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, April 2010


Friday, April 30, 2010

Revisiting Freedom in Iraq
by Jacob G. Hornberger

How often have we heard proponents of the unlawful war of aggression against Iraq say that the real purpose of their invasion (after U.S. troops and the CIA failed to find those infamous and scary WMDs that were about to fired at the United States) was to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq? How many times have they attempted to justify the deaths of almost 4,400 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on that basis? How often have they reminded us that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who tortured, killed, and jailed his own people?

Lets examine those justifications for attacking a country that never attacked or even threatened to attack the United States.

First of all, Saddam Hussein. No question that he was a brutal dictator. He did kill multitudes of Iraqi people. He did torture his own citizenry. He did incarcerate people without trial.

But that raises a side issue: Why then did the U.S. government support him and partner with him during the 1980s? After all, lets not forget why it was that U.S. officials were so certain that those U.S. troops and CIA agents would find those infamous and scary WMDs that were about to be fired at the United States they had the receipts for them!

Second, lets keep in mind that Saddam Hussein, like most other dictators, wasnt torturing, jailing, and killing Iraqis indiscriminately. He was doing these things to people who were resisting his regime or were trying to overthrow it.

Now, lets examine the freedom and democracy that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq.

According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch the Iraqi regime that the U.S. invasion and occupation succeeded in installing has been running a torture facility that might make Saddams torture facility (the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, which, as we all know, also served as the U.S. governments torture center) look like childs play. See here and here.

In the new free and democratic Iraq, detainees in the secret facility were hung upside-down, deprived of air, kicked, whipped, given electric shocks, and sodomized. During interrogations, victims were called surprise, surprise terrorists, the same justification that U.S. officials have used for torture and abuse ever since 9/11.

Security officials whipped detainees with heavy cables, pulled out fingernails and toenails, burned them with acid and cigarettes, and smashed their teeth. If detainees still refused to confess, interrogators would threaten to rape their wives, mothers, sisters, or daughters.

So, remind me again: What it is that U.S. soldiers have killed and died for in Iraq?

But Saddam wasnt just torturing his own people, he was also killing them.

Again, however, Saddam was not just killing people willy-nilly; he was killing people who were resisting or opposing his regime. Yet, isnt that what the U.S. government and the new free and democratic Iraqi regime have been doing ever since the invasion killing people who have been resisting or opposing their occupation and regime (along with lots of collateral damage in the process)? Reliable estimates put the number of dead Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million. No one knows the exact number of deaths but one thing is certain: No number of Iraqi deaths has ever been considered too high to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq.

What about indefinite incarcerations? Saddam certainly was doing that. But so have the U.S. government and the free and democratic Iraqi regime that the U.S. invasion succeeded in installing. In fact, in 2007 some four years after the invasion, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government had 18,000 Iraqi detainees in its custody.

What about democracy?

Democracy isnt freedom and, in fact, oftentimes poses the greatest threat to freedom. Consider Article 2 of the Iraqi constitution: Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation. No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established. That one always shocks those Americans who call on the U.S. government to wage war on Islam. Even more shocking to them is when they learn that the radical Islamic regime in Iraq has closely aligned itself with the radical Islamic regime in Iran. Such Americans cant decide whether to call on the U.S. government to start bombing Baghdad again.

So there you have it; torture, indefinite incarcerations, and countless killings, both under Saddam and under the radical Islamic regime that replaced him. Thats the harsh, cold truth: the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq succeeding in doing nothing more than replacing one brutal dictatorship with another. Thats what U.S. soldiers have killed and died for. Thats what the U.S. government has bankrupted us for.

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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Giving Passes in the War on Terrorism
by Jacob G. Hornberger

There is still no trial date set in the federal case of Luis Posada Carriles, the foreigner whom Venezuela accuses of having planned the terrorist downing of a Cuban civilian airliner in 1976 that killed 73 innocent people, including 24 members of Cubas national fencing team.

After Carriles entered the United States in 2005, Venezuela sought his extradition, pursuant to an extradition agreement between the United States and Venezuela.

U.S. officials, however, have refused to grant Venezuelas extradition request, which would appear odd given the U.S. governments ardent commitment to waging war on terrorism and, also, given its steadfast insistence that the Taliban government turn over accused terrorist Osama bin Laden, notwithstanding the absence of an extradition agreement between the United States and Afghanistan.

What is the reason they give for their refusal to extradite Carriles? They say that Venezuela might torture him. This is not something, U.S. officials say, they could countenance, given their steadfast opposition to torture as part of their war on terrorism.

But there could be another reason that they are vigorously fighting to protect Carriles from being extradited. He just happens to be a former CIA operative, one who allegedly was involved in the CIAs nefarious activities in Cuba as far back as the Bay of Pigs invasion in the 1960s. The last thing the CIA would want is for Carriles to be put in a position in which he might begin singing about the things he did for his former employer, including, of course, the possible commission of terrorist acts in Cuba itself. Cuban officials allege that Carriles was, in fact, involved in a series of terrorist bombings in Cuba in 1997.

One of the interesting aspects of the federal case in which Carriles is being prosecuted is that many of the documents in the case are sealed from public view. Imagine that! I wonder why they have to be kept secret. National security, I suppose.

So, whats the federal case against Carriles all about? No, its not about the terrorist bombing of that Cuban airliner that he is accused of orchestrating. Instead, theyve indicted him for lying to U.S. officials when he entered the United States.

Now, that doesnt seem to be an extremely difficult case to prosecute. Yet, its been a year since hes been indicted, and theres still no trial date. Just recently, the presiding judge in the case, Kathleen Cardone, granted the governments unopposed motion to postpone a status conference in the case from May 20 to June 2. Obviously, a status conference is not a trial date but rather a hearing to determine whether a trial date should be set at some point in the future.

The question we have to ask is: Is the Carriles prosecution nothing more than a sham, one designed to make it look like the U.S. government is taking action against an accused terrorist while actually protecting a loyal operative of the CIA who has the ability to disclose many uncomfortable and embarrassing secrets? Indeed, we need to ask whether its possible that the government will end up granting Carriles favorable treatment out of fear that he might disclose the things that he did on behalf of the CIA.

My prediction: the 82-year-old Carriles will die before he ever serves any significant time in jail. If his perjury case is ever brought to trial and if he is convicted, my hunch is that he will be given a very light sentence, especially when the CIA reveals, in secret communications to the judge, how much Carriles loyally served the CIA. Appeals will delay the case even longer, especially if the prosecution commits procedural errors in the trial that enable Carriles to win a reversal of the conviction, which would mean that the prosecution would have to start all over.

After all, look at the special treatment that former CIA operative Michael Townley received. He is the man who planned the pre-meditated murder, through a terrorist bombing in Washington, D.C, of former Chilean official Orlando Letelier and his young American assistant Ronni Moffit and the pre-meditated attempted murder of Moffits husband, who was severely injured in the attack.

Townley ended up serving only 5 years in jail and then was permitted to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program, which enabled him to begin a new life in seclusion. In fact, just recently the Justice Department came to Townleys assistance in a case in which a widow from another terrorist bombing in which Townley was accused of participating was attempting to collect a $7 million judgment against him for the killing. The Justice Department successfully argued in the Court of Appeals that Townleys status in its Witness Protection Program protected him from the widows attempt to collect her judgment.

If they did all that for a CIA-connected terrorist like Townley, why wouldnt they also do it for former CIA operative Luis Posada-Carriles?

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Libertarianism and the Tea Party
by Jacob G. Hornberger

An interesting discussion has erupted on FFFs Facebook page in response to two items I posted regarding the Tea Party movement:

Irony: Daily Kos and Alternet liberals are attacking me & Tea Party types are attacking Bovard, calling him a liberal: http://ow.ly/1D6Yc

A Tea Partier seems to be a disgruntled Republican who’s upset that the welfare-warfare state hasn’t turned out to be free.

One of the commentators suggested that we shouldnt be criticizing the Tea Party movement because the movement is in its infancy and because many of its members are libertarian-oriented. The idea is that we libertarians should not alienate them by exposing their errors.

I say: Balderdash to that! If people are going in the wrong direction, then it is incumbent on us libertarians to point it out, honestly, directly, and forthrightly.

Suppose a woman goes to a doctor complaining of lumps in her breasts. The doctor tells her that she has breast cancer. He tells her that the only chance of saving her life is through a mastectomy.

The woman is shocked and flabbergasted. She tells the doctor that hes wrong that all she needs to do is have the lumps removed.

What should the doctor do at that point? Should he try to appease and mollify her by saying, Well, maybe youve got a point. Why dont we try removing the lumps and then take it from there. We can slowly transition to the removal of the breasts, if need be?

