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA, that the prison camp they established in Cuba housed dangerous and evil terrorists. Trust us, they claimed. There are no innocent people here at Guantanamo Bay.

But of course the critical question was: How do you know? How do you know that these people are really guilty of terrorism? And whenever some asked that question, the answer always has been: Trust us. We’re federal officials. We know a terrorist when we see one.

Yet, the Pentagon has now released to France a man named Lakhdar Boumediene, who has been imprisoned and tortured at Guantanamo Bay for almost 8 years.

Why did the Pentagon release Boumediene, a man they held and treated as a dangerous and evil terrorist for almost 8 years? One reason: he was innocent. Yes, innocent. Completely innocent. The president of the United States, the vice president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA imprisoned and tortured an innocent man for almost 8 years, and then simply released him without even the hint of an apology.

Perhaps I should mention that Boumediene has a wife and two small daughters, ages 13 and 9. He’s missed the last 8 years watching his daughters grow from toddlers into young girls.

In the post-9/11 paranoia that gripped U.S. officials, Boumediene was arrested in Bosnia on suspicion of having bombed the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Bosnian courts dismissed the charges for lack of evidence. U.S. officials didn’t like that. Despite the lack of evidence, they were sure that Boumediene was guilty. So, they simply kidnapped him in Bosnia and whisked him away to their torture and sex abuse prison camp in Cuba.

Boumediene’s name might be familiar. It is his name that appears in a major Supreme Court decision entitled Boumediene v. Bush, which established that the Gitmo prisoners could challenge their imprisonment in U.S. federal courts through habeas corpus. You’ll recall that the Pentagon’s position was that its power should be omnipotent — beyond the principles of the Constitution and the control of the federal courts.

The case of Lakhdar Boumediene reminds us why our American ancestors demanded passage of the Bill of Rights. They weren’t too excited about the idea of calling a federal government into existence. They were certain that federal officials would start doing things like imprisoning and abusing innocent people.

That’s why the Bill of Rights requires a speedy trial — to ensure that people aren’t imprisoned indefinitely or for 7 1/2 years.

That’s why it includes a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments — to ensure that federal officials wouldn’t torture and abuse people.

That’s why it includes a right of trial by jury — to provide an independent process by which it can be determined whether a person is guilty or not.

That’s why it includes a guarantee against self-incrimination — to ensure that federal officials couldn’t torture or otherwise coerce confessions out of people, including the innocent.

If you would like to read a recent interview with Lakhdar Boumediene after he arrived in France, click here. For a recent video interview with him, click here.

Thank goodness for the wisdom, foresight, and courage of our American ancestors for demanding passage of the Bill of Rights. It’s their wisdom, foresight, and courage that are so desperately needed today.

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

Monday, June 8, 2009

Obama Needs to Pull the Beam Out
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Mainstream commentators are both surprised and impressed over an admission that President Obama made in his speech in Cairo. Obama publicly acknowledged what no U.S. president has ever dared to state — the U.S. government’s overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953.

Obama’s exact words were: “In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”

“Played a role?” That’s one way to put it but it’s a bit disingenuous. In actuality, the U.S. government didn’t just “play a role” in the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh. It was the U.S. government, operating through its CIA, that planned, initiated, and brought about Mossadegh’s overthrow.

Moreover, what Obama failed to mention was what the U.S. government did in the aftermath of the overthrow. It reinstalled the brutal Shah of Iran into power because he was loyal to the U.S. government. For the next 25 years, the Shah proceeded to terrorize the Iranian people, including with torture chambers, with the full support of the U.S. government.

Obama is also being disingenuous when he implies that the CIA’s regime-change operation was part of some Cold War project. The main motivation for the operation had come as a result of Mossadegh’s nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been run for decades by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Since Iranian officials had foiled British attempts at regime change in Iran, the British government persuaded the CIA to do the dirty deed on its behalf.

What was missing from Obama’s speech was any indication of apology or remorse or even just an acknowledgement that what the U.S. government did was morally wrong. Stating an historical fact is not the same thing as saying, “We’re deeply sorry for what we did to your country and we promise we’ll never do it again.”

Obama’s inability to express a sincere apology for what the U.S. government did to the Iranian people goes to the heart of the problem facing our nation. It reflects not only a refusal to own up to the wrongdoing of one’s government, it also reflects an intention to continue carrying regime change as part of the arsenal of U.S. foreign policy tools.

In his speech in Cairo, Obama should have issued a genuine apology to the Iranian people and, for that matter, to the American people.

