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, December 2005


Saturday, December 31, 2005

Our government is mired in such wrongful conduct as torture, denial of due process, denial of jury trials, spying on Americans, warrantless recording of citizens’ telephone calls, military interference with the criminal justice system, military denigration of the Constitution, brutal sanctions on overseas people, wars of aggression, military occupations, secret Soviet-era torture centers overseas, kidnapping of people and rendition to brutal foreign regimes, lies and false claims of innocence, presidential dictatorship and congressional indifference.

On the domestic side, our government maintains a stranglehold of dependency over the American people with such paternalistic programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, educational grants, welfare, corporate subsidies, and protectionism. It maintains a dark cloud of interventionist programs that hang over everyone, such as the 30-year war on drugs, brutal business, financial, and banking regulations enforced by hordes of ravenous bureaucrats, and, of course, the infamous and terrifying IRS.

This is not what Americans are supposed to be all about. This is not what a great people or a great nation are supposed to be all about.

All of this misconduct not only reduces our nation to the level of morality and consciousness of a Third World country, it also exposes Americans to terrorist retaliation, as we learned in 1993, when the terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center, and on 9/11. It also threatens the economic and financial well-being of the American people. It stands as a barrier to achieving a free, prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society.

The fundamental problem lies in the abandonment several decades ago of the moral and philosophical principles that once guided our nation and made it the model of freedom for the world. Therefore, in the coming year, let us rededicate ourselves to the restoration of the moral principles that form the foundation of a free and prosperous society. Let us rededicate ourselves to restoring the federal government to its rightful, limited role in our lives. Let us rededicate ourselves to the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and a constitutional republic. Let us rededicate ourselves to making our nation once again the model of freedom for the world. Let us rededicate ourselves to reaching the highest levels of freedom ever seen by man.

Friday, December 30, 2005

A ruling by a Chilean court is certain to capture the attention of U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA. The court just upheld a life sentence for the head of the secret police, Gen. Hugo Salas, who served under Chilean President Augusto Pinochet. The court’s ruling comes on the heels of a 7-year sentence for Gen. Miguel Contreras, for the assassination on the streets of Washington, D.C., of former Chilean official Orlando Letelier as part of Pinochet’s war on terrorism. Contreras was the head of DINA, which was the counterpart to the CIA in Chile under Pinochet. Sixteen subordinates of Gen. Salas also received prison sentences of 5 to 15 years. President Pinochet himself is under house arrest for killing and disappearing suspected terrorists.

Of course, when these people were in power, they operated with pomposity, pride, and hubris. And their brutal war on terrorism entailed the same type of tactics that U.S. officials have been engaging in their war on terrorism: torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of detainees, assassination of people in other countries suspected of being “terrorists,” spying and keeping files on the citizenry, etc.


Augusto Pinochet and the Conservative Threat to America” by Jacob G. Hornberger

My Case Against Pinochet” by Francisco Letelier

Policymakers on Torture: Remember Pinochet” by Philippe Sands

Keep in mind that Pinochet was a favorite dictator of U.S. officials and that the circumstantial evidence is strong that U.S. officials advanced the military coup that put him into power.

One can only wonder whether U.S. officials are thinking down the line, when they are out of power too. Why else would they steadfastly continue maintaining, “We don’t do torture” despite the conclusive evidence to the contrary if not to provide themselves a way to deny knowledge or approval of the wrongful acts in the event they ever find themselves in the dock, as their old friend and ally Pinochet has, along with several of his loyal and dutiful minions.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Enron is back in the news, with a guilty plea by the company’s chief accountant as part of a plea bargain in which the accountant will presumably testify against chief executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.

Notice how the mainstream press never asks important philosophical questions about the role of the federal government in our lives in the context of Enron. Isn’t the federal government and it’s much vaunted regulations supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the United States? Isn’t that the purpose of the Securities and Exchange Commission, regulators, inspectors, and thousands of laws, rules, and regulations—to prevent companies, especially big ones, from defrauding or bilking investors?

Well, then how come Enron happened then, if Big Government Daddy was supposed to prevent it from happening? Are any government officials being held accountable for that? Are any of them going to jail for failing to do their job?

The fact is that the federal government’s myriad of rules and regulations and bureaucrats are a much bigger fraud and scam than Enron was. They purport to protect people from unscrupulous and risky ventures, but they fail most miserably to do so, as people once again learned in Enron.

The problem, however, is that because people have been ingrained with the notion that the federal government is their daddy, taking good care of them, they become complacent. They don’t look too carefully. They don’t carefully examine the risks. Why should they? They know that their daddy will be there to take care of them.

In the absence of the federal regulatory illusion, people would still be subject to the risk of loss in the marketplace, including from fraudulent operators. But at least they would be much more cautious about their investment decisions, knowing that they themselves would bear responsibility for them.

The paternalistic regulatory government came into existence in our country in the early 20th century. Before that, enterprise was free of government regulations, which is why our American ancestors called our economic system “free enterprise.”

Interestingly, people today continue to use the same label — “free enterprise” — to describe the regulated society under which they live. That’s because all too many Americans today, unlike their predecessors, think that a “free enterprise” system is one in which federal politicians and bureaucrats are free to regulate enterprises to their heart’s content.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Toronto has experienced a record year in gun violence. But how is that possible? After all, Canada has strict gun-registration laws. Isn’t that supposed to prevent gun violence?

So, what are Canadian officials proposing to fix the problem? You guessed it: a ban on the ownership of handguns! Unfortunately, what they fail to recognize is that a person who intends to break a murder law is unlikely to say to himself, “Wait a minute! I can’t commit this murder with a gun because owning a gun is illegal.”

Therefore, all that a gun ban would accomplish is to disarm peaceful and law-abiding people, preventing them from defending themselves against violent and non-law-abiding people. In other words, a gun ban in Toronto would make the city safe for murderers who use guns.

