All posts by Jacob G. Hornberger

Cuba Was Never a Threat to ‘National Security’

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Of all the ludicrous aspects of the Cold War, among the most ridiculous was the notion that Cuba posed a threat to US “national security.” For some 30 years, the US deep state (i.e., the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA) maintained that Cuba was a communist “dagger” pointed at America’s neck and, therefore, was a grave threat to “national security.”

Through it all, hardly anyone ever asked a very simple but important question: What did they mean when they said that Cuba was a threat to “national security”?

Did they mean that the Cuban army was about to invade Florida, conquer the state, move up the Eastern Seaboard, and end up forcibly taking over the reins of the federal government, thereby enabling it to control the IRS and HUD?

If so, that’s absolutely ridiculous. Cuba has always been an impoverished Third World country, one with a very small military force. Even if it could have scrounged up a few transport boats to get a few dozen troops to Miami, they would have been quickly smashed by well-armed private American citizens. Anyone who really thinks that Cuba could have invaded and conquered the United States needs a serious dose of reality.

So, then what did they mean when they repeatedly told us that Cuba was a threat to “national security”?

Maybe they meant that Cuban leader Fidel Castro would export socialist ideas to the United States, where they would then infect the minds of the American people.

If so, that’s ridiculous because socialism was already taking over the minds of the American people, and long before Fidel Castro took power in Cuba. That’s what President Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security scheme was all about — bringing socialism to America. That was some 25 years before Castro came to power!

Let’s not forget, after all, that Social Security did not originate with James Madison or Patrick Henry. It originated among German socialists near the end of the 1800s and then came to the United States in the 1930s. That’s why the Social Security administration has a bust of Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor of Germany, prominently displayed on its website. Bismarck introduced Social Security to Germany. He got the idea from German socialists.

When President Lyndon Johnson enacted Medicare and Medicaid into law in the 1960s, it would be safe to say that he hadn’t gotten the idea from Fidel Castro. Socialism was gripping the minds of Americans independently of what was happening in Cuba. The fact is that the entire world was moving toward socialism. 

What about the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Castro invited the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles in Cuba aimed at the United States? They were defensive in nature. The Pentagon and the CIA were pressuring President Kennedy to wage a war of aggression against Cuba, with the aim of installing another pro-US dictator into power, such as Fulgencio Batista, the brutal and corrupt Cuban dictator who preceded Castro. A prime example was Operation Northwoods, the false and fraudulent scheme that the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously presented to Kennedy after the CIA’s Bay of Pigs disaster, with the aim of securing regime change in Cuba. (To Kennedy’s everlasting credit, he rejected it.)

To deter another US attack or to defend against such an attack, Castro sought assistance from the Soviets. If the Pentagon and the CIA had not been pressuring Kennedy to attack Cuba, Castro would never have invited the Soviets to install those missiles. This was confirmed by the fact that once Kennedy promised that he would not permit the deep state to attack Cuba again, the Soviets took their missiles home.

Today, 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the US deep state steadfastly maintains that Cuba continues to pose a threat to US “national security.” That’s what the decades-old economic embargo that targets the Cuban populace with impoverishment and death is all about. 

But the fact is that Cuba has never posed a threat to US “national security,” whatever definition one puts on that nebulous, meaningless term. The truth is that it has always been the US government that has posed a threat to Cuban “national security,” as manifested by such illegal and wrongful actions as the CIA invasion at the Bay of Pigs, the decades-long cruel and brutal economic embargo against the Cuban people, the false and fraudulent Operation Northwoods, state-sponsored assassinations attempts against Castro, and acts of terrorism and sabotage within Cuba.

The truth is that the entire decades-long anti-Cuba campaign has always been nothing more than a fear-mongering racket by the US deep state, one designed to assure ever-increasing budgets and power for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Never-Ending Wars on Terrorism and Drugs

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Not long after President George W. Bush declared a “war on terrorism,” I wrote that this war would end up being as perpetual as the federal government’s war on drugs. Some 18 years later, the US government’s killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria confirms how right I was.

After all, given all the media hype about the killing, you would think that the war on terrorism had been won and had finally been brought to an end. Some people were undoubtedly even getting ready for a ticker-tape parade in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the end of the war on terrorism.

Alas, not even close! Despite the much-ballyhooed killing of Baghdadi, there are still lots more terrorists, both big and little, in the world to kill. After 18 years of terrorism warfare, the Pentagon and the CIA are just getting a good start killing terrorists.

Indeed, the media is already speculating on who will replace Bagdadi as the new head of ISIS. Before too long, America will have another brand new official enemy to add to its long list of official enemies that need killing.

Haven’t we seen this picture, time and time again, in the war on drugs? Why, just recently we were treated to the federal spectacle of “El Chapo,” the notorious Mexican drug lord, being busted in Mexico, extradited to the United States, and, amidst great media hype, convicted and sentenced to life in a US federal penitentiary.

Did that meant that the decades-long drug war was finally over? Are you kidding? Like with the war on terrorism, drug-war proponents are just getting a good start. There are always more drug lords, drug cartels, and drug dealers to go after.

Both the war on drugs and the war on terrorism are never-ending. There is a simple reason for this perpetuity: The US government. Its policies are what bring into existence an ever-growing array of drug lords and terrorists.

Consider drug cartels. They didn’t exist before the US government made drug possession and distribution illegal. As soon as they made them illegal, violent drug cartels came into existence to provide people with drugs on the black (i.e., illegal) market.

No matter how fiercely the feds crack down on drug cartels and drug lords, there are always more ready to take the place of those who are busted. That’s because there is always a lot of big money to be made when drugs are made illegal, especially the more fiercely the government cracks down on supply. The bigger the crackdown, the more restricted the supply, which produces higher prices and soaring profits.

