A Former POW’s Open Letter to Congress

Phillip Butler January 05, 2009

Here is the Oath of Office I took on July 1, 1957:

I, Phillip Neal Butler, having been appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.

Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1961, I repeated this oath to be commissioned an ensign in the United States Navy. I served 20 years as an active duty commissioned officer. During that time I became a Naval Aviator, flew combat in Vietnam, was downed over North Vietnam on April 20, 1965 and became a prisoner of war. I was repatriated on February 12, 1973, having served 2,855 days and nights as a POW – just short of 8 years. The Vietnamese were not signatory to any international treaties on treatment of prisoners. They pronounced us “criminals” and freely used torture, harassment, malnutrition, isolation, lack of medical care and other degradations during our captivity. I was tortured dozens of times during my captivity. But I often thought of our Constitution and the higher purpose we served – a purpose that helped me resist beyond what I thought I’d ever be capable of. Ironically, we POWs often reminded each other that our country would never stoop to torture and the low level of treatment we were experiencing at the hands of our captors.

This Oath of Office, the same one sworn to by all officers, government officials, presidential cabinet members, senators and representatives of our nation, has had a powerful affect on me. It has given me an overarching purpose in life: to serve the greatest and most influential legal document ever written. The only different oath is specified for the President of the United States in Constitutional Article II, Section 1 (8.) It mandates that he or she will “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution…”

So what in the world has happened during the past 8 years of the Bush administration? The only defensible answer is that he and his subordinates have trampled our precious Constitution and the Rule of Law into the ground while our elected members of Congress have stood idly and complicitly by. Our highest elected officials have utterly failed with their greatest responsibility.

During these years we have seen gross attempts to institutionalize torture. Our Constitution, Article VI, (2) commonly known as the “Supremacy” clause clearly states that treaties made shall become “the supreme law of the land,” thus elevating them to the level of Constitutional law.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, ratified in 1949 states in Article 17 that “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” This and numerous other ratified treaties clearly stipulate that “prisoners” is an inclusive term that is not limited to any nation’s uniformed combatants.

Other gross Bush administration crimes of general and Constitutional law (in addition to authorizing torture) include: 1) the use of “signing statements” to illegally refrain from complying with laws. 2) authorization of the illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus 3) authorization of wire tapping and other intrusive methods to illegally spy on American citizens. 4) unilateral declaration and pre-emptive conduct of war in violation of U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8 (11)

These violations of our Constitution and rule of law have resulted in reducing our nation to the level of international pariah. Our beacon of liberty and justice no longer shines throughout the world. We no longer set the example for other nations to follow. We no longer stand on a firm foundation. We have lost our national, moral gyro.

I despair when I think of the personal sacrifices made by so many in U.S. wars and conflicts since 1776. If our forefathers were here to see they would surely be angry and disappointed. And I think they would issue a clarion call for redress and setting an example for the world, by punishing those who are guilty. The only way our nation can right itself is for Congress to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.

I therefore call on the elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives to bring appropriate charges against President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Legal Council William J. Haynes, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Legal Council David Addington and potentially other high officials and uniformed officers. There is no other option. Citizens of the United States and of the world are watching. Do your duty. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Reprinted from his website

(PJB Note: Phil Butler is the head of the Veterans for Peace organization of Monterrey California. They recently allied with the Libertarians for Peace of California in opposing the Afghan and Iraqi wars).

Free the Taxpayer!

Dear Editor:

Successful politicians avoid change like a plague. David Axelrod confirmed that on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” when he used perfect “think-speak” to argue that “eliminating tax cuts while adding in new middle-class tax cuts doesn’t mean raising taxes.” He also argued how it was important that some, but not all, people get some relief now.

How paternalistic! Almost 50% of our population has 100% relief from income taxes already! They are beholden to the government for their Earned Income Credit.

I believe that it is time for the rest of us to receive our 100% relief from personal income taxes! Are we surprised when heavily taxed New Yorkers move to Florida where there is no income tax? No. If America had no personal or corporate income taxes, would we be surprised to see the most productive people and largest corporations from around the world relocating to America?

Mr. Axelrod’s message was not for change, just a little fine tuning. All Americans deserve a better, bolder response than this from a team that ran on a platform of change. In Congress there is a bill to do just that. It is the Fair Tax, a bold major restructuring of how we the people would pay taxes. You would control when you paid this tax, not the IRS. There would be no IRS. When you bought something, you would pay this national sales tax. When you saved money no taxes would be paid. Wealthier people would pay more, less wealthy less and the poorest would receive a monthly pre-bate of the taxes on their necessities.

