All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

The Korean War: The Moral Bankruptcy of Interventionism

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An article in Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Remembering the Forgotten War” demonstrates perfectly the moral bankruptcy of the philosophy of foreign interventionism. Calling for the Korean War to become more highly remembered, the author, Hampton Sides, extols some of the popular justifications for subjecting US troops to death, injury, and maiming in the Korean War.

Hampton tells the story of a veteran named Franklin Chapman, who is still alive. Hampton was sent to fight in Korea, was shot several times, and also hit by shrapnel. He was taken captive by the enemy and was held as a POW for three years. Today, the 85-year -old suffers from the aftereffects of frostbite, experiences aches and pains from his wounds, and suffers severe memory loss, sometimes unable to recognize his daughter.

Sides implies that while all this is regrettable, it’s all justifiable because Korean War veterans “stopped a naked act of Communist aggression and opposed three malevolent dictators — Stalin, Mao and Kim – while helping South Korea take wing as a democracy.”

What is fascinating about Sides’s article is that it is completely bereft of any moral outrage whatsoever against the US government and, specifically, the US national-security establishment. Sides seems to forget something important: The reason that Chapman was there in Korea waging war was because the president of the United States and the Pentagon ordered him to be there.

I was curious about Chapman and so I looked him up. It turns out that he has written a biography that is posted online, where he tells the reason he joined the military. No, it wasn’t to stop communist aggression in Korea or to oppose three malevolent communist dictators. Chapman explains that he joined the military for one reason alone: He needed a job.

My hunch is that like many people who join the military, he believed that his job would be the defend the United States from invasion or attack. My hunch is that the last thing he ever expected was to be sent to wage a land war in Asia. But that is precisely what the US government did to him. It ordered him to report to Korea to be kill or be killed.

That doesn’t seem to concern Hampton Sides, any more than it concerns any interventionist. Equally important, it obviously doesn’t concern Sides that the order to send Chapman to fight in the Korean War was illegal under our form of government. The US Constitution, which governs the actions of federal officials, including those in the Pentagon, prohibits the president from waging war against a foreign nation without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. It is undisputed that President Truman, who ordered US soldiers into Korea, did not secure a congressional declaration of war. That means that he had no legal authority to order Chapman or any other US soldier to kill or die in Korea.

In claiming that Chapman was fighting to oppose communist aggression, Sides ignores the fact that the Korean War was actually a civil war, not a war between two independent and sovereign nations. The country had been artificially divided into two halves by Soviet communist leader Joseph Stalin, who, ironically, was a partner and ally of the US government during World War II. (The irony lies in the fact that Sides extols Chapman for opposing the man who had been a partner and ally of the US government just a few years before.) In any event, every Korean understood that the dividing line between North and South Korea was just an artificial construct based on international politics. Even today, if you ask a people of Korean descent here in the United States where they are from, they always, without exception, say “Korea” rather than “South Korea.”

We can concede that the northern half of the country was ruled by a brutal communist regime, one that attempted to unify the country by force. But why does a nation’s civil war justify US intervention? Why should US soldiers be sacrificed to help out one side or another in a civil war? I’ll bet that that’s not what most US soldiers were signing up to do after World War II. They were signing up to defend the United States, not help out one side or another in another nation’s civil war. (By the way, the same principle applies to the Vietnam War, another favorite foreign war of the interventionists.)

Another aspect of the Korean War that Sides fails to mention is conscription. The US military didn’t have enough active-duty servicemen to intervene against the North Korean regime, and not enough American men were volunteering for “service.” So, Truman and the military resorted to conscription. That means that they were forcing American men, against their will, to go to Korea and kill or be killed. An interventionist would say that it was nothing wrong with destroy the freedom of Americans to protect the “freedom” and “democracy” of South Koreans.

Sides’s expression “helping South Korea take wing as a democracy” is an interesting one. It’s interesting because South Korea’s first elected president, Syngman Rhee, was one of the most brutal dictators in the world. Immediately after taking office, he curtailed political dissent and authorized his goons to engage in indefinite detention, torture, assassination, death squads, and massacres.

On the suspension of hostilities in 1953, it was clear that the National Assembly, which elected the president, was going to boot Rhee out of office. In order to avoid that, he ordered a mass arrest of opposition politicians and then unilaterally changed the Constitution to enable him to be elected directly by the citizenry. He remained in power until 1960, when he was forced to resign after his police shot demonstrators who were protesting his regime.

This is what Sides and other interventionists calling “democracy taking wing.” It brings to mind the US-inspired coup in Chile in 1973, which ousted the democratically elected socialist president of the country, Salvador Allende, and installed a brutal right-wing military dictator in his stead, army Gen. Augusto Pinochet. To this day, interventionists say that the Chilean coup demonstrated that “democracy was taking wing” in Chile with the coup that nullified the presidential election, followed by a 16-year-long brutal military dictatorship entailing round-ups of some 50,000 people, torturing most of them, raping and committing gruesome sexual acts against women, and killing and disappearing around 3,000 people.

Sides and other interventionists are dead wrong about the Korean War and other foreign interventions. No US soldier deserves to be ordered to faraway lands to kill or be killed or maimed, as Franklin Chapman was. If Sides or other interventionists want to go overseas and help out one side or another in some faraway civil war, they are free to do so. Just leave US soldiers out of it. The job of a US soldier is to defend the United States from invasion or attack, not be sent to participate in some bogus fight for “freedom” or “democracy” in some foreign country.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Did the Russians Influence My Vote?

