Download the interview as an MP3 file here. (29:49 minutes)
Scott Horton: Alright, it’s Anti War Radio, KAOS 959 in Austin Texas, streaming live worldwide on the internet at kaosradioaustin.org and antiwar.com/radio. And I’m happy to welcome our next guest, Dr. Ron Paul, representative from district 14 down there on the Texas Gulf Coast and the only decent congressman in American history. And, of course, we all know him from his run for president in 2007 and 2008. Welcome back to the show, Ron. How are you doing?
Ron Paul: Thank you, doing well.
Scott Horton: I really appreciate you joining us on the show today.
Ron Paul: Good to be with you.
So, so most important thing here to start with, I think, is a story in Harpers Magazine by the other Scott Horton, renowned international human rights lawyer and anti-torture hero, about three men who quite apparently were murdered on the night of June 9th, 2006. And apparently there is a massive cover up involving the Navy criminal investigative service, the justice department, the FBI, and perhaps even parts of the Congress, in trying to kill this story. And I just wonder whether there is anything that you can do about this as a member of the Foreign Relations committee? Would you have any jurisdiction to hold some kind of hearings or do anything to further investigate this?
Ron Paul: Well, it’s probably judiciary. I don’t think they would touch it, probably even the committees that are responsible are not likely to touch it. But it’s just another tragedy; there are so many of those tragedies around. So I’m not predicting that much will happen, but I know international relations wouldn’t touch it.
Scott Horton: And, I mean, how troubling is that? Did you have a chance to read the article?
Ron Paul: You know, I read it; it was a rather long article. I did not get the whole thing read, but I just got the gist of it and it just got me so upset because it’s just another cover up, another atrocious act by our government. So it’s a real shame.
Scott Horton: Well, I learnt when I was a kid that what brought Nixon down wasn’t the crime, it was the cover up.
Ron Paul: Yeah.
Scott Horton: It’s really not a big deal on Washington DC, you know, a few CIA agents torture a guy to death; we’re used to that. That happens all the time. But the problem here is that the FBI and the Justice Department and all these other people making sure that the investigation doesn’t go anywhere.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and I think that principle must be the same thing that helped me on getting the Audit the Fed Bill along. Because we were often talking about transparency, we weren’t talking about what exactly what the Fed was doing. But it’s the transparency; the hidden activities that they have, or the cover ups. So, I think good people, left or right or center, always say, “You know, that’s wrong. That is wrong. The cover up is bad and the hiding of government is so bad”. I’ve always argued that we have things turned upside down here. If the governments have a function they ought to be protecting and guaranteeing our privacy. But what do they do? They protect their secrecy. And they go and they do tricks like this to hide what they do. At the same time they undermine our privacy. So I think our government is absolutely on the wrong track.
Scott Horton: Well now if you were the president after September 11th, how would you have set this up? Because this seems that now that Obama has come into power, not too much has changed. They say they’re going to give trials to some of these men, but then they say, “Well, if they’re acquitted we’ll go ahead and hold them anyway”. And some of these people are going to get military trials, others aren’t going to get trials at all, though. They’ll just be held by the military indefinitely. So we we’re not sure how much of a change Obama’s making to the Bush policy. But what should be done with Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and the rest of these guys? Just put them on trial in New York, Dr. Paul?
Ron Paul: Well, you know, long term what you have to change is the foreign policy so that we can get ourselves out of this business. But, yes. I would try them in our courts. You know, the individuals that committed the bombing, I believe it was in 1993, they were arrested, brought to trial, they committed the crime in this country and they’re imprisoned for life. I mean, what is so horrible about that? I mean, it’s this whole idea of secret rendition and secret prisons and torture, the assumption that that if somebody declares you a enemy combatant, one individual, that that is equal to being a terrorist. You know, they’re suspects. But that means you can be tried by one individual and held forever.
And American citizens are subject to that as well if you’re declared an enemy combatant. And I think the conditions are just horrible. If we have a breakdown of law and order here and if our economy really tanks and there is more violence, you can see where they could declare martial law and start holding people like this. So I think these are key issues, although for the average guy on the street this is rather esoteric. “Oh, they haven’t come after me”, that sort of thing and they pass it off. But I think what they’re doing is setting a precedent for being able to handle domestic violence here. Because what happens if they get careless with the definition of ‘enemy combatant’. Almost anybody who talks sympathetically or even not sympathetically, but just tries to explain the situation, they say, “Oh, you’re one of those guys that blame America first, and you could be declared an enemy combatant”. So I consider it very dangerous.