The principle is no different with anti-American terrorism. Between 1945 and 1989, the big official bugaboo was communism, not terrorism. In 1989, with the unexpected end of the Cold War, the Pentagon and the CIA suddenly lost communism as their big official enemy. That’s when they began intervening in the Middle East, especially by killing people in Iraq, including children. The massive death toll was compounded by the conscious indifference on the part of US officials, as manifested by the infamous declaration by Madeleine Albright, the US Ambassador to the UN, that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the US and UN sanctions, while difficult, were, in fact, “worth it.”

The result was predictable. The interventionism and the conscious indifference to the high death toll produced the ongoing threat of terrorist retaliation against the United States. Terrorism replaced communism as America’s new official enemy.

So, why not simply end drug prohibition and foreign interventionism, as we libertarians have been advocating for decades?

Are you kidding? That would bring an end to drug cartels and anti-American terrorists! As far as the drug-war establishment and the US national-security establishment are concerned, that would be a disaster! Just think: If there were no more drug cartels and anti-American terrorists, how could the US drug-war establishment and the US national-security establishment justify their ever-increasing budgets and ever-increasing destruction of American liberty and privacy, in the name of “keeping us safe” from the official enemies their policies produce?

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Who Are the Real Friends of the Troops?

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Ever since the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it has been an article of faith that Americans should thank the troops for their service in those two countries.

Yet, with the exception of libertarians and few leftists, the fact is that during the two decades of death, injury, suffering, destruction, and out of control federal spending and debt that threatens to send the government into bankruptcy, the overwhelming majority of Americans never openly demanded that the US government bring the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

There certainly haven’t been any massive antiwar protests, like there was with the Vietnam War. Instead, this time around there has been a mindset of deference to the authority of the Pentagon and the CIA to protect national security, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Through it all there has been this incessant desire to thank the troops for their service. You see it airports, where people go out of their way to thank the troops for their service. You see it at baseball games, where the public-address announcer asks people to stand and thank the troops for their service. You see it in churches all across America, where ministers exhort their congregations to pray for the brave troops who are serving our nation overseas.

This all seems very strange to me because the people who feel the need to thank the troops for their service never seem to ask what the service consists of? It’s almost like it doesn’t matter. One gets the distinct feeling that so long as an American thanks the troops for their service, their duty is done. Leave it to US officials to decide what the service is and whether the service should continue. All that matters is that we thank the troops for their service.

Service in Iraq

Let’s examine Iraq. What exactly was the service that the troops performed in Iraq for which people thank them? Was it a meritorious service? For some reason, many people who thank the troops for their service never ask those questions. They consider them irrelevant. Those are matters for the Pentagon and the CIA to determine, they say. Regardless, we just need to keep thanking the troops for their service.

Nonetheless, there are two reasonable possibilities for what the service consisted of in Iraq: one, the troops were sacrificing themselves to protect the freedom of the American people, and, two, they were sacrificing themselves to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. I think most Americans who go out of their way to thank the troops for their service in Iraq subconsciously settle on one or both of these two rationales for thanking them.

Yet, both rationales for invading and occupying Iraq and wreaking death and destruction across the country have always been false and fallacious, which is perhaps why people don’t like thinking about them.

It was undisputed that Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. That made the United States the aggressor power in the conflict, and it meant that Iraq was the defending nation. Under international law and the principles set forth at the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal, the United States was the nation that was involved in criminal conduct when it invaded and occupied Iraq, killing and injuring thousands of Iraqis in the process, none of whom had ever attacked the United States.

The illegality of the invasion was aggravated by the fact that President George W. Bush, who ordered the troops to invade Iraq, never secured the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war on Iraq. That made the war illegal not only under international law but also under our own system of government.

Thus, the service the troops performed in Iraq never had anything to do with protecting our freedoms here at home because our freedoms were never threatened by one single Iraqi or by the Iraqi government. Under international law and the law of the US Constitution, the service in which the president had his troops engaged in Iraq was criminal in nature.

The Pentagon called its invasion and occupation of Iraq “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” which implied the second rationale for thanking the troops for their service — that they were bringing freedom to the Iraqi people. Once again, it needs to be pointed out that international law and the US Constitution do not authorize the US government to invade and occupy a country with the aim of bringing freedom to the citizenry, especially when lots of the citizenry are going to have to be killed and maimed in the process of bringing freedom to them.

Moreover, there was never a chance that the Iraqi people were going to be freed, given the particular governmental structure that the Pentagon and the CIA were going to establish in Iraq after overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime. The type of government that the Pentagon and the CIA established was never going to be a limited-government republic, which is a type of governmental structure that is consistent with freedom. Instead, the plan was to establish a national-security state type of government, which is a totalitarian type of governmental structure. That necessary meant another crooked and corrupt dictatorial regime in Iraq, no different in principle from that of Saddam Hussein.

In other words, the US government, operating through the troops, ousted one dictatorial regime and simply replaced it with another. The idea, though, was that since the new one would supposedly be pro-US, that would mean, by definition, that the Iraqi people would then be free — well, at least those who survived the invasion and occupation.

As we are now seeing in Iraq today, the Iraqi government is killing Iraqi citizens for protesting the crookedness and corruption of the dictatorial regime that the Pentagon and the CIA installed into power. That is not exactly the model for free society. Quite the contrary! The Iraqi government that the Pentagon and the CIA installed into power is nothing more than Saddam Hussein type of dictatorial regime.

Read this article, entitled Love and War, that appeared in the October 3, 2019, issue of the Washington Post. It’s a moving and emotional account by a widow whose husband lost in leg in Iraq owing to a bomb that exploded near him. He returned to the United States, got addicted to painkillers, suffered from PTSD, and later died of a drug overdose. His widow thinks, however, that what he really died of was “isolation and loneliness.” The article points out that since the start of the Iraq War in 2001, 52,000 American servicemen have been wounded in action, many of whom are too disabled to work.