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I voted Libertarian yesterday, and the New York Times has me really worried. In an article yesterday entitled “Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data,” the authors, Jonathan Morgan and Ryan Fox, state that while Russian meddling in the midterm election was not as extensive as it purportedly was in the 2016 election, it was nonetheless still pervasive. Morgan and Fox, who run a cybersecurity company, pointed out, “Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”

Okay, so what am I worried about? I’m worried that the Russians might have influenced me into voting Libertarian. Here’s my question: How is a person supposed to determine whether his vote was the result of an independent, reasoned judgment or instead a result of Russian meddling?

After all, lots of people would say that it’s not rational to vote for a Libertarian, given that he or she has virtually no chance of winning. They say that to vote for a Libertarian is just throwing away one’s vote.

Well then, wouldn’t that indicate that the Russians influenced me into voting Libertarian? What else would explain why I voted in what would appear to be an irrational way?

When you think about it, this Russian election meddling thing is really scary because it means that the minds of the American people are susceptible to being influenced or manipulated by the Russians. It all brings to mind the prospect of Americans being brainwashed by the Chinese, North Korean, or Cuban Reds during the Cold War.

But here’s an important question, one that Morgan and Fox unfortunately failed to address in their article: What is it about Americans that makes their minds so susceptible to Russian influence or brainwashing, at least when it comes to voting?

If I had to guess, I would say that a big part of the problem is public (i.e., government) schooling, which I believe weakens the mental ability of Americans to resist government propaganda. Given that public schooling molds the minds of America schoolchildren to defer to authority, memorize, follow rules and regulations, and obey orders, by the time the entire 12-year ordeal is over, many 18-year-old minds have turned to mush, which, I suspect, makes them more susceptible to being influenced by propaganda, perhaps even for the rest of their lives.

But as scary as Russian propaganda might be, it seems to me that a much bigger danger in yesterday’s election was meddling by President Trump, like with his scary fear-mongering about that caravan of Central American refugees that is heading north through Mexico to seek refugee status in the United States.

By calling the caravan an “invasion” and by sending US troops to defend America from the “invasion,” Trump succeeded in scaring the dickens out of millions of his followers, some of whom even grabbed their rifles and headed down to the border to help Trump’s troops defend America from a few thousand unarmed women and toddlers who are still slowly walking to the border. I don’t think anyone would dispute that Trump’s propaganda had a much bigger effect on the midterms than did Russian propaganda. In fact, it will be interesting to see if Trump continues his scary invasion drumbeat going now that the mid-election is over. My hunch is no, but I’ll bet we’ll see it again several months before the 2020 presidential election.

Of course, none of this mental manipulation, by either Trump or the Russians, compares to the propaganda that government officials use to influence people into supporting a war. That’s when the mental manipulation becomes of prime and urgent importance, especially through a strong propaganda campaign based on fear.

A perfect example of this phenomenon took place in the run-up to the Iraq War. By the time the actual US invasion of Iraq was initiated, a large number of Americans were absolutely convinced that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was coming to get them and explode mushroom clouds in cities all across America. It was a testament to the power of US officials to manipulate and influence people’s minds through the use of propaganda.

One of the masters of influencing people’s minds through propaganda was Nazi official Hermann Goering, who expressed the matter perfectly when it comes to war:
Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
In any event, if anyone has any insights into how I figure out whether the Russians influenced me into voting Libertarian in yesterday’s mid-term elections, please let me know.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Why Do We Need a National Security State?

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Given President Trump’s impulsive decision to suddenly send 5,200 armed US soldiers to the US-Mexico border to prevent a few thousand women and children and others from seeking refugee status in the United States, which foreign citizens are entitled to do under US law, a question naturally arises with respect to those troops: What were they doing before they were sent to the border?

The answer is: Nothing, at least nothing productive.

Oh sure, one can say that they were training to kill more people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa, or other parts of the world. Or they might have been preparing an invasion of some other country in the world. Or they might be figuring out how to best enforce the embargoes and sanctions against the people of Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and elsewhere.

But how can any of that possibly be considered productive? None of the people they are killing are attacking and invading the United States. Neither are the governments in the countries in which the victims are citizens. Moreover, the constant, never-ending killing brings the constant, never-ending danger of terrorist blowback against the United States, which US officials then use as an excuse to destroy further our own freedom and privacy here at home.

How is that productive?

The sanctions and embargoes do nothing but bring death, suffering, impoverishment, and misery to the people in countries who happen to find themselves living under a regime that US officials don’t like. By targeting the citizenry in those countries, US officials are hoping that the targeted people will initiate a violent revolution that will oust their regime from power and install one that is acceptable to US officials. But such a revolution would only bring more death and suffering, along with more anger and hatred against the United States.

How is that productive?

Our American ancestors had it right: No US government meddling in the affairs of other countries. No foreign wars. No foreign aid. No sanctions or embargoes. No US-inspired coups. No wars of aggression. No torture. No rendition. No alliances. No partnerships with dictatorships.