Act quickly! Inform your Representatives and Senators that we want bold change that will free the taxpayer from the politics as usual of economic manipulation! Adopt the Fair Tax!

Lee Jackson

An Outsider’s View

I am a Libertarian. I have been voting over 50 years. I am also a recovering Republican, but in my 12 Step Program, I have been unable to proceed beyond Step 8: Making a list of all persons I have harmed by my votes for Republicans (and several Democrats). We have been ruled, not governed, for too long by only two parties, and today even our grandchildrens financial futures are now in doubt. We all get what we deserve when voting or not voting in national elections. The same is true for the Republicans in the 4th District House race on Tuesday.

It would be great if we could vote for candidates A or B or C for their positions on limited state government and personal liberty. We could focus on the long term effects to our state of issues they support. But we don’t, so we vote for sound bites that pass for policy positions, personalities and political connections, all because we want our party to win, not our citizens.

We are in this situation, because we rewarded a man whom we believed had done well in local politics. We promoted him to Tallahassee where he worked hard to bring our share of budget dollars back to us. He was rewarded by his fellow career politicians with the Speakers position, the fatal, last brush with the flame of absolute power. We ask ourselves, How the h__l could this happen!? Well, a majority of those voting each election day rewarded his efforts . . . several times. So, did we get what we deserved?

Fast forward and Republicans can reward the prior electoral successes and political experiences of Craig Barker, Bill Garvie, or Jerry Melvin with promotion to Tallahassee.

Or they can promote a new face, Matt Gaetz, a lawyer-activist who is well-connected. He also is being credited with saving half of the F-35 mission at Eglin, without being critiqued as too late to save the entire mission. Whether his thinking is independent of his dads as he claims, well, that is part of the Republican crapshoot, isnt it?

Finally, they can reward a businessman and budget-activist, Kabe Woods, who founded the Okaloosa Citizens Alliance to bring greater accountability for our tax dollars to our County and local governments. Only outsiders, not experienced elected representatives within the system, seem to be able to do that.

Will it be possible for Republican voters to stop rewarding career politicians and look seriously at new faces on Tuesday? An elected representative brings a tool kit of skills from their education and experiences to their position. Political careerists bring connections. Lawyers bring legal tactics. Business people bring analysis and concern for effective results.

Will Republicans go to the polls, to continue political careers, start a new political career, or bring sense to how our taxes are spent by the state? It is a big responsibility, and only Republicans can do it Tuesday.

Lee Jackson

Stale Tea

Recently, the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party held a candidate forum for the Florida 4th District representative election. This was the seat formerly held by Ray Sansom. The five Republican candidates stood next to each other and answered individually crafted questions created by a Tea Party Committee. The one Democrat contender for state representative was invited, but did not appear.

The whole event was very smartly done. It was a testament to ordinary Tea Partiers doing extraordinary things. From a technical point of view they should be proud of what they accomplished.

But Okaloosa County does not need just another forum. It needs competition. It needs a new approach. At the end of the evening it was clear that the Tea Party forum was political routine. Government control over individuals and business will still be the only means of doing business.

The veteran politician, Jerry Melvin, who served in the Florida House for 18 years, said the way to stop rising homeowners insurance premiums was for the legislature to force competition on insurance companies. He proposed solving traffic problems by creating a super multi-county bureaucracy to replace small local ones. When was the last time you saw a government bureaucracy go away by building another one, or the state foster business competition other than by getting out of the game altogether?

The businessman, Kabe Woods, proposed extending the state’s legal sovereign immunity to doctors and clinics as a means of reducing health care costs. He also proposed the state form some sort of transition health insurance for students. Saying that the state should not pay for retirement, he suggested changing state retirement from defined benefit (pensions) to defined contribution (401k, IRA) both of which are still government controlled markets.

The attorney, Matt Gaetz, emphasized that the most critical need in Okaloosa County was jobs, and the best way to get jobs was to build on the military mission. He apparently saw no contradiction in building jobs on a government department while at the same time saying government doesn’t create jobs. He lamented that his generation inherited the greatest America but may pass on a diminished America. Building on government will lead to such circumstances.

The city councilman and FBI agent Bill Garvey said he considered it a form of personal sacrifice to seek government office in Tallahassee, just as when he was an FBI agent he considered it better to be in the field than assume more bureaucratic FBI positions. His priorities would be anti-terrorism first followed by the economy.

Even the mayor, Craig Barker, who, in my opinion, spoke the most libertarian of the group, (in favor of the 9th and 10th amendment, opposition to any bill not allowed by the US constitution, leaving tort reform to the states, and the only candidate to talk about the rash of criminality that has given our county the nickname “Scandaloosa,”) voiced his strong support of protections to the military mission. Like it or not, military spending is a major part of why the nation’s finances are in such poor shape.

