Monday, December 22, 2014

The Back Story to Another Cato Firing

Dominick Armentano emails:

Cato's Libertarianism

This note is in regard to your recent posting about Cato and the "firing" of Vaclav Klaus.

Now I was never a "Distinguished Senior Fellow" like Klaus and, certainly, I am no where near as famous. But, as you may or may not know, I was an "adjunct scholar" of the Cato Institute for over 20 years when I was suddenly "fired" in 2008.

Some history: I was one of the original commentators for Cato's public affairs radio show, Byline. I did hundreds of radio shows for a period of 7 years for Cato; the show was distributed by PBS and ran nationally. I was one of their earliest "adjunct scholars"; I spoke at their conferences, wrote articles for their publications, and had a wonderful working relationship with Ed Crane that had started when Cato began in 1977 in San Francisco and I was on sabattical at IHS in Menlo Park. I had never, ever, been "censored" by Cato on anything that I either wrote about, spoke about, or did on the radio. Until...

In January of 2008 I wrote an op/ed on government disclosure and  UFO  secrecy. It appeared in our local Press Journal in Vero Beach, Florida with my usual byline acknowleging that I was, among other things, a Cato Institute adjunct scholar.  In the article I  noted  that several important public figures had called for additional government disclosure on the subject of UFOs. (John Podesta, Bill Richardson, Ed Mitchell, Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer, and many many others). The article was well argued, factual and recommended far more disclosure on UFOs as a public policy. There was absolutely no mention of Roswell, aliens, abductions or anything sensational like that. I would never have done that.

One day after the article appeared (one day!) I recieved a note that Cato was "reorganizing" their adjunct scholar program (a blatant lie as it turned out) and that I was being dropped because of the reorganization. Total crap of course. David Boaz would eventually acknowledge publically (to a reporter Billy Cox from the Sarasota Hearld Tribune)  that the real reason for dropping me was the UFO article I'd written. Cato did not think that it wanted to be associated with that research area.  Two points here. One, they had a perfect (property) right to drop me for anything, and  without cause. But two, it was not UFO "research" that I was writing about but about Government lies and deception and cover-ups--all well documented in the vast literature. In short, I was writing about a legitimate public policy issue, government secrecy, and alleged concerns with national security.

Ed Crane, who was not involved in the dismissal, later appologized for the way the issue was handled. But there was no offer to reinstate....especially after I had written a SECOND op/ed piece subtitled: "Why Cato Institute Dumped Me" (February 26, 2008, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, A7.) I've had nothing to do with Cato since.

So Klaus joins the short list of "fired" scholars. Fired NOT because of bad scholarship but because they took positions, well argued and articulate public policy positions, that Cato disagreed with.

All the best,

Dom Armentano
Vero Beach, Florida

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