Friday, June 30, 2006
Ever since the 9/11 attacks, The Future of Freedom Foundation has not wavered in its firm opposition to the Pentagon’s torture camp and its kangaroo military tribunals that it set up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the express purpose of avoiding the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and federal court interference. In my November 2001 article entitled “Emergencies, Military Tribunals, and the Constitution,” I stated:
“What should disturb every American is that the president is now ignoring not only the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement (which prohibits the president from sending the nation into war without a congressional declaration) but also the Bill of Rights. If the president feels free to ignore those important provisions of the Constitution — with virtually no opposition from the citizenry — why wouldn’t he feel free to ignore other provisions?”
In my December 2001 article, “Military Tribunals: Another Step Away from Our Principles,” I stated,
“President Bush’s plan to form military tribunals to punish suspected terrorists is one more step away from the civilized principles of constitutional government and the rule of law that have long distinguished the United States from other nations in history.”
In my June 2003 article, “Cuban Military Tribunals Reflect Contempt for Our Constitution,” I wrote:
“There’s one — and only one — reason: to avoid the constraints of our Constitution — the document that U.S. officials purportedly take an oath to support and defend.”
Yesterday, the Supreme Court held that the president’s Cuban military tribunals are unconstitutional, holding that prisoners taken captive on the battlefield in Afghanistan must be accorded the protections of the Geneva Convention, which the president and his advisors believe is quaint and outmoded.
As we have long pointed out here at FFF, the military tribunals were nothing more than kangaroo courts, much like those on Castro’s side of Cuba or in communist China, and have no place in America, not even in the military. Thus, it is refreshing and reassuring that the Supreme Court has prohibited the president and the Pentagon from employing them.
The Supreme Court, once again, has made it clear that President Bush has no constitutional authority to make himself a dictator, not even when there is an “emergency,” or a “crisis” or a threat of “terrorism.” Once again, we see the wisdom of the Framers in creating an independent judicial branch that can stand above the hype and public-opinion polls and the terrified masses while trying to keep our nation from veering into a totalitarian direction.
The Court’s power to protect our rights and liberties from executive and congressional assault, however, is limited. Ultimately, it is up to an enlightened and vigilant citizenry to preserve their rights and freedoms. That’s what FFF is all about — firmly opposing the exercise of unconstitutional powers while firmly supporting the principles of individual liberty, free markets, due process, and a constitutional republic on which our nation was founded.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Whenever I present the idea of separating school and state to people, inevitably the question arises, “How would poor people get an education if the state didn’t provide it?”
One answer, of course, is that the poor would manage to do so with their own resources, especially if the education market were freed up to enable entrepreneurs were free to provide education for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Another possibility is that businesses might offer workplace schools for their employees, as an inducement for the employee to work there.
The answer which meets the most skepticism, however, is the following one: The wealthier members of society would provide financial assistance to the poor in the form of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and the like.
Skeptics respond, “Are you crazy? You can’t count on rich people to do that. Only politicians and bureaucrats are good and caring—and that’s why we need public (i.e., government) schooling.
Well, it would seem that two rich people have silenced the skeptics, at least for a while. Bill Gates is retiring from Microsoft to devote his time to the charitable foundation that he and his wife formed. The purpose of the foundation is to help the poor and help find a cure for diseases. The amount of money in the foundation is about $30 billion. That’s billion—with a “b.” It was donated by Bill and Melinda Gates from the money they earned in the marketplace.
Now, another rich person, Warren Buffet, has announced that he is donating another $30 billion — most of his wealth — to the Gates Foundation, thereby doubling the amount of money the foundation will have to help the poor, combat hunger, advance education, and fight disease.
What Gates and Buffet are doing is repeated every year, oftentimes with no publicity or fanfare, by other wealthy people and, indeed, by many middle-class people. That is what is called genuine charity, unlike the IRS-funded welfare grants doled out by the members of Congress and their bureaucratic functionaries.
When the American people start believing in themselves once again — and in others — and in freedom — and the free market, that will be the beginning of the end of the socialistic welfare state, including public (i.e., government) schooling.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The New York Times is under siege for unauthorized disclosure of state secrets by both the Chinese communist regime and the Bush administration.
In China, the communists have just finished prosecuting a New York Times researcher and the verdict is now pending. The state secret he disclosed concerned a change of leadership in the communist hierarchy.
In the U.S., there are calls to prosecute the editor of the NYT for espionage. The state secret he is accused of disclosing is the Bush administration’s secret monitoring of bank records without judicial warrants in accordance with its five-year war on terrorism.
It’s not clear whether the Bush administration will actually follow through with its threat but if it does, there is a possibility that it will conduct its prosecution via military tribunal under the war on terrorism rather than through an indictment in federal court.
If so, the tribunal proceedings will bear a remarkable resemblance to the Chinese communist proceeding — conducted in secret, no press allowed, submissive defense attorneys, compliant judges, and the virtual certainty of a guilty verdict.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the other similarities that the U.S. regime and Chinese communist regime now share:
1. A ruler who wields the omnipotent power to send the entire nation into war without a legislative declaration of war.
2. A ruler who wields the omnipotent power to conduct warrantless searches on telephone calls, email, and bank records of the citizenry.
