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, May 2004


Monday, May 31, 2004

Today — Memorial Day — is a good time to begin reflecting on the future direction of our country, especially given the failure of the most recent foreign war waged by the federal government. I say failure because there is no possibility that the occupation of Iraq will succeed in bringing freedom, democracy, or even the long-term appointment of a U.S. puppet regime in that country. The Iraqi people will never trust U.S. officials, not only because it was U.S. officials who imposed and maintained the embargo for more than a decade that callously killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children but also because the sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal has destroyed any hope of winning the trust of the Iraqi people, especially the religious ones. The troops might well be kept in Iraq for the indefinite future but they will be killing and dying for nothing more than preserving “national pride,” whatever that is.

My feeling is that the invasion, war of aggression, occupation, and war crimes might well prove to be a watershed event in the history of our country, one that could become a major catalyst for positive change in America.

The most critical questions that every American should be asking in the months ahead are the ones our Founding Fathers asked: What is the role of government in a free society? What should be the role of government in our society? The answers to those two questions will determine the future direction of our nation. These two questions and the answers to them give us the hope of restoring a society of liberty, peace, prosperity, and harmony — a society that once again is a model for the world

Saturday, May 29, 2004

In attempting to justify the invasion and war of aggression against a sovereign and independent nation, U.S. officials love to ask, “Well, isn’t the world better off without Saddam Hussein?” One answer is, “Probably not that part of the world, including Iraq, that now has friends or relatives that were killed, maimed, or abused in the process.”

Moreover, it is the anger and hatred in that sector that will inevitably form new breeding grounds for new terrorist retaliations against Americans. That means that the invasion, war, and occupation will produce more terrorism for the U.S. government to wage its war on terrorism against.

And that’s exactly why U.S. foreign meddling, whether installing puppet regimes, invading countries, or simply interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, makes life bad for the American people, not to mention the people in those countries who are killed, maimed, or abused.

As a famous communist once pointed out, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. The Iraq experiment is further proof that it is precisely those eggs that U.S. foreign policy breaks that then breed the terrorism that U.S. officials then use as the excuse to expand their powers and budgets and curtail the liberties of the American people under their rubric of waging “war on terrorism.” Which means that there is only one solution to all this: remove the power of the federal government to break eggs.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Former military police officer Sean Baker had a bad day in Cuba last year. Baker volunteered (his first mistake, as any military veteran will tell you) to pose as an “uncooperative prisoner” in an exercise at the Pentagon’s infamous Guatanamo Bay prison camp, a camp that the Pentagon claims is beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. federal courts, the Geneva Convention, and the principles of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and the International War Crimes Tribunal.

Well, Baker, who was clothed in the customary orange prison jumpsuit, did too good an acting job in the training exercise because, well, his fellow soldiers in the training exercise beat the tar out of him, to such an extent that Baker had to undergo brain scans and has now been discharged from the service.

Oh well, Baker, whose screams that he was really a U.S. soldier during the beating went unheeded, should be counting his lucky stars that he was finally able to zip down his orange jumpsuit to reveal that he really was a U.S. soldier. If he had been a real prisoner, things might have well gone much worse for him.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to insist that it has properly treated its Cuba prisoners, despite the fact that the general in charge at Guantanamo Bay was transferred to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq just about the same time that the sex abuse, rape, torture, and murders started taking place at that institution.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

New York Times columnist William Safire recently wrote an op-ed lamenting the lack of media coverage on the sarin gas that was emitted from a roadside bomb in Iraq. Apparently, Safire was suggesting that the find was confirmation that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction after all and that it was irresponsible for the press not to report that the invasion of Iraq to “disarm Saddam,” which has killed or maimed thousands of innocent people, was justified after all.

Well, UPI is reporting that, according to a senior U.S. official, the gas was manufactured before 1991, which means — uh, oh — that it might well have been furnished by the U.S., given that the U.S., as part of its foreign policy, was one of the main suppliers of weapons of mass destruction to Saddam, so that Saddam could use the WMD to kill the Iranian people.

