America’s Militaristic Society and Goverment

Fred Reed has it right, below:

I wonder whether the United States hadn’t ought to re-ponder the place of the military in society and in the world. There is not the slightest chance that this will happen, but wondering has not yet been forbidden. It appears to me that bureaucratic clotting set in years back, and is now having its effect in spheres martial. A robust economy can afford frivolities that one in derobustion cannot. And that is where America is.

The US military is the military of World War II, but with better technology. The Navy still consists of carriers surrounded by ships intended to protect the carriers. The heart of the army is still armored and infantry divisions with artillery and close-air support. The Air Force too. All are designed to fight enemies like themselves. However, there are no enemies like themselves, and WWII forces do not well fight the enemies they do have, such as ragtag dispersed guerrillas, because they are not intended to fight them.

Why a World War II military? Because of institutional inertia, because men delight in fast, powerful things that make loud and stirring noises, because the ships and tanks and submarines are magnificent. Relinquishing them is too painful to contemplate. Instead of changing its forces to suit present needs, the Pentagon keeps them as they are and tries to use them where they do not work well.

WWII militaries are intended to destroy expensive point targets and to conquer crucial territory. For example, they try to destroy the enemy’s aircraft and conquer his cities. This America does very well indeed. The difficulty is that dispersed guerrillas do not have any expensive point targets, crucial territory, or cities. The Pentagon is using baseball bats to fight mosquitoes. The absurdity of using a B1 intercontinental bomber for close air support is manifest. But you’ve got the plane, the pilots don’t want to miss the war, and so you find something for them to bomb.

A current American weakness is that it has a small army. Controlling large countries full of dispersed enemies requires large armies. America’s is a small army because it is an All Volunteer army. Not many young men want to be soldiers. The Pentagon likes the All-Vol for two reasons. First, volunteer soldiers are much better than unwilling short-term conscriptees. Second, the public doesn’t care if volunteers get killed. After all, they volunteered. They come from blue-collar families. These regard the death of a son as a noble sacrifice rather than a human sacrifice for large commercial firms. And they have little political influence anyway.

This matters. The Pentagon has learned that it cannot sustain a war in the face of united public opposition. If students in college were drafted, hell would follow. The key is not to disturb the public, which the military recognizes as more of a danger than the enemy actually being fought.

The true enemy, always, is the press. Should reporters turn against a war, they would rouse that great sleeping Public Monster, and then the military would face a war on two fronts. Fortunately the press consists of a few large corporations and holding companies owned by people of the same social class, who are not opposed to the current wars.

Since World War II, political power has become increasingly concentrated in the presidency, the concentration having become very rapid in recent years. Most crucially, the Congress has relinquished its power to decide whether the country goes to war. Thus wars are no longer determined by the national interest but by presidential whim. These whims can be directed by the desires of the president’s friends, by powerful groups with agendas, by writers at intellectual magazines. Quite often these know nothing of war. And the military by enshrining obedience avoids responsibility.

The US is phenomenally if discreetly militarized. The country is neither a democracy, nor a government of laws, nor of men, but an oligarchy of lobbies that press for whatever is of benefit to themselves, though not necessarily to the country. The underlying principle is that honey attracts flies. The federal government collects vast sums in taxes and the lobbies come to get it.

In the military racket, the money is in big-ticket weaponry. The carriers, Aegis boats, subs, fighters, tanks, B1s, B2s, and satellites sell for billions. These sums attract a vast aerospace industry that would collapse without sales to the military. The Pentagon is a captive market, and often a haven for firms that couldn’t compete in the commercial marketplace.

Much of this money goes for pricey gear that is both unknown to the public and of little use for the wars the country fights (but probably shouldn’t). To hide a program from the public, you don’t have to make it secret, which would only draw attention. Just don’t talk about it. The press, which is owned by big business and manned by reporters of preternatural technical puzzlement, will say little. For examples, search on JSF, F22, V22, ABL, and ABM.

As always, the key is to avoid waking the public. Thus the military avoids attention. But add up overt and hidden military expenditure: the “defense” budget, appropriations for the wars, the black programs, the Veterans Administration, the national laboratories, TSA, and so on. The sum is backbreaking for a nation in decline, but the public knows neither that it is backbreaking nor that the country is in decline.

To countries competing with the US, as for example Japan, the American military budget is a godsend, the equivalent of a golf handicap on a rival, because it represents money the US cannot spend to become more competitive. Fortunately for Asia, American military expenditure cannot readily be cut back. Too many jobs, military towns, and corporate profits depend on it. Consequently China builds infrastructure while the US builds fighter planes. The only plausible brake will be conflict with Social Security and Medicare, cuts in which will wake the Public Monster.

The illusion of omnipotence dies hard. The American military has been dominant for so long that neither it nor Americans can grasp that there are limits to its power. America now tries militarily to encircle Russia, Iran, and China, which increasingly looks like an aging pit bull trying to encircle a herd of moose. The Pentagon is planning for a war with China and talks of “Full Spectrum Dominance.” The current government in Washington wants to attack Iran and Pakistan, threatens Syria and Venezuela, and seems bent on igniting another Cold War with Russia (if one ignites cold wars). The Army is to be expanded.

Meanwhile China builds infrastructure.

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

My college #1 in the Midwest Ranked# 1 in the Midwest by U.S.News

Taylor Ranked # 1 in the Midwest by U.S.News


Taylor University has been named the number one Baccalaureate College in the Midwest in the just-released 2009 U.S.News & World Report survey, America’s Best Colleges. It is Taylor’s second straight top ranking and follows ten straight top-three finishes.

Taylor earned 100 rating points while second-place Ohio Northern University (Ohio) received 92 points. Augustana (South Dakota) jumped to third with 86 points. Cedarville (Ohio) and Northwestern College (Iowa) rounded out the top five with a fifth-place tie, scoring 80 points.

Among the Midwest Best Baccalaureate Colleges, Taylor scored high marks in several fields of criteria: first in Freshmen in the Top 25% of their High School Graduating Class (’07), Average Freshman Retention Rate and Average Graduation Rate; and second in Peer Assessment Score and Alumni Giving Rate.

“We are filled with gratitude to God for this honor for Taylor University,” said Dr. Eugene B. Habecker, Taylor University president. “The only appropriate response to this exciting news is praise and thanksgiving to God for the great things He has been doing at Taylor.

“We are deeply appreciative of this external validation from a well-respected publication that has been refining the collegiate survey and ranking process for well over 20 years,” he added. “This accomplishment is shared by every member of our community-from our students, alumni, faculty and staff, to our parents, Board of Trustees and friends-and it again reflects that this Christ-centered University attracts gifted people who together strive to accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God.”

Taylor was also ranked third among Midwest Baccalaureate Colleges in the Great Schools, Great Prices portion of the survey.

“We appreciate the recognition from U.S.News, as it speaks to the return on investment made by students, their families and the Taylor faculty,” said Steve Mortland, dean of enrollment. “There are basic benchmarks by which we can hold ourselves accountable, but there are also intangible aspects of a Taylor education that reinforce its true value. We are collaboratively investing in more than four years and degree programs, but in people who are creating change.”

A complete list of the U.S. News and World Report rankings is available online at

About Taylor University: Founded in 1846, Taylor University is an interdenominational liberal arts university of evangelical faith located in Upland, Ind. The 2009 U.S. News and World Report survey America’s Best Colleges ranked Taylor the number one Baccalaureate College in the Midwest. It marked Taylor’s second straight top ranking following ten straight years of being ranked in the region’s Top Three.

Taylor University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

McCain not fit to be President

By: Bill Hendon & John LeBoutillier

Ed. note: This message from former U.S. Congressmen Bill Hendon (R-NC) and John LeBoutillier (R-NY) is being posted today on numerous military blogs and websites.

He [McCain] has told me several times over the years that the myth of live POWs was a cruel hoax on the families. He chaired hearings into the issue in the 1990s and found nothing. “The committee … pored over thousands of records and every claim of a sighting, no matter how outlandish,” says Salter. “It was all untrue.”

Jonathan Alter, When Ross Perot Calls…, January 16, 2008

Senator John McCain’s heroic and inspiring wartime service in Vietnam notwithstanding, we know from personal experience he is not fit to serve as Commander-in-Chief of America’s armed forces. Here is how we know this:

In mid-summer 1991, the U.S. Senate created the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs and charged it with conducting a no-holds-barred investigation into the long-festering matter of American POWs reportedly still held captive by the Communist North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao. On the day the legislation creating the Select Committee was passed, August 2, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted nationwide showed that 69% of Americans surveyed believed that Americans were still held captive in Southeast Asia and 75% believed the U.S. government wasn’t doing enough to get them home.

Following months of negotiations between the committee and a very reluctant George H. W. Bush administration, committee intelligence investigators were finally able to obtain the postwar intelligence files relating to live POWs. Committee investigators spent some 2,700 man hours vetting, analyzing and crosschecking the postwar intelligence. They found it a textbook blend of human intelligence (HUMINT); intercepts of secret enemy radio traffic (SIGINT), and images taken by unmanned reconnaissance drones and U.S. spy satellites (IMINT). The committee’s intelligence investigators told the senators that collectively the intelligence indicated the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao had held back hundreds of POWs at Operation Homecoming in 1973 and that many were still alive in captivity during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

By the time committee investigators finally began briefing the senators in secret sessions in early spring, 1992, the issue of live POWs had become, as McCain later described it, “white hot;” this not only because of intense public interest in the plight of the POWs, but also because Texas businessman and longtime POW advocate H. Ross Perot had entered the presidential race, and had done so amid press accounts that he thought President Bush was not doing enough to bring the POWs home. By late May Perot was in first place in the national polls, ahead of President Bush, who was in second place, and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Governor Bill Clinton, who was in third. What would the committee find? Might a ruling that 69% of the American people were right and that, in fact, there were live POWs still held half a world away throw the election to Perot? How could it not?

Enter John McCain.

Given his wartime experiences as a POW in Vietnam, Sen. John McCain was by default the most powerful and influential member of the Select Committee. Members on both sides of the aisle deferred to his judgment; reporters hung on his every pronouncement. And so when McCain, his chief of staff Mark Salter and their allies on the Select Committee joined forces with top Bush administration officials to assail, ridicule, attack, discredit, photoshop, retouch, manipulate, massage and/or “cherry-pick” the intelligence in order to destroy its intelligence value and keep the matter of live POWs from becoming an issue in the 1992 election, the live POWs never had a chance.