3. A ruler who wields the omnipotent power to arrest the citizenry and indefinitely incarcerate them without due process of law and jury trials.
4. A ruler who wields the omnipotent power to torture suspected criminals or send them to friendly regimes who wield such power.
Following the same road as the Chinese communists is not conclusive proof that our nation is headed in a bad direction, but it certainly does constitute strong circumstantial evidence that the American people ignore at their peril.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The following letter to the editor appeared in the June 22 New York Times:
“Since Iraq is now a democracy, why not let the people of Iraq decide in a plebiscite whether they want American troops to remain? Nothing could be more democratic than that.–Steve Kutay, Santa Fe, N.M., June 21, 2006.”
That’s a great idea! I wonder why Washington politicians and bureaucrats have never thought of it.
And just think: Every pro-war member of Congress who believes that the U.S. government should continue occupying Iraq could go over there and campaign for the pro-occupation position among the Iraqi people.
Wouldn’t that be a great thing — seeing American pro-war, pro-occupation politicians walking outside the Green Zone and into the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah, and Ramadi, greeting the Iraqi people, shaking their hands, and basking in the glory of having “liberated” Iraq?
Why, the pro-war, pro-occupation congressmen could even go into people’s homes (no bashing down of doors though!) to explain to people how wonderful it is to be under U.S. military occupation. They would even have the opportunity to explain directly to the Iraqi people the reason for the cruel and brutal sanctions imposed on their country for more than a decade, and why the U.S. furnished Saddam Hussein with WMD, and why the Pentagon’s policy is not to keep track of the number of Iraqi people killed by its invasion and occupation. And they could explain how the deaths of countless Iraqi people during the invasion and occupation have been “worth it” and why U.S. officials also considered the deaths of countless Iraqi children from the sanctions to be “worth it.”
I’m sure the Iraqi people would understand all this once the august pro-war, pro-occupation members of the U.S Congress personally explained it all to them. Why, the congressmen could even stuff welfare grants of (U.S. taxpayer) cash into the pockets of the Iraqi public officials in order to generate favorable votes, as they do here at home.
Best of all, these brave and courageous members of Congress would finally receive the glorious accolades — the rose petals — that the Iraqi people would surely shower upon them.
Afraid? What do you mean that our pro-war and pro-occupation congressmen would be afraid to go to Iraq or leave the secure and protected confines of the Green Zone in Baghdad? What do you mean that they would fear the outcome of such an election? Why, our congressmen are brave and courageous, and anyway Iraq is now a free country, right?
And after all, aren’t our august pro-war and pro-occupation members of Congress willing to sacrifice whatever it takes, including sacrificing an unlimited number of U.S. soldiers and unlimited amounts of (U.S. taxpayer) money, to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq? If that’s not genuine bravery and courage, what is?
Monday, June 26, 2006
The cable news networks were into hyper-overdrive late last week over the Justice Department’s dramatic announcement that a terrorist cell had been busted in Miami.
No doubt there were plenty of knees a’knocking among those American men and women who spend a large portion of their lives transfixed to the cable news stations.
I wonder how many people were anxiously waiting for U.S. officials to raise the terrorist alert color code to red before starting to duct-tape their homes. For some reason, the elevated Red Alert never came.
Maybe they’re not using that color-code system anymore or maybe the reason had something to do with the intelligence quota (IQ) of the suspected terrorists, which was reflected by the list of items they requested from the federal undercover agent who was playing the role of an al-Qaeda representative.
They asked the federal informant to furnish them … boots and uniforms.
Uniforms? For terrorists? Have you ever wondered what a terrorist uniform would look like? Hey, maybe they were figuring that the feds would give them prisoner of war status and the protections of the Geneva Convention if they bombed the Sears Building and a federal building while wearing uniforms.
Unfortunately, the federal agents decided to furnish them only the boots and not the uniforms. Darn! I would have loved to see what a federally designed uniform for terrorists looks like.
The suspects also requested $50,000 to build a jihad army. Maybe the feds ought to offer them a plea bargain and let them become consultants to the Pentagon, which has spent billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money building its army, with no end in sight.
Finally, the suspects, who are charged with conspiring to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Miami, asked the undercover agent to furnish them with machine guns.
So, I suppose the plan was to don their terrorist uniforms, put on their combat boots, walk down the streets of Chicago and Miami with machine guns, and walk into the Sears Tower and the federal building to set up and explode their bomb, even though bombs apparently were not on the list of items they were requesting.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said, “They were persons who for whatever reason came to view their home country as enemy.”
“For whatever reason?”
Come on, Alberto! Have you not heard of U.S. foreign policy? The invasion and occupation of Iraq? The killing of tens of thousands of Iraqi people, none of whom had anything to do with 9/11? The torture and sex abuse of detainees, not to mention the torture memos that emanated from your office? Haven’t you heard how people all over the world are angry with our nation because of what you people in the federal government have done to people overseas?
It’s all part and parcel of U.S. foreign policy. Expand the empire. Support dictators, intervene, impose sanctions, assassinate, and invade and occupy, knowing that all that will stir up terrorism. Then scare people to death with the latest terrorist plot. Then continue centralizing power, raising expenditures, and suspending people’s rights and freedoms.
If that’s not the perfect scam, I don’t know what is.
