Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

2/02/2015

Secession, Slavery and the Civil War: Causation, Correlation or Mass Confusion?


The Ludwig von Mises Institute recently hosted their annual get together in Houston on the heroically controversial theme of secession.  Mises Institute President Jeff Deist opened the morning with a speech advising us to secede in our local capacity, starting at the individual level.  Dr. Brian McClanahan detailed America's rich history of secession, from the 13 colonies' war of secession from Great Britain to Texas' war of secession against Mexico.  Lew Rockwell contrasted the rich libertarian history of secession to the regime libertarians' knee-jerk reaction to such an unapproved opinion.  After lunch, New York Times best-selling author Tom Woods highlighted the absurdity of viewing secession as blasphemous while the decision to kill half a million children is a matter of public policy.  Finally, Dr. Ron Paul closed out the afternoon by speaking of secession as just one tool to be used in the greater contest for liberty.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with so many like-minded people from all over the country that chose to travel long distances for a one-day seminar on a topic that is viewed by the mainstream as antiquated and unorthodox at best.  In retrospect, the most amazing part of the event is how we were able to have a rational, thoughtful dialogue on this topic without ever bringing up the elephant in the room: slavery and the civil war.  It's like we all took it for granted that everyone was familiar with the works of authors like DiLorenzo and didn't need to rehash the history taught in public schools that Lincoln heroically fought the civil war to free the slaves and save the Union against the traitorous secessionists of the South.  We didn't need to waste time analyzing that myth; we could immediately jump to more productive and enlightening dialogue.

However, the sad reality many of us faced traveling home was that it is nearly impossible to continue that rational conversation on the merits and challenges of secession with most of our coworkers, friends and family.  Raise the specter of secession and the Pavlovian responses of "racism", "slavery" and even "neo-confederate" predictably follow.  But what else should we expect in a society with 12+ years of government indoctrination and a mainstream media that foams at the mouth and is undeniably dishonest when someone has the gall to question the necessity of the war considering that slavery was peaceably ended in every other country without requiring the loss of 620,000 lives and billions in damages and debt.

The civil war was fought to free the slaves.  The secessionists were traitors.  These are the commonly held myths we must dismantle before the rest of society can join us in a reasonable and common-sense discussion on the right of secession.

Why was the Civil War fought?

The government-approved history of the Civil War goes something like this: the Southern states illegally seceded from the United States to protect their institution of slavery.  This prompted a Civil War, causing a tremendous loss of life and property on both sides, but ultimately ending with Lincoln fulfilling his quest by preserving the Union and freeing the slaves.

This narrative may seem undisputable but it suffers from fatal errors once you scratch the surface.  On the first point concerning the cause of secession there is no major disagreement.  While the Southern states did have grievances against the Federal Government like protective tariffs that unfairly benefited the North at the expense of the South, the major reason cited in the state's secession documents was the issue of slavery.  Thomas Fleming's A Disease in the Public Mind points to the colliding forces of unrelenting abolitionism in the North and the South's fear of a race war which made it impossible to find an agreeable end to the system of slavery.

So while seven of the Southern states seceded over the slavery issue, the reason for the war given by Lincoln himself was not slavery, but to prevent secession.  As Lincoln repeatedly said,
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.  If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.  What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."
Lincoln made this point numerous times such that it cannot be directly challenged by regime historians, but what happens instead is a logical fallacy built under the guise of the familiar mathematical axiom that if a = b and b = c, then a = c.  In other words, "if the cause of secession was slavery, and to prevent secession was the reason for the war, then the reason for the war was slavery".  This may seem a trivial point, but it is imperative that the undisputed good of ending slavery is not used to cloud our judgment when considering the true motivations for the ugly and brutal war that preceded it.  Any fantasy that the North was fighting a war of racial justice must be dismantled so that we can objectively look at the agreed upon reason for the war, secession, in an unbiased light.

First of all, if the Civil War was about slavery, why would there have been 7 slave states that stayed loyal to the Union while the Confederacy was formed?  The fact is, the people of the North were largely no better or even worse than the southerners when it came to racial equality.  The Northerners enforced fugitive slave laws, kept child slaves for 25+ years during manumission, denied free blacks suffrage, and generally did all they could to make their states white only.  Conversely, Fleming noted that only a small minority of Southern men owned slaves or otherwise had a direct financial incentive in the practice - so why would they fight over it and risk their lives and everything they owned?  The simple answer is they wouldn't.  So what would they fight for?  Of the seven slave states that originally stayed in the Union, four of those states only seceded after Lincoln had put out calls to raise an army of invasion and the first shots were fired at Ft. Sumter.  If it war was over slavery, can we imagine that Lincoln would have called it quits if the seceded states had freed their slaves?  Of course not!  It wasn't slavery that drove Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee out; Lincoln made it clear he had no quarrel with that institution in any loyal state.  They joined the confederacy and fought out of disbelief that Lincoln would declare war and invade the southern states which they believed had every right to peaceably withdraw from their government, just as their great-grandfathers had done 90 years earlier from King George III.  It might have been slavery that prompted the first 7 states to leave, but that's not why 11 states fought a long and brutal war - they fought for self-government.

Unbelievably, it is the fine print of the Emancipation Proclamation itself that best shines a light on the dubious claim that Lincoln freed the slaves.  Proving Lincoln to be the master politician, that document only applied to the states in rebellion, specifically exempting the states that had stayed loyal! So the slaves that Lincoln had the power to free were to remain slaves, but he supposedly freed the slaves in states that had already left the Union and formed their own country.  H.L. Mencken said it best,
"Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, not that of a messiah... An Abolitionist would have published the Emancipation Proclamation the day after the first battle of Bull Run.  But Lincoln waited until the time was more favorable - until Lee had been hurled out of Pennsylvania, and more important still, until the political currents were safely running his way.  Even so, he freed the slaves in only a part of the country: all the rest continued to clank their chains until he himself was an angel in Heaven."
Ultimately, there are many contending theories of precisely why the Federal government invaded the Confederacy.  While Thomas Fleming discusses the "diseases in the public mind" that fueled the Civil War, Thomas DiLorenzo unmasks the real Lincoln, showing how his ideology favoring a strong central state led him to launch an unnecessary and illegal war to destroy the doctrine of state's rights.  John Avery Emison takes just about everything we were taught about the Civil War and turns it on its head, first showing us that it would be more accurate to call it America's second war of secession, and from there demonstrating how our first "total war" paved the way for the horrors of the 20th century's world wars and set the precedent for the most egregious violations of federal power today.  As if it couldn't get any worse, John Graham makes the case that it wasn't historical accidents that caused the War for Southern Independence, but "antagonisms… deliberately agitated during the 1850s by great international banking houses with a preconceived motive of provoking secession" to generate unpayable debts and establish the financial empire that still rules this country.  Regardless of these various theories, we should all be able to agree with Walter Williams when he unequivocally states, the Civil War wasn't about slavery.

Were the Secessionists traitors?


With the end of slavery properly understood as a happy by-product of the Civil War, but not at all the reason that 620,000 fought and died, we can examine the legitimacy of the war through fresh eyes.  Was Lincoln justified in waging a war against the Confederacy to preserve the Union, and just what did he preserve?

First, it might be instructive to take a step back and examine the points made by Emison concerning just what we should call this decisive event in American history.  Unlike the civil war in Spain, the American Civil War was not a battle of two competing factions fighting for control over a common central government.  The Southern states had no dictates to the North, no terms other than to be left alone.  Jefferson Davis even sent a peace delegation to promote friendly ties between the two countries, which Lincoln refused to see.  So what do we call a war when one side has formally withdrawn and entered into a state of self-government and the other side invades that country to bring it into submission?  A war of independence or a war for secession certainly fits the historical circumstances better than a civil war.

At this point our government indoctrination might be kicking in - am I possibly making the argument that the traitorous South had the moral high ground in this war, the exact opposite of what the victorious Federal Government has led us to believe?  Indeed, Murray Rothbard concluded that there are only two American wars that have met the criteria for a "just war", that being the first war of secession against Great Britain, and the second war of secession of the Southern states.