How McCain and Salter and the others went about doing this is a case study in how powerful government officials can manipulate intelligence to make it say what they want it to say – and the main reason we believe that John McCain must not be Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces.

During that spring and summer of 1992, McCain and the other members of the committee were briefed on some 925 HUMINT reports the investigators had deemed plausible, credible. These intelligence reports were some of the several thousand reports the U.S. government had received from human sources who testified they had personally observed or had been told or had otherwise learned about American servicemen in captivity after Operation Homecoming. Many of the reports corroborated one another as to location, time and circumstance, e.g., independent sources repeatedly reported seeing American POWs being held in the same area; in the same town or village, and/or at the exact same prison at the same time or over a period of time – and, of course, absent IMINT and/or SIGINT, corroboration by independent human sources is the best lie detector ever devised by man. But what did McCain and Salter make of this crucial intelligence? Not one of these reports of American POWs held prisoner after Operation Homecoming was credible, they loudly declared; instead, all 925 sources were either (1) lying, or (2) confused about what he or she had actually seen. Not one report, McCain and Salter declared, related to American POWs trapped in Indochina after Operation Homecoming.

The SIGINT – the half-dozen or so postwar intercepts of secret Pathet Lao radio transmissions where the PL were heard describing how, when, where and/or why they were holding and/or moving American POWs from one point to another inside their country – got the same treatment. When analyzed carefully by committee intelligence investigators and cross-checked with the HUMINT, it was clear these postwar radio intercepts alone collectively described the confinement and/or movement of well over 100 American POWs inside Laos. McCain’s and Salter’s ruling? Same as with the POWs described in the HUMINT, “nothing to any of it. All radio intercepts are false.”

Finally came the IMINT – the priceless postwar satellite images showing missing pilots’ names, their official secret four-digit authenticators, secret USAF/USN escape and evasion (E&E) codes given to them and/or other “I’m alive, get me the hell out of here” messages our men had laid out on the ground in hopes U.S. spy satellites would image their plea and rescue forces would be dispatched – and the similar, shocking result. A missing USAF flight officer’s name along with a valid USAF/USN escape and evasion code imaged in a field adjacent to a prison in northern Vietnam on June 5, 1992 – photoshopped right out of the image, disappeared, gone! Nineteen four-digit authenticators matching those of missing airmen imaged in rice paddies along Route 4 in northern Laos – similarly photoshopped right out of the satellite image! The name of another USAF pilot and four digit number laid out beside a jungle road in northern Laos – “naturally occurring shadows on the ground,” they said. A valid E&E code followed by the four-digit authenticator of another USAF flight officer in a field adjacent to a prison in northern Vietnam – “natural shadings in the field … not man-made intentional signals.” The letters “USA,” each 12 feet tall and together stretching over 37 feet across, and below them a huge 24 foot tall by 19 feet across valid secret USAF/USN E&E code imaged in a rice paddy in northern Laos – “a young Laotian boy’s handiwork that he had copied off an envelope,” McCain and Salter “explained” in McCain’s 2002 memoir Worth the Fighting For. And on and on it went. (See two versions of map of Indochina showing the 925 postwar HUMINT reports [pins color-coded by DOI] and how they cluster and corroborate one another, and the postwar SIGINT and IMINT hits [yellow squares] at ). Also see An Enormous Crime, cover photo and Chapter 31, “1992, The Fragging.”

John McCain could have saved these men but chose not to. For that reason – and because one can photoshop pleas for help out of desert sand and/or rocky, mountain terrain just as easily as one can photoshop them out of jungle terrain, fields and rice paddies – he must not be accorded the highest and most sacred of all honors – that of serving as Commander-in-Chief of America’s armed forces.


Former Congressman Hendon is co-author with attorney Elizabeth Stewart of the 2007 New York Times bestseller, AN ENORMOUS CRIME; The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press). Ms. Stewart’s father is missing in action in northern Vietnam. In reviewing their book, Publisher’s Weekly declared “Controversial former North Carolina congressman Hendon and attorney Stewart make the case that the U.S. knowingly left hundreds of POWs in Vietnam and Laos in 1973, and that every presidential administration since then has covered it up.” (Publishers Weekly, week of April 9, 2007) Kirkus Reviews wrote that An Enormous Crime is “[a] sprawling indictment of eight U.S. administrations. Hendon and Stewart…appear nonpartisan in their disdain for governmental inaction and double-dealing. A convincing, urgent argument.” (Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007) An Enormous Crime is currently available at some 400 libraries in the continental U.S. and overseas. (See list of libraries). You can read almost 100 pages of the book free of charge by going to Google Book Search here.

Hendon served two terms on the U.S. House Task Force on POW/MIA Affairs; as consultant on POW/MIA Affairs with an office in the Pentagon in 1983, and as an intelligence investigator assigned full-time to the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs during 1991 and 1992. He has appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes, ABC’s 20/20, Dateline NBC, ABC’s Good Morning America, the NBC Today Show, Saturday Today, CNN’s Larry King Live and on a number of network news and talk shows.

Former Congressman LeBoutillier served on the U.S. House Task Force on POW/MIA Affairs and is the author of VIETNAM NOW; The Case for Normalization (Praeger). He is a pundit and a nationally recognized political commentator. Mr. LeBoutillier rose to national prominence in 1974 when, as a college student at Harvard, he raised over a quarter million dollars for a former Republican challenger against South Dakota Senator George McGovern. Mr. LeBoutillier’s efforts caught the notice of President Ford’s re-election campaign and in 1976 he was appointed regional coordinator, responsible for all field activities in New Jersey.

After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College, Mr. LeBoutillier completed a master’s degree at Harvard Business School.

Mr. LeBoutillier has been a prolific writer, beginning with his best-selling book Harvard Hates America (October 1978). Later he authored Vietnam Now (September 1989) and co-authored Primary, a novel (September 1979). He has contributed to many major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

In 1980, Mr. LeBoutillier was elected to represent New York’s 6th District. He defeated a 16-year Democrat incumbent and became the youngest member of the 97th Congress. In the House, Congressman LeBoutillier served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and as a member of Special House POW/MIA Task Force.

After leaving Congress, Mr. LeBoutillier continued to be active in POW/MIA affairs. He currently runs Account for POW/MIA Inc., dedicated to recovering living American POWs in Southeast Asia. He also has been a frequent commentator and host of several media programs. He is a frequent guest on radio and television shows. In 1981 he conducted an exclusive interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn for NBC’s Tomorrow show. He has hosted radio talk show programs on WMCA radio and WABC radio. In 1984, Mr. LeBoutillier interviewed Richard M. Nixon for the ABC Network radio in his first live network radio appearance since leaving the White House. He has been a frequent guest on many national talk show programs, including the Today show, ABC’s 20/20, Nightline and CNN’s Crossfire.

Both men have traveled extensively to South and Southeast Asia on behalf of America’s POWs and MIAs. Hendon has visited the region some 33 times; LeBoutillier a dozen times.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is America too dependent on foreign bananas?

Robert Higgs totally refutes the myth of american overdependence on foreign oil. . .

Must the Government Combat Americans’ Addiction to Foreign Bananas?

Americans, we are told again and again, are “addicted to foreign oil” and “in love with the automobile.” These phrases are so common in news commentaries that they glide past our intellect almost unnoticed. Yet, they are the sheerest claptrap, and the arguments that accompany them are a waste of the electrons required to carry them along in the World Wide Web.

Suppose a serious policy of “energy independence” were actually implemented, rather than being merely spewed out along with the rest of the political hot air. Would we be better off? Absolutely not. We would be vastly poorer because we would have to sacrifice a great deal more of the non-oil products we now produce and consume in order to acquire the petroleum products we demanded.

In a sense, every good or service we wish to consume raises the same question: make or buy? If we choose to make it ourselves, we must forgo the value of the goods we might have produced had we allocated our time, effort, and other resources in alternative ways–in the economist’s lingo, there’s an opportunity cost. If we choose to buy the desired good or service instead of making it ourselves, the value of the goods we could have enjoyed had we spent the money for them, rather than for the good actually purchased, represents the opportunity cost. So, whether we make or buy, there’s always an opportunity cost. Rational people answer the make-or-buy question by choosing the option with the lower opportunity cost.

If we were talking about bananas, everybody would see immediately the foolishness of seeking “banana independence.” Nobody would fall for half-baked arguments about our addiction to foreign bananas or our love affair with banana bread. It’s obviously uneconomic to grow millions of bananas in this country; it could be done, but doing it would entail much greater costs than buying them from producers in places better suited to their production (that is, places where they can be produced at lower opportunity cost).

The argument with regard to oil, or anything else, is identical.

Nor is it necessary for the U.S. military to police the Middle East in order to ensure access to oil for Americans. The Gulf sheiks have no desire to drink the oil brought up from beneath their desert despotisms; they have every interest in selling that oil. And once it has been sold, it enters, as it were, a vast worldwide supply pool from which all of the world’s demanders draw, because a barrel of (a given grade of) oil here is the same as a barrel there, and the barrels get shifted around to minimize transportation costs while accommodating everyone willing to pay the world price.

Arguments that we must resort to U.S. imperialism in order to enjoy the imported oil or the security of having continued access to it are bogus. If policy makers really believe such nonsense, they are bigger idiots than we thought–and they ought to fire those thousands of economists on the government payroll on grounds of rank incompetence. U.S. imperialism may spring from various motives, but the popular notion of “war for oil” makes no economic sense.

The U.S. government may wish to exercise hegemony in the Persian Gulf so that politically well-connected big oil companies can reap a bigger share of the handling income from producing and transporting the Gulf oil (but if these companies didn’t perform these tasks, other companies would do so). It may wish to intimidate or suppress Israel’s enemies. It may wish to discomfit the Russians. And so forth. But the idea that unless the U.S. government stands astride the Middle East, Americans will be unable import oil or to have confidence in their ability to import in the future (always at the prevailing world price, of course) is a contemptible argument.

David Ricardo explained these sorts of things clearly two hundred years ago. They are explained in every introductory economics course taught in college. It’s high time the pundits caught up with the essentials of their subject.

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Pill May Mess Up Your Smell and Ruin Your Relationship

My wife had substantial difficulties with the pill – so I thought this article was interesting – the problems related to the pill may or may not be “obvious”.

To millions of women it has been the great liberator over the past four decades, allowing them the freedom to control their fertility and their relationships. But the contraceptive Pill could also be responsible for skewing their hormones and attracting them to the “wrong” partner.

A study by British scientists suggests that taking the Pill can change a woman’s taste in men — to those who are genetically less compatible.