Scott Horton: Well, at least in one case, Jose Padilla was arrested on American soil by FBI agents, and then ended up being turned over to the military and the CIA for torture. In fact, the FBI agent who arrested him said he didn’t think he was dangerous. He was trying to flip him and make him an informant. And because he wouldn’t go along with becoming an informant, that is why they declared him an enemy combatant.
Ron Paul: Yeah. And then they beat him to death and they might not have any information and they pretend they know information just to stop the beating. You know, it just goes on and on. And how many people have been arrested or picked up over in these foreign countries just because they’ve been squealed on by somebody else. We pay them money to turn somebody over, then we assume, “Oh yeah, they said he was a bad guy. Oh, he’s an enemy combatant”. So we throw him in prison. I think there are examples of teenagers being put down in Guantanamo, 14 and 15 years old; and they’ve still been there. So yes, something has to be done. The whole process has to change. But to change the whole process you have to change the foreign policy. You have to release the ones you have absolutely no evidence on, and try the rest and there will always be one example of one guy who got out and committed another crime. But once again, what should you do? Endorse a system where they can arrest a hundred people and one guy might know something and you torture all hundred because there is some vital information in there? I mean, what have we turned ourselves into? It’s just really, really a dangerous situation.
Scott Horton: Well, this goes to my next topic here, which is your really great interview on the Rachel Maddow Show, I guess about two weeks ago now. And one of the things that she said to you there was, from her position, of course, being a liberal progressive she has an interest in faction fights on the right and that kind of thing. But still I think there was a lot of truth when she said that the Republican Party has a severe lack of intellectual leadership here, and it’s really come down to you on one side and Dick Cheney on the other, as far as who’s leading the philosophy of the Republican Party. And, like you, I kind of have a problem with that. I’m sure you kind of have a problem with that. You didn’t just run for president and give all those great speeches about liberty and you don’t go on all these TV shows and teach people about Austrian economics and all the peace mongering you do and the rest of this in order that all your Ron Paulian fans might all line up and vote for the Republican Party, right?
Ron Paul: No, as a matter of fact it came up yesterday on CNN on Rick Sanchez’s show. He asked me about that. And I’m essentially totally uninterested in parties. Libertarians get upset with me because I’m not interested in setting my goals to building the Libertarian party. But certainly that isn’t a goal of mine to build the Republican Party. I live in the real world, the real world is that if you want a political soap box, you have to participate in one of the two parties. I have no criticism about people doing it other ways. But the last thing I’m interested in is promoting a party. But it is true that I want to influence the party. But I’ve frequently said, you probably have heard me say, that if we have a true revolution then the revolution is pervasive and it affects both parties. And I refer to the old statement of Nixon back in the 1970s when he declared we were all Keynesians now. Which means that the Keynesian revolution infiltrated both parties and Norman Thomas said he didn’t run the last time for president as a socialist because the major parties have accepted their platform.
So if we’re successful in promoting once again the cause of liberty, it’s not going to be a single party. It’s not going to be the Libertarian party or the Republican Party. It will be in acceptance of majority of American people say, “Yeah, they bankrupt us, they ruin us, they can’t help us, and they fight too many wars.” And we only want people in Washington that will fight for those values, Republican or Democrat. And certainly on economic terms we would want to have both sides have an understanding of Austrian free market economics.
Scott Horton: On the Cheney side of that debate the National Review published a thing by Andrew McCartney the other day saying that the reason this guy Brown won in Massachusetts was because the American people know that we have to torture people and this is what the American people demand. Never mind, because I agree with you and I’m completely uninterested in the party politics and that kind of thing as well. But, in terms of the philosophical debate, this is a major rift on the right. Whether we are warmongers and torture mongers or peace mongers and constitution mongers. If it’s fair to call the libertarian movement part of the right at all, which I think is…
Ron Paul: But you know, still in spite of all the shortcomings and the problems we’ve had over the last several decades, the individual always picks the top two because they always figure, “We don’t want to waste our votes for anybody else. We want to pick the top two”. Of the top two, the one that offers the strongest case for peace usually wins. Bush represented that position because he was critical of Clinton and all his activities. And then Obama, of course, criticized Bush and McCain for this. So the people seem to lean in our direction for this issue as well as, you know, back when Nixon was elected he was supposed to stop the Vietnam war. But the problem is, the people might lean in that direction and then we put somebody in and nothing changes, but right now the people are catching on and I think that’s why not only are they catching on that you can’t trust politicians, but they’re also aware of the fact that the economic system is so friable and the jobs are disappearing that the status quo cannot be maintained.