I wonder if Safire will now lament the lack of media coverage — and, for that matter, the lack of congressional interest — on that discovery. I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, given that the date-of-manufacture discovery now re-raises the uncomfortable issue of the U.S. government’s chummy relationship with Saddam Hussein during the 1980s, my prediction is that Safire himself will drop the issue like a hot potato and, like Vice President Cheney, will simply continue anxiously awaiting the discovery of Saddam’s massive secret stash of WMD.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

As Ronald Reagan once said, “There they go again.” The feds are revving up the federal fright machine, telling Americans to expect major terrorist attacks this summer. Expect the standard calls for “rally round the flag” blind and fearful patriotism leading up to the election, whether such attacks actually take place or not.

Well, duh! What did they expect? When the U.S. invades an independent nation, kills thousands of innocent people, imposes a brutal occupation that denies people fundamental rights and continues killing innocent people, and inflicts sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder on detainees, why would it surprise anyone that some of the victims and their friends and relatives would get angry and vengeful over that? Wouldn’t Americans get angry over such things if it happened to Americans? Didn’t they get angry after Okalahoma City and September 11?

Given that the U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf War, the embargo against Iraq that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, and unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government led to the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, why would it be surprising that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would lead to a same or similar result?

Of course, we’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again from the feds: “They hate us for our freedom and values, not because your government has done bad things to people overseas.”

And so the beat goes on—expand the U.S. government’s military empire (which includes, of course, perpetual increases in the Pentagon’s budget) so that they’ll love us even more around the world while continuing to isolate the American people from the people of the world through such policies as strict immigration and travel controls into and out of the U.S., economic embargoes, and, now, possibly even stationing U.S. military troops along our borders, just like in the Soviet Union.

The good news is that at least there’s a solution to this entire mess: dismantle the U.S. military empire and rein in the federal government in foreign affairs while freeing the American people, who are our best diplomats, to interact with the people of the world in business, culture, and tourism. That’s the road to peace, prosperity, harmony, and freedom.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

President Bush announced last night that he invaded Iraq to “defend our security” and to “make its people free.”

Not surprisingly, the president failed to explain how “our security” was threatened, given that Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so, with or without the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. delivered to Iraq during the 1980s.

Also not surprisingly, he failed to explain how the Iraqi people can be considered to be free given that Bush and the Pentagon have steadfastly refused to apply the restrictions enumerated in the U.S. Bill of Rights to occupation forces in Iraq. That is, how can people be free when their rulers have to power to censor newspapers who criticize the military, shoot demonstrators, confiscate guns, initiate warrantless searches and seizures of homes, persons, and businesses, arrest people without warrants, and detain people indefinitely without right to counsel, trials, habeas corpus, due process of law, and bail, and inflict cruel and unusual punishments on people, including as sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder? How can anyone be free under omnipotent government, whether such government is run by Iraqis, Soviets, Chinese, Americans, or anyone else?

Monday, May 24, 2004

Martha Stewart, whose sentencing is set for June 17, is back in the news. It turns out that one of the main government witnesses who testified against her allegedly committed perjury. (Yes, as I have previously pointed out in my articles and blogs, government witnesses are known to lie, especially if they believe it is in the interests of national security.) The Justice Department has secured a grand jury indictment against the witness.

Meanwhile, one gets the distinct impression that the Justice Department, which has jurisdiction over war crimes committed by CIA agents and private contractors, isn’t pursuing an investigation into the Abu Ghraib sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal in Iraq as aggressively and diligently as it did when it went after Martha Stewart. I wonder why. One would think that Martha Stewart’s “crime” (lying to a government employee when she wasn’t under oath) was nothing, especially compared with sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if a successful businesswoman like Martha Stewart, who has done so much to enrich our lives, gets sent to jail for a ludicrous “crime” while the Justice Department permits CIA and mercenary sex abusers, rapists, torturers, and murderers continue roaming the streets of the world?

