Transcript: Paul Craig Roberts (impeachment), Jul 19 2007
Paul Craig Roberts is an economist, nationally syndicated columnist. He served as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, earning fame as the father of Reaganomics. He's the former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Scripps Howard News Service, and was a former contributing editor to William F. Buckley's publication, the National Review. He wrote, "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."
Thom Hartmann interviews Paul Craig Roberts 19 July 2007
Thom started by reading out the "Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq".
[Thom]: Well, there's a lot of people pushing back on this, this, not just this particular executive order, but just this whole idea that the president of the United States has powers that even King George the Third didn't claim. One of them is Paul Craig Roberts. Paul Craig Roberts is an economist, nationally syndicated columnist. He served as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, earning fame as the father of Reaganomics. We've got to have a conversation about that some time. He's the former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Scripps Howard News Service, and was a former contributing editor to William F. Buckley's publication, the National Review. Writing over at Counterpunch.org, he has a new piece out that I wanted to talk to him about. Paul Craig Roberts welcome to the program.
[Roberts]: Hi, thank you Thom.
[Thom]: Or, I should say, welcome back. It seems we talk once a year and have for the past three or four years. Good to have you with us. You are, as a conservative, last time we talked you were a Republican, first of all, do you still wear both those labels?
[Roberts]: I don't think I'll ever vote for another opponent, no.
[Thom]: OK. You are, in your column, a couple of days ago, you said, and I quote from the first sentence - I'd like to use this just as a stepping off point - to find out your thoughts on all this stuff. You say, "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran." Those are very, very strong words, sir, coming from a former assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration.
[Roberts]: "Well, I don't actually think they're very strong. I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. Consider, for example, the Executive Order you were reading from before we started talking. You realize, of course, when Bush exercises this authority, which I don't believe he has, there's no check to it. It's not, it doesn't have to be ratified by Congress, the people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions, have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of just total one man absolute rule. Now, most Americans will say, 'Well, I don't have anything to fear, I'm not doing anything wrong'. If that's the case, Thom, why did the founders write the Constitution of the United States? Did they write it only for people who were doing things wrong and had things to fear?
So, the American people don't really understand the danger that they face. And they also don't understand, Thom, that by any normal political calculation, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out yesterday in the article, "Bush the Albatross", where Ronald Brownstein just reminded everyone of conventional political information, which is that, to quote him, "Unpopular presidents consistently undercut their party in the next election. 88% of voters who disapproved of the retiring president's job performance voted against his party's nominee in past elections. On average 80% of voters who disapprove of the president's performance have voted against his party's candidates even in House races.
Now, the article goes on to point out that given Bush's dismal approval record, a rating where he stands is a total wipeout for Republicans in 2008 and numerous pundits have used these well-known political facts in support of the conclusion that this is the reason the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's elections. So, everyone, if you look at conventional wisdom, Bush makes no sense. Cheney makes no sense. Now, the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling.
[Thom]: But you consider neither of those to be, you know, reality.
[Roberts]: Those are not reality. So, what this tells anybody who's paying attention that it's much more likely that Cheney and Rove have in mind events that will once again rally the people behind President Bush and behind the Republican Party that is fighting the 'war on terror that the Democrats want to lose'. So, that's what we're headed towards. I mean, certainly you and your listeners don't believe that the Republican Party has decided just to self-destruct so Bush could have his ego fling, I mean, or that Cheney could, you know, act like a fool for eight years. Something's in the works. And when it happens, whether it's authentic or whether it's orchestrated and staged, all of those executive orders are implemented; they go get implemented just like that. And they go far beyond the ones that you quoted. They essentially create a dictatorial police state in which Congress and the Judiciary have no roles.
[Thom]: And these executive, I'd like to talk with you about these executive orders and how they come about and what kind of power they have and what can be done about them. Can you stick around right after the break and we'll continue this conversation?
[Roberts]: Please do, yes.