Scott Horton: Well, this is not a banana republic, not completely yet anyway. And it is possible and we’ve seen examples of the American people actually getting their way on some things when they really demand it. And I’m thinking of a great article I read at Glen Greenwald’s blog, our guest about a month back or so, or maybe a little more than that, where he talked about how the reason that you’re Audit the Fed Bill with Alan Grayson was able to get out of committee was because liberal bloggers had… I mean obviously you’d already gotten all the Republicans in Congress on board. They’re in the minority, they’re not risking much. But liberal bloggers had set up a campaign over there at www.FireDogLake.com which is one of the prominent liberty blogs there where they said, “Look, here’s all their names and here’s all their phone numbers. Call your Democrats and tell them that you support this”. And that apparently Alan Grayson actually, I don’t know, had printouts or something, and showed these other Democratic politicians, “Look, it’s safe. Your base is telling you to please do this”. And so it was this coalition of us versus them, rather than left versus right that really came together to be able to get that Audit the Fed bill out of committee and then eventually attached to a bill that passed. And I wonder whether you think that we can follow that model in really bringing together a left-right us-versus-them coalition to defund these wars? Isn’t that the next step?
Ron Paul: You know, let’s hope so. But immediately after Obama was in, our left-right coalition against the war, they were a few Republicans with a bunch of Democrats. So it was Obama’s war. Most of them sided, except for person like Denis Kucinich and few others and Jim McGovern; they stuck with this. But the Democrats are just like the Republicans; they have this obedience to the king and they have to abide and they won’t buck him. And I think what the example you described there is relatively close to the truth because the person that introduced my bill over in the Senate was Bernie Sanders, and he called himself a progressive socialist. And Grayson would be in that camp, too. But if you look at all the Democratic supporters of the bill, there were a lot who were in swing districts and they were first and second termers, and they were worried about reelection and they were influenced by the people back at home. And I don’t want to diminish this idea of a right-left coalition on some of these issues, because that’s what I work for all the time, but it’s not like some of these Democrats that are called Conservatives, we can still call that a coalition. But it is true that people like Grayson and Bernie Sanders are certainly very solidly in that camp.
Scott Horton: Well, and speaking of the wars here, we have an occupation of Iraq; a state about which we will be talking to Michael Hastings about later in the show about how the so called success of the surge is all unraveling in front of us. We have an escalation in Afghanistan, the CIA bombing in Pakistan, and now to some degree or another, we have the joint special operations command in the CIA at work in Yemen and in Somalia. Major calls from movie stars and other important people calling for the spreading of the war into Sunni-Arab Darfur in Sudan. Some things got to be done to put an end to this, or we’re going to be in real big trouble here. This is too many fronts for even America to fight on. Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Paul?
Ron Paul: Yes, but we’re not going to wise up. I mean, you think with this election that just happened up in Massachusetts that all of a sudden that maybe they’d be backing off from spending, they’re not going to do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to end. I just don’t believe it’s going to end by us coming to our senses from my experience here. But it’s going to end with the economic crisis. Right now we’re in an economic-financial crisis, but we’re not in the dollar crisis; we’re still printing money and the world is still taking our dollars. But one of these days they’re going to quit. They just came up with a figure today that we have to roll over and borrow new money: over $67 billion every week this fiscal year. And one of these days one of those auctions won’t go so well. And that’s when if there is a panic, that’s when the empire falls apart. That’s what happened to the Soviets; it was as much of an economic issue as anything. They just ran out of steam. And I think that is what’s going to happen to us, and it can’t be all that bad.
Scott Horton: Well, and so I guess what you’re referring to there is that there’s so much debt that they’ll just going to have to print money to pay it down.
Ron Paul: Right.
Scott Horton: And then our $50 bills will be like nickels in our pockets.
Ron Paul: That’s right, and the debt gets liquidated, but only because they pay off the debt with money that has no value and you have runaway inflation. And I think that is what is coming, you just can’t keep printing money like this. As the productivity goes down, the good jobs are leaving us, unemployment rates stay up and even those who claim there’s a recovery say, “Oh well, this is a jobless recovery”. What kind of a recovery is that if somebody can’t get job? They’re supposed to feel better because there’s a recovery going on? And they’re unable to feed their family?
Scott Horton: I guess it’s a recovery for people with lots of stock.
Ron Paul: Or Goldman Sachs. They had a good recovery. Their bonuses were gigantic and their profits were huge today?
Scott Horton: Alright, yea I just saw a line graph about that where they’re bonuses are more than ever before. I guess its okay for rich people to be on the dole, just not poor people.
Ron Paul: And the people who were fiscally prudent are the ones who will be taxed one way or the other to take care of the people who got the bailouts.
