By Jacob Hornberger
Last week, Thomas Barrack, an old friend of former President Donald Trump, was acquitted by a jury in a U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. The charge? The feds were accusing Barrack of having failed to register as a foreign agent of the United Arab Emirates.
I don’t know if the jury’s verdict was based on insufficient evidence of guilt or whether it was simply based on nullification of a ridiculous law. Either way, the Justice Department was left with a considerable amount of egg on its face, especially since the prosecution had all the earmarks of the Justice Department’s personal vendetta against Trump.
There are lots of ridiculous laws on the books. But if one were to make a list, the Foreign Agents Registration Act would have to be included in the top 10. The law was enacted in 1938 owing to increasing paranoia over the possibility that the Nazi regime might influence the members of Congress into accepting and embracing Nazi propaganda.
Today, the law is primarily enforced to protect the weak and malleable mindsets of members of Congress from pro-Russia propaganda. However, as Thomas Barrack discovered, the registration requirement extends to every nation, not just Nazi Germany and Russia.
There is one big problem, however, with the law’s rationale. The law doesn’t make it illegal for a foreign regime to lobby or attempt to influence the members of Congress. People are free to do that. After all, when a person is lobbying a member of Congress, he is doing nothing more than exercising his natural, God-given right of freedom of speech. It could also be said that he is simply petitioning the government, another fundamental right that is protected by the First Amendment.
So, under the law, foreign citizens and American citizens are free to lobby the members of Congress to their heart’s content. So, what does the law do? It forces any person who is lobbying on behalf of a foreign government to register his name and affiliation with the U.S. Attorney General.
Is that ridiculous or what?
For one thing, why should anyone ever have to register with the government for exercising a natural, God-given right that preexists government? Second, given that a lobbyist is free to influence the members of Congress to his heart’s content, what purpose does forcing him to register his name and affiliation make?
Is it so that the Justice Department can spy on the members of Congress to make certain that their malleable mindsets are not being influenced in a pro-Russia way? Or is it perhaps to have an easy way to target citizens of disapproved foreign regimes with a “gotcha,” as the Justice Department did to Russian citizen Maria Butina.
It’s important that we ask why there are lobbyists in the first place. The reason is that Congress wields the power to do very good things for people and very bad things to people. Such being the case, it will always be in the interests of people to lobby for the good things and to lobby to prevent the bad things from being done to them.
For example, it is in the interests of the Russian government and the Russian people to bring an end to the extreme anti-Russia hostility that has been inculcated in the minds of the American people since the demise of the Nazi regime. Given such, why would it surprise anyone that Russia would be interested in trying to persuade the members of Congress to stop automatically deferring to the Pentagon and the CIA and instead to establish harmonious relations with Russia?
Indeed, why would it surprise anyone if Russia was supporting U.S. candidates who want to move America away from the Pentagon/CIA anti-Russia direction and in a direction of peace and harmony with Russia, just as President Kennedy was doing when he was assassinated back in 1963, as I detail in my book An Encounter with Evil: The Abraham Zapruder Story. In fact, if Kennedy had not been assassinated, would it have surprised anyone that Russia would have been supporting his reelection rather than the election of GOP candidate Barry Goldwater, who, like Lyndon Johnson, was afflicted by the Pentagon/CIA anti-Russia mindset.
But the ultimate point is this: If America was no longer a welfare-warfare state and instead was a free-market, limited-government society, there would be no more lobbyists. That’s because the federal government would lack the power to do good things for people (such as give them Social Security checks, Medicare, education grants, farm subsidies, corporate bailouts, and the like) or bad things to people (such as invasions, occupations, coups, assassinations, sanctions, embargoes, NATO, and the like).
Repealing ludicrous laws like the Foreign Agents Registration Act would be a good first step. But to restore a genuinely free society, it is necessary to go a lot further. It is necessary to bring an end to America’s welfare-warfare state way of life and restore our nation’s founding system of a free-market, voluntary-charity, limited-government republic.