[Thom]: Great, thank you. We're talking with Paul Craig Roberts, his newest piece over at counterpunch.org, an economist, nationally syndicated columnist, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, known as the father of Reaganomics, former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
[Thom]: We're talking with Paul Craig Roberts. Paul Craig Roberts an economist, nationally syndicated columnist, former Assistant Secretary of Treasury in the Reagan administration, former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and the National Review. Paul Craig Roberts, yesterday we talked with Bruce Fein, and he was arguing that impeachment against Bush and Cheney must proceed immediately in order to rescue the constitution, inasmuch as the Executive Branch has taken on powers to itself that were never envisioned by the founders and in fact, even exceed the powers that Julius Caesar and King George the Third took to themselves. That is, the power to reach into any nation in the world and seize people and torture them, imprison them, whatever, without Habeas Corpus.
You're making a slightly different argument. You're suggesting that the Republicans, and this is a little bit more of a political calculation, that the Republicans are not stupid; that they realize that they are going to go down in flames in 2008 and so something terrible is going to happen between now and then to stop that from happening. Do I have that right?
[Roberts]: Well, that's what they keep telling us. Michael Chertoff, the so-called Homeland Security Director, now notice too, Thom, 'Homeland', that's a Nazi term. When did Americans ever call this the homeland? I mean, this is a brand new thing they've created. you see?
[Thom]: Well, in fact, just apropos of that, if I may, this is just a 20 second clip. You know, Hitler and Hess studied the Zionist movement when they were writing "Mein Kampf", when Hitler was in jail, when he was in prison. And the Zionist movement at the time, you know, was arguing for a homeland for the Jews. And they thought, 'we need to capture that word and create this notion of blood and soil for the German people. and so Rudolf Hess, in 1934 at the Nuremburg Rallies, first introduced the word homeland - 'Heimat' is the word - into the German vocabulary; prior to that it had always been 'Vaterland' - you know, 'fatherland'.
[Thom]: And here is Rudolf Hess introducing Adolf Hitler in 1934 at the Nuremburg rallies. This is from Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" movie. It's just a very short clip. Notice the word "Heimat". And then he says, 'für alle Deutschen in der ganze Welt': 'All of the Germans in the entire world'. "Dank ihrer Führung" - thanks to our Führer - wird Deutschland sein Ziel erreichen, Heimat zu sein". 'Heimat zu sein' - a homeland here we have. "Heimat zu sein für alle Deutschen der Welt. Heil Hitler! Seig Heil! Sieg Heil!" And then he introduces Hitler and Hitler gets up and speaks and starts using the word 'homeland' for the very first time. And I don't remember the world 'homeland' ever being used in the context of the United States before now.
[Roberts]: No, it's a brand new Bush regime invention and all that cheering that we were hearing from the Hitler rally, if you've ever attended one of the Bush speeches where the crowd is programmed and they start screaming, "USA, USA, USA!" it's sort of eerie, it's sort of eerily similar. Now, to get back to your question, first of all, Bruce Fein is completely correct. I totally agree with him. Second, yes, I go, I take one more step. I point out that the administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists including, and also the recent intelligence report, National Intelligence Estimate, are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events. Chertoff has predicted them. Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator said recently that all this anti-war attitude of the American public would soon disappear after the next series of attacks that we were going to experience. And of course, the National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped as strong again and is sending operatives here to the U.S. to blow us up again.
So, you have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda is not going to do it, it is going to be orchestrated, because there is no other way to pull the Republican Party's bacon out of the fire. Just the other day, one of the Libertarian sites, Lew Rockwell, had this fellow, a Greek, pointing out that the Republicans are praying for another 9/11. It's the only way they can be saved from total wipeout.
[Thom]: Paul Craig Roberts, we have to take a break here at the bottom of the hour. Can you stick around with us for another ten minutes or so?
[Roberts]: OK, Thom, I'll give you another 10 minutes, be glad to.
