Liberty & Power: Group Blog
The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States is gearing up for a fight with the White House as it tries to complete its investigation into the nightmare of 9/11. I think it's pretty clear that the White House wants this investigation finished so that it does not have to suffer any embarrassments in an Election Year.
Yesterday, on a day of public hearings, the Commission released a tape of a conversation between flight attendant Betty Ann Ong and Nydia Gonzalez, who took the call from the American Airlines operations center. It was the first time the public had heard any recording of the chaos on American Airlines Flight 11.
Twenty-three minutes before the plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Ong relayed a report of the carnage on board: the first-class galley attendant, stabbed; the purser, stabbed; the passengers forced to the back of the plane, unable to breathe because of some kind of pepper spray or mace; the terrorists locked in the cockpit with the pilots.
Ong was calm enough to identify the first-class seats in which the terrorists were sitting."I think we're getting hijacked," she said. Somebody, she said, was trying to call"medical" to attend to the injured.
And then, silence.
Gonzalez asked:"What's going on, Betty? Betty, talk to me. ... Are you there? Betty?" Turning to security, Gonzalez wondered:"Do you think we lost her?"
Betty Ann Ong was just one individual lost on that day. One among nearly 2,800 individuals.
STATE JUDGE BACKS GOVERNMENT: WELL I NEVER!
"In the end what it comes down to is a judgement by Lord Hutton - who he believes, whose motives he trusts most and in that, again and again, he comes down on the side of politicians and officials, who by and large he believes and whose story, whose narrative he accepts and he comes down against Andrew Gilligan, and journalism, I have to say generally, and against the BBC."
-- Andrew Marr, BBC political editor
Today's Opelika-Auburn News contains a piece from the Mississippi Press of Pascagoula discussing the Jose Padilla and Guantanamo Bay cases. The piece affirms that"the right to counsel is sacred and should be granted to every American citizen," but notes that"not all the detainees are American citizens," and concludes:"In no way are they entitled -- nor should they be -- to legal representation."
This is a very different theory from that on which the United States was founded. The Founders embraced the Ciceronian and Lockean theory that the rights enshrined in the Constitution are natural rights, inherent in human nature per se, and so are universally applicable to all human beings; they are not the products of parochial legislation or the privilege of a select few.
In The Rights of Man, Thomas Paine wrote:
Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. ... His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights. ... Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual.Alexander Hamilton, in
As you might expect, I'm not in the habit of defending the nationalized British Broadcasting Corporation but there is no doubt that it certainly does seek to maintain its independence from the government of the day, be that Labour or Conservative, that it has played a creditable part in investigating the truth behind the decision to go to war, and that it does not deserve the sort of vendetta that some commentators are now waging.
It's a look at how aggressive foreign policy nearly always leads to big government domestic policy, and cites an L&P blog entry by L&P fearless leader, Dr. Beito.
National Review is already accusing him of exploiting the Heinz Family Foundation. And over at the Intellectual Conservative, they're blaming him for Bob Kerrey's war crimes!
Thanks to Chris Coyne, graduate student extraordinaire at George Mason's Economics department, I give you my quote of the day:
"The immense majority strives after a greater and better supply of food, clothes, homes, and other material amenities. In calling a rise in the masses' standard of living progress and improvement, economists do not espouse a mean materialism. They simply establish the fact that people are motivated by the urge to improve the material conditions of their existence. They judge policies from the point of view of the aims men want to attain. He who disdains the fall in infant mortality and the gradual disappearance of famines and plagues may cast the first stone upon the materialism of economists."
- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p. 193
It never ceases to amaze me how those who defend capitalism are quickly labeled as selfish and cruel despite the evidence to the contrary. The difficulty in making discussions focus on the means and not the ends is equally frustrating. I guess it's just too easy to assume the worst intentions of those with whom we disagree.
Looks like efforts to ban public smoking in Washington state have stalled, at least temporarily. Similar statewide bans are under consideration in Maryland, Rhode Island and Georgia.
Meanwhile, in D.C., the
fascists nannies have decided to circumvent the D.C. City Council and go right to the voters, apparently feeling they have a better chance of squelching personal freedom through direct democracy than through legislation considered by elected representatives.
And they're probably right.
Last time they tried the City Council, Councilwoman Carol Schwartz bravely stared the proposed ban down, defending the property rights of D.C. business owners in the face of dubious junk science and public health claims. D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams also promised a veto.
But I wonder if that opposition will fold if 70% of D.C. residents give the ban the go-ahead, as polls seem to indicate.
Wesley Clark is probably finished as a candidate, so this might be beside the point, but Democracy Now has some startling information on his possible culpability in Kosovo civilian massacres. See, in particular, the section on the commuter train near the end. Hat tip: Jim Henley .
Many others have made this point, but it's worth making any number of times: the central problem in combatting genuine terrorist threats to us does not lie in the fact that the government does not have enough power. No, the real problem lies in the fact that the government was, and appears to continue to be, remarkably incompetent and inept in using the power it already has -- and the power it had long before 9/11.
Here are two stories from today alone that demonstrate this point yet again, in considerable detail. First, here is an LA Times story on some of the failures leading to 9/11:
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, plot, obtained a visa to come to the United States just weeks before the attacks despite being under a federal terrorism indictment, a report by the federal commission investigating the attacks revealed Monday.
