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, August 2004


Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Some pro-Vietnam War veterans are taking John Kerry to task for his antiwar positions after he returned from Vietnam. What these guys fail to understand is simply because soldiers fight in a war doesn’t make the war right or just, not even if the soldiers fight bravely or courageously.

For example, there were plenty of German and Soviet soldiers who fought bravely and courageously when Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland on the eve of World War II but that certainly didn’t mean that their invasion and occupation of Poland was right or just. In fact, the German war of aggression against Poland was later condemned as a war crime at Nuremberg. (The Soviet invasion of Poland was not condemned at Nuremberg because the Soviet Union was one of the Nuremberg judges.)

One of the big problems with the U.S. government’s endless series of foreign wars is that it produces a built-in constituency of war veterans who then look upon their ruler as their perpetual commander in chief rather than their president. The result is that they then defer to the president’s judgment in all future wars, not even requiring the Congress to perform its constitutional duty of deciding whether a war should be declared, and then condemn those who oppose the wars or support the Constitution as unpatriotic traitors who are unwilling to give their lives or the lives of their loved ones for a worthless imperial cause.

Bottom line: The U.S. government had no more business in Vietnam than it did invading Iraq, and the fact that individual soldiers “did their duty” by following orders in those wars, even bravely and courageously, doesn’t mean that the war they waged was right or just.

Monday, August 30, 2004

The Iraqi insurgents’ fierce defense of the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf reminded me of another fierce defense of a religious shrine by militiamen — the defense of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, in 1836.

Both sets of defenders were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned by the military forces loyally serving brutal dictators — those of Iraqi dictator Ayad Allawi and those of Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. (Allawi employed U.S. tanks, helicopters, and bombers, while the Iraqi defenders employed donkeys carrying explosive devices.) While both dictators swore to kill all the defenders of the two shrines, only Santa Anna was successful in doing so, given that a deal was struck in Iraq enabling those defenders who were still alive to escape.

Speaking of Allawi’s military forces, since U.S. troops are now operating under his command and orders, shouldn’t he be responsible for payment of their salary and other expenses? Not that it would make a whole lot of difference, I guess, given the fact that U.S. taxpayers are funding Allawi and the members of his puppet regime.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

What could better exemplify the perverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy than what has happened in Najaf? Another beautiful Iraqi city destroyed by U.S. government bombs and missiles, not to mention the fact that more than a thousands Iraqi men, women, and children who were alive 30 days ago are dead today.

Remember when the invasion was about “getting Saddam”? Remember when U.S. officials said that it was worth the lives of thousands of Iraqi people to “get Saddam”? Remember when Madeleine Albright said that the lives of half-a-million Iraqi children were worth the attempt to get Saddam?

But when they finally “got Saddam,” was that enough? Obviously not.

They then had to install a U.S.-approved puppet regime that would do the bidding of U.S. officials and, at the same time, give them access to Iraqi oil monies. And in the process, they have to continue killing, bombing, and destroying, even if the dead are the former enemies of Saddam Hussein.

Add to all that the torture, rapes, sex abuse, and murder of prisoners, and the brutal searches and seizures of people in the homes and businesses, the indiscriminate killings of people on the roads, the callous refusal to count the Iraqi dead and maimed, the indefinite detentions of Iraqi suspects, the mandatory curfews, the killing of demonstrators, and the shutting down of the press and the threats to kill reporters.

All in the name of “freedom”—the “freedom” of the U.S. government to sanction, invade, bomb, kill, maim, injure, destroy, and install puppet regimes in different parts of the world to serve as imperial outposts for its ever-growing military empire, with prisoner Gulags all over the world, including Cuba, where prisoners are raped, tortured, abused, and murdered with impunity, with U.S. officials’ knowing that if such crimes are somehow discovered, military whitewashes and cover-ups will suffice until people tire of the controversy.

How much longer will the American people let this brutal and immoral foreign policy continue?

Friday, August 27, 2004

The first of the Pentagon’s infamous military tribunals in Cuba has gotten underway, with the Pentagon prosecuting an Australian citizen, David Hicks, for being an “enemy combatant” in the so-called war on terrorism. Already, Hick’s attorney has requested the presiding judge, Col. Peter E. Brownback III, to disqualify himself based on the fact that Brownback’s close personal friend, Pentagon official John D. Altenburg, chose him for the job and based on the fact that the other four members of the tribunal are not attorneys and thus are likely to be unduly influenced by Brownback.

As the Cuban proceedings progress, I will making periodic analyses as to how they are being conducted, with the aim of showing how Pentagon officials, given their deep hatred and contempt for the principles guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, are proceeding in a manner that is virtually identical to the way that Fidel Castro runs his terrorism tribunals. That is, under the Pentagon’s Cuba military tribunals, Hicks has:

No right to trial by a jury consisting of regular Americans.
No right to have communications between Hicks and his attorney be confidential.
No right to confront government witnesses against Hicks.
No right to exclude hearsay evidence—that is, statements made by government witnesses made somewhere outside the courtroom, not even under oath, precluding Hicks’ attorney from cross-examining the person who made the statement.