Even better, he should have apologized to the people of every country which has been the target of a U.S. regime-change operation. A good place to start would have been Iran. Then, Iraq, where U.S. regime-change operations have killed, maimed, and exiled millions of people, including the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died as a result of the more than 10 years of brutal sanctions imposed by the U.S. government and the UN.

Then, onto to Guatemala, where the CIA’s regime-change operation precipitated a civil war that last decades and killed hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans.

Then, Cuba, Chile, Indonesia, Panama, and other countries, where U.S. regime-change operations have wreaked assassination, death, injury, torture, and destruction.

A few days after Obama’s Cairo speech, he was in Germany, where he pointed out the crimes of the Nazi regime with respect to the Holocaust.

But it’s always easy to point out the sins of others and condemn them. It’s much more difficult to look at one’s own self — or one’s own government — and confess and repent one’s own sins. Or to put it another way, it’s easier to pull the speck out of someone else’s eye than it is to pull the beam out of one’s own eye.

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

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pull Medicare and Medicaid Out by the Root
by Jacob G. Hornberger

When I was kid growing up on a farm outside Laredo, Texas, I had the rather unfortunate experience of having to rid our lawn of weeds. The important thing I learned about weeds is that to get rid of them permanently, you have to pull them out by the root. If you simply cut off the branches or the stem of the weed, it will come roaring back, stronger than ever.

Regrettably, this important principle regarding weed extraction has been lost on many advocates of the free market, especially conservatives. They’ll carp about all the inefficiencies of socialist and interventionist programs but then they end up advocating their standard solution: “reform,” which leaves the program intact, thereby providing an endless stream of inefficiencies to carp about.

There are few better examples of this phenomenon than in the area of healthcare. You can go to the website of any conservative free-market think tank and find any number of articles addressing the health care crisis. They’ll talk about the inefficiencies in HMOs, universal healthcare, Medicare, and Medicaid, the soaring costs of health care, and the frustrations that doctors are experiencing.

All too often, however, they will not dare to mention the real solution to the healthcare crisis: The need to end all government involvement in healthcare, including the repeal (not the reform) of Medicare and Medicaid, the abolition of the FDA, and the repeal of medical licensure laws. Anything short of that is just trimming the branches or the stem of the weed and guarantees that the weed will come roaring back, stronger than ever.

What would a free-market healthcare system look like? Permit me to share with you a bit of what life was like growing up in the poorest city in the United States, which is where the Census Bureau ranked my hometown of Laredo.

In the 1950s, there was no Medicare or Medicaid. Every doctor’s office in Laredo was always filled every morning with people needing medical attention. Every doctor knew that many, if not most, of the people in his office were too poor to pay.

Yet, I never once heard of one single case in which a doctor turned away a patient because he feared not getting paid. In fact, I never heard of even one receptionist in a doctor’s office haranguing a patient for an insurance card or a credit card.

Nonetheless, the doctors in Laredo were in the upper-levels of income earners. They had the nicest homes in town, except for those people who were receiving oil revenue checks.

How did they do it? The money they made off of the people that could pay their bills was more than enough to provide a very high standard of living for the doctors, enough to subsidize their medical treatment of those who could not afford to pay.

Now, that’s not to say that the poor didn’t pay their bills. Oftentimes they’d pay their doctors in good and services, such as vegetables from their garden, a chicken from their coop, or gardening services. But again, this was not a critical factor in the doctor’s decision to treat them.

You see this phenomenon today in the dental profession, where the government does not have a program for free dental care. A few years ago, my dentist here in Virginia told me that he and several other dentists voluntarily formed an association to provide free dental care to the poor one day a week, with a weekly rotation in which each doctor would provide the free services.

This is the way of life to which America must return. It is a way of life in which we believe in ourselves, in others, and in the free choices that people have a right to make in life. If Americans can ever restore that sense of self-esteem and self-worth and that faith in freedom and free markets, the weed of government involvement in healthcare will be a thing of the past.

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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama, Like Bush, Just Doesn’t Get It
by Jacob G. Hornberger

President Obama is in Cairo to deliver a major address to the Muslim world, which no doubt will explain that the U.S. government loves the people of the Middle East and is doing all sorts of good things to them.

Alas, President Obama, like his predecessor, just doesn’t get it. The reason that people in the Middle East are angry at the United States is because the U.S. government is over there. If the U.S. government wasn’t involved in the Middle East, that would bring an end to the U.S. foreign-policy woes in that part of the world.

Or as Ron Paul put it so succinctly, “They attack us because we’ve been over there; we’ve been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We’ve been in the Middle East…. I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and there are delighted that we’re over there.”

