Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Hornberger’s Blog, March 2011

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Friday, March 18, 2011

American Dictatorship

Would someone please tell me what limits constrain President Obama in foreign affairs?

A dictator is a government ruler with omnipotent powers, one who has no constitutional or legislative constraints on his powers. Operating through his military, paramilitary, intelligence, and police forces, he can do whatever he chooses to do. He can use his forces, which loyally follow his orders, to attack, arrest, spy, kidnap, torture, rape, abuse, or kill. It’s that principle — omnipotent power on the part of the ruler — that defines the dictatorships in the Middle East. It’s what defines dictatorship, period.

Yet, doesn’t President Obama exercise omnipotent powers in foreign affairs? Operating through his military and paramilitary forces, which loyally follow his commands, the president has the power to invade and occupy any nation on earth. He has the power to kidnap any person in the world and send him to prison camps located in various parts of the world. Or he can send prisoners to foreign dictatorships with orders to secure information or a confession through torture. He can spy on and monitor people overseas. He can impose sanctions and embargoes on recalcitrant foreign regimes, even if such meaures kill thousands of innocent people in the process.

All this the president can do on his own initiative. In foreign affairs, President Obama can do whatever he wants, and he has the most powerful and loyal military and paramilitary forces in history to carry out his commands.

Of course, the president doesn’t do these things personally, but no dictator personally carries out or enforces his own dictates. That’s what thousands of bureaucratic personnel, including those in the military, are all about. They exist to faithfully and loyally carry out the orders of their boss. That’s the purpose of the U.S. military, the NSA, and the CIA: to serve the president by loyally and obediently carrying out whatever orders he issues.

Consider Libya, for example, another country that has never attacked the United States. The president will soon order his military to attack the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, killing countless Libyans in the process.

The military will faithfully and loyally carry out the president’s orders and ask Americans to “support the troops” in the president’s war against the Libyans. Not one single officer or enlisted man will refuse the president’s orders because they all know what will happen if they do. Those who refuse will be arrested, imprisoned, tortured, abused, and severely punished by their superior officers.

Military personnel will convince themselves that by following the president’s orders, they are fulfilling their oath to support and defend the Constitution, protecting “national security,” and defending the rights and freedoms of the American people.

I repeat: What constitutional and legislative constraints exist on the president’s powers in foreign affairs? Aren’t such powers as omnipotent as those exercised by the biggest dictators in history?

Is an American dictator in foreign affairs what our American ancestors envisioned when they brought the federal government into existence with the Constitution?

On the contrary, their aim was the precise opposite. That’s why the Constitution delegated the power to declare war to Congress, not the president. The Framers made it so the president was prohibited from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress.

Our American ancestors also sent a powerful message to the president with the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments: that he is prohibited from searching people’s homes, businesses, and personal effects without a judicially issued warrant based on probable cause; that he is prohibited from imposing cruel and unusual punishments on people; that he is prohibited from denying due process of law to anyone; and that he is prohibited from denying anyone the right to a jury trial and to a speedy trial.

In other words, our ancestors envisioned a president whose powers were limited, not only on a domestic basis — that is, not only here within the United States — but also on a foreign basis. They opposed dictatorship, period.

The president as dictator in foreign affairs has come into existence as part and parcel of the turn that the U.S. government took toward empire. That was when America abandoned its role as a limited-government, constitutional republic. That was when U.S. presidents began ignoring constitutional restraints on power in foreign affairs. That was when the courts began declining to enforce the Constitution in foreign affairs. That was when the American people began deferring to the authority of the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

In his Fourth of July speech to Congress, John Quincy Adams foretold what would happen to America should she become an empire: “The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world.”

What’s the solution for presidential dictatorship in foreign affairs? The solution is obvious: a dismantling of America’s military empire and a restoration of a limited-government constitutional republic, along with strict constitutional and legislative constraints on the power of the president, together with an independent judiciary with the courage and fortitude willing to enforce them. Most important, as our ancestors taught us, the solution necessitates an aroused citizenry whose hearts and minds are aflame with the principles and spirit of liberty.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Constitution Requires a Congressional Declaration of War against Libya

Given the battlefield success of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s standing army against Libyan rebels, President Obama has now shifted his tune. Instead of simply advocating a no-fly zone over Libya, Obama is now requesting the United Nations Security Council to authorize the United States to bomb Libyan tanks and artillery.

Did you catch that? The president of the United States is going to the UN to seek permission to attack a sovereign and independent country.

Where is the Tea Party when you need it? Aren’t they the ones that carry the miniature-sized versions of the U.S. Constitution in their pockets? Attention Tea Partiers: Check out the section of the Constitution that requires the president to secure a formal declaration of war from Congress before he can wage war against a foreign regime. Let’s hear from you. This is no time for silence.

The fact that Obama decides to go to foreigners to seek permission to wage another war of aggression just goes to show, once again, how far our nation has strayed from its founding principles.

For one thing, America was founded on the principle of no standing army. Our ancestors knew that a standing army is antithetical to the principles of a free society, a principle that the rebels in Libya and other Middle East countries are now discovering.

But there is another reason that a standing army is dangerous, as Americans have discovered: It can be used by a ruler to involve a nation in endless foreign military escapades, which oftentimes are so expensive that they bring financial bankruptcy down upon a nation. I’d say just ask the British Empire or the Soviet Empire but they’re out of existence owing to bankruptcy.

What’s fascinating is how virtually no one, except libertarians, brings up the U.S. Constitution when it comes to foreign wars, specifically that part that prohibits the president from waging war without a congressional declaration of war.

It’s almost as if Americans have just come to accept the fact that the president is now a ruler with omnipotent powers when operating in foreign affairs. The notion is that the president, operating through his military and paramilitary forces (who are always ready and willing to loyally obey whatever orders he issues, no questions asked), can do whatever he wants with respect to foreign policy.

The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It embodies the constraints on federal power that were imposed on the federal government as a condition of permitting the federal government to come into existence. The Constitution is the law that we the people have imposed on federal officials, including the president and his military and paramilitary forces. Just as federal officials require us, the citizenry, to obey laws that they impose on us, they are required to comply with the law that we have imposed on them.

The Constitution requires a congressional declaration of war before the president can wage war against Libya or any other nation. If the president uses his standing army to attack Libya without a congressional declaration of war, he is a lawbreaker and should be impeached for his high crime. The fact that this critically important part of the Constitution has been ignored in the past should not be permitted to serve as a defense or an excuse at the president’s impeachment trial. The law is the law. If Obama or anyone else doesn’t like it, they’re free to seek a constitutional amendment authorizing the president to both declare and wage war. Until then, the law should be enforced.

Should the U.S. Congress declare war on Libya? Should the president wage war on Libya? No to both questions. Like Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya has not attacked the United States, which would make the U.S. government, once again, the aggressor in the conflict. Wars of aggression were condemned as war crimes at Nuremberg.

What can Americans why sympathize with the Libyan rebels do to help them out? They can take personal responsibility for their beliefs and travel to Libya and join the rebels. Not surprisingly, not one single American interventionist has done so.