Of course not. He should not be concerned about appeasing or mollifying her at all. He should stand by his guns and continue telling her the truth that the only chance she has to save her life is through a complete removal of both breasts. If she cant handle it, thats her problem. If she chooses to reject the doctors advice, thats also her problem.

Its no different with us libertarians. Unlike liberals, conservatives, and Tea Party types, we do have the answer to Americas economic and financial woes, and it is incumbent on us to continue providing that answer, even if that answer shocks, offends, or flabbergasts people.

What is the major complaint of the Tea Party movement? It is that the federal government is spending money as if there were no tomorrow. Federal spending, taxes, debt, and inflation are soaring out of control. The feds are charging on a credit card that is drawn on the account of the American people, and there is no upper limit on how much they can charge.

Fair enough. One can ask where the Tea Party has been for the past several decades, and particularly during the Bush years, when federal spending was soaring out of control, but thats water under the bridge. We should welcome them to the fiscal-policy and monetary-policy party, one that libertarians have been attending for decades.

But where does the Tea Party go from there? Well, from what Ive seen, while they object to all the spending, they dont call for repealing or abolishing the things that all that spending is going for: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, education grants, SBA loans, bailouts, stimulus plans, foreign aid, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo, U.S. troops all over the world, and so forth.

In other words, they love the lightning (the programs) but hate the thunder (the vast amounts of money needed to fund the programs).

Now, someone might say, You libertarians dont have the answer either.

Oh, but we do, its just not one that people want to hear, just like that woman with breast cancer. Heres the answer:

(1) Immediately repeal or abolish (dont reform) Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, education grants, SBA loans, bailouts, stimulus plans, foreign aid, and all other welfare-state programs, departments, and agencies.

(2) Immediately repeal or abolish (dont reform) all regulatory-state programs, departments, and agencies, beginning with the drug war and the DEA.

(3) Immediately dismantle the U.S. governments overseas military empire and immediately bring all the troops home from everywhere, including Iraq and Afghanistan, and discharge them into the private sector. Immediately dismantle the military-industrial complex.

That is the answer to resolving Americas economic and financial woes. This is what is needed to save the country from national bankruptcy and moral debauchery.

Oh, my gosh! We couldnt do that. Why, people would starve to death or die in the streets without the welfare state. It wouldnt be fair to cut off peoples dole so suddenly. Without the warfare state, the terrorists would invade America and take over the IRS and the public schools. Without the drug war, everyone would go on drugs. We need all these laws, programs, departments, and agencies. They just need some tweaking and reform. At the very least we should phase them out over a long period of time.

Now, how should we libertarians respond to that sort of reaction?

We should do precisely what that doctor should do. We should stand by our guns and continue speaking the truth. We should not try to mollify or appease people by giving them what they want to hear.

What if they reject our solution? Then, thats their problem, just as it the problem of that lady who refuses her doctors advice to get a mastectomy. We have no control over whether people adopt our solution or not. We only have control over what we speak as truth.

Can we prevail in achieving a truly free society that is, one in which there is a total separation of economy and the state, health care and the state, and education and the state. Of course we can. Sure, its a daunting task but no one ever said that achieving a free society was easy. If people before us could establish a society of intellectual liberty, religious liberty, and civil liberties, then it is certainly within the realm of possibility for us to build on that by achieving economic liberty, educational liberty, health-care liberty, and a limited-government, constitutional republic.

But the only way were going to do that is by standing our ground and continually and consistently making the moral, philosophical, and economic case for the free society. And sometimes that entails letting people know, honestly, forthrightly, and directly, where they are going wrong.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizonas Immigration Law Is Nothing New for Border Residents
by Jacob G. Hornberger

What lots of Americans dont realize is that the new Arizona immigration law simply extends to the entire state the requirement that darker-skinned, poorer-looking Americans along the border have had to live with for decades carrying their papers, just like people in totalitarian countries have to do.

For decades, any darker-skinned, poorer-looking person who travels entirely within the United States but along the U.S.-Mexican border has had to carry his papers with him. There is the possibility that he could be stopped by a U.S. immigration checkpoint as he travels from east to west or vice versa.

Any darker-skinned, poorer-looking person who travels from the border northward must also carry his papers with him. This means people who are traveling north from a U.S. border town to a northern city by car, bus, or plane. Even though the traveler has never entered Mexico, he must nonetheless produce his papers to an immigration official at a highway checkpoint or at the airport prior to boarding, as a prerequisite to leaving the border area.

Any darker-skinned, poorer-looking person in Arizona must now carry his papers with him whenever he travels anywhere within that state. The new immigration law now empowers state and local cops to demand the papers of anyone who they have a reasonable suspicion is in the state illegally. Obviously, that standard reasonable suspicion, a standard that is considerably lighter than probable cause is highly subjective and subject to interpretation.

I first pointed out how darker-skinned, poorer-looking people along the border must carry their papers in an op-ed I wrote in 1998 entitled Domestic Passports for Hispanic-Americans. As I wrote in that op-ed, I have had first-hand experience with this totalitarian requirement, given that I grew up in a U.S. border town, Laredo, Texas.

To this day, when I fly out of Laredo it boggles my mind that Americans must be subjected to an immigration check at the airport. Mind you, the airport is not at the border. The border is at the Rio Grande, which is located in downtown Laredo. There are huge immigration checkpoints at the international bridges that span the river. The airport is located a few miles north of the Rio Grande. Many, if not most, of the people flying out of Laredo have never traveled into Mexico. They simply have traveled from one American city into another American city.

The immigration official at the airport asks every traveler, Are you an American citizen? Most everyone answers yes, and is waved through. But if a person is dark-skinned and not well-dressed, he will be subjected to a closer interrogation. Inevitably he will be required to produce his papers.

Its no different for travelers going north on the highway to San Antonio. Youre driving along on IH35 and you crest a hill to encounter a surreal sight. Its an immigration checkpoint that makes you feel like youre just entering the United States. You are required to stop and answer the question: Are you an American citizen? If youre light-skinned and driving a fairly late-model car and speak English, youre waved through. But if youre poor-looking, driving an old car, unable to speak good English, and dark-skinned, you will be required to show your papers.

When I was growing up, my family had a nanny, a woman who is now 80 years old. Her parents were illegal immigrants who were working in Rosenberg, Texas, when she was born there. Like so many other residents of Laredo and other U.S. border towns, she is still unable to speak English, notwithstanding the fact that she has been an American citizen since birth. When she travels to San Antonio, she takes the bus, which is usually filled with very poor, dark-skinned people who cannot speak good English. She tells me that at the immigration checkpoint north of town, immigration officials board the bus and require every passenger to produce his papers. Those who are unable to do so are removed from the bus and detained. Our nanny, who has never driven a car, has had to secure and carry official documents proving she is, in fact, an American. By the way, the feds also confiscate our nannys piatas for my nephews and nieces because, they say, theyre capable of carrying drugs.

As I pointed out in an article last March entitled Your Papers, Please, the requirement that people carry their papers with them is an inherent part of totalitarian countries, such as Cuba, North Korea, China, and Burma. The new Arizona law simply expands that totalitarian tradition to a larger portion of the United States.

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who Will Bail Out the U.S. Government?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that city governments, who are suffering severe financial strains, are looking to the federal government to bail them out. And the federal government, our nations daddy, is responding favorably. Congressional Democrats are pushing a bill that would give cities and counties $75 billion. Thats on top of all the $787 billion in stimulus money that was sent to localities last year.

Of course, as well all know, U.S. city governments arent the only ones who are experiencing tough times. The Greek government is in desperate economic throes as well. Like U.S. cities, the Greek government wants a bailout too.

The Greek government has borrowed money to the hilt to pay for its ever-increasing welfare-state programs. The debt in Greece has gotten so large that investors are shying away from buying Greek bonds. They fear a default, one that would likely cost them at least 50 percent of their investment.

The problem is that Greek tax revenues are insufficient to cover the interest on the debt, much less reduce the principle. Moreover, Greek dole recipients dont want to let go of their dole, insisting that European taxpayers, especially those in Germany, help them out. As a backup plan the Greeks are also looking to U.S. taxpayers to come to their rescue, with the IMF serving as intermediary and buffer to protect U.S. public officials from the wrath of U.S. taxpayers.

But as everyone knows, the U.S. government is itself deeply in debt. Its also spending money and incurring new debt as if there were no tomorrow. Its also cranking up the printing presses to print up the money needed to sustain this house of cards.

Imagine that! All these deadbeat governments are looking to a deadbeat government to bail them out.