Saturday, May 22, 2004

One of the popular tactics employed by U.S. officials is to conflate the U.S. government with the American people. In that way, when U.S. officials do bad things, such as the sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder at Abu Ghraib and what is appearing to be a developing cover-up, they can say, “These acts don’t reflect the values held by the American people.”

Foreigners, on the other hand, do not fall for that trick. More often than not, they draw a clear distinction between the U.S. government (and it policies and practices) and the American people. That’s why they often say, “We love Americans but we hate your government and its policies.”

The Framers and our ancestors also understood the distinction between the government and the people. In fact, that’s why the Framers carefully enumerated the restrictions on government power in the Constitution and why our ancestors demanded the passage of the Bill of Rights — to protect the American people from the federal government.

Friday, May 21, 2004

In a recent editorial, the Washington Times stated,

“Some in the press and Congress — repeating the propaganda line of the terrorists — assert that Mr. Berg’s killing was committed in revenge for the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees by American guards that has dominated the news in recent weeks. This is absurd. Al Qaeda and its allies began murdering American civilians years ago: The September 11 attacks and the beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl, for example, occurred long before the world learned of the abuses at Abu Ghraib.”

Perhaps the Times’ editorial board hasn’t heard of the U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf War, the brutal 13-year U.S. and UN blockade against the Iraqi people which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, the arrogant stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, or the unconditional financial and military support of the Israeli government — all of which took place before the 9/11 attacks and which, in fact, motivated the 9/11 attacks and, for that matter, the beheading of Daniel Pearl.

Of course, this brings to mind the terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, when supporters of the military intervention at Waco were saying that the attack in Oklahoma City had nothing to do with Waco but instead was motivated by hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” Never mind that Timothy McVeigh himself said that what motivated him to commit the Oklahoma City bombing was the massacre at Waco.

Will the advocates of U.S. socialism, interventionism, and empire ever take moral responsibility for the failures and adverse consequences of their respective programs? Don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The U.S. government’s “man in Baghdad,” Ahmad Chalabi, might be suffering the same ignoble fate as the U.S. government’s former “man in Bagdad,” Saddam Hussein. After a long, cozy relationship, it seems that U.S. officials are now turning on Chalabi.

You’ll recall that during the 1980s, U.S. officials cozied up to Saddam, even delivering those infamous WMD to him. But then Saddam went “independent,” refusing to unconditionally obey U.S. orders — and, as everyone knows, Saddam soon became toast.

As most everyone also knows, Chalabi, who is on the lam for bank embezzlement in Jordan, has also long been a close bud of U.S. officials. In fact, the Pentagon is even still paying Chalabi the generous sum of $350,000 per month. (Yes, per month, out of monies that hard-working American taxpayers send to the IRS.)

Unfortunately, Chalabi has gone a bit too independent by cozying up to the ruling regime in Iran, which is currently on the list of U.S. bad guys. So, yesterday U.S. troops surrounded Chalabi’s home and then raided it to search for “fugitives.”

Oh well, at least U.S. officials can still count on their good bud and former Taliban ally Pakistani army dictator Pervez Mashariif, who took control in a coup. Unless he goes “independent,” of course.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

England’s Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has lost his job for mistakenly posting fake photos of war atrocities committed by British troops in Iraq. I wonder if he wishes he had instead been working for the U.S. government, where higher-ups “accept responsibility” for mistakes and wrongdoing but not only don’t lose their jobs but instead actually receive awards, promotions, and budget increases.

Just ask those federal higher-ups who participated in the assaults at Ruby Ridge and Waco which in turn led to the terrorist attack in Oklahoma City, in the foreign-policy debacles that led to the 9/11 attacks, in the failure to anticipate and warn the airlines and American people about airline hijackings and suicide terrorists prior to 9/11, and in the terrifying but false claim that Saddam was about to unleash his infamous WMD on the United States.