Our ancestors brought into existence a nation with no standing army, no militarism, and no empire, no Federal Reserve, no federal torture, no federal kidnapping, no war on terrorism, no CIA, no war on drugs, no foreign wars, no public schooling, no paper money, and no wars of aggression. They brought into existence a government based on limited powers expressly enumerated in the U.S Constitution, an economic system based on free-market principles, and a society deeply committed to the preservation of civil liberties and fundamental rights.

The time arrived has arrived for Americans to return to first principles.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time to Stop Deferring to Federal Authority

With Saudi Arabia’s military intervention into Bahrain, the dark side of U.S. foreign policy becomes even more exposed. The purpose of the Saudi intervention is to prop up the brutal dictatorship in Bahrain, one of the many dictatorships that the U.S. government has long supported as part of its imperial foreign policy.

Of course, it goes without saying that the Saudi regime also ranks among the longtime brutal and corrupt U.S.-supported dictatorships in the Middle East.

Imagine that: One Middle East U.S.-supported dictatorship intervening militarily to support another Middle East U.S.-supported dictatorship to put down with brutal force people who are resisting tyranny and oppression at the hands of the U.S.-supported Bahrain dictatorship.

Since the U.S. Empire has long provided foreign aid in the form of weaponry to both dictatorships, any bullets fired into demonstrators will likely have “Made in the USA” on them. It should also be pointed out that the military forces of both dictatorships will likely prove effective in suppressing opposition to Bahrain tyranny given that the militaries of both dictatorships have been trained by the U.S. military. In fact, according to the New York Times, just last week the Saudi and U.S. militaries worked together in a joint training exercise in Saudi Arabia.

The purpose of the Saudi intervention is to help the Bahrain dictatorship effect a brutal crackdown on protestors, no doubt following the model of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, whose brutal crackdown appears to be succeeding in Libya. According to the Times, Saudi officials were extremely upset with President Obama for so quickly abandoning Egypt’s dictator, another longtime ally and partner of the U.S. Empire, and favoring the Egyptian protestors who were sick and tired of the brutal and cruel U.S.-supported tyranny under which they had been suffering for 30 years.

One of the amusing aspects of all this mainstream publicity disclosing the dark realities of U.S. foreign policy has been the reaction of American interventionists. How can anyone fail to laugh when he reads such palpable nonsense as the claim that the U.S. government is firmly committed to democracy but has no choice but to support dictatorships to protect our interests in the Middle East? It only goes to show how successful public schools have been in inculcating a mindset within people that so easily accepts such nonsensical thinking.

If one of the victims of these brutal U.S.-supported dictatorships responds with a terrorist attack against the United States, the response of U.S. interventionists is predictable: “It’s because of Islam! It’s because of the radical Muslims! It’s because they hate us for our freedom and values.”

If you ask an interventionist, “Do you think it might be possible that the terrorists were motivated by anger arising from the killing of their son or the rape of their daughter or the torture of their father by the cruel, brutal, and corrupt U.S.-supported dictatorship?” their response is predictable: “Oh, no. Those things don’t bother Muslims at all. They are totally indifferent to the killing, torture, or rape of their families and friends at the hands of U.S.-supported dictatorships. It’s really just because the Koran requires Muslims to be terrorists who hate America for its freedom and values.”

The Saudi dictatorship’s intervention in Bahrain to prop up its fellow U.S.-supported dictatorship should serve as another wake-up call to the American people. It’s time for Americans to abandon the passive role they have played for decades with respect to U.S. foreign policy. The time has arrived to stop deferring to federal authority and take moral responsibility for moving our nation in a different direction, one that involves the dismantling of the U.S. military empire and the restoration of the American limited-government republic, non-interventionism in the affairs of other nations, and a liberation of the American private sector to interact peacefully with the people of the world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Socialism’s Denigration of Free Will

No doubt American statists are feeling that they are good and caring people given the fact that the U.S. government is sending warships and supplies to the Japanese people. I wonder if they also feel that they are bad people given the fact that the U.S. government is also sending cash and armaments to brutal and corrupt dictatorships in the Middle East.

The difference between humanitarian aid provided by the U.S. government and that provided by people in the private sector is the difference between night and day. The government sector relies on force while the private sector is based on voluntarism. The use of force is antithetical to principles of morality and freedom, while the principles of voluntarism are consistent with the principles of morality and freedom.

Contrary to what some people might claim, under U.S. law the payment of income taxes is not voluntary. The payment of such taxes is mandated by law. If a person refuses to pay such taxes, the government has the authority to initiate force to prosecute the person criminally and to collect the money in coercive civil proceedings. The person might end up spending many years in jail. At the same time, he might have his bank account seized, his home sold at a tax-lien foreclosure sale, and his wages garnished.

All such legal proceedings are based on force.

The process is entirely different when it comes to making donations in the private sector. Groups often approach people in the private sector and ask for a donation. The person has the right to say yes or no. If he decides not to donate, the entity requesting the donation lacks the authority to use force against him. It cannot seize him and cart him away to jail. It cannot seize his assets and convert them to its use. Under the law, it must respect the decision of the person being asked for the donation.

When government forcibly takes money from people and delivers it others in need, who is the good, caring, compassionate person? The IRS agent? The congressman who enacted the law? The president who enforces the law? The federal judge who interprets the law? The bureaucrat who delivers the money or the weaponry? The taxpayer? The citizen?

Actually, none of the above. No system based on force can be justified morally, religiously, or spiritually. In fact, the real question is: Who is morally responsible for the stealing, plunder, looting, and denigration of free will and freedom of choice when the U.S. government taxes people and delivers the money to others?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Democracy-Spreading Hypocrisy in Cuba

A Cuban court has sentenced USAID contractor Alan Gross to 15 years in prison for engaging in subversive activity intended to undermine the Cuban government. Some 15 months ago, Gross was arrested by Cuban authorities for delivering satellite telephone equipment to people within Cuba.

At first U.S. officials falsely implied that Gross was just a regular humanitarian who was trying to help out the Cuban people, but according to an article in theNew York Times, U.S. officials “eventually acknowledged that Mr. Gross lacked a proper visa and was working on a secretive United States Agency for International Development, or Usaid, program to expand Internet access.”

Needless to say, U.S. officials are up in arms over the 15-year sentence, portraying Gross’ activities as just as just another innocent democracy-spreading project of the U.S. government.

Nonsense!

How can the U.S. government be genuinely committed to spreading democracy when it remains firmly committed to supporting dictatorship? Is the U.S. government canceling its billions of dollars in foreign aid to the dictatorships in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia?

Not on your life.

Despite its much ballyhooed hoopla in favor of pro-democracy demonstrators in the Middle East and against Libya’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. government is standing firm in favor of continuing to support the various dictatorships it has supported for decades, including the military dictatorship in Egypt with which it even had a partnership to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government.

