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Jacob G. Hornberger

Tyranny at Home to Fight Tyranny Abroad

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President Trump has reminded us of how the US government destroyed the liberty of the American people in the name of fighting tyranny abroad. Exercising the same dictatorial method that his predecessors have employed — executive decrees — he has made it illegal again for most Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there.

Trump’s justification? The communist regime in Cuba is tyrannical and engages in human-rights abuses.

Think about that for a moment: A foreign regime is tyrannical and so what does a US president do? Through a decree-law, he imposes his own tyranny on his own citizenry by punishing Americans who travel to Cuba or do business there.

Let’s not forget, after all, that the US embargo on Cuba is, first and foremost, an attack on the freedom of the American people. That’s the way it has been since the very beginning of the embargo more than 50 years ago. If an American traveled to Cuba and spent money there, he didn’t need to fear the communists. He needed to fear federal investigators, prosecutors, and judges, who would have him indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to federal jail for a long time.

Who’s the tyrant here?

After all, freedom of travel has always been considered one of the most fundamental natural, God-given rights of man. And as we libertarians have long held, so is economic liberty — the natural, God-given right of people to dispose of their own money any way they want.
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Tyranny Over There but Not Over Here

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One of the fascinating aspects of tyranny is that people can recognize it when it happens in other countries but are blind about it when it happens at home. The American people, especially the US mainstream press, are a perfect demonstration of this phenomenon.

Consider the following article from last Sunday’s New York Times: “Dilemma for Uber and Rival: Egypt’s Demand for Data on Their Riders.” It details a request by the military dictatorship that governs Egypt that Uber provide government officials with all of its data about customers and their Uber rides.

The purpose of the request?

To monitor the activities of the citizenry, of course. Or as the Times puts it, “The software would be a powerful tool in the hands of Egypt’s security services, which, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, have ramped up spying on citizens as part of an effort to stifle dissent and entrench Mr. Sisi power.”

See how easy the Times recognizes tyranny … when it’s in Egypt?

That’s not all. The Times writes: “The security services can already track Egyptians through their cellphones. But ride-share spying speaks volumes about Mr. Sisi’s ambitions for electronic surveillance, at a time when his government has already imprisoned citizens for social media posts, has hacked activitists using fake emails and has blocked encrypted messaging applications….”
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Punishing People for Helping Dying Children is Evil Too

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In my article “The Evil of Killing Children,” I pointed out how the US government, in an attempt to achieve regime change in Iraq, knowingly and intentionally killed hundreds of thousands of innocent children in Iraq.

Unfortunately, killing those innocent Iraqi children was not the only evil action taken by US officials regarding the Iraq sanctions. They also went after an American man for trying to help the children that US officials were trying to kill with their sanctions.

The man’s name is Bert Sacks. They didn’t try to kill him but they did prosecute him both criminally and civilly for trying to help the Iraqi children who US officials were killing.

What specifically did Sacks do that caused US officials to put him in their sights? He took medicine to Iraq. That infuriated US officials because the medicine that Sacks took into Iraq interfered with their ability to kill more Iraqi children, which in turn, impeded their ability to achieve regime change in Iraq.

In a 2003 article entitled “Sanctions in Iraq Hurt the Innocent in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,Sacks explained the origins and consequences of the US government’s system of sanctions against Iraq.

He began the article by focusing on the large number of Iraqi children that that the US government killed with the sanctions. Quoting an article from the New York Times magazine, he wrote: “American officials may quarrel with the numbers but there is little doubt that at least several hundred thousand children who could reasonably have been expected to live died before their fifth birthdays.” Sacks then cited Richard Garfield, a health specialist at Columbia University, who estimated the death toll among the Iraqi children to be 400,000.
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Bring the Troops Home, Mr. President

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Another terrorist attack in London, and more predictable responses from President Trump, British Prime Minister May, other public officials, and the mainstream press. We have to crack down on terrorism. The problem is with extremist Muslims. They hate us for our freedom and values. Don’t be afraid. Go about your daily lives as if nothing has happened.

And, of course, not one single word of the US government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East and Afghanistan, which has entailed killing Muslims and other for at least 25 years and which continues unabated to this day, a policy with which the British government has partnered and supported since its inception.

Why not even a peep about more terrorist retaliation from US foreign interventionism?

Isn’t the answer obvious? If they mentioned that, that would cause people to ask a very basic question: Is the interventionism worth the death and destruction that comes as “blowback,” the term that the noted scholar Chalmers Johnson used to title his excellent and profound book: Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire?
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The Troops Don't Defend Our Freedoms


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How often do we hear the claim that American troops “defend our freedoms”? The claim is made often by U.S. officials and is echoed far and wide across the land by television commentators, newspaper columnists, public-school teachers, and many others. It's even a common assertion that emanates on Sundays from many church pulpits. 

Unfortunately, it just isn't so. In fact, the situation is the exact opposite — the troops serve as the primary instrument by which both our freedoms and well-being are threatened. 