Time will tell whether the higher-ups who authorized the sex-abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison — or who intentionally looked the other way for purposes of “plausible deniability” that they were aware of what was going on — or who covered it up — will succeed not only in keeping their jobs but also in receiving the customary accolades, rewards, and budget increases.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The people in the federal government undoubtedly have the people at FOX News in a tizzy! Why? Well, such civilians as Colin Powell and Paul Bremer are saying if the new Iraqi regime wants the U.S. to leave Iraq after sovereignty is turned over in June, the U.S. will comply. On the other hand, the Pentagon is saying no way — no matter how the new regime votes, U.S. military forces will stay in Iraq, whether the new regime likes it or not. Or as the New York Times reported the matter, “A Pentagon official, Lt. Gen. Walter L. Sharp, corrected a State Department official, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, who said American troops would pack up and leave, if asked by Iraq’s interim authorities.”

Imagine that: military officials “correcting” civilian officials! I mean, no one would be surprised if that were to occur in the Soviet Union or in Chile or Argentina when the military reined triumphant in those countries, but in America?

So, why would all this create a quandary for the FOX news people? Because they’re undoubtedly going to find it difficult to determine which side within the government to patriotically support — the civilian side or the military side.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Update on Zacharias Moussaoui case:

You’ll recall that the last development in the Moussaoui case was that Moussaoui’s lawyers had filed a motion for rehearing before the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that it would be unfair to deny Moussaoui the benefit of witnesses in U.S. custody while also subjecting him to the death penalty. (See my April 30 article “Fourth Circuit Moussaoui Ruling Is a Loss for the Constitution” and my May 7 blog.

Well, the Fourth Circuit justices have now issued a new order ordering Justice Department prosecutors to explain “prior inconsistent statements” that the prosecutors have made to the court of appeals regarding their participation in the questioning of the witnesses in U.S. custody. That’s a polite way of saying, “Did you lie to us and, if so, why?”

Two of the appellate court justices who issued the ruling in the Moussaoui case are undoubtedly feeling a bit sheepish right now. You’ll recall that the trial judge, Leonie Brinkema, had ruled that the interrogations of the witnesses in government custody were not reliable and that Moussaoui had the right to the oral testimony of the witnesses under the Sixth Amendment. However, two of the Fourth Circuit justices summarily overruled Judge Brinkema’s conclusion, finding that the government interrogations of the witnesses were reliable but without providing any reason for such a conclusion. Of course, the problem is that the justices’ unexplained confidence in the good faith of the military and the Justice Department occurred before the exposure of the sex abuse and torture methods employed by the military and the CIA at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, which leaves those two Fourth Circuit justices in a rather interesting position.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

How ironic and how revealing that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld would, on the one hand, purport to condemn the war crimes at Abu Ghraib while, at the same time, proudly studying the war methods of one of the biggest war criminals in history — Ulysses S. Grant.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I have to admit that I have been fascinated by the somewhat nonchalant response of some neoconservatives to the sex abuse, torture, rape, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison. Somewhat ho-hummed and nonplussed by the wrongdoing, they seem to be suggesting that such acts as rape, coerced nudity, coerced sexual acts, coerced sodomy, siccing attack dogs on naked prisoners, and a few beatings and murders of detainees are all no big deal … compared, that is, to the more violent methods of torture and the multitudes of murders committed by Saddam Hussein when he was running Abu Ghraib.

My, my, what better example of what war can do to a people and their sense of moral values than that? Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday that these people were railing against Bill Clinton’s consensual sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinsky? I suppose today they’re going to tell us that Clinton’s sexual misdeeds were no big deal after all … compared, that is, to what those soldiers did at Abu Ghraib.

Applying this new principle of moral relativity, I suppose that these people would now say that Saddam Hussein, who tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of people, wasn’t so bad after all … compared, that is, to Adolf Hitler, who killed some 6 million people.

Indeed, by this new measure of moral relativity, I suppose that these people would now claim that Hitler himself wasn’t so bad … compared, that is, to Stalin, who killed some 20 million people.

I wonder where all this moral relativity puts Osama bin Laden, who has killed “only” several thousand people.