Let’s also not forget that the U.S. government’s support of anti-democratic dictatorships isn’t limited to the Middle East but in fact also extends to Latin America. There was the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship in Chile and the military dictatorship in Argentina. Don’t forget about the CIA’s ouster of the democratically elected president of Guatemala and his replacement by a series of brutal U.S.-approved military dictators. For that matter, don’t forget the U.S. military’s School of the Americas, which long prided itself on training the military forces of all sorts of right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, ones that were known for their death squads, rapists, and torturers.

What was Gross doing in Cuba? He was stirring up trouble, which is what the U.S. Empire is really good at. As everyone knows, ever since 1959 U.S. officials have had a deep psychological obsession with removing Fidel Castro from power and replacing him with a U.S.-approved stooge, an obsession that continues even to this day.

What would happen if a Cuban communist agent got caught violating U.S. law by engaging in subversive activity designed to result in the overthrow of the U.S. government? We all know what would happen. U.S. officials would scream like banshees, raise the color codes to super-red, and impose even more anti-terrorism (and anti-communism) measures against the American people. And then they’d sentence the guy to life in prison or even execute him. Or they’d simply take him to the U.S. side of Cuba, where they’d torture him and detain him for life without a trial.

In fact, consider the five Cuban agents who were caught in Florida several years ago trying to ferret out plans to commit terrorist attacks against Cuba. They were caught and actually prosecuted by U.S. officials for “spying.” The five men, who are known as the Cuban Five, received jail sentences ranging from 15 years to life. Apparently only the United States, not Cuba, is permitted to defend against terrorism.

In another example of the hypocrisy that has long pervaded the U.S. Empire, U.S. officials complain about the fact that Gross was held for more than a year without a trial. Are they joking? At Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has held people for some 10 years without a trial. At least Gross got a “trial,” even though it was about as genuine as the “trials” will be at Gitmo, that is if they ever get around to holding them.

Rightfully, Cuba is none of the U.S. government’s business. The U.S. government has no more legitimate authority to interfere in the affairs of Cuba than it does in any country in the world. Cuba belongs to the Cuban people, not to the U.S. government.

The U.S. government is now seeking leniency for Alan Gross. It should show good faith by immediately doing the following two things (1) permanently lift the cruel, brutal, and hypocritical 50-year-old U.S. embargo against the Cuban people, and (2) permanently close its cruel, brutal, and hypocritical prison camp in Cuba and relinquish all leasehold rights to the property to Cuba.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Isn’t It Evil to Support Evil?

I continue to be fascinated by the response of the American people to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Specifically, I cannot understand why people seem so blasé about the fact that their very own government, including the U.S. military and the CIA, have knowingly and intentionally supported and partnered with brutal dictatorial regimes that have used torture, indefinite detention, and other tyrannical measures against their own people for decades.

After all, Americans pride themselves on being a moral and upright people. Millions of Christians go to church every Sunday and pray for God’s guidance in their lives throughout the week. Most people strive to do the right thing.

Consider the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East against which people are now risking their lives in peaceful or violent resistance to their own government. For decades, the dictatorial regimes have been maintaining control over their citizenry through vicious, horrific measures.

For example, if someone criticized the regime or questioned its legitimacy, government agents would monitor the person’s activities. If the conduct persisted, the person would be arrested, perhaps in the dead of night with government SWAT teams barging into the person’s home, fully armed. The person would be forcibly taken to a government building specially designed to torture people. Electric devices would be placed on the person’s private parts. The torturers would push the button, sending charges of electricity into the person. After the torture, which could go on indefinitely, the person would be released, if he had conformed, or he could be jailed indefinitely and tortured periodically until he got his mind straight.

This is how those dictatorial regimes have maintained their hold on power — through terror, torture, and endless incarceration. The message was sent to the citizens: “We are in control. Do not resist us. This is what will happen to you if you do.”

People knew that if they violently resisted, the dictator’s standing army was fully prepared to protect national security and maintain order and stability by rounding up as many people as necessary, torturing them, jailing them, and perhaps even executing them.

My hunch is that if you asked ordinary Americans whether they consider this type of thing evil, most of them would not hesitate. They would immediately respond that of course this type of thing is evil. American Christians would undoubtedly respond that such tyrannical conduct is inconsistent with Christian principles and with the principles on which America was founded.

Yet, everything seems to change when it comes to the U.S. government’s role in the evil. Keep in mind that the U.S. government, including the president, the Congress, the Pentagon, and the CIA, fully supported and participated with those dictatorial regimes, knowing full well what such regimes were doing to their own people with those nighttime arrests, brutal torture, incarceration, and even executions.

During the entire time that all that evil conduct was taking place, U.S. officials continued pouring foreign aid into the regimes, helping them to maintain their torture facilities and to shore up their military forces. The Pentagon allied with their military counterparts in the dictatorships, helping to train them to be more effective military personnel. The CIA entered into formal partnerships in which the dictatorships’ torture teams would torture people for the U.S. government. It was all done in the name of protecting “our interests” or ensuring “order and stability.”

But if something is evil, then how can the support of such evil — how can a partnership with such evil — not also be evil?

All too many Americans will simply not permit themselves to consider the possibility that the reason that so many Muslims are angry, hateful, and radicalized is precisely because of what the U.S. government has done to people in the Middle East. It’s obviously easier to let the mind drift to how violent Muslims are or how bad a religion Islam is. Oh, sure, Americans can easily understand why Muslims would be angry and hateful toward their own tyrannical regimes. But a mindset of deference to authority — reverence for the federal government — support for the troops — nationalism — somehow precludes such Americans from seeing why people would be angry at a foreign regime—i.e., the U.S. government — that has done very horrific things to them too.

Should the U.S. government be supporting and partnering with tyrannical regimes that are admittedly engaged in evil? Should the U.S. government be involved in assassinations, coups, kidnappings, torture, abuse, humiliation, wars of aggression, undeclared wars, invasions, occupations, sanctions, and embargoes against people in the Middle East and, for that matter, anywhere else? Should the U.S. government be killing people for the sake of political goals, including regime-change operations? Is it just possible that the U.S. government’s actions in the Middle East have radicalized Muslims and others into bearing deep anger and rage toward the United States?

Is any of this consistent with Christian principles? Has God actually created a universe in which it is necessary for the U.S. government to engage with and commit evil to protect the nation and the citizenry? Does God want Americans to have a government that is supporting and participating with evil?

If we are ever going to get our nation on the right track, Americans are going to need to do some serious soul-searching on the proper role of the U.S. government in world affairs (and domestic affairs). Christians in particular are going to need to do some serious praying for moral and spiritual guidance when it comes to principles of evil and right conduct.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Military Has the Authority to Nudify You Too

In the controversy over the U.S. military’s decision to nudify Bradley Manning, I suspect that most Americans have not yet come to the realization that U.S. military forces have the authority to do the same thing to each and every American. It’s simply one part of the revolutionary transformation of American life, one in which the military now has the dominant, controlling position over the citizenry, who now are in the subservient position.