On the eve of Obama’s visit to Egypt, which one of the U.S. government’s authoritarian torture partners, Osama bin Laden released an audiotape warning of future terrorist attacks on the United States. In that tape, did bin Laden say that such attacks would be motivated by hatred for America’s freedom and values? No. He said that such attacks would be motivated by the U.S. government’s occupations and interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which continue to kill, maim, and destroy.

Obama, like President Bush, thinks that it’s all just a public-relations problem. We just have to get the message out that U.S. officials love Muslims. Once they get the message, the U.S. Empire will be able to impose its will throughout the Middle East.

And that’s the core of the problem facing the American people. What business does the U.S. government have imposing its will on people who live thousands of miles away?

Indeed, what right did the U.S. government have to oust the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and replace him with an unelected dictator, the Shah of Iran?

What right did the U.S. government have to support Saddam Hussein and deliver weapons of mass destruction to him so that he could use them to kill Iranians?

What right did the U.S. government have to intervene in the Persian Gulf War, especially after signaling to Saddam Hussein that the United States had no interest in the border conflict between Iraq and Kuwait?

What right did the U.S. government have to impose brutal sanctions that took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?

What right did the U.S. government have to establish “no-fly zones” over Iraq, which killed even more Iraqis?

What right did the U.S. government have to invade and occupy Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of more Iraqis, exiling millions more, and destroying the country?

This is what it’s all about. This is what Americans are sacrificing their rights, their freedom, and their financial and economic well-being for — the “right” of the U.S. Empire to impose its will on people thousands of miles away.

That’s also what the kidnapping, the torture and sex abuse, the renditions, the secret prison camps, the kangaroo prosecutions, and the torture-partners are all about.

How can Americans honestly believe that it’s worth it? Is empire so important that everything that Americans hold dear must be sacrificed to maintain it?

If Americans want perpetual war, perpetual fear, perpetual loss of liberty, perpetual terrorism, and perpetual economic and financial chaos, then all they have to do is continue supporting a pro-empire, pro-interventionist foreign policy.

On the other hand, if Americans wish to restore freedom, prosperity, and harmony to our land, the solution is there: immediately withdraw all imperial troops from around the world, especially in the Middle East, bring them home and discharge them, and restore a limited-government constitutional republic to our land. And free the American people — i.e., the private sector — to trade and interact with the people of the world, including those in the Middle East.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what Las Vegas businessman Robert Kahre has done to deserve a federal criminal indictment. From what I can tell, Kahre is the victim of a brutal, heavy-handed Justice Department that is acting at the behest of the IRS and possibly even officials of the Federal Reserve.

Today, Kahre, 48, is in a federal trial facing a 57-count indictment. If he’s convicted on all counts, he could end up spending the rest of his life in jail.

From what I can tell, the feds are going after Kahre for two main reasons, both of which appear to me to be ludicrous abuses of prosecutorial power. First, the feds are upset that Kahre paid his workers with gold and silver coins. Second, they’re upset that he treated his workers as independent contractors rather than as salaried employees.

Let’s look at the coin allegation.

Federal officials issue gold coins and silver coins. The coins are denominated in dollars. For example, the silver coin is a one-dollar silver coin. The gold coins are issued in various denominations, the largest being the 50-dollar American Eagle.

The U.S. government has declared that these coins are legal tender at their face value. In other words, suppose a person wants to buy a concert ticket that costs fifty dollars. He can take his American Eagle gold coin and tender it to the ticket seller. Under the law, the ticket seller must accept the gold coin in payment of the ticket.

Now, most every intelligent person knows that a buyer would never do that, at least not today. Why not? Because in the marketplace that one-ounce gold coin is worth about 1,000 dollars in Federal Reserve paper money, which is also considered legal tender.

Thus, the ticket buyer would be better off selling his gold coin for 1,000 dollars in paper money, paying 50 dollars in paper money to the ticket seller, and pocketing the other 950 dollars in paper money.

Nonetheless, the law is the law. If the buyer wishes to use his gold and silver coins at face value, he is perfectly within his legal rights to do so.

So, here’s what Kahre did. He offered his workers a rate of pay based on the face value of gold and silver coins. For example, suppose Kahre and a worker had agreed on annual pay of 50,000 dollars in paper money. Kahre then says to the employee, “Look, instead of paying you 50,000 dollars a year, I’ll pay you 2,500 dollars a year, payable in 50 American Eagle gold coins”

The worker says, “Fine.” Why would the worker do that? Because he’s just as well off as if he had accepted the 50,000 dollars in paper money because he can sell the coins in the marketplace for 50,000 dollars in paper money.