Friday, June 23, 2006
The mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, a Democrat, is tearfully asking the citizenry to let him stay in office and do his job despite his confession that he has violated both state and federal drugs laws after taking office by knowingly and intentionally ingesting cocaine.
Mayor John M. Fabrizi said that it “never, ever affected my job performance” and that he had “put this personal struggle behind me.” He said he loves his job “heart and soul” and that he “thought that these were personal and private matters to me and my family.”
What planet has Fabrizi been living on? Surely he knows that in the United States drug consumption is not simply a private and personal matter but rather a matter of federal criminal laws. Surely he knows that the position of the president, the Congress, and the Supreme Court is that what a person ingests in his home is a matter of federal importance, especially given the paternalistic role that the federal government plays in the lives of the American people.
What Fabrizi is saying, albeit not as bluntly, is this: “Look, I know I have violated the drug laws but I have no intention of walking over to the U.S. attorney’s office and asking him if I can plead guilty and be punished for my crime. What I have done is nobody’s business but my own and my family’s. I can do my job well despite my drug problems. So, buzz off.”
But, hey, Mayor Fabrizi, how about giving the same consideration to all the drug-war victims that you liberals, working with conservatives, have put into jail for doing the same thing? Think about all the drug-war victims in prison who loved their job too and who felt that they could do their job well also despite their drug problems. They also felt that it was no business of government bureaucrats to interfere with what they ingested. Why should they languish in prison while you’re out on the streets enjoying the job you love to do?
Mayor Fabrizi, you don’t belong in jail for violating immoral and destructive drug laws, but neither does any other person with a drug problem. So, do the right thing: As you tearfully plead with the citizens of Bridgeport to permit you to stay in office, how about calling on the governor of Connecticut to pardon all drug-offenders convicted of non-violent drug offenses? And how about calling on your Democratic Party cohorts to end, once and for all, the war on drugs, which has destroyed so many lives? You might even enlist the assistance of conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
On March 23, 2003 — before the revelations of torture and sex abuse by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib — I wrote the following in an anti-torture article entitled “Obedience to Orders,” an article that produced a firestorm of controversy:
“One tragic consequence of the Pentagon’s new policy of torturing and mistreating prisoners is that such a policy will inevitably endanger the lives of U.S. soldiers in combat, including those fighting in Iraq, in two ways: It will operate as a disincentive for enemy soldiers to surrender; and it will provide a ready excuse by enemy forces to subject American POWs to the same torture and mistreatment.”
After Abu Ghraib, many of President Bush’s supporters took the position that the torture and sex abuse, both at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, were no big deal — that they were akin to fraternity pranks.
I wonder if the brutal torture and murder of two U.S. soldiers taken captive in Iraq a few days ago is the reason why the pro-torture crowd has been silent. The soldiers were so brutalized that their bodies couldn’t even be identified by U.S. military personnel.
Now, it’s true that the insurgents might well have committed the same brutal acts even if U.S. military forces and CIA agents had not themselves engaged in torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of foreign detainees. But there is one indisputable fact: By virtue of how the U.S. government has treated detainees and captives in Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan, and its secret overseas prisons, U.S. officials, from the president on down, have lost all moral standing to insist on the proper treatment of U.S. soldiers taken captive by insurgent forces in Iraq. That is not in the best interests, either short term or long term, of American soldiers.
Meanwhile, in another Iraq tragedy, the U.S. military waited 9 months to advise the families of two U.S. soldiers that they had been killed by Iraqi troops. That’s right — the killers were Iraqi civil defense officers who had been trained by U.S. forces. They were on patrol together when the Iraqi soldiers ambushed and killed the American soldiers.
At first, U.S. military officials told the families simply that the soldiers had been killed in an ambush — technically correct but conveniently omitting the critical information until 9 months later.
So, American soldiers are in Iraq facing brutal murderers in front of them and brutal murderers behind them. And they’re dying to preserve a radical Islamic regime that has established close ties to the radical Islamic regime in Iran.
If I were an American soldier serving in Iraq and were told that the American people were steadfastly supporting the troops by supporting the decision to keep them in Iraq, I’d respond, “With friends like that at home, who needs enemies over here?”
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
An op-ed this week in USA Today reflects one of the big problems with liberals — their inability to resist opportunities to expand federal power over the citizenry.
The op-ed is written by Dianne Feinstein, a liberal senator from California. She has proudly introduced a flag-burning amendment which she says isn’t really a flag-burning amendment because it doesn’t prohibit flag burning but instead permits Congress to pass a law to prohibit flag burning.
If that’s not one of the finest displays of talking out both sides of one’s mouth — or speaking with a forked tongue — I don’t know what is.
It gets better. Feinstein says that there really wouldn’t be a conflict with the First Amendment because people would still be free to protest in other ways. That would, in her words, “leave both the flag and free speech safe.”
Safe? I wonder if Feinstein ever thinks about the fact that the people who crafted the First Amendment were trying to protect us from the likes of people like her. After all, don’t forget that the amendment reads in part “Congress shall pass no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”
Now, ask yourself: Why would our American ancestors have specifically referred to Congress in the very First Amendment to the Constitution?