Why should all this matter to Americans? Because it’s wrong, just plain wrong. It’s not what our country stands for but rather what Cuba stands for. Every person accused of crime has the inherent right to the rights and guarantees enunciated in the Bill of Rights. The fact that America has always recognized that principle is what has always distinguished America from the other countries of the world. Now, the Pentagon, which already has told the world that our nation stands for unrestrained searches and seizures, indefinite detentions, torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of prisoners, and cover-ups and whitewashes of such crimes, will now be telling the world that its Cuban military tribunals are what America stands for too. What a shame. What a disgrace.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

In his treatise The Law, Frederic Bastiat wrote, “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.”

The situation is somewhat similar in Iraq: By essentially declaring that the occupation of Iraq is a fait accompli and that withdrawal is not an option, the U.S. government effectively puts the American people into a moral quandary. Since the lives of American troops are at stake in the process of enforcing the occupation of Iraq, if Americans support the moral and just position held by the Iraqi people who are resisting the occupation, Americans are effectively put into the position of opposing U.S. troops who are engaged in battles to enforce the occupation. On the other hand, if they support U.S. troops in battles to enforce the occupation, they are effectively supporting an illegal and immoral position.

Moreover, the entire process requires Americans to lament the deaths of U.S. soldiers, who are dying for an illegal and immoral cause, and to treat the deaths of Iraqis with callous indifference even though they are dying for the just and moral cause of resisting an illegal and immoral occupation of their country.

It’s actually a false choice, however, because there is another position to take, a moral one: The U.S. government should immediately abandon all plans to build a string of U.S. military bases in Iraq and end the occupation by immediately withdrawing all troops from Iraq.

Hasn’t the U.S. government done enough damage already with its unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign and independent country (a war crime punished at Nuremberg)? Hasn’t its illegal invasion (i.e., no constitutionally required congressional declaration of war) inflicted enough death, maiming, and destruction, not only on U.S. troops and the American people but also on thousands of innocent Iraqi people, including Iraqi military personnel? Why permit the U.S. government to continue enforcing an illegal and immoral occupation, which, in addition to the more death, maiming, and destruction, continues to inflict a deep moral wound on the psyche and conscience of the American people?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

There is a valuable lesson to be learned in the Bush-Kerry battle over their respective roles during the Vietnam War. When our esteemed members of Congress reinstitute the draft in order to gain the manpower necessary to fund more preemptive wars of aggression in the future, the best thing that every young man and woman can do is this: Do everything you can to avoid being sent overseas into battle, as President Bush and Vice-President Cheney did, because that way you don’t risk your life or limbs and you can later ridicule and mock those who were stupid enough to go, including those who received those false and fraudulent government-issued ribbons and medals for valor.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The world, including the American people, are about to be treated to the spectacle of what life would be like if the Pentagon is ever successful in completely hijacking America’s judicial system, as it has tried to do in the terrorism cases of Americans Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi and Ali S. Marri.

I’m referring, of course, to the Pentagon’s upcoming trials of suspected terrorist suspects at its base in Cuba. In fact, it is completely apropos that the Pentagon has chosen Cuba for its terrorist trials because the procedures that are going to be utilized will be virtually a mirror image of how terrorist trials are conducted on Fidel Castro’s side of Cuba. Despite all the military lip service about “fairness” (the same lingo that Castro uses), make no mistake about it — the defendants will be presumed guilty, they will not be permitted truly independent defense counsel, there will be no confidentiality between attorney and client, defendants will not be permitted to confront the witnesses against them, hearsay (i.e., out of court statements) will be admissible, there will be no right of compulsory process of witnesses, and due process of law and jury trials will be denied.

In other words, the rights, principles, and guarantees that our American ancestors fought so hard to enshrine in the Bill of Rights will be rejected, just as they are on Fidel Castro’s side of Cuba. When the Pentagon responds with the argument it has made ever since it set up it the base of operations for its international gulag in Cuba, “The Constitution doesn’t apply in Cuba,” there are three responses:

1. Yes, it does, as the Supreme Court recently held;

2. The Pentagon’s attempt to avoid the principles enshrined in the Constitution reflect the contempt that Pentagon officials have for the Constitution;

3. The procedural protections provided in the Bill of Rights apply to all persons, not just Americans, accused of a crime by U.S. officials.

As these kangaroo military trials proceed on the Pentagon’s side of Cuba, every American should take heed — this is the very real threat that Americans face if the Pentagon is ever permitted to successfully hijack America’s criminal justice system, as it has tried to do in the Padilla, Hamdi, and al-Marri cases. It’s exactly the same threat that the people of Cuba, Burma, China, and North Korea have been unsuccessful in combating.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Iraqi soccer coach at the Olympics has put the quietus to President Bush’s latest campaign commercial, in which Bush proudly proclaims that the people of Iraq are now free. Here’s how coach Adnan Hamad responded, “You cannot speak about a team that represents freedom. We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force. This is one of our most miserable times. Freedom is just a word for the media. We are living in hard times, under occupation.”

When there are people who know the difference between freedom and tyranny, then there’s room for hope. As Goethe pointed out, the ones who are hopelessly enslaved are those who falsely believe they are free. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, there’s a lesson in there for Americans.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I wonder if those neo-conservatives who have been waxing indignant over the bribes and payoffs arising from the infamous oil-for-food socialist program imposed on Iraq by the U.S. government and the UN are going to also wax indignant about the $8.8 billion in missing Iraqi oil monies that U.S. officials are unable to account for.

Don’t count on it.

