Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, discusses how surveillance/intelligence agencies have become the de facto fourth branch of government; Diane Feinstein’s apparent outrage at the CIA spying on her staff’s attempt at oversight; the implications of spying on government officials (and handing the info over to Israel); and the folly of NATO and mutual defense treaties.
Alright welcome to the show, I’m Scott Horton, this is my show the Scott Horton show.
Our first guest today is Jacob Hornberger, he is the founder and the President of the Future of Freedom Foundation, welcome back to the show Jacob, how are you doing?
Jacob Hornberger: (JH) Â _I’m doing great, nice to be back always an honor Scott
Scott Horton: (SH) Alright good times, very happy to have you here, and happy to have the opportunity to thank you again for having me out to your conference within a conference at the International Students for Liberty – back on February 15.
The video is at your youtube channel and mine, it’s called John Glaser and Scott Horton: Libertarianism Vs The Empire, and I’m a little disjointed at the beginning because I just showed up at the hotel when it was time for my speech to be over but, I think it turned out alright.
But I had a great time and I got to hang out with Bob Higgs and Sheldon Richman, Gareth Porter and everybody, so it was really great and thank you again for having me out there Jacob.
JH: Oh, the thanks are ours Scott. Your talk was absolutely awesome. You’re flight was cancelled and you arrived at the last minute but it turned out to be fantastic, I’m glad we got it fit in. On our website atÂ www.fff.orgÂ we now have all the videos posted from our conference within in a conference and they’re all just fantastic.
The big one of course was the Oliver Stone panel, and from what I understand, the video of that panel has recieved more than 17 000 views on youtube. But all the talks, your talk; Sheldon Richman, John Glaser, Jonathan Turley, they were all just fantastic. Sheldon Richman and I did a libertarian angle, so go in there toÂ www.fff.orgÂ and attend the conference even though itâ€™s over. You can still attend it by watching all these fantastic lectures.
SH:Â Right, I really liked Stephen Kinzer, he’ s my favorite
JH:Â Oh he is awesome. His speech was just fantastic, it was dynamic, enthusiastic, principled, it was just fantastic.
SH: So now, I got the idea and a friend emailed me to say that he thinks I’m right, so I must be right, that this news is not news. This news is world history. This is major. This is kind of like a 9/11 type of pivot point, a spot where you turn the page in your history book in a few decades from now- this fight between The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA over this 6300 page Senate Torture Report – intel committee torture report, on the CIA’s torture program, that the CIA has been fighting to keep classified.
They’re picking what I think is pretty obviously bogus fights over the details in order to try to keep it classified. And now the lengths that they have gone to in spying on the Senate staff as reported in McClatchy newspapers, the attempting to file criminal charges with the DOJ against the Senate Staff for liberating what is called the Panetta report – that actually corroborates the senate report -rather than the CIA’s objections to the senate report.
Dianne Feinstein gave a speech this morning on the floor of the Senate where she said she took the filing, or attempted filing, the lodging of an official complaint to the DOJ by the CIA as an attempt of intimidation against her, her staff, and her committee and she was not going to take it lying down.
Have you ever seen such a thing in your life?
JH:Â Well I’ve been saying for a long time now that the National Security State apparatus which consists of The Pentagon, the vast militarily complex, the military empire, the CIA and the NSA has effectively become a fourth branch of Government and it is the most powerful branch – more powerful than the executive, the judicial and the congressional branch.
Here you have the CIA actually requiring the members of the Senate, the Senate staffers to come over to CIA headquarters to look at files because the CIA says we’re not going to come over there, so who is in the subservient position? Itâ€™s clear to me that that the Senate is in the subservient position to this fourth branch of Government.
Then what happens is some of these staffers find out that CIA has lied to Congress about all this torture and they apparently take out some of the documents showing that, and the CIA discovers this by surreptitiously spying on the computer systems of Congress. Of course, the Congressman are just blase about this, nonchalant, I mean it’s like they had accepted their subservient role until some of us start of raising questions.
Conor Friedersdorf wrote a great piece on this. Other people have written about it. And finally, Dianne Feinstein, it’s like a light bulb goes off in her head and she says, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re not supposed to do this’, and she gives this speech about how outraged she is that CIA is spying on Congress and she wants an investigation.