Canadian officials are saying that the real problem is that guns are being illegally smuggled into the country and so they’re trying to figure out how to stop that black-market activity. Unfortunately, they fail to understand how markets operate, even black markets. Ultimately, they will discover that a war on guns will be as big a failure as their much-ballyhooed war on drugs.

In fact, since much of the violence in society is a direct result of the war on drugs, the solution is simply to end the drug war by legalizing drugs. But since government officials unfortunately are unable to let go of the power and money that the drug war brings them, they instead look to more government interventions, such as gun control, to fix the problems. And that just produces more problems, as the people of Toronto are discovering.

After the announcement of the proposed gun ban in Canada, gun sales soared in Toronto. It’s just another example of how government interventions inevitably result in consequences that are different than those that government officials intend, which then motivate the officials to call for new interventions.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and other federal officials exclaimed that the attacks had been motivated by the hatred that the terrorists had for America’s ”freedom and values,” rejecting any suggestion that U.S. foreign policies had played a role in engendering such anger and hatred.

There were two primary reasons for this deliberate deception. One reason was so that Americans would not question U.S. foreign policy, including the existence of the U.S. Empire, i.e., U.S. troops stationed all over the world, the glorification of militarism, ever-increasing budgets for the military-industrial complex, deadly sanctions on foreign regimes, support of brutal foreign regimes, torture, renditions, etc.

The idea was that if Americans could be convinced that the terrorists hated our country for its principles and not for the bad things that the federal government was doing to people overseas, Americans wouldn’t begin asking discomforting questions about changing U.S. foreign policy, including ending the U.S. government’s role as international policeman, interloper, and aggressor.

The other reason for this deliberate deception was to encourage people to accept whatever the federal officials did to people here in the United States in the name of fighting the “terrorists.” Thus, if people believed that the terrorists were attacking our country out of hatred for its freedom and values, the idea was that Americans, mostly out of fear, would support such “temporary” (i.e., until all the terrorists were killed) infringements on their liberties as arrests and indefinite detentions by the military, the suspension of habeas corpus, the recording of telephone calls, warrantless searches and seizures, and kidnappings and “renditions” to brutal foreign regimes for the purpose of torture.

Now that Americans are gradually discovering the truth as to what actually motivated the 9/11 attacks, Americans are faced with a choice. Given that infringements on liberty are an inherent and inevitable part of empire and militarism, the choice is: Should our country stay the course or change course in foreign policy?

If Americans choose the “stay the course” option, they must resign themselves to the consequences: perpetual retaliatory attacks by the terrorists and ever-increasing loss of freedom at the hands of federal officials.

The only way to restore freedom, peace, prosperity and harmony to our land is by changing course, which means dismantling our nation’s military empire and restoring the republic, something that all too many Americans, unfortunately, are still resisting.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The New York Times is reporting that “the volume of information gathered from telephone and Internet communications by the National Security Agency without court-approved warrants was much larger than the White House has acknowledged,” which undoubtedly will surprise those people who believe that federal officials, including the president, would never lie to the American people.

Keep in mind that in Iraq, a country that U.S. officials now claim is free, U.S. officials, especially those in the military, have set up a system where both the military and the police have the unfettered power to search people’s bodies, homes, and businesses. The operative word is “unfettered.” No warrant requirement whatsoever, not even by a secret Soviet-like court. In the minds of the military and the police, a warrant requirement would interfere with their ability to go after “the terrorists” and the insurgents.

Apparently they feel that their system of domestic spying, warrantless searches, and indefinite detentions has worked so well in Iraq that they’re now trying to import it to the United States.

Welcome to the empire, standing army, and militarism that our American ancestors warned us against and to the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Washington Post is criticizing the Court of Appeals decision to refuse the government’s request to authorize the transfer of accused terrorist Jose Padilla from the clutches of the Pentagon to the federal criminal justice system. The Post can’t figure out why the Court is refusing to grant Padilla what he asked for during the past three years. The answer is simple: The government is trying to play games with both Padilla and the Court of Appeals and the Court is refusing to play, much to the chagrin of both the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

While the government has indicted Padilla on terrorism charges, those charges are different from the charges for which the Pentagon denominated him an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terrorism.” Even though the Pentagon is agreeing to release Padilla to the criminal justice system, it is not agreeable to abandoning its ludicrous power to label Padilla (and other Americans) “enemy combatants” in its “war on terrorism.”

There is no possibility that Padilla will be released on bond pending the outcome of his criminal justice trial. If he is acquitted, will he be released? Ordinarily, if he’s found not guilty, he would be released because that’s the way the American system is supposed to work.

However, not so with Padilla. The Pentagon would simply take him back under the same rationale as before, declaring: “Padilla was found not guilty on charges that were unrelated to the terrorism we say he committed that made him an ‘enemy combatant’ in our ‘war on terrorism.’” And they would whisk him away back to the South Carolina military dungeon (or, worse, to Egypt or some Soviet Union-era “black site”), requiring him to start all over with a new habeas corpus proceeding that would have to slowly wind itself through the courts once again. In other words, another 3 years of delay—on top of the 3 years he’s languished in the Pentagon’s dungeon and then on top of the delay that would take place with the trial dealing with the new, unrelated charges.

The Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the government, has figured this out. Unfortunately, the editorial board of the Washington Post has not.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Heralding the approach of the 2006 congressional elections, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has announced combat troop withdrawals from Iraq. My prediction is that given the importance of the 2006 congressional elections, the “stay the course for freedom and democracy in Iraq” crowd won’t object or protest too loudly.

Meanwhile, troops to train the new Iraq army will be increased. But U.S. officials are in a quandary. As I have long pointed out, the newly installed regime in Iraq is a radical Islamic Shiite regime, which has already established an alliance with the ayatollah-run regime in Iran. Both regimes — the Iraqi and Iranian — are brutal. In fact, the Iraqi regime has already been caught torturing its political opponents, the Sunnis, which U.S. forces have been killing as “terrorists,” to the gratitude of the Shiites.