The same men, doing the same thing, using the same method, will produce the same results. It’s a pity the Tea Party did not bring this out in the forum. The Tea Party was born out of anger over taxation, bailouts, mountainous debt, blatant fraud in government, ignoring the constitution, and the destruction of the American concept of the rule of law. People did not and still do not know what to do. The political status quo has led to the situation where people do not recognize their country anymore, and the Tea Party forum was more of the status quo.

The answer is to reduce government intervention in everything, let a free market operate, and protect individual rights. It is a libertarian concept, one that candidates sometimes use to gain votes, but quickly dump after an election in order to govern like Republicans and Democrats.

If the Tea Party is the new wave in American politics, what will we get out of the Florida 4th district representative race?

I am sorry to say more of the same.

Criminal Brilliance

The Federal Reserve, our national bank, is criminal brilliance…

It looks like a government agency, but is a private corporation that has a government given monopoly on the creation of money. It can create money, literally, at will.

Its edicts must be followed by the entire banking industry, and are punishable by law. Federal Reserve Notes (otherwise known as cash) must be used as a payment of debt, or the refusal can lead to prison.

It looks and talks like it is a free market proponent, but it artificially controls the price for money (interest). It is actually anti-competition in the banking industry.

It has cultured an image of a wise sage of American business, but has sucessfully resisted any open audit of its operations for 100 years. It says it returns any profit it makes on its regulating functions to the U.S. Treasury, but how does anyone know? They control their own books with no outside oversight. It assumed control of the US gold supply as one of its first actions.

To the average person, it looks relatively unimportant compared with working hard and putting food on the table, but it actually takes a cut of every loaf of bread put on that table. It determines whether you will stay in your house, send your kids to college, or even retire in your old age. It robs the value of your savings through purposefully induced inflation.

It looks like a regulator, but it regulates the for profit private banks that compose itself. It oversees its own operations, which, combined with natural human greed, is a recipe for corruption. It enables and encourages the bank practice known as fractional reserve lending, something which if you or I did would land us in jail.

Although prohibited by law, the Federal Reserve is the owner of Hilton Hotels, Red Roof Inns, and the Crossroads Mall in Oklahoma City, just to name a few. They can openly create money at will, and be the owner of property as well while everyone else has to sweat for it.

It can, and has, used its power to move our whole economy for its own advantage. In the last century National Bank Chairman Biddles publicly threatened President Andrew Jackson to bring down the U.S. economy if he didn’t continue the charter of the National bank. Jackson refused ushering in the greatest era of economic growth this country has ever seen, until the creation of the Fed.

Few people understand it, and of those who do, most are coopted by it because of their own self interest (if you can’t beat em, join em). Our government politicians and bureaucrats love it because it allows deficit spending that simply could not happen otherwise. If money gets short, Congress just says have the Fed print up some more.

It regularly convenes with other central banks, from foreign nations, swapping our currency for various favors from these banks, so as to manipulate world trade and the value of the dollar. This can amount to as much as $500 billion dollars at a time. Moreover, these meetings are largely unreported and completely unaccountable to any branch of government.

The Congress bickers over $700 Billion in misguided bailout funding, and the Fed creates $12.8 trillion in loans and gurantees for government business (GM, AIG, Chrysler, Fannie, Freddie) without so much as a peep in Congress.

And then, after screwing up the economy so badly the system may collapse, they request more power to regulate the what, where, when and how you use your earnings for your own benefit…slowly, you become a debt slave…

Mind bogglingly brilliant…

End The Fed.

A letter to Okaloosa Libertarians

You are few, but you are strong. You have the answer that so many are looking for in today’s America.

But they do not know it.

Some of the beautiful things Libertarians strive for are the right to be left alone from intrusive government, and to be responsible for your own life. America needs to be a place of voluntary action, free from government force or fraud. Happiness and prosperity come from living by that ideal.

I am asking you to extend your hand to help others see this.

Take action to support the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.

Volunteer to help us with our many public events.

Make a donation. It really is true that as little as a dollar a month can keep us growing and active.

Attend our meetings and social events, such as the Billy Bowlegs Parade or the Libertarian Party of Florida Convention to be held 24/25 April in Panama City.

Make comments on this website or in local media. Tell people about us. Tell us what you think.

It will be one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and your neighbors.

Remember, the best parts of America are Libertarian. Only you can keep it that way.

Yours Truly,Pete Blome, Chair