[Thom]: If you can, I'd very much appreciate it, because I'd like to ask, you know, what you think are the specific remedies. What can we do about this. What should we do about this, and not just impeachment, but you know, what else can American citizens do, We're talking with Paul Craig Roberts.
Bumper Music: My, Oh My, The Wreckers. "Not no more, Not no more, My, oh my, Look how the time flies Look how the world changes In the blink of an eye".
[Thom]: Well, and that's what we're concerned about, is the world changing in the wink of an eye... We're talking with Paul Craig Roberts. He is an economist, nationally syndicated columnist. His columns appear these days at VDARE.com, CounterPunch.com, Antiwar.com. The former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, earning fame as the father of Reaganomics. Former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and former contributing editor to the National Review.
[Thom]: And Paul Craig Roberts, we were talking, you were talking about concern that something would happen; another Reichstag fire, another 9/11, that would allow the Republicans in general, and the Bush administration in particular, to reconsolidate their power and the national consensus around them and, I'm sorry, commercial breaks. Continue that train of thought, and what we can do about it. Impeachment doesn't seem to be something that's going to happen immediately. What other options do we have, or how should we pursue that?
[Roberts]: Well, Thom, short of impeachment, the only thing that could be done is for a majority of the American people to be more aware of what's really going on, and how these attacks will be orchestrated if necessary in order to save the Republican Party. If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it. I don't think these wake up calls are likely to be affective. Well, one reason is what is known as the mainstream media is highly concentrated and controlled by about five huge mega-corporations that will not cross the government and so you're not going to get any news out that way, other than what the government wants out. So, I don't know that we can do anything. I write and try to make people aware, that how the world really works. Let me read you, in the break, I quickly penned a speech that we're likely to hear from Bush before the next election, and after the next attack and, as I say, it's the administration predicting these attacks. Here's his speech:
"My administration knew that there would be more attacks from these terrorists who hate us and our way of life and are determined to destroy every one of us. If only more of you had believed me and supported my war on terror, these new attacks would not have happened. Our security efforts were impaired by the Democrats' determined attempts to surrender to the terrorists, by forcing our withdrawal from Iraq and by civil libertarian assaults on our necessary security measures. If only more Americans had trusted their government, this would not have happened."
Now that's what we're headed for. Either we are headed for that, or the total wipe out of the Republican Party, unless all political wisdom, all past behavior of the electorate toward unpopular administrations in elections somehow evaporates.
[Thom]: Yeah, that kind of language is eerily reminiscent of "Mein Kampf".
[Roberts]: It always works.
[Thom]: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, it's extraordinary. So, let's say that...
[Roberts]: Americans think their danger's terrorists. They don't understand that terrorists cannot take away Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. It cannot suspend the constitutional government, abolish the separation of powers. It can't pick them up and, or shut them up or pick them up and arrest them. The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that. Or at least, not enough of them are.
[Thom]: So, you're suggesting that given that the mainstream media isn't going to get behind this thing and given that the majority of Americans aren't going to be awake to it and the old trick which has been used so many times going all the way back to Julius Caesar is going to work, that what we have to do is get these guys out of office before they have an opportunity to pull the trigger on this gun that they have already loaded with all these executive orders, in other words impeach Bush and Cheney.
[Roberts]: Exactly, exactly. Bruce Fein, who was Assistant Attorney General, I think, in the Reagan administration, he's absolutely correct. If you notice, it's the Republicans like Bruce Fein, myself. Pat Buchanan is a diehard Republican. Just the other day, he published a piece saying that we were due for a new Gulf of Tonkin event. That's why we've got three carrier strike forces in the congested waters off Iran.
[Roberts]: It's so obvious to people like us, who have long been associated in the government, in the corridors of power, watching how it behaves, seeing everybody in the government chafe under every constraint that's imposed on them. And they always want to get rid of these constraints. And there's no, and it's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The constitution's in the way. They're all willing to cut it down, to go chase after whatever agenda that they think is important.