And as many as eight of the hijackers entered the country with doctored passports that contained" clues to their association with Al Qaeda" that should have been caught by immigration authorities, commission investigators said.
The newly disclosed findings challenge previous claims by top CIA and FBI officials that the hijackers' records and paperwork were so clean that they could not have aroused suspicion.
The commission also heard testimony from a U.S. customs agent who blocked the entry of a Saudi citizen investigators now believe may have been the intended 20th hijacker.
Authorities later learned that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the Al Qaeda cells that executed the Sept. 11 attacks, was at an Orlando, Fla., airport that...
I've already talked about"Al Sharpton, Comedian." Now, as we await the results of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the New York Daily News publishes a piece on The Tao of Rev. Al. His political ideology might make you cringe, but at least the guy retains a sense of humor.
Meanwhile, as the voting ends in New Hampshire, and the voting begins for the Oscars, don't forget to cast your vote in another very important election! Liberty & Power's own Arthur Silber has been nominated for the 2003 Koufax Award for Best Non-Liberal Blog (the"Drysdale"). Here's some information on the election. Vote Now!
Sullivan is wrong to see Bush's domestic policy as a"strange exception," at least if American history in the past century can be taken as evidence. Bush's praises of the"glories of human freedom" could easily be culled from the foreign policy speeches of the greatest friends of the welfare/regulatory state of the twentieth century: Woodrow Wilson (his true mentor in foreign policy), Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Interestingly, each of these men defended interventionist government at home on the same grounds: it enables greater"freedom."
It is conservatives like Sullivan, who support grand Wilsonian foreign policies overseas but think that they can have small government at home, not Bush, who are emeshed in a contradiction. Bush is merely following a familiar pattern. Given the circumstances, it would have been a"strange exception" if he had pursued a different course in domestic policy.
And also unlike the guy in the White House, Clint adopts a laissez-faire view on same-sex marriages."From a libertarian point of view," says Clint,"you would say, 'Yeah? So what?' You have to believe in total equality. People should be able to be what they want to be and do what they want -- as long as they're not harming people."
What a simple and refreshing maxim to live by! Like I said here, who said actors know nothing about politics?
David Kay, the president’s hand-picked weapons of mass destruction snoop in Iraq, has resigned and criticized U.S. intelligence for not realizing that such Iraqi weapons programs were in disarray. He now thinks that the stocks of chemical and biological weapons were destroyed in the 1990s—out of fear that they would be discovered by U.N. weapons inspectors—and that new production was not initiated. He also believes that Iraq’s nuclear program had been restarted but was only at a very primitive stage—hardly the imminent threat alleged by the Bush administration as a justification for immediate war. So with the final nail being driven into the coffin of the administration’s main rationale for war against Iraq, Iraqi weapons programs are not the only thing in disarray.
Perhaps Kay’s findings will finally cause the American public to heed the Iraq war critics call to hold the administration accountable for the deaths of more than 500 American service personnel and countless innocent Iraqis (which, strangely, the American government cannot seem to estimate). But let’s not hold our breath. The September 11 tragedy gave the Bush administration body armor that is only now developing chinks. And Kay’s findings help debunk the Iraqi threat but may actually cloud other issues. First, Kay blames U.S. intelligence for not realizing that Iraq’s weapons programs were in shambles. This conclusion is valid, but fits into the administration’s desire to scapegoat U.S. spy agencies to hide its own twisting and embellishing of the already faulty intelligence information.
Second and important to remember during propaganda campaigns preceding any future invasions of “axis of evil” nations: despite all of the government hoopla surrounding weapons of mass destruction...
Here is a great new article on the real cost of America's"security" by Bob Higgs, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. He says that the actual U.S. budget for security is almost double the already whopping $400 billion that's usually cited.
"The Defense Budget Is Bigger than You Think"
When President Bush signed the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2004 on November 24, 2003, the event received considerable attention in the news media. At $401.3 billion, the public's visible cost of funding the nation's defense seemed to be reaching astronomical heights, and the president took pains to justify that enormous cost by linking it to the horrors of 9/11 and to the “war on terror.” He pledged that “we will do whatever it takes to keep our nation strong, to keep the peace, and to keep the American people secure,” clearly implying that such payoffs would accrue from the expenditures and other measures that the act authorizes.
Although the public may appreciate that $401.3 billion is a great deal of money, few citizens realize that it is only part of the total bill for defense. Lodged elsewhere in the budget, other lines identify funding that serves defense purposes just as surely as -- sometimes even more surely than -- the money allocated to the Department of Defense (DoD). On occasion, commentators take note of some of these additional defense-related budget items, such as the nuclear-weapons activities of the Department of Energy (DoE), but many such items, including some extremely large ones, remain generally unrecognized.
Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many observers probably would agree that its budget ought to be included in any complete accounting of defense costs. After all, the homeland is what...
Why are American universities superior? Is it any surprise that the answer to this question has a lot to do with competition, choice, and the degree of state control over institutions of higher learning?
”When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 million developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300C.
The Russians used a pencil.
Enjoy paying your taxes."