Throughout the crises that currently face our nation, it is vitally important that we steadfastly continue maintaining the moral high ground and that we not permit ourselves to plunge into this muck of moral relativity. Once all this passes — and it will pass, just as the military’s “wars on terrorism” in Argentina and Chile passed — there will be those who will have abandoned the principles of morality and right conduct and those who remained firmly committed to them. We must ensure that we are among those who remained committed, not only because it is the right course of action but also because it will better enable us to lead our nation out of the morass and toward a new vision of freedom, free markets, republic, peace, prosperity, morality, and harmony. When it comes to morality and right conduct, America must always strive to deal in absolutes, not relativities.

I suppose that there is one bright side to the strange response to the Abu Ghraib scandal of these neoconservatives — these people might finally be breaking free from their blind support of President Bush, who rightfully has condemned the wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib for the despicable and disgraceful conduct that it is.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The U.S. military has brought “freedom” to Iraq, which includes military rule, warrantless searches and seizures of homes and businesses, shutting down of newspapers that criticize the military, gun confiscation, shooting of demonstrators, mass arrests, collective punishment for criminal acts, pocket indictments issued by puppet judges, no jury trials, indefinite detentions, no due process, no bail, and cruel and unusual punishments imposed on detainees, including sex abuse, torture, rape, and murder. Too bad the Iraqi people didn’t demand the adoption of the U.S. Bill of Rights at the inception of the occupation. Thank goodness our ancestors demanded its adoption at the inception of our nation.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Fox News commentator John Gibson was practically foaming at the mouth yesterday over the purported failure of foreign news agencies to rail against the beheading of American Nicholas Berg by Islamic militants in Iraq in the way they railed against the sex abuse, torture, rape, and murder scandal by American personnel at Abu Ghraib prison.

Maybe it’s because people around the world hold the United States and the American people to a different standard, John — a higher standard. Maybe because they expect more of us. Maybe because they place us on a very high pedestal. Maybe because they instinctively know that America and Americans are the best hope for morality, justice, civilization, and freedom the world has ever known.

What’s wrong with all that, John? Isn’t that a double standard we can be proud of? Shouldn’t we ourselves expect more of ourselves?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Reports indicate that the Pentagon has retained at least 20,000 “private contractors,” some of whom have been given the job of interrogating detainees as part of the U.S. government’s “war on terrorism” and its occupation of Iraq.

But as DeWayne Wickham points out in today’s USA Today, these people are really nothing more than hired mercenaries — and mercenaries who are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, unlike the enlisted men who so far are the ones bearing the brunt of the Pentagon’s criminal prosecutions.

In the context of the Abu Ghraib sex abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal, the question that naturally arises is: Did the Pentagon retain such mercenaries for precisely that purpose — to unleash people on detainees who would not bound by the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention and also unlikely ever to be the targets of criminal prosecution for war crimes by a U.S. Justice Department committed to “winning” the “war on terrorism”?

Another question: Given that the president and the Pentagon have justified treating detainees as “unlawful combatants” because of their failure to wear a uniform, where exactly does that leave all these U.S. mercenaries?

Monday, May 10, 2004

It turns out that the guy who turned over the Abu Ghraib photos to “60 Minutes II” first contacted 17 congressmen, but with “virtually no response.”

How disgraceful is that? First, the members of Congress abrogate their congressional responsibility regarding a declaration of war, giving the president a blank check to do whatever he wants in his “war on terrorism,” then they endorse a massive assault on the civil liberties of the American people simply because the assault contained the word “PATRIOT” in it, then they’ve remained silent in the face of a Pentagon attempt to hijack America’s criminal justice system (Padilla and Hamdi), and now it turns out that 17 of them (who are not yet identified) stuck their ostrich heads in the sand when confronted with grave wrongdoing by U.S. military forces in Iraq.

There are some courageous people within the military. There’s the guy (Darby) who initially reported the matter to criminal investigators. According to Seymour Hersh’s new article, there’s also a captain in the Military Police who was told by a Military Intelligence officer to have his men keep detainees awake for long periods of time. The captain refused, stating that his men were not trained to engage in that type of thing and, thus, the matter could lead to serious abuse. The MI officer went over the captain’s head and asked the captain’s superior officer to order the captain to do so. The superior officer stood by his captain and said no. Good for them for standing their ground!

