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Jacob G. Hornberger

Should America Pardon the National Security State?

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Several weeks ago, contemporaneously with the release of Oliver Stone’s excellent movie Snowden, friends and admirers of Edward Snowden launched a campaign to have President Obama pardon him for disclosing the NSA’s super-secret illegal surveillance scheme to the American people and the world. The reasons for the pardon request were excellently summarized in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times entitled “Pardon Edward Snowden” by Kenneth Roth and Salil Shetty.

Not surprisingly, the US national-security establishment and its assets within the mainstream press oppose a pardon for Snowden because, they say, he endangered “national security” with his disclosure of the NSA’s top-secret illegal surveillance programs.

But notice something important: Every time someone discloses “national security” state secrets, the east coast doesn’t fall into the ocean, California isn’t hit by earthquakes, and the federal government isn’t taken over by communists, terrorists, Muslims, illegal immigrants, or drug dealers. Nothing ever happens! That’s because, as I point out in my ebook “The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State, ever since the federal government was converted into a national security state in the 1940s, the term “national security” has been nothing more than a way to shield criminal wrongdoing on the part of the national-security establishment.
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Paranoid Apoplexy Over the Russkies

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As I watch the paranoid apoplexy that US officials and their acolytes in the mainstream press are displaying over the hacking of Democratic Party computers and the disclosure of their emails, I’m tempted to say that it might all be some sort of karmic justice. But since I’m a Christian rather than a Buddhist, I’m more tempted to say that it might all be a ratification of the principle, “You get what you sow.”

Consider their accusation: that it was the Russkies who did the hacking and the disclosing of those emails. Is there any evidence that they’ve shown us? None! But heaven help anyone who points that out. He will be labeled a lover and defender of Vladimir Putin as well as an American who hates America, one who dares to doubt the word of the US “intelligence establishment.” Why, they might even insinuate that he is a communist or a communist sympathizer, as they did during the old Cold War.

When it comes to US national-security state accusations against Russia, Americans are supposed to do what they were expected to do during the previous Cold War: hop to, salute, pledge allegiance, and unconditionally accept the conclusions of the US “intelligence community.” Sort of like when they were expected to blindly support the invasion of Iraq based on those WMD conclusions that were being issued by the national-security establishment.

Don’t ask questions. Just defer to their authority. They know what’s best for us. They have access to information we don’t have. They’re just protecting “national security.”
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The Horror of Endless Interventionism

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When the US government invaded Iraq in 2003, I wonder how many US officials contemplated the possibility that the cycle of death and destruction that they were initiating would be continuing 13 years later. And yet, here we are — more than a decade after Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched — and US and Iraqi soldiers are, once again, battling over control of Mosul. 

The battle for Mosul is being met with considerable indifference or nonchalance among many Americans. After all, there are so many more important things to talk about, such as sex scandals. But the fact that US troops are still fighting, killing, and dying in Iraq 13 years after the US invasion of the country (and 26 years after the US government’s Persian Gulf intervention) is truly remarkable. 

Not surprisingly, the US mainstream press and the US national-security establishment are doing their best to put their best spin on the upcoming battle for Mosul. They are showing how US warplanes are “softening” up the enemy with bombing raids on the city. They are reporting how Iraqi troops, counseled by US military advisers, are readying for their long-awaited attack to liberate the city from ISIS, which is the group that came into existence as a direct consequence of the US invasion of Iraq.
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Prepare Yourself for Blowback From Yemen

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If there is another terrorist attack on US soil, this time because of the death and destruction that the US government is wreaking in Yemen, I can already hear the laments and complaints of statist-Americans: “Oh my gosh, another terrorist attack against us! Why do the terrorists and the Muslims hate us for our freedom and values? Why can’t they see that we’re good people who just want to live our lives in peace? We must now give more power and more money to the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA so that they can keep us safe from those who hate us because we’re good.”

In other words, the last thing they’re going to acknowledge is that the Tomahawk missiles that the US military fired against radar sites in Yemen yesterday, killing whoever happened to be manning those radar sites, will have had anything to do with retaliatory terrorism against the United States.
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Who Are The Crazies on Korea?

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The US military-industrial complex and the US mainstream media often describe the leadership of North Korea, headed by President Kim Jong-un, as crazy and irrational. But what could be more crazy and irrational than doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

What better way to describe the actions of the US national-security establishment and its loyal acolytes in the mainstream press whenever North Korea does something that they don’t like, such as engaging in underground nuclear testing?

In response to North Korea’s latest round of underground nuclear testing, the national-security establishment responded with its standard, predictable response by flying two B-1 bombers, flanked by several US fighter planes, right near the South Korea-North Korea border.

What’s that supposed to accomplish? Does the Pentagon really think that that’s going to stop North Korea from engaging in more nuclear testing? If so, one has to ask why Pentagon officials would believe that given that the last time they did the same thing, North Korea responded with another round of nuclear testing.
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Republic Not Empire

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On the Fourth of July in 1821, John Quincy Adams delivered one of the most remarkable speeches in American history. The speech is entitled, “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.” In his speech, Adams described America’s founding principles on foreign policy. He pointed out that there are lots of bad, monstrous things that go on in the world — dictatorships, tyranny, famines, starvation, wars, discord, corruption, and the like. America, however, does not go abroad in search of such monsters and attempt to save people from them. Instead, Adams said, Americans would strive to build a model society of freedom, peace, prosperity, and harmony here at home for the world to emulate and also to serve as a sanctuary for people who flee such monsters.