It’s because our ancestors, in their wisdom, recognized that the biggest threat to people’s right to free speech would come from people like Feinstein — that is, people who are drawn to government power to tax, control, regulate, war, and spend — and to shut up people who might complain about such things.
Don’t ever think for a moment that people like Feinstein will stop at amending the First Amendment to prohibit only flag-burning. If Americans permit these people to taste the fruit of one type of protest prohibition, the compulsion to control other forms of protest against federal wrongdoing will be uncontrollable. After all, don’t forget what Feinstein’s counterparts in China do to control speech and protest against governmental misconduct, including censoring the Internet.
Have you ever noticed that Feinstein and her congressional cohorts never call for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the burning of the Constitution? It’s not difficult to understand why.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
An article by two conservative lawyers in today’s Los Angeles Times reflects one of the big problems that afflict conservatives: Their overabundant faith in the U.S. military’s ability to conduct an honest investigation of itself.
The article concerns prisoner abuse in Iraq and Guantanamo and is written by conservatives David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, both of whom are lawyers who proudly served in the Justice Department under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The two conservative lawyers take the ACLU to task for its attempt to hold higher-ups responsible for the prisoner abuse. Guess what evidence Rivkin and Casey primarily rely upon to exonerate the higher-ups. You guessed it: The U.S. military’s own investigations of itself. After all, as we all know, the military doesn’t lie or cover up, not even about Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch. If its own investigations of itself exonerate itself, well, I guess should settle the matter, right?
Let’s see now. The next time there’s an allegation of wrongdoing by some big company, say a company such as Enron, let’s leave the Justice Department out of it. Let’s let Enron investigate itself. Better yet, let’s have 10 different investigations of Enron, each of which is conducted by a different Enron official. When all the investigations are finished and someone continues to insist that there is wrongdoing, we could have Rivkin and Casey respond by declaring, “There have been 10 separate investigations in this matter and they have all exonerated Enron. Now, let’s move on.”
Monday, June 19, 2006
The Republicans played a cute, but effective, political trick on congressional Democrats last week with Iraq. Scared about losing control of Congress, Republicans brought up a quick vote over setting a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. The ploy worked: Scared to death that they might be accused of being cowards or terrorist sympathizers in the upcoming congressional elections, Democrats overwhelmingly helped to defeat a withdrawal timetable. That pretty much ties down their position for the fall elections.
What more shameful than playing a political game when so many people’s lives are at stake? Well, except possibly for falling for a cheap political trick.
Meanwhile, the killings go inside Iraq despite the killing of al-Zarqawi and despite President Bush’s quick, surprise visit for a few hours to the Green Zone. President Bush said that he looked into the eyes of the new prime minister of Iraq during his quick visit and determined that the prime minister is as committed to freedom in Iraq as the president is.
To help achieve such freedom, the prime minister, with the help of U.S. troops, immediately implemented a massive military crackdown on Iraqi insurgents, vowing “no mercy” for them. That included a mandatory curfew and strict gun control measures in Baghdad. In fact, the prime minister announced that anyone caught on the street with a weapon would be considered a terrorist and be subject to being killed or captured. That’s on top of the warrantless searches and seizures, the indefinite detentions, the kidnapping and death squads, the torture, etc.
Pardon me for asking an indelicate question, wasn’t this one of the complaints about Saddam Hussein—that he was killing his own people (i.e., insurgents) and imposing brutal crackdowns on the Iraqi people?
My hunch is as the congressional elections approach, the crackdowns, shootings, bombings, collateral damage,” “bad apples” among the troops, searches and seizures, detentions, and torture and killing of “terrorists” in Iraq will become more frequent and more harsh and brutal. The president is not about to let Iraqi insurgents interfere with Republican control over Congress, not to mention the preservation of his legacy.
* * * * * * * * *
P.S. Kudos to Sheldon Richman for the following mention in a Christian Science Monitor article featuring ABC’s John Stossel:
“I read The Freeman [published by The Foundation for Economic Education]. I particularly like the writing of Sheldon Richman, who’s the editor, and Walter Williams, who is always terrific.
Friday, June 16, 2006
The latest federal scandal once again reveals the problem with socialism as well as the problem with conservatives. The conservative Washington Times rails against — and rightfully so — the “porn videos, strip-club visits, Caribbean vacations, a bottle of Dom Perignon, a divorce and football tickets” that FEMA money for Katrina victims was used to purchase. The conservative outrage is rooted in the standard conservative bromide of getting rid of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in socialist programs.
But guess what the Washington Times prescribes as the solution to the problem. You guessed it — the standard bromide that comes out of every conservative think tank, educational foundation, and politician: The system needs “reform.”
In other words, in the conservative mindset hope continues to spring eternal that federal socialist programs will finally succeed if they’re just “reformed” or if “better” people are put to run them or if “waste, fraud, and abuse” are removed.
It’s all just a pipedream. Didn’t the Soviet experience — or even Cuba’s socialist experiment — teach conservatives anything? Socialism is inherently defective. Socialist programs will always fail, period. They will always be riddled with corruption and fraud, waste, and abuse, no matter who is running them and no matter how many reforms are made. What better proof than the FEMA money or, for that matter, the missing billions of dollars in the grand socialist experiment to “rebuild” Iraq.
