"Interview: Judge Napolitano's sit down with Robert F. Kennedy Jr."
by Andrew Napolitano
Judging Freedom (July 8, 2023)
[1:15] Judge Napolitano: "Bobby, tell us why you want to be President of the United States of America in these divisive and bitter days?"
[1:21] RFK, Jr.: "I want my children to grow up with the same pride in their country that I grew up with. When I grew up, Judge, I believed in America and I think with a lot of good evidence, it was the greatest nation in the history of the world. We were the examplary nation. We had invented Democracy, a modern democracy in 1776. There are five countries that had imitated us by the Civil War, by 1860. When I was a little boy, all of the nations were becoming democracies based upon the American model. We had created this extraordinary middle class which was an economic engine like nothing that humanity had ever seen. This was at the time, you know, in the 50 years after World War II when we went through a period that economists called the Great Prosperity. The economic power of that American middle class had given America half the wealth on the face of of the earth. More importantly, we were a moral authority around the globe. People loved our country. They wanted our leadership. They knew the difference between leadership and bullying."
[2:34] "When I was a kid, my uncle was president and he refused to send Americans to war. He -- when Ben Bradley, one of his two best friends asked him what he wanted on his gravestone -- he said: 'He Kept the Peace.' He said the principal job of an American president is to keep the country out of war.' That was consistent with the warning that Dwight Eisenhower had made that if we made ourselves and imperium abroad, that we would devolve into a surveillance state, a security state, a garrison state at home; and that democracy at home was inconsistent with warmongering abroad.
[3:17] My uncle kept his word and kept the -- you know -- stayed faithful to that asperation. He never sent combat troops to die in another country. He refused to go into Laos at the beginning of his administration in 1961. He refused to go into Vietnam. He refused to to into Berlin in 62, refused to go into Cuba in 61 [!?] and again in 63 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He kept combat troops out of Vietnam. His advisers, his intelligence apparatus wanted him to send 250,000 troops to Vietnam, that that was necessary. He said, he finally caved in and 16,000 military advisers [who] weren't allowed to participate in combat [!?]. And that's fewer men than he sent to get James Meredith into Ole Miss and Oxford -- one black man."
[4:17] Judge Napolitano: "Right. We all know the history. But if you become the President -- and I would be ecstatic if you did -- in January of 2025, you will inherit an America very much unlike the one over which your uncle was president and your father was the attorney general. The Republicans and Democrats hate each other. There is no such thing as the loyal opposition. They want to impeach each other and sanction each other and drive each other out of power. How can you, Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr bring about the amicable working together that your father and uncle experienced in the early 60s?"
[5:07] "I think that is going to be one of the big challenges of my administration, but I think I'm already bridging that gap and I think the way you do that is pretty simple. It's by telling the people the truth, by not spinning things, by not lying to people. There is so much hatred and anger and polarization in our society now, and it's driven by a lot of forces, including some like the social media that my uncle did not have to cope with. But the real dysfunction that has caused this is the pervasive dishonesty of the federal government. When I was a kid, it was almost unimaginable that the government would lie to us. People, Americans just wouldn't believe that our government would lie to us. In fact, the first time that the people even considered that the government will lie to them was in May of 1960 when Francis Gary Powers was shot down in the U2 over Russia and Allan Dulles convinced Eisenhower to lie to the public and to the world about it. And then when the Russians produced this pilot who was supposed to commit suicide, Americans for the first time said, 'Oh, my gosh, our government lied to us' and it was shocking.
[6:23] "When my uncle was President, 80% of the public believed the federal government. Today it's around 20. And what that does, judge, is that it's like parents who are in a dysfunctional marriage who are lying to their kids all the time, and the kids start getting angry and start fighing with each other and nobody knows what to believe, and that's what is happening now with our society. Because the trusted news sources, the federal government and the mainstream media which used to never lie to the American people, now they are pathologically lying to us."
[7:04] Judge Napolitano: "They not only lie. They kill. I mean, you have accused, and not without evidence, in fact substantial evidence, of the CIA having been involved in murder of your uncle and your father. And instead of there being an uproar over that accusation, it was a bit of a ho-hum. We already knew that. So the public has come to accept a government that lies, cheats, steals, fights secret wars and denies it, and kills people. You have an enormous task of turning around that battleship almost on a dime."
[7:45] RFK, Jr.: "I'm confident I can do that, judge, because I've spent 40 years litigating these agencies and I understand the dynamics of agency capture, the financial entanglements with the regulagted industries that puts regulatory capture on steroids. And I also know the kind of reforms that you need to do to unravel agency capture at these agencies. And, of course, the most captured agency is the CIA which is now a functionary of the Military Industrial Complex. It's role, as my uncle recognized when he was only two months in office and he got lured by the CIA into this war with Cuba, which he refused to support. And he came out of a meeting when those men were dying on the beach of the Bay of Pigs and he said, 'I want to take the CIA and shatter it into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.' But he spent three years thinking about how to reform the CIA. In fact, he wanted to appoint my father from the Justice Department to run the CIA in order to reform it. My father refused to do that. My father and grandfather just said that would be -- the optics of that, that the brother of the president was running this vast secret police network, it would look like Molotov and Stalin."