What was their sacrifice for? For “freedom”? Don’t make me laugh. No matter how much people thank that widow and those 52,000 troops for their service, it cannot cover up the fact that their sacrifice was for nothing. That’s why we libertarians, who opposed the war from the start and continually demanded that the US exit Iraq and bring the troops home, were always much better friends to the troops than those who mindlessly thanked them for their service while doing nothing to bring them home from the US government’s deadly and destructive imperialist venture in Iraq.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

What Exactly Is Trump’s Impeachable Offense?

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I confess that I still don’t get what exactly is going to be the particular offense for which President Trump is going to be impeached.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of impeaching Trump and removing him from office, but only for grave crimes, such as waging war illegally (i.e., without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war), wreaking death, suffering, and destruction in those wars, committing countless assassinations, and violating provisions in the Bill of Rights with respect to indefinite detention, torture, denial of speedy trial, and denial of due process of law.

But impeaching Trump for a telephone conversation? To me, that has the feel of desperation attached to it, a desperation born out of an increasing realization that none of the Democratic presidential candidates is capable of defeating Trump in an election. Trump’s impeachment seems like it might be the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in football — almost impossible to complete but would at least give the Democrats a long-shot, short-cut way to the presidency.

There are three possible offenses that would form the basis of an impeachment. Let’s examine and analyze each one.

Offense One

Trump’s request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to initiate a criminal investigation of former Vice-President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden on possible corruption charges in Ukraine.

Is it really a criminal offense for a president to request that a criminal investigation be launched against someone, including a political opponent?

Let’s first consider the case of an American citizen, John Doe, who is not running for office. The president calls the attorney general and says, “Would you initiate a criminal investigation against John Doe?” Would that really be a crime under US law? What if Doe is a suspected terrorist? Or a suspected bank robber? Where in the law is the president prohibited from requesting the attorney general from initiating an investigation (and possible criminal prosecution) of Doe?

Now, let’s change the scenario. Let’s say that Trump calls a state attorney general and makes the same request. Is that against the law? I don’t see how it can be. Again, what if the person really does need to be investigated? What if he’s committed fraud, both on the federal and state level? Where in the law does it say that the president is legally prohibited from asking a state attorney general to initiate an investigation?

Let’s change the scenario again. Let’s say that Trump calls the president of a foreign country and makes the same request. Let’s say that the person he’s targeting is running an international child-trafficking operation that is based in that country but also operating within the United States. Would it really be illegal under US law for the president to request that foreign president to initiate an investigation into such person? I don’t see how it would be.

Now, let’s change the scenario to one where Trump makes the same requests with respect to someone who is running against him for president. Would that be illegal? If it’s not illegal to make the request with respect to a non-candidate, then I don’t see how it would be illegal to make the same request with respect to an opposing candidate.

Yes, the request might be a malevolent, vicious, improper, and unethical thing to do, but if we are going to impeach presidents for doing those types of things in political races, no president would last more than a few days in office. Every one of them engages in malevolent, vicious, improper, and unethical conduct in his or her insatiable quest for political power.

What if the opposing candidate really has engaged in criminal wrongdoing, either here in the United States or in a foreign country or both? Does the law really say that when a person announces for public office, he is automatically immune from investigation and prosecution for any crimes he has committed? I am certain the law doesn’t say that. Otherwise, every murderer, robber, and rapist would be running for office perpetually.

Democrats and mainstream newspaper commentators are saying that Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden are innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. Fair enough. But maybe that’s because they haven’t been sufficiently investigated. Many guilty people appear innocent until an aggressive evidence shows otherwise. Why does the fact that they say they are innocent of official corruption in Ukraine convert Trump’s request that they be investigated for official corruption into an impeachable offense?

Offense Two

Holding up a US foreign aid package to Ukraine shortly before Trump requested President Zelensky to initiate the investigation.

The charge here refers to bribery. The argument is that by Trump withholding the foreign aid money to Ukraine until he made his request to investigate the Bidens, he was essentially offering Zelensky a bribe. That is, the argument is that Trump was essentially saying with his actions, “If you will grant my request, I will give you this money.”

If that’s the case, that certainly would constitute a bribe. But there are two big problems with this argument.

First, that’s not what Trump said. It might appear that that is what he was doing by withholding the foreign aid but appearances are not the same as proof. Trump himself has come up with two explanations as to why he was holding up the aid package, neither of which had anything to do with a bribe. He might well be lying, but the burden of proof is on the accuser, not Trump. Moreover, the fact that the aid was later released to Ukraine, without Trump having had his request for an investigation into the Bidens granted, does not bode well for the accusers.

Second, US foreign aid has long been used as bribery. That’s the very purpose of foreign aid — to induce foreign regimes to do the bidding of US officials. See my articles “Foreign Aid for Dictators” and “From the Anti-Russia Brouhaha to the Ukraine Brouhaha.” Is Trump going to be impeached and removed from office for doing what the the US foreign-aid system is intended to do?

I’m reminded of what happened to Yemen after it voted against President George H.W. Bush’s request for a UN resolution authorizing war against Iraq. US Secretary of State James Baker reportedly stated that that was the most expensive vote Yemen would ever take. US foreign aid to Yemen was terminated. Neither Bush nor Baker was impeached.

Moreover, it turns out that Biden himself did the same thing when he was vice-president. He told Ukrainian officials that if they didn’t remove a particular prosecutor in the regime, he would make sure that US foreign aid to Ukraine would cease. The official was quickly removed, and the aid was continued. Now, it’s true that just because Bush and Biden did it doesn’t justify Trump doing it. But it seems to me that it’s going to look a bit hypocritical, petty, and Third-Worldish to impeach Trump and remove him from office for using foreign aid in the same way that other US officials do.

By the way, if we are going to start impeaching presidents for bribery through US foreign aid, can we also start prosecuting candidates for bribery who offer voters political freebies — such as free education, free healthcare, and free income — in return for their votes?