The American people would be wise to reject the old, bankrupt conservative bromide of “reform, reform, reform,” not only because of the fundamental immorality of socialist programs but also because of how costly they are to American taxpayers. What better time to rid our nation of socialism and restore our heritage of economic liberty and free markets to our land than now?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The Chinese government is putting a New York Times researcher on trial today for disclosing government secrets to the public. According to an article about the trial in today’s New York Times,
“The authorities can limit contact between lawyers and their clients, deny access to evidence and hold closed hearings. After Mr. Zhao’s arrest, his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, was repeatedly barred from consulting with his client because the case involved state secrets. Legal experts noted that Mr. Mo must be careful about his public comments on the case because exposing how the law worked could also be deemed an offense.”
Except for not using the war on terrorism as an excuse, it sounds like Chinese communist officials are taking a cue from the U.S. Justice Department and the Pentagon.
Or vice versa.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
President Bush made a surprise secret visit to the Green Zone in Iraq for a few hours to celebrate freedom in Iraq and to show his support for the new Iraqi government, which promptly ordered a curfew and military crackdown in Baghdad.
I wonder if President Bush reads the New York Times because last week it published an interesting article entitled, “Iraqi Ties to Iran Create New Risks for Washington.”
According to the article, Iraq is in the process of establishing close ties to Iran, the country that is next on Bush’s list to attack:
“It is not just Iran’s influence in Iraq that the United States must confront, but Iraq’s connection to Iran, as well…. Iranians believe that despite philosophical differences with others of their faith, like Ayatollah Sistani, their country is the Shiite motherland and any kind of military attack on Iran would compel Shiites around the globe to respond…. Ayatollah Sistani, who is Iranian, studied religion in Qum 56 years ago before moving to the Shiite religious city of Najaf in Iraq…. “
One Iraqi put it bluntly,
“Asked how Shiites in India and elsewhere would react if the nuclear issue reached a stage where the United States decided to take action against Iran, he said: ‘They will help Iran. Of course.’”
President Bush has got to realize that his plan to install a puppet regime in Iraq might have gone awry when the Ayatollah Sistani rejected Bush’s caucus plan for Iraq and instead demanded national elections. Of course, Bush might still be holding out hope that a bit of foreign aid to line the pockets of the Iraqi officials will be enough to buy their allegiance and loyalty to the U.S.
But surely Bush recognizes that if he attacks Iran, all bets are off as to what his newly installed Iraqi regime will do, no matter how much U.S. foreign aid has lined their pockets. That’s might be why Bush is offering to negotiate with Iran, something he refused to do with Iraq before ordering an attack that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqi people. If Bush ultimately decides not to attack Iran, the Iranian people, tens of thousands of whom would die and be maimed in a U.S. war to “liberate” them, might well owe their thanks to Bush’s newly installed regime in Iraq.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
In response to the suicides of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the Gitmo detention camp, expressed the standard military mindset in declaring, “They have no regard for human life. Neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us.”
In other words, the detainees attacked us by committing suicide. The Pentagon is undoubtedly preparing contingency plans in the event that all the members of al-Qaeda commit the same type of dastardly attack against the United States.
And shades of the Vietnam War! How many times did we hear during that war how the Vietnamese (actually Asians in general) didn’t place the same high value on human life as Americans? By dehumanizing the Vietnamese people, U.S. officials made it easier for the troops to kill the “gooks.” For those who still believe in such false propaganda, here’s a moving story that shows that the Vietnamese people do in fact place the same high value on the lives of their family members and countrymen as Americans do. Contrary to what Commander Harris is suggesting, the same applies to the Iraqi people.
Actually, Commander Harris is projecting. It is the U.S. government, especially the military, that places a low value on the lives of the Iraqi people. Why else would the Pentagon have embraced a policy that didn’t keep count of Iraqi people killed by the U.S. invasion and occupation forces? Why else would military forces have tortured and sexually abused detainees at Abu Ghraib without even knowing whether they had committed an offense? Why else would the U.S. government not set up an independent judicial system providing for due process and habeas corpus for Iraqi detainees? Why else adopt a policy of bombing “terrorists” knowing that innocent people would be killed as “collateral damage”? Indeed, why invade a country knowing that military forces would in the process kill and maim tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, including women and children? For that matter, why had they continued the brutal regime of sanctions, year after year for more than a decade, knowing the deadly effect they were having on Iraqi children? Why did U.S. officials remain silent in the face of U.S. official Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it”?
No, Commander Harris, the suicides of the detainees did not constitute an attack on you or anyone else. This is what human beings do when governments hold them without charges, year after year, under the promise to continue doing so forever, in an isolated prison camp, where they will be subjected to torture and sex abuse for the rest of their lives, and denied any hope of having their detention ever tested in a court of law, as compared to a kangaroo military tribunal whose judges are more concerned about pleasing their superiors than in rendering justice.
Finally, Commander Harris, let’s not forget the sole reason you’re running that camp in Cuba rather than the United States: so as to avoid the constraints of the U.S. Constitution, the document that you and all other U.S. military personnel took an oath to support and defend.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Whatever else one might say about Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez, you can’t deny that he’s one smart politician. Taking a cue from Washington, he’s got Venezuelans all hyped up and in crisis mode.
