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, June 2007


Friday, June 29, 2007

Separate School & State

Thanks to yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in a government-school desegregation case, public-school supporters are now heavily embroiled in the latest debate on how to run the government schools. Yawn! Another “crisis,” just like in the drug war, immigration, Iraq, Social Security, Medicare, etc. etc. etc.

It’s all so sad. Americans have been banging their heads against the socialist, interventionist wall for most of their lives, wailing and lamenting their never-ceasing headaches. But when a libertarian says, “Well, why don’t you stop hitting your heads against the wall?” the response inevitably is, “We’ve got to keep hitting our heads against the wall. What other choice do we have? We have to make these government programs succeed, and we’re going to do exactly that.”

All that we libertarians can do is continue providing the antidote to all these crises and ailments — individual freedom, free markets, and limited government. Ultimately, there is going to be a critical mass of Americans who declare “Enough is enough!” and who finally decide to stop hitting their heads against the collectivist, interventionist wall.

With respect to government schools, there is no reform plan that will succeed. Let me restate and reemphasize that in another way: No matter who is elected or appointed to the local school board, the State Board of Education, or the Department of Education, no matter whose reform plan is adopted, no matter how much taxes and spending on government schools are raised, the result will be the same: failure. Why? Because socialism and interventionism are inherently defective. Those who are devoting their lives to coming up with a school-reform plan that will work are wasting their time. They would be better off giving up and going to the golf course.

There is one — and only one — solution to the government-school crisis: Throw the government out of school. It has flunked. It deserves to be thrown out of school, permanently. Abolish all compulsory-attendance laws, abolish all school taxes, sell off or give away all the school buildings. Get government entirely out of the education business. Leave families free to plan their own educational decisions. Free the market to permit entrepreneurs to vie for customers’ business through a multitude of educational services, just as we do with food.

For those who are truly needy, rely on scholarships and fellowships funded by the middle and upper class. Remember: Bureaucrats (who give away tax money) are not the only good and caring people in society. Americans need to recapture the sense of self-esteem that characterized our ancestors. They need to begin believing in themselves, in others, and in the power of liberty and conscience. They need to stop placing their faith in the state to do good through coercion.

It’s time to separate school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state. What better way to begin the restoration of freedom in our land? What better way to end the never-ending debates and discussions on how to make socialism and interventionism work?

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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The CIA-Mafia Conspiracy to Murder Castro

One of the standard responses to those who suggest that there was a conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy is that someone in the conspiracy would have talked by now — that it would have been impossible to keep the details of such a conspiracy secret after so many years.


Let’s see why that argument might be a bit false and fallacious.

Among the “family jewels” that the CIA recently released are those relating to the partnership entered into between the CIA and the Mafia to murder Cuban President Fidel Castro. One of the gangsters representing the Mafia in the partnership was John Roselli. Faced with deportation after a federal criminal conviction, Roselli threatened to disclose the existence of the CIA-Mafia plot to murder Castro unless the CIA came to his assistance. CIA Director Richard Helms decided not to help Roselli.

Unfortunately for Roselli, that wasn’t the end of the story. After testifying in June and September 1975 before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the CIA-Mafia conspiracy to kill Castro and then again in April 1976 about whether there was also a conspiracy to murder Kennedy, Roselli disappeared. In August 1976, his body parts were found in a 55-gallon drum floating off the coast of Florida.

No one involved in the conspiracy to kill Roselli has come forward and talked. In fact, we still don’t know who killed the guy because those who killed him have steadfastly remained silent. Almost certainly Roselli’s murder involved a conspiracy, given that it would have been very difficult for a lone-nut murderer to have killed him, sawed off his legs, stuffed all the body parts into a 55-gallon barrel, sealed the barrel, transported it to a boat or a plane, weighted it down, and dropped it into the harbor. The people who obviously had the biggest motive to murder Roselli were the CIA-Mafia conspirators whom Roselli had betrayed by disclosing the CIA-Mafia conspiracy to murder Castro.

So, Roselli’s unsolved murder confirms that it is possible for conspirators to remain silent about a murder, especially if they’re part of a CIA-Mafia conspiracy. And it also helps to explain why conspirators to murder Kennedy might have found it in their interest to remain silent about a conspiracy to murder him.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is Another Pro-Occupation Rationale Dying?