But what happens when the Shiites finally are satisfied that U.S. forces have destroyed their longtime political opponents? Will they embrace the U.S. with open arms and gratitude for suppressing the Sunnis? Unlikely. Despite the fact that U.S. officials will undoubtedly try to buy them off with millions of dollars in “foreign aid,” it is much more likely that the U.S. will be asked to leave Iraq, leaving an Iraq-Iran diplomatic and military alliance, with a well-trained and well-armed Iraqi Shiite army, compliments of the U.S. government.

Thus, the quandary that U.S. officials have is determining how well to train and arm the Iraqi army, when they know that the regime that army will be serving is aligned with Iran, not the U.S., and when they know that the only reason that the new Shiite regime is tolerating U.S. forces in the country is because U.S. forces are destroying their political opponents, the Sunnis.

As we learned in World War I, where U.S. soldiers also killed and died for nothing (i.e., to make the world safe for democracy), sometimes it takes time to observe the perverse outcome of the U.S. government’s foreign wars.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

One of the mistakes that pro-freedom, pro-war advocates have made is in failing to recognize that it is impossible to have a free society at home with a government that has the unfettered power to wage perpetual war overseas. So, those who endorse perpetual war have, in effect, abandoned their hopes and dreams of restoring a free society to America.

We are learning this phenomenon first-hand with President Bush now having assumed dictatorial powers, especially given his position that as a military commander in chief he is not constrained by the law or the Constitution in waging war against “the terrorists.” Thus, we now live in a country in which the president can arrest people and send them into military dungeons or overseas prisons for torture, sex abuse, rape, or murder, or where the president can send the entire nation into war against innocent countries, killing countless innocent people, and where the president can spy on Americans, including secretly recording their telephone conversations without the constitutionally required court warrant. It is not a coincidence that the war of aggression against Iraq to oust a dictator has resulted in a dictator at home.

Meanwhile, mini-dictatorships are arising at the local level. It turns out that New York City police are secretly infiltrating antiwar rallies, acting as if they were antiwar agitators. The purported purpose? To look for “the terrorists,” the favorite buzz word that is now used to frighten grown-up American men and women into supporting any dictatorial misconduct.

But ask yourself: If a genuine terrorist is planning an attack, what in the world would he be doing at a public antiwar rally? Isn’t it more likely that he would try to remain hidden before conducting his attack?

So, what’s the real reason that the president and the New York City officials are spying on and abusing Americans? Fear and paranoia by government officials! Just as they were convinced that Osama and Saddam were about to come and get them and overthrow their governments and establish terrorist rule in America, they honestly believe that there are sinister forces among the American people who are determined to overthrow the most powerful government in the world, along with all the state and local governments. Yes, fear and paranoia. Just ask Dick Cheney, who just returned from Iraq, where he was no doubt still searching for those (nonexistent) nuclear bombs that he was totally convinced Saddam was soon going to be mushrooming over American cities.

There is one — and only one — solution to U.S. foreign policy, including the anger, hatred, and terrorism it has produced. That solution is not only to pull the troops out of Iraq and not only the other 130 nations where they are stationed but also to dismantle the U.S. military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against, a warning that is now proving to be well-founded. By restoring a constitutional republic to our land, we not only restore freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony with the rest of the world, we also put an end to the fear and paranoia that guides government policy today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Conservatives will undoubtedly be angry over a federal judge’s decision to bar the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools. They will issue the standard proclamations of outrage over how the godless federal courts are infecting the nation’s children with godless values.

Unfortunately, conservatives always ignore the important point here, a point that libertarians must constantly remind them of: Public schools are government institutions, which makes them subject to the constraints of the U.S. Constitution. Also, conservatives forget that children are in these government institutions not by their own volition or by the voluntary consent of their parents. They attend and participate in these state institutions by forceful mandate of the government.

Question for conservatives: Where is the morality in forcing any family to give up his children to a government institution to be indoctrinated with religious “values” by government employees?

Consider this: Suppose a law were enacted requiring every family to take its children every Sunday to a U.S. Army installation to receive mandatory education about the Bible. Wouldn’t most people, even conservatives, object? Well, what’s the difference in principle with a law that requires families to send their children from Monday to Friday to a government institution manned by government-approved schoolteachers to receive mandatory education on the Bible?

A fundamental problem with conservatives is their unswerving belief that education is one of those things that should be rendered to Caesar. It should not. Just like religion, education is too important to be left in the hands of the state. Instead, education, like religion, should be left entirely to the free, unhampered market, with families in charge of educational decisions for their children, and private providers of education serving the consumer demands of families — just as is the case with religion.

By separating school and state, as our ancestors did with church and state, each family would then be free to have its children educated in the manner the family deems fit — intelligent design or not, religious values or not. Only by embracing this libertarian solution of educational freedom — only by depoliticizing education — can Americans finally achieve the peace and harmony in education that our ancestors bequeathed to us with religion.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

President Bush is justifying his illegal recording of telephone conversations without a court warrant by essentially saying that as commander in chief in the “war on terrorism,” he’s got the power to do what any military dictator needs to do to achieve “victory.” He’s also citing the congressional resolution after 9/11 as an excuse to conduct himself as military dictator, unrestrained by laws. And we’re supposed to trust him because he’s a good guy and would never abuse his powers as a commander-in-chief dictator.

So, here we have it: The U.S. military empire, led by the Pentagon and the CIA, goes abroad and kills, maims, assassinates tortures, sanctions, brutalizes, demeans, and humiliates people until the victims finally decide to retaliate. Those who retaliate are called “the terrorists” — people who are angry not because of what the U.S. government has done to them, their friends, and relatives but instead because they hate America’s “freedom and values.” The president declares “war on terrorism,” just as previous presidents have declared war on drugs, poverty, illiteracy, and immigrants.