But there are some major differences for the worker. For one thing, the worker’s annual income is 2,500 dollars rather than 50,000 dollars. That places him under the threshold that requires him to file an income tax return. For obvious reasons, that would not sit well with the IRS.

Second, I’m no expert in tax law but it would seem to me that while the worker would have to pay capital gains tax when he sells the coins, he could defer that tax by saving the coins over a long period of time rather than selling them.

So, what have Kahre and the workers done wrong? Or to be more precise, what have they done that is illegal? If federal officials are stupid enough to make gold coins and silver coins legal tender, then what’s wrong with Americans’ using such coins as legal tender?

Let me tell you what I think their “crime” is: They’ve embarrassed U.S. officials by exposing what the Federal Reserve has done to people’s money, which is a likely reason that Federal Reserve officials, along with the IRS, are pushing this criminal prosecution.

What many Americans don’t realize is that the United States was founded on a monetary system of gold coins and silver coins. Paper money was prohibited, both at the state and federal level because our American ancestors understood that government officials throughout history had used paper money to plunder and loot the citizenry through inflation.

The gold coin/silver coin standard came to a formal end when Franklin Roosevelt nationalized gold and made it a federal crime for Americans to own gold. That act opened up the floodgates to the massive inflation of paper money that Americans have experienced ever since.

The enormous extent of the monetary debasement that had taken place since the 1930s became clear once gold ownership was re-legalized in the 1970s. How? Because Americans could easily compare the face value of gold coins issued by the mint to the price in paper money that the coins bring in the marketplace.

In other words, a fifty-dollar gold coin does not trade for 50 paper dollars. It trades for 1000 paper dollars. That’s because the government officials, decade after decade, have inflated the paper money supply to finance their ever-growing government projects.

So, what Kahre has done is bring people’s attention to that phenomenon. That’s his real crime. That’s why they’re going after him.

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DEBATE ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ll be participating in a 3-way blog debate with a conservative and a liberal over the Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court. The debate begins tomorrow, Wednesday, June 3, at 9 a.m. and continues for 24 hours, ending at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 4. You can keep track of the debate at: www.publicsquare.net. Should be fun! Please spread the word.

Consumer Sovereignty vs. Government Sovereignty
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Hope springs eternal, at least for the socialists. Despite the fact that socialism has failed all over the world to raise people’s standard of living, socialists continue to hope that someone will finally prove that socialism will work. The latest hope arises with the U.S. government’s decision to become the majority owner of General Motors, in exchange for the infusion of some $50 billion of taxpayer money into the company.

Let’s examine the moral and economic aspects of what is taking place here.

General Motors was unable to raise needed capital through the sale of stock. That meant that the American people were unwilling to invest their hard-earned savings in the company. People felt that they had other things to do with their money that were more important to them than investing in GM stock.

So, what does the federal government do? It effectively says, “We don’t really care what you want to do with your own money. So, we’re just going to take the $50 billion that GM needs from you through taxation and give it to the company. In return, we — the federal government — will become GM’s principal stockholder.”

Justifying their action, federal officials exclaim, “Look at what our infusion of $50 billion of tax money is accomplishing. We are saving thousands of jobs and making sure that GM vehicles continue to be sold.”

They forget one important thing, however: all the jobs and products that will not come into existence because people in the private sector never got to spend or invest that $50 billion that was taken from them. Rather than buy GM stock, Americans would have spent or invested their money for other products and services. Demand would have rise in those sectors, which would have raised the demand for labor in those sectors. Since Americans have had that $50 billion taken away from them, those products and services and those jobs now don’t come into existence. That’s the unseen consequence of what the socialists have done by taking $50 billion from the American people and giving it to General Motors.

And don’t you just love it when the commentators say that the new owners of GM are “the taxpayers”? Well, I’m a taxpayer. Does this mean that I get to sell my share of the company? Of course not. This is just socialist talk. You hear it all the time in Latin America, where governments nationalize oil companies. To justify their nationalizations, they say that “the people” or “society” or “the taxpayers” now own the nation’s natural resources.

That’s ludicrous. We’re dealing with two separate and distinct entities here — the federal government and the American people. When a company is privately owned, it is owned by those Americans who own stock in the company. When a company is owned by the federal government, the owner is the federal government.

It’s amusing to see federal officials filled with so much optimism. It’s the optimism of the socialist. Never mind that socialism has never succeeded anywhere. Indeed, never mind that it is inherently defective. And never mind that the federal government has made an absolute mess out of everything it has touched — Social Security, the Postal Service, Amtrak, Medicare, Medicaid, immigration, the drug war, Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, the mistreatment of detainees, and all the rest.

