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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Torture, Communism, and the American Way


Do you recall how outraged U.S. officials appeared to be when people were comparing the Pentagon’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet communist gulags? Well, the outrage might have been a bit fake and false.

Guess what U.S. military officials have been using as a guideline for interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. According to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, they have been knowingly and intentionally using torture techniques employed by the Chinese communists on American soldiers during the Korean War on detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

How’s that for a bit of moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy? Imagine that: 45 years of a Cold War against the communists, more than 100,000 Americans killed in hot wars against the communists, and an ever-growing military-industrial complex to oppose communism, only to find that there are some features of communism that U.S. officials really like. (Maybe that’s why they don’t mind kidnapping Cuban refugees on the high seas and forcibly repatriating them into Cuban communist tyranny.)

Apparently the idea behind using communist torture methods at Guantanamo was that U.S. personnel, especially those in the CIA, would employ the types of “touch-less” torture techniques that were employed by the communists that would damage a person’s mind but leave no evidence of physical torture. In that way, government officials could look the people in the eye and claim, “We don’t torture.”

Of course, that’s not the only procedure that U.S. officials have copied from the communists. After all, look at the entire Guantanamo “judicial” system. The very reason that it’s based in Cuba was so that the Pentagon could be free of the principles of our nation’s Constitution and Bill of Rights and free to adopt procedures which, coincidentally, were also embraced by the communists. Examine the following attributes of the Pentagon’s “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay and ask yourself whether they are consistent with America’s system or the communist system:

Denial of due process.
Denial of habeas corpus.
Torture and sex abuse.
Secret proceedings.
Kangaroo tribunals.
Denial of effective assistance of counsel.
Indefinite detentions.
Presumption of guilt.
Denial of right to confront witnesses.
Use of hearsay testimony.
Cruel and unusual punishments.

Isn’t every one of those things a core feature of communist “judicial” systems?

Add to the mix the following attributes of the U.S. government’s pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy:

Wars of aggression and brutal occupations against Third World countries.
Spying on the citizenry.
Warrantless searches and seizures.
Employing private companies to spy on the citizenry and immunizing them for breaking the law.
The power to ignore constitutional constraints on power.

Didn’t the communists believe in and embrace every one of those principles?

In litigation over habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo Bay, the Justice Department argued that the Cuban government, not the U.S. government, had jurisdiction over the Pentagon’s operations at Guantanamo Bay. It’s not difficult to see why they preferred to be under the control of the communists. Pentagon officials knew that while the U.S. Supreme Court would be likely to strike down its communist methods as being antithetical to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the Pentagon knew that Cuban officials would be unlikely to object to communist methods on Cuban soil.

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.