Consider, for example, a jury trial in federal district court in which an American citizen is being prosecuted by federal prosecutors for terrorism. The prosecutors put on their case, which is then given to the jury. The jury decides that there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and acquits the accused.

Is that the end of the story? Does the person’s acquittal mean that he walks out of the courtroom a free man? Does the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment preclude him from being punished again for the same offense?

The answer used to be “yes” to all three questions.

Not anymore. The U.S. military now has the dominant, controlling power over the federal judiciary. The military can now ignore and disregard the verdict of acquittal from a federal jury and an order of discharge by a federal judge. The military can take the person into custody before he leaves the courtroom and take him to a military prison, where he can be treated as an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism.” That, of course, can mean indefinite detention, torture, including waterboarding and sensory deprivation, and forced nudity.

Yes, this applies to you and every other American. We now live in a country in which the military, pursuant to orders from the commander in chief, has the authority to arrest and round up Americans as suspected terrorists, transfer them to a military dungeon or concentration camp for life, torture them, and nudify them.

While Americans, like foreigners, still have the right to petition a court for a writ of habeas corpus, all the government has to do is provide a modicum of evidence establishing ties to terrorism and the petition will be denied. When it comes to “national security” and the perpetual “war on terrorism,” federal judges are deferring to the military, just like they do in other countries where the military plays a dominant role in society.

A few weeks ago, a federal district court dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by the American citizen Jose Padilla against U.S. officials. The suit alleged that the U.S. government, operating through its military, had no lawful authority to treat Padilla or any other American as an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism,” including indefinite detention, torture, and denial of trial by jury, speedy trial, and due process of law.

The government opposed Padilla’s suit with extreme vehemence, just as it opposed Padilla’s habeas corpus actions when he was being held as an “enemy combatant.”

Why was the government fighting the Padilla case with such vehemence? Because the government knew that if it could prevail in the Padilla case, the ruling would apply to all Americans, not just Padilla, thereby effecting a revolutionary transformation in the historical relationship between the military and civilian in American life.

As people in Egypt have discovered, the power of the government to spy on people, take them into custody, torture them, and incarcerate them indefinitely is the hallmark of a tyrannical government. As you may know, the Mubarak dictatorship justified such powers under the war on terrorism and the war on drugs. The government assumed such powers during a crisis or emergency when the president of Egypt was assassinated 30 years ago. While the powers were supposed to be temporary, they are still in existence three decades later.

Interestingly and revealingly, the U.S. government supported the Mubarak dictatorship for those 30 years, including with cash and military armaments. The support came from not just the president and the Congress but also from the Pentagon, which worked closely with the Egyptian military and even provided training for Egyptian military forces. The U.S. military did not provide such training with reluctance. It was provided with conviction and belief that this was the right thing to do to maintain order and stability in the Middle East.

We should also keep in mind that the CIA, the U.S. government’s paramilitary force, also worked closely with the Egyptian dictatorship’s torture team, even retaining the team to torture people on behalf of the U.S. government. That arrangement was, again, not made reluctantly. It was done with the conviction and belief that this was the right thing to do.

Is the U.S. government spying on, rounding up Americans, imprisoning them, torturing them, and nudifying them? Well, we don’t know yet the extent of the illegal NSA-telecom spying. But no, the government is not doing to a large number of Americans what it has done to Padilla and Manning.

What is dangerous, however, is that Americans now live in a country in which their very own government now wields the same types of anti-terrorism powers that the Mubarak’s military dictatorship wielded in Egypt. Even more ominous is the fact that Americans now live in a country whose military showed enthusiastic support for the Egyptian dictatorship, including its military forces.

If another big emergency or crisis arises here in the United States, especially one relating to the war on terrorism or the war on drugs, American might just discover why the Founding Fathers opposed standing armies and militarism and why they enshrined the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments into the Bill of Rights.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blame the Empire, Not Muslims

Yesterday, I appeared on the Glenn Beck Show (at 27:40), with Judge Andrew Napolitano as substitute host, to discuss U.S. Rep. Peter King’s upcoming congressional hearings on the “radicalization of Muslims.”

Let me tell you what’s going on here.

If U.S. statists can convince Americans that the terrorist problem lies with Muslims and Islam — in other words, a religious problem, then that will provide the justification for continuing all the bad things that the U.S. government has been doing to people in the Middle East (and elsewhere around the world, such as in Latin America with its deadly and destructive war on drugs).

Even better, from the standpoint of government officials such as Peter King, who serves as chairman of House Homeland Security Committee, it will enable the U.S. government to continue maintaining and expanding its massive and ever-growing anti-terrorist powers over the American people, such as the Patriot Act, warrantless searches, indefinite detention, NSA spying, torture, TSA porn-scanning, terrorism color codes, and other such anti-freedom nonsense.

Isn’t it interesting that Rep. King is scheduling his much-hyped hearings on Muslims and Islam at the same time that some mainstream commentators are finally focusing on the U.S. government’s longtime support of and partnership with the brutal dictators of the Middle East as well as the rendition-torture agreements that were entered into between the U.S. government and such dictatorships?

Focusing on Muslims and Islam provides a convenient smokescreen to cover up what the U.S. government has been doing to people in the Middle East, including Muslims. Of course, that’s the motivation behind the sudden “we love the Middle East protestors” attitude among President Obama and other U.S. statists. The last thing they want Americans to focus on is the U.S. government support of — with cash, weaponry, guidance, and training — the Middle East dictators that the protestors are now risking their lives to oust from power.

The fact is that the radicalization-of-Muslims issue is nothing more than a red herring, one that American statists are using to justify the continuation of the U.S. government’s imperialist activities in the Middle East (and around the world), along with the ever-increasing control over the American people with anti-terrorist powers that also happen to be the hallmark of the Middle East dictatorships.

Think about it: How many times did you ever hear statists complaining about the Muslim threat during the Cold War? None! Back then, it was the “communist threat” that was used to continue the ever-increasing expansion of the garrison state. In fact, statists like to forget that the U.S. government was actually partnering with radical Muslims when it was U.S. government trying to bring an end to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Then, when the Berlin Wall fell, and the U.S. military and military-industrial complex went into a panic over the possibility that Americans might end their dominant and privileged position in society, how many times did statists decry Islam as a problem? None! Throughout the 1990s, the official enemy was Saddam Hussein, who had previously been a partner of the U.S. government during the 1980s.

During the 1990s, the U.S. government was also killing Iraqis almost non-stop, with the Persian Gulf War, the brutal sanctions, and the deadly no-fly zones. It was stationing troops near Islamic holy lands. The U.S. government’s attitude was that the value of Iraqi life was essentially worthless, given U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s declaration that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.” The U.S. government was providing unconditional financial and military aid to the Israeli government while, at the same time, supporting, partnering, and helping the brutal Middle East dictators who were terrorizing, torturing, and killing their own people — the same regimes that the demonstrators are now trying to oust.

What do statists say about all this? They imply that the people of the Middle East either loved it or were indifferent to it. Oh, sure, people were being arrested, tortured, raped, starved, and killed, but their love for the U.S. government, which was funding and guiding their oppressors, say the statists, was boundless.