But how could this be?  The Southern states seceded for slavery, the act of depriving individuals from exercising their free will, one of the greatest crimes that man can commit.  Doesn't this fact tarnish secession?  But consider the reverse scenario.  If secession is to be judged by the worst vices of those that endorsed it, shouldn’t we also look at the crimes of those that did not believe in secession but instead in an all-powerful central government?  Adolf Hitler himself wrote in Mein Kampf that secession was illegal because "it was the Union which formed a great part of such so-called states."  Similarly, the violence wrecked by omnipotent central governments that were no fans of secession counts some 200 million dead in the 20th century alone.


Rather than only focusing on the worst qualities of those that believed in secession, let's recall that one of our most famous founding fathers was explicitly in favor of secession and nullification to combat the growth of centralized government in the Principles of '98.  Thomas Jefferson postulated that it was "not very important to the happiness of either part" of the country if the United States broke up.  In a live and let live fashion, he said that in separation "God bless them both, and keep them in the union if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better".

At the time Lincoln invaded the South there were five living ex-presidents, every one of which opposed the war in one way or another.  Some did not agree with the decision to secede and did their best to convince the Southern states to remain in the Union, but they ultimately believed in the right of secession.  After all, Vermont seceded from New York, Texas seceded from Mexico, and West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the Civil War itself.  And as previously mentioned, the United States itself seceded from Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.  You'd think that would count for something.

Historical precedents aside, we can also look at this logically and constitutionally.  An established precedent of law is known as legislative entrenchment, meaning that what one legislative body has the power to do, another can do or undo.  A prior legislative body cannot rule from the grave and if the state legislature of 1787 has the power to ratify the constitution, so then can the state legislature of 1861 choose to repeal that ratification.  Indeed, Virginia's secession document explicitly stated it was a lawful repeal of the ratification of the Constitution.  Can we imagine that the 13 colonies, having just had their full sovereign nature individually acknowledged by Great Britain, really joined a union that they could never leave?  Every historical precedent from the federalist papers to the state ratifying conventions says otherwise.

The Southern states were not traitorous when they seceded; they had every right to do so.  The only traitor was Lincoln, who declared war without congressional approval and violated a hundred other constitutional provisions and laws of human decency in his battle to "preserve the Union".  He may have reclaimed the Southern states as captured provinces, but he certainly didn't preserve our republic.  What we had was a voluntary association of independent states united under the contract of the Constitution.  Lincoln's war of aggression most assuredly killed that system of government for all the states, replacing it with the federal leviathan that knows no boundaries and gives no thought to the consent of the governed.  He won the war and we still suffer the losses.

What is Secession?

Secession - it was the foundation of the American Revolution against King George III.  Even today, it is the most radical concept of the last 500 years.  As stated in Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, when a government is destructive to the ends of the people that created it, it is their duty to institute a new government.  That wasn't an idle threat; secession is the means to do so.  It is the true enforcement mechanism to ensure that we have government by consent.

Just think of what a glorious preventative check the threat of secession is to the limitless goals of our federal masters.  Imagine the contrast with a "marriage union".  Even though it is a document signed "till death do us part", all modern states recognize the right of divorce, the equivalent of secession.  As Emison questioned, would an abusive husband treat his wife better or worse in a society where divorce was legal or illegal?  The question answers itself, and it also explains why the federal government is able to propose increasingly egregious legislation on battered, defenseless states that have nowhere to run and no hope of retaliation.

How bizarre that in a country founded on the principle of secession time has allowed this cornerstone of liberty and bedrock of freedom to be marginalized and disgraced.  After all, as Tom Woods noted in his speech at the Mises Circle, its practical effect is nothing more than to say, "maybe this imaginary line should be drawn up here instead of over there."

Lew Rockwell defined secession in more human terms, reminding us of the moral obligation we have to our fellow men and the responsibility we carry when we endorse our political agents to carry out violence in our name.  He summed up the the libertarian perspective this way:
"It is morally illegitimate to employ state violence against individuals who choose to group themselves differently from how the existing regime chooses to group them. They prefer to live under a different jurisdiction. Libertarians consider it unacceptable to aggress against them for this."
View the right of secession as a moral imperative to not aggress against others that want to go in peace.  Recognize the arbitrary nature of all government boundaries and the absurdity in going into hysterics if one of those lines should change.  Acknowledge secession as the foundation of this very country and think of how it could be a very realistic solution to the issues we face today.  But above all, rescue secession from the dustbin of history that ignorance has placed it.  Secession is a noble, practical and moral idea that deserves our attention and respect.

Conclusion


Around the world people want freedom and if they can't have that, a more representative government will do.  The CIA and military industrial complex provides us with all kinds of "approved" secessions and revolutions around the world from despots who have inexplicably leaped from the ally to the enemy category - but dare suggest that Texas may be better of seceding if the federal government continues its unsustainable path, or that the citizens of California would be better represented if certain counties seceded to create new states - well you must be a closet racist!  This hypocrisy and doublethink can’t go on forever.

As Thomas DiLorenzo recently documented, secession is a global phenomenon that isn't going away:
"There are 32 secessionist movements in Africa; 114 secessionist movements in Europe; 20 secessionist movements in North America; 83 secessionist movements in Asia; 11 secessionist movements in South America; and 26 secessionist movements in Oceania.  Neo-Confederates are everywhere!"
However, the most exciting thing about secession isn't just the prospect of replacing one government with another one, but the larger philosophical impact for the libertarian movement.  Followed to its logical conclusion, when the state can secede from the country, and the county from the state, and the town from the county, we can envision a practical path to our anarcho-capitalist utopia.  But ultimately, if the right of secession is accepted and respected, we could imagine a government that has an actual incentive to stay within its delegated boundaries, a government that actually serves its supposed purpose of contributing to the happiness of the people instead of to their destruction.  It may be impossible to keep the state with its monopoly on violence within the boundaries set by those that consented to its jurisdiction, but if it were to be possible, it is certainly only so in a society where the right of secession is alive and well.  Let us fight to create such a society, not through violence - that is the government’s specialty, but in the war of ideas.

10/30/2014

Government Drug Dealing: from "Kill the Messenger" to "Pinocchio"

“For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world.  The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.

It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting "gangstas" of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles."
These are the opening sentences of Gary Webb's three-part series "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion".  Published for the San Jose Mercury News, Gary Webb's year long investigation culminated in the "most talked about piece of journalism in 1996".  It was released on the internet at the same time of its print publication, making it one of the first national security stories to "go viral" by bringing the Mercury's website over 1 million hits a day.  "Dark Alliance" prompted congressional hearings by Rep. Maxine Waters, an internal CIA investigation in 1998, and now, 18 years later, a major motion picture starring and produced by Jeremy Renner.

The movie Kill the Messenger is based on the book of the same title by Nick Schou, subtitled How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb.  In the film, Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) is cryptically warned by a Washington insider, "They’ll make you the story", and that, more than the CIA-Contra-Cocaine controversy itself, is what the book and movie are about.

In today's era of Snowden's NSA revelations and government distrust at an all-time high, the allegations made in the Mercury series and Gary Webb's follow-up book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion seem almost quaint in comparison.  While it was as early as 1986 that the government publicly acknowledged that cocaine smuggling was funding the CIA-backed Contras, Gary Webb was the first one to answer the question of where that cocaine went and where the money came from.  The answer was found in "Freeway" Rick Ross, the "king of crack" who sold $3 million worth of coke a day, bought 455 kilos a week, and in today's dollar had earnings over 2.5 billion between 1982 and 1989.  Rick Ross was a true entrepreneur in his field.  Unlike typical drug dealers, he didn't get bogged down in petty street rivalry because the whole nation would be his market.  He would introduce himself to other dealers by giving them a kilo for free and then offering them his price that was $10,000 per kilo lower than anyone else, thereby turning all of his would-be competitors into customers.

