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Jacob G. Hornberger

Why Reform the CIA?

CIA Worldwide

Just as I predicted in my article “Why Not Simply Abolish the CIA?” critics of the CIA’s illegally hacking into the computers of U.S. senators who were investigating CIA torture are calling for reform, rather than abolition, of the CIA. Stuck in the mindset of the national-security state, they simply cannot raise their vision to a higher level—to one that restores a constitutionally limited government republic to our land.

Here’s one example: an op-ed today entitled “The CIA vs. the Senate: The Constitution Demands Action” by constitutional scholar Bruce Ackerman in the Los Angeles Times, in which the author states: “CIA spying on the Senate is the constitutional equivalent of the Watergate break-in. In both cases, the executive branch attacked the very foundations of checks and balances.”

After criticizing some of the reform proposals being circulated, Ackerman does the predicable: He himself calls for reform.

Or consider this one: “Obama and the CIA” by Melvin A. Goodman, which is posted at Counterpunch. Detailing some of the CIA’s transgressions, Goodman wants to “restore the rule of law at the CIA.” How does he propose that that be done? Through reform, primarily by getting better people into public office.
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The National-Security State's Murder of Two Americans

1280Px Allende Supporters

A Chilean court ruled this week
 that the U.S. national-security state conspired to murder American citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi in Chile in 1973. The brutal act occurred during the violent military coup in which the Chilean military, with the full support of the U.S. government, ousted the democratically elected president of the country, Salvador Allende, and replaced him with an unelected brutal military dictatorship headed by Chilean General Augusto Pinochet.

For years, the CIA and the U.S. military falsely denied any complicity in the murders of Horman and Teruggi. After many years of false denials, however, the U.S. State Department released a memorandum confirming that a secret U.S. official investigation had revealed that U.S. intelligence had played a role in the murders of both men.

The Chilean court has now confirmed what the State Department said in that crucial memo.

Why did U.S. national-security state officials murder Horman and Teruggi? Because Horman and Teruggi were leftists — progressives — socialists — whatever label you want to put on people who subscribe to the economic philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and other people who believe in the welfare-state way of life. In the minds of U.S. national-security state officials, that made them “subversives” or “communists” — i.e., enemies of the state.
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Ground Hog Day in the Drug War

Groundhog

A news article this week entitled “South Laredo Trafficking Group Indicted” caught my attention. That’s because Laredo is my hometown. I spent 26 years there, including 8 years practicing law, most of which was in partnership with my father.

That newspaper article is about the drug war. It reports that an indictment was returned against 24 Laredoans for violations of federal drug laws. The indictment charges the defendants with distribution of cocaine, crack, and marijuana in the Laredo area.

As I read the article, I got the distinct impression that I was living “Ground Hog Day,” because this type of article was standard fare in Laredo when I was in high school in the late 1960s and then also when I returned to Laredo to practice law in 1975.

In fact, my very first trial, right out of law school, was a federal drug case in U.S. District Court in Laredo. Since the defendant could not afford a lawyer, the federal judge appointed me to represent him. My client was claiming he was innocent and went to trial. The jury acquitted him.

When I was in high school, my father served as U.S. magistrate. The line of people brought before him on federal drug charges (including Timothy Leary) always seemed to me to be endless. Part of the reason for this, my father told me, was relayed to him by the federal judge, who suspected that federal agents at the international bridge were planting drugs on long-haired hippies returning from Mexico. It was my first exposure to the corrupting nature of the drug war.
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US Government's Regime Change Obsession Rears Its Ugly Head Again

CUBAUSAID

The US government’s 116-year-old obsession with controlling Cuba has suddenly manifested itself again. Yesterday, the Associated Press, based on secret records that it obtained, reported that USAID, the federal agency that distributes billions of dollars in US-taxpayer funded foreign aid and which has long served as a front organization for the CIA, has been engaged in a super-secret, covert operation to effect regime change in Cuba.

The USAID scheme involved illegally securing the cell phone numbers of tens of thousands of Cubans, most of whom were presumed to be young people. Then, using a series of several private front companies, which is a classic CIA modus, they established a twitter-type service that enabled U.S. officials to feed messages to the recipients. The plan called for feeding messages that would incite young people to rise up with mass spontaneous protests against the Cuban communist regime.

Now, one might ask: What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with the U.S. government’s helping the Cuban people achieve their freedom?

Well, for one, the freedom of the Cuban people is the furthest thing from the minds of US officials. Their objective has always been — and continues to be — control over Cuba. They couldn’t give a whit over whether the Cuban people are free or not, any more than they gave a whit over whether the Chilean, Guatemalan, and Iranian people were free after the CIA instigated regime change in those countries.
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The US Government Should Butt Out of Venezuela

In an op-ed in the New York Times this week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro calls for peace in Venezuela. The socialist president has been besieged by demonstrations in which several protestors have been killed. The protesters focus on horrendous economic conditions brought about by Maduro’s socialist economic policies. Maduro is issuing a call for domestic peace.