But it wasn’t. Throughout it all, the anger and rage against the United States was simmering and then boiling. It erupted in terrorist retaliation in the WTC bombing in 1993, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, and the 9/11 attacks.

The retaliators have always made it clear as to what motivated them to retaliate with terrorist attacks: U.S. foreign policy — that is, the horrific things the U.S. Empire was doing to people in the Middle East.

As Ron Paul put it in that famous presidential debate, the terrorists came over here to kill Americans because the U.S. government was over in the Middle East killing people.

Not so, said the statists. They claimed that the terrorists are lying. The truth, the statist claimed, is that people in the Middle East love the U.S. government’s foreign policy but that a small group of “radicalized” Muslims just hate the United States for its “freedom and values.”

That position enabled the U.S. government to continue its imperialist activities after 9/11, including the undeclared wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, which simply poured more fuel on the fire that had already engendered so much anti-American anger and rage. As each new torture, imprisonment, and killing in those countries produced 10 more potential terrorists, American statists steadfastly maintained, “The fact that our government is killing their families and friends has nothing to do with their anger; they just hate us for our freedom and values.”

Equally important, the U.S. government used the 9/11 attacks to level an enormous and ever-growing attack on the civil liberties of the American people. That’s what the enemy-combatant doctrine, the Patriot Act, the torture, the indefinite detention, the denial of due process, the denial of trial by jury, and the denial of speedy trial were all about.

U.S. statists know that if the American people decide to stop the evil in which the U.S. government has engaged in the Middle East, including the ardent support of the dictators that people are now ousting, then the threat of terrorist retaliation evaporates, which means no more “war on terrorism” and no more excuses for such things as TSA porn-scanning machines, lawless Patriot Act searches, financial privacy intrusions, Gitmo, torture, kangaroo tribunals, and suspension of constitutional guarantees.

In other words, if the American people finally recognize the truth about what our nation has become with a government as empire, they just might decide to dismantle the U.S. government’s entire imperialist and militarist apparatus, along with the ever-growing taxes, spending, and debt needed to fund it.

That’s what scares government officials like Peter King to death.

That’s why it’s so important for statists to create a distraction, which is precisely what Congressman King is going with his ridiculous hearings. “It’s Islam. It’s the Muslims,” the statists will cry during those hearings. “Don’t even think about looking at what your government has been doing to people in the Middle East for decades. Continue to defer to the authority of your public officials. They would never mislead you. They would never lie to you. They are here to help you.”

If enough Americans can finally break through the lies and deception, then we can put our nation back on the right road — the road envisioned by the Founding Fathers — the road to peace, prosperity, freedom, and a constitutional republic.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The U.S. Government: Egypt’s Co-Tyrant 

In a scene that almost certainly made Pentagon and CIA officials both angry and nervous, Egyptian protestors stormed the headquarters of the much-feared State Security Investigations agency in Cairo, where they began examining top-secret documents. This is the agency that was primarily responsible for enforcing the Mubarak dictatorship’s war on terrorism and war on drugs with such things as warrantless arrests, indefinite detention, torture, and execution.

Why would that make the Pentagon and the CIA angry and nervous? According to an article in the Washington Post, “State Security also collaborated with the United States on counterterrorism and was likely to have kept files on the rendition program under which terrorism suspects from around the world were relocated to Egypt by U.S. agents.”

But perhaps the Pentagon and CIA need not worry. According to the article, there was a lot of document shredding before the protestors took over the building. For all we know, maybe some U.S. intelligence agents were even the ones doing the shredding.

Carefully note what the protestors found inside that ominous building:

“Witnesses also said they found implements used for torture, including electric shock devices…. On an upper floor, the protestors found a whirlpool and a gym in the luxurious quarters used by the service’s officers.”

Isn’t that nice? The torturers were able to release their stresses and tensions in their luxurious whirlpool and gym after a hard day at work.

Did you catch the part about electric shock devices? That’s all the information about them that was provided in the article, but I think everyone knows how these devices were used by Egyptian torturers. They were attached to a person’s private parts and then turned on in order to send a charge of electricity into the most sensitive part of a person’s body with the intent of causing excruciating pain.

What does all this have to do with the Pentagon and the CIA, our very own government’s military and paramilitary forces? It is a virtual certainty that U.S. military officials and CIA officials visited and inspected that facility and that they fully approved of what they saw.

How do I arrive at this surmise? No, not because the U.S. Congress has held hearings into the matter. That’s the last thing they’re going to do, given the fact that it has been Congress that has been appropriating $2 billion a year in foreign aid for the Egyptian dictatorship for decades, with the full knowledge and understanding that some of the money was being used to do the types of things that the State Security Investigations agency was doing to the Egyptian people as part of the government’s war on terrorism and war on drugs, two wars that the U.S. government fully agrees with.

Don’t forget the rendition-torture agreement between the U.S. and Egyptian governments. No, we still don’t have the exact details of the agreement because, again, this is the last thing that Congress is going to investigate. But we can surmise that the agreement went like this: In partial return for the $2 billion annual payment to the Egyptian tyrants, the U.S. government would periodically deliver a prisoner to Egypt for the purpose of torture. So that U.S. officials would have plausible deniability, Egyptian officials would publicly assure the U.S. government that the prisoner would not be tortured, but there would be plenty of winking going on between the respective representatives handling the matter. Then, the prisoner would be brutally tortured, after which Egyptian officials would deny they tortured the prisoner and U.S. officials would cite Egyptian promises not to torture the prisoner.

What are the chances that U.S. officials failed to inspect and investigate the facilities where the torture was taking place prior to entering into their rendition-torture agreement? The chances are nil. First, it was U.S. taxpayer money that was being used to underwrite the expenses of running the place, including the electricity bill to run the shock devices and the whirlpool. Second, U.S. officials would have been derelict in entering into a torture agreement without first checking out the competence of the torturers and the passion that held for their job.

Let’s face it: It’s been the U.S. government as part of its imperialist foreign policy that has enabled, encouraged, and funded the Egyptian dictatorship’s oppression of the Egyptian people for 30 years.

Alas, however, all too many Americans just don’t want to confront the reality of what their government has become as an empire. It’s easier to continue living the life of the lie, the life that continues to hew to a fairy tale about the kindness and goodness of the imperialist way of life. It’s just still too difficult for many Americans to confront the truth of what America has become as an empire — a nation whose government served as the Egyptian people’s co-oppressor, co-torturer, and co-tyrant.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cuba and Egypt: Spreading Democracy and Loving Dictatorship

Who would have thought that a trial in Cuba and a revolution in Egypt would combine to expose the hypocrisy of the U.S. government?

In Cuba, a two-day trial of a U.S. government contractor named Alan Gross has wrapped up. No, there was no jury trial. In Cuba, people don’t have a right to a jury trial, any more than they do at Guantánamo Bay. A panel of judges determines the guilt of the accused, just like at Gitmo. U.S. officials are complaining that Gross was held for a year without a trial, forgetting that at Gitmo there are men who have been held for 10 years without a trial. On neither side of Cuba are prisoners accorded the right of speedy trial.