The reason "Freeway" Rick Ross had a seemingly never-ending supply of the cheapest, purest product was because his supplier was Oscar Danilo Blandón - a protected CIA asset.  Blandón sold cocaine through Nicaraguan kingpin Norwin Meneses and thereby funded the "freedom fighting" Contras against the Sandinista government.  While Webb's investigation sparked outrage across the country and prompted many black leaders to accuse the government of purposefully creating crack to destroy inner city minorities, "Dark Alliance" never claimed anything so conspiratorial. What it claimed, and what the CIA's 1998 investigation later admitted, was that the CIA worked with known criminals as a "means to an end" and merely looked the other way when it came to their drug smuggling activities.

Yet, for such a tame accusation, the major papers of the time unanimously rose against Gary Webb and denounced his reporting, his sources, and his ethics - even making straw man arguments by claiming that he went farther than he did in his accusations.  In the beginning of the attack his editors stood up for him, even writing a letter to the Post saying, "While there is considerable circumstantial evidence of CIA involvement with the leaders of the drug ring, we never reached or reported any definitive conclusion on CIA involvement.  We reported that men selling cocaine in Los Angeles met with people on the CIA payroll.  We reported that the money raised was sent to a CIA-run operation.  But we did not go further."

But soon his editors betrayed him. The Los Angeles Times assigned 17 reporters to join the "Get Gary Webb Team", with Nick Schou writing that some former LA Times writers thought it was their mission not to investigate the allegations but to debunk them, commonly saying "We're going to take away this guy's Pulitzer".  Ultimately, they printed more material attacking "Dark Alliance" than the 20,000 words that comprised the series itself.  When the Mercury editor printed a letter acknowledging that some mistakes were made in "Dark Alliance", it was seen as a full retraction and sealed Gary Webb's fate as a professional journalist.


While many reviews of Kill The Messenger are favorable, often echoing Nick Schou's conclusion that "his big story, despite major flaws of hyperbole abetted and even encouraged by his editors, remains one of the most important works of investigative journalism in recent American history", there are still elements that want to downplay the truth that Gary Webb exposed.

Keeping in the tradition of his former peers at the Washington Post, Jeff Leen, the current assisting managing editor of investigations, says that Gary Webb was "no journalism hero", that an "extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof", the Hollywood version of the story is "pure fiction" and finally, he believes it "significant" that the 1998 CIA internal investigation "found no CIA relationship with the drug ring Webb had written about."

Of course, Gary Webb addressed this problem of the CIA investigating itself in Dark Alliance.  CIA Inspector General Fred P. Hitz appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in March 1998 and after admitting that the agency did not cut off relationships with drug traffickers that supported the Contra program, he testified "the period of 1982 to 1995 was one in which there was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency, and they were defined to include agents, assets, non-staff employees".  As Webb explained, "the CIA wouldn't tell and the Justice Department wouldn't ask" - so no wonder the CIA didn't find any relationship to drug traffickers - they didn't have to keep any records!

That such a response from the Post could still be given today reminds me that Walter Pincus, the Washington Post reporter who had been assigned to debunk "Dark Alliance", had collaborated with the CIA in spying operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s and openly written about it.  It's also interesting that in promoting their new film, Focus Features presents an article Unbelieveable but True that details six political conspiracies that "turned out to be true".  The first conspiracy they document is Operation Mockingbird, which details how the CIA recruited and worked with 25 news organizations and 400 journalists to create pro-American propaganda and "help paint the appropriate image of United States foreign policy".

With curious timing, less than two months ago the CIA declassified a six page article titled "Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story."  As described by The Intercept, "Dark Alliance" was initially a disaster for the CIA that "could hardly be worse", but luckily, due to “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists", the CIA was able to sit back and watch "with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter."

Was it a lucky coincidence that large papers with formal ties and "productive relations" to the CIA came out so aggressively to attack Gary Webb?  It's probably just as much of a coincidence that Gary committed suicide with two shots to the head.  While Nick Schou makes a strong case that Gary Webb killed himself due to depression from his "controversial career-ending story - and the combined resources and dedication of America's three largest and most powerful newspapers" combined with going off anti-depressants, financial woes, and having to move back into his mom's house after being denied by both his ex-wife and ex-girl friend, others view the suicide with understandable skepticism.


According to Alex Jones, he had interviewed Gary Webb a dozen times over the years and reports that months before his death Webb had told him he was "receiving death threats" and was "regularly being followed".  Jones states that Gary Webb was working on a new book that would vindicate his claims and he wanted Jones to build a website to host all of the documentation, similar to how the San Jose Mercury News hosted the material for the original "Dark Alliance" series.  Freeway Rick Ross also recalls Webb speaking about a new book and his gut feeling is that "they killed him, because I think it's pretty hard to shoot yourself in the head twice."  If Jones and Ross are correct, it would be odd timing for Webb to commit suicide on the verge of publishing a new book and building a website to reclaim his reputation, but it would be the perfect time to be murdered.

When reflecting on his expulsion from the journalistic community, Gary realized that the reason he'd had prior success wasn't because he was a careful and diligent reporter, but because he "hadn't written anything important enough to suppress".  If Gary Webb had gone deeper down the rabbit hole there would have been no limit to the amount of additional evidence he could have found establishing the relationship between the CIA and drug dealers across the world.  There is so much information to be found that the film Kill the Messenger, far from being an exaggeration, is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't go far enough.  Instead, when taking the evidence in its entirety, the reality we face is a nightmare scenario only found in a children's tale.

CIA Cocaine Trafficking Collaboration

The documentation and allegations of CIA drug trafficking are legion, so where to begin?  We could start with former Panama leader General Manual Noriega's decades of drug-trafficking under CIA protection that only ended when his connection became a PR liability.  Venezuelan General Ramon Guillen Davila was another CIA asset that smuggled tons of cocaine into the US with CIA approval.  In more recent times, the Costa Rica Star reported on a curious shipment of 24 tons of cocaine that was loaded onto a U.S Air force transport aircraft in route to Miami.  In the category of poetic irony, two blemishes in the history of the CIA collided on September 24, 2007 when a CIA torture plane ran out of fuel over the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.  Jet aircraft #N987SA, known to have been used on at least 3 rendition flights to Guantanamo's torture chambers, was carrying 3.6 tons of cocaine when it crashed.  How embarrassing when the "logistical coordinator" for a top Mexican drug-trafficking gang that was responsible for purchasing the jet told the U.S. District Court in Chicago that he had been a government asset for the DOJ, DEA, FBI, ICE and Homeland Security since 2004.

These examples are noteworthy for their historical legitimacy, but there are plenty of other whistle-blowers that directly confirmed Gary Webb's accusations of the CIA's cocaine complicity.  When the black community of South Central L.A. was at its height of unrest over the "Dark Alliance" revelations, CIA Director John Deutch made an unprecedented move by going directly to L.A. and speaking at a town meeting.  His plan to placate their concerns and promise that he'd "get to the bottom of this" fell to pieces when he was confronted by former Los Angeles Police Department officer Michael Ruppert.  Ruppert told Deutch that "the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time" and referenced three specific agency operations - the crowd went wild, chanting "we told you".

Another whistle-blower tied to Gary Webb was former DEA agent Celerino Castillo III.  Castillo spent 12 years at the DEA where he assembled and trained anti-narcotics teams in several countries and raided drug rings from New York to the Amazon.  But it all came to an end one day in El Salvador when he was given a tip to investigate possible drug smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras.  As documented in his book Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras & The Drug War, Castillo discovered that the Contra pilots were smuggling cocaine using the same pilots, planes, and hangers as the CIA.  He thoroughly documented dates, places, names and DEA file numbers, bringing his superiors reams of evidence warranting a full scale investigation.  Instead of being commended he was told to back off.  When he kept going he was reprimanded and then placed under an Internal Affairs investigation that would help destroy his marriage, his career, and nearly his life.