Offense Three

Soliciting an illegal campaign contribution from Zelensky by supposedly requesting him to get political dirt on Biden and his son.

The idea here is that by requesting a criminal investigation into Biden by Ukrainian officials, Trump was essentially seeking political dirt on Biden. The political dirt, the argument goes, would be a campaign contribution from a foreign regime. It is unlawful under US campaign-finance laws for Trump to solicit or accept a campaign contribution from a foreign regime.

There are three big problems with this supposed offense.

First, a criminal investigation is not the same thing as an investigation to find political dirt on someone. A criminal investigation is a criminal investigation. It ordinarily leads a criminal prosecution. That’s not to say that a criminal investigation cannot also be a search for political dirt, but there is no evidence that Trump specifically requested political dirt when he requested that Zelensky initiate a criminal investigation of the Bidens. Based on the notes of the telephone conversation, it is clear that Trump requested an investigation, not political dirt.

Second, for political dirt to constitute a campaign contribution, it has to have some value. If Trump’s request for an investigation is construed as a request for political dirt, how much would that dirt be worth? How can such a determination be made without knowing what the dirt is? And what if it turned out that there was no dirt? Is it unlawful under US campaign finance laws to seek a contribution worth zero dollars from a foreign regime?

Third, if US campaign-finance laws make Trump’s request for an investigation into the Bidens a criminal offense, the laws are clearly unconstitutional. That’s because they obviously run afoul of the First Amendment, which states as follows: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” It would be difficult to find a better example of speech than a telephone conversation. Under our constitutional form of government, when a congressional enactment collides with the Constitution, the enactment must give way.

After embroiling the nation for three years in what has to be considered the most ludicrous conspiracy theory in US history — that Trump colluded with the Russians to elect him to the presidency — it seems to me that the Democrats, the mainstream press, and possibly even the deep state have now moved on to Part 2 of their effort to remove Trump from office without having to defeat him in an election.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Foreign Aid for Dictators

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Notice something important about the hoopla regarding President’s Trump withholding of US foreign aid to Ukraine while he was requesting Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden for possible corruption: Nobody in Washington, D.C., or within the establishment press is questioning the concept of foreign aid itself. Foreign aid has become such an established and accepted way of inducing foreign regimes to comply with the dictates of US officials that the thought of ending it entirely doesn’t even enter the minds of Republicans, Democrats, or member of the mainstream media.

But questioning foreign aid itself is precisely what the American people should be doing. Not only does foreign aid contribute to the out-of-control federal spending and debt that is hanging over the American people (with the debt now at $22.6 trillion and climbing), it also constitutes one of the most evil and immoral practices of the US government.

Case in point: Egypt. Notwithstanding the fact that the country is governed by one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world, the US government delivers $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s military dictatorship every year.

Like the United States, Egypt’s government is based on the concept of a national-security state, which is a type of governmental system in which a vast and permanent military-intelligence establishment plays a major role in society. In Egypt, that role is much more pronounced and predominant than it is here in the United States. Here in the United States, the power and influence that the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA wield are indirect and often hidden. In Egypt the military-intelligence establishment wields direct control of the government and the economy.

To get a sense of how Egypt’s national-security state operates, think back to the national-security state system of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who US national-security state officials helped install into power in 1973. Pinochet was an unelected military dictator who ruled Chile with an iron fist. His forces rounded up tens of thousands of people who were considered to be threats to “national security” and tortured, raped, or killed them.

Egypt’s military dictator, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who, like Pinochet, took power in a coup, holds a presidential election, but everyone knows that it is a sham. For all practical purposes, el-Sisi stands in the same position as Pinochet — as an unelected dictator.

Moreover, el-Sisi is every bit as brutal as Pinochet was. For example, in the past couple of weeks demonstrations have broken out in Egypt against the corruption within el-Sisi’s dictatorial regime. El-Sisi’s forces have immediately gone into action to ensure that things do not get out of hand. So far, they have arrested some 2,000 protestors. According to an article in Aljazeera,

In Cairo, security forces closed off entrances to Tahrir Square, the hub of the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak. There was a heavy police presence around the square and at some junctions in the city centre…. At Cairo’s Al-Fateh mosque, a starting point for protests in 2011, dozens of police, some in uniform and others in plain clothes with masks and large guns, stood near the exit as prayers finished. At least 20 security vehicles were stationed around the mosque or patrolling nearby. Security forces also stepped up their presence in main squares in major cities and plainclothes police have been checking motorists’ and pedestrians’ mobile phones for political content…. In a brief statement on Thursday, Egypt’s Ministry of Interior warned it would “confront any attempt to destabilise social peace in a firm and decisive way.”

Moreover, Egypt’s criminal-justice system mirrors that of the Pentagon and the CIA in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — indefinite detention, torture, denial of due process of law, denial of effective assistance of counsel, and denial of trial by jury.

There is also the economic aspect of Egypt’s national-security state. The economic system is based on the concept of socialist central planning, with the military-intelligence establishment doing the planning. Not surprisingly, this socialist system has brought economic impoverishment to Egyptian citizens, while enriching the regime’s military-intelligence personnel. Dismal economic conditions and corruption within the regime are partly what is motivating the protesters.

Guess who is enabling this tyranny and socialism. Yes, the US government, with its $1.3 billion in annual delivery of military armaments, which, like all US foreign aid, is nothing more than a bribe to ensure that el-Sisi remains loyal to the US government. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, those military armaments provide Egypt’s tyrants with the ability to suppress or deter dissent within the country. They also provide a means by which the military-intelligence establishment is able to use domestic tax revenues to feather their own nests.