Such being the case, there was no need for a giant military-industrial-congressional complex. Yes, there was an army for the first 100 years of US history but it was a relatively small army. Large enough to defeat Indian tribes and even defeat Mexico in a war but nowhere large enough to invade and occupy European and Asian countries, intervene in their forever conflicts, or initiate wars of aggression against them.

There was also no need for a CIA or NSA or vast military-industrial-congressional complex. In fact, if the proponents of the Constitution had told our American ancestors that they were bringing into existence a government that had the omnipotent power to take them into custody, hold them forever without a trial, torture them, spy on them, experiment on them, and assassinate them, they never would have approved the Constitution. We would still be operating under the Articles of Confederation, where the federal government’s powers were so weak it didn’t even have the power to tax. Our American ancestors liked it that way.

Let’s assume that we were to bring all US troops home from everywhere, including Germany, Korea, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, Cuba, and everywhere else.

What would we need them for? We obviously wouldn’t need them at all given that they would have been engaged in actions overseas that were no longer being engaged in. They could all be discharged into the private sector. That would be doubly positive: No longer would citizens be taxed to fund what is essentially a military welfare dole, but also all those former soldiers would now be in the private sector producing wealth rather than living off of a tax-funded military dole

But then the question arise with respect to the troops here at home: Why do we need the vast military-industrial-congressional complex? What do we need all those domestic military bases for? Just because cities that have military bases are scared of losing their military welfare dole? What do we need all those domestic troops for? What do we need the CIA for? What do we need the NSA for?

One of the legitimate purposes of government is the military defense of the nation. But there is no danger whatsoever that any foreign regime is going to invade and conquer the United States. No foreign regime has the money, the troops, the weaponry, the supplies, the transports, or even the desire to invade and conquer the United States. Don’t forget: Hitler, despite Germany’s powerful military machine, couldn’t even cross the English Channel to invade England. Crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean with the millions of troops that would be necessary to successfully invade and conquer the United States would be a virtual impossibility, especially when we consider the supply lines necessary for such an enormous endeavor.

So, the question again arises: What do all those troops do on a daily basis on all those military bases that are strung out all over the United States? They’re clearly not protecting American cities from Indian (i.e., Native-American) attacks because that danger was eliminated a long time ago. And they’re clearly not protecting the United States from an invasion or conquest because no such danger exists. So what do all those soldiers do on a daily basis — that is, when they are not being sent to the border to possibly shoot women and children and other prospective refugees?

They practice shooting or they training new recruits how to kill. They are training them how to march — left-faces, right-faces, and to the rear. They clean their rifles. They maintain their vehicles. They learn how to drive tanks or fly military aircraft. They do bureaucracy-type work. They do lots of paperwork. They collect their paychecks, which come from taxes the IRS collects from people’s income. They go to work and they return home. It’s all so mundane and unnecessary. And none of it is productive. That is, it does not produce wealth in American society. Instead, it drains wealth from society in the form of taxation to fund all this unnecessary and unproductive activity.

The biggest mistake the United States ever made was to convert the US government from a limited-government republic into a national-security state. The Founding Fathers and the Framers had it right. The best thing that the American people could ever do is dismantle their national-security state governmental structure and restore a limited-government republic to our land. That would naturally entail the dismantling, not the reform, of the NSA, CIA, Pentagon, and what former President Eisenhower labeled the military-industrial-congressional complex.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Still Dying for Nothing in Afghanistan

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It wasn’t until history class in college that I heard of the Thirty Years War. My immediate reaction was: No way! It just wasn’t possible that a war could last 30 years. Nobody would be that dumb.

But given that the US war in Afghanistan has now been going on for 17 years, it’s now easier for me to understand how a war could go on for 30 years. Just think: Another 13 years, and the US government can tie that record.

Over the past weekend, another US soldier was killed in Afghanistan and another was wounded in what the media calls an “insider attack.” That means that a member of the Afghan military or police was the one who killed and wounded those two soldiers. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is rather difficult to protect against an attack from your friends.

That was the sixth US soldier killed in Afghanistan this year, bringing the total death toll to 2,200.

What did the latest soldier die for? The US national-security establishment delivers the same line that it has used since the inception — that he, like all the others, died protecting his country. At the man’s funeral, there will undoubtedly be people who say that the soldier died protecting our freedom.

Both are flat-out, unequivocal, ridiculous lies. No one in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, is threatening our country or our freedom. No matter how discomforting it might be, that soldier died for nothing, just as all the rest have. Or to be more exact, they all died for empire, which, in reality, is the same thing as dying for nothing.

From the start of the US invasion of Afghanistan, US officials have maintained that it was necessary to wage war on the Taliban regime because it supposedly was “harboring” Osama bin Laden, who, they said, orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.

That is a lie too. The reason that President Bush, the Pentagon, and the CIA waged war on the Taliban regime was not because it was supposedly complicit in the 9/11 attacks. The reason was because the Taliban regime refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for bin Laden. If the Taliban had agreed to Bush’s unconditional extradition demand, there never would have been a US war on the Taliban regime.

Sometimes US officials also say that they need to prevent the Taliban from regaining power because it would offer safe harbor to terrorists. It’s amazing that there are still people who buy into this nonsense. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, people can plan terrorist attacks in some hotel room or living room anywhere in the world. They don’t need the mountains of Afghanistan to plan their attacks.