This deference to the CIA and to the National Security State on the part of Congress, it has gone on for a long time, Scott, this is nothing new. It is inconsistent with what the founders of this country had in mind, but, it is certainly nothing new.
SH: Â I think part of the problem that ails is that there is so much secrecy surrounding it that we find shafts of light peaking through the darkness occasionally where, you know even in the Washington Post, Dana Priest and William Arkin did that series that became a book about top secret America. They basically described the National Security State and the military industrial complex and that whole web, as doubling or tripling since 9/11 right?
The growth from WW2 to 9/11 was Y, and since 9/11 it is Y x 3 right, and yet its all in secrecy. So really can get away with just waving a flag to making believe that we have our three branches of Governnment and the big white marble structures of DC that represent them and this whole top secret America is still in the shadows so we don’t have much of a grasp on how much has changed until we see something like this.
So the CIA really think they’re big shots compared to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee huh? That’s interesting right?
JH: Oh, it’s fascinating. But it is very revealing because it shows their mindset and it exposes the charade of what has gone on for decades as they quote democratic system. You’ve got what some people call The Deep State, or some people would call it The Parallel State, so you have what we see on the surface, what we learn in civics classes and what we learned in high school and college and so fourth â€“ â€˜Oh we have three branches of Government and they have a separation of powers and they balance off against each otherâ€™, and blah blah blah
But underneath the surface you have The Deep State, The Parallel State, that is engaged in assassinations, unlimited power, torture, disappearances of people, supporting brutal dictators, renditions, and no one is permitted to know about that and as you point out, every so often some of it leaks to the surface and everybody looks at it like, ‘Oh my gosh, put in underneath there, put it underneath’, and that is what the CIA is trying to do with this torture report – keep it secret – the American people don’t need to know about this. Same with the NSA.
They had this super secret surveillance scheme that they don’t want Americans to understand that their Government is spying on them, they only want us to see what is on top of the surface – democracy and three branches of Government, when in fact you’ve got a totalitarian apparatus that is spying on people, assassinating people, torturing people, that is consistent with everything the Soviet Union – that communist regimes were consistent with.
So is it refreshing to see Dianne Feinsten say, ‘Hey, you are the servants, you serve us’? Yeah. But I don’t think anything is going to come of it – nobody’s going to get arrested or indicted or punished. We won’t even learn the names of the CIA agents who did this spying. But at least it does expose how powerful this branch of Government has become.
SH:Â Right, and plus it’s just nice to see her mad too. (laughs)
JH: Yeah, unless it is just fake indignation. You never know with these people. You really don’t even know how many assets the CIA has in Congress, they’re not required to report that. We don’t know if they have assets there. They have assets everywhere else, in the press and so fourth. I’ll be really interested to see what comes of this but my prediction is, nothing is going to change, nothing is going to happen. It’s just a little tempest that is going to roll right on over and it’s going to be business as usual.
I think the other important aspect of this is the torture report. Notice how the CIA wants to keep this thing super secret, and part of the reasons they might feel like youâ€™re a criminal liability – Look what is happening in South America where you have democratic Governments that are now putting the torturers on trial under these military regimes. Military regimes by the way that were partnering with the CIA as part of what was called Operation Condor, that was an assassination program. Well no CIA officials have been bought to trial even though their partners and their comrades in Latin America have been bought to trial and are now serving time.
I think that has to be lurking in the back of the minds of the CIA. They know that what they’ve done – torture, water boarding, and so fourth was illegal to the hilt and I think they would love to keep that as secret as possible to avoid even the potential of having people call for criminal prosecutions of these things.
SH:Â Right, and you know, I think, part of what must be scaring them, well I mean, they know what is in there, but just the fact that it’s 6300 pages -it means the crowdÂ sourcing of the Senate Torture Report once it does get out in pdf format where every blogger, where every wannabe Marcy Wheeler can just have at those footnotes.
I mean you’re talking about years, it’s almost like the Snowden documents being released right. It opens up the entire torture subject and not just for the short term but maybe for a long time, for long enough like you’re saying, to build up enough pressure that somebody might actually get in trouble for murdering somebody.
JH:Â Yeah and don’t forget that the CIA, this shows you how audacious they are, how arrogant they are, how powerful they are. They have recorded all these torture sessions, or many of these torture sessions – video taped them. How much fun is that, video taping these sessions so that you can apparently use these video tapes later on in torture class.
