Paul Craig Roberts (born April 3, 1939) is an American economist and a columnist for Creators Syndicate. He served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and was noted as a co-founder of Reaganomics. He is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. He has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy.
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Amid recent American efforts to expand military presence within US borders, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was quick to describe the Obama administration as a routine violator of the U.S. Constitution. Dr. Roberts, who served as assistant secretary of the treasury in the Reagan administration and played a significant role in creating the economic system that became known as Reaganomics, cited the NSA spying scandal, the drone program and the assassination of American citizens as examples that the government continues to violate the will of the American people. The Voice of Russia contacted Dr. Roberts to inquire about his rather harsh critique of the US government.
VOR chief legal and political correspondent Carmen Russell-Sluchansky spoke with Dr. Roberts to learn more.
It’s a pretty strong language to use “coup d’état”. You say that the U.S. is such because of a consistent failure to uphold the tenants of the U.S. Constitution. Am I getting that right?
Yes, that’s correct. Beginning with the 21st century with Bush and now Obama, the president is no longer accountable to the rule of law. He’s not accountable to the Constitution. We’ve not had a president in 21st century who should not have been impeached, because all of them have violated the Constitution in numerous ways and these are the reasons impeachment was put into the Constitution – to remove presidents who violated. And they’ve established that the Constitution is a scrap of paper, they don’t have to pay any attention to it and they don’t. And all of the amendments that were inserted into the Constitution as the Bill of Rights have been essentially repealed by declarations on the part of the executive branch. Not by law and not by constitution amendment, but by the President assuming the role of a Caesar and simply declaring that the Constitution no longer pertains, that his authority is prime and that whatever he says, goes.
Let’s talk about some of the specifics. Obviously there is a lot of question about the constitutionality of the NSA spying program, PRISM, the drone program and the killing of 3 U.S. citizens. Are those the particulars? What others do you use to illustrate this?
Yes, these are some of the particulars. The Constitution gives you a right to privacy which cannot be invaded without a court order. But, in fact, everybody’s every communication is surveilled. This is strictly unconstitutional. There’s no doubt about it. Then we have the habeas corpus. Habeas corpus says that the government cannot simply pick you up and hold you in prison. If you’re picked up, within a very short time, they have to go to court, present evidence to a judge why you are arrested, why you are being held. The judge can decide to release you on bail or not release you on bail, but you’re in the court system, so you’re subject to due process. Well, what the Bush people said and the Obama people have continued is, “No, we don’t have to pay any attention to habeas corpus. We can pick up whoever we want anywhere in the world and throw him in prison.” That’s an amazing violation! If Ronald Reagan or Nixon or even Bill Clinton had done anything like this, they would have been instantly impeached.
And, in fact, Clinton was impeached for something very different.
He was impeached by the House, not convicted by the Senate, for having sex with a young woman. So in America you can murder people, throw them in prison, but you’re damn sure about not having sex with a young woman!
Let me ask you, is Congress part of the coup d’état that the Congress has signed off on a lot of these things? They’ve signed off on the authorization on the use of military force. They’ve signed off on the reauthorization of the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, and a number of other programs. Is the Obama administration just basically overwriting what Congress supposedly gave them?
The Congress has let its powers go, because it’s intimidated, it’s afraid. You see the war on terror. The war on terror gave the executive branch the ability to simply erase the other two branches. Because if you oppose the executive branch, they say, “Oh, you must be on the terrorists’ side.” And if the Judge rules against them, they simply find a hired judge that will rule for them.
And regarding Snowden, he’s now probably going to be accepting asylum in Russia. You once pointed out that it used to be the other way round. Soviet Russia used to be the one that prosecuted the truth tellers. And it was the U.S. that gave them asylum and tried to protect them. How does this become so opposite to the way that it was?
I think, in the United States we have got these Nazis, known as neoconservatives. They are actually Nazi to the core. Everyone of them would be very happy in the upper echelons of the Nazi government in Hitler’s Germany. They fit there perfectly. They have this notion that collapse of socialism means that there is no alternative to America. That, in their opinion, makes the US the indispensable nation, that has the right to impose its will on the world. It is a rerun of the French revolution, they are like the Jacobins of the French revolution. What happened in Russia is that in the Soviet Union they had enough experience of all of the tyranny and the lack of accountable government, so they decided to be different. Today it is the US that is being tyrannical and Russia is trying to obey by the law and be accountable and so on
You may remember there was a Hungarian cardinal, Joseph Mindszenty. He was the leader of the Hungarian Catholic church. He was imprisoned by the Nazis. And when the communists came to power in Hungary, he was tortured, he was given a life sentence. And the 1956 Hungarian revolution freed him. And he went to the US embassy in Budapest, was granted political asylum. Just like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. And the communists would not let him leave. So, he lived in the American embassy in Budapest for 15 years, because the communists would not acknowledge his right to free passage to asylum. And Now the United States is doing exactly that to Julian Assange, and also to Edward Snowden. He is stuck in that airport in Russia. He can live there for the rest of his life. So, where is the evil of the world concentrated now? It is now in Washington. Yes, it is now in Washington.
Ostensibly, this is a democratic country. We do go to the polls and elect our president every four years, we elect congress every two years. What is missing here? How is it more of a coup d’etat as a result?
Under Stalin people voted too. But the government was not accountable to the people. The Party was not accountable to the people. In the US, the government is not accountable to the people. There are about 6 large private interest groups, that actually rule the country. One is Wall Street, one is military-security complex that president Eisenhower warned us of half a century ago. One is the Israel lobby. One is the agribusiness, companies that pollute the food supply. There are also energy and timber lobbies. They write all the laws that the congress passes and the president signs.
You can’t get elected to the Congress or the presidency without the support of these groups, the majority of these groups. Because that is where the money comes from that funds the political campaigns. They elect the people who serve them, who are accountable to them. There is no group in the congress or in the White House that is accountable to the people.