Another thing worth remembering is that the US war on Afghanistan is illegal under our form of government. That’s because the US Constitution, which is the highest law of the land, prohibits the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. That has never been done, which means that US soldiers who have killed people in Afghanistan have done so illegally under our form of government. Don’t forget, after all, that US soldiers take an oath to support and defend the US Constitution.

Over the weekend, a new US commander was appointed to oversee the 15,000 US troops who are still in Afghanistan. Like the eight commanders before him, he doesn’t have a clue as to what to do to “win” the war. That’s because “winning” the war has become an impossibility.

What is the real reason that US soldiers are still being kept in Afghanistan after 17 years of deadly and destructive warfare? US national-security officials know that once the last US soldier is pulled out, Americans will go full-force into second-guessing mode, especially if the Taliban end up winning Afghanistan’s civil war. By keeping a relatively small contingent of US troops in Afghanistan to preserve the puppet regime that US officials have installed, US officials can forestall the inevitable second-guessing for a few more years.

Recently, a young waiter at a restaurant near my home told me that he had just signed up to join the military. I said to him, “Would you mind if I give you just one piece of advice?” He said, “Not at all.” I said, “If they send you to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and anywhere else in the world, don’t take any unnecessary risks. Your life is too valuable to lose it for nothing.”

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Trump is Right About ‘Flipping’

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In the wake of the federal criminal conviction of former Trump official Paul Manafort and the guilty plea in federal court of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the mainstream press is singing the praises of special prosecutor (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller and the Justice Department.

In the process, Trump’s critics are condemning his denunciation of “flipping,” the process by which federal prosecutors offer a sweet deal to criminal defendants in return for testifying against a “higher-up” who the feds are also prosecuting. The press and the anti-Trumpsters say that such a practice is part of the “rule of law” and essential to the proper administration of justice.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever else might be said about Trump, he is absolutely right on this point. The process of offering sweetheart deals to people in return for their “cooperation” to get someone else convicted has long been one of the most corrupt aspects of the federal criminal-justice system, especially as part of the federal government’s much-vaunted (and much-failed) war on drugs.

Suppose a federal criminal defendant contacts a prospective witness in a case and offers him $50,000 in return for his “cooperation” in his upcoming trial. The money will be paid as soon as the trial is over. The defendant makes it clear that he wants the witness to “tell the truth” but that his “cooperation” when he testifies at trial would be greatly appreciated.

What would happen if federal officials learned about that communication and offer? They would go ballistic. They would immediately secure an indictment for bribery and witness tampering.

What if the defendant says, “Oh, no, I wasn’t tampering with the witness. I specifically told him that I wanted him to tell the truth when he took the witness stand. I was just seeking his friendly ‘cooperation’ with my $50,000 offer to him.”?

It wouldn’t make a difference. Federal prosecutors would go after him with a vengeance on bribery and witness-tampering charges. And it is a virtual certainty that they would get a conviction.

There is good reason for that. The law recognizes that the money could serve as an inducement for the witness to lie. Even though the defendant tells him to “tell the truth,” the witness knows that the fifty grand is being paid to him to help the defendant get acquitted, especially since it is payable after the trial is over. The temptation to lie, in return for the money, becomes strong, which is why the law prohibits criminal defendants from engaging in this type of practice.

Suppose a federal prosecutor says to a witness, “You are facing life in prison on the charges we have brought against you. But if you ‘cooperate’ with us to get John Doe, we will adjust the charges so that the most the judge can do is send you to jail for only 5 years at most. If you are really ‘cooperative,’ we will recommend that the judge give you the lowest possible sentence, perhaps even probation. Oh, one more thing, we want to make it clear that we do want you to tell the truth.”

Do you see the problem? The temptation to please the prosecutor with “cooperation” becomes tremendous. If the witness can help secure a conviction of Doe, he stands to get a much lighter sentence for his successful “cooperation.” The inducement to commit perjury oftentimes takes over, notwithstanding the prosecutor’s admonition to the witness to “tell the truth.”

Defenders of this corrupt process say that without it, prosecutors could never get convictions. That’s pure nonsense. For one thing, prosecutors can secure a conviction against the witness and then force him to testify once his case is over. That’s because a person whose case is over is unable to rely on the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the case against John Doe.

Moreover, the prosecutor can give what is called “use immunity” to the witness, which then forces him to testify in the case against Doe. Use immunity is not full immunity from prosecution. It simply means that the prosecutor cannot use the witness’s testimony against Doe to convict the witness at his trial. The prosecutor must convict him with other evidence.

But even if it means that the prosecutor is unable to secure some convictions, the question has to be asked: Do we want prosecutors securing convictions in this way? After all, there is a related question that must be asked: How many innocent people are convicted by perjured testimony from a witness who is doing his best to “cooperate” with the prosecution in the hope of getting a lighter sentence?

Given all the accolades being accorded Mueller, it is a shame that he has chosen to go down the same corrupt road that all other federal prosecutors have traveled. He didn’t have to do that. He could have led the way out of this immoral morass by taking a firm and public stand against this corrupt procedure. The fact that he has chosen instead to participate in it is a shame, to say the least.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Trump Would be Stupid to Talk to Mueller

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The US mainstream press is obviously becoming increasingly anxious about Special Counsel (and former FBI Director) Robert Mueller’s efforts to bring an early end to Donald Trump’s presidency. After all, it has now been 15 months (and millions of taxpayer dollars) since Mueller received his special appointment, and he still has not charged Trump with any wrongdoing whatsoever.