Ordinary Venezuelan citizens, including people in their 70s, are so psyched up with nationalism that they’re eagerly joining the Reserves and even drilling on weekends. As Carmen Tovar, 55, a nurse, put it, “I’m prepared to defend with ferocity the sovereignty of our homeland.” Maj. Jose Ramon Graterol said: “Everyone here is a spirited volunteer with the objective of securing our country from attack,” a national fervor that is sure to turn the Pentagon green with envy.
What’s the crisis? The possibility of a U.S. attack on Venezuela due to Chavez’s harsh criticisms of George W. Bush and his close friendship with Fidel Castro.
Of course, U.S. officials deny they’re planning to attack but as everyone knows, they always deny plans to attack a country before they attack. Latin Americans are fully aware of the U.S. government’s long history of invading Latin American countries for the purpose of regime change.
But whether Venezuela has in fact been added to the list of countries President Bush plans to invade is beside the point. The point is that Chavez has obviously learned what Washington politicians have long known — how to use crises and emergencies, even self-manufactured or fake and false ones — to assume greater and greater powers over the citizenry, oftentimes with their enthusiastic support.
Friday, June 9, 2006
A very dangerous legal case is developing for U.S. officials. A U.S. army officer, First Lt. Ehren Watada, is refusing to deploy to Iraq on the ground that the war is immoral and illegal. Watada is contending that his duty is to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, not obey those “who would issue unlawful orders.”
Watada stated, “The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the Army’s own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes.”
Why is this case so dangerous? Because Watada will undoubtedly raise the fact that the Constitution precludes the president from waging war without first securing a congressional declaration of war from Congress.
Thus, if Watada is convicted of a criminal offense and if he appeals the conviction, which is likely, the U.S. Supreme Court will have to confront head on this constitutional restriction (the declaration of war requirement) on presidential power. That is, if Watada is right, then his conviction would have to be held to be invalid.
There is always the possibility that the Court could rule directly and in favor of Watada, which would put the Bush administration in the position of choosing between ending his occupation of Iraq and any plans to attack Iran or simply ignoring the Court and continuing to exercise dictatorial powers with respect to the waging of war, thereby precipitating a constitutional crisis.
My prediction is that the feds will ultimately cut a deal with Watada before his case even gets remotely close to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
Old CIA documents released Tuesday confirmed that the CIA actively cooperated with Nazi officials at the end of World War II, in some cases even protecting them from detection, such as Adolph Eichmann, the head of the Gestapo’s Jewish affairs office during the war.
Let’s have a quick history review:
England and France declared war on Germany purportedly in order to save Poland from Nazi tyranny. (They didn’t declare war on the Soviet Union, which had also invaded Poland in joint cooperation with the Nazis.)
Despite his promises to the American people that he would never sacrifice their boys in another foreign war, President Franklin Roosevelt secretly did everything he could to involve the United States on the side of England and France. He finally succeeded by maneuvering the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, which opened up the back door for FDR to involve the U.S. in the war against Nazi Germany.
Then, during the war, Roosevelt refused to assist anti-Hitler Germans to oust the Hitler regime from power. He also demanded an “unconditional surrender” from Germany rather than explore the possibility of a negotiated surrender that could have left all of Germany as well as Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe free and independent, as well as save the lives of those Jews who had still not been killed in the Holocaust.
And what were the results of FDR’s strategy? Well, the official version — the version that’s been pounded into the heads of the American people from the first grade in public (government) schools — is that “we” won the war. But who is “we”? “We” is all the countries aligned against Nazi Germany, including FDR’s ally the Soviet Union, led by FDR’s good friend, the brutal communist leader Joseph Stalin (who was no different in principle from Adolph Hitler).
So, the official U.S. version is that “we” won World War II because the Soviet communists, who were on “our” side, got control of Eastern Europe, Poland (yes, Poland, the country the English and French were going to save from Nazi tyranny), Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and others.
In other words, while the war freed such countries from Nazi tyranny, “our” victory turned them over to Soviet communist tyranny, which was no better, for the next 40 years.
And now we receive confirmation that the U.S. government, operating through its secret intelligence agency, actively worked with Nazi officials. (We probably shouldn’t forget that the CIA later worked in partnership with the Mafia, whose members are murderers.)
Why did CIA officials knowingly and intentionally enter into partnerships with former Nazi officials? To help the U.S. fight its new official post-WWII enemy — the Soviet Union (which had been its ally in WWII). This is in fact why the Pentagon and military-industrial complex were able to stay in business and continue prospering with ever-increasing budgets — because of their new official enemy (the Soviet Union, whose officials has been U.S. allies in WW II), which had replaced the previous official enemy (Nazi Germany, whose officials were now U.S. allies).
Of course is one of the beauties of keeping U.S. operations secret from the American people — by the time Americans discover what has taken place, it’s just a matter of historical curiosity.
That’s in fact why the CIA keeps current operations secret from the American people — so that Americans won’t feel morally obligated to stop what they don’t know is being done with their tax money. It’s not difficult to imagine the CIA’s and Pentagon’s files being opened up in 2050 and Americans being mildly curious about the secret kidnappings, renditions, torture, and sex abuse that were secretly being committed by U.S. government officials in the early part of the 21st century.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
U.S. officials continue to maintain that it was necessary to invade and occupy Iraq, where U.S. troops have killed and maimed tens of thousands of people, because the world could not have withstood a brutal dictator such as Saddam Hussein in power.