Adams was building on the ideas and the philosophy of people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who had spoken against America’s ever entering into alliances with other countries or being part of blocs to serve as counterweights to other blocs and against bearing enmity against particular nations.

America’s founding governmental structure did not permit it to go abroad and intervene in the affairs of other nations. The Constitution had called into existence a limited-government republic, one that had a basic military force but nothing like the enormous military-intelligence establishment that we have today. That’s because of the deep antipathy that our American ancestors had toward standing armies, which, they believed, posed a giant threat to the citizens of a nation, directly as well as indirectly through the incessant wars in which standing armies inevitably embroil a nation. As James Madison, the father of the Constitution had pointed out, of all the enemies to liberty, war is the biggest because it encompasses all the other ones, including centralization of power and ever-increasing debts and taxes.

Adams added an admonition in his speech. He said that if America were ever to abandon its non-interventionism foreign policy, she would become like a “dictatress” — that is, a government that would wield and exercise dictatorial powers, both at home and abroad, and that would begin behaving like a dictator. The point was clear: To remain free, America would have to keep a constitutionally limited-government republic. Abandoning that governmental structure would mean abandoning a free society.
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Do You Want a Peaceful and Prosperous Society or Not?

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Every Sunday at my church, we are exhorted to pray, among other things, for peace in the world and for the men and women who serve our nation — i.e., the military and the CIA . Naturally, the priests who craft the prayer, along with most of the congregation, fail to see the irony of those two prayers. That is, they fail to see that it is the Pentagon and the CIA whose activities around the world, especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan, are a major reason that Americans live without peace and prosperity.

Suppose some federal agency was conducting tours in which they regularly guided people to walk through a bed of rattlesnakes. Every day, some people are bit by rattlesnakes and die. Imagine American churches, seeing this ongoing death toll, exhorted their parishioners every Sunday (1) to pray that people stop being bitten by rattlesnakes; and (2) to also pray for the bureaucrats who are guiding people through the rattlesnake beds.

Do you see the problem with that scenario? Yes, it’s true, God could work a miracle and make it so that people would continue to walk through the rattlesnake bed without getting bit. But there is obviously another solution, one that doesn’t involve asking God to deliver a miracle: Simply shut down the rattlesnake operation, dismantle the federal agency that is in charge of the rattlesnake tours, and lay off the federal bureaucrats who are running the program. That would put a stop to the daily death toll from rattlesnake bites. And it would save taxpayer money.
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America's Communist Program

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Throughout the Cold War, the US national-security state told the American people that it was necessary for America to go over to the dark side in order to combat the threat of communism and the Soviet Union. By that, they meant adopting policies and practices employed by the communists. It was a mindset akin to fighting fire with fire.

That’s how America ended up with a formal program of assassination, whereby US agents wielded the power to assassinate people around the world who were suspected of being communists, despite the fact that the victims had never initiated any force against the United States. It was essentially a system of legalized murder or, as President Lyndon Johnson termed the program, “Murder, Inc.”

It’s also how the national-security state ended up with the authority to oust democratically elected regimes in which people had elected the “wrong” people (i.e., communists or communist sympathizers) to be their president or prime minister.
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The Ron Paul Conference

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If you haven’t already registered for the Ron Paul Institute’s Peace and Prosperity Conference, now would be a great time to do so. When I spoke to RPI’s executive director Daniel McAdams about the conference a few weeks ago, he said that tickets were going fast and that space was limited. The date is Saturday, September 10, 2016. The time: 10:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. The place is the Washington Dulles Marriott. Only $65, including lunch.

Ron Paul has long been one of my real-life libertarian heroes. It is a big honor for me to be included among the speakers at this conference. Other speakers include Lew Rockwell, Brian McGlinchey, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Philip Giraldi, and, of course, Ron himself.
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The Military Base Dole

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During my recent visit to my hometown of Laredo, Texas, as I was heading out of town toward Corpus Christi, I passed by the former site of Laredo Air Force Base. Serving as a training base for new pilots, the base was a prominent part of Laredo life when I was growing up.

During that time, public officials and much of the citizenry were scared to death that the base might close. Like many people on the dole and like many other American communities with military bases, Laredoans were convinced that without LAFB, the city would die.

Then, in 1973 the unthinkable happened. US officials announced that the base was being closed. The official explanation was that the base was no longer needed given the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The unofficial reason was that President Nixon had decided to retaliate against Laredo for supporting Nixon’s Democratic Party opponent in the 1972 presidential election, Sen. George McGovern.

Reflecting their disdain for a private-property system and their love of socialism, US officials decided to deed the land to the City of Laredo rather than auctioning it off to private owners. The base property land included not only the landing strips, which ultimately became the city-owned Laredo International Airport, but also all the surrounding buildings and properties that composed the entire military base. That put the Laredo government in the rental business, immediately making it the biggest landlord in town. My father used to remark that the area had become “Little Cuba.”
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