The research found that the Pill can alter the type of male scent that women find most attractive, which may in turn affect the kind of men they choose as partners. It suggests that the popular form of contraception — used by a quarter of British women aged between 16 and 50 — could have implications for fertility and relationship breakdowns.

The findings, from a team at the University of Liverpool, add to growing evidence that the hormones in the Pill influence the way that women assess male sexual attractiveness.

The Pill is thought to disrupt an instinctive mechanism that brings together people with complementary genes and immune systems. Such a couple, by passing on a wide-ranging set of immune system genes, increase their chances of having a healthy child that is not vulnerable to infection.

Couples with different genes are also less likely to experience fertility problems or miscarriages. Experts believe that women are naturally attracted to men with immune system genes different to their own because of their smell.

Commenting on the latest study, the researchers said that it could indicate that the Pill disrupts women’s ability to judge the genetic compatibility of men by means of their smell.

They said that this might not only impact on fertility and miscarriage risk, but could even contribute to the end of relationships as women who stop or start taking the Pill no longer find their boyfriend or husband so attractive.

Several previous studies have suggested that women tend to prefer the smell of men who are different from them in a cluster of genes called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which governs the immune system. Some of these studies have also found that this effect is not seen among Pill users.

The latest study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, has now assessed the impact of Pill use in the same women, both before and after they began using oral contraception. A group of 97 women was tested, some of whom started taking the Pill during the course of the research. All had their MHC genes tested and were asked to sniff T-shirts worn in bed by men with different patterns of MHC genes.

Unlike some previous studies, the research did not find any preference for dissimilar MHC genes. However, when the women started taking the Pill their preferences shifted towards the scent of men with more similar genes to their own.

This suggests that Pill use has an effect on perceptions of scent attractiveness, even if there is no underlying female preference for similar or dissimilar MHC genes.

Craig Roberts, who led the study, said: “The results showed that the preferences of women who began using the Pill shifted towards men with genetically similar odours. Not only could MHC-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems, but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the Pill, as odour perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners.”

The research also found differences between women in relationships, who tended to prefer odours of men with different MHC genes, and single women, who tended to prefer the smell of MHC-similar men.

This could potentially indicate that if women are tempted to have an affair, they are more likely to choose a man with very different genes, to maximise the diversity of any offspring that they might have.

The scientists said that more work was needed to explain the way various studies have obtained different results on whether women naturally prefer men with different or similar MHC genes. They also cautioned that the importance of scent in human mating preferences remains uncertain.

The research backs up an earlier study of how women’s perceptions of partners can alter when taking the Pill. Psychologists from St Andrews and Stirling universities found that women on the Pill tend to prefer macho types with strong jaw lines and prominent cheekbones.

However, women who are not taking that form of contraception seem to be more likely to go for more sensitive types of men without traditionally masculine features.

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

The National Debt is $100,000,000,000,000.00 – That’s TRILLION

The “official” debt of the United States is only around $10 trillion dollars as of August 6, 2008. This is a manageable number; we could pay it off in a few decades if we quit buying luxuries like food and clothing, and take a few other minor economy measures. Unfortunately, the “$10 trillion” number was produced by government accounting, which among other things allows one to ignore Social Security, Medicare, and the new prescription drug benefit. This is like ignoring rent, food, and utilities in your household budget… it will lead to a few bounced checks. Our real debt is about ten times higher.

Who says so? The President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, Richard W. Fisher. In a May speech at the Commonwealth Club of California, he states that the US national debt is close to $100 trillion. You can read his whole speech at the Federal Reserve web site.

The Real Debt

Here is what he said regarding the actual US debt:

“Add together the unfunded liabilities from Medicare and Social Security, and it comes to $99.2 trillion over the infinite horizon. Traditional Medicare composes about 69 percent, the new drug benefit roughly 17 percent and Social Security the remaining 14 percent.”

Interested readers will notice that the new prescription drug benefit is projected to be more fiscally crushing than all of Social Security.

Mr. Fisher points out that this $99.2 trillion will be a bit of a burden to pay off:

“Let’s say you and I and Bruce Ericson and every U.S. citizen who is alive today decided to fully address this unfunded liability through lump-sum payments from our own pocketbooks, so that all of us and all future generations could be secure in the knowledge that we and they would receive promised benefits in perpetuity. How much would we have to pay if we split the tab? Again, the math is painful. With a total population of 304 million, from infants to the elderly, the per-person payment to the federal treasury would come to $330,000. This comes to $1.3 million per family of four—over 25 times the average household’s income.”

You do have $1.3 million in your pocket, right? What, are you some kind of deadbeat?

Speaking of deadbeats, the “$99.2 trillion” estimate does not include the subprime bailout. So for those who like large round numbers, by the end of 2008 the real National Debt should be large, round, and about $100 trillion.

Other Unfunded Liabilities

The Fed’s numbers do not include some other liabilities the US has acquired over the years. One massive but unquantifiable liability is the probability of future wars. If it cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars to invade the fifth-rate kleptocracy of Iraq and the foreign-aid regime of Afghanistan, how many trillions would wars against real powers cost? Perhaps I should ask “how many US cities” such wars would cost.

Some nations could legitimately plan for peace. Sweden has not fought a foreign war since 1814 (as many Swedes have pointed out in emails regarding my Swiss article). Switzerland, not since 1815. The US record is less hopeful.

The US is rarely not in foreign wars, and the current Administration has openly announced that the “Global War On Terror” will never end. Yet our government accounting is predicated on perpetual peace, on an ever-increasing flow of money into the official pyramid schemes.

In any case, whether you are pro- or anti- Empire, real accounting demands some reserves for future war contingencies. When even a few US cities are burning radioactive pyres, the flow of funds to Social Security and Medicare will suffer some interruption.

Any fiscal plan demands amortization of the accumulated hatred our foreign adventures have accumulated. The US taxpayer has aided every evil dictator since 1945. Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, Nyerere, Idi Amin, go right down the roster and US money helped pay for the barbed wire and bullets (and the nuclear reactors, in the case of the Kim Dynasty rulers of Korea).

So far blowback has been quite mild. But in a world full of easy do-it-yourself WMD technologies, our luck can’t hold forever. If the US were a private company, the “badwill” on our books would reach into the tens of trillions.

Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

In the U.S., you can now be found not guilty and still be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant

This is hardly in accord with the Constitution, or common sense, but then again, what is nowadays. . .

Some detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will likely never be released because of the danger they pose, and those tried and acquitted will still be subject to continued detention as enemy combatants, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, made the remarks as Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni, awaited a verdict in the first war crimes trial to be held under a special regime created for “war on terror” suspects.

Morrell said Hamdan, a former driver of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, could appeal the verdict in US courts.

“But in the near term, at least, we would consider him an enemy combatant and still a danger and would likely still be detained for some period of time thereafter,” he said.

Morrell said there were plans for at least 20 more such trials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba but he said a significant portion of the detainees being held there would neither be tried nor released.

He said efforts were being made to reduce the size of the population through transfers of prisoners to their home countries for incarceration or release.

“But I think, you know, there are still a significant population within Guantanamo who will likely never be released because of the threat they pose to the world, for that matter,” he said.

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iraq’s oil-fueled surplus could hit $80 billion

This is ironic. . .  Allegedly the Iraqi oil was going to pay for the war.  It couldn’t do that, but it is now providing big profits for the Country of Iraq.

The U.S. must be the strangest “empire” in the history of the world.  Virtually all other empires destroyed other countries and made them pay tribute so that the empire could continue its conquests.  The U.S. empire destroys other countries and then spends its own taxpayer money to rebuild the country. 

It’s not a coincidence that the economy here is suffering badly.  Why not just leave the other countries alone. . .?


Anyway, here’s the article.

WASHINGTON (CNN)Iraq is raking in more money from oil exports than it is spending, amassing a projected four-year budget surplus of up to $80 billion, U.S. auditors reported Tuesday.

Leading members of Congress, noting that Washington is paying for reconstruction in Iraq, expressed outrage at the assessment. One called the findings “inexcusable.”

We should not be paying for Iraqi projects while Iraqi oil revenues continue to pile up in the bank, including outrageous profits from $4-a-gallon gas prices in the U.S.,” said Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We should require that U.S. taxpayers be reimbursed for the cost of large projects.”

Baghdad had a $29 billion budget surplus between 2005 to 2007. With the price of crude roughly doubling in the past year, Iraq’s surplus for 2008 is expected to run between $38 billion and $50 billion, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The United States has put about $48 billion toward reconstruction since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, auditors reported. About $23 billion of that was spent on the oil and electricity industries, water systems and security.

Iraq spent $3.9 billion on those sectors from 2005 through April 2008, according to the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress. The ongoing fighting there, a shortage of trained staff and weak controls have made it difficult for the Iraqi government to spend its surplus on needed projects, the agency’s report concluded.

Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has been an outspoken critic of the slow progress of reconstruction and an advocate of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. His criticism Tuesday was echoed by Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican who is the former chairman and now a leading member of Levin’s committee.

Despite Iraq earning billions of dollars in oil revenue in the past five years, U.S. taxpayer money has been the overwhelming source of Iraq reconstruction funds,” Warner said in a joint statement with Levin. “It is time for the sovereign government of Iraq, using its revenues, expenditures and surpluses, to fully assume the responsibility to provide essential services and improve the quality of life for the Iraqi people.”

In its written response to the audit report, the Treasury Department said U.S. officials are working with Iraqis to address the issue, “and we believe progress is being made.”

“The report shows Iraq’s budget surplus is likely to grow significantly over the course of 2008, but it is equally important to realize that spending in Iraq is also increasing,” Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Andy Baukol wrote to the GAO.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government submitted a $22 billion supplemental budget to the Iraqi parliament in July, including $8 billion in proposed capital expenditures, Baukol wrote.

The issue raised the hackles of several members of Congress earlier this year — particularly because Bush administration officials said on the eve of the war that Iraqi oil money would pay for reconstruction.

In 2003, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the House Appropriations Committee: “We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said Tuesday’s report “is going to make a lot of American families very angry.”

“The record gas prices they are paying have turned into an economic windfall for Iraq, but the Iraqi government isn’t spending the money on rebuilding,” said Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa said the senator hopes to tighten rules governing U.S. expenditures on Iraqi reconstruction efforts in the next Pentagon authorization bill.

The Iraqi surplus has piled up even though the country’s oil production has only recently matched prewar levels, according to the Brookings Institution’s latest Iraq Index.

The country spent about 80 percent of its $29 billion operating budget in 2007, including public services and salaries, but only 28 percent of its $12 billion investment budget, the GAO found.

