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Jacob G. Hornberger

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and My Lai Were All War Crimes

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On the 70th anniversary of the US government’s nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are still people coming out in favor of the bombings. They’re saying that since the bombings shortened the war by bringing a quick surrender of Japan in World War II, the targeting of those two cities was morally and legally justified, especially since it saved the lives of US soldiers who would have been killed in an invasion of Japan.

If those killings were justified, then was it wrong for the Army to criminally prosecute Army Lt. William Calley for killing innocent people at My Lai during the Vietnam War? Couldn’t the same have been said of his actions — that by killing the residents in that Vietnamese village, who were considered to be communists, he was helping to bring the war to a speedier end? Why was Calley treated as a war criminal rather than praised and glorified, as President Truman has been for targeting the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

The reason that Calley was prosecuted was that it is a war crime for a soldier to intentionally kill innocent civilians.

This might come as a shock to some people, but in war there are rules. If a soldier violates those rules, he is subject to criminal prosecution. The adage “anything goes” does not apply to war, not even if enemy soldiers are violating the rules.
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Dealing With The Cops

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Everyone has to do some serious soul-searching when it comes to dealing with the cops. This is especially true for African-Americans, given that police departments seem to have attracted a disproportionate share of racial bigots to that line of work. But it’s also true for everyone else, given that the police have effectively been given a license to kill citizens with impunity.

No one can escape the possibility of an encounter with the police, especially if driving on streets and highways. As the young black woman Sandra Bland discovered in Texas — indeed, as many drivers have discovered over the years — it’s not difficult for a cop to come up with an excuse for pulling over a driver. In Bland’s case, it was “changing lanes without signaling.” It could just as easily have been “failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign or while turning right at a red light” or “defective taillights” or “speeding” or whatever. In fact, the cop can just make up something if he wants because they all know that most every judge in the land is going to believe a police officer over a citizen.

Even though bigoted cops will never admit it, in the case of African Americans, the real offense is “driving while black” or simply “being black.”
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The National Security State’s Crisis Racket

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Imagine that Russia announced that it was reconstituting the Warsaw Pact and that Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Grenada, and Bolivia had signed on as members.

Imagine also that Russia fomented a regime-change operation in Mexico that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected president of the country and installing a pro-Russia ruler in his stead.

Imagine that Russia then embarked on a plan to build military bases and install missiles in all of those countries, including all along the US–Mexico border.

I ask you: What would be the reaction of President Obama, Republican and Democrat presidential candidates, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the US mainstream press?
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The Cold War Against Cuba Changed Us

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During the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA made multiple attempts to assassinate Cuba’s ruler, Fidel Castro. Let’s assume that the CIA had succeeded and that Castro had been shot dead on the streets of Havana.


It’s not difficult to imagine what US national-security state officials would be saying today: “If we hadn’t assassinated Castro, the United States would have fallen to the communists and, today, Fidel and his brother would be running the IRS, Social Security, Medicare, public schooling, and other socialist programs owned and operated by the US government.”

Soon after Castro took power on January 1, 1959, when President Eisenhower was still in office, and continually through the Kennedy administration, the CIA steadfastly maintained that a communist-ruled Cuba was a grave threat to US “national security” — a communist dagger situated 90 miles away from American shores and pointed directly at the United States.
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Inflicting the Death Penalty Before Trial

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The case of Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh is a perfect example of how the national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto our federal governmental structure as part of the Cold War has revolutionized America’s governmental system.

Farekh is an American citizen. Two years ago, the Pentagon and the CIA — the two principal components of the national-security state branch of the federal government — were urging President Obama to authorize an assassination of Farekh. Apparently the request was controversial simply because the intended victim of the hit was an American.

Now, one might say, “Well, Jacob, what’s wrong with the national-security state’s assassination of an American? Haven’t you heard of the war on terrorism? In war, it’s okay to kill the enemy. And if the CIA and the Pentagon say that an American citizen is an enemy combatant, who are we to question that determination?”
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America’s Warfare State Revolution

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It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the warfare-state revolution that transformed the federal government and American society after World War II. The roots of America’s foreign-policy crises today, along with the massive infringements on civil liberties and privacy and the federal government’s program of secret indefinite incarceration, torture, assassination, and extra-judicial executions can all be traced to the grafting of a national-security apparatus onto America’s federal governmental system in the 1940s.

