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Jacob G. Hornberger

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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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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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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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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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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