What Mueller has done is secure indictments against a few Russians who, according to Wikipedia, supposedly attempted “to trick Americans into consuming Russian propaganda that targeted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and later President-elect Donald Trump.”

Big deal.  I can’t help wonder which Americans ended up being tricked by that dangerous, mind-altering Russian propaganda. Maybe they ought to sue their public schools for educational malpractice.

Currently, Mueller is spending his time and US taxpayer money going after former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort. The charges? Income-tax violations and bank fraud.

But isn’t it the job of the Justice Department to go after people who are accused of those types of crimes? Why is Mueller’s special team prosecuting Manafort? Could it be because Mueller is hoping to secure a conviction against Manafort that will enable him to squeeze Manafort into providing some incriminating evidence against Trump, even if involves matters that don’t relate to the anti-Russia brouhaha, such as tax or regulatory violations? Could it be that Mueller is hoping to turn Manafort into another Rick Gates, the man who Mueller has given special treatment for agreeing to rat out Manafort?

Meanwhile, increasingly desperate over the passage of 15 months and still no charges by Mueller against Trump, the mainstream press is doing its best to pressure and manipulate Trump into agreeing to be interviewed by Mueller. The New York Times, for example, titles its August 13 editorial with “There’s No Need to Fear Mueller, Mr. President — if You Have Nothing to Hide.”

Oh, but there is something to fear! It’s called a “perjury trap.” It’s a favorite tactic of federal prosecutors, especially ones who want to punish people but have insufficient evidence to convict them of what they want to convict them of.

Recall, for example, Martha Stewart. Federal officials told her that they just wanted to interview her about supposed “insider trading,” one of the ludicrous economic crimes on the federal books. Stupidly, she agreed to the interview. It turned out to be a perjury trap. They never charged her with “insider trading” but they did charge her for supposedly lying to federal investigators. She got convicted of lying, not insider trading, and they sent her away to federal jail.

That’s why Mueller wants to interview Trump. He’s hoping that Trump slips up and tells a lie, which will then enable him to go after Trump for the lie rather than supposedly “colluding” with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton.

Let’s get one thing clear: Trump has no obligation whatsoever to help Mueller with his investigation. If Mueller can’t get enough evidence to charge Trump with unlawfully “colluding” with Russia, that’s his problem. He can’t expect Trump to sit down and assist him with his investigation of Trump.

Would Mueller hesitate to get Trump on some other charge, like possible income-tax evasion, building-code violations, foreign construction-related bribery, or making some false statement to Mueller during an interview? Well, duh! After 15 months of failing to come up with charges against Trump for “colluding” with Russia, do you think he wants to issue a final report that lets Trump off the hook but trumpets his big “successes” in going after people for income-tax violations, bank fraud, or failing to comply with some 1938 FDR-era law requiring foreigners to register as foreign agents? After 15 months and millions of dollars, Mueller will take anything he can get that will enable him to charge Trump with something.

Trump would be stupid to talk to Mueller. All that he would be doing would be the same thing that Martha Stewart did — giving federal prosecutors the opportunity to go after him on some slip-up during the interview. Trump should continue telling Mueller to put up or shut up and to stop pleading with Trump to assist him with his ridiculous anti-Russia investigation against Trump.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Silence on US Meddling Abroad

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Among the most fascinating aspects of the brouhaha over supposed Russian meddling in America’s electoral system is the total silence in the US mainstream press about US meddling in the political affairs of other countries.

Consider the mass outrage and indignation among the mainstream press that Russia would actually want to help a US presidential candidate who favors normalizing relations with Russia over a candidate that was determined to do the opposite.

Why not the same outrage against the US national-security establishment for helping its favorite people come to office in foreign countries?

By their silence regarding US meddling in foreign countries, one could easily draw the conclusion that the US mainstream press is saying the following: It’s wrong for Russia to meddle in the US electoral system but it’s okay for the US national-security establishment (i.e., the military, CIA, and NSA) to meddle in the electoral affairs of foreign countries.

But if that’s their position — and it certainly seems like that is their position based on their silence — then why don’t they explain it? Why is it considered okay for the US national-security establishment to meddle but not okay for the Russian national-security establishment to meddle?

Or to put it another way, if it’s wrong in principle to meddle, then why is the US government doing it, and why isn’t the US mainstream press condemning both US meddling and Russia meddling?

After all, even if Russian officials actually did do what they are accused of doing, it actually pales in comparison to what US officials do when they meddle in foreign countries. After all, what’s a few Facebook ads and hacking into email accounts compared to murder, kidnapping, bribery, sanctions, embargoes, and coups?

In the 1970s, the US government meddled in the Chilean presidential election, with bribery, kidnapping, murder, and a coup. Trying to prevent the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, from taking office, the CIA attempted to bribe Chilean congressmen from confirming Allende as president.

But that was nothing compared to what happened after that. The CIA conspired to kidnap the commanding general of the Chilean armed forces. The reason? Gen. Rene Schneider refused to go along with the military coup that US officials were demanding. Schneider was actually shot dead during the kidnapping attempt.

How’s that compared to some Facebook ads and email hacking?