[9:18] Judge Napolitano: "What will you do? . . ."
RFK, Jr.: "Let me finish saying this. Because of that experience, my father spent a lot of time thinking about how to fix the CIA. And in fact, he wrote it down. He outlined it a number of times, including a week before he died, in a very extensive conversation he had with his friend, Peter Hamill, when Hamill asked him what are you going to do about the CIA? And my father told him, he said we need to separate the espionage function of that agency, which is a legitimate function, that is the information gathering function -- we need an agency that's going to do it and do it well -- from the Plans Division, that is the Clandestine Division. "
[10:02] "Those two divisions, although they're kind of separate at the agency, physically they're separated by turnstyles where you can't get from one end of the agency to the other. But what has happened is that the Clandestine Services, the Operations Division, the Black Ops, the groups that fix elections and murder leaders and bribe and blackmail and propagandize do all those actions, it has become the tail that wags the espionage dog. And so, there is no oversight of its actions, and as a result of that there's never any accountability.
[10:47] "You're looking at what's happening in France today where you're having these terrible riots between Muslims in these Muslim immigrant populations and the French government, and that is happening all over Europe. You know, we had Brexit, etc. But that ultimately is traceable to the Iraq War and the CIA's creation of ISIS. And then the subsequent invasion of Syria which drove two million immigrants into Europe and destabilized all the nations in Europe for the next several generations.
[11:52] Judge Napolitano: “Shortly before he died, President Truman wrote in The Washington Post that he deeply regretted what the CIA had become, that like you stated a few minutes ago, that he intended it to spy on our adversaries, but not to wage Secret Wars, not to kill people and not to overthrow governments, would you shut down, would you disband that part of the CIA?”
[12:19] RFK, Jr.: I wouldn’t disband it. I would separate it from the espionage division. I would have the Espionage Division overlooking the Plans Division. And I would use it a lot less aggressively. I don’t think it works. I think if you analyze each of the actions that’s happened over the past, since 1947, since we created the agency, you would see that the world is a much less safe place. It’s a much less stable place. It’s a harder world because of the existence and the actions of the CIA. You can kill a terrorist with a drone attack, but who is measuring the long-term impact of making a drone strike on an Afghan village and making everyone else in that village want to strap on a [weapon?] Nobody ever looks at that. And that’s the kind of thing that has made America much less safe. ...”
[13:33] "My grandfather, Joseph Kennedy, two years after Truman wrote that editorial, my grandfather sat on a commission, called the Hoover Commission, which was a presidential commission to look at the CIA. They recommended, and my grandfather concurred with the majority recommendation, that they disband the Plans Division of the CIA. So, I think it is something that has to be looked at. But what we really need to do is make a rational judgement. Look at all of these actions they've taken and say 'Have any of these actions worked to make America a safer place, to improve our national security, and let's do those kinds and not the other kinds.' And I think that what we're going to find is that most of them don't work or the blowback they cause is worse than the problem they tried to solve."
[14:22] Judge Napolitano: "Agreed. Liet's look at the CIA's cousins in the government which have created the surveillance state, the secret police who monitor every keystroke of your mobile device and every keystroke on your desktop, who use the power of government to get private entities like the social media giants to censor speech that they hate. I think that you and I are on the same page here, but how would you stop that? I think you could stop the NSA spying on everybody with an executive order. They keep relying on Executive Order 13333 which was signed by Ronald Reagan, which is ambiguous, but they find language in there that lets them spy on every body and every president since Reagan has refused to disturb that executive order. Would you stop the mass, warrantless surveillance, the suspicionless surveillance of every American?"
[15:26] RFK, Jr.: "I absolutely would and I can do that by executive order. And I think that that's critical and as you know, we now have a judicial decision that came out from a federal judge this week -- a 155 page decision -- which orders the White House to stop collaborating with the social media sites and censoring Americans
Judge Napolitano: "You were part of that litigation, were you not?"
[16:03] RFK, Jr.: "I was. And I was one of the first people the White House began censoring. The first order from the White House, which is on January 23, 2021, three days after President Biden came into office, the White House sent an order to Facebook to begin censoring me and to take down -- or to Twitter -- and three weeks later, as a result of that, as this judicial decision points out, Instagram removed me. And they were not removing me for any kind of misinformation -- there was nothing erroneous in what I was posting -- they used a new term, Mal-information to describe me. And "mal-information" is "Information that was accurate but was harmful to official policies." And they weren't just censoring Covid policies. They were censoring any discussion of Hunter Biden's laptop and ultimately they were cenoring or deplatforming people who posted things about the Ukraine War. About a whole long long list including criticism and satire about President Biden, how important the categories that were being censored. So Judge Doherty called this the largest, most concerted, most extreme example of censorship by the United States Government in its history."