It might just be my imagination but there seems to be less and less talk about how Muslims, out of hatred for Americas “freedom and values,” are planning to invade, conquer, and occupy the United States. Pro-war supporters have relied upon this rationale to justify the continued occupation of Iraq, that is after the WMDS failed to materialize and after freedom, liberation, and democracy-spreading pretty much fell by the way side too.

So, why the apparent turning away from the “the Muslims are coming to get us” rationale for staying in Iraq? One reason might be is that its adherents have come to realize how truly ridiculous it is, perhaps even more so than all the other rationales for invading and occupying a country that had never attacked the United States either directly or indirectly with terrorism. After all, it’s not as if there is this monolithic Muslim army that has hundreds of thousands of ships, planes, armored personnel carriers, tanks, supplies, weapons, and troops that would be able to cross the Atlantic and invade and occupy the U.S. and then keep supply lines going to keep foreign occupation armed and supplied. Don’t forget that Hitler, even with his massive army and air force, found it impossible to invade Great Britain because of the English Channel. Think about the logistical nightmare of transporting millions of troops across the Atlantic, especially without an armada of ships, planes, supplies, tanks, APCs, etc.

A second reason for the apparent dropping of the “the Muslims are coming to get us” rationale is that its adherents might be starting to figure out that U.S. troops are killing and dying for nothing in Iraq and will continue to do so as long as they’re occupying that country. So, the adherents of this rationale might have figured out that the more they keep repeating that the Iraq occupation is necessary to prevent the Muslims from coming to get us here in the United States, the more difficult it would become to finally call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

A third reason that pro-invasion and pro-occupation supporters might have dropped the “the Muslims are coming to get us” rationale is that they have figured out the inherent conflict in their position. After all, U.S. troops are in Iraq supposedly to protect Muslims. Don’t forget that the regime that has been installed in Iraq is entirely Muslim. In fact, it has even aligned itself with Iran, which also has a radical Islamic regime in power. So, if the threat to the U.S. comes from Muslims in general, as pro-occupation supporters have told us, then wouldn’t it be logical for the U.S. to be bombing and killing most everyone in Iraq, including the Muslim regime that is now in charge? Instead, U.S. troops are killing only those Muslims who continue to resist the U.S. occupation of Iraq, in the hope of fortifying the Muslim regime that the U.S. invasion installed in power.

Given that President Bush is unlikely to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq prior to the end of his term in office, given his concern about his legacy, Americans had better just get used to the fact that American soldiers are going to continue killing and dying for nothing. Hopefully, the continuing and ever-growing reality of death, maiming, and destruction will cause Americans to pierce through the lies and deceptive rationales regarding U.S. foreign policy and to choose a different direction for our nation — not the pro-empire, pro-intervention, omnipotent-government policy that currently holds our nation in its grip but instead a limited-government, anti-intervention, pro-republic foreign policy on which our nation was founded.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Your Papers, Please

While I was in Houston to deliver a speech to the Houston Property Rights Association last Friday, I was notified that an aunt of mine in my hometown of Laredo, Texas, had passed away. So, I changed my return plans in order to attend the funeral. The trip back from Laredo reminded me, once again, how Americans have lost sight of the fact that the war on immigrants has infringed upon the freedom of the American people.

After going through security at the Laredo airport for the flight back to Dallas, passengers encounter two uniformed members of the U.S. Border Patrol, who ask each person, “Are you an American citizen?” If the person is Anglo or fairly well-dressed or answers the question with an American accent, he is waived through. But if the person is obviously poor, not too well-dressed, and doesn’t speak English very well, the two Border Patrol agents demand to see “their papers,” just like in the former Soviet-bloc countries.

Now, it’s important to emphasize something here. While Laredo is a border town, the airport is not on the border. The Rio Grande is the artificial line that is defined as the border between the United States and Mexico. There are several bridges that cross the Rio Grande at Laredo. As one crosses the bridge from the Mexico side, he encounters Customs Agents and immigration officials on the American side of the bridge, something that most everyone has become accustomed to.

The Laredo airport, however, is located in the eastern part of the city and a few miles north of the border. There are many people who fly into Laredo from Houston and Dallas and who never enter Mexico. In other words, they fly from one part of the United States to another part of the United States. Nevertheless, even though they have never crossed into Mexico, U.S. government gendarmes require them to show “their papers,” just like the Soviets used to do in Eastern-bloc countries.