The export of crude oil accounted for 94 percent of Iraq’s revenues from 2005 to 2007, the GAO reported.

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 6:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pat Buchanan on Exiting the Empire

Honorable Exit From Empire
by Patrick J. Buchanan

As any military historian will testify, among the most difficult of maneuvers is the strategic retreat. Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, Lee’s retreat to Appomattox and MacArthur’s retreat from the Yalu come to mind. The British Empire abandoned India in 1947 – and a Muslim-Hindu bloodbath ensued.

France’s departure from Indochina was ignominious, and her abandonment of hundreds of thousands of faithful Algerians to the FALN disgraceful. Few American can forget the humiliation of Saigon ’75, or the boat people, or the Cambodian holocaust.

Strategic retreats that turn into routs are often the result of what Lord Salisbury called “the commonest error in politics … sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”

From 1989 to 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and breakup of the U.S.S.R., America had an opportunity to lay down its global burden and become again what Jeane Kirkpatrick called “a normal country in a normal time.”

We let the opportunity pass by, opting instead to use our wealth and power to convert the world to democratic capitalism. And we have reaped the reward of all the other empires that went before: A sinking currency, relative decline, universal enmity, a series of what Rudyard Kipling called “the savage wars of peace.”

Yet, opportunity has come anew for America to shed its imperial burden and become again the republic of our fathers.

The chairman of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Party has just been hosted for six days by Beijing. Commercial flights have begun between Taipei and the mainland. Is not the time ripe for America to declare our job done, that the relationship between China and Taiwan is no longer a vital interest of the United States?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government wants a status of forces agreement with a timetable for full withdrawal of U.S. troops. Is it not time to say yes, to declare that full withdrawal is our goal as well, that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq?

On July 4, Reuters, in a story headlined “Poland Rejects U.S. Missile Offer,” reported from Warsaw: “Poland spurned as insufficient on Friday a U.S. offer to boost its air defenses in return for basing anti-missile interceptors on its soil. …

“‘We have not reached a satisfactory result on the issue of increasing the level of Polish security,’ Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference after studying the latest U.S. proposal.”

Tusk is demanding that America “provide billions of dollars worth of U.S. investment to upgrade Polish air defenses in return for hosting 10 two-stage missile interceptors,” said Reuters.

Reflect if you will on what is going on here.

By bringing Poland into NATO, we agreed to defend her against the world’s largest nation, Russia, with thousands of nuclear weapons. Now the Polish regime is refusing us permission to site 10 anti-missile missiles on Polish soil, unless we pay Poland billions for the privilege.

Has Uncle Sam gone senile?

No. Tusk has Sam figured out. The old boy is so desperate to continue in his Cold War role as world’s Defender of Democracy he will even pay the Europeans – to defend Europe.

Why not tell Tusk that if he wants an air defense system, he can buy it; that we Americans are no longer willing to pay Poland for the privilege of defending Poland; that the anti-missile missile deal is off. And use cancellation of the missile shield to repair relations with a far larger and more important power, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Consider, too, the opening South Korea is giving us to end our 60-year commitment to defend her against the North. For weeks, Seoul hosted anti-American protests against a trade deal that allows U.S. beef into South Korea. Koreans say they fear mad-cow disease.

Yet, when a new deal was cut to limit imports to U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months old, that too was rejected by the protesters. Behind the demonstrations lies a sediment of anti-Americanism.

In 2002, a Pew Research Center survey of 42 nations found 44 percent of South Koreans, second highest number of any country, holding an unfavorable view of the United States. A Korean survey put the figure at 53 percent, with 80 percent of youth holding a negative view. By 39 percent to 35 percent, South Koreans saw the United States as a greater threat than North Korea.

Can someone explain why we keep 30,000 troops on the DMZ of a nation whose people do not even like us?

The raison d’être for NATO was the Red Army on the Elbe. It disappeared two decades ago. The Chinese army left North Korea 50 years ago. Yet NATO endures and the U.S. Army stands on the DMZ. Why?

Because, if all U.S. troops were brought home from Europe and Korea, 10,000 rice bowls would be broken. They are the rice bowls of politicians, diplomats, generals, journalists and think tanks who would all have to find another line of work.

And that is why the Empire will endure until disaster befalls it, as it did all the others.

Published in: on July 25, 2008 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ever wonder why the U.S. is still in Afghanistan?

Here’s why:

“As a forward operating site, Bagram must be able to provide for a long term, steady state presence which is able to surge to meet theater contingency requirements,” the Army said in requesting the money.

When he initially sought the funds last year, Adm. William J. Fallon, then commander of U.S. Central Command, described Bagram as “the centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia.”

In another sign that U.S. troops will be there a long time, the Army requested, and Congress provided, $41 million for a 30-megawatt power plant at Bagram. It is capable of generating enough electricity for a town of more than 20,000 homes.


Looks like the FedGov is planning on staying for awhile in order to meddle in Central Asia.  I guess the FedGov didn’t learn it’s lesson in SE Asia 30+ years ago.

Published in: on July 22, 2008 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anybody like a good story about a great American patriot?

Remember Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier?  Many may not know that Crockett became a member of the House of Representatives.   I recommend this to anyone who wishes to understand what times were like in the early part of U.S. history – and for anyone who wants to learn how our government SHOULD work under the constitution.

BTW, he disliked “Davey” and insisted on “David”.

This is from The Life of Colonel David Crockett by Edward S. Ellis – 1884.  Long but DEFINITELY worth a read.  I seem to re-read it every year or so – you’ll note that Representative Crockett received reproof.  You might want to print it off and read at your leisure.

Crockett was then the lion of Washington. I was a great admirer of his character, and, having several friends who were intimate with him, I found no difficulty in making his acquaintance. I was fascinated with him, and he seemed to take a fancy to me.

I was one day in the lobby of the House of Representatives when a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support – rather, as I thought, because it afforded the speakers a fine opportunity for display than from the necessity of convincing anybody, for it seemed to me that everybody favored it. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose. Everybody expected, of course, that he was going to make one of his characteristic speeches in support of the bill. He commenced:

“Mr. Speaker – I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount.

There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them. Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Like many other young men, and old ones, too, for that matter, who had not thought upon the subject, I desired the passage of the bill, and felt outraged at its defeat. I determined that I would persuade my friend Crockett to move a reconsideration the next day.

Previous engagements preventing me from seeing Crockett that night, I went early to his room the next morning and found him engaged in addressing and franking letters, a large pile of which lay upon his table.

I broke in upon him rather abruptly, by asking him what devil had possessed him to make that speech and defeat that bill yesterday. Without turning his head or looking up from his work, he replied:

“You see that I am very busy now; take a seat and cool yourself. I will be through in a few minutes, and then I will tell you all about it.”

He continued his employment for about ten minutes, and when he had finished he turned to me and said:

“Now, sir, I will answer your question. But thereby hangs a tale, and one of considerable length, to which you will have to listen.”

I listened, and this is the tale which I heard:

Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there, I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.

The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up, and I thought it was best to let the boys know that I had not forgot them, and that going to Congress had not made me too proud to go to see them.

So I put a couple of shirts and a few twists of tobacco into my saddlebags, and put out. I had been out about a week and had found things going very smoothly, when, riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly, and was about turning his horse for another furrow when I said to him: “Don’t be in such a hurry, my friend; I want to have a little talk with you, and get better acquainted.”

He replied: “I am very busy, and have but little time to talk, but if it does not take too long, I will listen to what you have to say.”

I began: “Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and – ”

“‘Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’

This was a sockdolager… I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

“Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the Constitution to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.”

“I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.”

“No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?”

“Certainly it is, and I thought that was the last vote which anybody in the world would have found fault with.”

“Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?”

Here was another sockdolager; for, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a thing in the Constitution that authorized it. I found I must take another tack, so I said:

“Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.”

It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.”

I have given you an imperfect account of what he said. Long before he was through, I was convinced that I had done wrong. He wound up by saying:

“So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.”

I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

“Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.”

He laughingly replied:

Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.”

“If I don’t,” said I, “I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.”

“No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.”

“Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name.”

“My name is Bunce.”

“Not Horatio Bunce?”


“Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go.”

We shook hands and parted.

It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.

I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him – no, that is not the word – I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted – at least, they all knew me.

In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

“Fellow citizens – I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.”

I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

“And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

“It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.”

He came upon the stand and said:

“Fellow citizens – It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.”

He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

“Now, Sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.

“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men – men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased – a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

Published in: on July 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Irony in Israel

From Laurence Vance:

According to Efrat, an organization in Jerusalem dedicated to saving bablies from being aborted, there are close to 50,000 abortions in Israel every year. To put this number in perspective, Efrat says that in an average week in Israel last year, nine people were killed in road accidents, one Israeli was murdered by terrorists, but over nine hundred babies were lost to abortion, mainly due to economic concerns.

So why do I mention this?

One, where is the outcry from pro-life American Evangelicals who are so concerned about Israel?

And two, Israelis are killing Israelis at a far greater rate than Muslim terrorists are killing Israelis.

Efrat website:

Published in: on July 17, 2008 at 4:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Federal Judge finds that GW Bush is effectively a felon

This is very long and probably not of enough interest to most of you to read it.  However, it was interesting to me because it reveals the ridiculous legal measures the Department of Justice/FBI, etc. . . will go to in order to protect the Executive’s pet programs (whether that Executive be a Democrat or a Republican).

Concerning being under government surveillance without a warrant (explicitly prohibited by the Constitution), as an attorney you have to “show that [your] clients were surveilled before [you] can show that [your] clients were surveilled.”

Even if the “top secret” document which is an alleged “threat to national security” is a matter of national, public knowledge – AND IS GIVEN TO YOU BY THE FED GOV, you still can’t use that document in a suit against the Fed Gov.  Interesting. . .

Anyway, here’s the article:

Suing George W. Bush: A bizarre and troubling tale

U.S. officials went to extremes to stifle our legal challenge to Bush’s warrantless surveillance — but a federal judge says the program is criminal, anyway.

By Jon B. Eisenberg

Jul. 09, 2008 | On July 3, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court in California made a ruling particularly worthy of the nation’s attention. In Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush, a key case in the epic battle over warrantless spying inside the United States, Judge Walker ruled, effectively, that President George W. Bush is a felon.

Judge Walker held that the president lacks the authority to disregard the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA — which means Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance program was illegal. Whether Bush will ultimately be held accountable for violating federal law with the program remains unclear. Bush administration lawyers have fought vigorously — at times using brazen, logic-defying tactics— to prevent that from happening. The court battle will continue to play out as Congress continues to battle over recasting FISA and possibly granting immunity to telecom companies involved in the illegal surveillance.

