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Military Industrial Complex
CIA Director Leon Panetta has carried through on his pledge to prohibit independent contractors from conducting interrogations of terror suspects.
In a message to agency employees on Thursday, Panetta said he had notified the congressional oversight committees about the current CIA policy regarding interrogations.
Besides discontinuing the use of contractors, the director outlined in the message other steps taken in response to executive orders issued by President Obama in January.
The harsh interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration will no longer be used. Panetta said questioning of suspected terrorists will follow the approaches authorized in the Army Field Manual.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Obama administration will ask Congress for another $83.4 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of September, Democratic congressional sources said Thursday.
President Obama's spending measure is likely to be the last supplemental request submitted to pay for the wars.
President Obama's spending measure is likely to be the last supplemental request submitted to pay for the wars.
The request is expected to pay for those conflicts for the rest of the 2009 budget year, two Democratic congressional sources said.
About $75 billion of that would pay for military operations, with the rest going to diplomatic programs and development aid.
Time Magazine has the story:
When Army Staff Sergeant Amanda Henderson ran into Staff Sergeant Larry Flores in their Texas recruiting station last August, she was shocked by the dark circles under his eyes and his ragged appearance. "Are you O.K.?" she asked the normally squared-away soldier. "Sergeant Henderson, I am just really tired," he replied. "I had such a bad, long week, it was ridiculous." The previous Saturday, Flores' commanders had berated him for poor performance. He had worked every day since from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., trying to persuade the youth of Nacogdoches to wear Army green. "But I'm O.K.," he told her. No, he wasn't. Later that night, Flores hanged himself in his garage with an extension cord.
On Monday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced his version of the new Pentagon budget. Looked at one way, his suggested changes were significant, even startling given how deeply the giant armament companies have embedded themselves and their new generations of weaponry in the American landscape (and so in Congress). Gates stated that the F-22 Raptor program (at $350 million a plane) and the C-17 cargo plane program were to end; that the Army's $200 billion techno-boondoggle, its Future Combat Systems, would be radically scaled back, losing all eight of its vehicles; that the Navy would some distant day end up with one less aircraft carrier battle group and lose as well its futuristic stealth destroyers; that money going into missile defense would be shrunk, and so on. This is no small thing and, given the way the arms industry scatters weapons production over as many states as possible, some of these cuts may not make it through congressional review.
April 9, 2009 | In a story published yesterday [see story here], Salon reported on a surreptitious tape recording of an Army psychologist telling a patient last June that he had been pressured not to diagnose soldiers as having post-traumatic stress disorder. The soldier, whom Salon dubbed Sgt. X to protect his identity, recorded the Fort Carson, Colo., psychologist, Douglas McNinch, twice describing pressure to label soldiers with "anxiety disorder" instead of PTSD. The diagnosis of anxiety disorder could result in improper treatment and lower disability payments if the Army discharges a soldier from the military. "It's not fair," McNinch said on the tape. "I think it's a horrible way to treat soldiers."
By Andrew Lichterman, DisarmamentActivist
“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.” Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
'The War Is Not a Game:' Gold Star Families Speak Out Expresses Outrage at Video Game Based on Deadly Battle in Iraq
Members of Gold Star Families Speaks Out (GSFSO), family members of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, are expressing outrage at two companies that plan to release a video game that graphically recreates one of the Iraq war's bloodiest battles.
Atomic Games and Konami plan to release "Six Days in Fallujah" next year. The game is based on videos, photographs, and diary entries from veterans of a battle that claimed the lives of 38 U.S. troops and an estimated 1,500 Iraqis between November 7 and December 23, 2004. Discussing the game, Atomic Games President, Peter Tamte recently told a reporter that "For us, the challenge was how to present the horrors of war in a game that is entertaining, but also gives people insight into a historical situation in a way that only a video game can provide"
In a statement released Wednesday, Gold Star Families Speak Out said:
Let me first say this picture is not quite right for what I want to say here but after spending alot of time looking for just the right image it is all I could find that came close to fitting my message. Bear with me please.
Obama's proposed military budget for 2010 is getting lots of copy and most of it is headlined as "cut backs in military spending." Of course this is not at all correct as he is really seeking at least a 4% increase in Pentagon spending for next year. Some Democrats in Congress want to make it even more.