The US government’s partnership with and support of Egypt’s regime should not surprise us. Since the US government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state after World War II, US officials have demonstrated an affinity for foreign national-security states. That’s why they installed Pinochet, a military general, into power. Twenty years before their Chilean regime-change operation, US national-security state officials destroyed democratic systems in Iran and Guatemala and replaced them with national-security states and tyrants. Before the Persian Gulf War, the US government partnered and allied with Saddam Hussein and his national-security state in Iraq. In the 2003 Iraq war, the US government made certain that Iraq continued with a national-security state type of governmental system, albeit one with an elected pro-US dictator. It did the same in Afghanistan after it invaded that country.

Just a few days ago, President Trump expressed the sentiment of America’s national-security state when he called el-Sisi a “great leader.” Trump, of course, has also expressed a love for the brutal, unelected communist dictator of North Korea’s national-security state.

Americans who are looking to Washington, D.C., to put America on the right track are looking in the wrong direction. The American people need to look inward, into themselves, into their consciences. That is the only way for people to recognize the moral and economic debauchery of foreign aid and, for that matter, the entire national-security state form of governmental structure. Once a critical mass of Americans comes to that realization, we will be on our way toward restoring sound moral, political, and economic principles to our land.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

From the Anti-Russia Brouhaha to the Ukraine Brouhaha

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Since he became president, Donald Trump has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and the Middle East in wars that are illegal under our form of government, given that he has never secured the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war to wage such wars.

Operating through his military-intelligence forces, he has also assassinated countless people in different parts of the world, notwithstanding the fact that the Constitution expressly prohibits him and his cohorts from killing anyone without due process of law.

He has also maintained a prison camp, torture center, and “judicial” system in Cuba that has denied people the right of speedy trial, trial by jury, due process of law, effective assistance of counsel, the right to confront adverse witnesses, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment, all in contravention to the guarantees provided in the Bill of Rights.

So let me see if I have this clear: Trump’s enemies oppose impeaching him for those things but instead want him removed from office for a telephone call in which Trump requested the Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to undertake an investigation into possible corruption in Ukraine by Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

That’s rich!

What’s wrong with impeaching Trump for the right reasons — wreaking death, injury, suffering, and destruction in illegal actions abroad? Wouldn’t his removal from office for those things have more significance than if it’s done because of a telephone conversation?

Bribery charge

Of course, there is the possible bribery element to Trump’s request to Zelensky. A few weeks before the telephone conversation, Trump ordered that a scheduled $250 million aid package to Ukraine be held up. Even though Trump did not mention the aid suspension in his telephone conversation with Zelensky, the allegation would be that Trump was sending Zelensky an implied message: “Grant my request to conduct an investigation into Biden and you’ll get your $250 million in US taxpayer money.”

The problem that Trump’s enemies have, however, is a problem of proof. “Knowing” that that was what Trump was doing is different from proving it, especially since Trump states that he held up the money for the purpose of encouraging European countries to contribute more money to the effort. While Trump’s alternative explanation certainly appears strained, there is still the problem of proving that he is lying. In an impeachment trial, Trump’s enemies are going to have to prove that he is lying, which could prove to be problematic, especially given the virtual certainty that Republicans in the Senate will immediately fall into line and vote for acquittal, knowing full well what will happen to them if they don’t.

There is another problem that Trump’s enemies face: the fact that US foreign aid, which both Republicans and Democrats have long supported, is itself a bribe. Does anyone really think that US foreign aid is for the purpose of helping the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged?” Forcing or “encouraging” foreign regimes to do what US officials want them to do is the whole purpose of foreign aid. If they vote the right way in the UN, for example, the aid will continue. If they don’t, it will stop.

Back in the George H.W. Bush regime, President Bush was trying to get the UN to support his resolution to go to war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Yemen voted no. US Secretary of State James Baker is reported to have said, “That will be the most expensive vote they ever cast.” U.S foreign aid to Yemen was cut off.

Moreover, consider the fact that when Third World nations are appointed to the UN Security Council, US officials increase the amount of foreign aid they receive. When they get off the Security Council, the amount is reduced. What is that if not a bribe being paid to ensure they vote the right way while they are serving on the Security Council?

It’s probably also worth mentioning the political bribery that both Trump and his Democratic presidential opponents will be engaging in during the impeachment proceedings as part of their campaigns for president. They are already offering all sorts of “free” programs and “free” money to American voters with the aim of garnering their votes. Why is that type of bribery considered okay?

Campaign-finance laws

Some Trump critics are saying that the mere fact that Trump asked Zelensky to conduct the investigation into Biden and his son constitutes an impeachable offense, independently of whether the aid package was meant to be a bribe or not. Their argument turns on federal campaign-finance laws, which make it illegal for presidential candidates to seek a contribution from foreign governments.

What would be the contribution that Trump would have been seeking? Dirt! That’s their argument — that by asking Zelensky to undertake an investigation into possible corruption by Biden and his son, Trump was effectively asking Zelensky to provide him with political dirt that he could use in his campaign against Biden. Of course, nobody knows how much that speculative dirt would be worth, and so it’s not really clear how much that supposed illegal campaign contribution would be.

But let’s face it: If asking a foreign regime to conduct an investigation into possible political corruption is really a crime under US law, then it only goes to show how ludicrous federal campaign-finance laws are.

First of all, let’s look at the words of the First Amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Now, it seems to me that if anything constitutes speech, it’s a telephone conversation. How in the world does a campaign-finance law enacted by Congress trump the express prohibition on Congress enunciated in the First Amendment? Isn’t the Constitution supposed to be the supreme law of the land?

Second, why does a request for an investigation necessarily translate into a request for dirt? Isn’t it possible that a request for an investigation is just that — a request for an investigation?

Consider for a moment that Biden wasn’t running for president. Would Trump’s request for an investigation into possible corruption still be considered a crime? I don’t see how, given that he wouldn’t be running afoul of federal-finance campaign laws by supposedly seeking dirt against a political opponent.

