Most Americans honestly believe they live in a free society. They’re wrong.
That’s the notion behind libertarian leader Jacob Hornberger’s “Civil Liberties, Foreign Policy, and the War on Terrorism” speech, given via Skype to a group of University of Wisconsin students recently.
In his talk, Hornberger – founder and president of the libertarian The Future of Freedom Foundation – criticized the Obama and Bush administrations, accusing the presidents of abusing executive power, violating due process, and conducting warrantless searches.
The crux of his argument was this: since 9/11, the federal government has asserted the right to treat terrorists—domestic and foreign—as either enemy combatants or criminal defendants, which in effect nullifies the protections of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. Civil liberties have gradually been diminishing ever since.
“Crises are a dictator’s best friend,” he said.
While not a fan of the National Defense Authorization Act or the PATRIOT Act, Hornberger pointed out that individuals who think that repealing these laws will restore civil liberties are misguided. These laws only codify what the executive branch had already claimed the power to do.
Drawing a medical analogy, Hornberger said that the NDAA was a “cancerous tumor on the body politic, but the big cancer is the national security state itself.”
As a remedy for the erosion of civil liberties precipitated by the War on Terror, Hornberger called for a rejection of interventionist foreign policies and the abolishment of the NSA and the CIA, organizations he considers to be relics of the Cold War.
Hornberger called the lack of concern for civil liberties and a penchant for warfare a “moral crisis.”
While the consciences of older generations have “rusted shut,” said Hornberger, young people need to exercise their consciences immediately and to the fullest extent.
“Conscience can stop a country in its tracks,” he added.
Hornberger founded The Future of Freedom Foundation in 1989. He is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and University of Texas Law School. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics.
After a dozen years practicing law, he began working at the Foundation of Economic Education, a career decision that eventually led to the genesis of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
Fix contributor Joseph Diedrich is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also Director of Operations of Young Americans for Liberty at UW, and a columnist for Washington Times Communities.
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