Whether you call the kidnapping/murder of Rene Schneider “collusion” or “conspiracy,” there is no doubt that the plot originated in Washington and Virginia. There is no statue of limitations when it comes to felony-murder and conspiracy to commit felony-murder. Why not call for an official investigation to determine whether anyone involved in that collusion/conspiracy is still alive and should be brought to justice? Why the silence on the Schneider kidnapping/murder?

Once US national-security state officials removed Schneider as an obstacle, that paved the way for the US military coup, which brought US-favored Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power, along with the rapes, torture, abuse, incarceration, disappearances, or executions of tens of thousands of innocent people, including two Americans, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi. Why not criminally prosecute anyone who is still alive and who was involved in the collusion/conspiracy?

For that matter, let’s not forget the US national-security establishment’s intentional destruction of the democratic systems in Guatemala and Iran in the 1950s.

For those who say that all that is ancient history, how about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the one based on bogus fears of WMDs by US officials? Or the US regime-change operations in Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, which have left countless dead and the entire countries devastated? It’s hard to get better examples of meddling in the political affairs of other countries than those. Or how about the US national-security establishment’s anti-democratic coup in Ukraine, which, along with NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, is the root of the Ukraine-Russia-US crisis? Why aren’t those US meddlers being charged with criminal meddling and conspiracy to criminally meddle?

For that matter, how about the decades-old US embargo against Cuba, whose aim has always been regime change. The same, of course, applies to the US. sanctions against Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and, of course, Russia. Why not investigate and prosecute those meddlers?

The US media helps to remind us of an old principle: When one points his finger at someone in an accusatory way, oftentimes there are three fingers pointing back at the accuser and his silence.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Iran: Another US War of Aggression?

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I am getting that Iraq deja vu feeling again, only this time with respect to Iran.

You’ll recall the build-up to the US war of aggression against Iraq: WMDs. Mushroom clouds. Charts and graphs. Preventive war.

The anti-Iraq propaganda from US officials was overwhelming, so much so that by the time US officials initiated their war of aggression against Iraq, many Americans had completely accepted the notion that the United States was an innocent victim about to come under nuclear attack from Saddam Hussein and that the US government needed to initiate a massive military attack and invasion of Iraq in order to defend the United States.

Of course, as everyone learned afterward, the propaganda was entirely bogus. There were no WMDs and even if there were, the last thing that Iraq was doing to do with them was start a war against the most powerful military in history. The entire propaganda build-up was designed to get the American people on board with a war of aggression and not ask too many questions.

President Trump just issued one of his infamous midnight tweets, this one telling Iranian officials (with caps in the original):
NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
Trump was responding to a speech on Sunday delivered by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urging President Trump to “make peace” with Iran.

What was the so-called threat to which Trump was referring? In his speech, Rouhani stated, “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

That’s the “threat” to which Trump was referring. It’s just another bogus propagandistic excuse to find a way to start another war of aggression against a country that has never attacked the United States or threatened to do so, contrary to what Trump alleges in his midnight tweet.

The fact is that the last thing that Iran wants is a war with the United States. Like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and other nations that the US deep state has attacked, Iran is a second-rate nation, one whose military would not stand a chance against the US military in a war. Everyone knows that in a US war of aggression against Iran, the US military will wreak massive death and destruction in Iran, especially against the Iranian populace, just like it did in Iraq.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo just delivered a speech to an audience of Iranian-Americans in California that appears to be softening the ground for a war against Iran. Comparing the Iranian government to the Mafia, Pompeo labeled Iran’s leading clerics as “hypocritical holy men” who were running a regime that isn’t “normal.”

Of course, never mind that a regime that engages in formal policies of assassination, torture, indefinite detention, coups, and wars of aggression isn’t exactly “normal” either.

In his speech Pompeo emphasized that the US government was on the side of the Iranian people. As one audience member pointed out, however, that sentiment is difficult to reconcile with the US government’s brutal system of sanctions, which have brought tremendous misery, impoverishment, and even death to the Iranian people.

For more than 10 years, the US deep state also enforced a brutal system of sanctions against Iraq, which contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. The purpose of the sanctions was regime change, one by which the Iraqi regime would agree to comply with orders of the US deep state or abdicate in favor of a regime that would follow such orders.

After more than ten years of sanctions, misery, and death among the Iraqi people, it was clear that they were not going to achieve the goal of regime change any time soon. That’s when US officials decided to use the fear generated by the 9/11 attacks, along with the fear generated by the bogus WMDs, to garner support for a regime-change invasion of Iraq.

The US sanctions against Iran are obviously encountering the same difficulty. Despite the suffering, impoverishment, and death the sanctions have produced — and continue to produce — among the Iranian people, there is no indication that they are going to produce regime change any time soon.

Trump and the deep state are obviously getting frustrated and impatient with the failure of their sanctions to achieve regime change in Iran, just as George W. Bush and the deep state became frustrated with the failure of their sanctions to achieve regime change in Iraq. Thus, no one should be surprised if Iran becomes another Iraq.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Supreme Court’s Deference to the Pentagon

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Imagine a county sheriff that took a suspected drug-law violator into custody more than 10 years ago. Since then, the man has been held in jail without being accorded a trial. The district attorney and the sheriff promise to give the man a trial sometime in the future but they’re just not sure when. Meanwhile the man sits in jail indefinitely just waiting for his trial to begin.

