Many libertarians are justifiably exasperated by Sen. Rand Paul joining the saber-rattling against Iran. But his foreign policy positions have been shaky for a long time.  Here’s a review of his 2012 book, Government Bullies, from the American Conservative magazine (perhaps Rand’s biggest supporters in the Washington media). Rand has been getting dreadful foreign policy advise for a long time – as evidenced by his endorsement of the National Endowment for Democracy and his faith that foreign aid can be redeemed.  And his “back of the hand” solution for TSA abusive searches remains as ludicrous as when he first proposed it. The review concluded by asking whether Rand would “become simply another conservative who flourishes government waste, fraud, and abuse stories to make supporters believe he is going to roll back Leviathan.”  Two and a half years later, Rand Paul has not yet provided a satisfying answer to that question.

Getting a Read on Rand Paul

Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds, Rand Paul, Center Street, 280 pages

By James Bovard •  American Conservative – November 20, 2012

With Ron Paul’s exit from Congress, his senator son, Rand Paul, is now the great hope of many conservatives and libertarian-leaning activists. Senator Paul has done superb work challenging the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. He is seeking to burnish his bona fides with a new book, Government Bullies.

This volume will tell you all you ever wanted to know about federal wetlands policy, which is discussed exhaustively in the book’s first hundred pages. The Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and other agencies have trampled property owners’ rights time and again on the most arbitrary and unjustified pretexts. Similarly, Government Bullies contains extensive discussions of the government’s abuses of farmers, small businessmen, a guitar manufacturer, and other likeable victims. Continue

Though it could be interpreted as having a pro-US intervention spin on it, this brave reporting by David Enders is still very valuable. And the calls for intervention by the Iraqis should be taken only as a measure of their desperation in their fight against the Islamic State, rather than a true call for intervention by the reporter passing on their wishes.

I’m trying to see if I can get David back on the show sometime this week.



On the morning of March 18, Eric Garris, founder and webmaster of Antiwar.com, received a form email from Google AdSense informing him that all of Antiwar.com’s Google ads had been disabled. The reason given was that one of the site’s pages with ads on it displayed images that violated AdSense’s policy against “violent or disturbing content, including sites with gory text or images.”

Of course the images in question were not “snuff,” or anything intended for titillation whatsoever. They were the famous images of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib US military prison in Iraq. Those images are important public information, especially for Americans. They are the previously secret documentation of horrific state violence inflicted in our name and funded by our tax dollars.

They are also eminently newsworthy because they show the government wantonly generating insecurity for the American public. Such abuse fuels anti-American and anti-western rage that can culminate in acts of terrorism. For example, it did just that in the case of Chérif Kouachi, who took part in one of the Paris terror attacks of early this year after becoming radicalized by learning about the Abu Ghraib abuses.

Indeed many apologists for such abuse fully acknowledge this blowback effect, since they expressly cite it as the main reason for blocking the release of abuse photos. Of course they ignore the fact that this danger they acknowledge is an excellent reason not to commit such abuses in the first place. And they are naïve if they really think word wouldn’t get out about such abuses among Iraqis and Muslims in general even without the photos. The dissemination of such photos chiefly serves to ultimately make terrorist attacks less likely by driving a disgusted American public to demand an end to such terrorism-inducing abuses.

The newsworthy nature of the photos made no difference to Google; or it made altogether the wrong kind of difference. Either way, they were considered non-compliant, and so Antiwar.com’s AdSense account, along with its revenue, were suspended immediately.

This struck Garris as odd. In all his years administering web sites, he had previously run into content policy issues with AdSense around half a dozen times. Each time, Google had not immediately disabled the ads, but instead gave the customer 72-hours to fix the violation. In fact, he had never heard of AdSense suspending an account without warning until this incident. Why the suddenly draconian response this time? Also, the Abu Ghraib page had been public for 11 years. Why the sudden concern about it only now?

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What happens when a dynamic company, started by a couple of idealistic friends in grad school, succeeds so wildly that it becomes a mega-corporation that pervades the lives of hundreds of millions? In imperial America, it would seem, it eventually becomes corrupted, even captured. Tragically, that seems to be the unfolding story of Google.

By being the first dot-com to really get the search engine right, Google unlocked the nascent power of the internet, greatly liberating the individual. It is easy to take for granted and forget how revolutionary the advent of “Just Google it” was for the life of the mind. Suddenly, specific, useful knowledge could be had on most any topic in seconds with just a quick flurry of fingers on a keyboard.