The story of how Al-Haramain’s lawyers negotiated the journey thus far to Judge Walker’s ruling — a team of seven lawyers that includes me — sheds light on how much is at stake for the Bush administration and the country. It is a surreal saga, involving a top-secret document accidentally released by the government, a showdown between Bush lawyers and a federal judge, the violent destruction of a laptop computer by government agents, and possibly even the top-secret shredding of a banana peel.

Call me Alice — because this is a tale directly from Government Secrecy Wonderland, the bizarre and unnerving adventures of suing President Bush for apparently violating a federal law. I’ll swear under penalty of perjury that what follows is true and correct. Otherwise, you might not even believe it.

The secret document

FISA requires a warrant for electronic surveillance inside the U.S. for intelligence gathering. President George W. Bush secretly violated FISA for nearly six years, starting shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. FISA makes those violations felonious and provides for civil liability to the victims. I am one of seven lawyers in Oregon and California representing three of those victims in Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush, a civil lawsuit against the president.

The plaintiffs are Al-Haramain — a defunct Islamic charity based in Oregon — and two lawyers who represented Al-Haramain in 2004 during proceedings by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to declare Al-Haramain a terrorist organization, the primary consequence of which was to freeze its assets. (This effectively put the organization out of business.) Of the four dozen lawsuits challenging various aspects of Bush’s warrantless electronic surveillance program, the Al-Haramain case is unique because we have proof that our clients were actually wiretapped and thus can satisfy the legal requirement of “standing,” or grounds to sue — meaning we can show they were victims of the unlawful conduct for which they are suing. Nobody else has been able to produce such proof.

Our proof is a top-secret classified document, which the government accidentally gave to Al-Haramain’s lawyers in August of 2004. We call it “the Document.” It appeared in a stack of unclassified materials that the lawyers had requested from OFAC. Six weeks later, after the government realized its blunder, FBI agents personally visited each of the lawyers and made them return their copies of the Document. But the agents made no effort to retrieve copies that the lawyers had given to two members of Al-Haramain’s board of directors, who lived outside the United States.

I can’t publicly reveal what’s in the Document because, well, it’s a secret. I would be committing a crime — a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917 — if I were to do so. But we assert the Document as proof of allegations we have made that in March and April of 2004 the National Security Agency conducted warrantless electronic surveillance of attorney-client communications between a representative of Al-Haramain and two of its attorneys, and that in May of 2004 the NSA gave logs of those surveilled communications to OFAC.

The FBI vs. the judge

Along with the complaint (the formal pleading that starts a lawsuit), which we filed in February of 2006 in the Oregon federal District Court, we submitted the Document. The government’s first response was to try to seize the Document from the court. On March 17, 2006, as we were holding our first all-hands meeting of the Al-Haramain legal team in Portland, we received a telephone call from a Department of Justice attorney, advising us that FBI agents were en route to the federal District Court building to confiscate the Document. We immediately lodged a protest with the assigned judge, Garr King, who scheduled an emergency telephone conference with him and all counsel. The FBI agents retreated.

During the emergency hearing, DOJ attorney Anthony Coppolino demanded that the Document be turned over to the FBI for storage in a top-secret repository called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. To my astonishment, Judge King responded: “What if I say I will not deliver it to the FBI, Mr. Coppolino?” A clash of constitutional powers was brewing. Agents of the executive branch were threatening to invade the files of the judicial branch. The judge was resisting, almost daring them to.

It was the executive branch that blinked. After a pause, Coppolino said: “Well, your Honor, we obviously don’t want to have any kind of a confrontation with you; we want to work this out.” We all agreed that the Document would be held in a nearby SCIF to which Judge King would have free access.

This was the beginning of a bizarre journey that has not yet ended. Since then, for nearly two and a half years, we have been attempting to use the Document to confirm our clients’ standing to sue under FISA and thus test the legality of President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. More broadly, we want the courts to discredit the so-called unitary executive theory of presidential power, which holds that the president has exclusive authority over matters of national security and may disregard laws like FISA that impose checks on presidential power. First, however, we have had to get past a major obstacle used by the Bush administration to stand in our way.

The state secrets privilege

The state secrets privilege, which is rooted in a 1953 Supreme Court case, allows the government to refuse in civil lawsuits to disclose classified evidence that is a state or military secret. In extreme cases, where the very subject matter of the lawsuit is secret, the lawsuit may be thrown out entirely.

Soon after the Document’s place of reposit was resolved, the government asked Judge King to throw out our lawsuit pursuant to the state secrets privilege, a tactic used aggressively by the Bush government. We opposed that request, arguing that the Document isn’t a secret any longer, since we and our clients have seen it. The government attorneys insisted that the Document is still a secret no matter who knows about it, and further insisted that the warrantless surveillance program itself remains secret — never mind that the New York Times revealed the program in December of 2005 and soon thereafter the president publicly admitted its existence.

By this time, in a burst of healthy paranoia, we had destroyed all our copies of the Document, and the government wouldn’t give us access to the copy held in the SCIF. What would Judge King do? It’s no small thing for a judge to take on the president in matters of national security. Judge King came up with a compromise: In a ruling issued on Sept. 7, 2006, he denied the government’s request, but also denied us access to the copy in the SCIF. Instead, he said, we could proceed to demonstrate standing by filing secret affidavits describing the Document from memory.

Laptop lunacy

The government lawyers appealed Judge King’s ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But they blundered: They failed to file an immediate request to suspend the lower court proceedings that Judge King had authorized — our showing of standing with secret affidavits describing the Document from memory. For two months we quietly worked on our written showing. By the end of October, having completed most of the drafting, all we had left to do was prepare our secret affidavits describing the Document from memory, along with a short supplemental secret brief explaining how the affidavits established standing. On Oct. 27, 2006, I flew to Portland from my home in Oakland, laptop computer in hand, to finish the work with co-counsel. The Oregon attorneys prepared the secret affidavits; I wrote the supplemental secret brief on my laptop. Three days later, we filed our documents with the district court.

The government attorneys were enraged. We’d caught them off guard. They wrote to Judge King and requested an immediate hearing, arguing we had prepared our secret papers and taken them to the courthouse without complying with CIA directives that require certain top secret documents to be “carried only in approved containers by authorized couriers” and “transmitted electronically only through ‘specially designated and accredited communications circuits secured by an NSA-approved cryptographic system and/or protected distribution systems.'”

In fact, we’d only done what Judge King had said we could do. In a responding letter to the judge, we also pointed out that CIA directives don’t apply to us because we aren’t CIA employees. Nevertheless, in another moment of fear, we destroyed our drafts and notes for the secret filings. We no longer had copies of the secret documents we had filed.

During a short hearing, Judge King absolved us of wrongdoing but ordered that, in the future, we would have to confer with the DOJ attorneys before preparing secret filings. At the end of the hearing, the government attorneys demanded that we relinquish any electronic versions of the secret documents we had filed. The judge ordered all counsel to confer on this, too, and “see what you can work out.” These two orders set the stage for some of the most bizarre experiences of my 29-year legal career.

Judge King suspended further proceedings on the standing issue until the pending 9th Circuit appeal was decided. That took nearly a year, during which time all of the four dozen cases nationwide challenging various aspects of the warrantless surveillance program were consolidated and transferred to the federal District Court in San Francisco for decision by a single judge, Vaughn Walker.

Meanwhile, the government attorneys demanded that we give them our computers to enable DOJ technicians to “wipe” the computers clean of any electronic remnants of secret material that might remain somewhere in the computers’ hard drives. Because of attorney-client confidentiality considerations, we refused, proposing instead to do the wiping ourselves in whatever manner the government technicians suggested. We weren’t about to let the DOJ go rummaging through our files. Negotiations on the “wiping” logistics dragged on throughout the winter.

Briefing blind

Come spring, we turned our attention to the 9th Circuit appeal, where the appellate court would decide whether the state secrets privilege required our lawsuit to be thrown out entirely. In June of 2007, the DOJ attorneys filed two opening briefs in the 9th Circuit. One brief was publicly available, to which we would be allowed to file a publicly available responsive brief. The other was filed in secret, under seal, for the judge’s eyes only. The bad news for us was that we would not be permitted to see the government’s secret brief; the (sort of) good news was that we could file our own secret brief in response.

Rebutting arguments you’ve not been allowed to see is a talent that isn’t taught in law school. I consulted Kafka’s “The Trial,” looking for helpful tips, but found none. I tried guessing at what might be in the government’s secret brief and then hazarding a response in our own. Because of Judge King’s prior order, we had to confer with the DOJ attorneys on the logistics of how to do this secret filing.

The government attorneys referred us to DOJ employee Erin Hogarty, a Washington-based member of the DOJ’s Litigation Security Section. I contacted Hogarty and said I needed to confer with her and review the documents we had filed under seal with Judge King the prior year. We made arrangements to meet at the federal courthouse in San Francisco on June 15, 2007.

Hogarty and I convened in a windowless interior room adjacent to Judge Walker’s chambers. She had brought our previous secret filings with her. She set me up in the room with the filings, took my cellphone from me, instructed me that I could take no notes either then or later, and then left me alone while she sat outside the closed door. After a while, I called Hogarty back into the room and we discussed the logistics for drafting the secret appellate court filing.

Hogarty instructed me that the drafting session would take place in the DOJ’s San Francisco offices under her supervision. I told her that, in addition to myself, I wanted another member of our Oregon legal team to attend the session. Before I even told her who I wanted, she volunteered “not Tom Nelson.” A key member of the team, Nelson had helped prepare the affidavits we had filed the previous October and had hand-carried them to the courthouse. Hogarty said that Nelson had been “uncooperative,” which I took to refer to strong objections he had voiced to the DOJ rummaging through his computer files. Hogarty then named one of our other Oregon team members — Steven Goldberg — as the only other attorney who could participate in the drafting session.

We chose a date: June 26, 2007. She then laid out ground rules: I could not prepare any advance notes that contained any classified information. I could not discuss any classified information over the telephone with Goldberg prior to the drafting session. Goldberg and I could only discuss the drafting “face to face” — which was a problem, since I was in Oakland and he was in Portland. We would be put in a room at the DOJ’s San Francisco offices, where we would be loaned a government computer on which to work.

The telltale banana peel

On the morning of June 26, Goldberg and I met Hogarty in the lobby of the San Francisco federal building. She took us through a locked door and into the DOJ offices, on a floor that was strangely deserted. She ushered us into a small interior room lined with bookshelves that had been completely emptied, except for a few chairs, a large table, a dusty telephone, a laptop computer and a printer. She took our cellphones.

