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60 Minutes slights critics of controversial weapons
On May 10, CBS's 60 Minutes presented a remarkably one-sided report on unmanned Air Force drones firing missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the drones have been criticized for killing civilians in both countries, CBS viewers heard from no critics of the weapons.
Instead, correspondent Lara Logan seemed awed by the drones from the very start of the broadcast: "Every so often in the history of war, a new weapon comes along that fundamentally rewrites the rules of battle. This is a story about a revolution in unmanned aviation that is doing just that." She described the drones as "hunting down insurgents, every minute of every day," and as "one of the most important planes in the United States Air Force."
AS FEDERAL WAR POLICY SHIFTS, OREGON HOUSE TO VOTE ON KEEPING NATIONAL GUARD AT HOME
. . . would become first state to adopt new Guard law
The Oregon House is within days of scheduling a work session and floor vote on legislation preventing any future unlawful deployments of the Oregon National Guard. Cooperation between Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) and Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland) has led to bipartisan support for Oregon’s HB 2556, a bill that makes explicit the governor’s power to ensure the Guard is only used in the presence of a "valid Congressional enactment consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America." HB 2556-1 has gathered enough support to win adoption by the Oregon House, according to grassroots organizers who support it.
By JOHN FEFFER, FPIF
St. Augustine fooled around a lot as a young man. At one point during his philandering, according to his Confessions, the future Church Father uttered the immortal lines: "Give me chastity. But not yet."
President Obama has taken a very Augustinian approach to nuclear weapons. He has identified a desired goal. But at the same time, he's reluctant to give up old habits. "Give me nuclear abolition," Obama proclaims in public. With his day-to-day policies, however, the president is conveying a slightly different message: "But not yet."
The ratio of wounded to killed in Iraq is much higher than in previous conflicts, and is a far more accurate measure of the scale of violence in the country than the tally of combat deaths. In Iraq the ratio is 8 to 1, compared to Vietnam, where it was 3 to 1, or World War II, where it was 2 to 1. ...
... nine percent of all unemployment in the United States is attributed to combat exposure, as is 8 percent of all divorce or separation and 21 percent of all spousal or partner abuse. The impact of all this extends to behavioral problems in children, child abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, and homelessness, all of which have implication that go well beyond the individual and reverberate across generations. ...
There’s a big piece of news about Dick Cheney and torture buried toward the end of this big Washington Post piece about the torture wars.
Specifically: The White House has decided to declassify and release a classified 2004 CIA report about the torture program that is reported to have found no proof that torture foiled any terror plots on American soil — directly contradicting Cheney’s claims. The paper cites “allies” of the White House as a source.
(The Intelligence Daily) -- A strange feeling of déjà vu arises while listening to the administration sell further U.S. military intervention in Pakistan (our Predator drones are already there).
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen claimed in late March that Pakistan's intelligence service has "close links with al Qaeda and the Taliban network." In fact, Mullen warned, the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, is "offering logistical support to them (the Taliban)."
Cheney May Be Willing To Testify Under Oath About Torture Program | Think Progress | Submitted By Bob Fertik | Democrats.com
Senate and House Democrats should immediately schedule a date for Cheney to testify under oath.
Today on CBS´s Face the Nation, Vice President Cheney vigorously defended the Bush administration´s torture policies and his belief that by rejecting them, President Obama is raising "the risk to the American people of another attack." Cheney said that the Bush administration´s interrogation policies will one day be viewed as "one of the great success stories of American intelligence."
When host Bob Schieffer asked Cheney whether he would be willing to testify to Congress under oath, Cheney initially hedged, but then indicated that he would be willing to do so:
The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said.
The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon’s Black Budget Grows to More Than $50 Billion
By Noah Shachtman | Wired
The Pentagon wants to spend just over $50 billion on classified programs next year, newly-released Defense Department budget documents reveal. “That’s the largest-ever sum,” according to Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman, a longtime black-budget seer — a three percent increase over last year’s total.
The CIA has released a devastating document detailing the dates and explicit details of secret Congressional briefings in which members of Congress were told of the Bush administration’s torture techniques and when they had been used.