There really are some simple solutions to all this. For example, at both the state and federal level drugs could be legalized, which would enable federal, state, and local governments to lay off lots of officials whose jobs revolve around that immoral, idiotic, and destructive war. But needless to say, all too many public officials oppose losing their access to bribes, payoffs, asset forfeitures, and political power that accompany the war on drugs.

Localities could also eliminate all programs that dont directly relate to crimes of a violent nature. The problem, again, is that the people who benefit from all these programs, including the public officials, simply will not let go of their largess.

The problem at the federal level is no different. Statists will simply not let go of their favorite welfare-state programs, regulatory programs, and warfare-state programs, even if they are taking our country down.

Consider the welfare-state programs that form the biggest portion of federal domestic spending the so-called entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. All we would have to do is repeal them, along with all other welfare-state programs, departments, and agencies. Yes, I said repeal, not reform.

But when Americans hear that, they have a conniption fit. As psychologically dependent on the dole system as the Greek people are, they simply cannot imagine that life could actually be possible without a system based on the dole.

So, while complaining about how bad federal spending, debt, taxes, and inflation are becoming, except for libertarians Americans remain committed to all the things that the feds are spending money on. The hope is that someone will come up with the magic reform to make it work.

Its no different with respect to the regulatory programs. Americans are so scared of speculators, profiteers, bankers, illegal aliens, and drug dealers that the thought of truly free enterprise that is, enterprise that is free of government control or regulation absolutely terrifies them.

Its the same with respect to the warfare state, which also constitutes a large portion of federal spending. Despite 8 or 9 years of continued occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are still not willing to let go of their beloved empire and its imperial adventures. Fear of terrorists and Muslims now seems to match or even exceed peoples fear of the communists, causing them to want to keep the troops in the Middle East, Korea, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and, well, all over the world.

Dismantling all the welfare-state programs, the regulatory programs, and the warfare-state programs would resolve Americas fiscal problems immediately. Alas, however, the American people are still not prepared to let go of their socialism, interventionism, and imperialism.

Thus, America continues to travel down the same road that Greece has traveled down. While the Greeks are looking to German taxpayers and American taxpayers to bail them out, who will be bailing out Germany and the United States when they reach the point where Greece is today?

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Napolitano Phenomenon
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Last October I wrote an article entitled Judge Andrew Napolitanos Libertarian Phenomenon, in which I stated: Fox News legal commentator Judge Andrew Napolitanos Internet program Freedom Watch is one of the most fascinating phenomena in the history of the libertarian movement. Theres never been anything like it and if it were to break out to the Fox News television channel, it would constitute nothing less than a revolutionary development in American politics.

Well, guess what has just happened! Judge Napolitano recently announced that Fox has given him his television show! It will be on the Fox Business Network, the same network where libertarian John Stossel has his show.

This is truly an amazing development because as most everyone in the libertarian movement knows, Fox News is predominantly conservative while the good judge is a hard-core, take-no-prisoners libertarian. That has all the makings of a fascinating dynamic.

There had to be considerable handwringing within the group at Fox that decides these sorts of things. After all, in many ways conservatives are as different from libertarians as liberals are. While conservatives often use libertarian rhetoric (free enterprise, private property, and limited government), the truth is that they love big government, big spending, big taxes, big debt, and big inflation. Just look at the 8 years of the Bush administration.

Why, just this week famed Fox News conservative commentator Bill OReilly emphasized to libertarian Stossel how necessary it is for big government to protect people from those scary Wall Street bankers. In essence, he was explaining how the chickens need to keep looking to the fox (small f) to take care of them.

And as we witnessed for 8 years under Bush, conservatives also love undeclared wars of aggression, torture, indefinite detention, suspension of habeas corpus, kidnapping, rendition, foreign aid to dictators, empire, militarism, denial of due process, warrantless searches, illegal wiretaps, governmental immunity, and assassination, even while repeatedly proclaiming, We favor limited government.

Not so with Napolitano. As a libertarian, his perspective is entirely different. Unlike OReilly and the other conservative commentators at Fox, he correctly sees the federal government in the same way the Framers did as the biggest threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people. And unlike conservatives, Napolitano has the deep visceral distrust of the welfare state, regulatory state, and warfare state that characterizes libertarians.

So, moving Napolitanos show to television had to have presented quite a quandary for Fox management. On the one hand, Napolitano clearly does not have the same conservative mindset as OReilly and others at Fox. On the other hand, however, the Fox people know that Napolitano is an inspirational star for the entire libertarian movement, especially college-age libertarians and libertarians in their 20s and 30s. In fact, in personal appearances on college campuses hes treated like Mick Jagger! His Internet show Freedom Watch has only grown in popularity, week after week.

I think its a fantastic decision that Fox has made. Clearly they had to have sensed that libertarianism is rising in popularity among the American people. Clearly they had to have sensed that libertarianism might yet become the predominate political and economic philosophy of our time. Napolitanos new show wont just be riding that wave, it will be helping to produce it.

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Drug War Meets the War on Immigrants
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Its a fascinating phenomenon. The U.S. governments war on drugs and its war immigrants are now meeting each other along the southern border, placing advocates of these two wars in an interesting position.

This week the New York Times reported that Mexican citizens are flooding into Fort Hancock, a border town in Texas with a population of 2,000. The reason they are fleeing Mexico is because of the violence that the drug war has spawned in that country.

The phenomenon might leave advocates of these wars speechless.

The article points out that scores of Mexican families are bringing their children with them, placing them into the public (i.e., government) schools. Ordinarily that sort of thing drives the anti-immigrant crowd batty because they dont like their beloved socialist programs benefitting foreigners.

But theres one big problem, at least from the standpoint of the anti-immigrant crowd. Apparently, the Mexicans are entering the United States legally on tourist visas and border-crossing permits. Many of them are then seeking political asylum.

So, whats a good statist to do?

Its obvious that the solution to the statists immigrant problem is simply to legalize drugs, which would immediately end the drug-war violence in Mexico, which would diminish the need for Mexicans to escape the violence to come to the United States.

But no self-respecting statist is going to do that. Calling for an end to the drug war would be tantamount to admitting that the war has been a complete, utter failure (which of course it has been).

On the other hand, whats the statist to do about his deeply seated resentment over foreigners using his beloved welfare-state programs, such as public (i.e., government) schools? His usual proclamation against the illegals doesnt work here because these Mexicans are apparently entering legally and then legally seeking political asylum. I suppose the statists could call for quickly rejecting their asylum requests and then deporting them to Mexico, notwithstanding the fact that theyre likely to be killed.

Everywhere you look, statist programs are in crisis. Social Security, health care, the dollar, the war on terrorism, welfare, FDIC, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, education, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on and on. And now two of the statists favorite government wars the war on drugs and the war on immigrants are now coming together to make life even more troublesome for the statist.

Boy Dylan once sang a great song entitled Pity the Poor Immigrant (Dylan version here and Joan Baez version here and lyrics here).

Given the many traumas besieging statists these days, perhaps Dylan will inspire them to come up with their own song, titled Pity the Poor Statist.

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Goldman Sachs and Federal Fraud
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Commentators are debating whether the Justice Department will be able to prove its civil fraud case against Goldman Sachs. Unfortunately, theyre missing the point. The Justice Department didnt bring its suit with the aim of proving that the company committed fraud. It brought its suit to get a massive amount of money for the federal government in a pretrial settlement of the case.

Heres how the racket works. The government knows that its litigation will cost Goldman Sachs millions of dollars in litigation costs, including attorneys fees, deposition expenses, bad public relations, and loss of revenues. So, the government calculates that the company will be willing to settle for a large amount of money to save itself from all that aggravation. The government accepts the settlement. The Justice Department lawyers celebrate that theyve won the case. Federal officials, ever more desperate for more revenues to pay for their out-of-control spending, are exultant over the free monies that have been deposited into the governments coffers.

Many years ago, I was a young lawyer practicing law in my hometown of Laredo, Texas. One of my clients was the owner of a local trucking company. One day, he got served with a notice from the State of Texas assessing him with an enormous fine. The fine, the notice stated, represented the amount of extra burden that my clients trucking business was placing on the roads and highways of the state. The state was claiming that because the trucking industry used the states roads and highways more than other people, it was more responsible for their maintenance costs.

I told my client that the states claim was ridiculous. The state collects gasoline taxes to cover such maintenance costs. When trucking companies purchase gasoline, theyre paying what the legislative branch has determined to be an appropriate amount. I advised my client to fight the lawsuit in that it was nothing more than extortion.

