America's Liar in Chief

by Jacob G. Hornberger
Apr. 01, 2014

Everyone is familiar with where America's Cold War national-security state apparatus has led our nation: down the dark road of assassinations, torture, indefinite detention, coups, surveillance, regime-change operations, secrecy, tribunals, and other dark-side practices that are inherent to communist and other totalitarian regimes.

But how many Americans ever give thought to the fact that the national-security state apparatus has also converted the duly elected president of the United States into an official liar?

From the first day he enters office, the president's integrity is compromised. That because of the doctrines of "covert activity" and "plausible deniability" that are an inherent part of national-security state operations.

With the addition of the national-security branch of the federal government, the U.S. government effectively got broken into two dual governmental systems.

One system, the one we learn about in our high school civics classes, is the standard one -- a federal system divided into three branches of government, where laws are debated openly, trials are held in open court with juries, public officials are elected, and there is transparency in what the government is doing.

The other system operates below the radar screen. It consists of the military, the CIA, and the NSA, whose officials are not elected. Everything revolves around the concept of "national security." Operations are conducted in secret. They include regime change operations, in which the national security state ousts foreign rulers from power, either through the funding of opposition groups, assassination, invasion, or coups.

Many of these operations are conducted in secret, so as to disguise the role of the U.S. government in the operation. That's what makes them "covert." The president's role is then to falsely deny that the U.S. government is behind the operation, thereby maintaining the covert aspect of the operation.

This has been the case since the advent of the national-security state. For example, during the Eisenhower administration, a CIA spy plane illegally flying over the Soviet Union on a surveillance mission was shot down.

Ike's job was to lie to the Soviets, the American people, and the world. He told everyone that the plane was just a weather plane that had flown off course.  He felt safe in lying because Powers had been told to commit suicide if his plane was ever shot down.

The Soviets undoubtedly smiled when they heard Ike's weather-plane explanation. That's because Powers had not committed suicide and was in the custody of Soviet officials when Ike was performing his role as America's liar in chief. As a result of Ike's national-security state lie, the Soviets cancelled a high-level summit between Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, which many CIA officials were happy about anyway.

The situation was similar with his successor, John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy assumed the presidency, the CIA presented him with its plan to invade Cuba and oust Fidel Castro from power, a plan that had already been organized under Eisenhower. Under the CIA's plan, the invasion was ostensibly to be undertaken by Cuban exiles. The role of the U.S. government was supposed to be kept secret. That meant, of course, that one of Kennedy's first jobs as president would be to lie to the Cuban people, to Americans, and to the world about the U.S. government's role in the invasion.

As we know, Kennedy ended up telling the truth about the U.S. role in the operation and personally took responsibility for the debacle.

In 1962, the Pentagon got into the act. It presented Kennedy with Operation Northwoods, a covert operation that would involve terrorist attacks on American citizens, both at Guantanamo Bay and here in the United States. There would also be hijackings of American planes. The acts were to be undertaken by secret agents of the U.S. national security state and falsely blamed on Cuban communist agents.

Kennedy's job under Operation Northwoods was to be the nation's liar in chief. He would falsely declare to the world that America had been attacked by Cuban communists and, therefore, that he had no choice but to invade Cuba and effect regime change there.

To Kennedy's everlasting credit, he rejected Operation Northwoods and the role that it had for him to be America's liar in chief.

It's been the same with the CIA's operations throughout its history. The CIA keeps its role secret and the president falsely backs it up with false statements. The CIA's coups in Iran, Guatemala, and Chile, all of which destroyed the democratic systems in those countries, come to mind. It isn't until decades later that secret files are opened and the Americans living at that time are able to see what was actually taking place at the time.

Today, it's impossible to know the extent to which the national-security state, especially the CIA, is involved in fomenting trouble in places like Ukraine and Venezuela with the aim of replacing a democratically elected president with a pro-U.S. dictator, as the CIA has done in countries like Iran, Guatemala, and Chile. Under its long-established modus, the CIA's role in such operations would be kept secret. The role of President Obama would be to falsely deny that the U.S. government is engaged in such operations.

One thing is for sure: When President Obama denies U.S. involvement in such countries, he might well be telling the truth but no one believes him anyway. That's because everyone knows that it's the job of the president under America's national-security state system to lie about any U.S. involvement in such matters.

The questions that Americans need to ask themselves are: Do we really want a governmental structure that not only sends our nation down the dark-side road of assassination, torture, coups, indefinite detention, and the like but also, at the same time, converts the person we have elected president to be an official liar to the world? It seems to me that when one's governmental system causes the duly elected president to immediately abandon his integrity by becoming an official liar in chief, that's reason enough to question such a system.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at and from Full Context. Send him email.

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