Given such, how can a request for an investigation be a crime when applied against a candidate for office but not against someone who isn’t a candidate for office? Indeed, let’s assume, for a moment, that Biden and his son really did engage in political corruption in Ukraine. Would that mean that they could silence Trump from requesting an investigation simply by running for office? If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to reevaluate and terminate America’s ridiculous campaign-finance laws.

Impeachment: A nightmare for the Bidens?

One of the most amusing aspects of the upcoming impeachment circus is that it is likely to result in a living nightmare for Joe Biden and his son. The matter that Trump wanted Zelensky to investigate was Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of a private gas company in Ukraine while his father Joe Biden was vice-president. The position turned out to be an extremely lucrative one, reportedly paying Hunter Biden up to $50,000 a month.

Meanwhile, while Hunter Biden was receiving that handsome stipend, this father Joe was playing an active role in Ukrainian affairs. In fact, part of that active role included Vice-President Biden’s request to Ukrainian officials to fire the nation’s top prosecutor, who had jurisdiction over the private gas company where his son Hunter had been appointed. Joe Biden maintains that he wanted the prosecutor fired not because he was investigating his son’s gas company but because the prosecutor wasn’t doing enough to ferret out corruption in Ukraine.

The impeachment inquiry is likely to give Trump and the Republicans the opportunity to subpoena Joe and Hunter Biden and require them to testify as to all the details of Hunter’s relationship with that gas company, what his services for it were, how much he actually got paid, and the exact nature of Joe Biden’s efforts to get that Ukraine prosecutor fired. That part of the impeachment proceedings cannot be something that the Bidens are looking forward to, and it might still prove to be a reason for Democrats to abandon their impeachment efforts.

Two big points

There are two overriding points to all this new brouhaha.

First, what are President Trump and Vice President Biden doing meddling in Ukraine’s affairs in the first place, and why isn’t anyone complaining about that? We have just gone through more than two years of laments about Russia’s supposed meddling in America’s system. What business do US officials have meddling in Ukraine’s affairs?

Second, the entire Ukraine brouhaha shows the lack of importance that both major political parties place on ethical principles. Even if Trump’s request for an investigation into Biden and his son was entirely legal and even if Biden’s request to fire the Ukrainian prosecutor was entirely legal, both actions violate the fundamental ethical principles against conflicts of interest and avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Pentagon’s Upcoming Kangaroo Show Trial in Cuba

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After 18 years, there is a possibility that the Pentagon is finally going to permit a “trial” of five men who are accused of conspiracy to commit the 9/11 attacks. If so, the proceedings will prove what a charade the Pentagon’s entire “judicial system” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been and continues to be. In fact, the trial, if it is even permitted to take place, will serve as a mirror for how “trials” are conducted in communist China or, for matter, in communist Cuba.

Let’s review how the Pentagon’s “judicial” system got established in the first place. After the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon decided to establish a prison, torture center, and “judicial” system for accused terrorists that it would be capturing and kidnapping around the world. It decided to locate this center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Why Cuba rather than somewhere in the United States? The Pentagon wanted to make certain that it would have omnipotent power to run its center any way it wanted, without having to bother with the rights and guarantees enumerated in the Constitution, especially in the Bill of Rights. It also didn’t want any interference with its operation from the U.S. Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary. In other words, the Pentagon wanted a Constitution-free zone in which to operate its prison, torture center, and “judicial” system.

Ultimately, much to the Pentagon’s chagrin, the Supreme Court ruled that it did have ultimate jurisdiction over the Guantanamo operations. However, while the federal judiciary has accepted some petitions for writ of habeas corpus from Guantanamo inmates, overall it has followed its longtime policy of deference to the national-security establishment when it comes to matters of “national security.”

What the Supreme Court should have done from the very beginning was to order a complete shutdown of the Pentagon’s prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Guantanamo Bay. There is a simple reason for that: the Constitution, which is the higher law that controls the actions of federal officials, including the Pentagon, does not authorize the Pentagon to operate such a center.

It is critically important to keep in mind that terrorism is not an act of war. Instead, it is a federal criminal offense. That is why there are terrorism trials in federal courts in New York, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and elsewhere. Terrorism is listed among federal crimes in the U.S. Code. In fact, the Pentagon’s upcoming “trial” in Cuba is itself an acknowledgement that terrorism is, in fact, a criminal offense, one that here is being prosecuted by the Pentagon in Cuba rather than by the U.S. Justice Department in federal district court here in the United States.

Two different systems

It is also critically important to recognize that the Constitution does not provide for two separate judicial systems to try criminal cases, one run by the military and the other run by the federal courts. The Constitution provides for only one judicial system for all criminal offenses, including terrorism cases.

It is also critically important to recognize that the principles being followed in both systems — the federal court system and the military system — are as different as night and day.

In the federal court system, people who are accused of terrorism or any other crimes are presumed innocent. Judges and law-enforcement personnel are prohibited from torturing people or inflicting other “cruel and unusual” punishments on them. An accused has the right to remain silent — i.e., no forced confessions. Communications between attorney and client are confidential. The accused has the right to confront his accusers — i.e., hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Trials can be by jury, where ordinary citizens, not a judge, decide the facts of the case and the guilt or innocence of the accused. Trials must be speedy — i.e., no 18-year delay, as there has been in the Pentagon’s system.

Things are the exact opposite in the Pentagon’s system, which is precisely it established its system in Cuba rather than the United States. Remember: the Pentagon’s goal is establishing its center in Cuba was to avoid the principles of the Constitution and the interference of the Supreme Court.

Why would the military want to avoid the principles of the Constitution, especially given that military personnel take oaths to support and defend the Constitution? The answer lies in the conservative military mindset that has long held that the Bill of Rights consists of constitutional “technicalities” that permit guilty people to go free. By establishing an independent prison, torture center, and “judicial” system at Gitmo, the Pentagon was going to show the American people and the world what a “real” judicial system should look like, one where “the guilty” had what was coming to them and where there was no possibility of an acquittal by some ignorant jury.