[Thom]: When you were in the Reagan administration, you know, they had their difficult time, Iran contra in particular, and the allegations that maybe they had cut a deal, that Bush had cut a deal and William Casey had cut a deal with the Iranians to hold the hostages prior to the 1980 election. I mean, there was some pretty nasty rumors flying around and there were some serious investigations by Congress. Do you think that the Reagan administration or the Republican Party at that time in the 1980s would have ever contemplated the kinds of things that frankly have already been done by this administration...
[Roberts]: No. No.
[Thom]: ... the kinds of things that you're anticipating?
[Roberts]: No, it's impossible. They never would have done anything. It took 9/11 to make these types of things possible. And also, Reagan had a problem with neoconservatives, but it was not a neoconservative administration, and he fired their ass.
[Roberts]: And some of them were prosecuted though they were later pardoned because he was under great pressure. 'How can you let these anti-communists be punished?'
[Thom]: You mean, Cap Weinberger?
[Roberts]: Like the third? guy on the National Security Council. And you see, at the time, though, there was still this Soviet threat. I mean, it was, in some sense, certainly a potential threat. But Iraq and terrorism, they're nothing like the Soviet Union with massive array of intercontinental ballistic missiles and, you know, enormous political power and so, no Reagan, the Reagan administration was not neoconservative. He got pushed into things by them because they had infiltrated the government; Richard Perle, people like that, but they never succeeded in taking it over and running it and hitching it to their agendas. They had some agendas and they blew up on them, and like I said, Reagan fired them. And they were a problem, but they themselves concluded from that that they had to have a new Pearl Harbor in order to succeed, and they got one with 9/11.
[Thom]: Yeah, that was the language from the Project for a New American Century's 1998 document that was signed by Dick Cheney, and, the Secretary of Defense.
[Roberts]: Right, and he's long been part of it. Americans need to comprehend and look how ruthless Cheney is. He's willing to out a covert CIA agent in order to shut up a critic, or embarrass a critic. He's willing to orchestrate, manufacture false intelligence in order to lead us into a war that he desperately desires. A person like that would do anything. They'll do anything.
[Thom]: Including attack his own nation, in your opinion?
[Roberts]: Including attack his own nation. But why not? What would more effectively shut up every critic than another 9/11 type event?
[Thom]: Yeah. Well, a lot of us looked at the 50 some odd specific and direct warnings that the Bush administration had from within our intelligence service plus the warnings that they had from countries outside the United States that 9/11 was coming and not only did they do nothing, but they stopped surveillance of Saudis in the United States, and scratch our heads and go 'did they want this to happen?' I mean, you know, not necessarily were they behind it, but did they think that maybe it would be a good thing? I mean, it sounds like conspiracy theory stuff.
[Roberts]: Of course. It served their agenda. It served the agenda. You know, the neoconservatives have made their agenda clear. It's all available online. Their agenda predates 9/11 by a decade or more. It's clear, it's totally clear, it served their purpose. If they knew about it, why would they their own purpose?
[Thom]: So, we have about just a half minute left here, sir, and so, how do we make impeachment happen, if you believe that that's the best remedy?
[Roberts]: Ah well, you know, it's difficult. The Democrats are, believe that they've got a crazy administration that's going to wipe itself out, so what do want him impeached for? No, it would take massive awareness of the population; demonstrations, protests, demands, you know, strikes, I mean, it would take an enormous outpouring that the American people simply aren't able to produce, I don't think. The only constraints on what's going to happen is, will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may not, they may have had enough.
[Thom]: The military may push back.
[Roberts]: They may effectively not go along with it.
[Thom]: And maybe you and I can help stimulate some of that massive public outcry that you were just talking about. Paul Craig Roberts, you're a patriot sir, and I appreciate your being with us on the program today.
[Roberts]: Thank you, Thom, for sharing your audience.
[Thom]: Thank you very much.