The only reason for the fake outrage in the oil-for-food program is to distract attention away from the horrific consequences of what is quite possibly the most brutal and deadly economic embargo in history — the 12-year U.S. and UN embargo against the Iraqi people that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and which ultimately played an important motivating factor in both the 1993 and September 11 terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center.

Those who still cling to the quaint notion that the U.S. government invaded Iraq out of a deep and abiding concern for the Iraqi people, as compared to its real goal of simply replacing one dictatorial regime for a more favorable one, might want to recall the words of US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, who when asked if the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children had been worth trying to get rid of Saddam, answered that “the price is worth it.”

Unfortunately, those hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children and their families are not the only ones who have paid the price for the U.S. government’s imperial obsession with “regime change.” The Cuban people have been bearing the brunt of the U.S. government’s 40-year obsession with replacing Fidel Castro with a dictator more to their liking, such as Cuba’s pre-Castro dictator, Fulgencio Batista, a brutal and corrupt U.S. foreign lackey if there ever was one.

Unfortunately, what U.S. officials fail to recognize is that the Cuban people, being a proud people, are never going to submit to such international blackmail, not even when they are suffering mightily as a result of it. As the Los Angeles Times reports today, while Cubans are doing every thing they can to avoid the effects of the recently refortified U.S. embargo against them, they have no intention of succumbing to the “regime-change” obsessions of U.S. officials. As I discovered when I visited Cuba a few years ago, while the Cuban people hate socialism and the embargo, they deeply admire and respect Fidel Castro for standing up to the U.S. government and rightfully refusing to become one of its loyal, puppet-stooge, lackies — you know, like the one running Iraq today.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Isn’t it interesting how people such as FOX News refer to Iraqi insurgent Moktada al-Sadr in derogatory terms, such as a “renegade cleric” or “radical cleric” when, on the other hand, they undoubtedly portrayed Shiite insurgents against Saddam Hussein, including al-Sadr’s father who was killed by Saddam, as great patriots?

Don’t forget, also, that the reason that Saddam filled mass graves with Iraqi Shiites is that President George H.W. Bush induced them to resist Saddam’s tyranny, the same thing that al-Sadr is doing against the current unelected, brutal dictator of Iraq, Iyad Allawi.

Yet, who can deny that Allawi is nothing more than a spitting image of brutal Saddam himself, even utilizing Saddam’s own officers to attack the holiest site in the Islamic religion with the intent of killing his own people and filling mass graves with them — just like Saddam did, also with the support of the U.S. government?

Perhaps the FOX News people determine whether an Iraqi citizen who resists tyranny is a patriot or a bad person based on whether the U.S. government is supporting or opposing that particular tyrant at that particular moment in time.

By the way, speaking of attacking religious groups and religious sites, maybe President Bush and Prime Minister Allawi ought to enlist the bi-partisan assistance of Bill Clinton and Janet Reno to successfully implement their attack on the Imam Ali Mosque. After all, didn’t they do a pretty good job when their military forces attacked and massacred the Branch Davidians at Waco?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Chess champion Bobby Fischer, who remains incarcerated in Japan, has asked Secretary of State and retired Army General Colin Powell to cancel his U.S. citizenship. Fischer’s move is designed to avoid being extradited to the United States to face criminal charges for playing chess in Yugoslavia in violation of one of the U.S. government’s infamous economic embargoes against the people of other nations.

When people such as Bobby Fischer, Martha Stewart, Bill Gates, Michael Milken, and Sam Walton and others who have benefited our lives in so many ways are being prosecuted by their own government for committing stupid economic “crimes,” even while U.S. officials, at the same time, proudly support and defend brutal, unelected dictators such as Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Ahmad Chalabi and Iyad Allawi, and Army General Pervez Musharraf, what better evidence that something is dreadfully wrong with our nation?

The root of the problem, of course, lies with the abandonment of the principles of liberty, free markets, and limited government on which our nation was founded. By abandoning those principles in favor of socialism, interventionism, and empire, federal government power became unleashed, perverted, and distorted, with disastrous consequences to our country and our people.

Thus, there is one — and only one — solution to the mess in which we find ourselves, and it lies not in electing “better people” to public office. Instead, it lies in restoring the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government on which our nation was founded. On the domestic side, that means ridding our nation of its horribly immoral and destructive experiment with socialism (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, grants, public schooling, etc.), intervention (the drug war, economic regulations, economic embargoes, etc.), and empire (overseas bases, invasions, no-fly zones, wars of aggression, occupations, etc.).

What America needs most of all is a “great awakening” — one in which the American people break through the truth as the nature and causes of the ills that besiege our nation and demand a restoration of the principles of morality and freedom that will lead us — and the world — toward a freer, more peaceful, prosperous, harmonious society.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Chinese government is disciplining a Chinese citizen for criticizing government corruption. Huang Jingao, a “previously obscure party secretary,” has been advised to shut up and to engage in a complete personal reexamination.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., the F.B.I. has embarked on a campaign to intimidate potential antiwar protestors as part of the U.S. government’s much-vaunted “war on terrorism.” Sarah Bardwell, a 21-year-old intern from Denver, has been questioned by six government agents, and three Missouri men in their 20s were followed for days by investigators before finally engaging in a complete reexamination and deciding not to show up at the Democratic and Republican Party conventions. Let’s also not forget about the couple in West Virginia who were arrested for wearing a t-shirt at a Bush political rally that expressed, “Love America, Hate Bush.” And of course, there was the concentration-camp-like “free-speech zone” for protesters at the Democratic Party national convention.

