Archives for the 'Domestic Policy' Category

Eternal Vigilance, Inc.

The Style section of today’s Washington Post features a terrific article about the National Security Archive, the nonprofit group dedicated to unearthing goverment secrets. The privately funded group, about 35 strong, uses the Freedom of Information Act to collect about 75,000 documents a year, which staffers analyze and then post on the website. The Archive’s greatest hits (see, e.g., here and here) demonstrate that as Patrick Henry put it, one should “never depend on so slender a protection as the possibility of being represented by virtuous men.” Don’t trust: verify.

One of my favorite documents on the site is the Operation Northwoods Memo, prepared by the Pentagon in the wake of the Bay of Pigs disaster:

titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba” [the memo] was provided by the JCS to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962, as the key component of Northwoods. Written in response to a request from the Chief of the Cuba Project, Col. Edward Lansdale, the Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals – part of a secret anti-Castro program known as Operation Mongoose – included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” including “sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage.

Sounds like tinfoil-hat stuff, I know, but thanks to FOIA and the National Security Archive, you can check for yourself [.pdf]. But if Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had had their way, you couldn’t. As top aides to Gerald Ford 34 years ago, they urged the president to veto amendments strengthening FOIA (he did, and Congress overrode his veto). The Archive has the documents on that too.

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Posted on May 8, 2008 in Civil Liberties, Domestic Policy, Executive Power | 8 Comments

Promote Others

If you’re in DC tomorrow (register and) come on down to Cato for a forum on Bill Kauffmann’s new book Ain’t My America: The Long, Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle-American Anti-Imperialism. I’d say “great new book,” but I don’t have it yet, so I can’t. But I’ve read other Kauffman books and his one-page history column in the old American Enterprise magazine was a consistent gem (or maybe a raisin), so I’m sure it’s great. You’ve gotta love a guy who retroactively opposes the interstate highway system, not just on constitutionalist grounds, but because it made America ugly. From the event flyer:

Conservatives love war, empire, and the military-industrial complex. They abhor peace, the sole and rightful property of liberals. Right? Wrong.

According to Bill Kauffman, true conservatives have always resisted the imperial and military impulse: it drains the treasury, curtails domestic liberties, breaks down families, and vulgarizes culture. From the Federalists who opposed the War of 1812, to the striving of Robert Taft (known as “Mr. Republican”) to keep the United States out of Korea, to the latter-day libertarian critics of the Iraq war, there has historically been nothing unusual about anti-war activists on the political right. And while these critics of U.S. military crusades have been vilified by the party of George W. Bush, their conservative vision of a peaceful, decentralized, and noninterventionist America gives us a glimpse of the country we could have had—and might yet attain. Passionate and witty, Ain’t My America is an eye-opening exploration of the forgotten history of right-wing peace movements—and a clarion call to anti-war conservatives of today.

Tyler Cowen recommends the book, though he suggests (by linking to a picture of kimchi) that antiwar conservatives were wrong to question our undeclared, conscript-fought war in Korea. I know, I know, the kimchi part’s a joke.

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Posted on May 7, 2008 in Conservatism, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy and Defense | 8 Comments

Hosanna in the Highest

I’m back in DC in front of a computer again, and I see that George W. Bush recently returned to Greensburg, Kansas to speak at a high-school graduation, a year after he’d been there the first time. Greensburg, you may or may not recall, got pretty hard by a tornado a year ago. On his 2007 post-tornado visit(ation?), Bush declared:

I bring the prayers and concerns of the people of this country to this town of Greensburg, Kansas…. My mission is to — today, though, is to lift people’s spirits as best as I possibly can and to hopefully touch somebody’s soul by representing our country, and to let people know that while there was a dark day in the past, there’s brighter days ahead.

For years, I’ve been hearing conservatives say how “down to earth” the president is. But would a regular guy talk about himself as a prayer-bearing soul-toucher? Or maybe when they say “down to earth” they mean literally descended from on high?

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Posted on May 5, 2008 in Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Cult of the Presidency, Domestic Policy | 6 Comments

Our Permanent Emergency

In the American Interest, John Mueller continues to talk sense about the age of terror:

[T]errorism and the attendant “war” thereon have become fully embedded in the public consciousness, with the effect that politicians and bureaucrats have become as wary of appearing soft on terrorism as they are about appearing soft on drugs, or as they once were about appearing soft on Communism.

Key to this dynamic is that the public apparently continues to remain unimpressed by several inconvenient facts. One such fact is that there have been no al-Qaeda attacks whatsoever in the United States since 2001. A second is that no true al-Qaeda cell (or scarcely anybody who might even be deemed to have a “connection” to the diabolical group) has been unearthed in this country. A third is that the homegrown “plotters” who have been apprehended, while perhaps potentially somewhat dangerous at least in a few cases, have mostly been either flaky or almost absurdly incompetent.

On that last point, see Monday’s Washington Post on the “Liberty City Seven” trial(s):

The Miami case revolved around a part-time contractor who gathered a loose band of men in a rented room in a downscale neighborhood known as Liberty City. The group, distantly affiliated with the Moorish Science Temple religion, talked about Muhammad, Jesus, Confucius and Buddha, and also practiced martial arts.

Its leader, Narseal Batiste, told his Yemenese grocer in October 2005 that he wanted to conduct jihad to overthrow the U.S. government. The grocer, an FBI informant who himself had a criminal record, told the bureau. The FBI then employed a second informant, this one an Arab from overseas who depicted himself as a representative of Osama bin Laden.

Batiste confided, somewhat fantastically, that he wanted to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, which would then fall into a nearby prison, freeing Muslim prisoners who would become the core of his Moorish army. With them, he would establish his own country.

Sounds like a plan!

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Posted on Apr 25, 2008 in Civil Liberties, Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy and Defense | 4 Comments

You Had Me at “Live Lobsters”

So my dad, who, like me, is a fan of pulpy noir detective novels and shows, sends me an email telling me to set my Tivo for this. I click the link and read:

In the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant in Edinburgh, corrupt cop Brendan McCabe is being drowned in a tank of live lobsters.

That is perhaps the best sentence I’ve ever read.

Posted on Oct 6, 2007 in Arts and Culture, Asides, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Cult of the Presidency, Domestic Policy, Executive Power, Foreign Policy and Defense, Human Nature, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Uncategorized | 1 Comment