At that point, we brought up the subject of Tom Nelson. Goldberg told Hogarty that we wanted to be able to telephone Nelson on a secure line during the drafting session, or, alternatively, have him fly down from Portland immediately to join us personally. Hogarty politely refused. Goldberg asked on whose instructions she was acting, and she named one of the DOJ attorneys, Andrew Tannenbaum — although, as she put it, Tannenbaum had received the instructions from “higher up.”

We went forward without Nelson, drafting our secret appellate brief in a DOJ office, on a DOJ computer, under the watch of a DOJ security officer — that is, under the auspices and control of our adversary in the legal case. We could print out drafts but couldn’t take them from the room; instead, we were to leave the drafts on the table to be shredded by Hogarty later. When the brief was done, we were to print out five copies: one for each of the three judges on the panel that would decide the appeal, one for the DOJ attorneys and one to be put in a special safe under Hogarty’s supervision. She would personally give the judges their copies, which nobody else — not the court clerks, not the judges’ staff attorneys — would be permitted to see. We would not be allowed to keep a copy of what we had written; the brief in Hogarty’s safe was “our” copy.

Hogarty explained that anything we wrote down that contained classified information, then or later, would instantly become “derivatively classified” and thus unlawful for us to possess. I wondered whether this meant that the portion of my brain that remembers the Document is also “derivatively classified,” making its presence in my skull unlawful.

Goldberg and I spent about three hours writing our response to the secret government brief we had not been allowed to see. I produced an initial draft without using notes. Goldberg edited and added to my draft, then I reedited, and so on. We took the brief through several drafts, printing out hard copies to work from as we went along. As lunchtime approached, I got hungry, which Goldberg mentioned to Hogarty during a bathroom break. Hogarty kindly offered me a banana. When we returned to our drafting, I ate the banana and set the peel alongside our stack of hard-copy drafts.

Finally, we printed out five copies of our finished brief, which I laid on the table alongside the stack of drafts and the banana peel, and I called for Hogarty. I told her: “Here’s everything, even the banana peel.” Hogarty said she would shred the drafts and the banana peel. (She may have been joking about the banana peel, but I couldn’t be sure.) She returned our cellphones to us and escorted us out of the building into the San Francisco sunlight.

We submitted our 9th Circuit briefs on July 3, 2007. In the publicly available brief, we argued that the state secrets privilege shouldn’t apply to the Al-Haramain case for several reasons. Among them was the Document’s accidental disclosure to the plaintiffs, which meant the surveillance of them was no longer a secret. We also argued that we only want to use the Document to confirm the previously disclosed fact of the surveillance, and not to reveal any of its operational details, so the lawsuit did not threaten national security.

I can’t reveal, of course, what we argued in our secret brief. The government subsequently filed a secret reply brief — which we weren’t allowed to see.

The court scheduled a hearing on the appeal for Aug. 15, 2007. At the same time, the court would hear oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) against telecommunications carrier AT&T, challenging AT&T’s wholesale disclosure of its customers’ e-mail and telephone records to the government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.

The attack of the Samsonite Gorillas

On Aug. 8, 2007 — more than nine months after I’d drafted the secret supplemental brief we’d filed with Judge King — the DOJ people came to “wipe” my laptop clean of any electronic remnants of the brief. We’d finally agreed on the logistics: Erin Hogarty would bring a DOJ technician from Washington, D.C., and we’d meet in the windowless room adjacent to Judge Walker’s chambers in San Francisco, where the technician would do the deed in my presence. It turned out to be more of a “whacking” than a “wiping.”

Hogarty brought someone she introduced simply as “Miguel.” By this time, alas, my laptop, which was old, was in its death throes. After Miguel tried logging onto the laptop and encountered fatal errors, he pronounced it dead. Hogarty asked me whether it would be OK if they physically destroyed the hard drive. I’d bought a new laptop and had managed to retrieve from the old one everything that I cared about, so I agreed.

They had brought no tools with them. Hogarty was about to canvass the building for a screwdriver, but I had a pending meeting elsewhere, so Miguel made do by fashioning a crude implement from the metal clip of his pen. He pried the back cover off the computer and removed the hard drive and memory board.

The situation grew darkly comic. They didn’t have a hammer, so they started debating how to smash the hard drive. I suggested they smack it against the corner of the table that was in the room. That didn’t do much. Hogarty then had an idea to put the thing on the floor and use a table leg on it. Miguel put down the hard drive, picked up the table and brought it down several times forcefully. The noise resounded, but the hard drive was impervious. One of the table legs became bent from the procedure.

Next, Miguel tried attacking the hard drive with his homemade tool. Soon he’d managed to pry off the hard drive cover and commenced scratching at the components. Meanwhile, Hogarty took the memory board and began banging on it on the floor with a chair leg. The memory board was weaker than the hard drive and cracked in several places. Then she held the memory board in her hands and tried bending it, but Miguel stopped her, warning that he’d seen someone get cut badly doing that — evidently they’d done this sort of thing before.

I found myself thinking of the Samsonite Gorilla, the TV commercial from the 1970s in which a gorilla stomps on a piece of luggage that just won’t break. I thought: “These people are entrusted with our national security?”

Eventually they managed to turn two shiny pieces of technology into about 20 jagged pieces of junk. Miguel started to throw the pieces into the wastebasket, but I asked if I could keep them — a dark memento of sorts — and he agreed.

As for my colleagues’ computers, Hogarty and Miguel made a separate trip to Oregon, where they destroyed one of Portland attorney Zaha Hassan’s Zip disks. They checked Goldberg’s computer but apparently didn’t find what they were looking for and left his hard drive intact. Nelson resisted all efforts to get at his electronic files, telling the DOJ attorneys that if they wanted access to his computer they would have to get a court order. They made no effort to do so.

Arguing gagged

A week later, I was arguing the case before a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Hogarty told me beforehand that if I said anything during the hearing that risked a public disclosure of classified information, she would stop the proceedings and clear the courtroom, suggesting I would likely suffer unspecified but unpleasant consequences.

In the middle of my argument, Judge Margaret McKeown asked me what information we needed from the Document to demonstrate our clients’ standing to sue under FISA. I was at a loss. When Judge McKeown pressed me, I said: “I cannot tell you. I have a sealed filing in this case.” When she pressed further, I said: “What’s in the Document, I cannot mention it today.” This was not my most eloquent moment as a lawyer.

Then, DOJ attorney Thomas Bondy stood at the lectern and delivered a mind-boggling rebuttal to our argument that the surveillance of our clients was no longer a secret.

“They don’t know,” Bondy said. “Let me make clear what I mean by that. When plaintiffs explain what they mean when they say they, in quotes, ‘know,’ they don’t know. What they mean when they say that is that they — although they think or believe or claim they were surveilled, it’s possible they weren’t surveilled … When they say they know, what they mean by that, on their own terms, is that they don’t know.”

Bondy went on to argue “it is absolutely clear and undisputed that the world at large, the whole world, does not know whether or not any of the plaintiffs were surveilled.” This incredible exchange ensued:

Judge McKeown: The world knows what they think they know, whatever that is that they know.

Bondy: Exactly. And that’s less than actually knowing whether it’s true.

Judge McKeown: Boy, we are really splitting the “knows.”

At this point Judge Michael Hawkins interjected: “Sounds like Donald Rumsfeld.”

Bondy: But your honor, let me be plain. If it’s entirely possible, and I’m not saying one way or the other, obviously —

Judge McKeown: Right, because you don’t yet know.

Bondy: It’s entirely possible —

Judge McKeown: And we can’t know.

Bondy: It’s entirely possible that everything they think they know, just to give one example, is completely false. It’s possible, or maybe it’s partly true.

And so on. If I’d been permitted a reply, I would have quoted from Lewis Carroll — not from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but from his poem “Jabberwocky”: “Beware the jubjub bird, and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!”


The 9th Circuit issued its ruling on Nov. 16, 2007, reversing Judge King’s decision and sending the case back to Judge Walker for further proceedings. The appellate court ruled that if the state secrets privilege applies to the Al-Haramain lawsuit, it must be thrown out because the Document is indeed a state secret, regardless of its accidental disclosure to the plaintiffs, and because public disclosure of information concerning the Document would threaten national security. Judge King’s compromise of allowing us to file affidavits describing the Document from memory was, the appellate court said, an improper “back door around the privilege.” But the appellate court also ordered Judge Walker to decide whether FISA preempts the state secrets privilege in FISA litigation because of provisions in FISA for adjudicating claims under secure and confidential procedural conditions, which would allow our lawsuit to go forward.

Judge Walker’s decision last week was a major victory for us. Walker concluded that FISA does indeed preempt the state secrets privilege. More broadly, he addressed the key issue raised by our lawsuit — the validity of the “unitary executive” theory — and said what we’ve been long awaiting: that the president does not have unbridled power to disregard federal statutory law in the name of national security. According to Judge Walker, “the authority to protect national security information is neither exclusive nor absolute in the executive branch. When Congress acts to contravene the president’s authority, federal courts must give effect to what Congress has required.”

But the ruling also sends us back down the rabbit hole once again. Judge Walker further held that, because of the peculiar way in which the applicable FISA provisions are written, we can’t use the Document to confirm our clients’ wiretapping until we first make some sort of preliminary showing — using only non-classified information — of “enough specifics” indicating that our clients were wiretapped. Only that could lead to a ruling giving us standing — a burden Walker suggested might be “insurmountable.” According to Walker, “if reports are to be believed,” we will have “little difficulty” establishing standing once we are able to use the Document. But we can’t use it yet. At this point, the Document alone just gives us what Walker called “actual but not useful notice” of our clients’ unlawful surveillance. We need something more, from non-classified information, for that “actual” notice to become “useful.”

In other words, we must show that our clients were surveilled before we can show that our clients were surveilled. The irony in this is not lost on Judge Walker, who commented that FISA is “not user-friendly.”

Judge Walker gave us 30 days to restructure our complaint to make our preliminary case — based on non-classified information — for using the Document to confirm our clients’ surveillance. We’re grateful for the opportunity. We even think we can do it, using bits and pieces of non-classified information that has been revealed about the warrantless surveillance program and the terrorist designation of Al-Haramain in the 28 months since we commenced the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Congress is on the verge of killing the pending lawsuits against the telecommunications carriers with a grant of retroactive immunity from liability. The 9th Circuit has not yet decided the AT&T case, evidently waiting to see whether Congress gives the carriers retroactive immunity. Other lawsuits against the government have been thrown out or are in danger of being thrown out for lack of standing — since the plaintiffs in those cases have no proof that they were actual victims of the warrantless surveillance program. The Al-Haramain case is likely to become the last — the only remaining hope for a determination of the legality of the president’s extrajudical spying program and for Supreme Court review of the “unitary executive” theory.