The problem is that whenever a ruler who is independent of the US Empire is in power, the US national-security state apparatus, especially the CIA, oftentimes gets involved in the process, stirring up trouble and doing whatever it can to achieve the ouster of the ruler and his replacement with a pro-U.S. stooge, ideally one who is a military dictator. It’s no concern of the U.S. government how many foreign citizens die in the process.
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Non-Intervention is Non-Negotiable!

In an article at PJMedia.com, writer Keith Farrell suggests that libertarians should support foreign interventionism and specifically takes The Future of Freedom Foundation and LewRockwell.com to task for opposing foreign interventionism. Acknowledging that some U.S. interventions have proven to be absolute disasters, Farrell feels that libertarians should nonetheless be supporting U.S. foreign interventionism in selected cases.

Farrell is wrong. Not only is foreign interventionism contrary to libertarian principles, it inevitably produces destructive results for both the targeted nation and for the American people.
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Ukraine and the Deferential Press

Medialies

One of the distinguishing characteristics between libertarian commentators and the mainstream statist press is, once again, on display in the latest crisis, this one between President Obama and Russian President Putin. You see the standard knee-jerk rally to the government on the part of the mainstream press  while, at the same time, you see independent, critical analysis on the part of the libertarian movement, mostly on the Internet.

When a controversy like this erupts, the mainstreamers immediately mold their mind to whatever position the US government takes in the controversy. The mainstreamers view the matter as Team America versus Team Russia. It is incumbent on Americans to come to the defense of their team, the mainstreamers feel. Anyone who fails to do so is clearly not a patriot and might even be a fifth columnist, one who needs to be watched.

In the process, there is immediate and complete deference to authority. “It’s all Putin’s fault. We were just minding our business. We’re innocent. We’re peace-loving. We love democracy. We just want to be friends. Can’t we just get along here? Putin has become assertive, aggressive, and independent. The crisis has been forced upon us. We have no choice but to respond and punish Russia until Putin recants and submits.”
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Drug Warriors Just Don't Get It

Genkelly

U.S. Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, just doesn’t get it. Testifying before Congress, he lamented the movement toward legalizing drugs here in the United States. He suggested that Latin American officials, who have long been exhorted to fight the war on drugs, are losing faith in the United States and are viewing Americans as hypocrites. He also asserted, “The levels of violence that our drug problem has caused in many of these countries is just astronomical.”

Kelly is certainly right about the widespread violence in Latin America. Where he misses the boat, however, is his belief that the violence is due to drugs. It isn’t. The violence is due to thewar on drugs, not drugs themselves.

That’s obviously a critically important difference. It’s akin to going to a doctor with an ailment. The prescription that the doctor gives is obviously going to turn on his diagnosis. If he gets the diagnosis wrong, it’s a virtual certainty that he’s going to get the prescription wrong.
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Disband NATO!

Nato Expansion

In a recent New York Times op-ed, John McCain, the man who hoped to be president, said that Russia’s invasion of Crimea has nothing to do with NATO expansion into Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Oh? Well, now, let’s see how McCain would be responding if the shoe were on the other foot.

Let’s assume that when the Cold War ended, the United States disbanded NATO. That, of course, wouldn’t have been too illogical given that NATO was brought into existence to protect Western Europe from Soviet aggression during the Cold War. Since the Soviet Union was dismantled with the Cold War’s end, there was certainly no reason to keep NATO in existence.

Let’s assume that Russia, on other hand, decided to keep the Warsaw Pact in existence, albeit with new members. Let’s assume that ever since 1990, the reconstituted Warsaw Pact expanded into the Western Hemisphere with such new members as Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Let’s also assume that Russia proposed a Warsaw Pact anti-missile system in Cuba, purely as a defensive measure.
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Pledging American Lives in the Defense of NATO

Yatsnato

Notwithstanding its recent decision to lift its debt ceiling once again to enable it to add to its ever-growing mountain of debt, the US government has now issued a new pledge, this one being as a guarantor of a $1 billion loan to the new government of Ukraine. Unfortunately, that’s not all that US officials have pledged in that part of the world. I wonder how many Americans realize that the US government has also pledged the lives and limbs of America’s young people in the defense of nations that once formed part of the Soviet bloc.

That’s what membership in NATO is all about — the pledge that the United States will come to the military defense of any nation that is a member of NATO.

Keep in mind that NATO was brought into existence in 1949 as part of the US government’s “Cold War” against its World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, however, not only did the US government keep NATO in existence, it actually proceeded to expand its membership eastward — directly toward Russia.
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