Scott Horton: Alright, well now to stick with the terror war concept here for a minute. There was a video of you from a speech that you gave, I guess, over the weekend, that’s gone kind of array where you talk about the CIA and their war in Pakistan. And I think you really go so far as to say that the CIA runs American foreign policy basically from top to bottom. And I wondered exactly what you were talking about. If you meant something that’s happened just in the Obama administration, that the CIA has risen in power compared to the Pentagon? Or whether you’re just talking about the National Security state in general since World War II? What exactly did you mean?
Ron Paul: More general, what’s been happening and increasing and they’re in the driver’s seat. And I have been doing a little more writing on this issue and I’m working on another book and I was doing some reviewing of the CIA. It was on my mind and when I am giving my speech, I generally don’t have notes or anything, and that was just really talking about these issues that I thought were important. And that came up and I came out with a rather strong statement against the CIA.
Scott Horton: You said “take em out”, which is what they call “killing people”.
Ron Paul: Yeah, and of course everybody knows that I’m not violent and I’m not going to take somebody out, but denying them all their funds and revealing what they’re doing like remove them from office. But the surprise to me wasn’t that those were my views, because they’ve been my views along; it wasn’t anything brand new. But my shocker was it drew the loudest applause. I mean, they stood up and said, “Wow, somebody else has been thinking about these FBI and CIA and security agencies a lot more than I have”. I never anticipated that type of reaction but it got some people’s attention.
Scott Horton: Well, of course, the Fox News guys would say that’s just not realistic. You want the American government to be blind to everything that’s going on in the world?
Ron Paul: Well, we’re acting blindly now. We’ve spent $75 billion on 16 agencies, then they get a hot lead by a phone call from a father and they can’t handle it. I mean, that’ blindness. So I think we’ve become blind because there are too many trees and we can’t even see anything when it’s laid on a platter. So I think that’s the real problem.
No, I believe in intelligence gathering. I think good common sense and just reading the news and talking to people and looking at people who want to give you information is a good way to go. But all that money spent, $75 billion is spent to try to compensate for the anger we create by a flawed foreign policy. You could spend $150 billion dollars, but if your foreign policy is flawed and invites this type of hatred towards us, that money is not going to save us. It just won’t work. The more money you spend and the more agencies you have, the more complex it gets and the more information is lost.
And I think that is lot of what happened after 9/11, you know? The point about 9/11 is they probably had a ton of information in there. Some people believe it was deliberately ignored. But it’s easy for me to understand how they can have so much information and so many agencies, the government is just so inept. So I think it’s not serving us well. I don’t think the CIA is necessary. I think they are the culprit. I think they are the ones involved in the bombing right now; they’ve been involved with torture and rendition and assassinations, rigging of elections. There’s no reason for us to have an organization like that in a free society.
But then again, you still could have collection of information by people who claim they’re your enemies and deal with it. And I think you probably have every bit as much information and may be able to react much more sensibly with it. But nothing will improve our chances of avoiding these crises unless we change foreign policy.
Scott Horton: This is AntiWar Radio, I’m talking with Dr. Ron Paul, Republican congressman from the Gulf Cost of Texas. And I’m always impressed, Dr. Paul, by the fact that when you’re on these cable news shows, regardless of what they ask you, you really know all about it. You don’t just have a talking point to go over. You really know all about this. So when they ask you about Iran, you can explain to them, and sometimes I wish Peter Schiff was watching when you explained that the Iranians, at least as far as anyone knows, are not even making nuclear weapons, which is the entire basis, the entire premise of our policy of confrontation against them. Could you please explain to the people what it is that you know about Iran? And I see here an original at antiwar.com/paul, your last article that we published here is called “Iran Sanctions: A Precursor to War”. So this is not just an academic issue. This is something very important.
Ron Paul: Well, if we go by our CIA, the CIA in their reports have said they have no evidence the Iranians have worked on a bomb since 2003. That doesn’t mean that I believe that they don’t have a secret desire and incentive, but we don’t have any evidence. And what we do is we violate the NPT by telling them they’re not allowed to have any enrichment. But here they’re permitted under the NPT to enrich for peaceful purposes and for nuclear energy. But we violate it by saying, “You can’t even do that”. So we are the violators of international law, and then we close our eyes to other countries. There are other countries in that region that don’t belong to the international community for nuclear power and nuclear bombs. And you know, Israel and Pakistan and India, they all have nuclear weapons and we cozy up to them and they become our allies and we actually give them money.