But there was one big problem with my advice. I dont recall the exact amount that the state was demanding, but lets say it was $200,000, which would have been an extremely large sum for my client, a small trucking company. The problem was that the state was offering to settle its proposed lawsuit for, say, $25,000.

So, my client was in a quandary whether to pay the $25,000 and get rid of the suit or fight the state on principle and possibly end up losing $200,000. My client chose to settle the suit. The state received a free $25,000, plus all the other settlement money that was being paid by other trucking companies that had received the same notice.

In the Goldman Sachs case, government regulations and regulators failed to prevent what they now claim is civil fraud. If economic regulations and government regulators cant prevent such things from happening, especially in one of the largest financial companies in the world, then what good are they? Isnt that the purported purpose of regulations and regulators?

The feds arent going after Goldman Sachs on criminal charges of fraud, which would fall within the ambit of proper governmental powers. Instead, theyre only going after the company on civil charges of fraud. Theyre seeking money, not jail time.

Whats that all about? If investors have been defrauded, why cant they sue for their damages? Why shouldnt they, not the government, receive the money for damages theyve allegedly suffered? What business does the government have suing for civil damages? It hasnt suffered any injury.

Its all about money. As the deficit becomes larger and larger, we can expect to see the federal government desperately looking for more ways to extract money from private businesses. Look at the record fine they just levied against Toyota $16.4 million, an amount that Toyota has agreed to pay rather than incur expensive litigation. No doubt federal officials are celebrating this large amount of free money that will soon be deposited into their coffers. And dont forget: all those automobile regulations and regulators failed to prevent the Toyota accelerator problems from occurring.

The real fraud is the whole idea of a regulated economy. When public officials assumed the power to regulate economic activity many decades ago, they expressly represented that it would protect people from bad things happening to them. That representation was false and fraudulent. Regulations and regulators dont protect people. They simply lull people into thinking that the government is taking care of them. The regulated economy simply provides the government with another means of legally stealing or extorting money from the private sector to satisfy the ever-voracious financial needs of a bankrupt government.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bill Clintons Massacres and Terrorist Blowback
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The New York Times published an interesting and revealing article by former President Bill Clinton entitled What We Learned in Oklahoma City, in which Clinton commemorated the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago, which claimed the lives of 168 people. Clinton writes:

Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them. On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.

Clintons thoughts are confused and convoluted.

First of all, the federal government is the greatest threat to the freedom of the American people. Thats the whole point about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Framers did not call into existence a federal government with unlimited powers. Instead, they used the Constitution to strictly limit the powers of the federal government.

Why did they do that? Why didnt they just entrust the federal government with unlimited power to do the right thing?

Because they knew that an omnipotent government would destroy their lives, their freedom, and their well-being.

Even that protection didnt satisfy the people in the several states, who were extremely reluctant to bring the federal government into existence. They insisted on the Bill of Rights, which expressly prohibits the federal government from infringing on specified rights that people considered to be of the utmost importance.

Why did our ancestors do that? Because they considered the federal government to be the greatest threat to their freedom. They used the enumerated powers in the Constitution and the restrictions in the Bill of Rights to protect themselves from the great threat that the federal government posed to them.

Timothy McVeigh did not attack the federal building in Oklahoma City because he shared the sentiments of the Founding Fathers. He attacked it because of the massacre that Clinton and his people committed at Waco two years before. Clintons slaughter of the Branch Davidians, including women and children, so angered Timothy McVeigh that McVeigh decided to retaliate against the federal government by bombing the Murrah building.

In his op-ed, Clinton says that civic virtue can include criticism, protest, even civil disobedience is okay. But not violence or its advocacy.

Unfortunately, 17 years after Waco Clinton still doesnt get the point.

Immediately after the Waco massacre, most Americans were indifferent or even supportive of what Clinton and his people did. Not so with libertarians. We condemned the action from the get-go, and continued to do so as the years passed. We succeeded in slowly raising the consciousness of people to such a point that most Americans now realize what a horrible thing it was that Clinton did.

In other words, we libertarians did what Clinton suggests should be done we criticized, condemned, and protested.

But what Clinton fails to recognize is that in most every society, there are certain people with violent propensities who normally remain below the radar screen of life. They go about their everyday affairs from birth to death, without ever calling attention to themselves.

But as soon as government commits a horrific deed, such as massacring dozens of innocent people, those types of people all of sudden surface. The governments horrible misconduct ignites something within them that drives them to commit some horribly violent act in retaliation.

Thus, Clinton can preach and exhort all he wants. But while most of us would agree with him, there will usually be those few with violent propensities, such as Timothy McVeigh, who will respond with violence.

So, what is the real solution to terrorist bombings of U.S. federal buildings? The real solution is: No more Wacos (and no more Ruby Ridges).

In fact, thats proven to be the case. Since Clintons massacre at Waco, there have been no more federal massacres of American citizens. And there have not been any more terrorist attacks on U.S. federal buildings.

Well, except for the Pentagon on 9/11, which raises another slaughter committed by former President Clinton (as well as his predecessor and successor), a much worse one the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq as a result of the cruel and brutal sanctions that Clinton enforced against Iraq throughout his eight years in office.

As Joy Gordon points out in her new book Invisible War: The United States and Iraq Sanctions, the sanctions enforced against Iraq constituted the most comprehensive, cruel, and brutal economic embargo in history. Despite Clintons repeated hype about Saddam Husseins refusal to disarm, Gordon carefully documents the real purpose of the sanctions: regime change that is, the ouster of Saddam Hussein, a former ally of the U.S. government, and his replacement with a U.S.-approved ruler.

Who paid the price of the sanctions? The children of Iraq. In her book, Gordon carefully documents in painful and excruciating detail how U.S. bureaucrats, in a banality of evil that shocks the conscience, did everything they could to prevent Iraq from repairing the water-and-sewage facilities that the Pentagon had intentionally and knowingly destroyed during the Persian Gulf War.

The consequence? Every year, tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying, motivating high UN officials like Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday to resign their posts in protest of what they termed genocide.

Clintons reaction to the never-ending deaths of the Iraqi children? It was expressed by his U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, who was asked by Sixty Minutes in 1996 about the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions. She responded, I think this is a very hard choice, but the price we think the price is worth it.

Throughout his 8 years in office, Clinton was making a mathematical calculation, one in which he obviously concluded that the deaths of Iraqi children, presumably no matter how high, was worth trying to get rid of Saddam Hussein and replace him with a ruler who was more palatable to the U.S. government.

In other words, as bad as what Clinton and his people did at Waco, it pales in significance to what they did in Iraq.

One cannot help but wonder whether Clinton and Albright still felt that the deaths of the Iraqi children were worth it on September 11, 2001, when terrorists retaliated for U.S. foreign policy actions in the Middle East, including the sanctions against Iraq.

Which brings us back to the point: When government does horrific things to people, such as what Clinton did to the Branch Davidians at Waco and to the children in Iraq, there are usually going to be people with violent propensities who are driven to retaliate.

The solution? Not more sweet op-eds praising freedom of speech and condemning violence, especially from the likes of Bill Clinton. The solution is: Stop the U.S. government from killing innocent children and others with attacks, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, occupations, and foreign aid. Otherwise, be prepared for the worst.

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Trip to Purdue
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of traveling to Purdue University on the invitation of several students who are members of the Purdue chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), one of the student groups inspired by Ron Pauls 2008 presidential race. The Purdue students organized an April 15 Tax Day rally in which I was the keynote speaker.

What was interesting about delivering my talk, however, was that I knew that I wasnt simply preaching to the choir. Knowing that the libertarian faction at Purdue wasnt likely to attract a big crowd at its rally, the Purdue YAL students decided to piggy back onto a Tea Party rally that was also being held that day. Thinking that there would be several Tea Party people arriving early, they asked the Tea Party people if it would be okay if the students were to use their speakers stand and audio equipment at the student rally, which was scheduled just before the Tea Party rally. The Tea Party people, to their credit, granted such permission to the YAL students.

Well, sure enough, there were already Tea Party people milling around by the time I started my talk. Thus, I used a large part of my speech to talk about those people in society who were now, finally, asking questions, especially about out-of-control federal spending, debt, taxes, and inflation. Unfortunately, I pointed out, all too many of them, however, are still mired in the statist mindset, hoping to find some way to save and reform both the welfare state and the warfare state.

When I began speaking, there were lots of people just milling around and having conversations. About 10 minutes into my talk, I noticed that the conversations had stopped and that people were listening intently to what I was saying, perhaps in large part because it was not what they expected to hear or wanted to hear, especially since I was blasting not just liberal statists but also conservative statists too.