But the real point is what Gross allegedly did to warrant a criminal prosecution in Cuba. Working for a U.S.A.I.D. “democracy-spreading” project, he got caught distributing satellite telephone equipment in Cuba, which is against the law in Cuba.

Needless to say, U.S. officials say that Gross’ activities were simply part of the U.S. government’s love of democracy and its innocent wish to spread democracy all over the world.

What nonsense! Save it for America’s public schools.

Gross’ activities were part of the decades-long obsession among U.S. officials to cause trouble in Cuba in the hopes of finally, once and for all, bringing regime change to Cuba, one in which Fidel Castro is ousted from power and replaced by a ruler who is loyal to the U.S. government, such as Castro’s predecessor Fulgencio Batista.

Everybody knows that U.S.A.I.D. has long served as a cover for the CIA. And everyone also knows that the CIA has longed for the ouster of Fidel Castro from power since 1959. Let’s not forget the CIA’s Bay of Pigs invasion and its countless assassination attempts against Castro. Let’s not forget the cruel and brutal embargo that, in combination with Castro’s socialist economic system, has squeezed the lifeblood out of the Cuban people for some 50 years.

Ironically, in the same weekend newspapers in which Gross’ trial was being reported, the New York Times was providing a fascinating window into the U.S. military’s longtime support of the military dictatorship in Egypt. The article begins with detailing the Pentagon’s donation of millions of dollars for a 650-bed International Medical Center for Egyptian soldiers.

Think about that. Did you know that the Pentagon has the authority to donate millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to a brutal dictatorship’s military forces? It’s probably worth mentioning that the hospital was built under the regime of Bill Clinton, a liberal. I probably should also mention that the Egyptian military turned the hospital into a commercial enterprise as part of the dominant role that the military plays in the Egyptian economy.

The point here is very simple. The U.S. military and the CIA have absolutely no reservations about supporting, funding, working with, and partnering with dictatorships, especially military dictatorships. In fact, the sad truth is that the U.S. military and the CIA have long loved dictatorships, so long as the dictator is part of the U.S. Empire.

Pentagon and CIA officials know that dictators bring “order and stability” to a country, while democracy is oftentimes messy and unpredictable and can even result in a government that opposes the U.S. Empire. With military dictators, all the Empire needs to do is put large sums of money into the coffers of the dictator, which not only enriches the dictator and his henchmen personally but also strengthens their military, police, and intelligence forces in order to ensure their indefinite hold on power over the citizenry.

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon and CIA have always preferred military dictatorships to civilian dictatorships. There is an obvious kinship with military men who become dictators. They think alike and their mindsets are alike. Think about the Augusto Pinochet regime in Chile. Or the military dictatorship in Argentina. Or the string of military dictatorships that the CIA installed in Guatemala after the CIA ousted the democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz. In fact, think of all the brutal military dictatorships throughout Latin America, the ones who had the death squads and the rapists, whose forces were trained at the U.S. military’s School of the Americas. More recently, recall the military dictatorship in Pakistan under Pervez Musharraf, a favorite of both the Pentagon and the CIA. The Pentagon and the CIA loved them all.

Torture? Nothing new here. It’s long been part and parcel of U.S.-supported dictatorships. Don’t forget the infamous torture manuals that the School of the Americas was handing out to its trainees for years. More recently, don’t forget the infamous rendition-torture agreement between the U.S. government and Egypt’s military dictatorship.

When the U.S. government was funding the Mubarak dictatorship with billions of dollars every year, when the Pentagon was working with and training their military counterparts in the Egyptian military, and when the CIA was entering into its rendition-torture partnership with the department of torture in Egypt, everyone knew what the primary purpose of the Egyptian military, police, and intelligence services was: to torture, terrorize, and brutalize the Egyptian people into not objecting to the military dictatorship’s hold on power over them.

In fact, as the Egyptian people have learned — indeed, as the Iranian people have learned — as the people of Burma, North Korea, and elsewhere have learned — the primary purpose of such antiterrorist powers as arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, torture, abuse, rape, and execution is not to secure information or a confession but rather to send a message to the citizenry: “Don’t buck us or this is what will happen to you.”

U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA, know all of this. That’s the bargain they’ve made with dictators all over the world, including the Middle East and Latin America: “We will fund you, we will arm you, we will train your forces to ensure that you remain in power, and we will let you do whatever is necessary to your own people to ensure your grip on power. In return, all we ask is loyalty to the Empire in international affairs.”

Castro’s sin was not that he became a dictator. His sin was in not becoming a dictator that was subservient to the U.S. Empire. That’s why they’re still doing their best to make trouble in Cuba. Time will tell how big a price Alan Gross pays for participating in that scheme.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why the CIA Might Oppose Disclosing the Pinochet Files

In yesterday’s blog post, I provided four possible reasons why President Obama is likely to refuse to open up U.S. files on the 1973 Pinochet coup, in response to a probable request from Chilean officials when Obama visits Chile next month.

There’s actually another possible reason: The files might reveal CIA complicity in the murder of former Chilean official Orlando Letelier and his 25-year-old American assistant Ronni Moffitt in 1976. Here are pictures of them in case you would like to see what they looked like: Letelier and Moffitt.

Letelier and Moffitt were killed on the streets of Washington, D.C., by a bomb that had been planted under Letelier’s car. The bomb exploded, killing Letelier and Moffitt and seriously injuring Moffitt’s husband. Here’s a picture of their bombed-out car.

The man who orchestrated the bombing was a CIA operative in Chile named Michael Townley. Of course, the CIA denies that Townley was working for the CIA when he set off the bomb that killed Letelier and Moffitt, but we can safely assume that the CIA would deny complicity in the murder even if it were true. After all, don’t forget that the CIA denied any role in the murder of young American journalist Charles Horman for some 25 years, when a released State Department document showed that the CIA had been lying the whole time and that it had in fact played a still-undefined role in Horman’s murder.

Townley was ultimately extradited from Chile to the United States to stand trial. Townley confessed that he orchestrated the bombing by hiring a group of anti-Castro Cuban immigrants living here in the United States. As part of what has to be one of the sweetest plea bargains for murder in history, he only had to spend a few years in jail. He also got immunity from further prosecution, which gave the feds an excuse not to send him to Argentina to stand trial for an assassination attempt on former Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife and to Italy to stand trial for the murder attempt in Rome on another Chilean opponent of the Pinochet regime living in exile, a man named Bernard Leighton.

Best of all, as part of the plea bargain, Townley got released into the Federal Witness Protection Program, where the feds helped him to change his identity and live out his life in peace, bliss, and obscurity.

Hey, don’t ever say that the CIA doesn’t look after its own!

Could the CIA have been involved in the Letelier-Moffitt murder?