Just keep engaging in reexamination and repeating the official public-school line, both here and in China: “Well, I’m proud to be an American (Chinese) where at least I know I’m ‘free.’”

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

George Santayana once pointed out, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

In today’s Iraq, there is a brutal unelected dictator, Iyad Allawi, killing his own people every day by the multitudes, filling countless graves. The victims are the Shiites, whose countrymen also filled mass graves when they resisted the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Today, they are resisting the tyranny of Saddam’s replacement, who has been installed in office by the Pentagon.

This brutal unelected dictator, who reputedly committed acts of terrorism against innocent civilians in movie theaters when he worked for the CIA, has now ordered the press out of Najaf , where he intends to kill more people in one of the holiest shrines in the religion of Islam, and is threatening to arrest or kill newspaper reporters who stay in the city and report the truth. The brutal dictator has already shut down al-Jazeera for failing to adequately praise his regime. This brutal dictator is also reputed to have executed unarmed and defenseless suspected “terrorists” in police custody.

The brutal unelected dictator is justifying his killings in the same way that Saddam Hussein justified his killings — to suppress an insurgency against his regime. In fact, it’s not surprising that many of Allawi’s top military officers served loyally under Saddam Hussein

Did I mention that the dictator is threatening to cancel elections, impose martial law, and rule by emergency decree — all “temporarily” of course? (Does the name Adolf Hitler come to mind?)

Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers, who are paid with U.S. taxpayer money, are taking their orders from this brutal, unelected dictator … except that the brutal, unelected dictator is likely taking orders from the Pentagon, which simply converts the dictator into one more foreign puppet stooge of the U.S. military.

The sad part of all this is not so much that U.S. officials are embroiled in all this tyranny, dictatorship, mayhem, and death — this is pretty much par for the course for U.S. foreign policy. The sad part is that so many Americans continue to buy into the official line — hook, line, and sinker — that U.S. officials continue to sell them — that all this is “freedom” — blithely and innocently accepting the notion that “freedom” entails the right of U.S. government officials and their foreign puppet-stooges to do whatever they want to the people who are suffering under their regime. After all, isn’t that what U.S. government support of the Shah of Iran was all about? Wasn’t that what U.S. government support of Saddam Hussein was all about?

Unfortunately, in the midst of all this tyranny, mayhem, and death, all too many Americans continue to remain innocently stupefied over why so many foreigners hate the United States. They continue to innocently believe that it’s because of America’s “freedom and values” (i.e., McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Elvis, etc) rather than because foreigners don’t like being killed, tortured, abused, and maimed by the U.S. government and its foreign puppet-stooges. Moreover, they unfortunately forget that what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence — that whenever any government becomes tyrannical, it is the right of people to alter or abolish it — also applies to tyranny imposed by governments installed by the U.S. government and whose rulers are nothing more than brutal, unelected dictators serving as tyrannical puppet-stooges for the U.S. government.

Monday, August 16, 2004

At least one good thing is coming out of the U.S. government’s war of aggression in Iraq — it’s exposing the needless U.S. troop levels in other parts of the world. The media is reporting that President Bush and the Pentagon intend to pull some 70,000 troops out of Germany along with 100,000 families and support personnel.

It’s about time! As we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been arguing ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Empire in 1989, there was absolutely no reason to keep U.S. troops in Europe. After all, let’s not forget why they were kept there in the first place — to protect Western Europe from America’s WWII ally, the Soviet Union. Once the Soviet Union cracked due to the same type of government overspending that afflicts America today, the U.S. Empire should have pulled its troops out and, in fact, should have dismantled NATO, whose mission was also to protect against a Soviet attack.

Instead, the troops were kept in Europe as a sort of military empire welfare plan, until a new cause could be found to justify their existence — i.e., an unsafe world, the possibility of a Soviet resurgence, the drug war, a new Hitler in Iraq, a war on terrorism, etc., etc.

By pulling the troops out of Europe now, President Bush and the Pentagon are effectively admitting that they were not needed in Europe for the past 13 years. They’ve been nothing more than a massive military-welfare waste of tax monies.

What they ought to do, of course, is bring all U.S. soldiers home — including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea (where the president and the Pentagon are also pulling out 13,000 troops), discharge them into the private sector, and lower people’s taxes proportionately. In this way, we would be

(1)moving America away from military empire and toward, once again, a limited-government republic as well;

(2)removing the central motivation for the anger and hatred that drive people to commit terrorism against America; and

(3)eliminating the primary excuse for ever-increasing federal infringements on our rights and freedoms.

The American people would freer, safer, and more secure as a result.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The title of a front-page Washington Post story today pretty much sums up the “success” of the federal government’s “war on terrorism”: “Al Qaeda Showing New Life.” The point of the story is what we’ve been saying here at FFF ever since 9/11 — that even though the U.S. government captures or kills top al-Qaeda officials amidst much glory and fanfare, there will be those who are ready and willing to take their place so long as the motivation exists to do so.

(Keep in mind that this same phenomenon has taken place continuously for some 30 years in the federal government’s much-vaunted “war on drugs” — as drug lords are busted amidst much glory and fanfare, many more have been there ready, willing, and able to take their place.)