It increasingly appears that the sex-abuse, torture, rape, and murder scandal centers around Military Intelligence, CIA agents, and private “contractors” who were working as interrogators. Working without insignia or nametags to ensure that the MP grunts wouldn’t be able to later identify them, the scheme was obviously to turn over the dirty work to the MP enlisted personnel who could then take the fall if things ever went wrong.

Thus, while the Army is rushing to prosecute the MP underlings amidst tremendous fanfare and publicity, the important thing to watch is whether there is equal vigor by the Pentagon to prosecute MI officers and by the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute the CIA agents and the private contractors for war crimes.

For example, according to the St. Petersburg Times, the “scathing report on prisoner abuse in Iraq found that U.S. military intelligence interrogators set ‘physical and mental conditions’ for questioning inmates that contributed to the shocking acts of abuse. But except for one brief mention, the 55-page report contains nothing about the role of the top military intelligence officer in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast.”

So far, John “Law and Order” Ashcroft has not even bothered to convene a grand jury to investigate the matter, preferring to defer to the military, an odd position given that the military has no jurisdiction over war crimes committed by CIA agents and private contractors.

We’ll have to wait and see if things have really changed at a Pentagon that did its best to cover up the war crimes at My Lai during the Vietnam War and treated the officer who risked his life to oppose and expose the My Lai massacre as a traitor and at a Justice Department that did its best to cover up the army and FBI massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco.

Also, watch out for “patriotic” congressmen who are much more concerned about protecting the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex and the military pork in their states than in ferreting out and eliminating the rot within the government that is inconsistent with the principles of a just, moral, and civilized society.

Saturday, May 8, 2004

So far, the responses of President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, the Pentagon, and the Senate Armed Services Committee to the sex abuse, torture, rape, and murder scandal in Iraq are weak and inadequate. Apologies, regrets, committee hearings, and even the standard U.S. government response to federal wrongdoing—a commission to conduct yet another “probe,” study, and report—are weak and inadequate. And limiting criminal charges to enlisted men, who are now claiming the Nuremberg defense of “I was only following orders,” while avoiding criminal charges against military intelligence officers, CIA agents, and private mercenaries is weak and inadequate. Only a truly independent U.S. prosecutor with the authority to seek grand jury indictments for war crimes can begin the process of restoring integrity to the U.S. military.

Friday, May 7, 2004

Update on the Moussaoui case: Moussaoui’s lawyers have asked the full Court of Appeals for a rehearing of the decision of the 3-judge panel a couple of weeks ago. Moussaoui is contending that the panel erred in reinstating the government’s seeking of the death penalty in view of the fact of that the panel also denied him the benefit of witnesses in government custody who would help to establish his innocence. (The district judge had stricken the death penalty as a sanction for the government’s refusal to comply with her order to produce the witnesses.) As one of Moussaoui’s lawyers succinctly put it, “If the government is going to restrict his ability defend himself, it should lose the option to seek his execution. Given the fact that the government doesn’t have to produce the witnesses, we don’t believe this should be a death penalty case.” According to the Associated Press, Moussaoui’s lawyers “asked the full court to adopt the position of Judge Roger Gregory, who commented in a dissent that the ultimate penalty was unfair if Moussaoui couldn’t have full access to the witnesses.” For my own analysis of the Moussaoui ruling, including my own reasons for concluding that Judge Gregory’s dissenting opinion was the strongest and best reasoned, see my article “Fourth Circuit Moussaoui Ruling Is a Loss for the Constitution.”

While we’re on the subject of the law, it will be interesting to read Justices Renquist’s and Scalia’s opinions in the Hamdi and Padilla cases when the Court rules later this summer. Will these two conservative justices rule, as expected, that the president and the Pentagon can be entrusted with the power to jail American citizens indefinitely in a military brig without due process of law for as long as the “war on terrorism” lasts, especially given the U.S. military’s sex-abuse, torture, rape, and murder scandal at Abu Ghraib prison?

