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The Presidency and Mythology PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Andrew P. Napolitano   
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:28

(Editor’s note: The following is Andrew P. Napolitano’s closing argument on his FreedomWatch Presidents Day special, which featured Tom DiLorenzo and Tom Woods. It is reproduced with Napolitano’s permission.)

Does the government work on behalf of the people, or do the people exist for the benefit of government? Is history a recollection of things that have actually happened, or a narrative deployed to legitimize power and the crimes that led to the acquisition of that power?

In the last hour, we’ve heard that some of the presidents often billed by historians and the public as “the greatest” were anything but. To be fair, it’s difficult to be a great person when your job is to head an organization such as the state that is rooted in deception, theft, and murder. And we know from Lord Acton that no great man is a good man.

From the beginning, any claim that the American government is good because some Americans are exceptional does not make any sense. The individual virtues of human beings cannot possibly extend to the government. By definition, the government lies, cheats, and steals. After all, it has no resources of its own, only those it appropriates from the people. No one may lawfully compete with it. We are forced to pay its bills and accept its so-called services. There is no escaping it. The ideas behind a nation may be exceptional, but they are not manifested by the government. And, of course, we must never mistake the government for the people it claims to represent.

 
U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s Letter of Opposition to the PATRIOT Act PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Rand Paul   
Friday, 18 February 2011 05:46

(Editor’s note: U.S. Senator Rand Paul [R-Kentucky] released the following letter to his fellow Senators on February 15.)

James Otis argued against general warrants and writs of assistance that were issued by British soldiers without judicial review and that did not name the subject or items to be searched.

He condemned these general warrants as “the worst instrument[s] of arbitrary power, the most destructive of English liberty and the fundamental principles of law, that ever w[ere] found in an English law book.” Otis objected to these writs of assistance because they “placed the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer.” The Fourth Amendment was intended to guarantee that only judges – not soldiers or policemen – would issue warrants. Otis’ battle against warrantless searches led to our Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable government intrusion.

My main objection to the PATRIOT Act is that searches that should require a judge’s warrant are performed with a letter from an FBI agent – a National Security Letter (“NSL”).

I object to these warrantless searches being performed on United States citizens. I object to the 200,000 NSL searches that have been performed without a judge’s warrant.

 
The FBI: Going Rogue PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Thursday, 17 February 2011 05:05

“The minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.” – J. Edgar Hoover

The history of the FBI is the history of how America – once a nation that abided by the rule of law and held the government accountable for its actions – has steadily devolved into a police state where laws are unidirectional, intended as a tool for government to control the people and rarely the other way around.

The FBI was established in 1908 (as the Bureau of Investigation) by President Theodore Roosevelt and Attorney General Charles Bonaparte as a small task force assigned to deal with specific domestic crimes, its first being to survey houses of prostitution in anticipation of enforcing the White Slave Traffic Act. Initially quite limited in its abilities to investigate so-called domestic crimes, the FBI slowly expanded in size, scope, and authority over the course of the 20th Century.

 
Egypt: A People’s Uprising Against the Empire PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.   
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 13:41

Those of the young generation, people too young to remember the collapse of Soviet bloc and other socialist states in 1989 and 1990, are fortunate to be living through another thrilling example of a seemingly impenetrable state edifice reduced to impotence when faced with crowds demanding freedom, peace, and justice.

There is surely no greater event than this. To see it instills in us a sense of hope that the longing for freedom that beats in the heart of every human being can be realized in our time.

This is why all young people should pay close attention to what is happening in Egypt, to the protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak as well as the pathetic response coming from his imperial partner, the U.S., which has given him $60 billion in military and secret-police aid to keep him in power.

 
Renewing the Patriot Act While America Sleeps PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John Whitehead   
Friday, 28 January 2011 07:10

"Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America." – Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), voicing his concerns over Congress' passage of the USA Patriot Act (October 25, 2001)

Russ Feingold, a staunch defender of the rule of law and the only senator to vote against the ominous USA Patriot Act, recently lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate to a Tea Party-backed Republican. From the start, Feingold warned that the massive 342-page piece of legislation would open the door to graver dangers than terrorism – namely, America becoming a police state. He was right.

The Patriot Act drove a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments – the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments – and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well. The Patriot Act also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience were considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state.

The Patriot Act justified broader domestic surveillance, the logic being that if government agents knew more about each American, they could distinguish the terrorists from law-abiding citizens – no doubt an earnest impulse shared by small-town police and federal agents alike. According to Washington Post reporter Robert O'Harrow, Jr., this was a fantasy that had "been brewing in the law enforcement world for a long time." And 9/11 provided the government with the perfect excuse for conducting far-reaching surveillance and collecting mountains of information on even the most law-abiding citizen.

 
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