That’s why an examination into U.S. foreign policy by the American people is imperative if we are going to get on our nation back on the right track. That includes a close examination into such policies as economic embargoes and preemptive wars of aggression against sovereign and independent countries that end up killing multitudes of innocent people because the victims and their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and countrymen then are motivated to join the ranks of those seeking revenge against the United States.

If only the American people could grasp the wisdom of Lance Corporal David Goward, who is currently stationed in Iraq —“that the troops’ very presence was provoking the fighting it was meant to stop.”

After all, what better evidence of the perverse consequences of U.S. foreign policy than our government’s first killing and maiming tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people (i.e., people who had nothing to do with 9/11) in an invasion supposedly to “liberate” Iraqis from Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship (after no WMD were found) and then end up turning the guns on people who were themselves oppressed by Saddam Hussein, including at least one whose father and uncle were both killed by Saddam, for doing what any self-respecting, red-blooded American man or woman would do if a foreign power had invaded the United States, taken over its oil fields, and imposed an unelected dictator at the helm with a reputation for being a brutal terrorist thug who kills innocent people?

Friday, August 13, 2004

U.S. officials act shocked and dismayed over Moqtada al-Sadr’s refusal to participate in the “democratic” system that U.S. officials are setting up for Iraq.

Question: What gives the U.S. government — or, for that matter, any foreign government — the legitimate authority to invade a country and set up the rules as to how “democracy” is going to work and who is going to be permitted to participate in it and under what conditions?

Moreover, if al-Sadr or any other Iraqi has concerns about the possibility that the U.S. government might just rig the game to prevent his participation, those concerns would be well-founded. After all, consider such ridiculous, but effective, game-rigging devices as ballot-barrier requirements and limits on the amount of money that people can donate to political campaigns right here in the United States.

The ballot-barrier requirements require independent and third-party candidates to secure an inordinate number of signatures, which almost always entails large amounts of time and money, in which petitioners are required to ask complete strangers coming out of such places as grocery stores the demeaning question, “I know you don’t know me, but would you please sign my petition so that I can run for public office?”

The purported purpose of the requirement is to protect the electorate from having too many candidates to vote for, apparently under the assumption that most people are too stupid to differentiate between many candidates, even though they did a fairly good job in the recent California gubernatorial election in which Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated dozens of other people on the ballot.

Given that most people who sign the petitions don’t even know the candidate, petitioning requirements are nothing more than ludicrous, rigged-game attempts to protect the Democratic-Republican Party from political competition from people who oppose their socialist-interventionist-empire philosophy.

Limits on campaign contributions protects the Democratic-Republican Party as well because while Depublicans and Remocrats have a wide base of established supporters who are able to secure lots of $2,000 individual donations, an upstart candidate has no such base of support. Yet, in the absence of these campaign-finance laws, the upstart might nonetheless be able to secure extremely large donations from a few wealthy individuals who share his philosophy and vision, just as presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy did when he effectively ousted Lyndon Johnson from the presidency in the 1968 presidential race.

Have these rigged-game attempts to suppress political competition improved the ethics of the people serving in Congress, another one of the purported goals of “campaign-finance reform”? Yeah, right!

Now, ask yourself — If these people have rigged the game to protect their political rule here at home, why in the world wouldn’t they do the same to independents (i.e., those who refuse to serve as their puppets) in Iraq? Why should anyone trust them to do so?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

The news media is reporting that the Justice Department is nearing a deal in the Hamdi case that entails releasing Hamdi, an American citizen, from the Pentagon’s clutches at its military brig in South Carolina after holding him there for two years without formal notice of charges, due process of law, habeas corpus, and assistance of counsel. Such action is obviously in response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Hamdi case. (See my article “Padilla, Hamdi, and Rasul: Charge Them or Release Them.”)

That of course puts those lawyers who have publicly claimed that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hamdi represented a monumental win for the government, including former Justice Department attorneys David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey in their Washington Post op-ed, in an embarrassing position.

After all, if the government had won the case, do you think that U.S. government officials would be releasing a man that they have incessantly claimed is an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism,” a man whom they intended to keep jailed until the last terrorist in the world was killed (perhaps a few generations from now), and who they’ve claimed all the way up the litigation ladder is a horribly dangerous terrorist threat to America? Of course, an interesting question remains: Why are U.S. officials electing to release Hamdi rather than charge him with a crime?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Thank goodness for our American ancestors, for their wisdom, courage, and foresight in including express restrictions in the Constitution on the power wielded by these types of people (Bush, Ashcroft, and the military), expressly prohibiting them from interfering with such fundamental and inherent rights as habeas corpus, right to counsel, and due process of law — and for providing an independent judicial branch of government to enforce these guarantees of liberty. Otherwise, none of us would be either free or safe from the likes of these types of people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

We might be making progress ending the drug war after all. MSNBC is reporting that U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a trip to Afghanistan, observed that “demand for the drug will always lead someone to create a supply.”

Well, duh! While that’s Economics 101, it’s a good sign when politicians begin to understand basic laws of supply and demand. The next step could be their recognition that attempts to repeal such laws are both futile and destructive.

Pointing to Colombia as a model of how to fight the war on drugs, Rumsfeld was no doubt befuddled over the fact that “cocaine prices on U.S. streets remain unchanged, a sign that there is no shortage of the drug.”

In another good example of the perverse consequences of government intervention, the cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan, which had been eradicated under the pro-drug war Taliban regime, has soared under the U.S.-installed Karzai regime. Even worse, according to Rumsfeld drug money in Afghanistan is funding al-Qaeda.