Someone that would not succeed in escaping this controversy with his life was suspected CIA agent Barry Seal, infamously known as "the most successful drug smuggler in American history, who died in a hail of bullets with George Bush's private phone number in his wallet."  According to Daniel Hopsicker's Barry & 'the boys': The CIA, the Mob, and America's Secret History, Seal had an active role in scandals such as the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, and Watergate - but his most well-known and undisputed role was in the Iran-Contra Affair.  Seal owned and operated numerous planes out of the CIA cocaine drop point at the municipal airport of Mena, Arkansas.  This included the plane used in the DEA sting operation against Pablo Escobar and other members of the Medellín Cartel to implicate the Nicaraguan Sandinista government.  In the height of hypocrisy, one month after Seal was murdered, one of the photographs that Seal took was paraded on television by Reagan to suggest that top Sandinista government officials were involved with drug smuggling in order to boost support for the Contras.

When the IRS came to seize Seal's property and claimed that he owed back taxes for 30 million made in drug dealing, Seal's response was a presumptuous "Hey, I work for you… we work for the same people!".  When that didn't work, he started making threats that "If you don't get these IRS assholes off my back I'm going to blow the whistle on the Contra scheme."  One week after that conversation he was sentenced to a halfway house as a condition of his plea bargain, making him an easy target.  Within two weeks he was dead, shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 19, 1986.

Another CIA asset that knew Barry Seal, worked with him, and confirms his drug dealing and money laundering activities was former Air Force Intelligence operative Terry Reed.  In Reed's book Compromised: Clinton, Bush, and the CIA, he documents how he was recruited into the Contra operation by Oliver North himself.  Reed was initially recruited as a pilot instructor to train the Contra pilots at rural airstrips in Mena, Arkansas.  His last tour of duty was in South East Asia to equip the Cambodians to fight a covert war - a skill set that was very transferable for the Contra operation.

At Mena, Reed was introduced to Barry Seal, who he was told was the CIA contractor who had the contract work to equip the Contras.  Reed was told that George Bush himself was overseeing the project to insulate the executive branch from constitutional violations and he even encountered then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton during this time.  Barry Seal told Reed that more than $9 million a week was dropped from planes at Mena that were laundered through an investment banking firm with direct ties to Clinton.  But where did that money come from?

For two years Reed didn't understand that question.  He worked with the Contras "with blinders on" until one day in 1987 when he came face to face with a C130 filled with tons of cocaine stored in ammo crates.  Like others before and after him, Reed asked for a full-scale investigation that went directly to Oliver North, causing him to be labeled a "security risk" and a threat to the operation.  While Oliver North is a well known key player in Iran -Contra, Reed was the one to go on record putting George Bush and Bill Clinton squarely in the middle of the CIA-Cocaine-Contra-Arkansas loop.  When Hillary Clinton said that we can't legalize drugs because "There is just too much money in it", Reason magazine assumed it was because she didn't understand how drug prohibition itself causes the high prices.  But instead, maybe Hillary meant exactly what she said.

The Politics and Money of Heroin

Suffice to say, the Washington Post and the Las Angeles Times didn't find the CIA-cocaine testimonies of Michael Ruppert, Celerino Castillo III, Barry Seal, or Terry Reed compelling enough to corroborate Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance".  However, these individuals were making claims far more bold than Gary Webb ever did.  Instead of pointing to agents that "looked the other way", they had direct knowledge of the CIA-Contra-Cocaine policy being run by the highest levels of power, from the director of the CIA all the way to the presidency.

Taking a step back on the conspiracy spectrum, we can review the work of Alfred W. McCoy, a well-respected academic who holds his Ph.D in Southeast Asian history from Yale University.  In McCoy's voluminous work The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, he goes through great lengths to document his thesis that organized crime throughout American and Europe collaborated over several decades to establish new centers of opium production, heroin refining, and distribution in Southeast Asia that was often aided and accelerated by the CIA.  His detail-oriented book is known as the first to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, something that even CIA mockingbird papers can't deny.

McCoy writes,
"Looking back on the forty years of the cold war, it is clear that the CIA's four major covert wars transformed tribal warlords into major drug lords and protected covert assets from criminal investigation.  Under the pragmatic policy of accepting any ally effective against Communism, the CIA used tribal leaders for proxy warfare in the mountains of Asia, unconcerned when these same warlords used its protection to become drug lords.  In the history of drug trafficking during the cold war, there is repeated coincidence between CIA covert assets and major dealers."
In the 1950's you find the CIA working with the Corsican Mafia to fight communism at the expense of strengthening them as they became America's leading heroin supplier.  At the same time, two of the CIA's covert wars developed the Golden Triangle drug trade, giving arms and logistics support to the Nationalist Chinese (KMT) in Burma that turned the region into the worlds largest opium producer.  The same thing happened in Laos during the Vietnam War, with the CIA working with opium-growing Hmong tribesmen and Laotian generals to create heroin laboratories and direct routes to ready buyers, first to the U.S. forces in South Vietnam and next to the U.S. domestic market.  Into the 1980's the CIA's support for Afghan guerrillas aligned with Central Asia becoming the major heroin supplier - and we've already heard enough about the Nicaraguan cocaine trade.

For McCoy, he looks at this legacy of CIA complicity and finds plausible answers that ring of the theme "the ends justify the means":
"American drug agents, with limited budgets and side arms, tracked the drug flow as it moved toward America, occasionally intercepting a shipment but never approaching the source…
...
Their ultimate enemies in this war on drugs were … ruled … with the arms and support of the CIA and its allied agencies.  In the invisible bureaucratic battle for these strategic highlands, the DEA's weak, distant attempts at drug interdiction were overwhelmed by the CIA's direct alliances with drug lords.
...
Critics who look for the CIA's agents to actually dirty their hands with drugs in the line of duty are missing the point.  Under its covert warfare doctrine, the CIA avoided direct involvement in combat and instead worked through local clients whose success determined the outcome of the agency's operation.  The CIA's involvement thus resolves around tolerance for, or even complicity in, drug dealing by its covert action assets - not, in most instances, any direct culpability."
McCoy's magnum opus ends in several key questions: Was the agency ever allied with drug traffickers, did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution, and did the CIA's alliances with drug lords contribute significantly to the expansion of the global drug trade?  To those three questions, he gives a resounding yes, beyond any doubt.  When it comes to the question of, "did the CIA encourage cocaine smugglers to target African-American communities", McCoy takes a queue from Gary Webb:
"Instead of targeting downstream drug flow, the CIA, in its mission myopia, simply ignored it.  The agency's complicity in the drug traffic was an inadvertent consequence of its tactics of indirect intervention through paramilitary operations.
...
Whatever the global impact of CIA covert warfare might have been, the agency's alliances with drug lords has left, in the aftermath of the cold war, a domestic legacy of illegality, suspicion, and racial division.  From their mission myopia, CIA agents fighting secret wars in Laos, Pakistan, and Central America seemed to regard narcotics as mere "fallout" - even when the victims were U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam or Americans in the inner cities."
Apparently, as if 60 years of CIA complicity in drug-trafficking wasn't enough, the fallout must continue.  This year, publications such as Business Insider and the Guardian have reported the embarrassing statistic that, despite spending over $7 billion on counter-narcotics efforts since 2001, opium cultivation is at an all-time high in American-occupied Afghanistan.


So let's get this straight.  In July of 2000 the Taliban declared growing poppies un-Islamic and led one of the most successful anti-drug campaigns of all time, resulting in a reduction of 99% of the opium poppy farming and cutting off roughly three quarters of the world's supply of heroin.  Next comes a supposed attack by men mainly from Saudi Arabia on 9/11, so we do the logical thing and invade Afghanistan.  According to McCoy, it's an unfortunate coincidence that given we had to fight the Taliban we had to ally with regional warlords that just happened to be the country's top drug pushers - and then we're off to the races.  Afghanistan's opium cultivation and heroin production were revived as if the 1 year drought had never happened and now we're seeing all time highs - an “unprecedented” 523,000 acres of opium poppy in 2013.