Difficult to imagine, right? That’s because most everyone would assume that a judge would never permit such a thing to happen. The man’s lawyer would file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. A judge would order the sheriff to produce the prisoner and show cause why the prisoner shouldn’t immediately be released from custody. At the habeas corpus hearing, the judge would either order the release of the prisoner based on the violation of his right to a speedy trial or he would order the state to either try him or release him.

The same principle would apply on the federal level to, say, DEA agents who had been holding some suspected drug lord in jail for ten years without according him a trial. A federal judge would proceed to handle a petition for habeas corpus in the same manner that the state judge would. It is a virtual certainty that the federal judge would either order the prisoner’s release or order the DEA to “try him or release him.”

In either case, the judicial branch’s order would be supreme over the sheriff and the DEA. They would be expected to comply with the judge’s order. If they refused to do so, the judge would cite the sheriff or DEA officials with contempt and order them incarcerated until they complied with his order. The contempt order would be carried out by state law-enforcement personnel or by deputy US Marshals.

Not so, however, with the national-security establishment, specifically the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. As Michael Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University, points out in his book National Security and Double Government, the national-security establishment has become the most powerful part of the federal government, one to which the judicial branch (as well as the other two branches) inevitably defers in matters that are critically important to the Pentagon, the CIA, or the NSA.

An excellent example of this phenomenon is the Pentagon’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When the Pentagon initially established Gitmo as a prison camp after the 9/11 attacks, it did so with the intent that it would be totally independent of any interference or control by the federal judiciary. That’s why it chose Cuba for the location of its prison — so that it could argue that the US Constitution did not apply and the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to interfere with its operations. (It was an ironic position given the oath that all military personnel take to support and defend the Constitution.)

Maintaining the veneer of control, however, the Supreme Court ultimately held that it did in fact have jurisdiction over Guantanamo. But as a practical matter, the Court deferred to the ultimate power of the Pentagon, as manifested by the fact that there are prisoners at Guantanamo who have been incarcerated for more than a decade without being accorded a trial.

In other words, what the judiciary would never permit to happen under a local sheriff or the DEA has been permitted to happen under the Pentagon. That’s because the judiciary knows that given the overwhelming power of the Pentagon (and the CIA and NSA), there is no way that some federal judge would be able to enforce a contempt order with some deputy US Marshals confronting, say, the 82nd Airborne Division.

Sure, the federal judiciary has issued habeas corpus releases on some prisoners at Guantanamo and the Pentagon has consented to complying with them. But that’s all just for appearance sake, to maintain the veneer that everything is operating “normally.” Federal judges know that whenever the Pentagon says “No more,” that’s the way it’s going to be.

How do we know this? How do we know that the Pentagon, not the federal judiciary, is ultimately in charge and that when push comes to shove the judiciary will defer to the power of the military? We know it by virtue of the fact that there are some prisoners at Guantanamo who have been incarcerated for more than a decade without being accorded a trial. We know that judges would never permit that sort of thing to happen with a sheriff or the DEA.

There is another way we can recognize the supreme power of the Pentagon vis a vis the Supreme Court. After the Court took jurisdiction over Guantanamo, the Pentagon established its own “judicial” system to try terrorist suspects. I place the word “judicial” in quotation marks because it really isn’t a judicial system in the way that we think of judicial systems here in the United States. The Pentagon’s “judicial” system more closely resembles the “judicial” system that the communist regime in Cuba employs than the judicial system that exists here in the United States.

For example, trial is by military commission rather than trial by jury. Evidence acquired by torture is admissible. The accused is presumed guilty and can be tortured into making admissions and confessions. Hearsay evidence is admissible. Lawyer-client conversations can be monitored by military authorities, a grave breach of the attorney-client privilege that is recognized here in the United States. There is obviously no right to a speedy trial. In fact, the entire “trial,” when it finally is permitted, is nothing more than what is called a “show trial” in communist countries. That’s because a guilty verdict is preordained but is made to look like it has been arrived at fairly and justly.

There is one big thing to note about the Pentagon’s “judicial” system at Gitmo: There is nothing in the Constitution that permits the Pentagon to establish and operate such a “judicial” system. The Constitution, which is meant to control the entire federal government, establishes one and only one judicial system to try terrorist suspects and other people accused of federal crimes. That system is the U.S. federal court system that the Constitution authorized the federal government to establish when the federal government was initially called into existence.

Thus, when the Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction over Guantanamo, it had the legal duty to immediately declare the Pentagon’s “judicial” system in Cuba unconstitutional. After all, if a local sheriff or the DEA established a new independent “judicial” system to try drug-war violators, federal judges wouldn’t hesitate to declare it illegal under our form of government. But this is the Pentagon that we are dealing with. The Supreme Court knows that the Pentagon will permit the judicial branch to go only so far when it comes to interfering with its operations.

In 1961, President Eisenhower issued a stark warning to the American people. He said that the military-industrial complex, which, as he pointed out, was a relatively new feature in American life, posed a grave threat to the freedom and democratic processes of the American people. The Pentagon’s prison camp, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay confirms how right Eisenhower was.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Supreme Court’s Deference to the Pentagon

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Imagine a county sheriff that took a suspected drug-law violator into custody more than 10 years ago. Since then, the man has been held in jail without being accorded a trial. The district attorney and the sheriff promise to give the man a trial sometime in the future but they’re just not sure when. Meanwhile the man sits in jail indefinitely just waiting for his trial to begin.

