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Jacob G. Hornberger

Why Do We Need a National Security State?

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

The answer is: Nothing, at least nothing productive.

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

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

How is that productive?
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Still Dying for Nothing in Afghanistan

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

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

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

That was the sixth US soldier killed in Afghanistan this year, bringing the total death toll to 2,200.
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Trump is Right About 'Flipping'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Trump just issued one of his infamous midnight tweets, this one telling Iranian officials (with caps in the original)...
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The Supreme Court's Deference to the Pentagon

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

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Emergencies are the time-honored method by which people lose their freedom. That’s because public officials use emergencies as a way to acquire totalitarian powers, under the rationale that they need such powers to keep people “safe.” Of course, officials usually make it clear that the totalitarian powers will only be “temporary.” As soon as the emergency is over, they say, the powers will be canceled and things will return to normal.

During emergencies, much of the citizenry becomes afraid, very afraid. Being kept safe zooms to near the top of many people’s priority list. They become willing, even eager, for the government to acquire totalitarian powers to keep them safe, especially since the use of such powers is temporary anyway.

One of the best examples of this phenomenon was the Reichstag Fire in Nazi Germany, when the German Parliament building was made the target of a terrorist attack. After the fire-bombing of the building, German leader Adolf Hitler approached the Reichstag and requested totalitarian powers to deal with the terrorist threat facing Germany. After considerable discussion and debate, the legislature gave Hitler the powers he was seeking to wage a war on terrorism.
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Memorial Day is Based on a Lie

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Today, Memorial Day, Americans across the land will hear the same message: that US soldiers who have died in America’s foreign wars and foreign interventions have done so in the defense of our rights and freedoms. It is a message that will be heard in sporting events, memorial services, airports, churches, and everywhere else that Memorial Day is being commemorated.

There is one big thing wrong, however. It’s a lie. None of those soldiers died protecting our rights and freedoms. That’s because our rights and freedoms were never being threatened by the enemy forces that killed those soldiers.

Let’s work our way backwards.

Syria. The Syrian government has never invaded the United States and tried to take away our rights and freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Syria was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.

Niger. The Niger government has never invaded the United States and tried to take away our freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Niger was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.

Iraq. The Iraq government never invaded the United States and tried to take away our rights and freedoms. Therefore, any US soldier who has died in Iraq was not killed protecting our rights and freedoms.
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Political Gamesmanship at the Olympics

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So, why is Vice-president Mike Pence attending the Winter Olympics in South Korea? Is it because he’s a sports fan who just wants to enjoy the quadrennial spectacle of the Olympic games?

Unfortunately, no.

Pence is going to the games for political purposes. He intends to use them as an opportunity to level a propaganda attack against North Korea, the communist regime that the US government has long been committed to regime-changing. To advance this political aim, Pence will be accompanied by Fred Warmbier, the father of the University of Virginia student who died in the United States after being held in North Korean custody for more than a year.

I wonder if the thought has even occurred to Warmbier that President Trump and Pence are just using him as a political pawn, one whose role is to highlight the brutality of the North Korean regime. Never mind that the Olympics are supposed to be a forum for sports events, not political attacks and propaganda. The Trump-Pence mindset is: Why let a good opportunity to make propaganda points go unseized?

Actually though, Fred Warmbier’s participation in this dangerous political gamesmanship serve to provide valuable lessons to the American people, not about North Korea, but about our very own government.
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