This was a tremendous boost for alternative voices on the internet. It made it extremely easy to bypass the establishment gatekeepers of ideas and information. For example, I remember in the mid-2000s using Google to satisfy my curiosity about this “libertarianism” thing I had heard about, since the newspapers and magazines I was reading were quite useless for this purpose. In 2007, by then an avid libertarian, I remember walking through the campus of my former school UC Berkeley, seeing “Google Ron Paul” written in chalk on the ground, and rejoicing to think that hundreds of Cal students were doing just that. A big part of why today’s anti-war movement is more than a handful of Code Pink types, and the libertarian movement is more than a handful of zine subscribers, is that millions “Googled Ron Paul.”

Google and the Security State

In its early years, Google, ensconced in Silicon Valley, seemed to blissfully ignore Washington, D.C. It didn’t have a single lobbyist until 2003. Partly out of the necessity of defending itself against government threats, it gradually became ever more entangled with the Feds. By 2012, as The Washington Post reported, it had become the country’s second-largest corporate spender on lobbying.

And now, as Julian Assange of Wikileaks details, Google has become incredibly intimate with the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the US intelligence community. As The Wall Street Journal recently reported, Google employees have visited the Obama White House to meet with senior officials on average about once a week.

As Assange also discusses, Google has become a major defense and intelligence contractor. And a recently leaked series of friendly emails between Google executives (including Eric Schmidt) and the NSA (including Director Gen. Keith Alexander) indicates that Google’s allegedly “unwilling” participation in the government’s mass surveillance program (revealed by Edward Snowden) may not have been so unwilling after all.

In one email, Gen. Alexander referred to Google as “a key member of the Defense Industrial Base”: security state newspeak for the Military Industrial Complex.

In 2013, Google even went so far as to enlist in the Obama Administration’s campaign to drum up public support for an air war against Syria. As Assange wrote:

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On March 7th, my Family and 20 or so other people protested drone warfare in front of the main gate of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base in Michigan. In 2013, the base was named a Reaper Drone Operating Station and should be operational any day, if not already. Weaponized drone operators are dropping bombs from my backyard.

We stood in the mud on the side of the four-lane highway from Noon to 1pm. A few of us held signs with slogans like "Stop Drone Warfare" while others offered conversation to each other or waved at honking cars. One father and fellow protester brought fresh-popped popcorn, which he passed out in little blue bowls to the few children that were present. In between piling kernels in their mouths, the kids stomped in the water and slid on the ice behind us that had accumulated at the base of a mountain of plowed snow.

This wasn’t the type of protest that drew the media or police in riot gear. The only law enforcement present was a lone Sheriff’s deputy who was on hand to escort us across the highway from the muddy field we parked in to our assigned area. He stayed just long enough to see the bulk of us across and then drove off with a nod and a wave. The only pictures taken – outside of the ones the group took themselves – were by a pink haired woman who slowed down in the median to snap a few pictures with her camera phone.

"Who said we weren’t going to get any press," I said as she drove away.

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The recent revelation that the Israelis had obtained classified information relating to the P5+1 negotiations with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program should not really surprise anyone. Israel has invested a great deal of political capital in confronting Iran and convincing the American public that it poses a genuine threat. So, it would be a given that its intelligence service, Mossad, would be tasked with finding out what information is not being shared by the White House.

But the truly intriguing back-story to this development is, “how did the Israelis do it and with whom exactly did they share their information?” The information obtained was described by the White House as “eavesdropping,” which would suggest some sort of electronic interception. But as the meetings undoubtedly took place in a technically secured room, which means that it was electronically “swept” before, during, and after meetings, the conversations could not be picked up either from bugs planted inside – which would be detected – or from penetration techniques originating outside, which is possible but would require a major deployment of high-tech gear close to the target.

Eliminating a “sigint” source suggests that the intelligence was either obtained from careless conversations on unsecured phones (possible but unlikely given the tightened security in response to recent flaps over such use), or through a spy in the room feeding the information to the Israelis. A spy is, regrettably, more likely and one has to wonder if the leaker was/is part of the American delegation because the information appears to be of such a nature as to come from US sources. This would mean that the American negotiating team has been penetrated by the Israelis.

And the other issue is, of course, the question of who in Congress received the stolen information during the regular briefings that Israeli embassy staff, including intelligence officers, give to legislators on Capitol Hill. Did they know or suspect that what they were being told was obtained through Israeli espionage? Did it occur to them that the Israeli narrative on what was taking place differed in detail from what they were hearing from the White House, suggesting that something was afoot? Deference to Israeli interests is normal in many in Congress, perhaps all too normal, but a lack of awareness of the American interests at stake in the game constitutes malfeasance at a much higher level.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.