Guantanamo and the Bill of Rights

by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

When one considers the Bill of Rights, an obvious question arises: Why did our American ancestors demand the enactment of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments?

The answer is simple: Our ancestors believed that in the absence of those amendments, U.S. officials would end up subjecting people to the types of things that those amendments restricted. That is, if there was no Bill of Rights, U.S. officials would be jailing people indefinitely, torturing them, killing them, and mistreating them, all without such procedural guarantees as trial by jury, protection against forced confessions, the right to have a defense attorney, the right to a speedy trial, the right to cross examine witnesses and to summon witnesses, the right to be formally notified of criminal charges, the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishments, the right to be free of unreasonable searches, and the right to due process of law.

Of course, there are those today who would argue that our American ancestors were being paranoid. Federal officials would never do such things, they would suggest, especially to the American people. After all, they would point out, federal officials are Americans too. Moreover, they swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments are antiquated and superfluous, they would say, because U.S. officials would follow the principles enunciated in those amendments without being required to do so by the Bill of Rights.

Unfortunately, however, those who say such things are woefully misguided. The fact is that our ancestors were brilliant in foreseeing that those amendments were absolutely necessary. In the absence of those amendments, there is no doubt that federal officials would be doing the things that those amendments meant to restrict.

How do we know this? We know it because of what federal officials have done in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Consider the Pentagon’s and CIA’s prison and judicial system at Guantanamo Bay. In the beginning, the Pentagon and the CIA took the position that Gitmo would be entirely independent of the Constitution and the federal judiciary. It claimed the authority to establish its version of an ideal prison camp and judicial system without any outside interference.

What type of system did the Pentagon and the CIA establish when they were setting up what they considered to be a model prison and judicial system? Wouldn’t you think that the system would be one that would be modeled after the one that our American ancestors chose?


The Pentagon as a Jobs Program, Cont…

Last week I discussed the tendency for policymakers to treat the Pentagon like a giant jobs program. It was prompted by an article from the Associated Press on members of Congress shoving unwanted upgraded Abrams tanks down taxpayers’ throats because retooling tanks sustains jobs back in the district. As it turns out, former Reagan budget director David Stockman touches on the Abrams tank situation in his new book, The Great Deformation.

In Chapter 5 – “Triumph of the Warfare State” – Stockman gives an account of the behind-the-scenes dealings that resulted in the massive military buildup during the Reagan administration. Stockman says political calculations – and not “one scintilla of bottoms-up program detail or even a single hour of professional analysis” – drove the new Reagan administration to champion 7 percent (real) growth in defense spending every year for five years (1982-1986), and from a already elevated level. According to Stockman, the “7 percent real growth top line” was a “blank check” for the Pentagon to go on a spending binge – much to the pleasure of the military-industrial complex.

From p. 74:

No fresh start or strategically coherent defense plan was ever developed by the Reagan administration. This immense, content-free “top line” was simply backfilled by the greatest stampede of Pentagon log-rolling and budget aggrandizement by the military-industrial complex ever recorded.

In a process that went on week after week for the better part of a year, the huge swaths of empty budget space under the new defense “top line” were converted into more and more of virtually everything that inhabited the Pentagon’s vasty deep. Much of it, which had languished for years and decades on the wish lists of the brass and military contractors, now got funded without much ado.

With defense funds being virtually slopped onto the waiting plates of the four military services, it is not surprising that much of it went to the conventional forces. Notwithstanding all the scary stories about the nascent Soviet nuclear first-strike capabilities, there really weren’t many concrete programs to counter it except for a new strategic bomber and an MX missile upgrade.

At the heart of the Reagan defense buildup, therefore, was a great double shuffle. The war drums were sounding a strategic nuclear threat that virtually imperiled American civilization. Yet the money was actually being allocated to tanks, amphibious landing craft, close air support helicopters, and a vast conventional armada of ships and planes.

These weapons were of little use in the existing nuclear standoff, but were well suited to imperialistic missions of invasion and occupation. Ironically, therefore, the Reagan defense buildup was justified by an Evil Empire that was rapidly fading but was eventually used to launce elective wars against an Axis of Evil which didn’t even exist.

That leads to the Abrams tank. 


Common Core: An Attack on Freedom and What to Do About it

So what is happening in our education system? We reviewed a discussion of this topic with a representative of the American Principals Project.  And here are just some of the anti-constitutional and Orwellian goings on.

What is this Common Core about?

It is about the ideal of collective thought, your children will be “educated” not to their full free potential, but to become servants of the state.  They will be tested over and over again. The results of those tests will filed away and determine what their life will be.

How’d this happen?

Common Core (aka Race to the Top) presented the curriculum standards to the states while the legislatures were in recess and the fed “required” an answer in 2 months.  This did not allow the legislators to review, comment or even be consulted before the states had to answer.   And of course the Fed dangled a lot of money promises too.

States are Constitutionally granted right to Educate their citizens are denied.  Tenth Amendment is ignored.

The state must adopt ALL of the curriculum. Once adopted, no more than 15% in each area may be modified.  Teachers, Principals, nor Parents will have any say in the curriculum.  NONE.