Thursday, May 6, 2004

FOX News commentators such as Bill O’Reilly are going ga-ga over corruption in the UN’s oil-for-food program. You’ll recall that that’s the program that was supposed to alleviate the horrible suffering of the Iraqi people resulting from the cruel and brutal embargo enforced against the Iraqi people by the U.S. and UN. The FOX News people are apparently shocked over the fact that bribes might have been paid as part of the oil-for-food program.

Are these people — along with their congressional cohorts who are expressing shock too — really as innocent and naive as they portray themselves? Come on, I thought everyone knew that there’s bribery and corruption in socialist programs. Didn’t these people know that such a phenomenon exists when they set up the oil-for-food program in the first place? Duh! What else would a reasonable and normal person expect when millions of dollars are entrusted to government officials to fund a massive socialist program? It’s almost comical that the FOX News people seem shocked that foreign government officials, including Saddam Hussein, would actually deal in bribes. What planet do these people come from?

For example, consider this April 26 release from the Associated Press : “Ten companies with billions of dollars in U.S. contracts for Iraq reconstruction have paid more than $300 million in penalties since 2000 to resolve allegations of bid rigging, fraud, delivery of faulty military parts and environmental damage.”

Or this from the Palm Beach Post: “Marketplace, a Minnesota Public Radio program, reported last week on rampant corruption in the Iraqi rebuilding effort. ‘Americans are footing a $20 billion tab to build schools, bridges, houses and power grids in Iraq.’ Marketplace found that ‘millions, possibly billions, of taxpayer dollars are disappearing in a web of bribes, kickbacks and price-gouging.’

“Surprise? Shock? Actually, Yawn! — as in, What else is new? What I find amazing is that the FOX News people such as Bill O’Reilly are (apparently) amazed over the fact that this sort of thing actually happens with socialist programs.

While government corruption is always something to be concerned about, its importance certainly does pale in comparison to what Washington folks are quite reluctant to investigate: the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who died as a direct and proximate result of the embargo, which U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright said at the time was “worth it” and, well, for that matter, the U.S. delivery of weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein, which he used to kill thousands of Iranians and Iraqis and which were later used as the false justification for invading Iraq. After all, if government bribes are worth investigating, why aren’t the U.S. foreign policies that contributed to the deaths and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people worth investigating too? Isn’t that something much more important to be shocked about than corruption in socialist programs?

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

U.S. Senators are complaining that no one has kept them apprised about the sex-abuse, rape, torture, and murder scandal in Iraq. According to CNN, Senator John Warner of Virginia “wished the Defense Department had informed Congress about the Army’s investigations into the abuse allegations when they began in January.” Senator John McCain of Arizona chimed in with, “The Congress should have been notified of this situation a long time ago.” Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan lamented, “General Taguba’s report was prepared in early April, so it’s been a month since that report was available.”

Give me a break! Every one of these men know that ever since 9/11, they’ve converted the U.S. Senate into nothing more than an irrelevant lapdog and rubberstamp for the president, the CIA, and the Pentagon. After all, don’t forget that it was the august members of the Senate who enacted the PATRIOT Act without even reading it, placing their blind faith in the president, CIA, and the Pentagon … who wrote the unconstitutional blank check to the president and the Pentagon to wage a war of aggression against Iraq without the constitutionally required declaration of war … who have done absolutely nothing to protect the constitutional guarantees of due process of law of the people from presidential and military assault, not even issuing one peep of protest in the Padilla and Hamdi cases … and who have steadfastly ignored widespread reports of torture at the hands of U.S. military personnel for more than a year.

As the Washington Post puts it in its lead editorial today, “That several of its senior Republican members were proclaiming themselves shocked yesterday to learn of the abuses — as if none had been previously reported — was itself shameful.”

The sad truth is that after 9/11, all too many august members of the U.S. Senate snapped to attention, clicked their heels, saluted, and said, “Mr. President and Our Generals, your wishes are our commands. We senators are her to serve you unconditionally in your war on terror. Just issue your orders and we will carry them out.”