Thus, Rumsfeld was in Afghanistan to develop a plan to fight the “war on drugs” there despite the fact that U.S. military officials contend that they already their hands full fighting the “war on terrorism” there, terrorism that the drug war is funding.

Just another day in the life of the U.S. government’s metaphorical wars on drugs and terrorism.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Pentagon darling Ahmad Chalabi, who was initially designated to be new “temporary” unelected dictator of Iraq despite his conviction for bank fraud in Jordan, is finding out what happens when he goes “independent” by refusing to do the bidding of U.S. officials. While visiting Iran, Chalabi received notice that some Iraqi judge who is serving in the U.S.-appointed “temporary” Iraqi regime is charging him with “counterfeiting” and threatening him with severe punishment if he returns to Iraq. And the same goes for Chalabi’s nephew, who was part of the U.S.-approved team to preside over Saddam Hussein’s conviction and execution; while traveling in England, the nephew got notified that he’s been charged with murder.

As everyone knows, Chalabi lost his job to CIA darling Iyad Allawi, who purportedly committed terrorist acts against innocent people on behalf of the CIA and who is now ruling Iraq with the same iron fist that Saddam Hussein did, even shutting down the press, only this time he’s doing it with the assistance of the U.S. Army instead of Saddam’s Republican Guard.

Oh well, the Iraqi people ought to at least count their blessings: at least this “regime change” — from Pentagon darling Chalabi to CIA darling Allawi — didn’t entail a military invasion that ended up killing and maiming thousands upon thousands of innocent people.

Monday, August 9, 2004

Last week we published an excellent article from Slate by a former U.S. Army officer on the Pentagon’s active efforts to avoid complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Guantanamo case.

Keep in mind that the Pentagon set up its base in Cuba with the specific design of avoiding the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and avoiding any review by U.S. federal courts. Its hope was to establish an omnipotent military regime in Cuba that would effectively operate as an independent military branch of government — co-equal with the Congress and the judiciary, not answerable to either one.

Reflecting a deep contempt for the principles of due process of law and other procedural protections set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Pentagon claimed the power to seize people anywhere in the world and inflict punishment on them, including life imprisonment or execution, without effective assistance of counsel, due process of law, habeas corpus, or even a jury trial. The Pentagon’s system was intended to operate just like those in such military regimes as Burma, Pakistan, and, well, Cuba.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Guantanamo case put the quietus to the Pentagon’s plans. The Court held that the Pentagon would have to answer to the judicial branch of government and that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to lawyers and the right to question their detention in the federal courts through habeas corpus.

However, there are ominous signs that the Pentagon officials, no doubt terribly angry at the Court for foiling their plans, have decided to engage in a course of action designed to avoid compliance with the Court’s decision. This process of circumvention is outlined in the Slate article, and the point was reconfirmed yesterday in an excellent editorial in the Los Angeles Times.

Under our system of government — under the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, that we the people have imposed on our government officials — the Supreme Court, not the military, decides what is constitutional and what is not. If Pentagon officials, all of whom have taken an oath to support and obey the Constitution, don’t like that way of life, it is their right to begin the process by which to amend the Constitution; absent such an amendment, however, the military, as a subordinate agency within the executive branch of the government, is required to comply with the orders of the judicial branch.

It would be difficult to distinguish an outright refusal to obey the orders and judgments of the Supreme Court on the part of the Pentagon from the assumption of military supremacy in the United States, which obviously would constitute a different way of life to which Americans have been accustomed.

Some 50 years ago, President (and former army general) Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people about the power associated with the rise of the military-industrial complex in America:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

More than 200 years ago, our American ancestors warned us against the dangers of standing armies within our country. (My article in the upcoming September issue of Freedom Daily will deal with this subject.)

The question raised by the Pentagon’s foot-dragging attempt to avoid the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Guantanamo cases is: Is it time that we, the American people, heeded the warnings of Eisenhower and our Founding Fathers?

P.S. Last May, I raised the prospect of the Yamashita doctrine’s being applied to U.S. military officers in the Abu Ghraib torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder scandal (which the military is now whitewashing and covering up). Yamashita was the WW II Japanese general whom the U.S. military executed for war crimes committed by his men but without Yamashita’s knowledge, approval, or consent. Last week, an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Tangled Thread of Military Responsibility” raised the same issue I raised last May: Why shouldn’t the Yamashita doctrine apply to U.S. military officers in the Abu Ghraib scandal? The question is especially apt, given that the Pentagon has never renounced or condemned the doctrine and would presumably apply it again to enemy officers.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Have you noticed that the so-called war on terror is becoming much like the so-called war on drugs and, well, for that matter, like so many other federal programs? One intervention inevitably leads to more interventions which lead to more interventions, even while victory remains perpetually “right around the corner,” which requires us to “stay the course” until the last terrorist or last drug dealer or drug user is killed or jailed.

The situation is akin to those little fake rabbits at dog races that stay just out of reach of the dogs but close enough to keep the dogs running and running and running in the (futile) hope that they’ll finally catch them.

It’s reported that the U.S. military forces have killed another 300 Iraqis yesterday. And everyday we hear of some big al-Qaeda person being taken into custody somewhere around the world—England, Pakistan, whatever. Yet, the color codes keep changing here at home and we’re told that terrorism remains a constantly growing danger and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. Meanwhile, the government continues to squeeze more and more liberty out of the American people — to keep them safe from terrorism, of course.