Certainly, the seeds for what happened in the post-WWII era were sown prior to that time, specifically in the move toward empire, which, interestingly enough, occurred during the same period of time that Progressives were inducing Americans to abandon their system of economic liberty and free markets in favor of socialism and interventionism in the form of a welfare state and regulated economy.

I’m referring to the year 1898, when the US government intervened in the Spanish American War, with the ostensible aim of helping the Cuban and Filipino people win their independence. It was a false and fraudulent intervention, one that was actually designed to place Cuba and the Philippines under the control of the US government. The result was a brutal war in the Philippines between US forces and the Filipino people, along with a never-ending obsession to control Cuba, one that would end up becoming a central focus of the national-security state.
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The Biggest Threat to American Liberty

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George Washington pointed out, “Overgrown military establishments, which under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty."

Wise words by the father of our country, but ones, unfortunately, rejected by modern-day Americans, who love and idolize the enormously overgrown military establishment that now characterizes our federal governmental system.

Eastern Europeans are getting a gander at America’s overgrown military establishment. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that a huge contingent of US military forces is winding its way through Eastern Europe as some sort of good-will tour and also to serve as a message to Russia that the United States is ready to go to war to protect Eastern Europe from Russia’s aggressive designs.

Never mind that it is America’s overgrown military establishment that gave rise to Russia’s so-called aggressive designs. Ever since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been absorbing Eastern European countries with the ultimate aim of absorbing Ukraine, which would enable the US military to place bases and missiles on Russia’s borders.
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Obama's Venezuelan Dictatorship

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Ever since the advent of the Cold War, US officials have told us that it was necessary for the United States to adopt the totalitarian structure known as the national-security state in order to combat communist totalitarianism.

We are now witnessing a similar spectacle with respect to President Obama’s exercise of dictatorial powers to deal with the socialist regime of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. Obama’s justification for his embrace of dictatorial powers would undoubtedly be the same as that of the old Cold Warriors — that in order to combat the dictatorial powers of Maduro, it has become necessary for Obama himself to assume and exercise dictatorial powers here in the United States.

Yesterday, President Obama issued an executive order declaring the Venezuelan government “an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States.” According to the New York Times, as part of his executive order Obama froze the American assets of various Venezuelan law enforcement and military officials.

Imagine that — an “extraordinary threat to US national security.”
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Operation Iraqi 'Freedom'

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The most important thing about Operation Iraqi Freedom is how it demonstrates how US national-security state officials view the concept of freedom. In their minds, the 11 years of brutal occupation on the part of the US military brought freedom to the Iraqi people. In fact, that mindset also pervades many Americans in the private sector, including veterans, who are absolutely convinced that the US invasion, war of aggression, and occupation of Iraq brought freedom to Iraq.

Keep in mind that once US military officials succeeded in effecting regime change in Iraq, they had carte blanche to establish any type of government they wanted as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Give that wide latitude, what type of government did US officials establish in Iraq? They established what they considered was an ideal form of government, one that was consistent with their view of a free society.
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A Radical Question About the CIA in the Mainstream Press

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Several days ago, the New York Times, which of course epitomizes the mainstream press in America, asked a question that ordinarily would be found mainly on libertarian websites like that of The Future of Freedom Foundation. In the Room for Debate section of the Times’ Opinion Pages, the Times asked: “Do We Need the C.I.A.?” 

In the introduction to the debate, the Times pointed out:
Since Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan introduced bills in 1991 and 1995 to abolish the Central Intelligence Agency and transfer its powers to the State Department, many have continued to share his concerns about the agency’s competence and performance. The Senate intelligence committee’s report on the use of torture is the latest example of the agency’s controversies.
The Times concludes its introduction with this remarkable question:
Would the security needs of the United States be better served if the C.I.A. were dismantled?
That is a remarkable development. When was the last time you read that question being asked by anyone in the mainstream press? Wouldn’t we ordinarily see the question posed in the following manner: “Is It Time to Reform the CIA?”
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