Then when it was all bought to the surface and Congress starts to investigate it, what do they do? They destroy the video tapes knowing that this official investigation was going to be going on and they did it intentionally. This wasn’t a routine destruction that we often hear of them doing when there is an investigation pending. This was a deliberate obstruction of an investigation to avoid having to justify what they did with these video tapes.
Did anything happen to that guy? Nothing. No prosecution no indictment, no, nothing. Not even a slap on the wrist.
SH:Â Right, the President said, Barack Obama himself said, ‘Hey, we have to look forward, not back, we will not have accountability under the law for Bush regime tortures’, it’s as simple as that.
SH:Â Â I’m talking with Jacob Hornberger, he’s the founder and President of the Future of Freedom Foundation,Â www.fff.org.
We’re talking about torture, spying, the rule of the law and the Constitutional separation of powers and these kinds of things and, one of the things that I thought was mildly ironic in this speech by Diane Feinstein, is she sites first of all the part of the Constitution, I’ve forgotten exactly what it’s called but the protected debate clause,Â I think is what they call it, where it says in I believe article one, or, I’m not sure which article it is in, but the Congress is protected from arrest for anything they do on the senate floor.
So like when Mike Gravel read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, you know, tough luck Richard Nixon, you can’t do anything about it because the constitution protects him from arrest for doing something like that. So she invoked that as part of the separation of powers doctrine being violated by the CIA here.
She also said, ‘This violates the fourth amendment, and it violatesâ€™, this is Dianne Feinstein talking, on the question of being spied on over the torture report, it violates the fourth amendment and she even invoked executive orderÂ 12333 -not the part that supposedly authorizes the NSA to do all these horrible things, but the part that supposedly forbids the CIA from spying or operating on American soil in anyway against Americans and how she ought to be protected. I thought that was hilarious, and she is their number one, accessory to the crime there when it comes to the NSA spying on all of the rest of us.
JH:Â That’s a great point Scott. It really demonstrates the hypocrisy of these people. She’s all offended because the CIA is spying on her, but boy, she didn’t bat an eyelash at the fact that the NSA, which is the sister organization in this National Security State branch of the Government, is spying on all the rest of us, and who knows, the CIA could be spying on all of us too.
Nothing’s going to happen to them if they do, we all know that. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It’s good to see her making this statement of outrage, that ‘You don’t have the right to be spying on me and my staff and the members of Congress’. But, how about a little bit of consideration for the American people because that is exactly how we feel.
You’re point is well taken; it really demonstrates the double standards and the hypocrisy of these people.
SH:Â For the most part, if you’re a Senator, you got that way because you are pretty corrupt and made some pretty bad compromises, and put your personal ambition before any kind of principle anywhere, or else, how the hell did you become a Senator, so pretty much all of these guys can be compromised.
You have to remember; we already know from the Snowden documents that the NSA is spying on the Congress all the time -that was in the Greenwald story in The Guardian, that the New York Times never even mentioned, and it never made it to TV news here – that they turn over their entire haul to Israel every day and that they have a deal with the Israelis that -promise not to read anything in there about, or listen or, search any information that you have in there of our Congress people.
So they already know that they’re turning over everything they have, including on the Congress, to the Israelis. Then they’re saying, ‘Oh, but please don’t go digging through …,’ (laughing)
JH: And that’s another factor here, that’s the reason Governments spy on people, and spy on members of Congress. That’s what J Edgar Hoover was famous for. You get information, you get dirt on people and then they’re not going to oppose you.
We cannot discount that possibility given the fact that the NSA keeps track of everybody’s phone calls. If any member of Congress is having an extra-marital affair, and there is a bunch of phone calls to the person they’re having the affair with their is not any chance at all that that Congressman is going to take on the NSA or the CIA and so fourth. And that is the whole benefit of this surveillance. That is why totalitarian regimes, communist regimes spy on their citizens – not just to see what they’re up to, but to be able use blackmail and extortion to make sure that they don’t get any opposition.
SH: It’s the panopticon effect, where they don’t even try it, because they don’t know if the NSA knows whether they are having an affair or not, but who wants to take that risk – if you know you’re guilty of something….