I stuck around for the Tea Party speeches, but they were mostly your standard conservative pabulum railing against federal spending and debt while simply calling for reform of welfare-state programs and, of course, not questioning the U.S. overseas military empire, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Tea Party types seem to be angry over the fact that Americas welfare-warfare state isnt turning out to be free, but they still seem to be committed to coming up with a way to save and reform it rather than dismantle it.

One amusing part of the rally was watching all those Tea Party people with anti-socialism signs standing up and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe they dont know that the Pledge was composed by a socialist.

After the rally, the YAL students and a few adults and I adjourned to a local pub, where we feasted on burgers and some great discussion. It was really an enjoyable time. Thanks to those dedicated YAL members at Purdue for bringing me in and for the sponsors who helped make it happen. I had a great time!

We plan on posting the video of my talk at Purdue sometime this week on FFF Email Update. Since it was an outdoor rally and since there was a lot of wind, the sound quality might not be up to snuff.

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Open Borders Are Not Controlled Borders
by Jacob G. Hornberger

As longtime supporters of The Future of Freedom Foundation know, as libertarians we have long called for open borders. One of the first books we ever published, in fact, is entitled The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration.

The arguments for open borders are based on the principles of freedom as well as pragmatic principles. As Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence, all people (that is, not just Americans) are endowed with natural and God-given rights, which include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Such rights encompass the rights to travel and move, sustain ones life through labor, engage in economic enterprise, enter into mutually beneficial economic arrangements with others, accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, and decide for ones self what to do with ones own money.

Government has no legitimate authority to interfere with this entirely peaceful activity, especially through the initiation of force.

Consider, for example, the United States, which has no trade and immigration controls between the various states. The reason for this phenomenon is not simply the Constitution, which the Framers wisely used to bar public officials from enacting border controls between the states. The reason also has to do with freedom: Americans have the moral right to freely cross borders between the respective states not because theyre Americans but because they are human beings with the natural, God-given right to go wherever they want without governmental permission.

That the United States has the largest free-trade and free-movement zone in history is a major cause of the economic prosperity that has historically characterized America. When people are free to cross borders to engage in mutually beneficial exchanges with others, they improve their respective economic position simply through the act of exchange. In each trade, both sides are giving up something they value less for something they value more.

These principles are no different with respect to international activity. Rights are inherent and fundamental, as Jefferson pointed out. They transcend governments and borders. People have the fundamental, God-given right to travel, trade, and move without governmental interference.

Does the exercise of such rights means that borders disappear, as advocates of controlled borders often suggest? Of course not! Thats a silly suggestion. When people from Maryland freely cross into Virginia, the border between the two states does not disappear. It simply means that those people crossing into Virginia remain Marylanders but are now subject to the laws of Virginia.

The same principle applies internationally. When people from France, Nigeria, or Mexico freely come here, either as tourists or to work or whatever, that doesnt mean that Americas borders disappear. Those people simply become foreigners touring, traveling, or working in America and become subject to state and federal laws.

Some libertarians wax eloquent about the benefits that immigrants bring to a society, but then call on the government to control the borders. They cite two reasons: first, to make sure that only good immigrants come into the United States and, second, to protect us from the terrorists.

Both arguments are fallacious.

First, controlled borders violate libertarian principles, in that they involve the government in central planning. Central planning is an aspect of socialism, one in which the government plans and directs the economic activity in a particular sector of society.

As with all socialist schemes, central planning in immigration always ends up with all sorts of distortions and perversions. The reason that the immigration arena is such an enormous mess is because of this socialist central planning. For a good summary of the immigration mess, see Don’t Let Obama Touch Immigration Reform by Shikha Dalmia at reason.com.

Moreover, why should government officials be trusted to select the good immigrants. How can a team of bureaucratic central planners make that determination? As Friedrich Hayek pointed out, they lack the necessary knowledge to make that complex determination. Better to leave such a determination to the free market, that is, to the choices that consumers and producers make in a free market.

Second, controlled borders inevitably entail enforcement, which means force and violence. Libertarian advocates of controlled borders are left with no principled argument against the various enforcement mechanisms that the state brings into existence to control its borders. The Border Patrol, Customs and Immigration Enforcement, passport checkpoints, Berlin Fences, raids. They are all part and parcel of controlled borders.

Third, there is no way that controlled borders can protect against terrorists, unless perhaps there is a totally sealed border like that which exists in North Korea, which is not exactly a libertarian paradise. If someone wants to do America harm, he can easily figure out a way to get in, whether hes a terrorist, rapist, murderer, thief, or whatever. After all, if poor illegal aliens from Mexico can enter the United States, so can prospective terrorists. Moreover, prospective terrorists with no criminal record can always come in legally as tourists on visas.

Infringing on the natural, God-given rights of people for the sake of safety from terrorists makes no sense. Better to strike at the root of the problem by dismantling the U.S. governments military empire and bringing all the troops home from overseas, discharging them into the private sector, where they can be citizen soldiers.

Finally, some people say that as long as America has a welfare state, borders should be controlled and regulated. But should libertarians ever make such an argument? Perish the thought because then it places libertarians in the odd position of using the welfare state as an excuse for calling on the state to violate other peoples rights. In other words, libertarians should never permit statists to manipulate us into violating our principles. Anyway, the welfare state is immoral and destructive. Maybe the best way to persuade statist Americans into abandoning it is to terrify them with the thought that they might be forced into supporting the poor, tired, huddled masses from abroad.

Three great books providing the case for open borders are FFFs book The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration, Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them by Philippe Legrain (a liberal), and Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders by Jason L. Riley (a conservative).

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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Injustice on Both Sides of Cuba
by Jacob G. Hornberger

The case of Alan Gross has U.S. officials stymied. Hes the U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor who the Cubans have jailed for allegedly violating Cuban laws against subversion. Gross was apparently caught giving cell phones to Cubans, in violation of a Cuban law that prohibits receipt of U.S. government aid.

Gross has been jailed since December 3, but U.S. officials arent in a position to make too big a stink about it. After all, Cubas judicial system is based on the same principles as those of the U.S. government on its side of the island.

Here in the United States, when a person is charged with a federal crime, U.S. officials are required to promptly bring him before a magistrate for a preliminary hearing or secure an indictment from a federal grand jury. If they fail to do that, the accused is entitled to be released.

If the government persists in holding the accused without formal charges, he can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, which requires the government to appear before a federal judge to show cause why the accused should not be ordered released. If the government fails to establish such cause, the judge orders the release of the accused.

Once the accused is indicted, he is entitled to a trial, at which he has the right to be represented by a competent attorney. Hes entitled to a jury trial. Hes presumed innocent. In order to secure a conviction the government must convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he is in fact guilty of the offense. He cannot be forced to testify or give evidence against himself. Incompetent evidence, such as hearsay, is prohibited. He is entitled to confront any witnesses against him and to cross-examine them. If the accused is found not guilty, the judge orders his release.

None of this, however, applies in Cuba, either on the communist side of the island or on the U.S. government side of the island.

Alan Gross has been in jail more than four months, with no preliminary hearing and no indictment. He has no right of habeas corpus, which means that he can be held indefinitely potentially for the rest of his life without a trial.

But what standing does the U.S. government have to complain? It has embraced the same principles at Guantanamo Bay that the communists have embraced in Havana, that is, no preliminary hearings, indictments, jury trials, due process of law. U.S. officials, like their counterparts in Havana, also favor torture, kangaroo tribunals, coerced confessions, hearsay, and secret testimony to convict the accused. The accused is presumed guilty, both by the communists and the U.S. military.

One might say, But Gitmo is for terrorists while Gross is just an American subcontractor, and so this isnt fair!

But the Cubans might not see things that way, especially given that the U.S. government the government that is funneling money into Cuba to destabilize the Cuban regime includes the CIA, which has long been involved in terrorist activities, such as kidnapping, rendition, torture, executions, and assassination, including against Cuba itself.

You see, while U.S. officials view CIA officials as freedom fighters, the Cubans view them as terrorists.

Who gets to make the final determination? Obviously, the government that has jurisdiction over the person who has been arrested. Gross was arrested in Cuba, not the United States.

Ask yourself: What would be the attitude of U.S. officials if a Cuban official were caught in the United States illegally trying to destabilize the U.S. government? Wouldnt they take the same position that the Cuban regime is taking against Gross, including whisking him away to the U.S. side of Cuba as an enemy combatant in the war on terror?

Unfortunately, Gross incarceration has not dissuaded the U.S. government from continuing to interfere with the internal affairs of Cuba. In 2009 and 2010, the U.S. government amount of U.S. taxpayer money funneled into non-governmental agencies and private entities to destabilize the Cuban regime will amount to some $45 million.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to enforce its brutal embargo on Cuba by threatening incarceration for private Americans who travel to Cuba and spend their own money there. In other words, its okay for the U.S. government to tax us and use the money to interfere with Cuban affairs, but its not okay for us to be free to spend our own money in Cuba the way we see fit.

Whats the solution to all this? Its the libertarian solution. First, close Gitmo and give it back to the Cubans. Second, submit all Gitmo prisoners to the U.S. criminal justice system. Third, prohibit all U.S. government interference in the internal affairs of Cuba. Fourth, lift the embargo and free the American people to travel to Cuba and trade and interact with the Cuban people.

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kissingers Role in Operation Condor
by Jacob G. Hornberger

While the Obama administration is now officially confirming its power to assassinate Americans abroad as part of its foreign assassination program, Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochets foreign assassination program has just reared its ugly head in the form of a new revelation regarding former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

First, a bit of background.

In 1970 the Chilean people elected a socialist/communist named Salvador Allende president of Chile. U.S. officials were angry and outraged. In their minds, democracy is fine, but only when it results in the election of U.S.-approved rulers. When it doesnt, something has to be done.

For example, in 1951 the people of Iran elected a man named Mohammad Mossadegh as their prime minister. He proceeded to nationalize British oil interests, which angered and outraged British officials. They persuaded the CIA to go into Iran and instigate a coup in 1953, which ousted Mossadegh from power and installed the brutal unelected dictator the Shah of Iran, who proceeded to terrorize and torture his own people until 1979, when the Iranian people ousted him in their revolution.

A year later, in 1954, the CIA ousted the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, who had angered and antagonized a big U.S. corporation named United Fruit Company with his land-reform plans. United Fruit prevailed on the CIA to instigate a coup that ousted Arbenz from power and installed a U.S.-approved military strongman in his stead.

So, flush with these successes, when Allende, a socialist/communist was elected president of Chile, U.S. officials went on the warpath, directing the CIA to take the necessary steps to oust this democratically elected official from office.

But ever since the Chilean coup that replaced Allende with military dictator Augusto Pinochet, U.S. officials have denied that the CIA played any role in the coup.

However, that has got to be lie because in 1999, a State Department document was declassified that admitted that the CIA had played a role in the murder of a young American journalist named Charles Horman during the coup. We dont know precisely what that role is because the CIA isnt talking and the Congress has always been too indifferent or too afraid to ask. But the obvious question arises: How can the CIA honestly claim to have played no role in the coup when it admittedly played a role in the murder of an American journalist during the coup?

In any event, once Pinochet assumed power, he embarked on the same type of campaign against communism that George W. Bush and Barack Obama are waging against terrorism.

Torture, rape, sex abuse, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, and execution. All the things that have characterized the Bush-Obama war on terrorism were also central to Pinochets war on communism.

And, of course, there are the assassinations. In fact, it is quite likely that Pinochets program of foreign assassinations is the inspiration and model for the Bush-Obama program of assassinations.

The intelligence force that Pinochet, along with other South American dictatorial regimes, put together was called DINA. It was their version of the CIA. In what they called Operation Condor, Pinochet and the other thugs running the other countries sent DINA agents abroad to kill suspected communists, just as Bush and Obama have sent CIA agents (and military personnel) to kill suspected terrorists.

The most notorious assassination was of a Chilean man named Orlando Letelier, who had served in the Allende administration. DINA agents, led by a man with ties to the CIA, Michael Townley, blew up Leteliers car, killing him and his young American assistant, Ronni Moffit. The assassination took place on the streets of Washington, D.C.

According to a document that has just been declassified, it turns out when he was serving as Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger sent out an cable cancelling a message that was about to be sent to South American officials warning them against foreign assassinations. A few days later, the DINA goons set off the bomb that killed Letelier and Moffitt.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the DINA assassination policy included the targeting of Chilean citizens, just as Bush and Obamas assassination policy includes the targeting of American citizens. The victims included Gen. Carlos Prats, an army officer who had served in the Allende administration. DINA goons killed him with a car bomb in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

U.S. officials ended up indicting Townley for murder, which of course the assassinations were. Despite the fact that he was clearly guilty of the pre-meditated murder of two innocent people on the streets of our nations capital, Townley only had to serve about 5 years in jail, whereupon he was admitted into the Federal Witness Protection Program.

In reporting on the new revelation about Kissinger, the Los Angeles Times writes, A document suggests the secretary of State rejected warning South American governments against international terrorism. Five days later, a bombing linked to Chile killed 2 in Washington.

Question: Why is it considered murder and international terrorism when the Chilean government does it but not when the U.S. government does it?

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

Friday, April 9, 2010

Liberal Wrongheadness on Greece
by Jacob G. Hornberger

In his column yesterday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman demonstrates how wrong-headed liberal thinking on economics can be.

Pointing to the fiscal problems being experienced by Greece, Krugman correctly points to the core of the problem: excessive spending and borrowing by the Greek government. Although he doesnt point out that all that spending and debt is to pay for the ever-growing expenditures of Greeces welfare state, at least he recognizes that a government can spend and borrow too much. Indeed, he even recognizes that the situation can become so dire that investors dont want to invest anymore in a governments bonds because they fear a default, which is precisely what is now happening in Greece.

But then Krugman goes awry, finding another culprit to blame for Greeces debacle: deflation or even excessively low inflation.

What hes alluding to is that because Greece doesnt have control over its money supply, the Greek government cannot do what the U.S. government and other governments do to pay off excessive debt simply print the money and paying off creditors in debased dollars.

Krugman says that one possible solution to Greeces problems is to slash spending and raise taxes. But of course slashing spending would involve major reductions in welfare benefits for the Greek citizenry, who are, by the way, protesting against any reductions in their dole. They take the same position as American dole-recipients: that they have a right to their dole, come hell or high water, even if the government doesnt have the money to continue paying them their dole. As Krugman observes, raising taxes will put more businesses out of business, raising unemployment and thereby aggravating the overall problem.

Krugman suggests that another possible solution is to have other European countries guarantee Greeces bonds. But as he suggests, German taxpayers are not excited about having their money taken from them so that Greek taxpayers can continue receiving their free welfare-state dole.

So, the obvious solution to his quandary, one that the U.S. governments Federal Reserve has long used, is simply to crank up the printing presses and pay off all that debt in depreciated, debased currency.

But theres one big problem, one that Krugman deeply laments: Since Greece is part of the Euro zone, it doesnt have the power to crank up the printing presses without the approval of the other EU countries, which are not likely to want to debase the Euro for the sake of saving the welfare-state dole for Greek citizens.

That leaves Greece with the option of withdrawing from the Euro zone and resorting to its own monetary system. But as Krugman points out, that might not be successful given that would likely be a rush of people to get their money out of the banks, along with a refusal by investors to buy bonds issued in the new currency.

Needless to say, Krugman deeply laments the inability of the Greek government to inflate itself out of the crisis. Never mind that paying off creditors in debased currency constitutes an intentional default. That doesnt seem to bother Krugman one whit. All that matters, obviously, is that the Greek welfare state be saved from collapse.

Unfortunately, by not surprisingly, Krugman draws the wrong lesson for America from this Greek tragedy. He says that while the U.S. government needs to be fiscally responsible, it should also steer clear of deflation, or even excessively low inflation.

In the final analysis, Krugman gets it wrong. What has collapsed in Greece is the welfare state, and hanging onto this anchor is what is sending Greece to the bottom of the ocean.

Americans need to take what has happened in Greece as a warning: Get off the dole-road before its too late. Dismantle and repeal (that is, dont reform or reduce) all welfare (and warfare) programs and departments, along with the taxes that support them.

Moreover, dont do what the Federal Reserve has done for decades that is, dont inflate. In fact, abolish the Fed, Americas engine of inflation, and restore sound money to America.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Income Tax and American Servitude
by Jacob G. Hornberger

With April 15 almost upon us, this would be a good time to remind ourselves of how the income tax contributed to the destruction of American liberty.

We should first keep in mind that with the exception of the Civil War, the American people lived without an income tax from the beginning of the United States until 1913, when the 16th Amendment was adopted.

This was not an accident. Americans living during that period of time understood that freedom and an income tax were contradictory notions. If people wanted to live in a free society, it would have to be a society in which government was prohibited from levying taxes on income. Conversely, if people wanted to live in a society in which government is taxing income, then the price they pay is the loss of freedom.

In an income-tax free society, everyone is free to keep the fruits of his earnings. He keeps everything he earns. He is free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth. He is free to do whatever he wants with his own money.

And there is nothing the government can do about it because the government is prohibited from taking any portion of a persons income from him.

There is no IRS. There are no income-tax returns. There are no deductions to keep track of. There is no need to keep records.

There is no withholding tax.

Again, everyone simply keeps everything he earns and decides for himself how to spend it, invest it, donate it, or otherwise dispose of it.

This is what Americans once believed was an absolute prerequisite to a free society. Thats why Americans lived without an income tax for more than 100 years.

Everything changed in 1913, when socialist ideas were being imported from Europe into the United States. That was the watershed year, the year that brought into existence what would become the twin jugular veins for the welfare state and warfare state the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.

From that date forward and continuing through today, Americans would be coerced, on pain of fine and imprisonment, into sending some governmentally imposed percentage of their income to the IRS.

The magnitude of that change cannot be overstated, for it actually inverted the historical relationship between the American people and the federal government.

Prior to the enactment of the income tax, the relationship between the citizen and the government was one of master and servant. The citizen, who was free to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth, was sovereign because there was nothing the government could do to interfere with that process. The government was the servant.

The nature of that relationship fundamentally changed in 1913. With the enactment of the income tax, the citizen became the servant and the federal government becoming his master.

How was this so? The income tax effectively nationalized peoples income, in that it placed everyones income at the disposal of the government. While before, government lacked the power to take any portion of peoples income, now it wielded the power to take any or all of their income. It all depended on the specific percentage that the government required people to send to the IRS.

Sometimes the government is nice and sets a lower percentage. Sometimes its not so nice and sets a higher percentage. But what matters with respect to freedom is not the particular percentage that is set but rather the fact that the government has the power to set the percentage. By having that power, the amount of income that the government permits people to keep effectively becomes akin to an allowance that a parent permits his children to have.

As April 15 rolls around once again, let us remind ourselves what Jefferson stated in the Declaration of Independence: that everyone has been endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty, and property. For more than 100 years, Americans understood that such natural, God-given rights encompassed the right to accumulate unlimited amounts of wealth and the right to decide what to do with that wealth.

Too bad 20th-century Americans consigned themselves and their successors to a life of subservience and servitude by abandoning the income-tax-free heritage of their ancestors and making the income tax a permanent feature of American life.

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The WikiLeaks Video and Terrorist Blowback
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I cant improve on Glenn Greenwalds analysis of the WikiLeaks video depicting the slaughter of Iraqi citizens. See here and here and here.

However, there is one part of the WikiLeaks video that I wish to address the reaction of the helicopter pilots upon learning that there were two children who were shot and injured during the melee. Their reaction, in fact, perfectly exemplifies the mindset that has long characterized U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon.

When the pilots discovered that they had shot the two Iraqi kids, here was their exchange:

Well its their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.
Thats right.

No remorse, no anguish, no regret, no concern. Just callous indifference to the possibility that the lives of two innocent children might have just been snuffed out.

What will be the reaction of the relatives of those two Iraqi children, who lost their father in the attack? Surely, even the most ardent pro-war advocates would not deny the obvious: the relatives will be filled with anger and rage.

Welcome to the world of U.S. foreign policy and terrorist blowback.

In fact, this most recent episode in Iraq is a minor dj vu of what took place during the Persian Gulf War and the 11-year period following it. During that war, the Pentagon conducted a secret study that concluded that if Iraqs water and sewage facilities were destroyed, this would help spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people.

So, the order was given: Drop the bombs on those facilities.

Then, to ensure that the facilities couldnt be repaired, the U.S. government induced the UN to impose one of the most brutal systems of sanctions in history on Iraq.

The Pentagon proved to be right, with the deadly consequences of drinking the polluted water falling most heavily on Iraqi children. Year after year, tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying. Two high UN officials even resigned their posts in protest to what they termed genocide.

What was the reaction of U.S. officials to those deaths? It was the same reaction expressed by those pilots in the WikiLeaks video: callous indifference. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflected the mindset of U.S. officials when she told Sixty Minutes (and the people of the Middle East) that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were worth it.

It is impossible to measure the depth of anger and rage that spread not just in Iraq but also the Middle East over the deaths of the Iraqi children, year after year, and over the mindset of callous indifference that characterized U.S. officials. When Ramzi Yousef was sentenced for the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC, he angrily cited the sanctions and the deaths of the Iraqi children as one of the things that drove him to commit his terrorist attack.

That WTC attack in 1993 was followed by the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and, of course, the 9/11 attacks.

We all know what U.S. officials said: Oh, its not because of what the U.S. government has done to people in Iraq and the Middle East, including the sanctions and our indifference to the deaths of the Iraqi children, the Persian Gulf intervention, the unconditional financial and military support to the Israeli government, or the intentional stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands. People in the Middle East dont care about all that. They just hate us for our freedom and values.

Mark my words: theyll say the same thing if relatives of those two Iraqi children or the children themselves end up retaliating for what was done to the childrens father and other victims of the most recent slaughter.

Finally, let us never forget: Neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government participated in the 9/11 attacks or ever attacked the United States. That makes the U.S. government the unlawful aggressor, invader, attacker, and occupier in this conflict, which means that U.S. soldiers have no right, moral or legal, to be killing anyone in Iraq, including those Iraqis who are simply trying to rid their country of an illegal aggressor, invader, attacker, and occupier.

By the way, Joy Gordon, who wrote one of the most insightful articles on the Iraq sanctions, entitled Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction has a brand new book out on the Iraq sanctions entitled Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions. I havent read it yet but if its as good as her article, its definitely a great book.

See this nice compilation of articles on the sanctions.

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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Richard Ebelings Great Economic Liberty Lecture
by Jacob G. Hornberger

We had a great session of the Economic Liberty Lecture Series last night, an event that we co-sponsor with George Mason Universitys student-run GMU Econ Society. Richard Ebeling gave a great talk on the continuing relevance of Friedrich Hayeks classic book The Road to Serfdom as well as Austrian economics to the economic situation facing the American people today.

Long-time supporters of FFF will recall that Richard served as vice-president of academic affairs for FFF since our inception in 1989 until he became president of The Foundation for Economic Education several years ago. During that time he was also serving as the Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics at Hillsdale College. After stepping down as FEEs president a couple of years ago, Richard returned to academia, first teaching at Trinity University in Connecticut and now at Northwood University in Michigan.

In his talk, Richard traced the rise of socialism and fascism in Europe and explained how those ideas came to be imported into the United States by American intellectuals at the turn of the 20th century. He pointed out how the watershed era was Franklin Roosevelts New Deal.

Since that time, government has only grown more intrusive and more powerful, a trend that has culminated in the Bush-Obama Keynesian stimulus plans, the partial nationalization of financial institutions and automobile companies, the bailouts, the massive spending and debt, and, of course, Obamas national health-care plan.

In other words, what Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom in 1944 has come to pass. That is the road that America has traveled and continues to travel.

But on the bright side is Austrian economics, the school of economic thought exemplified by Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and many scholars, which is now attracting ever-increasing numbers of devotees, especially students. As Richard pointed out, Austrian economics, as well as libertarianism, provide the antidote to the statism that afflicts the United States and the rest of the world.

Is there any chance that libertarianism and Austrian economics can prevail over statism? Richard concluded his talk with an interesting hypothetical. Suppose an ardent socialist was living in the United States in the late 19th century, a period that was characterized by perhaps the greatest extent of economic liberty in history. The task of converting the American people to socialism would have appeared daunting, almost impossible. Yet, because of their determination and perseverance, the socialists did prevail. They did convert America to their philosophy and ideas and they did succeed in putting America on the road to serfdom.

So, why not the reverse? Sure, the task of restoring economic liberty to our land appears daunting and difficult. But as American socialists at the turn of the 20th century showed, nothing is impossible. We must continue to fight for our principles, Richard pointed out, simply because they are true and right. In the process, we must maintain the hope and faith that they will prevail.

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

Imperial Troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Things are not working out as well as the U.S. Empire intended in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

The original plan called for the installation of U.S. puppet regimes in both countries, regimes that would do the bidding of the Empire while maintaining the false semblance of sovereignty and independence.

For a model of what was intended for both countries, think Iran from 1953 to 1979. In 1953, the CIA instituted a coup in Iran that ousted Irans democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and replaced him with a U.S.-approved, compliant ruler, the Shah of Iran.

From 1953 to 1979, Iran was a dream-come-true for the CIA and the U.S. Empire. The country was ruled by the Shah, whose loyalty to the U.S. Empire was complete. He would do whatever the Empire requested of him. At the same time, the CIA permitted him a free hand to do whatever he wanted inside Iran, which he ruled with an iron fist. During that entire period, Iran was officially considered a friend of the Empire.

It all came to end in 1979, when the Iranian people revolted against this brutal, CIA-installed dictator, who had tortured his own people with the support of the CIA. The Shah was replaced by an extremist Islamic regime. At that point, Iran lost its status as friend of the Empire and became an official enemy.

Now, back to Iraq. Guess where representatives of the top three political alliances traveled immediately after Iraqs recent election. If you guessed Iran, you guessed right! According to the New York Times, The ink was hardly dry on the polling results when three of the four major political alliances rushed delegations off to Tehran. Yet none of them sent anyone to the United States Embassy here, let alone to Washington.

The reason they traveled to Iran, rather than Washington, was to strategize on how to overcome the recent electoral victory of Ayad Allawi, whose coalition won the most votes, thereby possibly making him the next prime minister of Iraq.

That trip to Iran exposes one of the dark secrets of the U.S. invasion of Iraq: The invasion succeeded in installing a radical religious regime that has always felt more affinity for Iran (which, again, is now viewed as an enemy by the U.S. Empire) than it has for the Empire whose invasion installed it into power.

Moreover, everyone in Iraq knows that Allawi was the man the CIA had chosen to run Iraq. In fact, in the early days of the occupation, it was Allawi who was running the country, and with the type of brutality that characterized the Shah of Iran or, or as a better example, Saddam Hussein. (See my 2004 article Saddam, Chalabi, and Allawi Epitomize U.S. Foreign Policy.)

Did the CIA help Allawi win the recent election? Allawi says he hasnt heard from U.S. officials, but its difficult to avoid the conclusion that the CIA is at least celebrating his victory, especially since, according to the New York Times, Allawi was allegedly committing terrorist acts in Iraq on behalf of the CIA during the 1990s.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan the Empire is in a horrible quandary because its trying to act like its not an Empire while simultaneously behaving like Afghanistan is one of its colonies.

When the Empire invaded and installed the Karzai regime into power, it desired to create the appearance that Afghanistan was still a sovereign and independent country, but with the underlying realization that Karzai could be counted on to loyally do the bidding of the Empire. In other words, another Shah of Iran and another 1953-1979 Iran-type relationship.

The problem is that Karzai is now publicly behaving like his regime really is sovereign and independent. For example, he is telling people that the U.S. did invade and occupy his country and that it participated in the fraud that marred the recent election. Thats a no-no, and U.S. officials are furious about it. (See, for example, this ABC News article.) Karzai is supposed to maintain the official line that the Empire is a liberator and is now serving as an invited guest in Afghanistan and that it would never rig elections. U.S. officials are now lashing out against corruption in the Karzai regime, forgetting that the Empires occupation of the country has also been riddled with corruption.

The pitiful part of all this, however, is not the problems the Empire is experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan but rather that all too many Americans continue refusing to confront the obvious: that all this is what American soldiers have killed, died, and destroyed for in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are Federal Officials Above the Law?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

A federal judges ruling in a case challenging the Bush administrations infamous and illegal domestic surveillance case will likely demonstrate, once again, the hypocrisy and deceit of Barack Obama and his merry band of liberal statists.

When Obama was a presidential candidate, he emphasized to American voters that President Bushs warrantless surveillance of Americans was unconstitutional and illegal.

But once Obama got into office, he silenced his tune, especially in lawsuits that were brought by victims of this criminal action. Like Bushs Justice Department, Obamas Justice Department took the position that peoples lawsuits should be dismissed on grounds of national security because, they said, if such cases were allowed to proceed, national-security secrets would be revealed.

Yeah, such secrets as the identities of federal agents who violated federal criminal statutes as well as the identities of the federal higher-ups who ordered them to do so! Cant you just see the entire nation collapsing if information like that were to be disclosed to the public?

How convenient is that? All one has to do to protect federal criminals is simply cite the magic term national security and all the criminal dirt is swept under the carpet. Too bad Richard Nixon and the other Watergate conspirators didnt claim national security to keep their criminal wrongdoing secret. Or did they?

In any event, this week a federal judge in one of the surveillance cases declared Bushs surveillance scheme unlawful, a ruling that places Barack Obama and his Justice Department in an interesting position.

Do they let the ruling stand? Doing so would be consistent with Obamas campaign position, which mirrored that of the judge.

Or do they appeal the ruling, thereby exposing, once again, the rank hypocrisy of the Obama administration?

Of course, all this is occurring in the context of a civil suit. The question with respect to the criminal-justice system is: Why isnt the Justice Department securing federal grand-jury indictments against federal officials who, everyone concedes, violated federal criminal statutes?

After all, the Justice Department is always overeager to enforce such stupid laws as antitrust, insider-trading, and possession and distribution of illicit drugs against the American people. Why do federal officials who committed felonies with an illegal surveillance program get a pass? Are federal officials considered better than ordinary Americans?

For once, the Obama administration should do the right thing. Not only should it not appeal the adverse ruling in the surveillance case, it should also take the side of all other victims of such illegal conduct, arguing that they are entitled to full relief in the courts. If Bush, Cheney, and any their cronies wish to intervene in such suits to defend their illegal scheme, so be it, but this would be a good place for Obama to finally begin breaking away from Bushs massive infringements on civil liberties.

Equally important, Obamas Justice Department should initiate a federal grand jury investigation into the entire illegal surveillance scheme, subpoenaing all the records of those who committed the offenses and all the records showing who was victimized. Grand jury indictments and federal criminal prosecutions should ensue. What better opportunity to show that no one, not even powerful and influential federal officials, is above the law?

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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Harm Is No Justification for the Drug War
by Jacob G. Hornberger

My blog post yesterday, Why Do Conservatives Still Love the Drug War?, generated many interesting comments on Facebook. One of the commentators made a point that both conservatives and liberals have long used to justify this failed and destructive government program: that drug usage causes harm to families and, therefore, it is justifiable for the state to punish people who ingest them.

Yet, harm is not the same thing as force or violence. Everyone would agree that the initiation of force by one human being against another is morally wrong. Initiating force against someone else violates the latters right to be left alone to live his live peacefully. Examples of such acts of violence are murder, rape, theft, robbery, burglary, and the like.

However, there is an entire range of human conduct that doesnt involve the initiation of force but that can nonetheless be considered harmful, both to ones self and to ones family. This area of conduct involves activity that is entirely peaceful. Examples would include, say, a parent who is a dope addict, an alcoholic, a smoker, a gambler, intentionally unemployed, a lazy couch potato, or a philanderer.

Lets agree that all those things harm the parent as well as the entire family. Does that mean that the state should wield the power to arrest, prosecute, and punish the parent for engaging in such harmful conduct?

Absolutely not! In fact, a prerequisite to a free society is the legal protection of these types of choices. As I pointed out in a 1999 article entitled Its Time to End the War on Drugs,

The true test of a free society is not whether people are free to engage in what the state defines as responsible conduct. After all, even the Chinese and North Korean people are free by that standard. The real test of a free society is whether an individual is free to engage in irresponsible behavior, so long as it does not interfere, in a direct and forceful way, with the ability of others to do the same. In other words, as long as a person doesn’t murder, rape, steal, burglarize, defraud, and the like, freedom entails the right to do anything a person wants, even if it’s the most irresponsible and self-destructive thing in the world.

Another interesting point by a commentator was that drugs destroy a persons freedom and, therefore, that the state can legitimately punish people for ingesting drugs in an attempt to protect their freedom. What the commentator is referring to, however, is the quest to attain some sort of psychological freedom, as compared to sociological freedom. For example, suppose a person has a phobia that prevents him from leaving his home. We could say that he isnt free in a psychological sense because his phobia is interfering with his living a full life. The same could be said of, say, a drug addict or an alcoholic.

But as much as we might want to help such a person or as much as he might be trying to overcome his psychological disability, under what moral authority would we initiate force to help him overcome his problem? Under what moral authority would the state prosecute and punish him to help him attain psychological freedom?

There is no moral authority to initiate force, either personally or through the state, against such a person. He must work things out for himself to attain the psychological peace and harmony he seeks. If he chooses to give up and settle for living under such conditions, that is his right.

It is the sociological freedom with which we are concerned when it comes to the relationship between the individual and the state. In order for a person to be free in that sense, he must be accorded the right to live his life any way he chooses, so long as his conduct is peaceful. In fact, when a person is accorded the widest ambit of sociological freedom and the choices that come with such freedom he has the greatest potential to achieve psychological freedom as well as to nurture such character traits as responsibility and compassion for others.

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

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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.