What Obama is doing is shifting some monies around. Delay or cut one program and move those funds into things like $2 billion more for Afghanistan war intelligence and surveillance and $500 million more for helicopters in that war zone. He also wants more special operations troops (trained killer teams) for Afghanistan and more unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones.
Just one local example is Bath Iron Works here in Maine. They presently are building Navy Aegis destroyers called the DDG-51 which cost $1.2 billion each. The politicians (Republican and Democrat alike) are pushing a new generation destroyer called the DDG-1000 which would cost $3 billion each. Secretary of War Robert Gates didn't want them because of the increased cost and their vulnerability to cruise missiles but they are now in Obama's new Pentagon budget. It should be remembered that Bath Iron Works is owned by General Dynamics and one of the major owners of this weapons corporation is the Crown family out of Chicago who were early big time funders of the Obama campaign. Is there a connection there? You decide.
By David Swanson
The largest military budget in the history of the world is being increased. Certain weapons are being cut back, others expanded. But the overall budget is going UP. However, you don't need me to tell you that. You've learned it from these fine news sources:
"With Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposing broad cuts in Pentagon spending, a new war over the president's budget has begun. While critics already are warning that the plan could compromise U.S. security, the greater resistance appears to be coming from lawmakers worried that the cuts threaten thousands of jobs in their states."
There really are cuts and critics and chicken littles, but nowhere does Fox tell you that the overall budget is INCREASING. Then again, if Fox didn't lie, how would we know what was true?
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander In Chief Obama suffered 16 combat casualties in the week ending April 7 as the official total rose to at least 71,543. The total includes 34,594 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,949 dead and medically evacuated (as of Feb. 28, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Many cities and towns across this country rise and fall with military spending. And with Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announcement earlier this week of new defense spending priorities, many communities are bracing for drastic cuts or a windfall.
From Seattle to St. Louis to Fort Worth, communities are closely watching how the $534 billion spending plan for the 2010 fiscal year plays out in Congress.
Plus: watch a former director of the FBI lie for a Saudi prince:
Last week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus held its second of six scheduled forums on Afghanistan. It was the first non-classified public forum on Capitol Hill to address the Obama Administration's newly released Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) -- a Vietnam Veteran and former chief of staff for Secretary Colin Powell -- offered some powerful words of caution.
In 1984, Skynet, the supercomputer that rules a future Earth, sent a cyborg assassin, a "terminator," back to our time. His job was to liquidate the woman who would give birth to John Connor, the leader of the underground human resistance of Skynet's time. You with me so far? That, of course, was the plot of the first Terminator movie and for the multi-millions who saw it, the images of future machine war -- of hunter-killer drones flying above a wasted landscape -- are unforgettable.
Media witnessed a Sunday night ceremony for the arrival of a Virginia airman killed in Afghanistan, marking the end of an 18-year ban on news coverage of returning U.S. war dead.
Ban lifted, media witness solemn return of fallen service member
By Mike Mount | CNN
By David Swanson
The Pentagon is starting to cut weapons programs, and peace groups are bound to cheer.
I don't just mean pseudo-peace groups funded by the makers of OTHER weapons systems (and these do exist, and you should be wary of any campaign obsessed with ending a particular weapon). I mean ordinary peace groups. Because we've been demanding an end to wasteful weapons systems, fraudulent and outdated weapons systems, weapons systems designed for nonexistent enemies. We claimed that those concerns were at least among our real reasons for wanting to cut Pentagon funds.
Well, the Pentagon is about to spend more money than any military ever has in the history of the planet, with less waste, less fraud, and weapons that kill real enemies more effectively. Why aren't we happy?
The Center for American Progress is holding events on avoiding fraud and waste, because THEIR side wants BADLY run wars, and "progressives" want well run wars. Similarly, we're thrilled to see cuts in weapons that don't work, allowing increased investment in weapons that kill people better:
Gates to cut several major weapons programs
From Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates is proposing deep cuts to some big weapons programs such as the F-22 fighter jet as the Pentagon takes a hard look at how it spends money.
Gates announced a broad range of cuts Monday to weapons spending, saying he plans to cut programs ranging from a new helicopter for the president to ending production of the $140 billion F-22 fighter jet. The Army's modernization program would be scaled back, while a new satellite system and a search-and-rescue helicopter would be cut.
A friend wrote this morning, "The headline should read - Obama talks peace and plans for war."
At the 60th anniversary NATO celebrations President Obama begged for more troops in Afghanistan from alliance member nations. They urged him forward but few countries offered help.
Then in Prague Obama called for the world to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Very commendable.
The Washington Post reported this morning that, "For those worried about a unilateral American disarmament, Obama promised that the country would keep enough nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies as long as the weapons existed in other nations....He also reiterated his pledge to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe as long as Iran poses a possible nuclear threat to the region."
The Smooth Criminal Transition from Bush/Cheney to Obama
Corrupt new administration deepens and expands systemic criminalization and war agenda
by Larry Chin | Global Researcher.CA
To sober, clear-eyed observers of history and political deception, the ascension of Barack Obama held the promise for unprecedented new dangers: a revitalized New World Order, led by the Anglo-American empire’s neoliberal criminal faction and an iconic, deceptive new facilitator; and a continuation of Bush/Cheney criminality and war, under smarter and much more effective management.
Now, just months into their tenure, the Barack Obama administration has more than fulfilled the promises he made to his elite constituency, deepening the mass destruction of Bush/Cheney, while charming its victims all over the world into enjoying their own demise.
Two days after being sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States, Barack Obama signed three executive orders, banning torture, requiring the CIA to use the same methods as the military in interrogating terror suspects, shutting down the network of secret CIA prisons and shuttering the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. "What the cynics fail to understand," the president proclaimed in his inaugural address, "is that the ground has shifted beneath them."
But where exactly has the ground shifted? The places of focus--and much of the furor against Bush's terror politics over the past few years--are outside our nation's borders, in distant lands and faraway prisons. The problem of torture and other human rights violations in America's "war on terror" has been framed as a problem that happens largely beyond our shores. The underlying assumption is that if Guantánamo detainees were to be tried on United States soil and in federal courts (as many groups demand), such egregious abuses would not occur.
The Council on Foreign Relations, often described as the "real state department", has launched an initiative to promote and implement a system of effective world governance.
Henry Kissinger, a CFR member, anticipates that President Obama will, "…give new impetus to American foreign policy partly because the reception of him is so extraordinary around the world. I think his task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when, really, a new world order can be created. It’s a great opportunity, it isn’t just a crisis."
An Arrest Warrant for al-Bashir, Could Bush Be Next?
03 April 2009
|Czech honor guard change shifts in front of Prague castle gate, where President Obama will meet with counterpart, Sunday|
Czechs opposed to U.S. plans to install part of a missile defense system in their country say they will go ahead with a protest march during President Barack Obama's visit to Prague this weekend, despite a ban on the demonstration. The protests come as opinion polls suggest many Czechs fear the missile shield could lead to tensions with Russia and more insecurity in Europe.
The Czech capital Prague saw a variety of protests in recent months against a planned U.S. missile defense system. Many oppose the plan - originally pushed by the Bush administration - to install radar dishes near Prague as part of the project. Interceptor rockets would be based in neighboring Poland.
Casualties caused by IEDs in Afghanistan on the rise
By Tom Vanden Brook | USA TODAY
Roadside bombs cause 75% of casualties to coalition forces in Afghanistan, up from 50% two years ago, prompting urgent pleas from commanders there for more armored vehicles to protect troops, according to data and interviews.
The growth in casualties caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) worries Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who meets Friday with a task force meant to speed Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to war zones, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.
"The secretary is concerned that with IED casualties in Afghanistan on the rise and tens of thousands of additional U.S. forces flowing into country that we have enough MRAPs to protect our troops from this increasing threat," Morrell said.
Homelessness, family strains and psychological problems among returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will persist in the U.S. for generations to come, the top U.S. military officer said Thursday.
"This is not a 10-year problem. It is a 50- or 60- or 70-year problem," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a lunchtime audience at the Hudson Union Society, a group that promotes nonpartisan debate.
Mullen said he was particularly disturbed by the emergence of homelessness as a problem among war veterans.
By Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell
It’s one thing to study online articles describing the MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators. It’s quite another to identify these drones as they take off from runways at Nevada’s Creech Air Force base, where our “Ground the Drones…Lest We Reap the Whirlwind” campaign is holding a ten-day vigil.
This morning, during a one hour walk from Cactus Springs, Nevada, where we are housed, to the gates of Creech Air Force base, we saw the Predator and Reaper drones glide into the skies, once every two minutes. We could easily distinguish the Predator from the Reaper, - if the tailfins are up, it’s a Predator, tail fins down, a Reaper.
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the U.S. Air Force refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.