As part of the “war on terrorism, the president assumes dictatorial powers — powers that enable him to avoid the constraints of statutory and constitutional law. Such extraordinary powers will last only as long as the “emergency” lasts, that is until the last “terrorist” in the world is finally killed, maybe decades from now but at least as long as this president’s tenure in office.

The president claims the dictatorial power to attack innocent nations on his own initiative — that is, nations that have never attacked the United States, and kill tens of thousands of innocent people in the process.

His personnel set up secret torture centers all over the world. They kidnap suspected “terrorists” and railroad them into the torture centers in the dead of the night, without advising anyone what has happened to them. Other suspected “terrorists” are kidnapped and “renditioned” to brutal foreign regimes for the purpose of torture. Suspected “terrorists” are tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered, even while the president and his minions are publicly telling a big lie by denying that such things are happening.

The military takes Americans into custody and incarcerates and punishes them without jury trials or due process of law.

Federal personnel illegally spy on Americans, recording their telephone conversations without a warrant, in violation of the law and the Constitution. And the president threatens anyone who has the audacity to disclose his wrongdoing to the American people.

And all too many Americans simply turn away or silently go about their daily business or try to rationalize it all in their own personal way. After all, it’s not happening to them but rather to “other people.”

Perhaps this would be a good time for Americans to reflect on history and seriously meditate on the words of George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This is also a good time to reflect on an important question about the future direction of our nation: Which is more important to you: the continuation of the U.S. Empire, which will continue to bring chaos, conflict, instability, and assaults on your freedom and well-being, or the restoration of a constitutional republic, which would restore freedom, peace, and harmony to your life?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Vice-President Cheney made a surprise visit to Iraq, which both he and President Bush continue to believe is now a free country. According to the Washington Post, Cheney shrouded himself “in fortified compounds and shuttled between venues by squadrons of helicopters.” He spent the grand total of 9 hours in this newly “free country,” speaking with some of the troops, who are required to spend considerably longer in the country, serving as the military and law-enforcement division of the new “democratically elected” Iraqi regime.

The ominous part of all this is the possibility that Cheney and Bush honestly believe that Iraq is now free and that they’re not lying about believing that. The country is now headed by a radical Islamic regime with a formal alliance with Iran. It is also a regime that is killing insurgents, torturing prisoners, conducting warrantless searches and seizures, imposing gun control, shooting protestors and demonstrators, denying jury trials and due process to prisoners, and closing of critical news media — in other words, the same sorts of things that Saddam did to his own people when he was in power. Only this time, it’s being enforced by a brutal foreign military power that has shown no reservations about forcibly imposing its will on the Iraqi people.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Heaven forbid that Bush and Cheney and the Pentagon are ever permitted to import the “freedom” they’ve brought to Iraq back to the United States. We’ve already seen glimpses of the new “free” America they’d like to impose on us: federal personnel surreptitiously recording telephone conversations without court warrants, incarcerating and punishing people, including Americans, without jury trials or due process of law, and kidnapping and “renditioning” people to brutal foreign regimes for the purpose of torture.

Hopefully, more Americans are starting to recognize the wisdom of our ancestors, for insisting on the passage of the Bill of Rights, which prohibits such abuses of power as warrantless searches and seizures, denial of jury trials, and cruel and unusual punishments. Bush and Cheney and their minions are proving that the wisdom and insight of our ancestors is as applicable today as it was then.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I can’t figure out what the big deal is that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have finally acceded to John McCain’s bill to bar U.S. officials from torturing people overseas. After all, does anyone really expect them to comply with the law? And does anyone really expect anyone to rap their knuckles when they don’t comply with the law?

Didn’t they break the supreme law of the land — the Constitution — when they attacked Iraq without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war? Didn’t they violate the law when U.S. personnel tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered detainees in the name of protecting Americans from the “terrorists”? Didn’t they violate the law when they denied due process of law and jury trials to suspected “terrorists,” including American ones? Didn’t they violate the law when U.S. personnel kidnapped and renditioned “terrorist” suspects to foreign regimes for the purpose of torture? Didn’t they violate the law when U.S. personnel tortured people in secret “black” sites in former Soviet-era communist compounds in Eastern Europe? Didn’t they violate the law when they ordered the NSA to spy on Americans by monitoring their electronic communications without first securing a search warrant from the judicial branch of our government?

What did Congress or the Justice Department, both of which are controlled by Bush and Cheney, do in response to any of this? Exactly nothing.

Anyway, if more evidence of torture, sex abuse, rape, or murder of detainees occurs, all that Bush and Cheney have to say is, “We don’t torture … and we hereby order investigations by the Justice Department and Congress into who leaked the information showing that we do.” And then scare their rubberstamps in the Justice Department and Congress into more silence and submission by simply declaring, “The ‘terrorists’ are coming! The ‘terrorists’ are coming!”

Friday, December 16, 2005

In another pathetic abuse of political power, the U.S. government is prohibiting the Cuban baseball team from participating in an international baseball tournament here in the United States. Scott McClellan, speaking for the White House, says, pathetically, “We want people in Cuba to participate in freedom.” And “freedom,” within the minds of President Bush, McClellan, and other federal minions, is a regime that has the power to stop people from exercising what most people would consider is a fundamental and inherent right — freedom of travel.

The U.S. government’s rationale for this infringement on freedom (in the name of advancing freedom) is that the Cuban baseball players will earn money for playing baseball, on which they will have to pay income taxes to the Cuban government, which U.S. officials hate and despise because of its independence from Washington control. (Never mind that income taxation, a communist concept that our ancestors rejected for more than 100 years, is also used to finance the socialistic welfare state that modern-day Americans have embraced here in the United States.)

These people (the feds) continue to cling to the quaint notion that by preventing the Cuban people from accumulating wealth, they are denying Castro and other Cuban officials a nice tax-supported lifestyle.