Townley was working for Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s secret paramilitary-intelligence force known as DINA, whose mission included international assassination of suspected communists who threatened “national security” when he orchestrated the murder of Letelier.

Sharing the same concerns about the “communist threat” to “national security,” the CIA worked closely with DINA. In fact, the head of DINA, the much feared Manuel Contreras, was also serving as a CIA contact within Chile. Owing to the Chilean people’s courage in facing their dark past under the Pinochet military dictatorship, Contreras is now serving a sentence of 289 years in jail.

Letelier had served as ambassador to the United States under the Salvador Allende regime, a democratically elected communist-socialist regime that Pinochet had ousted with his military coup. Before Allende was elected, the CIA was doing everything it could to prevent him from coming to power. After he was elected, the CIA was doing everything it could to destabilize Chile in the hopes of removing him from power.

After the coup, Pinochet’s military goons took Letelier into custody and incarcerated him for about year, during which time they brutally tortured him. He was eventually released, and he came to Washington to lobby for the return of democracy to his country. Needless to say, Pinochet and DINA considered him a threat to “national security” that needed to be eliminated. Townley was assigned the task of assassinating Letelier.

Of course, simply because Townley was a CIA liaison to DINA, and simply because the CIA supported the Pinochet coup, and simply because the head of DINA was a CIA point man, and simply because the CIA shared DINA’s concerns about threats to “national security” from communists, and simply because the CIA participated in the murder of a young American journalist during the coup despite 25 years of false denials, and simply because Townley got a sweetheart deal in his criminal case, and simply because the CIA is currently engaged in the same type of international assassination program in which DINA was involved during the Letelier-Moffit murder, doesn’t automatically mean that the CIA was involved in the cold-blooded murder of an innocent Chilean man and an innocent young American woman on the streets of Washington, D.C.

But if the CIA was involved in the Letelier-Moffitt murder, one could easily understand why it might put a bit of quiet pressure on President Obama to continue keeping its files on the Pinochet coup under wraps despite the passage of some 40 years.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

U.S. Darkness in Chile

When President Obama visits Chile next month, he is going to be hit with a request that is certain to make people in the Pentagon, the CIA, and the U.S. State Department uncomfortable. According to an article in today’s Washington Post, survivors of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign of terror are going to request that Obama declassify hundreds of secret U.S. government documents relating to the 1973 military coup that led to the ouster of democratically elected socialist-communist President Salvador Allende and the subsequent U.S.-supported brutal military dictatorship of Pinochet.

Why does the U.S. government persist on keeping documents secret that relate to a foreign coup almost 40 years ago, one in which the U.S. government has consistently maintained it had nothing to do with?

Several possible reasons arise:

1. U.S. officials, especially those in the Pentagon and the CIA, might still feel a sense of loyalty to Pinochet’s memory and his henchmen. Don’t forget that before the Pentagon and the CIA were partnering with and supporting the tyrannical dictators of the Middle East, they were celebrating Pinochet’s assumption to power. In fact, long before the CIA entered into its rendition-torture agreements with dictatorial regimes like Syria and Egypt and its war-on-terrorism assassination program, the CIA was participating with Pinochet’s anti-communist group known as DINA, whose agents assassinated former Chilean official Orlando Letelier and his young American assistant Ronni Moffitt on the streets of Washington, D.C., under the same basic “national security” rationale as the U.S. government’s torture and assassination programs.

2. There is always the possibility that the documents might reflect that the U.S. government’s denial of participation in Pinochet’s coup has been a lie from the get-go. Let’s not forget that for some 25 years U.S. officials, including those in the CIA, knowingly and intentionally lied about participating in the murder of a young American journalist named Charles Horman during the coup. Many years after the killing and the false denials, the State Department released a document that reflected that the CIA had in fact participated in the murder of that young American.

Were the CIA agents involved in the killing brought to justice? Nope. Do we know their names? Nope. Do we know why they helped to murder Horman? Nope. Did Congress ever issue subpoenas to the CIA and conduct hearings into the killing? Nope. Did the Justice Department ever seek grand jury indictments of the killers? Nope. Did the U.S. government ever ask the Chilean government to prosecute the killers? Nope. Hey, this is the CIA we’re talking about!

Question: How is it possible that the U.S. government, including the CIA, was not involved in the Chilean coup if it was involved in the murder of an American journalist during the coup?

3. The documents might reveal U.S. participation in the arbitrary arrests, torture, rapes, and killings by Pinochet’s goons. More than 3,000 people were killed by the Pinochet military-police-intelligence machine, many after being tortured and raped, all of which Pinochet justified under such popular rationales for government wrongdoing as “national security” and “the communist threat.”

4. The declassification of the documents and their possible use by Chilean investigators and prosecutors might cause the American people to begin asking why their own government doesn’t prosecute its own officials for such crimes as torture, indefinite detention, rape, abuse, and extra-judicial execution. According to the Post’s article, more than 600 military officials and civilian collaborators have been tried by Chilean officials. That’s a precedent that surely sends shivers up the spines of U.S. military officials, CIA officials, and civilian collaborators who have committed the same types of crimes under the rubric of the popular mantras “national security” and “the war on terrorism.”

The Chilean people deserve credit for confronting the darkness of their past. Some years ago, they came to the realization that their nation could not genuinely move forward by sweeping the horrible crimes of the Pinochet regime under the rug. Too bad Americans aren’t there yet, which is why Obama will likely get away with refusing to grant the Chilean people’s request to open up all the U.S. government’s files relating to the Chilean darkness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why Cops Love the Drug War

After more than 30 years of death, destruction, and failure, the two primary advocates of the war on drugs are public officials and drug lords. The reason is obvious: these two groups are the biggest beneficiaries of the drug war. The drug lords make money off the war — big money. And government officials make money off the war — big money.

One of the major ways that government officials make money off the drug war is through bribes. Government inspectors at international crossing points are bribed to look the other way when a drug shipment is coming across the border. Drug agents are bribed to look the other way with respect to drug distribution. Prosecutors and judges are bribed in return for reduced sentences.

No doubt about it: The drug war is one big, rotten, corrupting government program, one with absolutely no redeeming benefits whatsoever. It would be difficult to find a better example of a domestic government program that produces more death, damage, corruption, and infringements on privacy and liberty.

Another way that government officials make money off the drug war is a legal one — through the asset-forfeiture laws. These are laws enacted by public officials that enable the cops to seize assets supposedly involved in a drug-law violation and keep the assets for themselves. The program has turned into one big moneymaker for the cops.

There are innumerable horror stories of how the cops have used the drug war to steal — I mean, seize — people’s property and convert the property to the cops’ own use. This past Monday’s issue of the Boston Herald relates a recent horror story about asset-forfeiture abuse.

The article stated that Logan International Airport cops spent $300,000 for a fleet of brand new SUVs, along with couches and other furniture and flat-screen TVs. To pay for the items, they used the drug-war money they had seized from people.

