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News Release
February 1, 2006

State of the Union

PATRIOT Act, Domestic Spying and Abusing the Constitution

Addiction to Oil from Unstable Countries

Isolationism, Terrorism and bin Laden

Iraq and Defeatism: Iraq and False Link to 9/11

Dr. Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of the book THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. FOREIGN POLICY EXPOSED, is available for interview, to speak to areas of national security and defense, and U.S. foreign policy.

Examples of Dr. Eland’s views on the State of the Union issues are listed below.

PATRIOT Act, Domestic Spying and Abusing the Constitution

President Bush called for renewal of the PATRIOT Act, stating that the government needs the same tools to fight terrorism that it uses to fight drugs and organized crime.

Yet, the law enforcement community has had excessive powers to fight drugs and organized crime, and had adequate tools to address terrorism even before the Patriot Act was passed.

Congress is legitimately concerned that civil liberties will not be adequately safeguarded in such a renewal. The NSA’s domestic spying program is one reason for such concern.

The president defended the NSA spying on U.S. citizens by making the vague statement that the Constitution and statute give him the authority to approve such spying, that previous presidents have used such authority, and the courts have approved it.

This is a bit disingenuous because those presidents did so before the FISA Act was passed in 1978. This law was very explicit that the secret FISA court was to be the exclusive method of approving domestic spying for national security through warrants.

The president violated that law and the Constitution by not getting such warrants and using a standard below the "probable cause," both required by the Constitution.

Curbing an Addiction to Oil is not a Solution

America is addicted to oil, said the president. He also noted that oil comes from unstable parts of the world, which implies that supplies could be cut off from one or more of those areas and the price could go up.

From a military standpoint, the U.S. produces more than enough oil to run any war.

For the economy in general, the U.S.’s dependency on foreign oil isn’t the main issue.

In the end, only a fifth of U.S. oil imports come from the Middle East. The U.S. is dependent on foreign sources for many products vital to its economy. For example, the U.S. imports significant amounts of foreign semiconductors, and about 80 percent of them come from East Asia. Yet no one decries U.S. dependency on foreign semiconductors.

The oil exporting countries get the vast majority of the export income from lucrative oil sales. They need to sell the oil more than the U.S. needs to buy it.

Even if instability occurs and the oil price goes up substantially, economic growth can continue (Germany from 1998–2000 and the U.S. economy now). It is best to let the market determine which energy sources the U.S. economy uses.

The government merely distorts the market when it subsidizes alternative energy sources before they are cost-effective for the market to adopt. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Isolationism, Terrorism and bin Laden

Bush repeatedly tried to cast opponents of his aggressive foreign policy as advocates of "isolationism."

Opposing the invasion of other nations for very questionable reasons is hardly isolationism.

The president said that developments in a failed state affected the U.S. on 9/11, and for this reason, the U.S. cannot find security by retreating within its borders, because the terrorists will follow us to our borders.

The president fails to realize that underlying grievances causes terrorism. Osama bin Laden, whose status was unfortunately elevated by being cited by name by the President of the United States in a State of the Union address, attacks the U.S. primarily because of its military presence in the Persian Gulf and its support for corrupt dictatorships in the Persian Gulf oil. Even unfriendly, despotic countries will sell oil into the world market because it is lucrative; the U.S. hardly needs to have a huge military presence in the Persian Gulf to defend oil, which costs much in taxpayer dollars and blowback terrorism.

Thus, the global leadership—a euphemism for a military-centric foreign policy—that the president spoke of really undermines the security of the average U.S. citizen.

It is hardly isolationist to suggest that U.S. should neutralize bin Laden, while making its citizens safer in the longer term by eliminating unneeded U.S. polices that cause grievances overseas.

One can believe in free trade, liberal immigration, and maximum cultural interaction, while opposing the Bush administration's militarism overseas.

Iraq and Defeatism

The president said that, "We are fighting to win, and we are winning." He tried to stifle criticism of the war by contrasting "responsible criticism" versus "defeatism."

In fact, the longer the conflict lasts, the more likely it is that the U.S. public will get tired and the whole effort will end in failure. In short, the "defeatists" are probably more likely to be right.

Iraq and False Link to 9/11

The president also said that if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, it "would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of the country," and they would use that as a base to attack the U.S. and the world.

This was once again an attempt to subtly make the false link between the 9/11 attacks and his invasion of Iraq. Yet al Qaeda was not in Iraq before the U.S. invasion and has only used it as a sanctuary because of the chaos in that country. In fact, the invasion of Iraq has caused more radical Islamists to become terrorists, according to U.S. intelligence.

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