Thus, under the Pentagon’s system, the accused are presumed guilty. They are subject to being brutally tortured, not only to secure information but also confessions. Forced confessions are admissible at trial. There is no right of trial by jury. A tribunal of military personnel, all of whom are answerable to the President, decide the facts in the case and the guilt of innocent of the accused. Communications between attorney and client are secretly monitored. Hearsay evidence is admissible. Trials can be delayed indefinitely, even forever. The outcome of the “trial” is not in doubt.

There is something else that is of critical importance to recognize: When an accused terrorist is taken into custody, U.S. officials have the discretionary authority to decide into which system to send him. They can select the federal court system, which protects the rights of the accused through the Bill of Rights and where he could possibly win an acquittal. Or they can send him into the military system, where no such rights exist and where the outcome is preordained. There is no way that that type of discretionary and dual system of justice can possibly be reconciled with “the rule of law,” which requires everyone in similar circumstances to be treated in the same manner. There is also no way to reconcile such a dual, competing system with the U.S. Constitution. Finally, there is no way to reconcile such a system with any reasonable definition of the term “justice.”

The Pentagon’s upcoming “trial” at Gitmo won’t be a trial at all. It will be a kangaroo proceeding, one that is no different from those in totalitarian regimes. Along with the Pentagon’s prison and torture center in Cuba, its upcoming kangaroo proceeding will only bring more shame and ignominy to our country.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Spending on Defense Is One Great Big Lie

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Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is worried. He thinks that maybe — just maybe — the US government is not spending enough on defense. In a column entitled, “Here’s Why We Could Be Under-Spending on Defense,” Samuelson has come up with a complicated formula that has caused him to fear that China and Russia might actually be spending more money on their militaries than the United States. Bringing to mind the famous missile-gap controversy during the Cold War, Samuelson wrote, “Our reputed military superiority might be exaggerated or a statistical fiction.”

I won’t delve into Samuelson’s complicated formula for arriving at his scary conclusion because, well, it is complicated, a point that even he concedes:
The only way to find out is to estimate our and their defense budgets, using an unconventional methodology called 'purchasing power parity' (PPP). To do that, Congress should create a task force of experts that would examine Russia’s and China’s defense spending and compare it with our own.
So, I’ll leave his main point to that task force of experts. I do wish, however, to confront the other major point in Samuelson’s analysis, one to which he, like so many others in Washington, D.C., is obviously oblivious: that US spending on the military and the rest of the national-security establishment is for defense. That is one great big delusion and falsehood.

After all, defense means that one is defending. In a personal context, that means that when someone comes up to you and throws a punch, and you respond by raising your hands to block the blow, you are defending. He is the attacker and you are the defender. In an international context, if one nation invades another nation, the invading nation is the attacker and the invaded nation is the defender.

During the last 70 years, the US government has spent trillions of dollars for “defense.” But it hasn’t really been for defense because no other nation has ever invaded the United States during that time. Of course, the US has been embroiled in several foreign wars that have cost a lot of money, but none of those wars involved defense since the opposing nations never invaded the United States.

Consider the Korean War. North Korea never attacked the United States. The same holds true for North Vietnam. And Panama. And Grenada. And Cuba. And Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Syria. And Libya. And many more. None of them ever invaded the United States.

Equally important, no nation state is threatening to invade the United States. No foreign regime even has the money to undertake such an invasion. They are all broker than the US government. No Latin American nation has the military capability or even the interest in invading the United States. And no nation state in Europe, Asia, or Africa has even the remotest military capability of successfully crossing the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans and invading and conquering the United States.

So, what have all those trillions of dollars been spent on if not defense? The answer is: empire and intervention, which oftentimes encompass instances where the US government, ironically, is the attacker and invader and the targeted nation is the defender.

Iraq is a good example. After the 9/11 attacks, which were not the first step in an invasion of the United States but rather a retaliatory act for US empire and intervention in the Middle East, President George W. Bush and the US national-security establishment decided to attack and invade Iraq, a country that had never attacked the United States. That’s because 11 years of US economic sanctions, which had killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children in the 1990s, had nonetheless failed to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. Bush’s invasion and long occupation of Iraq made the US the aggressor power and Iraq the defending nation. There is no way that anyone can rationally argue that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War were for “defense.”

Of course, this gigantic lie is manifested in the name “Department of Defense.” It is clearly a false name but one that hardly anyone questions. It really should be named the “Department of Empire, Interventionism, and War.”

Why is it important to US officials that Americans be made to believe that all this massive military spending, year after year, is for “defense.” What better way for the national-security establishment to keep sucking ever-increasing monies from American taxpayers than to continue making them believe that US aggression, interventionism, and empire constitute “defense.”

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

End Foreign Aid to Israel and Everyone Else

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Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are calling on the US Congress to reevaluate US foreign aid to the Israeli government. Their reason? Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denied entry into Israel for the two of them, owing to their public support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a global protest against the Israeli government’s longtime mistreatment of Palestinians.

Omar stated:
We give Israel more than $3 [billion] in aid every year. This is predicated on them being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East. But denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally, and denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy.
Unfortunately, however, Omar and Tlaib, like the rest of their Democratic counterparts, just don’t get it. In fact, neither does their nemesis, President Trump, and his Republican cohorts. Not only should the US government stop foreign aid to the Israeli regime, it should stop it for every other regime in the world.

For one thing, consider that the Trump administration is spending $1 trillion this year more than it is bringing in with taxes. The difference? He’s borrowing it, thereby adding another trillion dollars to the $22 trillion dollars in federal debt that is already hanging over American taxpayers.

In fact, just recently Trump and his Democratic cohorts in Congress struck a mutually beneficial deal in which they agree to lift the debt ceiling to permit them to saddle American taxpayers with even more debt and, even worse, agreed to extend the debt ceiling until after the presidential election so that it would not be an issue for either party.