The document is explicit (PDF here). Most damning, perhaps, is its description of a meeting held between CIA staff and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which shows that Pelosi was briefed on the Bush Administration’s torture techniques in 2002 — even though she’s publicly said she was never told about the use of waterboarding.
Cyber espionage and attacks from well-funded nations or terror groups are the biggest threats to the military's computer networks, a top US officer said.
Air Force General Kevin Chilton, who heads US Strategic Command, said he worries that foes will learn to disable or distort battlefield communications.
Chilton told reporters that even as the Pentagon improves its network defences against hackers, he needs more people, training and resources to hone offensive cyber war capacity.
At the same time, however, he asserted that the US would consider using military force against an enemy who attacks and disrupts the nation's critical networks.
The concept of the "Long War" is attributed to former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid, speaking in 2004. Leading counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, an Iraq combat veteran and now the head of the Center for a New American Security, writes that "there is a growing realization that the most likely conflicts of the next fifty years will be irregular warfare in an 'Arc of Instability' that encompasses much of the greater Middle East and parts of Africa and Central and South Asia." The Pentagon's official Quadrennial Defense Review (2005) commits the United States to a greater emphasis on fighting terrorism and insurgencies in this "arc of instability." The Center for American Progress repeats the formulation in arguing for a troop escalation and ten-year commitment in Afghanistan, saying that the "infrastructure of jihad" must be destroyed in "the center of an 'arc of instability' through South and Central Asia and the greater Middle East."
The implications of this doctrine are staggering. The very notion of a fifty-year war assumes the consent of the American people, who have yet to hear of the plan, for the next six national elections. The weight of a fifty-year burden will surprise and dismay many in the antiwar movement.
WILL NATION THAT HOUSED 425,000 NAZIS IN WWII FIND ACCOMMODATIONS FOR 241 GITMO CAPTIVES?
By Sherwood Ross
The mean-spirited attitude of Republican politicians over repatriating Guantanamo’s remaining 241 inmates in the U.S. reflects both their irrational fears and loss of moral compass. House GOP leaders have introduced a “Keep Terrorists Out of America Act” that would give governors’ veto power to stop the transfer or release of detainees in their state. The same governors that never question the building of atomic bombs, napalm, biological, and other banned U.S. terror weapons in their jurisdictions can be expected to make hypocritical political hay out of this issue.
The continuing saga of the Pentagon pundit program just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.
The internal review concluded that the report “did not meet accepted quality standards” and “relied on a body of testimonial evidence that was insufficient or inconclusive.” The review found that the former senior Pentagon officials who devised and managed the program refused to speak with the inspector general’s investigators....Mr. Horstman’s memorandum said that no additional investigative work would be done to reissue the report because the public relations program has been terminated and the senior officials who oversaw it have left the Pentagon.
Source: No Criminal Case Likely Over Torture Memos
By Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writer | ABCNews.com
Justice Department officials have stopped short of recommending criminal charges against Bush administration lawyers who wrote secret memos approving harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects. A person familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says investigators recommended referring two of the three lawyers to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action. The person was not authorized to discuss the inquiry.
The person noted that the investigative report was still in draft form and subject to revisions. Attorney General Eric Holder also may make his own determination about what steps to take once the report has been finalized.
US Troops Urged To Share Faith in Afghanistan | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military must reorganize its offensive and defensive cyber operations and will use a new command at a Maryland Army facility to create a digital warfare force for the future, the director of the National Security Agency says.
Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, also the Pentagon's leading cyber warfare commander, said the U.S. is determined to lead the global effort to use computer technology to deter or defeat enemies, while still protecting the public's constitutional rights.
In testimony prepared for delivery Tuesday to a House Armed Services subcommittee, Alexander and other military leaders in cyber matters outlined the challenges to keeping up with rapidly changing technologies and the need for more resources and training. In blunt comments, Alexander acknowledged that cyber training for the Pentagon's work force is inadequate and must be improved.
Millions in Work Came Without Competition
Credit to Air America for forwarding this link even though it's about a Democrat.