Let's examine the three potential threats to our freedoms and the role that the troops play in them: 

1. Foreign regimes

Every competent military analyst would tell us that the threat of a foreign invasion and conquest of America is nonexistent. No nation has the military capability of invading and conquering the United States. Not China, not Russia, not Iran, not North Korea, not Syria. Not anyone. To invade the United States with sufficient forces to conquer and “pacify” the entire nation would take millions of foreign troops and tens of thousands of ships and planes to transport them across the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. No foreign nation has such resources or military capabilities and no nation will have them for the foreseeable future.
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Lying DEA Officials Get a Pass (Just Like Clapper)

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Why is there one set of criminal laws for the private sector and another set for U.S. officials?

The inspectors general for the State Department and the Justice Department have released a report that states that DEA officials lied to Congress about an episode in Honduras in which DEA agents killed innocent people. According to the report, the DEA falsely told Congress that its agents had shot drug smugglers in self-defense during  a nighttime shootout after a boat containing the victims had collided with a boat containing the DEA agents. The truth was that the boat containing the victims was nothing more than a commercial passenger vehicle that had the misfortune of colliding into the DEA boat.

You can read all the details in this New York Times article and this article from the Intercept.

Obvious, the DEA killings of those innocent people raise an important question: Under what constitutional authority does the DEA or any other U.S. official wage the drug war in Honduras or any other foreign country? Do you see anything in the Constitution that empowers them to do that?

In fact, I don’t see anything in the Constitution that empowers them to enact drug laws here at home? Do you? After all, if it took a constitutional amendment to empower the feds to criminalize the possession and distribution of alcohol, why doesn’t the same principle apply to drugs?
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The Russian Obsession Goes Back Decades

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Just consider the accusations that have been leveled at the president:
  1. He has betrayed the Constitution, which he swore to uphold.
  2. He has committed treason by befriending Russia and other enemies of America.
  3. He has subjugated America’s interests to Moscow.
  4. He has been caught in fantastic lies to the American people, including personal ones, like his previous marriage and divorce.
President Donald Trump?

No, President John F. Kennedy.
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On That Day Began Lies

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Like many other mainstream political commentators, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum is outraged and indignant over Donald Trump’s public praise and open embrace of foreign dictators who are allied or friendly with the US government. In an op-ed in the Post’s Sunday edition entitled “How Trump Makes Dictators Stronger,” Applebaum argues that Trump’s words and actions constitute a “paradigm shift” for the United States because they are now, she asserts, going to solidify pro-US dictators, justify their brutality, and reinforce their power.

That’s sheer nonsense. It’s not Trump’s words or actions that are solidifying and reinforcing the brutal, tyrannical rule of these regimes. It is US foreign aid — money and weaponry — that does that. Trump’s words and actions simply confirm the truth.

As I pointed out in last week’s article entitled “The National-Security State’s Tradition of Embracing Dictators,” the US government has been providing cash and weaponry to dictatorial regimes ever since the federal government was converted from a limited-government republic to a national-security state after World War II.

What is the purpose of such aid, which naturally comes from US taxpayers, compliments of the IRS? To help those pro-US dictatorial regimes maintain their power over their citizenry in exchange for their loyalty to the US government. The US-provided money funds the troops, intelligence agents, police, jails, and torture centers that enable the dictatorships to retain power over their citizenry. The US-provided weaponry provides the pro-US regimes with the ability to kill people who dissent or object or to take them into custody for punishment, indoctrination, torture, or execution.
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Madison Was Right About War

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Given that so many Americans continue to express gratitude to the troops for their forever service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere, it would be worthwhile to revisit the immortal words of James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution:
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
When I was college student, I heard of something called the Thirty Years War, which took place in Europe in the 17th century. I was incredulous. How in the world could a war actually last 30 years?

I’m not incredulous anymore. The Pentagon’s and CIA’s war in Iraq has now been going on for 27 years and their war Afghanistan for 16 years, with no end in sight for either one. Moreover, their wars have expanded to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East. If Pentagon and CIA officials get their way, there might even be another one in Korea. Maybe Iran too. Perhaps Russia or China also.
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CIA Director Pompeo Doesn't Understand the First Amendment

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You would think that by the time a person becomes the Director of the CIA, he would have a correct understanding of the Constitution, which is the founding document of the federal government, which the CIA is part of. This should be especially true when the CIA Director is a former member of Congress, a graduate of West Point, and the holder of a law degree from Harvard.

Embarrassingly, such is not the case with CIA Director and former U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo. In a speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Pompeo demonstrated a woeful lack of understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment.

Referring to his belief that WikiLeaks official Julian Assange, who is a citizen of Australia, should be indicted and prosecuted by the U.S. government for revealing secrets of the U.S. national-security establishment, Pompeo stated:
Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an Embassy in London. He’s not a US citizen.
That is quite an amazing statement. It’s also a misleading and fallacious one.
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