If that isn't enough to get you thinking, recall the bizarre Geraldo interview of Marines openly guarding the opium fields of Afghanistan.  Geraldo reports that if the U.S forces were to destroy the opium then "the population would turn against the Marines".  But don't worry, they are confident that providing the local Afghans with resources and alternatives will help them grow things like wheat, watermelon and cucumber.  What a "dilemma" they are in, we should all feel sympathy for that Marine because guarding the opium just "grinds in his guts".  Who could have guessed that instead of having record bumper crops of cucumbers we are setting a record in heroin production?

Follow the money and it's pretty easy to guess.  With Afghanistan now producing more than 80% of the worlds opium and the estimated value approaching $3 billion, you have to ask where all that money is going.  Are Afghan drug lords putting it all under their mattresses?  No - worldwide drug organizations launder their billions through the largest banks and any google search will find countless examples of bankers admitting to money laundering on massive scales with hardly a slap on the wrist in response.

In April of 2006 when a DC-9 jet was seized by Mexican soldiers with 5.7 tons of cocaine valued at $100 million, the real prize was the paper trail exposing banking complicity in laundering billions of dollars.  The investigation ended with Wachovia settling the biggest action ever brought under the US bank secrecy act, paying a measly $100 million in forfeiture and a $50 million fine when the bank was sanctioned for transferring some $378 billion dollars without applying the anti-laundering regulations.  That's almost half a trillion dollars, one-third of Mexico's gross national product, and they paid a fine less than 2% of the bank's 2009 profit.  To make matters more humiliating, Wachovia was then acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash as it gobbled up $25 billion in taxpayer money for the Wall Street bail out.

This is hardly the only example of large banks getting caught with billions of drug dealer money.  HSBC paid a hefty $1.9 billion fine to settle money laundering accusations after a Senate report alleged they were "playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules" and doing business with Mexican drug lords, with their affiliate HSBC Bank Mexico going through $7 billion in a single year.

Citigroup was hit with enforcement actions for breakdowns in money laundering but they were able to get away without admitting wrong doing.  Citibank had $1.8 million seized from drug dealer accounts after a massive undercover money laundering investigation, but only after Citibank had moved $300 million through their accounts known to be tied to Mexican drug dealers because they "had not realized that anything might be amiss".

Whole books are dedicated to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which takes the title of "the outlaw bank" and "the dirtiest bank of all".  What a surprise that there are indications that CIA officials were involved in the founding of BCCI, with Alfred McCoy pointing to evidence that "the boom in the Pakistan drug trade was financed by BCCI".

But where would we be without one last "ends justifies the means" argument.  The UN's drug and crime chief says that during the height of the banking crisis of 2008 $325 billion in drug money was laundered by the major banks and kept the financial system afloat.  It was "the only liquid investment capital available" to those fine institutions of the public good.  So not only do we need the CIA working with drug dealers to fight our covert wars but we need that drug money to keep our banking system propped up too!  If it weren't for the millions of lives that are absolutely ruined in the drug war, you'd think there was no down side to this story.

Who Benefits, Who Suffers?

Far off in Washington, sitting at the top of their would-be world empire, our leaders look down on us common folk with pity.  How could we understand the tough choices that must be made?  To cook an omelet you have to break some eggs. What's more important, stopping a nuclear 9/11 or allowing a few more kilos of cocaine or heroin to hit America's streets?  As Dick Cheney said, "We have to work the dark side, if you will.  We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world...  It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal to achieve our objective."

As McCoy concluded in The Politics of Heroin, we have two choices, "We can either deny the agency the authority to conduct covert operations, or we can accept that these missions will involve the CIA in criminal alliances that may well compromise some future war on drugs."

So let's assume that we accept the premise that our national interest extends across the globe in a way that forces our highest government officials to work side-by-side empowering, collaborating, and protecting the largest world-wide drug trafficking networks.  I get it, "drugs are bad", but there are other ways for society to deal with vices.  What really keeps us from having a rational discussion about prohibition and ending the hypocrisy where a government asset can do one thing with total impunity but someone without a special badge can do the same thing and have his life absolutely ruined?  If we are a nation of laws and not of men, then this schizophrenic policy must not continue.

As documented in books like Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we've gone from a country raised on Andy Griffith and "peace officers" to battle-hardened "law enforcement" troops - and this change could never have happened without the specter of the drug war.  Today we have 80,000 SWAT teams raids per year, some 220 per day.  They were sold to Americans as the necessary response to Uzi-toting gang-bangers, but now they are in 80% of small towns across the country.

The personal examples of how the drug war utterly destroys innocent families are endless and horrifying.  "Smoke a joint, Lose your Kids", says the Huffington Post.  We're not talking about child abusers here, these are parents that are using legally prescribed medical marijuana to treat diseases like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis only to have their children kidnapped by CPS workers that are far more likely to abuse them.

Her name was Alexandria Hill
One particularly horrible example recently took place in Round Rock, Texas.  The parents of Alexandria Hill made the biggest mistake of their lives when they admitted that they had smoked some pot after putting her to bed.  For his act of "neglectful supervision" the Texas CPS stole her away and put her in foster care.  While the Hill's maintained that Alex had never been hurt, abused, or gone to the hospital while with her family, the first home the state put her in quickly had her coming to her visitations covered with bruises.  The next home they put her in would be her last, as she would be air-lifted to a hospital where she would later die due to blunt force trauma to the head.  Ironically, an investigation into the foster parents revealed the foster father himself had been twice convicted of selling marijuana.

Her name was Rachel Hoffman
Consider the story of Rachel Hoffman.  She was a bright young lady, having just completed her bachelor's degree from Florida State University.  She smoked marijuana occasionally and her troubles started when she was arrested for having some weed during a traffic stop.  Months later her apartment was searched and revealed more government-trafficked contraband which prompted the police to give her a choice: turn over other dealers or face the wrath of the state.  They eventually pressured her into participating in a drug sting, giving her $13,000 in cash to purchase 1,500 pills of ecstasy.  Scared out of her mind, with no training or supervision, her attempt at playing secret agent with the police got her summarily executed by the dealers, her body discarded in a ditch fifty miles away.

The children of John Horner
Finally, in a story that the Atlantic called "a heartbreaking drug sentence of staggering idiocy", you have all the elements of injustice come together: a first time "offender", entrapment by a police informant, and a zero-tolerance jail sentence.  John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food worker, was legally prescribed painkillers for an eye he lost in 2000. When a "friend" related the pain he was under and asked for help, John agreed to sell him some of his pills.  The "friend" was a police informant and John was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  He has three children and he will be 72 when he's released.

It may be the stories of untimely deaths of the innocent that tug at the heart strings and stir our sensibilities the most, but it's arguable that serving 25 years, 25 years, is a far worse fate.  But at least with a 25 year sentence Mr. Horner can dream of the day when he'll see his children all grown up with families of their own.  For many others they have no hope at all.  A 24 year-old named Tyler was given life without parole for mailing LSD to a friend and he is one of thousands of examples of nonviolent drug offenders that will spend their entire lives behind bars.  An ACLU report reviewed 646 life sentences and instead of finding murderers and rapists, 83% of the time they found nonviolent "criminals".  The ACLU shakes their heads at the waste of it all, $1.8 billion in cost to the tax payers to house 3,278 such inmates.  But is it a waste?  To whom?  Where is that money going?

This is where the individual parts of the government drug running conspiracy come together, as it all begins to make a kind of sick sense: Private Prisons.  As reported by non-US media, America enjoys Chinese style labor camps from coast to coast, bringing the stockholders of America's for-profit prison industry a healthy return on investment with a cheap and readily available workforce.  They aren't just making license plates.  During a time of high unemployment, millions of prisoners are performing slave labor for companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Starbucks and Walmart in a variety of industries such as "making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing".

That's right, the next time you call customer support for a company or government agency you're probably talking to a poor soul that's behind bars for possession of government-run narcotics.  The Fed calls it "the best-kept secret in outsourcing", making hundreds of millions a year with their 75-year-old "Federal Prison Industries" program that deceptively markets itself through company names like Unicor.