They also continue to cling to the quaint hope that they clung to with Saddam — that either the Cuban people will forcibly oust Castro from power or he will finally resign from office for the sake of the Cuban people. Now, ask yourself: If a foreign regime was successfully squeezing the life and well-being out of the American people with the aim of persuading President Bush to resign from office or dismantle the U.S. military empire overseas, would President Bush voluntarily leave office or revise his foreign policy? (Answer: Of course not. He would not succumb to foreign threats no matter how many Americans were dying or suffering as a result.)

This arbitrary U.S. power over the lives and fortunes of the Cuban people (and the American people as well) is part of the decades-long embargo against Cuba, which, like the embargo against Iraq, is designed to inflict harm on the Cuban people as a way of “squeezing” their dictator. Recall that the U.S. policy against Iraq, as stated by U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, was that the multitudes of deaths of Iraqi children who died from the brutal sanctions were worth the attempt to oust Saddam from power and replace him with a U.S.-approved ruler (such as the military dictator of Pakistan). The U.S. mindset against the Cuban people has been the same: “Oust your dictator from office for failing to bow before the majesty of the U.S. government or suffer severe economic privation from the embargo that our imperial forces impose against you.”

Unfortunately, what all too many Americans fail to realize is that while the embargo against Cuba is marketed as an attempt to bring “freedom” to the Cuban people, it is actually an attack and an infringement upon the fundamental rights and freedoms of the American people, including freedom of travel, freedom of association, and freedom of trade. That’s why all too Americans unfortunately leap at the chance of having the federal government deprive them of more of their own freedom in the name stopping communism, poverty, terrorism, Saddam, Castro, drug abuse, immigration, or some other federal ploy de jour.

At least the Cuban people should thank their lucky stars that the Pentagon hasn’t decided to “liberate” them in the same manner that it “liberated” Iraq because if that were the case, tens of thousands of innocent Cuban people would now be dead or maimed. While U.S. officials would undoubtedly feel that such deaths and maiming would be “worth it,” it is doubtful that the dead and maimed Cubans and their family members and friends would feel the same.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

To prevent people from learning the truth about its recent Tiananmen Square-type massacre of people protesting the construction of a power plant, Chinese authorities “have used a variety of techniques — from barring reports in most newspapers outside the immediate region to banning place names and other keywords associated with the event from major Internet search engines, like Google — to prevent news of the deaths from spreading.”

Lest Americans become overly smug over the notion that their government — the government that pays reporters and news organizations to secretly carry its propaganda — would never do what the Chinese government is doing, they should keep in mind the express wording of the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Now, notice two important things here:

First, contrary to the government-approved doctrine that public (i.e., government) schoolteachers teach people’s children year after year, the First Amendment doesn’t grant people the right of free speech. Rather, it prohibits Congress from enacting laws that abridge freedom of speech. In other words, freedom of speech doesn’t come from the government or the Constitution. It is instead a fundamental, inherent, natural, God-given right of all people (including both Americans and Chinese).

Second, there was an important reason that our ancestors insisted on the passage of the First Amendment: because they knew that in the absence of an express restriction on the members of Congress, they would do exactly what their counterparts in China are doing — abridge freedom of speech. In other words, our ancestors knew that the U.S. government would inevitably attract the same types of people that the Chinese government attracts — people who love power and who would do whatever is necessary to suppress truth, especially with respect to disclosing and opposing the wrongful abuses of power by their own government officials.

While it is true that U.S. officials have violated the Constitution in many respects (i.e., the declaration of war requirement, economic regulation, etc.), it has nonetheless succeeded, despite attacks on free speech at the margin, in preventing the government from doing what the Chinese government is doing — abridging freedom of speech, especially on the Internet. After all, because of the First Amendment, U.S. officials, unlike their Chinese counterparts, could not prevent people from disclosing and opposing the U.S. government’s massacres, lies, and cover-ups at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

On Bill of Rights Day today, let’s give thanks to our ancestors, who had the wisdom to recognize that the biggest threat to our freedom lies with the federal government and who had the courage and foresight to enact the prohibitions on federal power in the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In a purported attempt to stem the brutal torture of detainees by the newly installed regime in Iraq — the regime that has succeeded the brutal, tortuous regime of Saddam Hussein — the U.S. military is now taking charge and inspecting the new regime’s detention centers.

Uh? That’s supposed to put people’s minds at ease? Weren’t the U.S. military and the CIA the ones who tortured, sexually abused, raped, and murdered detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, Gitmo, and Afghanistan? Aren’t they the ones who are kidnapping and “rendering” innocent people to foreign regimes for the purpose of torture? Aren’t these the same people who are operating torture centers in secret Soviet-era “black sites’ in Eastern Europe?

Who inspects the inspectors?

How can anyone not think that the new Iraq regime’s torture of detainees wasn’t influenced by the U.S. government’s torture of detainees, along with its longstanding foreign policy of supporting brutal foreign dictators who align themselves with the U.S. government? (Think Saddam, the Shah of Iran, Pinochet, Musharraf, and countless Latin American dictator-brutes, not to mention the place where many of their minions got trained in torture and sex abuse techniques — the infamous School of the Americas run by the U.S. Army at Ft. Benning, Ga.)

Of course, the latest torture scandal raises another interesting question: If the newly installed Iraqi regime is truly sovereign, as U.S. officials have repeatedly claimed, how come U.S. forces wield the power in interfere with Iraq’s tortured prison system? Does sovereignty mean sovereignty or does sovereignty mean subservience to U.S .military command?

It’s all just part and parcel of what has become normal in the Bizarro land of the new “free and democratic” Iraq.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In response to a question from the audience he was addressing Monday, President Bush finally acknowledged one of the prices for his invasion of Iraq — 30,000 Iraqis dead, inserting a dose of reality into the situation in Iraq. While Bush did not state where he got that number (the Pentagon has long refused to keep track of Iraqi dead even thought it now claims that it invaded Iraq to help the Iraqi people), the most likely source is Iraqbodycount.org, which counts Iraqi civilians deaths but not Iraqi military deaths.