And it doesn’t do any good to use a car to leave Laredo instead of a plane. About 20 miles north of the city on the Interstate Highway is a permanent Border Patrol station in which Border Patrol agents stop every car heading north, ask questions regarding citizenship, demand papers, and even have drug-sniffing dogs walk around the cars. Oftentimes they even search cars. So, again, even though a person has not crossed into Mexico — even though he is a lifelong resident of Laredo simply traveling north to San Antonio — he is subjected to this Soviet-style treatment.

So, the next time you hear that immigration laws are not being enforced, just think about this intervention, which was supposed to prevent illegal aliens from proceeding north and which has become nothing more than a permanent infringement on the privacy and liberties of the American people. That is, despite the fact that the intervention obviously did not succeed in accomplishing its goal, it was never repealed and, unfortunately, the American people have simply resigned themselves to it, just like people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union once did.

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

Friday, June 22, 2007

The “Follow Us Home” Rationale for Occupying Iraq

I confess that I’ve never understood President Bush’s and Vice-President Cheney’s “They’ll follow us home” rationale for continuing the occupation of Iraq.

If al-Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents have the capability of “following us home,” why are they spending time in Iraq fighting the U.S. military? That is, why not simply circumvent Iraq and come directly to the United States and invade and occupy the U.S. with their armada of thousands of planes, tanks, APCS, weapons, troops, supplies, and troops? Just think how much easier they could conquer and occupy the U.S. with much of the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq.

After all, it’s not as if these people, who are human beings, don’t have the ability to make choices. Sure, Bush’s taunt to them to “bring it on” in Iraq might have motivated them to indeed “bring it on” in the form of roadside bombs, snipers, and suicide bombers. Nevertheless, it’s not as if U.S. military forces in Iraq are a magnet and al-Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgents are iron filings.

It’s all just part and parcel of lies and deceptions meant to guile a gullible public into supporting a brutal, deadly, and destructive pro-empire foreign policy that entails regime change and installation of puppet foreign regimes that will do the bidding of U.S. officials. The sad part of all this is that there is still a segment of the American populace that continues to permit its mindset to be molded in accordance with the latest federal rationale for invading and occupying Iraq, whether it be WMDs, democracy-spreading, liberation, law and order, stability, or “they’ll follow us home” if U.S. troops exit Iraq.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Cuban Embargo Is an Attack on American Freedom

Film-maker Michael Moore is under investigation by the feds for violating the U.S. government’s decades-long embargo against Cuba. The feds are upset because Moore traveled to Cuba to film a segment for his documentary “Sicko” without securing the permission of his federal masters.

Yes, that is correct: In order to travel to Cuba, an American citizen must ask for permission of U.S. officials, just like a little child who is required to seek his parents’ permission to visit his friend across the street. The investigation into Moore’s trip exemplifies how the embargo against Cuba is not only an attack on the freedom and economic well-being of the Cuban people, it is also an attack on the freedom and well-being of American grown-ups.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cubans Will Oppose a U.S. Puppet After Fidel

After surviving some life-threatening intestinal ailments, Cuba’s President Fidel Castro is back, exhorting the Cuban people to prepare for a defense of their country from a U.S. government attack. While one might be tempted to conclude that these are the paranoid delusions of a communist madman, the exact opposite is true. In actuality, Castro, who has survived many, many U.S. presidents, not to mention CIA-Mafia assassination attempts, is one of the most brilliant politicians in the world.

After all, what better political strategy to galvanize people into blind support of the government than to declare a national crisis in which the barbarians are at the gates? Don’t forget — even our own politicians are masters at this game. How many times have we heard that Saddam or Osama (remember him?) or the terrorists or the Muslims or the Islamo-fascists are coming to get us and that only the U.S. government stands in the way of foreign conquest and occupation of our country? How many times have Americans had their knees knocking in response to constantly changing terrorist color codes?

Why would the average Cuban respond any differently to Castro’s exhortations than the way many Americans respond to those of Bush and Cheney?

Moreover, Castro’s suggestion is not entirely without merit. After all, no one can deny that U.S. officials have been more obsessed with regime change in Cuba than they have been with most other countries in which they have effected regime change, including Iran, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, and Iraq. Let’s not also forget that before the U.S. government gained its born-again fervor with its “war on terrorism,” it was financing and supporting anti-Castro terrorists and a failed CIA-planned invasion of Cuba.

