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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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How About Abolishing the CIA Now?


So, let me see if I have this right. The members of the Gestapo would have been let off the hook for the brutality and murders they committed because they were simply following orders. And those who issued the orders would have been let off the hook because compliant and submissive German lawyers had handed them legal opinions opining that what the Gestapo was doing was legal. And the lawyers would have been let off the hook because they were just issuing legal opinions, not committing the brutality and murders?

What a perfect system? How come every tyranny doesn’t employ it?

Isn’t this a good time for Americans to raise their vision to a higher level than just prosecuting the torturers, those who issued the orders, and the lawyers who said it was legal?

How about doing something much grander, something that would bring everlasting benefits to the American people, such as just abolishing the CIA?

For that matter, wouldn’t this be an opportune time to discuss what should have been discussed at the end of the Cold War, if not sooner — whether the time has come to dismantle America’s standing army and the military-industrial complex?

Not only are the CIA and the military the source of America’s foreign-policy woes, not only are their actions subjecting Americans to a perpetual threat of terrorist blowback, not only are they bankrupting our country financially with their ever-growing expenditures, not only have they shamed our country with their torture and sex abuse antics, but they also just happen to pose the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people, as the Founding Fathers and President Eisenhower suggested.

Consider the kind of people the CIA looks for and attracts: the type of person who loyally follows the orders of his superiors, no questions asked. These are the people in life who lack the courage and moral fortitude to say no when ordered to do something that’s morally or legally wrong. They are compliant, submissive, subservient, and sycophantic.

Even worse, they honestly think that they’re the good guys in society as they faithfully follow their superiors’ orders to break the law. When they encounter people in society who do possess the courage and moral fortitude to challenge government wrongdoing, they look upon them as bad people — people who hate their country, traitors.

The situation is really no different, in principle, in the military. In fact, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the military has been working with the CIA to develop the methods of torture that have been utilized. Familiar with the torture techniques of the Chinese communists during the Korean War, the military simply used those techniques as a foundation for the U.S. torture program. Let’s not forget that long before 9/11 the U.S. military’s infamous School of the Americas was teaching torture to Latin American military and intelligence officials who faithfully carrying out the orders of their brutal and tyrannical superiors.

In both the CIA and the military, loyalty to the president is paramount. While they take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” in their minds they fulfill that oath by faithfully carrying out the president’s orders.

It’s not a coincidence that the military and the CIA established their kidnap, torture, and sex abuse camps overseas. They wanted their operations to be totally free of interference from both the Supreme Court and the Congress, which they view as impediments to the president’s efforts to protect the nation. Again, all that matters to these people is the commander in chief and the will to carry out his orders.

Consider, for example, the invasion of Iraq. Everyone knows that President Bush never secured a congressional declaration of war, as the Constitution requires. Yet, the military faithfully carried out his order to invade and occupy that country, killing as many Iraqis as necessary in the process.

Yet, there was at least one military officer who said no. He was Lt. Eric Watada. He refused to deploy to Iraq on the ground that to do so would be legally and morally wrong.

How did the military view Watada? As a bad guy! They condemned him, reviled him, and criminally prosecuted him. In their minds, supporting and defending the Constitution means faithfully and obediently carrying out the orders of the commander in chief, something that Watada refused to do because to do so would be wrong.

The thought that Watada is the hero for having the courage, conviction, and moral fortitude to stand against unlawful orders is alien to the CIA/military mindset. The way they see it, the job of the CIA agent and the soldier is not to question why, but simply to carry out orders or die.

This is one of the primary reasons that the Founding Fathers and the Framers opposed standing armies. They clearly understood that standing armies inevitably attract the type of people at the CIA — the people in life who loyally obey orders of their superiors, no matter how illegal or immoral, while convincing themselves that they’re the heroes and that those Americans who have the courage and moral fortitude to oppose the wrongdoing are scum.

Another reason the Founding Fathers and the Framers opposed standing armies is just as important: They understood that inevitably rulers get tempted to employ such armies against those citizens who do have what these people do not have — the courage and moral fortitude to oppose government wrongdoing.

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.