When the inmates of private prisons aren't busy raising Tilapia fish for Whole Foods, they enjoy extracurricular activities such as getting raped, being placed in solitary confinement for weeks and months at a time, beatings by security guards, fighting off giant rat infestations, and eventually resorting to madness or suicide.  The best part is if the cops aren't catching enough people using government-run drugs then the private prison corporations can always pay off the judges to keep their prisons full and their profits up.  The documentary Kids for Cash relates one such instance where a Pennsylvania Judge was caught and sentenced to 28 years for accepting more than $2 million in bribes for jailing over 3,000 juveniles - some only 10 years old.

Conclusion - The True Story of Pinocchio

Just like when I woke up and saw how 100 different puzzle pieces only formed a coherent picture when taken together, watching Kill the Messenger in isolation may result in one walking away with the feeling that the story of government drug-dealing must be exaggerated.  Sure, there may be a few bad apples, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Instead, take a look at decades of government complicity, collaboration and encouragement of worldwide drug-dealing, from the forests of Nicaragua to the mountains of Afghanistan.  Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money laundered through the largest and most prestigious banks on the planet.  Contemplate the additional billions spent by tax payers to "fight" a hopeless war that does nothing to stop drugs, but if anything just takes out the government's small-time competition in the drug-dealing business.  Finally, review the network of industries making hundreds of millions in building jails, housing inmates, and profiting off of their slave labor.  Taken together, this is something so diabolical it only belongs at the doorstep of a shadowy group like the Illuminati.

Our predicament is so awesome in its scope and sinister in its consequences that it's easier to grasp by relating it to a children's tale.  In the movie Pinocchio, the young puppet is lured away from his loving father and the guidance of his conscience to a place called Pleasure Island.  Here, Pinocchio can drink, smoke, gamble and engage in other vices with his peers without a care in the world.  But the owner of Pleasure Island, the one who encourages the children to engage in vices, the one who runs the "drugs" of Pleasure Island, he's not providing this service from the good of his heart.  No, this enterprise is going to make the owner a lot of money.  Once the children have crossed the line and tasted of his forbidden fruit a magic spell transforms the helpless boys into donkeys.  After their metamorphosis is complete they are stripped of their human remnants, packed into crates, and shipped to the salt mines by shadowy figures to work and die - all for the benefit of the owner and all according to his master plan.

If there is one honest and effective anti-drug PSA out there it would be this: don't do drugs because it's a TRAP.  The criminals that run the planet ship the drugs, launder the money and handsomely profit when the legal system catches drug users and turns them into slaves.  Don't do drugs: don't become a jackass like the prisoners of Pleasure Island.

10/15/2014

Lawyer Tricks & Vampire Ethics

One of the most important ways to get involved with the Libertarian Party is to run as a candidate for public office.  In 2010 I had a great time running an educational campaign for State Representative for District 49.  I wasn't in it to win it, but I was able to spread the message by answering questionnaires and with newspaper, radio, and television interviews.  The most rewarding part of the experience was being invited to a local middle school to give a presentation about libertarianism.

Unfortunately, this year I couldn't make the commitment to run an educational campaign, so instead I signed up to be a "paper candidate" for a local office.  This means I'm not actively campaigning, but still helping the LP by giving a libertarian option for voters that will help get our numbers up in the aggregate.  This November we will have 132 candidates on the ballot across Texas and I'll be running for Justice of the Peace for Travis County, a position that I would seem to be totally under-qualified for and would seriously impede my career in IT Consulting if I were to win.

However, the law is something that I've been studying for a number of years and if I somehow won this race I would be willing to put my career on hold to serve out the term.  The local chapter of the League of Women Voters sent a questionnaire concerning the race, but only two questions allowing 450 character answers didn't leave much of an opportunity to explain my platform.  Nevertheless, I was able to give a standard libertarian answer for the question of how I would ensure that the role of "the people's court" is fulfilled:
"As JOP I would radically change the goal of the JP court from focusing on revenue generation for the state to protecting the rights of the individual.  This means rightly prosecuting crimes that are malum in se, evil in themselves, while vigorously defending people accused of "crimes" that are malum prohibitum, illegal by statute.  In this way the people will see the court as a tool for seeking justice, not as a device for taking their liberties."
In other words, if you're going to have a state, use it as a tool for defensive purposes only.  Don't use it for enforcing statutes against victimless crimes just to steal people's money.  That's pretty basic libertarianism 101 stuff.  It was the second question that I found more interesting.  What changes, if any, are needed in court processes and procedures to make the court more efficient and effective in fulfilling its duties?
"The entire court system is engaged in a variety of scams and conspiracies to rob the people of their liberties.  Lawyer tricks confuse people into waiving their natural rights and volunteering into oppressive contracts with the state.  I would not seek to make the court more efficient in these corrupt machinations, instead I desire a court that effectively presumes innocence and honors due process rights of the defendant from agents of the state."
Scams and conspiracies?  Lawyer tricks?  Corrupt machinations?  These allegations require some explanation.

Boss Hoggism or Legal Sleight of Hand

During my process of waking up, Aaron Russo's documentary America: Freedom to Fascism had a big impact on me, particularly the segments on the constitutionality and legality of the income tax.  It's one thing to look at black operations by CIA type groups, they happen in the shadows and don't require many people to execute.  But these allegations made about the income tax were something else entirely, a conspiracy of an entirely different nature.

One of the most credible people interviewed in the film on this topic was Joe Banister.  Like other former IRS agents, it all started when he heard of the $50,000 challenge to show the law that required the average person to file a 1040 and pay a tax on his labor.  As a special agent of the Criminal Investigation Division for the IRS, Mr. Banister thought this challenge was something he could easily accomplish to dispel the rumors.  Months later, Banister submitted a preliminary report to his supervisors with his startling conclusions regarding the income tax.  Instead of proving the "anti-taxers" wrong, he ended up giving his resignation to his longtime employer and becoming one of the leading figures in the tax honesty movement.

But for people like Mr. Banister it doesn't end there.  The most credible and prominent people in the tax honesty movement are invariably drug before a kangaroo court and indicted on something, anything.  Even when they win on appeal it is only through a long fight over multiple years that drains their life savings.  It's a battle that destroys marriages, lives, family - and for what?  It takes a special kind of person that holds their integrity above all else to choose to fight this battle rather than to just give in and let the tax man have his cut.

Seeing people like Irwin Schiff, Sherry Jackson, Joe Banister, and others relentlessly prosecuted to make an example for the rest of us has a real chilling effect.  What is to be done when the system is so lawless?  How do you fight a system with a clique of boss hoggs running things at the top that don't give a damn what the law actually says?  If you try to fight back and stand on your rights you are subject to their army of useful idiots that follow orders and don’t know any better.  It's a pretty depressing and shameful situation we're in.

It was through only after reading Peter Eric Hendrickson's Cracking the Code and listening to the Rule of Law Radio show for several years that I've slowly come to a different conclusion about our predicament.  Rather than seeing the conspirators as brutish criminals that are totally lawless and respect nothing but violence, I see them as intelligent criminals that use complex legalese and magician's sleight of hand tricks on the meaning of words themselves.  They have an entirely different lexicon of legal terminology that's completely different from the common meaning of words and from their perspective if you're ignorant enough to fall for their elaborate scams then you deserve what you get.

They aren't completely amoral, they have their own system of ethics - the ethics of a vampire.  Just as the mythical vampire can't feast on your blood unless you are foolish enough to invite him into your home, even if you do so under mistaken pretenses, this criminal class preys on people's gullibility and faith in government to trick them into volunteering into private contracts that have no legal, lawful or ethical foundation.  Buyer beware.  Read the fine print.  These are the mottos that give their conscience sanction.  Ignore them at your own risk.