This means that Bush’s War has killed many more innocent Iraqis than the number of innocent Americans killed by the 9/11 terrorists — innocent in the sense that neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. Of course, when the families of those innocent Iraqis get as angry and vengeful as Americans did after 9/11, they’re considered “terrorists” who hate our country for its “freedom and values.”

Bush told the audience that the United States was safer with Saddam out of power, thereby suggesting that the deaths of those 30,000 innocent Iraqis was “worth it,” which was the exact same position that the Clinton administration took with respect to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children killed by the brutal sanctions against Iraq, which were unsuccessful in ousting him from power.

But given that Saddam Hussein never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so — not to mention the fact that he had complied with UN resolutions requiring him to destroy his WMD, including the WMD that the U.S. had delivered to him when he was a U.S. ally, it is difficult to understand Bush’s reasoning.

Perhaps he’s referring to Vice President Cheney’s repeated suggestion that Saddam was in a conspiracy with al-Qaeada. But as the news media is now reporting, Cheney, who is fighting for the right of U.S. officials to torture detainees, arrived at that conclusion based on false statements that a detainee had made while being tortured in the hope that U.S. officials would stop torturing him if he gave them what they wanted to hear, even if it was false.

Both Bush and Cheney continue to claim that the Iraqi people support their invasion of the country. But their claim certainly does not apply to the 30,000 dead people (since they can’t answer) and probably not the maimed as well.

Meanwhile, according to a poll conducted a few days ago, 2/3 of the Iraqi people want the U.S. out of Iraq. And the newly installed U.S-supported regime is torturing and brutalizing insurgents (and, of course, denying it), just as Saddam did when the U.S. was his ally. And one of the best evidences of the perverse result of Washington’s folly in Iraq, despite the sunny propaganda from U.S. officials, is the reluctance of members of Congress to take their much-vaunted U.S.-taxpayer-supported working-vacation junkets to Iraq.

Monday, December 12, 2005

An Arab conference in Cairo, attended by Iraqi government officials, recently issued the following statement: “Resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples.”

This is a point that unfortunately all too many Americans do not understand, at least not when their own government is the occupying force of a country where people are resisting the occupation. By making U.S. soldiers serve as the enforcement arm of the newly installed Iraqi regime, U.S. officials have placed them in an unenviable moral quandary of “kill or be killed” with respect to people who are resisting the foreign occupation of their country. To make matters even worse, it is an occupation that is the result of an illegitimate and illegal invasion, given that neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States, including on 9/11.

Moreover, by helping to train Iraqi forces to suppress the resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, U.S. forces are doing their best to train and cajole Iraqis to kill their fellow Iraqis. The effort has not been very successful but surely any reasonable person should be able to understand why it would be difficult for an Iraqi to be overly enthusiastic about killing another Iraqi for the crime of trying to oust a foreign occupier from his land. How can such action not breed deep-seated resentment against the United States, by Iraqis on both sides of the equation?

Imagine if China and the U.S. got into a war and that China, through some major unexpected military victory, secured the surrender of the U.S. government. Imagine if Chinese diplomatic and military forces began occupying the U.S. with the goal of reorganizing the U.S. government to eliminate its aggressive propensities and capabilities.

Undoubtedly it would not be difficult to find some Americans who would work closely with the Chinese occupiers and who exhort their fellow Americans to do the same. “Since we called on the Iraqis to work with us as occupiers, we owe it to ourselves to do the same with our Chinese occupiers,” they would exclaim.

Other Americans would refuse to cooperate and would embrace the statement issued at that Arab conference, “Resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples.”

At least some, but certainly not all, of those Americans who were cooperating with the Chinese occupiers would have misgivings about killing fellow Americans for resisting the occupation. And when the Chinese occupiers finally exited the country, who can doubt that there would be long-lasting anger and resentment between the Americans who resisted the occupation and those who were helping to enforce it, including by killing their fellow Americans for resisting the foreign occupation of the United States?

The invasion and occupation of Iraq are infected by illegality and immorality through and through. While some have already paid a high price, in terms of death and maiming, the full price tag for Washington’s latest foreign folly is still unknown.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Polish government officials are U.S. officials asking for $600 million in U.S. taxpayer money in return for keeping Polish troops in Iraq as part of President Bush’s “coalition of the willing.” Maybe they’ve heard how rich and benevolent the U.S. government is.

The money is for “military” purposes. Hey, if private contractors in the U.S. military-industrial complex can get rich off this war and occupation, why can’t foreign officials too? And don’t even think for a moment that there is going to be any corruption involved here. The moolah that goes into the government coffers will not be used to purchase $1,000 toilet seats. And it will not go into Swiss bank accounts of Polish government officials.

Just keeping reminding yourself how your hard-earned money is being put to such good use by the IRS, the Congress, the president, and all their bureaucratic minions while you’re struggling to pay heating bills, gas bills, and Christmas expenses this year.

Did I mention that Poland has the grand total of 1,500 troops in Iraq?

Friday, December 9, 2005

With the upcoming 2006 congressional elections, President Bush is faced with a quandary with the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

His quandary is this: He knows that the longer the occupation goes on, the bigger the crisis in the U.S. military becomes. Soldiers killing and dying for nothing or being maimed for nothing. The torture, sex abuse, rape, murder, kidnapping, and rendition scandal continues to mushroom. Recruitment woes in the U.S. military. The Padilla civil-liberties scandal. And ultimately, it’s going to hit Christian soldiers that by signing on to serve a government whose ruler has the power to attack other countries and wage aggressive wars, the killings they commit in such wars are wrongful from a Christian perspective. That might well cause Christians to think twice, from a moral perspective, before joining a military in which they are expected to loyally and obediently obey the orders of their ruler.