The fact that we can’t control a few independent thugs, and that makes us furious. So therefore then we have to concoct these stories that they’re going to have nuclear weapons. See, I was in the service during the Cold War. The Soviets had like 30,000 nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of hitting us if they really wanted to. And we dealt with them, we talked to them. We remained strong and we won that without a nuclear war. But here we have these 3rd world countries, they don’t have an army or a navy or an airforce or intercontinental ballistic missiles and no nuclear weapons, and we are generating all this hysteria. But this serves the interests of the military-industrial complex. It serves the interest of saying, “Our national security requires it: we have to invade another country”. And that hopefully someday will change. The only thing I can tell you as an encouragement is when I go to the college campuses they don’t boo me for those kinds of statements as they did at the Republican debates.
Scott Horton: Well, I read an interesting quote here today from Dick Cheney, the former Vice President. Only this was when he was the CEO of Halliburton and he had taken a trip to Australia in 1998 and he was criticizing Bill Clinton’s administration and all the sanctions on Iran and was saying, “I think we could do a lot better if we were to expand and grow these relationships so that we can end normalizing our relations and doing business”. And that’s strange that Dick Cheney would be the one to sound like you saying something like that.
Ron Paul: Yeah, you have to pretend there is partisanship and they fight and fume and there is some partisanship over who controls the power. But ultimately, the policies don’t ever seem to change.
Scott Horton: But it seems like, you know, Halliburton actually really just preferred to make money doing business with Iran rather than waiting and just making all the money off the Iraq war like they were going to.
Ron Paul: Yeah, I’m sure they were lining up for some contracts. At present they did get some contracts and the invasion process and the contractor monies that were spent over there.
Scott Horton: Alright now, I just saw a youtube video of you introducing legislation to legalize competing currencies, and this is sort of your other way around rather than just outright repealing the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. This is how to make the Federal Reserve obsolete, isn’t it?
Ron Paul: That’s right. And I’ve always tried to figure out a transition. Some people say, “No, you just close the doors and bomb them and open it up”. But you ought to have a transition. Like for instance in post offices you have FedEx and UPS and hopefully they’re allowed to deliver First Class Mail some day. You don’t have to close the post office down in one day. Fortunately, we still have competition in schooling. You can still homeschool and private-school, so that helps neutralize a little bit the public school system. Also, in medicine if they would just legalize a private option, that’s what I would like, where you could just get out of the system and get a tax credit for everything you spend, that would be a private option.
But then in money, you can have a competing currency. Hayek actually wrote about this and it’s not so extreme. It’s just legalizing the Constitution because there was never repealed that gold and silver had to be legal tender. So you have to repeal the legal tender laws so the Fed doesn’t have a monopoly. You should legalize the right of a private company to mint a gold coin; they would be held in check by the fraud laws and counterfeit laws. Today there are no fraud and counterfeit laws that apply to the Federal Reserve. And then the last thing you would have to do is make sure you have no taxes on money. You don’t tax dollars when you buy dollars or pay capital against tax because the value of the dollar goes up. But if gold goes up in value, if you pay sales tax when you buy a coin, and then you pay a capital gains tax when you spend the coin, that would be ridiculous. It can’t be money. So you’d have to do these three things to allow people to use a currency different than the paper money.
Scott Horton: Well, some opponent of yours on MSNBC which say, “Yeah, but that would be inflationary to have every bank and every private company introducing their own currency.”
Ron Paul: No, I didn’t say that.
Scott Horton: No, I’m saying that that’s what they would say to you.
Ron Paul: Yeah. I would say that they misunderstand because all I’m doing is legalizing the constitution that says gold and silver can be legal tender. I’m not doing anything else.
Scott Horton: Unless you could turn lead into gold.
Ron Paul: Yeah, that’s it. There would be no inflation and the value of the gold currency goes up, the value of the paper currency goes down. And sometimes the populists who are sympathetic with what I say like the idea of everybody printing their own money. Even the states. But that’s prohibited. They’re not allowed to mint bills of credit, they’re not allowed to print money because they did have horrendous inflation in colonial times. So I don’t think that would be a good idea, at least to take that on now. But this would be strictly the gold and silver which you can’t inflate with. You get gold and silver by hard work and effort and that’s why it maintains its value.
Scott Horton: Right on. Alright, we’re all out of time, but I really appreciate your time on the show today.
Ron Paul: Okay Scott, good to be with you.
Scott Horton: Alright, that’s Dr. Ron Paul, he’s the author of “A Foreign Policy Of Freedom”, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”, and “End The Fed”. He represents district 14 on Texas Gulf Coast. And you can find his antiwar.com articles at antiwar.com/paul