[17:25] "And the government was threateninig all the social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Wikipedia, Google, with removing the Section 230 shield. ... as you know the section that says if Facebook, for example, publishes somebody who makes a defamatory statement, in other words, if some customer of Facebook makes a defamatory statement against another person and then that is picked up and goes viral, can that person who is defamed sue Facebook? Well, no they can't. And that's because of Section 230. Normally, if a publisher publishes a definition of value that's written by somebody else, the publisher is liable. With these social media sites, you can't sue them. And that is, as Mark Zuckerberg pointed out, that Section 230 protection is existential. Their business plan simply doesn't work without it.
[18:35] "The White House was telling [everyone] they were reluctant to censor Americans. But the White House was saying: 'If you don't do it, we are going to take away your Section 230.' Essentially, the White House was threatening them with the destruction of their business if they refused to cooperate. So. "
[18:55] Judge Napolitano: "So, the First Amendment which says Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Speech which as we know today applies to all the government. The government was doing indirectly what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly. . . . "
. . .
[21:23] Judge Napolitano: "What is your view about prosecuting these folks [Assange, Snowden, Tixiera] whom the government says have committed espionage but many of us believe have engaged in the most courageous transparency since Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers case in the early 1970s?"
. . .
[23:56] RFK, Jr.: “... the government is lying to us about everything to do with Ukraine. This was a sell job they gave us on the Ukraine.”
[24:09] Judge Napolitano: "Two more topics, both foreign affairs. The first is Ukraine. What would you do on Day One? Joe Biden has no goal, no exit ramp and is in by about 70 billion dollars already and we believe there are American troops on the ground, out of uniform which lets him lie about it. What would President Kennedy do about that?"
RFK, Jr.: "I would settle that or I would negotiate a peace immediately. The Russians have tried and tried again to settle the war, to avoid it. They wanted to sign the Minsk Accords, which was a reasonable document that (1) we keep NATO out of Ukraine; that (2) Ukraine remain neutral; That (3) we remove the Aegis missile systems from Romania and Poland and (4) that the wholesale killing of ethnic Russians by the Ukrainian government that America put in power should stop. So those are all things we should have agreed to. In fact, Zelenski won in 2019 by promising to sign the Minsk Accords."
[25:26] Judge Napolitano: "Does America have any dog in this fight? Or even the remotest threat to American National Security in this border dispute between Russia and Ukraine?
[25:35] "It's existential for the Russians. The Russians have been invaded three times through the Ukraine. The last time, one out of every seven Russians died. Hitler destroyed that country. My uncle [JFK] described what Hitler had done to Russia through the Ukraine. He asked Americans to imagine what if all the cities from the east coast to Chicago were reduced to rubble and all the forests burned and all the fields burned. That's what happened to Russia. And they don't want it to happen again. They've got a legitimate National Security interest.
26:14] "But they've also settled the war again in April of 2022 and signed an agreement with Zelenski and Putin. And the Russians were withdrawing. And then we sent [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson over there to blow up that agreement because we wanted the war for reasons that Biden has said:
[26:33] “The real reason for the war is regime change in Russia. Lloyd Austin, [President Biden’s] Secretary of Defense said that our purpose in being in the Ukraine is to exhaust the Russian Army and degrade its capacity to fight elsewhere in the world. And that is not something that is good for the Ukraine. Then [Senator] Mitch McConnell was most frank about it when he said Don’t worry about sending 113 billion over to the Ukraine because it’s all coming back to U.S. military contractors and we’re creating jobs here in America. And it's a perfect war because the people getting killed are Ukrainian kids -- 135,000 Ukrainian kids -- my son fought over there, side-by-side with those boys.”
[27:17] Judge Napolitano: "Last subject matter, Bobby. China. Friend or Foe?"
[27:22] RFK, Jr.: "China is our adversary. It's our competitor. But China does not want a war with America. China wants to compete with us economically because China does not project military power, unless we make them now, because we're putting bases in the South China Sea and putting ships in the South China Sea, and flexing our muscles and rattling the sabres about Taiwan. They're going to come over and do the same thing in Cuba. Just like the Russians did to us in 1961 and 62 with the missile crisis. We put missiles right next to their border and they said we're going to do it to you. China doesn't want that. We spent three times on our military than what China does. China has one-and-a-half bases around the world. That's it. We have 800."
"China wants to compete with us and they want to dominate us. But they want to do it economically. I'm not frightened about battling China on the economic playing field. I think that's good for our country. It's good for China and it's good for the rest of the world. And I think we ought to welcome that competition. I don't think we should try to fight them militarily. I think that's disastroud for our country and it's not helping our national security. World War III is not going to be good for American safety."