Well, guess where Donald Rumsfeld was this week. Vietnam! Yes, communist Vietnam! And guess who he was meeting and flirting with and entering into agreements with. Yes, the communist leaders of that country!
Yes, I am referring to the same Vietnam where 60,000 American men died at the hands of the Vietnamese communists. Imagine that!
Question: If the federals really invaded Iraq out of love and concern for the Iraqi people’s “liberation,” as they continue to maintain, why are they not invading Vietnam to liberate the Vietnamese people from communism? Why is an American Secretary of Defense instead working closely with the Vietnamese communist regime?
If the world can tolerate a brutal communist regime in Vietnam, why wouldn’t it have been able to tolerate Saddam’s brutal socialist regime in Iraq? At least the tens of thousands of Iraqi people killed by U.S. military forces, including the women and children at Haditha, would still be alive.
Would the Vietnamese people be better off if President Bush ordered an invasion and occupation of their country in the purported attempt to “liberate” them from brutal communist tyranny? Of course not. They would suffer untold casualties, death, maiming, and destruction from U.S. bombs, missiles, and bullets. As bad as suffering under communism is, President Bush would not be doing the Vietnamese people any favors by invading and occupying Vietnam, as he has done with Iraq.
Did I mention why Rumsfeld is playing footsie with the Vietnamese communists? To enter into an agreement “to increase their military contacts and to discuss ways to broaden their defense cooperation, American officials said.”
I swear I’m not making this up! It’s straight from yesterday’s New York Times. Think about that for a moment: The U.S. government and the Vietnamese communist regime are “broadening their defense cooperation.” What exactly are they going to jointly defend against? Who knows? Maybe communist China, which is becoming an economic powerhouse and therefore is considered a potential threat by U.S. officials. Just think of the possibility: American troops killing and dying to protect the Vietnamese communist regime from an attack from the Chinese communist regime. In the name of “protecting our freedoms” here at home, of course.
So, why didn’t U.S. officials play footsie with Saddam, like they’re doing with the brutal Vietnamese communist regime and, well, for that matter with the brutal unelected dictator of Pakistan, and, well, the brutal regime in Uzbekistan (where they boil people alive), and, well, you get my point, right?
Well, the fact is that U.S. officials did play footsie and flirt with Saddam, during the 1980s, when they helped him kill Iranians and even furnished him those WMD that they later got so hyped up about. It’s just that Saddam got a little too independent for his own good and had to be taken out and replaced.
And that was what the Iraqi war and occupation have been all about — “regime change.” Not about fake and false WMDs. Not about mushroom clouds. Not about democracy-spreading. Not about liberation. No, American men and women have killed and maimed, and Iraqi men, women, and children have been killed and maimed, for one — and only one — reason: power politics — regime change — enforced by U.S. bombs, bullets, and obedient troops loyal to the president.
Vietnam and Iraq. What better reason to dismantle America’s extensive military empire and restore a constitutional republic to our land?
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Several years ago, I was touring San Gimignano, Italy, where I noticed a place called The Torture Museum. Unable to resist the temptation to take a look at what government officials were capable of, I paid the admission fee and walked in. The place was filled with some of the most gruesome devices and photographs imaginable. As I departed, I almost wished I had not walked into the place. If you would like to see some of the exhibits, click here.
Of course, foremost on my mind was that this was a museum focusing on the “olden days.” Thus, even though I knew that torture had been used by dictatorial regimes in modern times — i.e., the Nazis and the Soviets — never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that U.S. personnel would ever be engaging in torture, much less that the American people would actually be debating the pros and cons of torture.
The fact that such a debate is even taking place reflects the moral debauchery into which the federal government has thrown our nation. Having abandoned the concept of a constitutional republic in favor of an extensive overseas empire, U.S. personnel, including those in the CIA, the State Department, and the U.S. military all over the world, engage in invasions, sanctions, embargoes, coups, assassinations, wars of aggression, foreign-aid bribery, support of brutal unelected dictators, indefinite detentions, denial of habeas corpus, due process, and legal counsel, torture, and sex abuse — with nary a thought as to the wrongfulness and immorality of their conduct. And then when the victims or the friends of the victims resist such actions, the answer is: “Torture them until they succumb and give us the necessary information as to who else is resisting us.”
Unfortunately, this plunge in federal immorality has pulled down the level of consciousness of many Americans, especially those in the mainstream media, who continue to look upon all federal actions abroad as good, simply because it is so painful to confront the cancerous rot that is spreading within the body politic.
A good example of this phenomenon was detailed in an article in Sunday’s Washington Post, which pointed out that when Congressman John Murtha initially mentioned the Haditha massacre during a news conference, the reporters’ reaction was mild indifference. According to the article, “His comments captured little attention and were not front-page news.”
The federal plunge into wrongdoing has now taken another fateful step downward with the news that the Pentagon has now formally removed the Geneva Convention’s prohibition against torture from the Army rulebook. Fortunately, editorials today in both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are protesting this wrongful direction. As the NYT editorial states: “It defies belief that this administration is still clinging to its benighted policies on prisoners after the horrors of Abu Ghraib, the killings at American camps in Afghanistan and the world’s fresh outrage over what appears to have been the massacre of Iraqi men, women and children in the village of Haditha.”