Difficult to imagine, right? That’s because most everyone would assume that a judge would never permit such a thing to happen. The man’s lawyer would file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. A judge would order the sheriff to produce the prisoner and show cause why the prisoner shouldn’t immediately be released from custody. At the habeas corpus hearing, the judge would either order the release of the prisoner based on the violation of his right to a speedy trial or he would order the state to either try him or release him.

The same principle would apply on the federal level to, say, DEA agents who had been holding some suspected drug lord in jail for ten years without according him a trial. A federal judge would proceed to handle a petition for habeas corpus in the same manner that the state judge would. It is a virtual certainty that the federal judge would either order the prisoner’s release or order the DEA to “try him or release him.”

In either case, the judicial branch’s order would be supreme over the sheriff and the DEA. They would be expected to comply with the judge’s order. If they refused to do so, the judge would cite the sheriff or DEA officials with contempt and order them incarcerated until they complied with his order. The contempt order would be carried out by state law-enforcement personnel or by deputy US Marshals.

Not so, however, with the national-security establishment, specifically the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. As Michael Glennon, professor of law at Tufts University, points out in his book National Security and Double Government, the national-security establishment has become the most powerful part of the federal government, one to which the judicial branch (as well as the other two branches) inevitably defers in matters that are critically important to the Pentagon, the CIA, or the NSA.

An excellent example of this phenomenon is the Pentagon’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. When the Pentagon initially established Gitmo as a prison camp after the 9/11 attacks, it did so with the intent that it would be totally independent of any interference or control by the federal judiciary. That’s why it chose Cuba for the location of its prison — so that it could argue that the US Constitution did not apply and the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to interfere with its operations. (It was an ironic position given the oath that all military personnel take to support and defend the Constitution.)

Maintaining the veneer of control, however, the Supreme Court ultimately held that it did in fact have jurisdiction over Guantanamo. But as a practical matter, the Court deferred to the ultimate power of the Pentagon, as manifested by the fact that there are prisoners at Guantanamo who have been incarcerated for more than a decade without being accorded a trial.

In other words, what the judiciary would never permit to happen under a local sheriff or the DEA has been permitted to happen under the Pentagon. That’s because the judiciary knows that given the overwhelming power of the Pentagon (and the CIA and NSA), there is no way that some federal judge would be able to enforce a contempt order with some deputy US Marshals confronting, say, the 82nd Airborne Division.

Sure, the federal judiciary has issued habeas corpus releases on some prisoners at Guantanamo and the Pentagon has consented to complying with them. But that’s all just for appearance sake, to maintain the veneer that everything is operating “normally.” Federal judges know that whenever the Pentagon says “No more,” that’s the way it’s going to be.

How do we know this? How do we know that the Pentagon, not the federal judiciary, is ultimately in charge and that when push comes to shove the judiciary will defer to the power of the military? We know it by virtue of the fact that there are some prisoners at Guantanamo who have been incarcerated for more than a decade without being accorded a trial. We know that judges would never permit that sort of thing to happen with a sheriff or the DEA.

There is another way we can recognize the supreme power of the Pentagon vis a vis the Supreme Court. After the Court took jurisdiction over Guantanamo, the Pentagon established its own “judicial” system to try terrorist suspects. I place the word “judicial” in quotation marks because it really isn’t a judicial system in the way that we think of judicial systems here in the United States. The Pentagon’s “judicial” system more closely resembles the “judicial” system that the communist regime in Cuba employs than the judicial system that exists here in the United States.

For example, trial is by military commission rather than trial by jury. Evidence acquired by torture is admissible. The accused is presumed guilty and can be tortured into making admissions and confessions. Hearsay evidence is admissible. Lawyer-client conversations can be monitored by military authorities, a grave breach of the attorney-client privilege that is recognized here in the United States. There is obviously no right to a speedy trial. In fact, the entire “trial,” when it finally is permitted, is nothing more than what is called a “show trial” in communist countries. That’s because a guilty verdict is preordained but is made to look like it has been arrived at fairly and justly.

There is one big thing to note about the Pentagon’s “judicial” system at Gitmo: There is nothing in the Constitution that permits the Pentagon to establish and operate such a “judicial” system. The Constitution, which is meant to control the entire federal government, establishes one and only one judicial system to try terrorist suspects and other people accused of federal crimes. That system is the U.S. federal court system that the Constitution authorized the federal government to establish when the federal government was initially called into existence.

Thus, when the Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction over Guantanamo, it had the legal duty to immediately declare the Pentagon’s “judicial” system in Cuba unconstitutional. After all, if a local sheriff or the DEA established a new independent “judicial” system to try drug-war violators, federal judges wouldn’t hesitate to declare it illegal under our form of government. But this is the Pentagon that we are dealing with. The Supreme Court knows that the Pentagon will permit the judicial branch to go only so far when it comes to interfering with its operations.

In 1961, President Eisenhower issued a stark warning to the American people. He said that the military-industrial complex, which, as he pointed out, was a relatively new feature in American life, posed a grave threat to the freedom and democratic processes of the American people. The Pentagon’s prison camp, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay confirms how right Eisenhower was.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.