U.S. officials are champing at the bits at the prospect of Fidel’s dying, believing that this will finally provide them with the opportunity of installing a U.S. approved puppet in power in Cuba, such as Castro’s predecessor Fulgencio Baptista. What U.S. officials simply cannot understand is that most Cubans, while despising the socialist system that Fidel has imposed on them, will fight to the death to prevent the U.S. government, including the CIA and its Mafia partners, from ever again controlling their country.

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Who Really Supported the Troops in Iraq?

Have you noticed how conservatives continue to refer to the fighting in Iraq as “the war in Iraq”? Actually, however, the war ended when Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown. Ever since, it has been an occupation of the country, not a war.

So, why keep referring to it as “the war in Iraq” or the “war on terror”? Because conservatives know that in a war, it is easier to generate the standard “my government right or wrong” mindset among the citizenry, a mindset by which patriotism is construed as blind support of the government during time of war. In occupations, on the other hand, there is less flag-waving and more critical analysis of what U.S. troops are still doing in Iraq.

Of course, we should never forget that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a direct consequence of its invasion of Iraq. Why is that important? Because the U.S. government had no moral or legal right to attack a country that had not attacked the United States. In this conflict, the U.S. was the aggressor nation and Iraq was the defending nation. That means that just as U.S. troops had no moral or legal right to be killing Iraqis during the invasion, they have no moral or legal right to be killing them during the occupation.

My hunch is that one of the primary reasons that so many U.S. soldiers are coming back from Iraq screwed up mentally is that deep down within their conscience and their subconscious, they know that they had no moral right to be killing Iraqis, not even in obedience to the orders of their president. Thus, as these soldiers seek help for what U.S. officials term “post-traumatic stress disorder,” ask yourself who was actually supporting the troops — those who supported the president’s immoral and illegal decision to send them into this hellhole or those of us who did not.

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

Monday, June 18, 2007

Legalization Is the Only Solution to Drug-War Violence

The restaurant owners of Tijuana, Mexico, are hoping that a world-record-setting Caesar salad will induce tourists to once again return to this border city in droves. Undoubtedly, it is a wish held by border towns all along the Mexican-U.S. border, including Nuevo Laredo, which is across my hometown of Laredo, Texas.

Alas, the Caesar-salad promotional strategy is unlikely to succeed. Tijuana, like Nuevo Laredo and other border cities, is racked by drug-war violence that has converted Mexico into a war zone. So far this year, 1,200 people have met with violent deaths because of the drug war.

For its part, Mexican officials are blaming a lack of gun control in the United States for the violence. If only gun control were imposed on the American people, the suggestion is, then Mexico would no longer be subject to drug-war violence.

With all due respect, all this is just idiocy.

Message to Mexican officials: A war on guns would produce the same level of violence — if not more — as the 30-year war on drugs. Your answer to drug-war violence is standard interventionist policy. When one form of intervention (e.g., the drug war) fails to achieve its purported end, the answer of interventionists is inevitably to enact new interventions (e.g, gun control), which then produce more problems, which then are used to call for more interventions.

Meanwhile, the DEA is proudly showing off its drug-war museum in Washington, D.C., which fleeces American taxpayers to the tune of almost $400,000 per year. This includes the museum’s traveling road show,“Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists and You,” whose propagandistic snake oil is intended to guile gullible Americans into continuing to support the war on drugs for another 30 years.

Message to Americans: The drug war will never be “won” because it cannot be “won.” Period. It’s called: facing reality. Continuing the 30-year-long war on drugs will only produce another 30 years of failure, death, and destruction, not to mention big money made by lots of big people.

That is what the drug war is really all about: people who are making money — big money. There are people within the Mexican government who make big money off the drug war, and there are people within the federal, state, and local governments here in the U.S. who are making big money off the drug war. Of course, there are also the drug gangs who are making big money. Not surprisingly, all these people who are making big money off the drug war are the leading proponents of continuing it.

There is one — and only one — solution to the drug war violence, both in Mexico and the United States, and it doesn’t involve Caesar salads or gun control. The solution is legalization — that is, the same solution that was applied to Prohibition. Just as Prohibition immediately put out of business the alcohol gangs, so would ending drug prohibition put out of business the drug gangs.

The “problem” is that like Prohibition, it would also put out of business all the corrupt government officials making big money off the drug war, along with all the drug agents who enforce the laws and run drug-war museums. With the political pressure those people can bring onto the members of Congress, they are the biggest obstacle to finally ending the immoral, destructive, and failed war and restoring peace and harmony to Latin America and the United States.