Well, duh. When a nation’s military forces are thousands of miles away from their own country and killing and maiming people in another country, that’s going to make friends and compatriots of the dead and maimed angry and vengeful, just as it makes Americans angry and vengeful when foreigners come over here and kill and maim Americans.

And all this started not with hatred for America’s “freedom and values” but rather with U.S. foreign policy, which then produced the 1993 and 9/11 attacks on the WTC and the other terrorist attacks, which then produced counterstrikes and then the invasion of Iraq and possibly an invasion of South America, which then produced more terrorism (and resistance to the occupation of Iraq), etc. etc.

So, the war on terror is much like the war on drugs. Drug laws caused the price of drugs to soar, creating a black market and an unsavory drug-lord sector, which then produced gang wars, killings, burglaries, robberies, and muggings. All this drug-war crime obviously required a massive drug-war government bureaucracy to “win” the war on drugs, and then came massive infringements on the fundamental liberties of the people. Along with all this came ever-increasing record drug busts and the need to “stay the course” until the war is “won.”

Yet, how many people realize that the entire problem lies with the drugs laws in the first place—and that the solution to the “war on drugs” lies, quite simply, with the elimination of the drug laws? Indeed, how many people realize that the entire terror problem lies with a brutal U.S. foreign policy—and that the solution to the “war on terror” lies, quite simply, with the elimination of that policy?

Friday, August 6, 2004

In Wednesday’s FFF Email Update, we linked to an excellent article entitled “Drug War’s Dirty Deal” by Ralph R. Reiland, which was published on the website of PittsburghLive.com. After detailing the failures and destructiveness of the 30-years war on drugs, the author called for an end to drug prohibition.

The article generated a critical letter to the editor from a Mark Serge, who is a deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s Drug Strike Force. Serge says that the real problem is with “demand” — that is, with people who abuse their “freedom” by choosing to ingest drugs. Thus, Serge’s suggestion is that we just need to crack down on “demand.”

Pardon me, but what has this man been smoking? Has he not heard of the ever-increasing criminal and civil punishments that have been imposed on people for the last 30 years? Has he actually never heard of such measures as mandatory-minimum sentences, brutal racist enforcement of the drug laws, such as at Tulia, Texas, asset-forfeiture laws, and financial privacy laws, all of which have been focused on “demand” and have accomplished nothing constructive while decimating drug users and their families?

Did Serge actually read the article that he was criticizing, which stated that there are now 318,000 people behind bars in the United States and that “in excess of 1.5 million people are being arrested each year in the United States on drug-related charges — overwhelmingly for possession, not selling” — that is, 1.2 million out of the 1.5 million?

Is that the “demand” you want to crack down on, Mr. Serge? Or are you lamenting the fact that there are 28 million estimated drug users and that only 1.2 million of them were arrested? Would you like the rest of them to turn themselves in, plead guilty, and report to the already overcrowded jails? Would converting America into a total police state, even worse than that in North Korea, finally bring you peace and happiness?

Like so many other drug warriors all over the world, including those in Cuba, China, and Burma, Serge fails to understand that freedom, as a fundamental and inherent right, entails the right to choose wrongly or irresponsibly, so long as the choice does not involve violence against another person’s rights. If a person is free only to make “responsible” choices, as people in China are, then he cannot truly be considered free.

Serge should have been honest: After three decades of failure and destruction, there are only two weapons left in arsenal of the drug warriors — their supposed good intentions and the jobs and other largess that the drug war produces for people such as Serge.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

The CIA is putting the clamps on the anonymous CIA agent who has authored a new book, Imperial Hubris, which contends that terrorism against America is rooted in hatred and anger against U.S. foreign policy (as we have long maintained here at FFF, even before the 9/11 attacks) rather than in hatred for America’s “freedom and values,” as U.S. officials have steadfastly maintained since 9/11. According to the New York Times, the agent “has been ordered to sharply curtail his interviews with news organizations in connection with the book.”

Why would government officials muzzle this guy? Because if the American people were to figure out that the official government version of why people around the world are horribly angry at our country is a lie, that could lead to a full reevaluation of U.S. foreign policy. Indeed, to restore a sense of normalcy (and liberty) to our lives, the American people might even begin demanding that the nation abandon the socialist-empire direction into which the statists have mired us and instead move in the direction of a free-market, limited-government republic envisioned by the Framers.

Here’s a sampling of what the CIA agent said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, one of the interviews that undoubtedly got him into hot water:

Mitchell: “You’re saying that no amount of public diplomacy will reach the Muslim world and change their minds because they hate everything that we stand for.”

Anonymous: “No, I don’t think they hate everything that they — that we stand for. In fact, the same polls that show the depths of their hatred of our policies show a very strong affection for the traditional American sense of fair play, the idea of rule by law, the ability of people to educate their children. I think the mistake is made on our part to assume that they hate all those things. What they hate is the policy and the repercussions of that policy, whether it’s in Israel or on the Arabian Peninsula. It’s not a hatred of us as a society, it’s a hatred of our policies.”