And the Pentagon knows that the worse things get, the bigger the possibility that the American people might start questioning and challenging the U.S. government’s role as international policeman, interloper, and aggressor. People might just begin asking: Why not dismantle America’s military empire and its military industrial complex (including all those sweetheart arrangements between congressmen and military contractors) and restore a constitutional republic to our land?

Nothing makes politicians and bureaucrats more nervous than when a citizenry begins to stir.

Moreover, Bush must know that there is no way that the situation in Iraq can improve, not only because there are Iraqis who will stop at nothing to evict a foreign occupier from their land but also because the invasion has succeeded in installing a brutal, tortuous, extremist Islamic regime that has aligned itself with Iran, which is an arch-enemy of both the U.S. and Israel. That newly installed extremist Islamic Shiite regime is not about to relinquish power peacefully. Bush knows that he cannot keep this perverse result of his invasion and occupation of Iraq out of the consciousness of the American people forever.

Meanwhile, as we have been saying here at FFF since the inception of the Iraq War, out-of-control federal spending, both on domestic and foreign programs, threatens the well-being of our country. We are now seeing preliminary signs of the monetary debasement that results from out of control government spending—gold prices soaring, heating prices soaring, oil prices soaring, etc. etc. Federal officials are undoubtedly keeping their fingers crossed that there is not a rapid plunge in the value of the U.S. dollar, which might mean that foreigners start dumping onto international markets all the U.S. debt instruments that they have been purchasing during the Clinton-Bush federal spending spree.

My prediction: As we turn the corner into 2006 and begin approaching the 2006 congressional elections, where Republicans could face the possibility of losing total control over Congress, President Bush and Vice-President Chaney will change course and announce that “freedom and democracy” have now been achieved in Iraq and that troop withdrawals will begin. And I also predict that like their counterparts in Third World countries, they will blame inflation and rising prices on Big Business, greedy speculators, and unseen forces in the universe.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

A lawyer representing 36 law schools across the country received a harsh lesson in the realities of the welfare state this week from the U.S. Supreme Court. The law schools, many of which are bastions of liberalism (i.e., socialism), had prohibited the U.S. military from recruiting on campus because of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals.

The problem? Well, not surprisingly, the federal government, in return, was threatening to cancel all federal funds to the colleges. And that threat threw the law schools into a conniption fit. The schools immediately began crying, “Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Our conscience is being violated!”

In other words, the law schools are claiming that they have a right to continue remaining on the federal dole without having the federals dictate how they’re going to run their law schools.

What planet have these law scholars been living on? Have they never heard of the infamous case of Wickard vs. Filburn, decided by a Franklin Roosevelt Supreme Court in 1942, where the Court stated, “It is hardly lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes”?

Freedom of speech is involved when the government deprives a person or an entity of the right to express his views, not when the government is threatening to cut off a person’s welfare dole. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lectured the attorney for the law schools, the government “doesn’t insist you do anything. It says that if you want our money, you have to let our recruiters on campus.”

Welcome to the real world of the welfare state!

Even then, the lawyer representing the law schools still didn’t get it. He told the court, “You can’t put a private speaker to that crisis of conscience.”

What crisis? Just get off the welfare dole and you can speak to your heart’s content!

And what’s more important to you: your conscience or your government welfare dole? The law schools’ answer is not difficult to predict. According to the Washington Post, “The schools stand to lose millions of dollars — hundreds of millions in the case of institutions such as Yale and Harvard.” When the collision comes between “freedom of speech” and “conscience,” on the one hand, and the prospect of losing their government welfare dole, on the other, make no mistake about it: The law schools will quickly cast aside both “freedom of speech” and “conscience” in return for the “right” to continue feeding at the federal welfare trough.

After all, since these people have no moral compunctions about plundering and looting taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars to feather their nests, rather than relying on voluntary support from tuitions and donations, why would they let “freedom of speech” and “conscience” interfere with their “right” to continue receiving federal welfare pork?

All this dependency and lack of moral consistency and principle are just another sad legacy of the welfare state that liberals have imported to our country. No one should feel sorry that they’re now being hoisted on their own socialist petard.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

One important, albeit often overlooked, aspect of the Iraq war and occupation is the tens of thousands of innocent people who have been killed by the U.S. government during the war and occupation, many more Iraqis killed than the number of innocent people killed by the 9/11 terrorists. Innocent in the sense that neither the dead people nor their government ever participated in the 9/11 attacks or attacked or even threatened to attack the United States.

When U.S. officials proclaim that the Iraqi people favor the invasion of their country and the resulting occupation, they cannot be referring to the dead people but only to the live ones. (Of course, the question is never put to a vote to the live ones in any of those U.S.-run “democratic” elections in Iraq.) If the dead had been asked before the invasion if they were willing to trade their lives for a U.S. invasion and occupation (and the installation of a radical, tortuous Islamic Shiite regime that is now aligned with Iran), my hunch would be that 99.99 percent of them would have responded, “No, thank you, we would prefer to stay alive instead, even under Saddam.” The dead were never given that choice. The U.S. government imposed the choice on them by attacking and occupying their country.

The U.S. government’s position is obviously that the deaths of these tens of thousands of innocent people are “worth it.” But worth it to whom? Were they “worth it” to the tens of thousands of people who are now dead? That’s not likely, but it’s always easier to place a lower value on the lives of other people than they themselves would place on their own lives. This subjective valuation, of course, was also made during the deadly sanctions period, when the U.S. government’s position was that the deaths of the Iraqi children were “worth it,” which meant that U.S. officials placed a higher value on ousting Saddam from power than they did on the lives of the Iraqi children who were used unsuccessfully as the instrument to achieve that end. My hunch is that if the parents of those hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi children had been asked, “Are you willing to give up the life of your child in return for ousting Saddam from power?” 99.99 percent would have said no.