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

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Pardon Will Keep Libby Silent

Washington, D.C., is abuzz over a federal judge’s ruling that Scooter Libby must report to jail now rather than after his appeal is decided by the federal court of appeals. The judge has the authority to order Libby to begin serving his sentence now because he determined that Libby’s doesn’t have a good chance of overturning his perjury conviction on appeal.

This obviously places President Bush in an awkward position. No doubt Bush had hoped that Libby’s appeal would drag on for a long time, enabling Bush to delay any consideration of a pardon until after the November 2008 elections. The judge’s ruling, unless reversed by the court of appeals, puts the quietus to any such delay.

So, what does Bush do? Does he let Libby cool his heels in the federal slammer for more than a year? If he does that, he runs the risk of Libby’s deciding to cooperate with the special prosecutor by disclosing why he committed perjury in the Plame investigation.

There is, of course, the possibility that Libby perjured himself because he was trying to cover up what he believed was an illegal outing of a CIA agent committed only by him. But there is another possibility — that Libby committed perjury to protect Vice President Cheney, if Cheney was the one who orchestrated the entire Plame outing as a way to punish former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and to send a message to other federal personnel who dared to tell the truth regarding Bush’s and Cheney’s lies leading up to their Iraq adventure.

Moreover, if Cheney did orchestrate the Plame outing, then there is also the possibility that he conspired with Libby for Libby to commit perjury. That’s, of course, a federal offense too.

Libby’s supporters claim that his perjury is no big deal because there was no “underlying crime” committed. They miss an important point, however. It is conceivable that an underlying crime cannot be proven because of those who are lying about its occurrence. By punishing those who are protecting the existence of the underlying crime with their perjury, the chances of breaking through the deception to get to the center of the underlying crime improves. (Views vary on whether Plame met the technical requirements of a “covert” CIA agent.)

If government officials are permitted to lie with impunity, then it would obviously be much more difficult to bring them to justice when they commit criminal offenses. And since federal officials are so eager to punish people in the private sector for federal offenses (i.e., the drug war, or Martha Stewart, etc.), shouldn’t federal officials themselves be held to a high standard regarding truth and integrity?

Moreover, for all too long federal officials have gotten away with perjury with the commonly used “I don’t recall” statement. Maybe the Libby conviction will discourage others from using such a lie in the future.

Of course, there is always the possibility that if Libby is protecting Cheney, he will nonetheless loyally go to jail in silence, especially since a couple of years in a federal country club isn’t exactly like spending time at Guantanamo, where torture and isolation are the name of the game. But my hunch is that Libby isn’t going to have to spend very much time in the slammer because Bush and Cheney will want to keep him as happy as possible. After all, even if Libby doesn’t cooperate with the special prosecutor, there’s always the possibility of his writing one of those tell-all books.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Drug War Elephant

Have you noticed that the mainstream media is scrupulously avoiding asking about one of the other big elephants in the room during the presidential debates? The drug war. Not one single question about this federal fiasco, such as, “After more than 30 years of violence, death, destruction, and admitted failure, do any of you believe it is time to legalize drugs, just as Americans legalized alcohol after the disastrous experiment with Prohibition?”

It’s almost as if the political elite and the mainstream media simply assume that the drug war will be with us forever and, therefore, that there simply isn’t any reason to ask whether or not it should be continued for another 30 years. This despite the fact that everyone would agree that the drug war is an abject failure, from the purported intentions of those who endorse it.

With the manifest failure of the drug war, why is it that people continue to beat their heads against the wall by supporting its continuation? One reason is that hope springs eternal, leading people to believe that some ingenious politician or bureaucrat will finally come up with some reform plan that will make interventionism succeed. But it’s not reality. Interventionism is inherently defective. It cannot be made to succeed. Once the American people finally come to that realization, they will demand an end to this evil, immoral, deadly, and destructive war.

The big obstacle is those people who are making lots of money off the drug war, including government officials and narco-traffickers. My hunch is that the big-money beneficiaries of the drug war know full well that if drugs were legalized, it would mean the immediate end of illegal drug profits for those who are currently making big money off the drug war. That’s why they will fight tooth and nail for the perpetual continuation of the drug war. From their perspective, success means a continuous stream of drug-war largess into their pockets.

