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Asdrúbal Vargas is the Chairman of Estudiantes Por la Libertad and he is also a member of the International Executive Board.

I remember being a young student trying to promote libertarian ideas in Costa Rica without any kind of support. Every day was a new battle because I had to face the well-organized groups against liberty. These challenges made me wonder: Is it worth it? Is liberty worth it?

In an attempt to answer that question, I joined SFL back in 2012 and I must say that this decision truly changed my life. I had the opportunity to join a network of thousand of students, who shared my passion and love for a free society, from places where I never imagined it was possible to promote a free enterprise. There were people from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. We all spoke different languages and had different costumes, but what united us was the desire to achieve a better world. 

I remember being inspired by these individuals; experiencing this made me think: Liberty is worth it all. Ever since, a group of extraordinary leaders from Latin America and I assumed the challenge of creating a new branch of SFL in our region: EsLibertad. Today I get to see leaders from Mexico to Argentina fighting for a freer Latin America, and this is the every day fuel I receive to keep on fighting for liberty.

- This holiday season, give the gift

of

liberty. – 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 500-page report outlining the CIA’s history of torture during the Bush administration. The committee, chaired by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, concluded that torture was ineffective in locating Osama Bin Laden and preventing terrorist attacks.

The report received swift condemnation from the usual suspects, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, who blasted the report as being “full of crap.” In addition to claiming that torture was in fact effective in obtaining information and enhancing national security, he also stated that President Bush was privy to details about the program, contradicting the report’s claim that Bush was kept in the dark about secret CIA prisons and torture programs around the world. Whichever is true, it does suggest that one of President Obama’s few bright spots for liberty is on the subject of torture and ensuring it didn’t happen under his watch.

The report’s “revelations” include painfully obvious statements like “’Enhanced interrogation’ includes torture” and the fact that torture doesn’t work well. Nonetheless, this acknowledgment by members of the Senate who focus on intelligence matters that the interrogation methods used to acquire intelligence were both excessive in their application and ineffective in their results is a positive step for acknowledging past transgressions. Although Obama ceased this practice in 2009, it will help ensure it isn’t repeated again by a U.S. government agency in the future.

There are some points that critics get wrong about the report. One is the idea that Democratic Sen. Feinstein released the report hastily before Republicans took over the Senate and could block its release. The truth is that a committee made up of eight Democrats and seven Republicans voted 11-3 in April to declassify and release the report. The committee worked with the executive branch on a redacted version that could be made public. While Republican leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the committee’s Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss criticized the report, it is effectively a non sequitur considering Chambliss is the vice chairman and could have voiced dissent and ensured other Republicans voted against its release earlier on, before the report made headlines.

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Suzanne Schaefer is a Senior Campus Coordinator.

College is the worst. That’s actually not true, because high school is, in fact, the worst. However, often throughout my years as a college student I’ve asked myself, why do I even? Thankfully, Students For Liberty has helped me answer that question. While college can seem like a waste of time, SFL has provided me with amazing opportunities, thriving social and professional networks, and most importantly, a worthwhile purpose amidst a life of exams and research papers. Throughout my time as a Campus Coordinator, I’ve been able to travel to Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington DC, and even Guatemala. Additionally, I was afforded the opportunity to intern in DC with Drug Policy Alliance through SFL’s Professional Advancement Fellowship.

Fostering professional, intellectual, and personal growth, the Professional Advancement Fellowship has been the highlight of my college education thus far. Without it, I would not have been able to achieve my goal of interning for liberty in my favorite city. SFL has been an integral part of my college education, and without a doubt the most valuable. I’ve gained real life experience to bolster my resume, as well as a wonderful collection of new friends and connections all around the world. Plus, SFL relieved me from the worry that I wasted my time going to college. I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure this is the best organization out there for students.

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The Obama administration recently announced a plan to give $263 million to local law enforcement, which is somewhat concerning considering how this intrusion of the federal government may affect local governments. There may be a silver lining in this plan as $75 million will go to providing officers with body cameras. This is interesting to say the least as many people have been calling for this move to make the police more accountable. Yet while body cameras may prove to be a good tool to keep the police accountable, what the rest of this money will go to is not quite clear.

Immediately you’d see that amount, $75 million, and think that it’s a lot of money being allocated for body cameras. In reality, that money will only go to fund 50,000 body cams, which translates to about $1500 per camera. A quick Google search finds that even the most expensive law enforcement grade cameras are only about $700. This begs the question, where is the rest of this money going? Perhaps I am missing out on some of the nuances of body cameras (I doubt I’m missing out on $800 worth of them) or perhaps, as one Tumblr user joked, “the rest of the money will go to the guy paid to erase the footage.”

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Bradley ManningThe day we are born, the state places us in a gender prison and locks the door. Through its mandated forms of documentation – birth certificates, immunization records, social security cards, state IDs and driver licenses, it moves us from one cell to another our entire lives. It tells us what our “legal” name is, it loses its mind if we move without telling it, and if we grow into a gender identity other than the one it has assigned us – well, that’s just not permissible.

You can actually get in trouble for that. If you use the wrong restroom, if you’re caught driving while trans* and not identifiable by your license, if you mark paperwork with new information without paying the ransom – that’s a crime. And when the state finds out, it will lock you in a cage with others of the wrong gender who might rape or murder you (or even do that itself)  – all because “legal gender.”

Do you share my opinion that the organization called “the state” should be limited to its proper role? Because this is both a memorial post and a call to action. As chair of the LGBT caucus in the Libertarian Party – Outright Libertarians – I have been blessed with the opportunity to challenge the empire and its police and surveillance state while our siblings on the left have been lulled to sleep.

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