National Security, Patriotism, and Treason
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Ever since the post-World War II grafting of the national-security apparatus onto America’s governmental structure, the assumption of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA has been that Americans who oppose national-security state policies and practices are “subversives” or even traitors.
We experienced this phenomenon throughout the Cold War. U.S. officials were spying on Americans who believed in communism or socialism, tapping their telephones, keeping secret files on them, infiltrating their organizations, and doing whatever they could to destroy, humiliate, or ruin them.
Why were they doing such things? Because they believed that Americans who believed in communism or socialism were subversives and even traitors.
It was the same mindset during the Vietnam War, when U.S. officials secretly monitored the activities of American citizens who were protesting the war. Anyone who wasn’t “supporting the troops” was considered a subversive, a bad guy, a traitor. Anyone who refused a conscription order to go fight in Vietnam was criminally prosecuted as a draft resister.
It’s really no different today with the so-called war on terrorism. Oh sure, they’re not putting critics of what they’re doing in the Middle East and Afghanistan in jail, but there is no doubt about how national-security state officials look on Americans who oppose what they’re doing in the world. They look at critics and people who refuse to “support the troops” as lacking patriotism — as being part of “the left.”
The national-security mindset today is no different today than it was during the Cold War: You’re either with us or against us, and if you’re not with us, you’re on the other side—the side of the communists or the terrorists.
One big problem, however, is that the national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon, CIA, and the NSA — has it all wrong when it comes to patriotism and treason.
Let’s step back and take a look at where we are as a nation.
The U.S. government leads the world in assassinations. No other regime can come close in this remarkable achievement. Every month, there are new assassinations. The process never stops. People are being assassinated on a regular basis by national-security state officials. The assassinations include American citizens. State-sponsored assassinations have become an ordinary part of American governmental life.
The U.S. government also leads the world in bombings. Every day, new bombs are dropped on people. We don’t even know how many people are being killed by the bombs. We don’t know who the victims are. It doesn’t really matter. As long as there is a terrorist in the vicinity of the bombs, why should anyone care who else happens to be killed? The notion is that if the national security state isn’t bombing people over there, the American people won’t be safe over here.
Guantanamo Bay continues to stand as monument to the adoption of a communist-like judicial system, one in which people are jailed for life without trial and where any trial would be a mockery of justice anyway. No jury trials. No due process. No speedy trials. Torture and other cruel and unusual punishments. No right to confront witnesses. No right to a presumption of innocence. Let’s face it: there is as much justice at Gitmo as there is in the rest of Cuba.
Why should this surprise us? At the very inception of Gitmo, the Pentagon announced that the area would be a Constitution-free zone. That meant that the Bill of Rights wouldn’t apply there. What better evidence of how national-security state officials view the Constitution and the Bill of Rights than that?
Invasions, occupations, coups, partnerships with criminal organizations (e.g., the Mafia) and brutal dictatorial regimes (e.g., Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Chile), destruction of democratic systems (e.g., Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and Egypt), and foreign aid to dictatorships.
Did I mention torture? The U.S. government is the clear-cut winner when it comes to the number of people tortured in the 21st century. Maybe the communist regimes in Red China, North Korea, and Vietnam are also in contention for #1 in torture, but would it really change things if the U.S. government was relegated to #2 or #3?
Now, ask yourself these simple questions: Is this the type of government that our American ancestors intended to bring into existence after they successfully seceded from the British Empire? Is this the type of government that the Founding Fathers had in mind after the Revolution? Is this the type of government the Framers intended when they proposed the Constitution to the American people?
The answers are not difficult: No one can honestly maintain that our ancestors, the Founding Fathers, and the Framers intended the type of government under which we live today.
So, who are the patriots and who are the traitors in all this? Those of us who defend the founding principles of America and the Constitution or those who have taken our nation to the dark side, with assassinations, torture, denial of due process, invasions, coups, destruction of democratic systems, support of dictatorships, foreign wars, foreign interventions, foreign entanglements, and foreign aid?
The fact is that it was a horrible mistake for Americans to have abandoned the philosophy of anti-militarism and anti-imperialism that guided our ancestors. They fiercely opposed standing armies for the precise reason that massive permanent military establishments inevitably lead to perpetual war, loss of liberty, dark-side practices, and national bankruptcy.
Consider just the current brouhaha regarding ISIS. More bombs. More death. More destruction. But what was it that gave rise to ISIS? You guessed it: The post-9/11 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which destroyed the country, killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people, and produced perpetual crisis and a permanent stream of people who hate the United States.
And what gave rise to the 9/11 attacks? You guessed it: the Persian Gulf intervention against Saddam Hussein, the brutal sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, Madeleine Albright’s infamous statement the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were worth it, the unconditional foreign aid to the Israeli government, and more.
And who was it that was partnering with the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980s? You guessed it: The U.S. national-security state apparatus that was grafted onto our federal system after World War II.
It’s time for Americans to go beyond getting the “right” president into office. After all, for many President Obama was the “right” president and he turned out to be no different from President Bush. As long as the national-security apparatus remains grafted onto our governmental system, America will continue to be enmeshed in the dark side of life.
It’s time for Americans to break out of the national-security box into which they have been trapped ever since World War II. It’s time to dismantle, not reform, the entire Cold War national-security state establishment, including the Pentagon and its foreign empire of military bases, the NSA, and the CIA. It’s time to restore America’s founding principles of anti-militarism and anti-imperialism.
Nothing less will restore peace, prosperity, and harmony to our land.
It’s the patriotic thing to do.