Hopefully, the Pentagon will not destroy its torture devices and will keep careful notes as to how its victims reacted to U.S. torture. After all, maybe one of these days, Americans will have their own Torture Museum in Washington, D.C., to attract tourists, just like the one at San Gimignano.
Monday, June 5, 2006
Last week, I was traveling to Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb of Washington that I’m not very familiar with. I took a wrong turn and got lost and found myself in a residential neighborhood.
There was a Hispanic woman about 30 years old walking on the sidewalk with her two children. I pulled alongside the curb and when she looked at me I waved at her to come over to my car.
She had a very frightened look on her face and looked around to see if I was addressing her rather than someone else, which was clearly a nervous reaction because she and her children were the only ones on the sidewalk. She pointed to herself and asked “Me?” I smiled and said yes.
When she was adjacent to my car on the passenger side, I her asked if she could tell me where Neabsco Road was. She said she was sorry but had no idea. I smiled, thanked her, and drove off.
One possibility is that the woman was just nervous about talking to a stranger. But I concluded that the much more likely possibility is that the woman was an illegal immigrant whose mind was racing with the immediate prospect of being busted by an INS officer, taken into custody with her two children, and deported back to her home country perhaps without her husband knowing about it.
As I drove away, I thought to myself: What a horrible way to live. And I felt bad about having asked her for directions.
Friday, June 2, 2006
At the end of World War II, the U.S. military put Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita on trial for failing to prevent war crimes committed by his troops. It was undisputed that Yamashita had not ordered the commission of the war crimes or that he had implicitly approved of their commission. In fact, he was the type of officer who would have put an immediate stop to such crimes but the Allied attacks had severely damaged his command and control structure.
Nevertheless, U.S. military officials tried, convicted, and hung him for the war crimes his troops had committed.
Here’s what an attorney named Anne E. Mahle wrote regarding the Yamashita standard:
“In the Supreme Court’s decision, rendered in February 1946, the Court articulated a clear standard for military commanders with respect to the actions of their subordinates. In responding to General Yamashita’s assertion that he did not personally participate in or order the commission of these offenses, the Court described the heart of the charge as being ‘an unlawful breach of duty by [General Yamashita] as an army commander to control the operations of members of his command by ‘permitting them to commit’ the extensive and widespread atrocities.’ The Court recognized that international law, through the law of war, “presupposes that [violations of the law of war] are to be avoided through the control of the operations of war by commanders who to some extent are responsible for their subordinates.’ The Court believed that absent such a duty upon commanders, nothing would prevent occupying forces from committing atrocities upon the civilian population. The Court held that General Yamashita was, by virtue of his position as commander of the Japanese forces in the Philippines, under an ‘affirmative duty to take such measures as were within his power and appropriate in the circumstances to protect prisoners of war and the civilian population.’ General Yamashita’s writ was denied, and he was executed by hanging by the United States military.”
Given the widespread war crimes committed under the noses of U.S. military commanders in Iraq, i.e., torture, rape, and sex abuse at Abu Ghraib and other locations in Iraq, the Haditha massacres, and, now, murder and kidnapping allegedly committed by 7 Marines and a Navy corpsman, to mention just a few, along with U.S. military cover-ups, the question naturally arises: At what point is the Yamashita standard going to be applied to commanding officers in Iraq? Or, if it is not going to be applied, then is it time for a posthumous pardon of Gen. Yamashita? After all, no one can deny that U.S. commanders in Iraq have much more command and control over their troops than Yamashita had over his.
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Taking U.S. Congressman (and former Marine) John Murtha to task for not “sticking up for the military” in the wake of the Haditha massacre, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly suggests that people should simply wait until the Marine higher-ups conduct a full investigation into the massacre.
Does O’Reilly realize that the massacres took place last November? One would think that that might raise the question as to why the investigation is a bit late in getting started. Does O’Reilly realize that there is also evidence of a U.S. military cover-up of the massacre?
Hey, Bill: Given the delay and the evidence of cover-up, how else can Americans discover the truth except through the pressure brought by an independent and critical press and Congress? Wouldn’t passivity on the part of media columnists and commentators simply play into the hands of those who seek delay and cover-up? Isn’t it possible that the new Marine “investigation” is a direct consequence of Congressman Murtha and independent people in the press?
O’Reilly also tried to put the Haditha massacre in context by pointing out that 95 percent of U.S. troops in Iraq have performed “heroically.”
But surely O’Reilly realizes that in performing “heroically,” those other troops have killed tens of thousands of other Iraqis and maimed countless others — people who had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Take my word for it: If another major terrorist attack takes place on American soil, O’Reilly will be the first one echoing the official federal line proclaiming that the attack was motivated by anger and hatred for America’s “freedom and values” and that the killings at Haditha and the rest of Iraq, along with the torture-and-sex-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, had nothing to do with it. Why, I’ll bet he’ll even remind us how free the Iraqi people now are under U.S. military occupation, given their right to vote for those in charge of indefinite detentions, warrantless searches, kidnappings, gun control, and censorship, and notwithstanding the occasional massacre of Iraqis from time to time.