What better place to slash spending than by ending US foreign aid to every regime that is on the US dole? Yet, not one single Democrat or Republican thinks on that level. They just want to use foreign aid as a way to force foreign regimes to bend to the will of the US Empire.

After all, let’s face it: US foreign aid has nothing to do with helping the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged” in foreign countries. Instead, it has everything to do with bribery, blackmail, and extortion. The money or military armaments (or both) is given to foreign regimes with the aim of making them dependent on US foreign-aid largess, sort of like when a heroin dealer hands out free samples to prospective customers.

Then, once the regime becomes dependent on the dole, it is expected to do what the US Empire wants it to do. If it refuses to do it, there is a threat of an immediate cutoff of its dole. That usually is enough to get the foreign regime in line, especially because many foreign officials use the money to line their pockets and Swiss bank accounts as well as those of their bureaucratic and military-intelligence cohorts within the regime.

A good example of this phenomenon occurred in 1990. Yemen, which was one of the Empire’s dole recipients, voted in the UN against the Empire’s request of the UN to authorize the use of military force to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power. US Secretary of State James Baker told Yemeni officials that their vote would be the most expensive vote they had ever cast. The Empire then proceeded to cut off its foreign aid to Yemen.

If Netanyahu suddenly relented and permitted Omar and Tlaib to be allowed to enter Israel without restrictions, there is little doubt that the two congresswomen would cease calling for a reexamination of foreign aid to Israel. And even if they persisted in calling for such a reexamination, all that they would want to do is redirect the money to their favorite regimes.

The most important argument against foreign aid is the moral one. The Empire forcibly takes money from Americans — the people who have earned it — and gives it to foreign government officials, to whom it does not belong. Americans, like everyone else in the world, have the moral right to keep their own money and decide for themselves what to do with it.

Abolish foreign aid to Israel and to everyone else. It’s the morally right and fiscally responsible thing to do.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

Give Guantanamo Back to Cuba

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The US Empire, which controls much of the world through hundreds of military bases in foreign countries, through foreign regimes run by domestic US puppets, and through foreign dependency on US foreign aid, got its start in 1898 during the Spanish American War. It was that war that enabled the Empire to acquire its imperialist domain in Cuba known as Guantanamo Bay, which is now the Empire’s premier international indefinite-detention prison, torture center, and kangaroo judicial system.

The late 1800s were a time of worldwide empires. Great Britain, France, Spain, and others were empires, possessing and oftentimes brutally controlling people in faraway colonies. Although the US Constitution had called into existence a limited-government republic, by the time the latter part of the 19th century had arrived, many Americans had been swept up in the pro-empire fervor, owing largely to the Progressive movement, which was also influencing America toward embracing the worldwide move toward socialism and interventionism. The Progressive idea was that in order for the United States to become a great nation, it needed to become an empire, just like other empires.

In 1898, Cuba and other possessions of the Spanish Empire were fighting for their freedom and independence. Since this was a time in which US officials were still following the Constitution’s declaration-of-war requirement, President William McKinley sought and secured a declaration of war against Spain, with the ostensible aim of helping the Spanish colonies win their freedom and independence.

It was a lie and a double cross of those who were fighting for their freedom and independence. In fact, the real aim was to replace the Spanish Empire by defeating it and taking possession and control over its colonies, with the aim of making America great by converting it into an empire.

Upon winning the war, the US took control of Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The Filipinos kept fighting, this time against the world’s newest empire, the United States. For a good account of that war and what it did to American values, see “America’s Other Original Sin” by Andrew J. Bacevich, which appeared this week in the American Conservative.

The Cubans, on the other hand, surrendered to US power. As part of its victory, the new US Empire forced Cuban officials to entire into a lease that granted the empire a perpetual lease of the 45-square-mile property known as Guantanamo Bay.

The lease provided for payment of $2,000 per year in gold coin. After President Franklin Roosevelt nationalized gold in the United States, in 1934 US officials forced Cubans to accept a modification of the lease that enabled the Empire to pay Cuba $4,000 in US paper money, an amount that, needless to say, has significantly decreased in value over the decades owing to the Empire’s inflationary financial policies.

The Cubans don’t cash the checks the Empire sends them because their position is that the lease isn’t valid anyway.

From a legal standpoint, the Cubans are right. Since the lease agreements for Gitmo were made under conditions of force, fraud, and duress, they have been null and void from their inception. Moreover, since the leases provide for no fixed expiration date, that also makes them null and void under the law.

Of course though, the law is irrelevant. All that matters is force. Since the US Empire is much more powerful than the Spanish Empire was, there is absolutely nothing the Cubans can do to regain their property.

Beyond the illegality of the US Empire’s control of Gitmo, Americans need to ask a critically important question: What business does the US government have owning and operating an imperialist military outpost in a foreign country? America was founded as a limited-government republic, not an empire.

Moreover, the Progressives have been proven wrong in the assertion that the way to national greatness lies in empire. It’s the exact opposite. An empire weakens, corrupts, and ultimately destroys a nation, not only through the out-of-control spending and debt required to sustain it but also through the moral degradation that comes with forcibly controlling and brutalizing people in faraway lands.

After all, look at the stain of immorality that the US national security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA — has brought to our nation because of Guantanamo Bay. How can a nation whose government establishes an indefinite detention prison, a torture center, and a kangaroo judicial system in an overseas imperialist outpost, with the express intention to avoid the Constitution and the Supreme Court, be considered a great nation? That’s the sort of thing that totalitarian nations, not great ones, do.

It’s time to dismantle the US Empire and restore our founding principle of a limited-government republic to  the United States. A great place to start would be by giving Guantanamo Bay back to Cuba, followed by a termination of all foreign aid, a closure of all foreign military bases, and an end to regime-change operations around the world.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.

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