Define Your Terms

Words have meaning, and when words are put to parchment and signed by powerful people to become "laws" they have the force of the state behind them.  This means that if you violate these laws, whether deliberately, through ignorance, or even innocent misunderstanding, men with guns will follow orders and steal your property, kidnap you, lock you in a cage, and even kill you.  Clearly, the first step on the path to avoiding the violence of the state is to understand the meaning of the laws to know what duties, responsibilities, and constraints bind your actions.  But the meanings of words change all the time - look at any page from the Urban Dictionary and you'll find examples of words that have a radically different meaning then they did 50, 20 or even 5 years ago.  The point being, if a law is created that imposes certain duties on the governed, then new or different duties cannot be created simply by the result of certain words having their meaning changed over time.

My favorite example of this is the word "regulate".  Today it means that 100,000 bureaucrats can tell you what to do in virtually every area of your life, but in the time of the Constitution it meant "to keep regular."  For example, "regulating the value of coin" instructed the congress to keep it from overly fluctuating through inflation and deflation, "regulating commerce among the states" allowed the federal government to prevent the states from enacting tariffs against each other, and having a "well regulated Militia" meant the individuals compromising that militia were well trained and had properly working firearms.

It's hard enough to comply with all the laws when there are so many that it's even impossible for the federal government to give an estimate, but it would be impossible if the law constantly changed as the common usage of words did as well.  Lucky for us, words have special meanings when they are specifically defined in statutes, and if they are not defined there you look for the meaning in a law dictionary like Bouvier's or Black's Law Dictionary.  Unlucky for us, this double-edged sword is the source of the lawyer trickery that fool hapless saps into volunteering into contracts, submitting to jurisdictions, and otherwise opting themselves in to requirements and obligations that have no legal basis.

Before visiting three of the biggest scams that rely on legal sleight of hand, let's review a word that is central to understanding all of them: include, includes, including.  In common language, the word "includes" would be translated to "such as".  For example, "I enjoy eating fruit, including apples".  Under a normal context I may also enjoy eating oranges, but in the world of legalese we may find that this word is not one of enlargement, but one of restriction.  Instead of translating to "such as", includes is defined as "means".  The impact is that, for the purpose of that sentence, the common definition of "fruit" no longer applies and now "fruit" means apples and only apples.

There is a Latin term for this, inclusio unius est exclusio alterius, "the inclusion of one is the exclusion of another."  According to Black's Law, "When certain persons or things are specified in a law, contract, or will, an intention to exclude all others from its operation may be inferred.  Under this maxim, if statute specifies one exception to a general rule or assumes to specify the effects of a certain provision, other exceptions or effects are excluded.”  There are websites filled with quotes from supreme court rulings, hundred page treatises, and finely written essays dedicated to this seemingly innocuous term because of how this word can create multi-layered definitions that have to be carefully analyzed to have any chance of arriving at the correct interpretation.  As we'll see, it is the cornerstone of some of the most invasive laws that impact us every moment of our waking lives, but with a correct understanding of what it means in legalese they just melt away like snow on a sunny day.

Cracking the Code

The income tax: is there a more destructive, unjust, or idiotic law?  It is a fact that taxes are used to deter behavior, hence we have "sin taxes" like those on cigarettes.  So why would any society seek to deter productivity?  The harder one works, the more one earns, the more is taken away, not just proportionally but progressively.  How much wealth was never created because doing so would bump one into the next "bracket" and cause a net loss, incentivizing those to choose leisure instead of labor?

The income tax exposes the presumption of our political leaders: that they are our masters, that they own us.  The fruit of my labor is not mine, but the governments, and those men with guns will choose how much will be returned to me.  In the "land of the free", where we supposedly fought a civil war to abolish slavery, it is a sad lesson how quickly we accepted new masters.

A direct tax on income is also blatantly unconstitutional.  The constitution gives two and only two types of taxation: direct and apportioned or indirect and unapportioned.  In the first case the federal government can only directly tax the people if the tax is apportioned by the state populations.  In the second case it can only tax the people without regards to state enumeration if it is indirect, such as a tax on tobacco that one can avoid by growing their own tobacco or refraining from its use.  As described in America: Freedom to Fascism, Supreme Court rulings declared an income tax unconstitutional before the 16th amendment and after its passage they ruled that it granted no new powers of taxation.  So if they didn't have it before, and they didn't get it, then how is it that we all sign self-confession forms under penalty of perjury every year (5th amendment, anyone?).

But what if it didn't have to be this way?  When the tax code was put on the internet, for the first time allowing one to quickly execute key word searches across its hundreds of pages and three million words, Peter Eric Hendrickson claimed that he cracked the code to this mystery.  By finding every use and definition of terms like "income", "wages", "employee", "employer", and "trade or business", he discovered that the income tax could actually comply with the constitution and the supreme court rulings but under this legalese interpretation the income tax laws no longer applied to the vast majority of private individuals.

As quoted and explained in detail throughout the book chapter and verse, the income tax is filled with particular definitions and circular logic that results in it only being applicable to the payment of federal government workers.

"Wages" is defined as "all remuneration... for services performed by an employee for an employer", where employee is defined as including "an officer, employee, or elected official of the United States, a State, or any political subdivision thereof, or the District of Colombia, or any agency or instrumentality of any one or more of the foregoing."

Similarly, the term "trade or business" includes "the performance of the functions of a public office".  "Wages" is defined as "including personal service as an officer or employee of a State", and then "state" is "construed to include the District of Colombia".

Remembering the legalese definition of "includes", does it sound like you work for an "employer"?  Are you engaged in a "trade or business"? Do you earn "wages" or "income"? You may not if you don’t work for the federal government!

Why would it be constitutional to put an income tax on federal government workers but not the rest of us in the public sector?  Remember that one of the constitutional taxes is indirect and unapportioned, and that government workers don't really pay taxes, they consume tax money.  If someone gives you $20, and then takes $5, did they "tax" any money, or did they just give you $15?  That is the crux of the issue - when the same entity is paying "gross income" and "withholding" a certain percentage and then paying "net income", then what does it matter what bookkeeping mumbo-jumbo is happening, the net result is that entity, the federal government, is paying its workers.  Working for the federal government is not a right, it is a privilege, and therefore it would fall under the indirect and unapportioned taxing power of the constitution.

So when millions of people file 1040 confession forms and say "I'm an employee", "I make wages" and "I'm engaged in a trade or business" the government sits back and nods, happy to keep the fantasy going.  If you're willing to make these claims the government won't be correcting you - that's up for you to figure out.

Drivers License: Transport or Travel?

One of the fundamental differences between rights and privileges concerns the requirement for a license to use property.  The owner of property can exercise all the rights associated with the property, with the only limitation being not to violate the rights of others.  The owner can extend a privilege concerning the property in the form of a license, which is permission to perform some action that, without such authorization, would constitute an illegal action or trespass.

Thus, what do we make of the situation when a libertarian activist asks a traffic officer if he's being detained on a warrantless DUI checkpoint which he believes to be unconstitutional, and the cop snarls, "driving's a privilege, not a right!"  Here we have a dilemma.  Do you own your vehicle?  If you did, you'd have certain rights over it, not privileges granted by a license.  The Supreme Court has ruled that we have a right to travel, a right of locomotion, a right to move from one place to another according to inclination, a right of free transit from or through the territory of any state.  It seems plausible, after all we pay for the roads with the tax on gasoline, but this conflicts with our daily experience that a traffic officer can pull us over, demand our license, and impound our vehicle on the flimsiest of pretenses, especially since the militarization of the police and the escalation of the war on drugs.

Once again, it seems we might have a conspiracy of lawyer tricks run by criminals with vampire ethics and enforced by useful idiots that have never read or understood the law they believe to be rightly enforcing.

Eddie Craig is an Air Force veteran and a former Nacogdoches Sheriff Deputy that has spent the last 12 years researching various Texas Codes, especially the Transportation Code.  I first heard him on Rule of Law Radio where he described the myriad violations that occur during every traffic stop according to the Texas Transportation Code.  Eventually he compiled his research into a workbook and traffic seminar, and I was able to attend his first presentation at Brave New Bookstore.  Unsurprisingly, his findings echoed many of the same themes I had already found when researching the income tax.  It seemed there was a code to crack concerning the traffic laws as well, and Mr. Craig had found it.

