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The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
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Volume 6, Issue 30: July 26, 2004

  1. 9/11 Commission Recommends Another Deadly Dose of Bureaucracy
  2. The Latin American Malaise
  3. No Panic Over School Child Abuse

1) 9/11 Commission Recommends Another Deadly Dose of Bureaucracy
The much-anticipated report of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission cites failures of government agencies -- from intelligence to diplomacy to aviation security -- for the attacks on September 11. Unfortunately, its recommendation -- to create a new national counter-terrorism center to coordinate foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism -- exacerbates, rather than solves, the government coordination problem the commission identified, according to Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute.

“Like the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the creation of a new national counter-terrorism center, along with a new national intelligence director, who would control the myriad of intelligence agencies and their budgets, only adds another layer of bureaucracy,” Eland said in a statement released last week. “To fight small, agile terror groups, the government should cut the number of intelligence bureaucracies, not increase them.”

The commission correctly criticized the performance of U.S. intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, aviation security and the military prior to or on that horrible day, says Eland. The commission also made useful recommendations to safeguard American liberties, namely reform of the FBI instead of creating a dangerous new domestic spy agency and improved congressional oversight of intelligence and homeland security agencies.

But like many government and quasi-government bodies after September 11, Eland points out, the 9/11 Commission focused on dubious recommendations about what the government could do to “improve” its response to terrorism instead of the more important question of what it could do to lessen the chances of an attack in the first place.

“The major flaw in the commission’s analysis and recommendations was one of omission,” says Eland. “They did not address the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks. Dealing with the underlying causes is the only way to reduce the chances of future terrorist attacks. In his statement upon release of the commission’s report, Thomas Kean, the commission’s chairman, incorrectly opined that the terrorists hate America and its policies. Even al Qaeda does not hate America per se. The group’s statements indicate that it hates U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, especially the U.S. government’s propping up of corrupt Arab regimes. Ending longstanding U.S. government meddling in the Middle East would achieve more than any of the commission’s recommendations to reduce terrorist attacks on innocent Americans.”

"9/11 Commission’s Recommendations for New Counter-Terrorism Center Will Not Improve Intelligence" (7/22/04)

"Senate Intelligence Committee Lets the Bush Administration Off the Hook on Iraq," by Ivan Eland (7/13/04)

Center on Peace & Liberty

For information on Ivan Eland's forthcoming book, THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, see

Order a copy of the video, UNDERSTANDING AMERICA'S TERRORIST CRISIS: What Should be Done?


2) The Latin American Malaise
Latin America's lack of freedom and opportunity can be attributed to five misguided principles that have guided the region for at least 500 years, explained Alvaro Vargas Llosa, research fellow at the Independent Institute, at his insightful and well-received talk, "Why Liberty Is Failing in Latin America," delivered May 14th in Las Vegas.

Although there are numerous important differences between Latin America today and the society of the colonial era -- and even important differences within the region at the same time during its history -- "the principles guiding the organization of society are exactly the same," Vargas Llosa said. The five guiding principles, he said, include "corporatism, state mercantilism, privilege, bottom-up wealth redistribution, and political law."

These principles continue to hamper the economic, political, and cultural development of Latin America -- and explain why some of the region's promising efforts at reform and liberalization have stalled in recent years, Vargas Llosa argued.

So-called privatization programs in Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil, for example, actually created private monopolies. In exchange for monopoly privileges, the companies were often required to purchase government bonds, he explained. These and other mistakes of the reforms that began in the early 1990s explain why many Latin Americans have become disenchanted with entertaining the idea of genuine market liberalization.

"I would say that what happened is that we missed a golden opportunity to create free-market societies," Vargas Llosa said. "We missed a golden opportunity to devolve power, to transfer power back to the individual, to transfer decision making from a single unit to millions of units -- individual units in society."

See "Why Liberty Is Failing in Latin America" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (5/14/04)

Also see:

"The Individualist Legacy in Latin America," by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2004)

"Latin American Liberalism: A Mirage?" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Winter 2002)

"The Freedom of Expression Award Acceptance Speech" by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (12/19/03) -- Latin America


3) No Panic Over School Child Abuse
A new report, claiming that nearly 10 percent of public school children endure sexual abuse or misconduct by school employees, is seriously flawed, drastically overstating instances of abuse, according to Wendy McElroy, research fellow at the Independent Institute and editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century.

"Rather than critically evaluating the report, the media have instead been trumpeting its frightening figures of abuse," writes McElroy, in her latest op-ed. "Parents deserve better; they deserve the facts."

The report, written by Hofstra University Professor Carol Shakeshaft, is flawed both in its use of data and in its definition of sexual abuse, according to McElroy. Some of the studies that the report relies on do not even limit themselves to misconduct by school employees.

"Among the questions asked of students by the one AAUW study [used by Shakeshaft] was, 'during your whole school life, how often, if at all, has anyone (this includes students, teachers, other school employees, or anyone else) done the following things to you when you did not want them to? Made sexual comments, jokes, gestures or looks.' A list of 13 other behaviors follows.

"The question seems to be at the nexus at which sexual abuse in school is established," McElroy continues. "Thus, the 10 percent figure properly includes 'sexual abuse' by fellow students and other non-school employees. That fact alone invalidates the AAUW study for Shakeshaft's purposes. It also invalidates her conclusions."

See "No Panic over School Child Abuse," by Wendy McElroy (7/21/04)

Also see, "Is There Really a Fatherhood Crisis?" by Stephen Baskerville (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Spring 2004)

Order LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, edited by Wendy McElroy, see


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