Ultimately, I believe that a critical mass of Americans are going to figure out that the drug war is nothing more than another big-government scam that accomplishes nothing more than enriching the pockets of a privileged group of people that includes both government officials and drug gangs, while increasingly infringing on the liberties and pocketbooks of the American people. When that day comes, the major media will no longer be able to ignore that big, rotten drug-war elephant in the room.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Will al-Marri Walk Because of the Government’s Legal Maneuvers?

We link to two editorials in today’s issue of FFF Email Update that praise the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the al-Marri case. It is impossible to overstate the significance of the ruling. It has placed the U.S. military in its proper subordinate place, at least with respect to American citizens and foreigners residing here in the United States. The Court has rejected the Pentagon’s post-9/11 claim that it has the legitimate authority to take Americans and foreigners residing here into custody as “enemy combatants” and deny them due process of law and trial by jury, torture them, and incarcerate them for the rest of their lives. As we have stated here at FFF ever since 9/11, this self-proclaimed power on the part of the president (as commander in chief of the military) and the Pentagon constituted the most monumental revolution in law in our lifetime, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.

The Court stated:

“This does not mean that al-Marri must be set free. Like others accused of terrorist activity in this country, from the Oklahoma City bombers to the surviving conspirator of the 9/11 attacks [Zacharias Moussaoui], al-Marri can be returned to civilian prosecutors, tried on criminal charges, and, if convicted, punished severely. But the government cannot subject al-Marri to indefinite military detention. For in the United States, the military cannot seize and imprison civilians – let alone imprison them indefinitely…. The President’s constitutional powers do not allow him to order the military to seize and detain indefinitely al-Marri without criminal process any more than they permit the President to order the military to seize and detain, without criminal process, other terrorists within the United States, like the Unabomber or the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing…. we can only conclude that in the case at hand, the President claims power that far exceeds that granted him by the Constitution.”

By now, however, the government has undoubtedly figured out that despite the Court of Appeals’ suggestion that al-Marri can be returned to the civilian courts for prosecution, the government might well be precluded from doing so, on grounds of double jeopardy. Why? According to a June 24, 2003, news report on CNN.com, “At the government’s request, the existing criminal charges against al-Marri, who was awaiting trial in Illinois, were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again.”

So, it would seem that the man they have described as an extremely dangerous terrorist might well walk away a free man, thanks to the all-too-clever maneuvering by which the Pentagon snatched al-Marri from the jurisdiction of the federal courts, securing in the process a dismissal of all criminal charges “with prejudice,” in order to illegally placed al-Marri into the clutches of the U.S. military.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The al-Marri Decision: Reason to Celebrate

In a stunning victory for the Constitution and the freedom and sovereignty of the American people, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the power of the president and the Pentagon to take civilians on American soil, both American and foreign, into custody as “enemy combatants” and hold them indefinitely in military custody, subject to torture and other abuse.

The decision occurred in the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri, a citizen of Qatar, who was initially charged in federal district court for violating federal criminal statutes against fraud. Prior to trial, the presiding judge granted the government’s motion to dismiss the case, at which point the U.S. military took al Marri into custody as an “enemy combatant” in the war on terror.

Ever since al-Marri was taken into military custody, here at FFF we have been arguing that al-Marri’s military detention was illegitimate, that terrorism is a criminal act and not an act of war, and that the government should either try al-Marri in federal district court or release him. Here are several articles we have published on the al-Marri case:

Crossing the Rubicon by Jacob G. Hornberger (July 2003)

Pentagon Learns About the Sixth Amendment by Jacob G. Hornberger (July 2004)

Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri: Charge Him or Release Him by Jacob G. Hornberger (March 2005)

How the Enemy Combatant Label Is Being Used by Jesselyn Roback (January 2005)

Foreign Policy Threatens Our Freedom by Jacob G. Hornberger (May 2005)

The Court of Appeals held that in the United States of America, the Constitution prohibits the military from taking civilians on American soil who are suspected of terrorism into custody as “enemy combatants.” Suspected terrorists must either be tried in federal court or released, the court held, which is the position we have long maintained here at FFF.

You will recall that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was the court that ruled in favor of the “enemy-combatant” doctrine in the Jose Padilla case, after which the government quickly shunted Padilla into the federal court system to avoid a Supreme Court reversal of the ruling. The al-Marri decision has now upended the government’s clever legal strategy. The Court severely limited the Padilla case to civilians who allegedly have fought with enemy forces in wartime (e.g., Afghanistan) before being arrested on American soil. Unlike Padilla, who was alleged to have fought in Afghanistan against the United States, al-Marri was not alleged to have fought against the U.S. on a foreign battlefield.