The Washington Post reports:
Yet last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech's most striking feature is its owner -- Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department's spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
The Israel lobby has been running into a few problems lately, but it’s nothing they don’t think they can handle: a charge of treason, a strong suspicion of obstructing justice, and a gathering storm of criticism from a few dissident intellectuals and policy types. Nothing to get too exercised about. Having felled Charles "Chas" Freeman, smitten Gen. Zinni, and sidelined those in the Obama administration who question the nature and utility of America’s "special relationship" with Israel, the Lobby’s flagship organization, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is primed to hold their national conference in Washington next week, with Jane "This Conversation Doesn’t Exist" Harman slated to address the gathering.
The focus of the conference, and the legislative centerpiece of the event, will be passage of the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act, which would ban US companies from providing Iran with refined petroleum products, and seeks to punish European companies — particularly the Swiss, who come in for two specific mentions in the text of the bill — for doing so.
To begin with, the name affixed to this piece of legislative legerdemain is a prime example of congressional doublethink: will it really enhance diplomatic relations with Iran to impose draconian sanctions, the equivalent of an economic chokehold and a prelude to a military blockade? Hardly, and that is very far from its clear intent.
This bill is all about provoking the Iranians, effectively sabotaging efforts to engage in a mutual dialogue with Tehran. Why the egregious packaging? Well, it seems the American people are sick and tired of war, and preparations for war, and so it is far less incriminating if a member of Congress can say he (or she) voted for "the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act" than it is to admit they supported isolating Iran economically.
Fighting a high-tech war with a low-tech mule
US Marines and soldiers are training to fight in Afghanistan, where mules and donkeys can haul supplies and weapons to places where Humvees and helicopters can't easily go.
By Gordon Lubold | CSM
Tucked at the base of a small mountain in the eastern Sierras is a makeshift paddock where a handful of US Marine Corps instructors reach deep into the history of warfare to give their charges a critical skill when they deploy to Afghanistan: how to pack a mule.
It is a peculiar course to teach in a military that is widely considered the best-trained, most capable, and highest-tech in the world.
But as the US girds to deploy more than 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer, the military is having to prepare for a decidedly different kind of fight from the one in Iraq.
Torture and treason: Can we face up to what has been done in our name?
By Robert C. Koehler | The Smirking Chimp
The Gitmo intelligence crew was being told, from the highest levels of the Bush White House and the Pentagon -- think Cheney, think Rumsfeld -- to keep slamming these guys' heads against the wall, to keep pouring water down their throats, to keep tormenting them with dogs and insects, until they blubbered, in their pain and terror, a word or two that would justify the long-planned (and completely pointless) invasion of Iraq. This drags the torture "debate" out of the fog that mainstream pundits are paid to generate -- does it work? is it legal? is it cruel? is it counterproductive? -- and exposes something that is troubling at the level of the soul, and begs only one question. Is it treason?
None dare call it . . . what is that word again?
It's a word I associate with the McCarthy era and patriotic fanaticism; its commission is the cardinal sin against the nation-state and, as such, not only too easily flung at an ideological opponent but a frayed, simplistic concept, in that humankind ought to be reaching beyond national identities for global allegiance and a security that doesn't devalue life anywhere on the planet. It's a word I avoid. Certainly I've never accused anyone of it. Till now.
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
Having trouble keeping track of all the memos, executive orders, and policy decisions that led the United States into the moral low ground? FP brings you the ultimate guide to the Bush administration's journey to the dark side.
In the past 10 days, the revelation of once classified memos and Senate reports has greatly elucidated how torture happened. This timeline shows the key relevant legal and military events. New information is marked in italics.
September 11: Afghanistan-based terrorist organization al Qaeda attacks the United States. Nearly 3,000 people die.
September 14: A congressional resolution authorizes U.S. President George W. Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to combat the countries and groups behind 9/11. Vice President Dick Cheney promises that the United States will use "any means at our disposal" to combat terrorism.
More video below the fold: click "Read more" for Part 2
Sgt. David Schlosser says the protesters violated a permit regulation that required them to remain in motion on the center portion of a sidewalk. The protesters, wearing orange jumpsuits to represent Guantánamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release, remain in custody.
Earlier, protesters marched from the U.S. Capitol to protest detention policies in the United States and what they call the government's refusal to prosecute torture. Read more.