So, why in the world would the Pentagon feel any need to apprise these people of anything? Since when does a superior have to account for his actions to a subordinate?

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

In an obvious quest to quell the worldwide firestorm over the sex-abuse, rape, and torture scandal involving U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, the Pentagon has announced administrative penalties, such as letters of reprimand, against certain U.S. military personnel over the management policies of prisons in Iraq. The Pentagon’s fanfare over such administrative remedies (which do not constitute criminal punishments for war crimes) should not be permitted to distract from the critical issue at hand: the need to aggressively investigate and prosecute everyone who participated, approved, and condoned war crimes involving torture, not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan, Cuba, and in those countries where U.S. detainees have been “renditioned” for torture, even if such investigations and prosecutions lead to the Pentagon itself.

Unfortunately the Pentagon still hasn’t explained why the Military Intelligence personnel, CIA, or private contractors who participated in the Abu Ghraib wrongdoing have not been court-martialed or criminally charged with war crimes even though six enlisted men have been so charged. It also doesn’t help the Pentagon’s credibility that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers had not even bothered to read the special report on the scandal when it was issued by General Antonio M. Taguba, at the request of General Ricardo S. Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.

I received the following thoughtful email from a West Point graduate regarding my article “Imperial Shame at Agu Ghraib” and my series of articles “Obedience to Orders.” I agree with him — the important issue is not VMI vs. West Point but rather the critical need for all officers — VMI, West Point, and others — and, for that matter, all Americans — to take a firm stance against mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. troops, not only because such a stance is in the best interest of our own troops and our nation, not only because the Geneva convention requires it, but also because it’s the right course of action to follow by America.


Dear Mr. Hornberger,

May I commend you on your essay, which is quite in the spirit of George Washington’s 1797 farewell warning about the threat posed by excessively influential and permanent military establishments to our Constitution. I won’t plunge into the WP-VMI rivalry, although I am a 1964 graduate of West Point and subsequently led infantry in Vietnam combat. But your statements on torture certainly are not in any way open to debate, despite the insipid responses you cited from various West Pointers, who ought to be embarrassed. Those who may disagree with you must be reminded constantly of what normal people everywhere think of torture. If it is an instrument of policy, then we are confronted with a clear choice. To avoid dishonor, we must vigorously oppose both the policy and its source.

Keep up the good work!


Monday, May 3, 2004

If you ever wanted to feel sorry for U.S. troops in Iraq, now would be a good time to do so. The Iraqi insurgents already have enough incentive to fight and die just trying to rid their nation of a foreign occupier, but the anger and hatred and thirst for revenge and vengeance is now going to be immeasurable, given the unbelievable humiliation wreaked on Iraqi men with the forced nudity, sex abuse, rape, and torture at Abu Ghraib prison, especially by U.S. female military personnel. One of the worst things a soldier can ever face is a well-motivated enemy, and despite Pentagon platitudes purporting to condemn what has happened at Abu Ghraib, U.S. troops are about to face very angry, vengeful, and strongly motivated insurgents while U.S. soldiers, on the other hand, will continue to be motivated by the fake and false goal of forcibly imposing “liberation” through the installation of a U.S.-approved puppet regime on the very people who are bound and determined to oust them from their country or kill them. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Abu Ghraib nudity, sex-abuse, rape, and torture scandal — and the anger and hatred and thirst for revenge it produces among the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq — spells the beginning of the end for the U.S. occupation of Iraq. And not to worry anyone, but can you think of a better recruiting angle for Osama bin Laden than what was done to Arab men at Abu Ghraib prison?

Saturday, May 1, 2004

If the majority of the Iraqi people view U.S. troops in Iraq as occupiers rather than liberators and want the United States to exit Iraq, as a Gallup Poll conducted in Iraq reveals, what exactly is the U.S. government’s political justification for continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American troops in Iraq and killing and maiming hundreds of Iraqis every week? And don’t forget that the poll was conducted before the Iraqi people viewed the U.S. military’s sex-abuse-and-torture photos.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.