It’s hardly a secret that the Al-Haramain plaintiffs were spied upon — it’s been reported in Salon,the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker magazine, among others. The reality is that the Al-Haramain case doesn’t threaten national security; it threatens only the “unitary executive” theory and the notion that presidents can disregard an act of Congress at their pleasure. Yet we have had to litigate the Al-Haramain case in the shadow of secrecy, where the government wants the case to die quietly — without a court ruling on whether the president of the United States has broken the law.

We, the members of the Al-Haramain legal team — Ashlee Albies, Steven Goldberg, Bill Hancock, Zaha Hassan, Lisa Jaskol, Tom Nelson and I — cannot let that happen without fighting to the end.


— By Jon B. Eisenberg

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The States are Sovereign over the Fed Gov

This goes back a previous post I made about Lincoln/Oklahoma.  Alan Stang wrote:

Now consider what Lincoln did to the Union. He claimed that he launched the worst war in our history to preserve it. Paradoxically, when his Communists had finished the Union was gone. The Union was a voluntary association of independent, sovereign, governmental entities that retained those qualities when the Union was formed. How do we know that?

We know it because that is what James Madison said in Federalist Paper 39: “. . . Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a federal, and not a national, constitution.”

What’s the difference? A national constitution would, on the contrary, submerge the states, dissolving their independence and sovereignty, reducing them to mere lines on the map, nothing more than administrative zones. A nation is a single, homogeneous unit but a group of states – a federation – is not.

Before Lincoln’s . . . War to Destroy the Union, we had a true confederation; after it we had and have a national government. Lincoln’s . . . consolidated, national government “ratified” the Fourteenth Amendment simply by kicking out the state legislatures that voted against it and installing imposters who did. Of course, Hitler did the same thing. He destroyed the independence of the historic German states, replacing their legislatures with his flunkies.

Before the war, it would not have occurred to anyone in Washington to regulate your toilet. Now, an agency in that behemoth does exactly that and much more. The process was completed with the Seventeenth Amendment, the “direct election of senators,” rather than election by the state legislatures, which changed the Senate into another version of the House. The Seventeenth Amendment destroyed the power of the states in the “federal” government.

Published in: on July 11, 2008 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Has it come to this?

No right to keep and bear arms on a plane, but guess what some of the Federal Aviation officials want to try instead. . .

Want some torture with your peanuts?

By Jeffrey Denning

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all…

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

This bracelet would:

• Take the place of an airline boarding pass

• Contain personal information about the traveler

• Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes
The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to, would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.”  Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger got out of line.

Clearly the Electronic ID Bracelet is a euphemism for the EMD Safety Bracelet, or at least it has a nefarious hidden ability (thus the term ID Bracelet is ambiguous at best). EMD stands for Electro-Musclar Disruption. Again, according to the promotional video, the bracelet can completely immobilize the wearer for several minutes.

So is the government really that interested in this bracelet? 

Apparently so.

According to this letter from DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development, which was written to the inventor whom he had previously met with, Ruwaldt wrote, “To make it clear, we [the federal government] are interested in . . . the immobilizing security bracelet, and look forward to receiving a written proposal.”

The letterhead, in case you were wondering, is from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security office at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City International Airport, or the Federal Aviation Administration headquarters.

In another part of the letter, Mr. Ruwaldt confirmed, “It is conceivable to envision a use to improve air security, on passenger planes.”

Would every paying airline passenger flying on a commercial airplane be mandated to wear one of these devices? I cringe at the thought. Not only could it be used as a physical restraining device, but also as a method of interrogation, according to the same aforementioned letter from Mr. Ruwaldt.

Would you let them put one of those on your wrist? Would you allow the airline employees, which would be mandated by the government, to place such a bracelet on any member of your family?

Why are tax dollars being spent on something like this?

Is this a police state or is this America?

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

That Iranian Missile Test

The Iranians tested a few missiles the other day.  Don’t get too worked up. . .

Iran’s missile warning – more bark than bite?

By Fredrik Dahl – Analysis


TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran showed footage of missiles on Wednesday it warns could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East, but military analysts said the damage they could wreak was limited and not enough to deter any would-be attacker.


Iran’s real ability to hit back against any U.S. or Israeli strike may lie in less conventional tactics than a missile salvo, the analysts say.


The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards test-fired nine long- and medium-range missiles and said they were ready to retaliate if the country’s foes launched military strikes over its disputed nuclear activities, state media reported.


The televised display of its firepower appeared designed to demonstrate for the world and ordinary Iranians that it could and would respond to any attack.


“This is the Iranians saying: ‘We can match you if it comes to that’,” said Andrew Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank in London.


But, he added, the “possession of some rockets” was not going to stop Israel from going ahead if it felt it must bomb Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear arms.


Defence analyst Paul Beaver said Iran’s missile programme was fairly advanced but that it still needed to get accuracy and guidance systems right for long distances. “They are some way away yet from threatening Israel or U.S. bases,” he said.


Speculation that Israel could strike Iran has mounted since its air force staged an exercise last month that U.S. officials said involved 100 aircraft. The United States has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear row.


Iran may fire the missiles if it were attacked but its “real strength lies elsewhere,” Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).




Analysts say Iran could employ unconventional or “asymmetric” methods to strike back, for example against U.S. forces in Iraq and by disrupting crude supplies vital for the world economy with hit-and-run attacks against oil tankers.


Israel, believed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power, has vowed to prevent Iran from building an atomic bomb.


Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, insists its nuclear ambitions are purely directed at generating electricity.


The state Press TV said the “highly advanced” missiles tested included a “new” Shahab 3 missile, which officials have said could reach targets 2,000 km (1,250 miles) away. Iran has previously said Israel and U.S. bases are in its range.


Brookes said he did not believe Israel could attack Iran on its own because of the distances involved and its dispersed nuclear sites, but he made clear Iran’s arsenal of missiles would not be a key factor for decision-makers in Jerusalem.


“A few missiles dropping is neither here or there in the calculus,” Brookes said by telephone from London.


An aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader was quoted as saying on Tuesday that his country would hit Tel Aviv, U.S. shipping in the Gulf and U.S. interests in reply to any military strike.


But Wezeman said he did not believe that Iran had many Shahab 3 missiles in stock or that they could cause major destruction.


Iran’s military says it has thousands of missiles lined up against pre-determined targets, but does not give a breakdown.


Wezeman said the missiles were not that accurate and also carried a limited payload: “I don’t think it is really going to impress Israel that much as long as they (Iranians) use conventional warheads,” he said.

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Several thought provoking (and in some cases, amusing) quotes

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

H.L. Mencken

In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.

H.L. Mencken

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.

H.L. Mencken

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

H.L. Mencken

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.  [However] The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Winston Churchill

Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who are those prisoners at Gitmo? Are they all Al Qaeda?

See article below.  My comments first.
Nope.  Most of them are not Al Qaeda.  Most of them were not even captured by the U.S., but instead were captured by Iraqis or Afghanis and turned over to the U.S. – in many cases in exchange for MONEY.  This information has been available for years, but it’s finally hitting the mainstream because of the Court cases.
Of course, the Executive and Legislative branches have done everything they can to prevent any court hearings for any of the detainees (in spite of THREE Supreme Court rulings that they are entitled to a single hearing requiring the govenement to produce ANY evidence of wrongdoing in order to continue the detentions). 
The government has had no evidence on approximately 420 of the detainees – as they have released about that many without charge – but only after holding them for several years.
Just as in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, it is very dangerous to allow government the right to arrest and detain members of a special group of people without hearing.  After all, YOU could be a member of the next special group.  After all, imagine if we had a (former) Muslim President in the future.  Muslims aren’t noted for their love of Christians.

Truth and the Gitmo Detainees

Is every prisoner at Guantanamo really a terrorist?

Steve Chapman | July 7, 2008

“Islamic terrorists have constitutional rights,” lamented one conservative blog when the Supreme Court said Guantanamo inmates can challenge their detention in court. “These are enemy combatants,” railed John McCain. The court, charged former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy of National Review, sided with foreigners “whose only connection with our body politic is their bloody jihad against Americans.”The operating assumption here is that the prisoners are terrorists who were captured while fighting a vicious war against the United States. But can the critics be sure? All they really know about the Guantanamo detainees is that they are Guantanamo detainees. To conclude that they are all bloodthirsty jihadists requires believing that the U.S. government is infallible.But how sensible is that approach? Judging from a little-noticed federal appeals court decision that came down after the Supreme Court ruling, not very.

The case involved Huzaifa Parhat, a Chinese Muslim who fled to Afghanistan in May 2001 to escape persecution of his Uighur ethnic group by the Beijing government. When the U.S. invaded after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Uighur camp where he lived was destroyed by air strikes. He and his compatriots made their way to Pakistan, where villagers handed them over to the government, which transferred them to American custody.

You might think you would have to do something pretty obvious to wind up in Guantanamo. Apparently not. The U.S. government does not claim Parhat was a member of the Taliban or al-Qaida. He was not captured on a battlefield. The government’s own military commission admitted it found no evidence that he “committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition partners.”

So why did the Pentagon insist on holding him as an enemy combatant? Because he was affiliated with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a separatist Muslim group fighting for independence from Beijing. It had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks but reputedly got help from al-Qaida.

But the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, after reviewing secret documents submitted by the government, found that there was no real evidence. It said the flimsy case mounted against Parhat “comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true.” And it ruled that, based on the information available, he was not an enemy combatant even under the Pentagon’s own definition of the term.

Is this verdict just another act of judicial activism by arrogant liberals on the bench? Not by a long shot.

Of the three judges who signed the opinion, one, Thomas Griffith, was appointed in 2005 by President Bush himself. Another, David Sentelle, was nominated in 1985 by President Reagan—and had earlier joined in ruling that the Guantanamo detainees could not go to federal court to assert their innocence (a decision the Supreme Court overturned).

The administration could hardly have asked for a more accommodating group of judges. Yet they found in favor of the detainee on the simple grounds that if the government is going to imprison someone as an enemy combatant, it needs some evidence that he is one.

