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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Blaming America for Terrorism


Yesterday, the would-be plane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pled guilty to terrorism in federal district court in Detroit. Hes the guy who was charged with trying to explode a bomb on an international flight coming into Detroit.

Federal court, you ask? Isnt terrorism an act of war, you say? Isnt he an enemy combatant? Doesnt he belong in a POW camp? Why isnt he jailed at the Pentagons military prison at Guantanamo Bay?

All those questions are easy to answer. Its because terrorism is a crime a federal criminal offense in the U.S. Code. Thats why a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted him. Thats why a federal prosecutor prosecuted him. Thats why a federal judge accepted his plea and will likely be sentencing him to life in prison without parole.

So, whats the deal with the Pentagons prison camp and judicial system at Gitmo? Thats easy to answer too. The Pentagon put that system together after 9/11 as a way to avoid the constitutional system when it felt like doing so. No, they didnt secure a constitutional amendment nor did they get a law enacted by Congress permitting them to do that. They did it all their own, claiming that they possessed the post-9/11 emergency authority to consider a crime to be either an act of war or a crime, at their option.

Thus, today U.S. officials can treat suspected terrorists either way they want as illegal enemy combatants, subject to indefinite incarceration, torture, kangaroo tribunals, and even execution, or as federal criminal defendants, where they are accorded the rights and guarantees in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Its all up to the president and the Pentagon. Why, under our post-9/11 emergency system, the Pentagon no longer even has to honor federal court jury verdicts or sentences handed down in terrorism cases by federal judges.

In any event, proponents of military statism are undoubtedly saying that Abdulmutallab blamed America for what he did, based on the statement that he made to the presiding judge yesterday as part of his guilty plea.

Why would the statists reach that conclusion? Well, consider what Abdulmutallab said: I attempted to use an explosive device which in the U.S. law is a weapon of mass destruction, which I call a blessed weapon to save the lives of innocent Muslims, for U.S. use of weapons of mass destruction on Muslim populations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and beyond.

Now, a libertarian would respond, Wait a minute, Jacob. Abdulmutallab doesnt blame America in that statement. His anger and motivation are clearly directed toward U.S. foreign policy, specifically the killing of innocent Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Yes, but that exposes the nature of the problem we face when it comes to statists: They cant draw a distinction between the federal government and America. In their minds, its all one great big collectivist entity, with the military and the CIA at the center of it. Thus, in the statist mind, when the U.S. government does something, its America doing it.

To get a grasp of the statist mindset, think of a great big bee hive. The hive is the federal government, with the president being the head bee. Near the head bee are the privileged elite bees, whose lives are devoted to serving and fulfilling the wishes and commands of the head bee. Everyone else is a drone, devoting his life to the greater good of the hive.

Thus, when a libertarian takes a stand against something the head bee has done, the statist becomes confused and befuddled and even angry. In his mind, the libertarian is attacking the hive and thereby jeopardizing the best interests of the hive or, even worse, its very existence. Thats a super no-no to a statist. Everyone is expected to rally to the head bee and never challenge his actions or authority, especially in dealings with the rest of the bee hives in the world.

Obviously, libertarians see things totally different

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.