Assuming we have a right to use our property, our personal vehicles, the first question to ask is what is a drivers license and who needs one?  The Texas Transportation Code defines it as "authorization issued by the department for the operation of a motor vehicle" and claims that a person "may not operate a motor vehicle on a highway in this state unless the person holds a driver's license."

The next question is, what is a motor vehicle?  It is consistently defined as "a device in or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway".  Unsurprisingly, we consistently see the word transportation used in these definitions, but what is surprising is that it's never defined anywhere in the Transportation Code.  According to our hierarchy of legal definitions, this means we need to look at legal dictionaries and the case law that goes with it.

In Black's Law Dictionary, transportation is defined as "The removal of goods or persons from one place to another, by a carrier."  And this is where it gets interesting.  According to every legal dictionary a carrier, a common carrier, a contract carrier, and even a private carrier are all referencing the act of transportation of passengers or freight for pay.  Carriers are in the "regular business of transporting people and / or freight".

So if we put this all together, one needs a driver's license to operate a "motor vehicle", which is a device used in "transportation", which is the act that a "carrier" engages in when operating a business of transporting people and / or freight for payment.  I don't drive a taxi.  I'm not hauling semi-trailers across the country for a living.  So why again do I have a driver's license?

The reason the government can license and register the act of running a business off the use of the roads is because those individuals are exercising a privilege.  This is in contrast to private individuals that have a right to travel in their personal property on the public roads.  Those roads are owned by the people and are for the general public's convenience and pleasure.  Using the roads for business is an extra-ordinary use of the public roads and that is why they can be licensed, because those people are engaged in using publicly owned property to make money.  In other words, they are engaged in commerce.  Regulating ("keeping regular") interstate commerce is a power that is specifically delegated to governments to do - not to infringe in the rightful use of our private property.

So the next time you get pulled over for speeding, take a look at the statute that authorizes the department of transportation to erect speed signs and ask, "who do speed signs apply to?"  Maybe the traffic officer is confusing you for someone engaged in commerce.


Gold Fringe Flags, Strawmen, and Billion Dollar Birth Certificates

You're not an "employee", you don’t earn "income", you don't operate a "motor vehicle", and you don't engage in "transportation".  Still following along?  If so, this next topic may stretch your credulity to its limit.  It has its origins in the beginning of the country, leaving the gold standard, and the moment you were born.  It includes gold fringed flags, admiralty law, your name in all capital letters (Capitis Diminutio Maxima), your birth certificate, treasury bonds, your "straw man" or "legal fiction", and every interaction you've ever had with government, police officers, courts, and corporations.  This one goes down the deepest trails of the rabbit hole, and sometimes you'll wonder if the proponents of these theories are government agents trying to entrap you, but if you take the time to survey the information and take a step back the resulting landscape comes together consistently, and it just figures that we'd live in a world where something this crazy could be true.


The best place to begin might be with your strawman, your legal fiction, the corporate entity that was created the moment the ink was dry on your birth certificate.  If your parents named you John Doe, your straw man might be named JOHN DOE.  This character is a "person", but unlike a flesh-and-blood human being, he is a legalese "person", a n artificial person or corporation.  This corporate person can sign contracts, assume duties, incur penalties, and it has the unfortunate tendency to get people confused with you, the flesh-and-blood human being.

That bad side of this situation is that this elaborate scam is what gives all the lower courts such as traffic courts, family courts, and tax courts the jurisdiction to act upon you - because you volunteer into it!  Whenever a summons appears that asks for "JOHN DOE" and you show up saying, "that's me" no one is going to correct you.  Whenever they ask you if you "understand the charges" you are agreeing that you "stand under" their jurisdiction and from then on volunteer into their private contract.  Instead of living under common law, your straw man operates under admiralty law because a birth certificate literally hands over the new born's straw man to the government as a ward of the state, just as a ship wrecked in the sea can be found and claimed by new owners.  This is why court rooms have a gold fringed flag, because they are operating under admiralty law.  This explains why a judge can say "I don't want the constitution brought up in my court", because his court has nothing to do with the constitution, it is all private contracts through color of law like the Uniform Commercial Code.

This isn't just about tricking you to get jurisdiction for petty fines and fees, your straw man is also worth money, a lot of money.  This is where the theory gets into the creation of the country and leaving the gold standard - that without lawful money of gold and silver to discharge debts the government had to create a way for citizens to discharge their obligations in the new world of fiat money.  Hence, you find the curious phenomenon that your birth certificate will have a serial number and a stamp or seal from an entity like the American Bank Note Company.  Once the birth certificate / bank note is signed, it goes to the Department of Commerce, and from there to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  At this point it's listed as collateral for the UNITED STATES CORPORATION so that the gold ole USA can take out a loan for millions with our birth certificate as collateral.  Why would they think of our birth certificate as collateral?  Because we are going to be good cattle for our masters, we'll volunteer into contracts, work as "employees", pay "income", submit to registration, apply for licenses and pay all kinds of penalties and fees for activities that should be absolute rights.

If there is a good side to this scenario, it's that in the farthest depths of patriot mythology you'll find references to "commercial redemption", the "secured party creditor process", and "reclaiming your strawman".  The idea is that there are certain forms you can sign and actions you can take to reclaim your "legal fiction" from being a tool of the state and use it for your own purposes - and that also includes those millions of dollars of fiat currency tied to your birth certificate / bank note.  The UCC1 Financing Statement tells the public that you officially reclaim control over your Agent in commerce, your strawman.  Your parents may have abandoned him to the government, but now you're ready and willing to take him back.  File a few more forms and you'll have direct access to an account at the Treasury in your strawman's name, you'll be filing tax forms on behalf of your strawman, and you'll regain your status as a sovereign human being, a secure party creditor, at the same level of states, banks, and the gods themselves.

Conclusion

Now the question comes, after you've thoroughly researched these claims for yourself, what do you do about it?  If the answer is nothing, then it doesn't really matter whether the men behind the curtain are lawless thugs or just clever schemers.  If you knowingly continue to volunteer into contracts, assume obligations, and opt-in to taxes that don't apply to you then the only thing that's changed is you no longer have the right to complain about any of it.

That said, there is a risk / reward tolerance for everyone, and these are important decisions that should not be taken lightly.  I ran into Joe Banister at the Austin airport once and asked him what he thought about Cracking the Code.  He said it was 100% accurate, but the question remains, is this a battle that you are willing to fight yourself, or are you going to instead support people that are fighting it on your behalf?

Accepting the risk really depends on the magnitude of the reward.  With cracking the code the risk comes if you lose your nerve and admit that you make "income" after all, then you could be slapped with a $5,000 frivolous filing fee.  But if you stick to your guns you may instead receive a hefty check from the Treasury department and have your return added to the Bulletin Board displaying the $11,000,000+ from the tens of thousands of returns that have used the CTC method.

If you're going to cut up your drivers license, burn your registration, and throw away your license plate it seems like you are in for some battles ahead.  Even doing everything right, traffic cops will take you to jail and impound your vehicle out of ignorance, and only through fighting legal battles, suing the county and police departments, and battling lengthy appeals will you finally get to the situation where a patrolling cop radios in your suspicious car that doesn't have a license plate only to have HQ radio back "don't mess with him, he's not worth the trouble".  That is the price to travel as a free man.

When I first heard about the strawman / Secured Party Creditor strategy on Rule of Law Radio I categorized it as patriot mythology that was more likely to be a Federal sting operation than anything real.  Since then I've met someone that's gone through the process and has shown me his documents and explained how he has paid his taxes, utility bills, and even purchased real estate through his reclaimed strawman.  He also warned that if you don't do it correctly you could go to jail for securities fraud.

Do the research, weigh your options, and make a decision: will you continue to invite the vampires in, or will you kick them out once and for all?
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