The government is now faced with having to do what it successfully avoided doing in the Padilla case — try to sell its “enemy-combatant” snake oil to the U.S. Supreme Court. The government will first undoubtedly seek a rehearing before the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, hoping that the full court will overrule the 3-judge panel. If the full court upholds the panel’s ruling and if the Pentagon wants to keep its “enemy-combatant” power over the American people, it will have to do what it successfully avoided doing in Padilla — seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the American people have cause to celebrate the Fourth Circuit decision in al-Marri, as the ruling has once again subordinated military power to the Constitution and to the sovereignty of the American people.

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

Monday, June 11, 2007

Close Gitmo and Exit Cuba

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined the growing chorus of people calling for the closure of the U.S. government’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Pointing out that the prison camp has tarnished America’s image, Powell said, ”If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo. Not tomorrow, but this afternoon. I’d close it.”

As we have long been pointing out here at FFF, the Pentagon set up its prison camp in Cuba with one goal in mind — to avoid the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and to avoid any interference by the federal judicial system that the Constitution established. The Pentagon’s aim was to establish a brand new military “judicial” system where it could torture, punish, and even execute suspected terrorists with impunity and in secrecy. The kangaroo military tribunals were supposed to make it look that everything was being done in accordance with established legal standards. All this was done, of course, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has been indicting and prosecuting suspected terrorists, including “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla and 9/11 co-conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui, in federal district court, exposing the falsity of the Pentagon’s claim that America’s constitutional judicial system was ill-equipped to handle terrorism cases.

Gitmo must be shut down immediately and all its prisoners should be brought to the United States. Enemy soldiers captured on the field of battle during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should be released or prosecuted under the Geneva Conventions. All suspected terrorists should be released or indicted in federal district court.

In fact, the U.S. government should not only close its prison camp at Gitmo, it should also exit Cuba entirely and abandon all rights to the Guantanamo Bay property. Why should the United States maintain this imperial and colonial relic of the Spanish-American War?

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Republican Moral Degeneracy on Display in N.H. Presidential Debate

The moral degeneracy of the Republican Party was on full display in the presidential debate in New Hampshire. With the exception of Ron Paul, the other candidates said that they would be more than willing to drop nuclear bombs on Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Yes, nuclear bombs—as in the type of bombs that have radiation that can kill untold numbers of people within the blast radius.

This degenerate mindset is absolutely unbelievable. The attitude toward the Iranian people is no different from that which pervaded the U.S. government during the Iraq sanctions and, in fact, during the entire Iraq occupation. From the standpoint of U.S. officials and Republican presidential candidates, the deaths of Iranians are simply no big deal, just as the deaths of the Iraqi children from the sanctions and the deaths of countless Iraqis during the U.S. invasion and occupation are no big deal. In fact, in a nuclear strike on Iran, there is no doubt that U.S. officials would have the same policy that they’ve had toward Iraqis—not to keep count of the deaths because Iranians, like Iraqis, just don’t count.

Let’s keep in mind the obvious fact: Iran has not attacked the United States and has never threatened to attack the United States. The primary reason that Iran wishes to acquire a nuclear weapon is to deter a regime-change attack by the U.S. government. Iranians have not forgotten the secret and surreptitious regime-change operation in 1953, when the CIA ousted the democratically elected prime minister of Iran and re-installed the brutal, dictatorial, tortuous regime of the shah of Iran. They don’t want another U.S.-installed puppet to rule over them, torture them, and execute them. They also have learned the lessons that Iraq and North Korea have learned: Acquire a nuclear weapon and the U.S. military will not level a regime-change attack on your country. But fail to do so, and it will, no matter how many foreign casualties must be incurred in the process.

Let’s spare ourselves the bromides about how the Iranian people are just a bunch of radical, extremist, Islamo-fascists who hate America for its freedom and values. After all, don’t forget that when the shah of Iran was partnering with the U.S. government, the Iranian people were considered to be friends and allies of the U.S. It was only when the Iranian government became independent of the U.S. Empire that U.S. officials turned against the Iranian people, to the point that killing them with a few well-placed tactical nuclear weapons is no big deal.

