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Military Industrial Complex
Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" -- or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" -- would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)
The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.
The increasing number of U.S. warships equipped with ballistic missile defense technology would provide greater protection in case of conflict with China, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday (see GSN, April 7).
"We're converting more ships to have ballistic missile defense that would help against China," he told a PBS interviewer in regard to his budget plan for fiscal 2010.
The budget would reduce funding at the Missile Defense Agency by $1.4 billion but seeks $200 million to install missile shield technology on six ships, Gates said Monday.
Critics have argued that the plan would hamper the U.S. ability to fight conventional wars with nations such as China and Russia as Washington attempts to strengthen defenses against looming threats including insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Press Trust of India reported.
On the evening of March 19, 2009, Lawrence Korb spoke at the University of Pittsburgh (video at the end of this article).
Korb was the Vice President of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) from 1998-2002. He was also the CFR’s director of National Security Studies during that same period. From 1985-1986 he was Vice President of Corporate Operations at Raytheon. He was Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981-1985 during the Reagan Administration. He was an advisor to Barack Obama when Obama was campaigning for president. He currently is a Senior Fellow at American Progress and a Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information.
Cost of Iraq war will surpass Vietnam's by year's end
If Congress approves the latest funding request, as expected, the Iraq war will have cost about $694 billion, making it the second most expensive conflict in U.S. history behind World War II.
By Julian E. Barnes | LATimes
The amount of U.S. money spent on the Iraq war will surpass the cost of Vietnam by the end of the year, making it the second most expensive military conflict in American history, behind World War II, according to Pentagon figures provided Friday.
If Congress approves the supplemental funding request submitted this week by the Obama administration, the cost of the war will rise by $87 billion for 2009, including a previous supplement approved during the Bush administration.
A week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 20-foot containers of munitions, each weighing 14,000 tonnes, to Israel.
In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.
Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.
According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.
Some of us are out on the bricks these days passing around our resumes and trying to find honest technical work. Who contacts us nine out of ten times?
If you guessed, "war profiteers" you would be right. I've gotten ten emails today from companies crowing over the big technical job fair in Baltimore on April 16.
"Technical Job Fair" sounds great until you realize that you can't even get on the premises without a security clearance.
Join us April 16, Noon-2PM in the Hilton Baltimore BWI to protest this disgraceful event, and help hold this banner "War Profiteers Disgrace America".
The big question facing all Americans, and particularly Republicans, is whether we have the courage as a nation to face what we have done and set it right. Listening to Limbaugh, George F. Will, William Kristol, Glenn Beck and other influential Rebublicans, it is very clear their moral bearings have been irreversibly lost.
What we must have now is an unambiguous and forceful signal from President Obama and Democrats of every stripe that we are not going to simply stand by in obtuse, silent denial and watch other nations do what we know is our moral responsibility.
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer discusses the fallout from the Red Cross' shocking report on CIA torture and its serious legal implications.
On the night of April 6, a long-secret document was published -- in its entirety for the first time -- that provided a clear, stark look at the CIA torture program carried out by the Bush administration.
A stunning story about 26-year-old reporter David Schultz of local NPR station WAMU-FM and a graduate of the University of Arizona.
Schultz was working on a story about a veteran alleging bad treatment at the hands of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Tommie Canady, a 56-year-old veteran with a terminal pancreatic disease, says he gets horrible care.
MORE men at the expense of machines; more drones rather than top-end fighter jets and future bombers; more helicopters for combat troops rather than a replacement for the presidential chopper; more coastal vessels and fewer aircraft-carriers; better cyberdefences, but scaled-back missile defences and laser weapons. In short, the new American defence budget would spend more on today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and less to stave off future threats from China or Russia.
Camp Lejeune Historic Water Update
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?