Will the muzzling work? Nope, not unless there’s another major terrorist attack on American soil, whereby U.S. officials would undoubtedly do everything they could to muzzle everyone. Absent that, the relatively free flow of information in America provides the best assurance that truth will not only surface but also triumph, helping us to restore a society based on individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. Thank goodness that our American ancestors had the wisdom and foresight to enact the First Amendment to protect us from future generations of government muzzlers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Cuba provides a good example of the pure hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy and the people who implement and enforce it. Consider what one U.S. official recently said about the Bush administration’s new measures to more brutally enforce the brutal 30-year U.S. economic embargo against the Cuban people:

“Our goal is to liberate the Cuban people from the tyranny and from dependency on international charity,” Roger F. Noriega, assistant secretary of state, told reporters in May, when the new restrictions were announced. “We want them to control their own destinies, to be free to make choices on how they want to live their lives.”

It would be difficult to find a more laughable piece of false government propaganda than Noriega’s statement. The U.S. government has never — repeat never — been any more concerned about the liberation, freedom, or well-being of the Cuban people than it has for the liberation, freedom, or well-being of the Iraqi people, not even when the U.S. government’s corrupt and brutal puppet, Fulgencio Batista, was Cuba’s dictator before Castro threw him out of office.

U.S. officials have always been just as willing to tighten the economic clamps on the Cuban people as a way to get at their dictator as they were willing to do to the Iraqi people to get at their dictator. And they haven’t cared less about the damage and destruction they have wrought to both the Cuban people and the Iraqi people as a result of the brutal embargoes against them. They have always felt that the death and destruction among the citizenry has been an acceptable price to pay as a way to “punish” their dictator by impoverishing or even killing his taxpayers.

The entire goal of U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba and Iraq and, for that matter, Burma, has never been liberation or freedom or well-being for the citizenry but rather “regime change” — the substitution of a U.S.-approved dictator for a dictator that refuses to bow down and kiss the feet of U.S. officials, such as Fidel Castro.

Finally, to add insult to injury, after contributing to the misery of the Cuban people for 30 years, the U.S. government has, for many years, engaged in the morally reprehensible act of attacking the defenseless Cuban refugees who have attempted to escape their desperate plight and actually cooperated closely with Cuban communist officials to forcibly repatriate the refugees into Cuban communist tyranny. And this, after having sacrificed some 60,000 American men in the supposed attempt to combat communism in Vietnam.

If all this isn’t the epitome of hypocrisy, what is?

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

The Washington Post is carrying a series entitled “ The Givers,” which profiles wealthy individuals in the Washington area who donate extremely large amounts of their wealth to charitable activities. Of course, advocates of the socialistic welfare state usually hate these types of articles because they serve as a constant reminder that when people are free to acquire wealth, they can be trusted to help the less fortunate in society. And that notion serves as a threat to the continuation of the socialistic welfare state in America.

Keep in mind that socialists must keep Americans convinced, at all costs, that government force is needed to make people help others — that the IRS must continue to be used to take money from those who have money or are earning money in order to give the loot to “the poor” because people cannot be trusted to help others voluntarily.

Of course, never mind that the people who actually do end up receiving the loot in the socialistic welfare state are not “the poor” but instead the politically privileged — those who have the right connections to the politicians and bureaucrats—the ones who are likely to deliver the most votes or the most cash to government officials.

When Americans regain their sense of self-esteem — when they begin believing in themselves and their fellow citizens, that will be the day that they restore freedom to our land by abolishing the IRS and all government bureaucracies whose business is to redistribute the loot, leaving people free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and deciding what to do with it. As our American ancestors, who intentionally lived without such socialist nonsense for more than a 100 years, understood so well, that’s the essence of economic liberty.

Monday, August 2, 2004

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the Polish uprising, an event that exposes one of the dark sides to what statists love to celebrate as the “Good War”— the war in which “the Allies” liberated Europe from tyranny. “The Allies,” of course, included the United States, Great Britain, France, and … the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was headed by noted communist Joseph Stalin, whom President Franklin Roosevelt endearingly referred to as his “Uncle Joe.”

Keep in mind that Great Britain and France declared war on Germany (many people believe it was the other way around). The reason? Germany had invaded Poland, and England and France vowed to free the Polish people. (Oddly, even though the Soviet Union had invaded Poland at about the same time, pursuant to a deal cut with Germany, England and France did not declare war on the Soviet Union.)

Later, upon Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union and Germany’s declaration of war on the United States, the Soviet Union and the U.S. became part of the Allies who were fighting Nazi Germany.

As Soviet forces began pushing Nazi forces back toward Germany on the Eastern front, they reached Warsaw. The Polish people, honestly believing that the Allies were interested in their liberation, began a violent uprising against the Nazi occupiers. Rather than come to their defense, as one would expect, Soviet forces knowingly and intentionally stood by and watched Nazi forces massacre them. Why? Because Stalin wanted a weakened Poland that the Soviet Union could occupy in the postwar era, and dead Polish freedom fighters would help accomplish that. Of course, it didn’t help that the Roosevelt had already sold the Poles down the river at Yalta.

Even today, there are still people who celebrate the notion that World War II liberated the people of Eastern Europe because it was “our side” that defeated Nazi Germany. What they don’t understand is that “our side” included one of the most horrific and brutal regimes in history, one that in fact killed many more people than Hitler’s regime did — and that all that World War II accomplished for the people of such countries as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and East Germany was to substitute a Soviet communist tyranny for a Nazi one, a tyranny that ended up lasting almost fifty years.

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.