As President Bush is now angling toward withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, he is making a new subjective value determination — that the political survival of Republican congressmen in the 2006 elections has a higher value than “freedom and democracy” in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Witnesses in the Saddam trial have testified to the brutal torture, sex abuse, and rapes that Iraqi government personnel meted out to them as suspected terrorists, including at Saddam’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

It will be interesting to see the legal standard by which Saddam is held criminally liable for the torture, especially if Saddam’s position is that his regime was not torturing people or if he denies any knowledge of the torture.

That is, will the Iraqi court hold that the president of a country is responsible for the torture committed by lower-echelon personnel as a matter of law, regardless of whether he ordered it or was aware that it was taking place? Or will the court hold that in order to be held criminally responsible, prosecutors must prove that the president of a country either ordered the torture or approved, either explicitly or implicitly, of it?

Monday, December 5, 2005

Those who still operate under the popular mindset that federal officials do not lie might want to consider this opening paragraph of an article in yesterday’s New York Times:

“Officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation mishandled a Florida terror investigation, falsified documents in the case in an effort to cover repeated missteps and retaliated against an agent who first complained about the problems, Justice Department investigators have concluded. In one instance, someone altered dates on three F.B.I. forms using correction fluid to conceal an apparent violation of federal wiretap law, according to a draft report of an investigation by the Justice Department inspector general’s office obtained by The New York Times. But investigators were unable to determine who altered the documents.”

U.S. officials do lie, especially when they think they can get away with it. Don’t forget that they lied in the Randy Weaver case the Waco massacre, and the recent Detroit terrorism case.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is headed to Europe in an attempt to quell anger and outrage among Europeans to the previously secret CIA “black sites” in Soviet-communist era compounds, where suspected terrorists have undoubtedly been given the same treatment as suspected terrorists have received in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

To date, U.S. officials have neither confirmed nor denied the sites, preferring to stand mute in the hopes that the American people will continue to say, “Do whatever you have to ‘the terrorists’ in secret and please do not tell us what you are doing so that our consciences can’t bother us and so that we can’t be held morally responsible for what you are doing.”

Why haven’t U.S. officials simply lied about the CIA sites? Because undoubtedly there are several European officials who approved the CIA’s actions, probably in return for the customary payment of “foreign aid,” and so there is too much of a risk that the lie would be quickly ferreted out. According to the NYT article, that’s one reason for Rice’s visit — to use indirect diplomatic language to remind European government officials that they approved the sites.

One U.S. official, who preferred to remain anonymous, echoed President Bush’s line on torture in regard to Rice’s trip: “We don’t torture people, and we do not send people to be tortured.” Of course, there are innumerable torture victims who would respond that this was just one more of a long series of federal falsehoods. Not surprisingly, the official failed to reconcile his astounding claim with the battle that he and his cohorts are waging against the release of the torture, rape, and sex abuse videotapes from Abu Ghraib. Also, not surprisingly, the official didn’t mention the innocent people whom the CIA has kidnapped and tortured since 9/11, including German citizen Khaled Masri.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Pro-drug war proponents are undoubtedly cheering the brutal and harsh punishment meted out by the Singapore government, which, just like the U.S. government, maintains a fierce drug war. The Singapore government just executed an Australian citizen for possessing 14 ounces of heroin at the Singapore airport on a trip from Cambodia back to Australia.

That’s right, they imposed the death penalty on him. The man, Vietnam-born Tuong Van Nguyen, was 25 years old. Perhaps Elizabeth Welch, a Sydney counselor put it best, “I just think it’s barbaric, it’s wrong, it’s disturbing.”

But when you think about it, what the Singapore government did is exactly what pro-drug war proponents in the U.S. have been calling for as a solution to their many decades of drug-war failure — “We need to crack down even more fiercely in the war on drugs.” And no doubt they are thinking today that the execution of a 25-year-old man is going to put a dent in illicit drug use.

There is only one solution to this barbarism: End, not reform, the war on drugs and treat drug addiction the same as alcohol addiction (which is, of course, a drug) and treat drug transactions as any other market transaction.

Friday, December 2, 2005

U.S. officials have now added another element to what they consider to be “freedom” and “democracy”: U.S. officials have been planting paid propaganda in Iraq’s media outlets, not to mention engaging in plagiarism and intentional distortion of people’s quotes at the same time.

Add this new feature of the U.S. government’s concept of “democracy” and “freedom” to warrantless searches and seizures, indefinite detentions, shooting of demonstrators, bombing or closing of critical media, gun control and confiscation, military rule, denial of jury trials, habeas corpus, and due process, and, of course, torture, sex abuse, rape, and murder of suspected “terrorists.”

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Heaven forbid that these people are ever permitted to import their concept of “democracy” and “freedom” to the United States.

Given these recent revelations, would it be unreasonable to request an independent investigation into whether the pro-war cheerleaders on U.S. cable news stations and the American print journalists who helped frighten the American people into supporting the war by publishing the administration’s false WMD claims were actually on the federal government’s payroll, operating as a paid federal embeds within the U.S. news media?

Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Members of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s regime are being held accountable for torture, sex abuse, and murder of suspected terrorists in their custody.

But what Pinochet’s military and central intelligence agency (DINA) did to its suspected terrorists in Chilean detention facilities is no different in principle from what President Bush’s military and CIA have done to suspected terrorists in Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, and very likely in the CIA’s previously secret Soviet-communist era “black site” compounds in Eastern Europe.

Moreover, the Pinochet regime’s killing of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean official living in Washington and who Pinochet and his minions considered a terrorist, was no different than the Bush administration’s killing of suspected terrorists who were riding in a car in Yemen, including an American citizen.

Moreover, members of the Pinochet regime, like members of the Bush regime, had initially denied that they had engaged in government-sponsored torture.

Ultimately, a discomforting question must be confronted by U.S. officials and the American people: If it is morally and legally right to hold members of the Augusto Pinochet regime accountable for torture, sex abuse, and murder of suspected terrorists in their custody, why wouldn’t it be right for U.S. officials to be held similarly accountable for similar treatment accorded suspected terrorists in their custody?

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.