Ultimately, it is up to the American people to end the U.S. government’s arrogant, pompous, self-righteous, aggressive, deadly, and destructive role as the world’s international policeman, invader, occupier, interloper, intervener, bomber, torturer, and destroyer. The well-being of the American people depends on it. The well-being of the Iranian people depends on it. The well-being of the people of the world depends on it.

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Still Flying High

We are still flying high over our conference “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy and Civil Liberties,” which ran during the past weekend and finished yesterday. I know I’m biased but the sentiment of the attendees seemed to be the same as ours — that this was the one of the most exciting, stimulating, and fun conferences in the entire history of the libertarian movement. The positive energy and synergy between speakers and the audience was absolutely unbelievable, especially among the liberal speakers and the predominantly libertarian audience. More on the conference in the upcoming days.

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

Monday, June 4, 2007

9/11 Continued America on Its Same Course

U.S. officials like to say that the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed America forever. That’s simply not true.

Prior to the attacks, U.S. foreign policy was based on such things as embargoes, interventions, assassinations, coups, invasions, occupations, support of dictatorships, and regime change, which engendered the anger and rage that produced terrorism, which then produced the need for a war on terror. None of that changed after 9/11.

Consider Iraq, for example. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. had intervened in the Persian Gulf War, killing and maiming countless Iraqis. Then, the Pentagon intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants knowing that it would produce infectious diseases among the Iraqi people. This was followed by a brutal set of sanctions that prevented the plants from being repaired. This was followed by the deaths of innocent Iraqi children. Then UN Ambassador Albright told the world that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions had been “worth it,” a statement that reverberated throughout the Middle East. There were the no-fly zones whose enforcement through bombs and missiles killed even more Iraqis. Then, there was the stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands.

Why were U.S. officials engaged in this conduct? Regime change. They wanted to get rid of Saddam and replace him with a U.S.-funded puppet. That’s one the primary goals of U.S. foreign policy — expanding the size of the U.S. Empire team.

Throughout this time, the cauldron of Middle East anger and rage against the U.S. was boiling because of what the U.S. government was doing to the Iraqi people. That produced the terrorist attacks on the WTC (in 1993), the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole.

So, the 9/11 attacks simply constituted just one more in a series of terrorist attacks in response to U.S. foreign policy. Then rather than stop the poking the hornet’s nests, U.S. officials used the 9/11 attacks to do what they had been doing for more than a decade without success — intervening in Iraq, this time with a full-fledged invasion and occupation, to oust Saddam from power and replacing him a U.S. team player.

What U.S. officials simply didn’t count on was the quagmire that Iraqi resistance to occupation would produce. They thought the regime change was going to be like Grenada and Panama. Instead they got a variation of Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs.

Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq have killed even more Iraqis — and continues to do so — the cauldron of anger and rate against the U.S. continues to boil, producing higher threats of terrorism, which produce more calls for Big Government and suspensions of civil liberties.

Like I say, the 9/11 attacks didn’t change anything. They simply enabled U.S. officials to continue doing what they already had been doing, except in a more arrogant, pompous, self-pretentious, and omnipotent manner.

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

Friday, June 1, 2007

Abolish the FTC and the Postal Service

The FTC is “studying” a proposed merger between Google and Doubleclick to determine whether the merger violates U.S. antitrust laws.

May I make a suggestion? How about having the FTC instead study the U.S. Postal Service to determine whether a real monopoly should be eradicated (i.e., abolished) from our midst?

After all, Google and Doubleclick are two private companies, each with its own assets. Why shouldn’t they be permitted to do whatever they want with their own money and their own company? Isn’t it their money? Isn’t it their company? If customers don’t like the result, aren’t they free to take their business elsewhere?

The Postal Service, on the other hand, is a genuine government-produced monopoly. No private business is permitted to compete in the delivery of first-class mail, and if a private company does try to compete it is punished with incarceration and fine. If a customer doesn’t like the service or the ever-increasing postage rates, the most he can do is go to another branch of the monopoly. No one can deny that the Postal Service is a Big-Government, Big-Monopoly Enterprise par excellence.

Yet, the postal monopoly continues to be permitted to remain in business while the FTC wastes time and resources “studying” private businesses that wish merge with each other.

Actually, I’ve got a better idea: How about just abolishing the FTC, the Postal Service, and antitrust laws and restoring the philosophy of economic liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government to our land?

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

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.