This time, the statists tell us, it’s going to be different. Now that GM is owned by those selfless federal officials, not those greedy, profit-seeking capitalists, the company will be an enormous success and become the hope and inspiration for socialists everywhere.

In a free market the consumer is sovereign. Through his spending and investing, he decides which businesses are going to remain in business and which are not. If a business fails to satisfy the consumer, that business loses market share and possibly even goes out of business.

Why shouldn’t the consumer be sovereign? Why shouldn’t he decide what to do with his own money? Why should the federal government have the authority to run roughshod over consumers by taking their money from them and giving it to failed enterprises? Doesn’t that make the government, rather than the consumer, sovereign?

Now is not the time for Americans to be embracing socialism. Now is the time for Americans to be leading the world in the restoration of a genuine free-market society to our land.

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

Monday, June 1, 2009

Loving Freedom While Destroying It
by Jacob G. Hornberger

A few days after 9/11, a friend of mine at the conservative Heritage Foundation proudly exclaimed to me that Heritage had immediately jumped out in favor of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism, with positions papers and articles. At the same time, Heritage continued to carry the same mission statement on its website: “to formulate public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values, and a strong national defense.”

What my friend failed to recognize is that by jumping out in favor of the war on terrorism, the Heritage Foundation was, at the same time, supporting a policy that permanently precluded the achievement of “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, and traditional values.”

Look at what the war on terrorism has brought our nation:

1. The attack, invasion, and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which are still taking place some 8 years later, along with the deaths and maiming of hundreds of thousands of people, the exile of millions of people, and the destruction of both countries. Such actions have ensured the perpetual threat of terrorist retaliation, which means the war on terrorism has become a permanent feature of American life. We should also bear in mind that neither attack was done with the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war, thereby further denigrating the very document that conservatives purport to hold dear.

2. Federal spending continues to soar out of control, not just to fund ever-growing welfare-state needs at home but also because of the ever-growing expenses associated with the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. That can only mean ever-growing taxes, borrowing, and inflation.

Yet, while conservative scholars, including those at Heritage, seem to understand the economic dangers posed by out-of-control federal spending, taxation, government debt, and inflation, what’s fascinating is that they don’t see that it’s the very policies they support that destroy sound money.

3. One of the aspects of the war on terrorism that has most fascinated me is how conservatives have either supported or pooh-poohed the torture and sex abuse that has taken place at the hands of the U.S. military and the CIA. Before 9/11, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think conservatives, who generally pride themselves on their religious values, would ever endorse or downplay the torture and sex abuse of other people. I would have thought that they would be so shocked and appalled by it all that they would be demanding investigations to determine whether such acts were not just the product of some dysfunctional CIA agents and U.S. soldiers, but instead part of a well-organized governmental policy to discourage resistance to U.S. power. Alas, not so. Conservatives continue to oppose any investigation into the matter, whether through criminal prosecution or by truth commission.

4. The war on terrorism has vested the U.S. government with the power to seize Americans as “enemy combatants” and to deny them trial by jury and due process of law, powers that that cannot possibly be reconciled with the principles of a free society. Since the war on terrorism is permanent, so are the powers that are integral to waging it.

5. Americans are also now subject to the constant threat of random searches of their email and wiretapping of their telephone calls. Even if it’s done illegally, everyone knows that no federal official who does it is ever going to be punished for doing so. How can living in a society under the constant threat of being spied upon and monitored be consistent with freedom? Yet, that’s an integral part of the war on terrorism.

As part of its mission statement, Heritage also calls for a “strong national defense.” But deep down, conservatives have to realize that such a position is disingenuous. In actuality, conservatives support a federal military and military-industrial complex that has nothing to do with defending the United States, especially given that no nation on earth has the military capability of attacking, invading, and occupying the United States.

When the conservatives say they support a “strong national defense,” what they really mean is an enormous military with the capability of establishing and maintaining bases in countries all over the world and imposing its will universally through foreign aid, assassinations, invasions, coups, sanctions, embargoes, and the like.

The perversity of that pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy is that it produces the very conditions for terrorist blowback, which is precisely what happened with 9/11, which is then used as the excuse to continue indefinitely the policies that destroy freedom here at home, including foreign invasions, occupations, out-of-control federal spending, kidnapping, torture and sex abuse, rendition, and suspension of civil liberties.

Libertarians, like conservatives, favor “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, and traditional values.” What distinguishes us from conservatives, however, is that we will don’t endorse governmental policies that destroy what we support. That’s why, unlike conservatives, we oppose a foreign policy of empire and intervention and favor the restoration of a constitutional republic to our land.

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

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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.