• To hell with Japan! We predict that the hoplophobes's next showcase of gun control will be Malaysia, where a 14 year old boy was just sentenced to death for possessing an unlicensed handgun and ammunition. Said the judge, "If a person is charged under the Internal Security Act, there is no difference between a juvenile and an adult." Of course. Salus tyranni suprema lex.
• Everything Not Compulsory Is Forbidden Dept.: According to UPI (August 4, 1977) a Miami TV station reported that the Bay of Pigs Veterans Brigade 2506, a revolutionary Cuban exile group, abandoned its plans for a "sea invasion" of Cuba early this summer because the US tipped off Havana during diplomatic talks at the UN. The State Department did not confirm the invasion report but admitted it had warned the Castro regime against "possible terrorist acts," so called. Apparently the State Department's notorious counter-revolutionary bias extends even to anti-communist revolutions. Maybe we libertarians should start promoting the idea that revolution, between consenting adults, is also a victimless crime.
• Professor John Quigley, who recently led a National Lawyers Guild delegation on a tour of Israeli-occupied territories, claims that Israeli security forces "frequently" torture Arab political prisoners to get confessions; indeed, that they make "a policy of torture." (AP; August 4, 1977.) True or not, in June the London Times reported three cases in which Arabs claimed they had been tortured with beatings, electric shocks and sexual assault. And in April, 1970, Amnesty International, the leading human rights group, released a study reportedly titled Report on Israeli Methods of Torture, alleging such grisly practices as applying fire to genitals. Why such charges keep cropping up may be explained by Quigley's description of Israeli military "justice" in security cases: "No lawyer may be present until questioning has ended, little evidence besides a confession is required for conviction and confessions are drafted in Hebrew, which most detainees do not understand. [Quigley] also quoted an Israeli lawyer, Leah Tsemel of Jerusalem, as saying 90 percent of the convictions are based on confessions with little corroboration." And the Israelis didn't exactly help matters by refusing to let Quigley's group visit their military prisons (AI's request to see the prisons was also refused).
• Although it is claimed that black Rhodesians can own land in 99.5 percent of the country, some residential suburbs are among the remaining one-half of a percent. So Mrs. Florrie Adams picked up the newspaper and read that the Salisbury Municipal Council had ordered her and her family evicted from their home in a suburb reserved for whites. The Adamses are "colored" (of mixed black and European ancestry) and so cannot live in the all-white Prospect suburb of Rhodesia's capital, even though their son is subject to annual military servitude like all nonblack Rhodesian men. Mrs. Adams's husband also works for a company that builds anti-guerrilla security fences. But "when you are suddenly told that you must get out of your house like this," she says bitterly, "you start wondering why they are risking their lives." No doubt some of our right-wing libertarians would say: because white rule has brought Rhodesia more bathtubs per capita than any nation in black Africa. Up with "free" enterprise!
• You may recall ex-Army Colonel Anthony Herbert, exposer of war crimes, and his autobiography Soldier (Holt, Rinehart, Winston; 1973). In it, he mentions his brush with the Phoenix program; a CIA political assassination scheme during the Vietnam War. "What they wanted me to do," says Herbert, "was to take charge of execution teams that wiped out entire families and tried to make it appear as if the VC themselves had done the killing." Herbert refused (the victims were chosen rather cavalierly, for one thing) but remarks "The fellow running Phoenix at the time [November 1965] was a Colonel Singlaub, now General, though I believe he used a cover name." Unless there are two of them, then, this must be Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub; the poor, hard-done-to bastard whom Carter removed from his post as commander of US forces in Korea when he objected to Carter's proposed troop withdrawals. He can be thankful he wasn't removed, like the 20,000 plus victims of Phoenix, with "extreme prejudice."
• It seems appropriate to record, for posterity, some of the comments made in opposition to the Panama Canal treaty. Most rangey: "the US has been bluffed and bullied out of the Panama Canal by a Marxist thug who runs a national guard of a few thousand troops"—Pat Buchanan's contribution to rational discourse. But political teratotaxonomists also noted columnist John Chamberlain's caveat: "With US police jobs [in the Canal Zone] being turned over to the Panamanians, who knows how many Castroites would be telling Americans where to park their cars or when to put out their lights?" And that isn't the worst of it; under the treaty, "US Customs employees will lose their jobs immediately…PX and Army commissary privileges [for Zonians] would be discontinued after 5 years, with no compensatory cost of living subsidy from the US government." Oh piteous spectacle! Some claim that Chamberlain is a "libertarian." Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is distressed that the Torrijos regime has saddled the 1.7 million citizens of Panama with a $1.5 billion national debt. "If they cannot operate their government effectively," asks Hatch, "how can they operate an international canal necessary to world trade?" (The Torrijos debt would be equivalent to a US debt of $196 billion—less than what Nixon and Ford ran up all by themselves.) Hatch fears that Panama would increase Canal tolls to cover the Canal's operating deficit—$7.2 million last year; talk about "effective government"!—causing "financial problems" for Latin America if Uncle Sap doesn't subsidize its shipping. Some claim that Hatch is a "conservative." Perhaps they are right, and protectionism, foreign aid and the welfare state are all "conservative" or even "libertarian" icons. More probably Messrs. Hatch and Chamberlain are temporarily insane, maddened by grief upon learning that Teddy Roosevelt thieved in vain. Bully.
• Frontiers of Free Enterprise Dept.: Mr. Frank Kartesy, a Pennsylvania high school teacher, has invented a coin-operated vending machine for live bait. For one dollar, Pennsylvania fishermen can get a package of 15 night crawlers, 70 meal worms, or 30 to 40 maggots.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".