One of the downsides, from the standpoint of representative government, is that the drug-war seizures help police departments to become self-funding fiefdoms and, therefore, not so dependent on the city councils that budget their money. In 2009 Troop F, the unit that bought those SUVs and other items, seized $1.5 million, up from $500,000 in 2009. No doubt the cops are going to make certain that that number continues to go up.

State police spokesman David Procopio expressed his belief that the seized money should be left in the hands of Troop F because they’re the ones who seized it. By the way, the federal government gets to keep 20 percent of the loot, without even lifting a finger.

Or here’s another example, taken from Radley Balko’s website “The Agitator” and from this article on Opposingviews.com.

Michigan cops went after a guy based on information that he had one stem of marijuana in his house. What was the cops’ motive in busting him? Well, one possibility was that they were simply concerned about the man’s health and well-being and wanted to prevent him from smoking that one stem of marijuana. Another possibility, however, is that they were interested in the man’s very expensive musical equipment, DVDs, computers, and other electronics. The cops seized it all. Unbeknownst to them, however, there was an open mic that recorded their excitement over all the goodies they were seizing. The recording is posted on Balko’s site.

I ask you: What are the chances that any of these cops, state or federal, would ever call for an end to what is quite possibly the most deadly, destructive, corrupt, and failed government program in history?

The chances are nil. The drug war is a cash cow for public officials, not only in terms of bribes but also asset seizures. It has been for decades. They’re not about to give it up, at least not without a fierce fight.

Of course, public officials would never admit that the reason they fight for the continuation of the drug war is out of self-interest. They have to continue playing the game, piously claiming that the only reason they favor the continuation of the drug war is so that they can finally, once and for all after several decades, shut down the drug lords.

What the cops don’t realize (or maybe some of them do) is that the only way to shut down the drug lords, immediately, is to end the drug war by legalizing drugs. Continuing to wage the drug war only ensures that the drug lords will continue supplying drugs and that the cops will continue making busts, and that both groups will continue making beaucoup bucks off the war, which is really what the drug war is all about.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Have Americans Lost Their Consciences?

The U.S. government is now deliberating on whether to militarily intervene in Libya out of “shock” over the brutal behavior of 40-year Libyan dictator Muommar Gaddafi. Here we go again. If the U.S. government isn’t supporting dictatorships with money and armaments, it’s invading countries to oust them.

Recall Saddam Hussein, one of the U.S. Empire’s favorite dictators during the 1980s and a reviled one during the 1990s who was ultimately ousted from power by an illegal and unconstitutional U.S. invasion and war of aggression against Iraq.

The thing that I have found fascinating during the past several weeks has been the silence of the American people regarding their own government’s role in the dictatorships and tyranny that people in the Middle East are now revolting against. Every day, I search the mainstream media for articles that express anger and outrage over the supporting role that the U.S. government has played in the torture and tyranny in the Middle East, and the most I find is sympathy with the pro-democracy demonstrators and silence toward the U.S. government’s role in the Middle East tyranny.

I could be wrong but it is my opinion that such silence among the mainstream media is reflective of the mindset of the American people generally.

Most Americans pride themselves on being a moral and righteous people. Many of them go to church every Sunday, repent their sins, and praise God.

Yet, the rest of the week they don’t seem bothered one whit by the fact that their very own government has been supporting for decades the brutality, torture, and oppression that has been employed by dictators in such countries as Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, and others. In fact, while the mainstream media debates whether the U.S. military should intervene in Libya, they remain strangely silent over the British government’s financial support of the Gaddafi regime, no doubt with the full support of the U.S. Empire.

Why? Why does there appear to be a total lack of conscience among the American people over the supportive role that their own government has been playing for decades in Middle East dictatorship, torture, and tyranny?

After all, let’s not forget that it is U.S. taxpayer money that has been used to fund and arm these dictatorships. Let’s also not forget that it’s the U.S. military, funded by U.S. taxpayer money, that has been training and working with the militaries of the dictatorships that have been used to oppress the citizenry. Let’s not forget that it’s the CIA that has been entering into rendition-and-torture arrangements with the torture sections of the dictatorships to torture people on behalf of the U.S. Empire?

Why don’t Americans seem to be bothered about any of this? Surely most of them would agree that the dictatorships and the torture, rapes, abuse, and tyranny are evil. Why can’t they see that the support of evil is evil too?

In the February 2011 issue of FFF’s monthly journal, Freedom Daily, my monthly article is entitled “Deference to Authority.” I think the theme of that article explains perfectly what is going on here. In that article, I explained that the goal of the state’s public (i.e., government) schooling system is to create the good, little citizen — the one who never questions at a fundamental level what his government is doing — the one whose mindset is characterized by deference to authority — the one who places his faith and his trust in government officials to do the right thing, especially in foreign affairs.

As I pointed out in that article, state officials have twelve years in which to mold the mind of a child to one of obedience, conformity, and deference to authority. Those who resist the regimentation are diagnosed as mentally deficient (“attention deficit disorder”) and are injected with drugs like Ritalin or Adderall until their minds become “right.” The beauty of the system, from the standpoint of the state, is that by the time people graduate from high school most of them have absolutely no idea what has been done to them.

What better evidence of this phenomenon than the reaction of the American people to the role their government has played in the Middle East dictatorships, torture, and tyranny? The American are clearly siding with the anti-government demonstrators while, at the same time, simply blocking out of their minds the fact that their own government has been for decades the supporter of the dictatorships the people are demonstrating against.

After all, it’s not as if the dictators became brutal in the last several weeks. They’ve been brutally oppressing their citizenry for decades — with terror, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape, indefinite incarceration, and extrajudicial executions. And it’s not as if U.S. officials were unaware of all this. Why, the very reason that U.S. officials chose dictatorships in such countries as Egypt and Syria to torture people on their behalf is because U.S. officials knew what a good job such dictatorships did at torturing people.

No, the torture, rapes, and abuse did not begin recently. They’ve been going on for decades, with the full support, cooperation, and participation of the U.S. government. It was only when the tyranny reached a critical breaking point that the people finally decided to risk their lives in demonstrations and revolution.

Not surprisingly, that’s when the U.S. Empire publicly shifted course as well, all of sudden purporting to side with the pro-democracy demonstrators that the Empire had helped to oppress for the last several decades with its support of the dictatorships the people were now trying to oust from power.

Are Americans, including Christians, demanding a full investigation into the role the U.S. government played in the tyranny, torture, abuse, and murder in the Middle East? An investigation into the details of the torture agreements between the U.S. government and the Middle East dictatorships? An investigation into how the billions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid was spent by the dictatorships, including the payment of salaries for the torturers and rapists or the purchase of torture instruments for their use against the people they were oppressing?

Indeed, are the American people, including Christians, now calling for the immediate cessation of all U.S. foreign aid to every foreign regime, especially dictatorships, as the U.S. Empire continues to head our nation into bankruptcy?

Nope. For Americans it is clear that deference to the authority of Caesar trumps the conscience implanted in people by God. The reaction of the American people to their own government’s support of dictatorship, torture, and tyranny confirms the terrible success achieved by the state’s schooling system.

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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.