JH:Â There is no question about it. Once you know you’re doing something, and you know they could have evidence of that, you’re not going to test them. You’re just going to not make any waves at all. And you can’t help but wonder if that is one of the big reasons why the members of Congress never make waves against the CIA and the NSA.
What is happening today is really remarkable and I can’t help but believe that it is the result of pressure from some of left in the press that have been saying, ‘Why are you so silent about this, you’re an independent branch of GovernmentÂ the CIA is supposedly just an agency’, And well, we know it is not just an agency, so I think that maybe pressure – I think that we should also raise though Scott, what is different about us as Libertarians is that we’re not interested in just reining in the CIA or reining in the NSA like a lot of these liberals are, and of course the conservatives just want to expand the power …
Where we libertarians want to dismantle this whole National Security State apparatus. It was bought into existence, it was justified by the so-called Cold War, well that Cold War ended in 1989 and that National Security State apparatus should have been dismantled but instead we kept it in existence. We got all the terrorists attacks and the perpetual war on terrorism, we now have this crisis against Russia – it’s a direct result of what NATO’s been doing to expand its power into Eastern Europe.
Now we have this torture scheme that has come about, it just goes on and on. I think it is now time for the American people to say, ‘What is the role of Government in our society?’ and start talking about dismantling this fourth branch of Government, rather than reforming it.
SH:Â Yeah, well that’s what I’m saying. I’m more of a Richman-ian on this where I want to go back to at least the Articles of Confederation. Or maybe, in fact I kind of like that one because maybe I could sell it in like, a million years and, “Hey, we can still be the USA but without a general Government in DC at all’, it’s proven to be too much. You give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.
JH:Â Yeah I could be very happy under the Articles of Confederation, but add to that, it is not an either or thing. You can dismantle agencies, you can dismantle the DEA, you can legalize drugs, you can dismantle the welfareÂ state, and then see what’s left.
I think, I know there would be a tremendous sea-change in America if you could get rid ofÂ the warfare state apparatusÂ of the Government and of the welfare state apparatus, and the drug war apparatus, without even returning to the Articles of Confederation, remember these were things that our American ancestors lived without for more than a hundred years and if they lived without it, if they showed that it is possible to live without these apparatuses then â€“
The Cold War is over, get rid of this thing. All it is doing is creating problems for us. The newest problem is pledging the lives of American young people to defend: Croatia, Turkey, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic – how many people realize that their brothers, maybe their sisters, sons and fathers have been pledged to the defense of theseÂ countries. It’s incredible` – without even a congressional vote
SH:Â And that’s all of our lives there, because when you’re talking about Eastern Europe and NATO and possible conflict with Russia that means the possibility of losing entire cities here, back home in North America where we are not used to having to fight our wars….
By the way I wanted to add something to what you’re saying here about just how off course we are, because I think it’s really hard sometimes for people to imagine a society where we don’t have this massive military state, and they can’t imagine -Â you think of the human cry when they try to close one military base anywhere – people can’t imagine just cutting the cord – but at that conference that you invited me to speak at on February the 15th there, and everybody can see the videos atÂ www.fff.org, I got to have breakfast with you, and Bob Higgs, and I asked Robert Higgs, the great libertarian economist all about this.
If I had the magical powers and I could just abolish the entire warfare state and all of these people had to go and get a real job tomorrow, how bad of a shock would it be, what would happen?
And Higgs attitude was, ‘No problem. You abolish the military state, you stop distorting the economy into all of this militarism, we’ll all be rich and don’t you worry one little bit about closing a base here or about having some unemployed former military people there, it will all work out in the price system in no time’.
JH:Â Oh, it would be the greatest economic revival immediately that one could ever imagine. You see this kind of phenomenon at the end of a war where people say, ‘How can we discharge all of these soldiers into the private sector, they’re going to increase unemployment’, well, the exact opposite happens.
It is a double positive effect, because now the private sector isn’t having to pay to fund these people. So they get to keep all that money in the private sector and now these non-productive people are in the private sector producing wealth themselves so it is doubly positive.
If you dismantle the entire draining force of the warfare state on America it would be unbelievably fantastic.
SH:Â There you go, you see everybody it does not have to be this way. Go toÂ www.fff.orgÂ and read Jacob Hornberger and his great group of writers over there and figure out how to put liberty here for a change.
Thank you very much Jacob, I sure appreciate it
JH:Â Thank you Scott