Parhat may not be an exceptional case. Most of the prisoners were not captured by the U.S. in combat but were turned over by local forces, often in exchange for a bounty. We had to take someone else’s word that they were bad guys.

A 2006 report by Seton Hall law professor Mark Denbeaux found that only 8 percent of those held at Guantanamo were al-Qaida fighters. Even a study done at West Point concluded that just 73 percent of the detainees were a “demonstrated threat”—which means 27 percent were not.

The Parhat case doesn’t prove that everyone in detention at Guantanamo is an innocent victim of some misunderstanding. But it does show the dangers of trusting the administration—any administration—to act as judge, jury, and jailer. It illustrates the need for an independent review to make sure there is some reason to believe the people being treated as terrorists really deserve it.

If any particular detainees are as bad as the administration claims, it should have no trouble making that case in court. But there is nothing to be gained from the indefinite imprisonment of someone whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keeping innocent people behind bars is a tragedy for them and a waste for us.


And by the way, as recently as June 2005, Sec Def Rumsfeld stated, “If you think of the people down there, these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They’re terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden’s] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker.”

Do you think the Secretary of Defense was mis-informed when he made that statement?


Published in: on July 8, 2008 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Need a Presidential Candidate better than Obama and McCain? Here’s one.

Since Ron Paul dropped out, your choices (at present) are Obama, McCain, write in Dr. Paul, Bob Barr (Libertarian), or this Baptist Pastor who is a Ron Paul supporter:

 Chuck Baldwin

Home Schooling:

Chuck Baldwin is the clear choice for parents who wish to home school their children.  Both the Republican and Democrat parties believe that education is something the Federal Government should control.

 Not only have “Goals 2000” and “No Child Left Behind” proven to be bad for American children, they are clearly unconstitutional and based on the premises that the Government should control local education.  That right is and should always rest with the parents of each child.

 Chuck Baldwin will do everything within the Power of the Presidency to dismantle the Department of Education.  He will use the public relations power of the presidency and make his position clear to the Congress and the Senate.

 Chuck believes that homeschooled children should be afforded the same rights and opportunities for college scholarships and awards that public and private educated children receiveHe also believes that these children and their families should have use of public facilities and the opportunity to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

 In years past, the people of America have been offered “deals” by their Presidents.  President Harry S. Truman offered what he called the “Fair Deal” to American workers. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave us his “New Deal.” Whether or not these deals were “Fair” or “New” is a subject of historical debate and not generally positive.

 One thing is for sure.  Senator John McCain and Senator Barrack Obama continue to offer the American People a “Raw Deal” when it comes to education and many other issues.

 When elected president you can be sure that President Chuck Baldwin will always give the American people the “Real Deal.”  He is a conservative who believes that the United States Constitution really is the law of the land.  He will always support and recognize the right of parents to determine the education of their own children.


Judeo Christian Values have always been part of Chuck Baldwin’s way of life.  He believes that the values that have made America strong are just those values. Many people came to this country for religious freedom and Chuck Baldwin like others are proud of the fact that freedom is and always will be offered.  As a Christian he knows that faith is something a person has to own and hold dear but can never be forced into.

 We are asking for your vote, your prayers and your financial support.  Please join us to help move America forward.  Chuck Baldwin is the “Real Deal.”


Chuck Baldwin is the candidate that all military voters and voters who want a strong national defense should rally around. Under the Baldwin Administration we will continue to have a national defense and military that is second to none, with armed forces that serve only under our flag, whose mission is to defend these United States of America.

 In order to continue providing for the national defense of this nation we will continue to maintain a strong, state-of-the-art military on land, sea, in the air, and in space.  As General Charles E. Jones, III USAF (Ret), said, “Our Air Force and Navy must be so strong that no aggressor, whether terrorist or otherwise, could ever believe they would survive an attack by our forces.  Our Army and Marines must be kept strong, well equipped and prepared to deal with any threat to our nation.  Having a military which is second to none in strength and preparedness for the defense of our nation, there should be, with few exceptions, no need for the boots of our military on foreign soil.”

 Chuck Baldwin believes that the goal of U.S. security policy is to defend the national security interests of these United States. Therefore, except in time of declared war, for the purposes of state security, no state National Guard or reserve troops shall be called upon to support or conduct operations in foreign theatres.

 As Commander-in-Chief, I will always give our troops my full support and will make it the highest priority of my administration to make sure that our soldiers are well-trained, well-equipped and well-led. ‘Supporting the troops’ means putting their interests and America’s interests first and not needlessly endangering them by engaging in “policeman off the world” military adventures all over the world. We should be the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guarantor and provisioner of ours alone.

 As President Chuck Baldwin will never deploy American troops into combat without a declaration of war by Congress, pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Under no circumstances will the Baldwin Administration commit U.S. forces to serve under any foreign flag or command. The armed forces of the United States will always serve under the flag of the United States and the mission of our armed forces will always be to provide for the common defense for these United State of America.”


As Pat Buchannan is fond of saying, “I have been pro-life my whole life.” Chuck Baldwin has always believed that the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness can only be offered if the right to life is available.

 January 22, 1973 was a dark day in U.S. history.  Unlike the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated or 9/11, many people do not remember where they were or what they were doing on that day.   But, like those two horrific events, January 22, 1973 was a defining day in our history.

 That was the day that the U.S. Supreme Court declared open season on unborn children.  Most of us know of it as Roe Vs Wade. Before that Supreme Court Decision unborn children were cherished and loved but after that day they were disposable. … reduced to a price tag and subject to constant mark down.

 Every since the Reagan days the Republicans have been promising to “do something” about it.  The Democrats…well, they just can’t seem to work up any concern at all.  To date nothing has been done.  They all attend the rallies and walks organized by pro-life organizations.

 But being Pro-life will not be just a campaign slogan for the Baldwin Adminstration.  As President, He will immediately work with Congress to pass [Ron Paul’s] Sanctity of Life Act which would strip the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in all cases involving the life of an unborn child.  When that happens the unborn child would once again be declared a person under the law and cannot be harmed without due process of law.  Appointing Pro-life Supreme Court Justices will no longer give the Republican’s a phony rallying cry and the evil deeds of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973 will be set aside.

 President Chuck Baldwin offers another promise that none of the other candidates will offer.  He will never allow what is known embryonic stem cell research to be conducted by the United States of America.  Not only is it wrong it is also unnecessary.  Adult stem cell research is already saving lives and promising to save many more.  Embryonic stem cell research has produced no cures at all.

 Chuck believes that respect for life should be across the board – from the beginning until natural death. 

Gun Rights:

Chuck Baldwin is the only candidate for president with a life long membership to Gun Owners of America, and holds an uncompromising position for the second amendment. Did you know that American citizens’ use a firearm to defend themselves more than 2.4 million times every year? And, of that number more than 192,000 are women defending themselves against sexual assault? In less than 8% of those occasions, was a shot actually fired? For those women, just having a gun was a great equalizer. I don’t know about the other guys but if my wife or daughters were threatened I would want them to be able to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

Published in: on July 3, 2008 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ron Paul on Iran and the Economy

Congress’s ‘Virtual Iran War Resolution’

by Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas

Statement on House Congressional Resolution 362 before the US House of Representatives, June 28, 2008

 Today the Dow Jones Average was down 350-some points, gold was up $32, and oil was up another $5. There is a lot of chaos out there and everyone is worried about $4 gasoline. But I don’t think there is a clear understanding [of] exactly why that has occurred.


We do know that there is a supply and demand issue, but there are other reasons for the high cost of energy. One is inflation. In order to pay for the war that has been going on, and the domestic spending, we’ve been spending a lot more money than we have. So what do we do? We send the bills over to the Federal Reserve and they create new money, and in the last three years, our government, through the Federal Reserve and the banking system, has created $4 trillion of new money. That is one of the main reasons why we have this high cost of energy and $4 per gallon gasoline.


But there is another factor that I want to talk about tonight, and that is not only the fear of inflation and future inflation, but the fear factor dealing with our foreign policy. In the last several weeks, if not for months, we have heard a lot of talk about the potential of Israel and/or the United States bombing Iran. And it is in the marketplace. Energy prices are being bid up because of this fear. It has been predicted that if bombs start dropping, that we will see energy prices double or triple. It is just the thought of it right now that is helping to push these energy prices up. And that is a very real thing going on right now.


But to me it is almost like déjà vu all over again. We listened to the rhetoric for years and years before we went into Iraq. We did not go in the correct manner, we did not declare war, we are there and it is an endless struggle. And I cannot believe it, that we may well be on the verge of initiating the bombing of Iran!


Leaders on both sides of the aisle, and in the administration, have all said so often, “No options should be taken off the table – including a nuclear first strike on Iran.” The fear is, they say, maybe someday [Iran is] going to get a nuclear weapon, even though our own CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate has said that the Iranians have not been working on a nuclear weapon since 2003. They say they’re enriching uranium, but they have no evidence whatsoever that they’re enriching uranium for weapons purposes. They may well be enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, and that is perfectly legal. They have been a member of the non-proliferation treaties, and they are under the investigation of the IAEA, and ElBaradei has verified that in the last year there have been nine unannounced investigations and examinations of the Iranian nuclear structure and they have never been found to be in violation. And yet, this country and Israel are talking about a preventive war – starting bombing for this reason, without negotiations, without talks.


Now the one issue that I do want to mention tonight is a resolution that is about to come to this floor if our suspicions are correct, after the July 4th holiday. And this bill will probably be brought up under suspension. It is expected to pass easily. It probably will be. And it is just more war propaganda, just more preparation to go to war against Iran.


This resolution, H.J. Res 362 [listed as H. Con. Res 362 online] is a virtual war resolution. It is the declaration of tremendous sanctions, and boycotts and embargoes on the Iranians. It is very, very severe. Let me just read what is involved if this bill passes and what we’re telling the President what he must do:


“This demands that the President impose stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran, and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials.”


This is unbelievable! This is closing down Iran. Where do we have this authority? Where do we get the moral authority? Where do we get the international legality for this? Where do we get the Constitutional authority for this? This is what we did for ten years before we went into Iraq. We starved children – 500,000 individuals it was admitted probably died because of the sanctions on the Iraqis. They were incapable at the time of attacking us. And all the propaganda that was given for our need to go into Iraq was not true.


And it is not true today about the severity [of the need to attack Iran]. But they say, “Yeah, but Ahmadinejad – he’s a bad guy. He’s threatened violence.” But you know what? Us threatening violence is very, very similar. We must – we must look at this carefully. We just can’t go to war again under these careless, frivolous conditions.

Published in: on July 3, 2008 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment