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The Russia-NATO summit cancelled

From Itar-Tass:

A Russia-NATO summit, which was scheduled in May, is cancelled. According to the official version, the summit was cancelled over “an intensive domestic political calendar in Russia.” However, the experts believe that this step is caused by disagreements of the parties concerned over the European missile defence system.

The Shifting Strategies of Empire

Remarks at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) Conference:

President Obama this week declared the war on Iraq to be an honorable success that has given us a brighter future. Are you fired up? Ready to go?

Eric Holder this month explained that it's legal for a president to kill anyone anywhere, or to imprison them, or to spy on them. I started to get upset about this, but then I remembered that Holder is a Democrat. That made me feel much better.

Governor of Maine Sticks Out Tongue at Constituents - Guess Why

Governor of Maine Sticks Out Tongue at Constituents

Gov. Paul LePage of Maine sticks out his tongue at his constituents.

Photo credit: Peter Woodruff

Here's why:

Stopping the US Drone War: A Chilling Feature of War of Terror

Under the US global war of terror, 40% of the US budget goes to preserve and expand the US empire, killing people in the Middle East to protect a global system of exploitation. As an integral part of the terror program, drones are a weapon of choice. The Obama administration is coordinating drone strikes in at least six countries: Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. In fact, these drones are being used eight times more by the Obama administration than by the Bush regime, in programs run by the military and the C.I.A. Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that such strikes are legally justified under international law, basing its argument on the Bush doctrine of borderless, endless “war on terror.” On an almost daily basis, drones circle miles above Earth, following targets. The pilots may live and work out of Colorado or on a base in upstate NY or even in some other part of the world.

Robots Kill, But the Blood Is on Our Hands

In her spare time, between nonstop peace activism and leading international exchanges, Medea Benjamin has somehow managed to write the best book yet on the most inhuman form of war yet.  The book is called "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control."  The foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich and a form to pre-order the book are here.

Even if you've been reading everything you could about drones, attending peace conferences, and protesting in the lobbies of drone companies like General Atomics, you will learn a great deal from this book.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that even if you "pilot" drones from a desk for a living you will learn a great deal from this book.  And if you have not been paying attention to drones, then you really need to read this book.

Many Americans first heard about "unmanned aerial vehicles" as weapons when Colin Powell told the United Nations in 2003 that Iraq might use them to attack the United States.  This turned out to be a projection as well as a lie.  It was, of course, the United States that used drones, among other weapons, to attack Iraq for nine years, and the U.S. drones are still in the skies of Iraq today, as well in the skies of many other countries.

A Poem in TCBH!: Mars, oh Mars

 

Mars, oh Mars

  how pink you are!

You hang in the east –

  a blushing star,


D.P Lindorff Sr. Dies: Radar Pioneer, Engineering Professor, Jungian Analyst and TCBH! Contributor

 

By Dave Lindorff, Jr.

 

David Plimpton Lindorff, an occasional contributor to ThisCantBeHappening! and perhaps the last survivor of the Radiation Lab, a top-secret World War II project in Cambridge, MA that led to the placing of radar on aircraft, died March 15 in Storrs, CT at the age of 89 as a result of complications from ataxia. 

 

Afghanistan: The Wheels Are Coming Off

 

By John Grant

 

When does a determination to look on the bright side turn into a state of denial? That is, when do leaders of a secrecy-obsessed US government admit the decision-making surrounding the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan was misguided from the beginning and the endgame is a mess because of it?

While the leadership of America is mud-wrestling with itself in the election "silly season," the nation is watching the wheels come off its military occupation of Afghanistan. It feels like that special effects TV ad for a new SUV in which, as the SUV speeds forward, thousands of its parts magically come flinging loose until we see nothing but the truck chassis speeding ahead.

How Weapons Sales Caused the 2008 Financial Crisis

I just read an interesting new book called "The Economics of Killing: How the West Fuels War and Poverty in the Developing World" by Vijay Mehta.  I especially recommend the first chapter, which argues that the U.S. economy has become very heavily dependent on weapons sales (to the U.S. government and foreign governments) but refuses to sell weapons or "duel use" high-tech products to China, even as U.S. consumers buy everything they consume from China.  This trade balance results in China buying up U.S. Treasury bonds, which results in low interest rates and lots of personal debt and eventually financial crisis.  Mehta's conclusion: either we sell China our weapons (which would be a short-term fix, as China would quickly shift to manufacturing the same products itself) or we shift our economy toward production of non-military products.  A similar argument is found in this article:

3-Hour Military Test Secretly Administered in Thousands of High Schools

Pat Elder of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy (StudentPrivacy.org) explains how the U.S. military gets away with requiring students in thousands of U.S. high schools to take a 3-hour career inventory test with the results going straight to recruiters without students' or parents' knowledge.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.

Producer: David Swanson.

Engineer: Christiane Brown.

Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or Radio4All or LetsTryDemocracy.

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Perriellian Wars

Virginia's Fifth Congressional District had been long disgraced by the racist buffoon Democrat turned Republican Virgil Goode when Tom Perriello was elected as a non-racist buffoon Democrat in 2008.  For partisans, just getting elected and doing what President Obama told him was all Perriello needed to do.  For national "progressives" he was a star, which was usually explained to me in terms of how awful his district was relative to how limitedly awful he was. 

Defund the Bangor Wharf to Nowhere

By Leonard Eiger

The U.S. Navy is planning to build a $715 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State.  It is intended to handle the Trident nuclear armed missiles deployed on the eight ballistic missile submarines homeported there.

The Navy has not needed this second wharf for the past 30 years, but now claims it needs a second wharf to handle missile maintenance demands. Trident submarines at Bangor currently carry reduced numbers of nuclear warheads and U.S. treaty obligations call for continued reductions in nuclear weapons. 

There is no reason to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf. It is quite simply a make work project - the ultimate PORK! This unnecessary project would divert desperately needed funds from important social programs. 

Put a stop to this wasteful project by removing its funding, and spend that money on useful programs like Head Start and treatment for soldiers with PTSD.

See www.gzcenter.org and www.psnukefree.org for more information.  Read Plan for new Navy wharf at Bangor fires up nuke debate at The Seattle Times.

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-u-s-senate-defund-the-bangor-wharf-to-nowhere

U.S. at War in Over 100 Nations, But Very Specially, Using Special Operations Forces

SECRECY NEWS from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

SPECIAL OPS FORCES CREATE "VISIBLE AND DRAMATIC EFFECTS"

U.S. special operations forces are engaged in "more than 100 countries worldwide," said Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.


"In significant ways, our forces are creating visible and dramatic effects of the greatest magnitude across the globe," Adm. McRaven said in the 2012 US SOCOM posture statement.

"The decade of war after 9/11 has proffered many lessons; among them, specific to SOF, is the complementary nature of our direct and indirect approaches and how these SOF approaches are aligned to this changing strategic environment," Adm. McRaven said.

"The direct approach is characterized by technologically-enabled small-unit precision lethality, focused intelligence, and interagency cooperation integrated on a digitally-networked battlefield.... Extreme in risk, precise in execution and able to deliver a high payoff, the impacts of the direct approach are immediate, visible to the public and have had tremendous effects on our enemies' networks throughout the decade."

"However, the direct approach alone is not the solution to the challenges our Nation faces today as it ultimately only buys time and space for the indirect approach and broader governmental elements to take effect. Less well known but decisive in importance, the indirect approach is the complementary element that can counter the systemic components of the threat."

"The indirect approach includes empowering host nation forces, providing appropriate assistance to humanitarian agencies, and engaging key populations. These long-term efforts increase partner capabilities to generate sufficient security and rule of law, address local needs, and advance ideas that discredit and defeat the appeal of violent extremism."

"As Al Qaeda and other extremist organizations attempt to franchise their ideology and violence globally, we will likely remain engaged against violent extremist networks for the foreseeable future," he said.

In a rare unclassified "notification of special forces operation," President Obama formally advised Congress last January of the rescue of an American in Somalia.

"At my direction, on January 24, 2012, U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted an operation in Somalia to rescue Ms. Jessica Buchanan, a U.S. citizen.  The operation was successfully completed," President Obama wrote.  The report was transmitted "as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed."

Goebbels Would Stand in Awe: The US Corporate News Media are Rank Propagandists on Iran

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.

 

The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran -- Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb. 

 

The Saga of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Wikileaks, to be put to ballad and film

By William Blum, www.killinghope.org

"Defense lawyers say Manning was clearly a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there ... They say he was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay soldier at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces." (Associated Press, February 3)

It's unfortunate and disturbing that Bradley Manning's attorneys have chosen to consistently base his legal defense upon the premise that personal problems and shortcomings are what motivated the young man to turn over hundreds of thousands of classified government files to Wikileaks. They should not be presenting him that way any more than Bradley should be tried as a criminal or traitor. He should be hailed as a national hero. Yes, even when the lawyers are talking to the military mind. May as well try to penetrate that mind and find the freest and best person living there. Bradley also wears a military uniform.

Here are Manning's own words from an online chat: "If you had free reign over classified networks ... and you saw incredible things, awful things ... things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC ... what would you do? ... God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms. ... I want people to see the truth ... because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public."

Is the world to believe that these are the words of a disturbed and irrational person? Do not the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Geneva Conventions speak of a higher duty than blind loyalty to one's government, a duty to report the war crimes of that government?

Below is a listing of some of the things revealed in the State Department cables and Defense Department files and videos. For exposing such embarrassing and less-than-honorable behavior, Bradley Manning of the United States Army and Julian Assange of Wikileaks may spend most of their remaining days in a modern dungeon, much of it while undergoing that particular form of torture known as "solitary confinement". Indeed, it has been suggested that the mistreatment of Manning has been for the purpose of making him testify against and implicating Assange. Dozens of members of the American media and public officials have called for Julian Assange's execution or assassination. Under the new National Defense Authorization Act, Assange could well be kidnaped or assassinated. What century are we living in? What world?

It was after seeing American war crimes such as those depicted in the video "Collateral Murder" and documented in the "Iraq War Logs," made public by Manning and Wikileaks, that the Iraqis refused to exempt US forces from prosecution for future crimes. The video depicts an American helicopter indiscriminately murdering several non-combatants in addition to two Reuters journalists, and the wounding of two little children, while the helicopter pilots cheer the attacks in a Baghdad suburb like it was the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia.

The insistence of the Iraqi government on legal jurisdiction over American soldiers for violations of Iraqi law — something the United States rarely, if ever, accepts in any of the many countries where its military is stationed — forced the Obama administration to pull the remaining American troops from the country.

If Manning had committed war crimes in Iraq instead of exposing them, he would be a free man today, as are the many hundreds/thousands of American soldiers guilty of truly loathsome crimes in cities like Haditha, Fallujah, and other places whose names will live in infamy in the land of ancient Mesopotamia.

Besides playing a role in writing finis to the awful Iraq war, the Wikileaks disclosures helped to spark the Arab Spring, beginning in Tunisia.

When people in Tunisia read or heard of US Embassy cables revealing the extensive corruption and decadence of the extended ruling family there — one long and detailed cable being titled: "CORRUPTION IN TUNISIA: WHAT'S YOURS IS MINE" — how Washington's support of Tunisian President Ben Ali was not really strong, and that the US would not support the regime in the event of a popular uprising, they took to the streets.

Here is a sample of some of the other Wikileaks revelations that make the people of the world wiser:

  • In 2009 Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano became the new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which plays the leading role in the investigation of whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons or is working only on peaceful civilian nuclear energy projects. A US embassy cable of October 2009 said Amano "took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded the [American] ambassador on several occasions that ... he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program."
  • Russia refuted US claims that Iran has missiles that could target Europe.
  • The British government's official inquiry into how it got involved in the Iraq War was deeply compromised by the government's pledge to protect the Bush administration in the course of the inquiry.
  • A discussion between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and American Gen. David H. Petraeus in which Saleh indicated he would cover up the US role in missile strikes against al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen. "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh told Petraeus.
  • The US embassy in Madrid has had serious points of friction with the Spanish government and civil society: a) trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of killing a Spanish television cameraman in Baghdad during a 2003 unprovoked US tank shelling of the hotel where he and other journalists were staying; b )torture cases brought by a Spanish NGO against six senior Bush administration officials, including former attorney general Alberto Gonzales; c) a Spanish government investigation into the torture of Spanish subjects held at Guantánamo; d) a probe by a Spanish court into the use of Spanish bases and airfields for American extraordinary rendition (= torture) flights; e )continual criticism of the Iraq war by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, who eventually withdrew Spanish troops.
  • State Department officials at the United Nations, as well as US diplomats in various embassies, were assigned to gather as much of the following information as possible about UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, permanent security council representatives, senior UN staff, and foreign diplomats: e-mail and website addresses, internet user names and passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer account numbers, work schedules, and biometric data. US diplomats at the embassy in Asunción, Paraguay were asked to obtain dates, times and telephone numbers of calls received and placed by foreign diplomats from China, Iran and the Latin American leftist states of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. US diplomats in Romania, Hungary and Slovenia were instructed to provide biometric information on "current and emerging leaders and advisers" as well as information about "corruption" and information about leaders' health and "vulnerability". The UN directive also specifically asked for "biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats". A similar cable to embassies in the Great Lakes region of Africa said biometric data included DNA, as well as iris scans and fingerprints.
  • A special "Iran observer" in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku reported on a dispute that played out during a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. An enraged Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff, Mohammed Ali Jafari, allegedly got into a heated argument with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and slapped him in the face because the generally conservative president had, surprisingly, advocated freedom of the press.
  • The State Department, virtually alone in the Western Hemisphere, did not unequivocally condemn a June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras, even though an embassy cable declared: "there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch". US support of the coup government has been unwavering ever since.
  • The leadership of the Swedish Social Democratic Party — neutral, pacifist, and liberal Sweden, so the long-standing myth goes — visited the US embassy in Stockholm and asked for advice on how best to sell the war in Afghanistan to a skeptical Swedish public, asking if the US could arrange for a member of the Afghan government to come visit Sweden and talk up NATO's humanitarian efforts on behalf of Afghan children, and so forth. [For some years now Sweden has been, in all but name, a member of NATO and the persecutor of Julian Assange, the latter to please a certain Western power.]
  • The US pushed to influence Swedish wiretapping laws so communication passing through the Scandinavian country could be intercepted. The American interest was clear: Eighty per cent of all the internet traffic from Russia travels through Sweden.
  • President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told US embassy officials in Brussels in January 2010 that no one in Europe believed in Afghanistan anymore. He said Europe was going along in deference to the United States and that there must be results in 2010, or "Afghanistan is over for Europe."
  • Iraqi officials saw Saudi Arabia, not Iran, as the biggest threat to the integrity and cohesion of their fledgling democratic state. The Iraqi leaders were keen to assure their American patrons that they could easily "manage" the Iranians, who wanted stability; but that the Saudis wanted a "weak and fractured" Iraq, and were even "fomenting terrorism that would destabilize the government". The Saudi King, moreover, wanted a US military strike on Iran.
  • Saudi Arabia in 2007 threatened to pull out of a Texas oil refinery investment unless the US government intervened to stop Saudi Aramco from being sued in US courts for alleged oil price fixing. The deputy Saudi oil minister said that he wanted the US to grant Saudi Arabia sovereign immunity from lawsuits
  • Saudi donors were the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial 1996 drug trial involving children with meningitis.
  • Oil giant Shell claimed to have "inserted staff" and fully infiltrated Nigeria's government.
  • The Obama administration renewed military ties with Indonesia in spite of serious concerns expressed by American diplomats about the Indonesian military's activities in the province of West Papua, expressing fears that the Indonesian government's neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses were stoking unrest in the region.
  • US officials collaborated with Lebanon's defense minister to spy on, and allow Israel to potentially attack, Hezbollah in the weeks that preceded a violent May 2008 military confrontation in Beirut.
  • Gabon president Omar Bongo allegedly pocketed millions in embezzled funds from central African states, channeling some of it to French political parties in support of Nicolas Sarkozy.
  • Cables from the US embassy in Caracas in 2006 asked the US Secretary of State to warn President Hugo Chávez against a Venezuelan military intervention to defend the Cuban revolution in the eventuality of an American invasion after Castro's death.
  • The United States was concerned that the leftist Latin American television network, Telesur, headquartered in Venezuela, would collaborate with al Jazeera of Qatar, whose coverage of the Iraq War had gotten under the skin of the Bush administration.
  • The Vatican told the United States it wanted to undermine the influence of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in Latin America because of concerns about the deterioration of Catholic power there. It feared that Chávez was seriously damaging relations between the Catholic church and the state by identifying the church hierarchy in Venezuela as part of the privileged class.
  • The Holy See welcomed President Obama's new outreach to Cuba and hoped for further steps soon, perhaps to include prison visits for the wives of the Cuban Five. Better US-Cuba ties would deprive Hugo Chávez of one of his favorite screeds and could help restrain him in the region.
  • The wonderful world of diplomats: In 2010, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the question of visas for two wives of members of the "Cuban Five". "Brown requested that the wives (who have previously been refused visas to visit the U.S.) be granted visas so that they could visit their husbands in prison. ... Our subsequent queries to Number 10 indicate that Brown made this request as a result of a commitment that he had made to UK trade unionists, who form part of the Labour Party's core constituency. Now that the request has been made, Brown does not intend to pursue this matter further. There is no USG action required."
  • UK Officials concealed from Parliament how the US was allowed to bring cluster bombs onto British soil in defiance of a treaty banning the housing of such weapons.
  • A cable was sent by an official at the US Interests Section in Havana in July 2006, during the runup to the Non-Aligned Movement conference. He noted that he was actively looking for "human interest stories and other news that shatters the myth of Cuban medical prowess". [Presumably to be used to weaken support for Cuba amongst the member nations at the conference.]
  • Most of the men sent to Guantánamo prison were innocent people or low-level operatives; many of the innocent individuals were sold to the US for bounty.
  • DynCorp, a powerful American defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from US tax dollars, threw a "boy-play" party for Afghan police recruits. (Yes, it's what you think.)
  • Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations repeatedly maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was untrue.
  • Known Egyptian torturers received training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
  • The United States put great pressure on the Haitian government to not go ahead with various projects, with no regard for the welfare of the Haitian people. A 2005 cable stressed continued US insistence that all efforts must be made to keep former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom the United States had overthrown the previous year, from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process. In 2006, Washington's target was President René Préval for his agreeing to a deal with Venezuela to join Caracas's Caribbean oil alliance, PetroCaribe, under which Haiti would buy oil from Venezuela, paying only 60 percent up front with the remainder payable over twenty-five years at 1 percent interest. And in 2009, the State Department backed American corporate opposition to an increase in the minimum wage for Haitian workers, the poorest paid in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The United States used threats, spying, and more to try to get its way at the crucial 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen.
  • Mahmoud Abbas, president of The Palestinian National Authority, and head of the Fatah movement, turned to Israel for help in attacking Hamas in Gaza in 2007.
  • The British government trained a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad".
  • A US military order directed American forces not to investigate cases of torture of detainees by Iraqis.
  • The US was involved in the Australian government's 2006 campaign to oust Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
  • A 2009 US cable said that police brutality in Egypt against common criminals was routine and pervasive, the police using force to extract confessions from criminals on a daily basis.
  • US diplomats pressured the German government to stifle the prosecution of CIA operatives who abducted and tortured Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen. [El-Masri was kidnaped by the CIA while on vacation in Macedonia on December 31, 2003. He was flown to a torture center in Afghanistan, where he was beaten, starved, and sodomized. The US government released him on a hilltop in Albania five months later without money or the means to go home.]
  • 2005 cable re "widespread severe torture" by India, the widely-renowned "world's largest democracy": The International Committee of the Red Cross reported: "The continued ill-treatment of detainees, despite longstanding ICRC-GOI [Government of India] dialogue, have led the ICRC to conclude that New Delhi condones torture." Washington was briefed on this matter by the ICRC years ago. What did the United States, one of the world's leading practitioners and teachers of torture in the past century, do about it? American leaders, including the present ones, continued to speak warmly of "the world's largest democracy"; as if torture and one of the worst rates of poverty and child malnutrition in the world do not contradict the very idea of democracy.
  • The United States overturned a ban on training the Indonesian Kopassus army special forces — despite the Kopassus's long history of arbitrary detention, torture and murder — after the Indonesian President threatened to derail President Obama's trip to the country in November 2010.
  • Since at least 2006 the United States has been funding political opposition groups in Syria, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country.

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Pentagon accused of end run on budget cuts

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense has shifted several billion dollars in routine personnel costs into its Afghanistan war budget, a move numerous critics say has the effect of dodging most of the mandatory budget cuts imposed by Congress last year as part of a deal to avoid defaulting on US debt.

The approximately $4 billion in costs shifted to the war budget for active-duty Army and Marine Corps troops represents 80 percent of the $5 billion that defense officials have publicly said they are cutting from their regular budget to meet Congress’s mandatory reduction targets. Those targets were triggered by the Budget Control Act, which passed after a bitter partisan battle last year to raise the government’s debt ceiling and avoid a default.

Pentagon officials played up the $5 billion cut in the regular $525 billion budget last month when President Obama introduced his executive branch spending proposals. They did not mention the accompanying shift of $4 billion in personnel costs to the $88 billion war budget. That was buried in footnotes.

Critics from all along the ideological spectrum say the maneuver confirms that the military is using its war budget as a means of avoiding reductions in overall spending.

The reasons are plain, said Gordon Adams, a former White House budget official who now teaches at American University: “The temptation to play three-card monte is greater because they have more constrained resources.’’

“It distorts what is happening,’’ said Winslow Wheeler, a specialist at the Center for Defense Information, a nonprofit think tank, and a former defense aide for Republican and Democratic lawmakers. “So much for the so-called era of austerity. It’s a gimmick.’’

The funds that were shifted would cover the pay and benefits of 49,700 active-duty troops in the Army and 15,200 in the Marine Corps. That compares with just 14,600 Army soldiers who were similarly financed by the war budget last year - and then only because they were “a temporary war allowance’’ and specifically recruited “to help meet Army commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan,’’ according to the Pentagon documents.

Companies Profiting The Most From War: 24/7 Wall St.

HuffingtonPost

Global sales of arms and military services by the 100 largest defense contractors increased in 2010 to $411.1 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The increase reflects a decade-long trend of growing military spending. Since 2002, total arms sales among the 100 largest arms manufacturers have increased 60%.

The institute recently published its annual report on the leading arms producing companies in the world — SIPRI Top 100. The report identifies the largest companies in the sector and provides each company’s arms sales as a percentage of its total sales. Based on the report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 companies with the highest revenue from arms sales. These companies alone account for $230 billion — over half of all arms sales that year.

While many industries continued to suffer in 2010 as a result of the financial crisis, leaders in the arms and military services were largely unaffected. According to SIPRI arms industry expert Dr. Susan Jackson, when sales dropped, it was not because of the financial crisis. Instead, Dr. Jackson notes that loss in sales was due to "the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and the subsequent expected decrease in related equipment sales."

The composition of the 10 largest manufacturers reflects the state of modern warfare. More and more, battles are fought remotely through air surveillance and strikes rather than on-the-ground combat. As a consequence, seven of the 10 largest companies are among the leading aerospace companies. Surveillance and battlefield communications also are increasingly important in modern warfare. All of the companies in the top 10 have significant electronics divisions.

Of the 100 companies on the list, 44 are based in the U.S., including Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. The American companies account for more than 60% of arms sales revenue of the 100 manufacturers. Seven of SIPRI’s top 10 are American, one is British, one is Italian and one is a multinational EU conglomerate. The U.S. federal government has contract deals with all seven American companies. These seven are among the top 10 U.S. federal contractors by amount procured, according to the government’s Federal Procurement Data System.

24/7 Wall St.'s analysis of the SIPRI 100 includes revenue for arms sales for 2007, 2009 and 2010, as well as percentage of company revenue from arms sales, employees, industry and applicable military division. 24/7 Wall St. also included history of each company and notable weapons systems manufactured.

These are the 10 companies profiting most from war, according to 24/7 Wall St.:

Israel Lobby Beats the Drums For War

 

By John Grant

 

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC) is having its three-day annual meeting in Washington DC beginning Sunday March 4th. AIPAC is arriving in an atmosphere of beating war drums and rattling sabers against Iran.

Israel preemptively starting a war with Iran would be bad enough, but the assumption that the United States will be part of that war should be very disturbing to Americans -- who are just getting over one misguided, costly war in Iraq and are still involved in another in Afghanistan.

Cold Type: The Road to War


ColdType Magazine
& The Reader

(Scroll page for issues - latest at top)


Issue 64

74 Pages: The cover story of this month’s biggest-ever issue returns to the Middle East where the world is being prepared for a replay of the just-ended war in Iraq. Our seven essays by writers in North America and Europe point out, among other things, that there seems to be a media blackout of the fact that Israel also acquired its nuclear arsenal by devious means, won’t let anyone examine its nuclear plants, and is far more aggressive than Iran. Never let the truth get in the way of a good war is the message, it would seem.

Our European contributors for the cover story are David Edwards, Diana Johnstone, Stuart Littlewood and Barry Lando; with Philip Giraldi, William Blum and David Swanson providing the North American commentary.

Other multi-part features in ths issue include essays on the economy by John Kozy and Danny Schechter; while John Pilger and Trevor Grundy offer contrasting opinions on the legacy of former British PM Tony Blair; and John W. Whitehead, Tom Engelhardt and George Monbiot share their outrage over the US policy of drone warfare and its threat to democracy. So much for the US claim of bringing freedom to the world. Other essays deal with the strange death of Muammar Gaddafi (remember him?), the planned boycott of Israeli goods, the future of the Occupy movement, religious infiltration of schools and a book review by Edward S. Herman. We’ve also got two short stories and a new photo feature – This World. Enjoy it all. – Tony Sutton, Editor

Click here or on image above to download ColdType magazine

Misguided Peace Prizes Come Home

The Nobel Committee is under pressure for having ceased to award the Nobel Peace Prize for work aimed at peace.

Now comes the University of Virginia which has just announced that it plans to award the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal to Jessica T. Matthews, head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

It is highly unlikely that UVA would be making that award were the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace working for what Andrew Carnegie required that it work for, namely international peace.

Carnegie provided the funding for the Endowment requiring that it work to eliminate war, and that once war was eliminated the endowment move on to abolishing the second worst thing in the world.

The Endowment has moved on, while wars still occur.  It claims to have redefined it mission to include economic matters.  Its programs do not include the abolition of war at all, but focus on several other areas.  Matthews excuses herself for this by pretending that eliminating war is not attainable:

"The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States. Founded by Andrew Carnegie with a gift of $10 million, its charter was to “hasten the abolition of war, the foulest blot upon our civilization.” While that goal was always unattainable, the Carnegie Endowment has remained faithful to the mission of promoting peaceful engagement.

Several defining qualities shine through in Carnegie’s history: the consistent excellence of the research; the institution’s unusual ability to stay young as it grew in age by regularly reinventing itself to stay ahead of the tide of change in the world; and a determination that its work should produce real change in the real world.

The most recent reinvention was the announcement of our Global Vision of 2007, a plan to create the world’s first global think tank. Today, with a thriving network of locally staffed centers in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and America, the institution is on its way to achieving that ambitious goal. Those of us, past and present, who have had the great fortune to serve this extraordinary institution can look forward to our second century with a real sense of accomplishment and with the expectation of notable contributions to a more peaceful world yet to come.

Jessica T. Mathews
President

It's fitting that Matthews will accept her award at the home of Thomas Jefferson, a man who believed that ending slavery was unattainable, just as others have believed that ending every foul practice once established is unattainable.  In fact, ending war is perfectly within our grasp.  But that doesn't mean we can afford to have someone divert hundreds of millions of dollars from the task, even if they do find creating uncontroversial websites and "think" tanks more convenient.

President Barack Obama and His Key Advisors are a Gang of War Criminals

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

If a bunch of street toughs decided to gang up and beat the crap out of some guy in the neighborhood because they feared he might be planning to buy a gun to protect his family, I think we’d all agree that the police would be right to bust that crew and charge them with conspiracy to commit the crime of assault and battery. If they went forward with their plan and actually did attack the guy, injuring or killing him in the process, we’d also all agree they should all be charged with assault and battery, attempted murder, or even first-degree murder if he died.

 

SAYING NO TO MILITARISM

By Robert C. Koehler

No mail on Saturday, maybe, but small-town police get armored personnel carriers?

Let’s take a moment — in the context of these bitter times, and President Obama’s recent austerity budget proposal — to celebrate the questions the residents of Keene, N.H., are asking their city council about the kind of world we’re creating.

First of all, the grotesque insult of “austerity” in the shadow of limitless military spending is destroying our national sanity. And the proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, mental health services, environmental cleanup, National Parks programs and even, yeah, Saturday mail delivery are miniscule compared to the unmet social needs we haven’t yet begun to address in this country, in education, renewable energy and so much more. But we’re spending with reckless abandon to arm ourselves and our allies and provoke our enemies, and sometimes arm them as well, creating the sort of world no one (almost no one) wants: a world of endless war.

The official 2012 Defense budget of $530 billion, and just a shade under that for 2013, leaves out an enormous amount of defense-related government spending. According to a recent piece in The Atlantic, when you add in, oh, the cost of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, our spending on nuclear weapons development (relegated to the Department of Energy budget), Homeland Security, veterans’ medical care (inadequate as it is, but rising), military aid to allies ($3 billion to Israel, for instance), and interest on the military’s portion of the debt (projected to be $63.7 billion in 2013), our defense spending almost doubles, to $986.1 billion in 2012 and $994.3 billion in 2013.

In the last 13 years, according to Business Insider, U.S. military spending has increased 113 percent. We spend more on the military than the next 15 biggest military spenders combined — and more than all 50 states spend, in total, on health, education, welfare and safety. In 2007, some $11 billion was simply written off as “lost” in Iraq, the Business Insider story notes.

And the military is, in effect, our 51st state, albeit one surrounded by barbed wire. “The total known land area occupied by U.S. bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles — bigger than D.C., Massachusetts, and New Jersey combined,” according to the article.

And beyond anything that appears on a ledger sheet, the unregulated military has carte blanche to spend the earth’s resources and contaminate the planet. “The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world,” Lucinda Marshall wrote at Common Dreams several years ago, “producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined.”

This waste includes pesticides and defoliants (e.g., Agent Orange), solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury and, horrifically, depleted uranium and nuclear fallout. The military’s legacy — in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, where we have fought recent wars; on the tiny island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico, where the U.S. Navy tested weapons for more than 60 years; and in the Nevada desert and the Marshall Islands, where we tested our nuclear weapons above ground — is cancer, birth defects and a devastated environment.

All to what end? “National defense” is perhaps the most cynical — and effective — lie in human history, commanding the quaking allegiance of the populace over and over again, justifying virtually any activity, devouring the planet’s resources, and ever failing to deliver the promised peace, indeed, delivering only the conditions for the next war. Few things in today’s world are more unsettling than the fact that “national defense” still owns the country’s politics, its budget — and the minds of far too many of its citizens.

Welcome, then, to Keene, N.H., a town of 23,000 people that, despite its low crime rate and general friendliness, was set at the end of last year to score a “tank” — actually, an eight-ton Bearcat armored personnel vehicle — for its police department, thanks to a nearly $300,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

When the news began circulating, the townspeople, instead of going along with the deal, actually stood up to the mayor and city council, not simply questioning the need for this military vehicle (even though it was “free”), but expressing concern that the militarization of the police department could harm their community.

An anti-tank petition garnered 500 signatures, and earlier this month more than 100 people, mostly opposing the tank, showed up at a city council meeting to speak their minds, according to the Keene Sentinel.

“This vehicle is continuing to fund the culture of war in this country, and Congress will continue to fuel the culture of war unless we do something,” said Terry Clark, the lone city councilor to oppose the deal, as quoted in the Sentinel. “Do we want a militarized police force in Keene? We can take the lead and ask the council to rescind its decision, and have the courage to do what Congress does not.”

In contrast, the Bearcat was defended by the government sales manager for Lenco, the vehicle’s manufacturer, as quoted in Huffington Post: “I don’t think there’s any place in the country where you can say, ‘That isn’t a likely terrorist target.’ . . . If a group of terrorists decide to shoot up a shopping mall in a town like Keene, wouldn’t you rather be prepared?”

The residents of Keene have so far said no to the fear peddlers. May their stand give all of us the courage to do the same.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press) is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

The US and Its Dark Passenger, Part II: Act of Valor

 

By John Grant

 

The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.

In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.

Obama’s Plan to Save the Military From Cuts—at the Expense of Domestic Programs

By George Zornick, The Nation

As budget wonks comb over President Obama’s outline for fiscal year 2013, a startling White House plan has become clear: the administration is seeking to undo some mandatory cuts to the Pentagon at the expense of critical domestic programs. It does so by basically undoing the defense sequester that kicked in as a result of the Congressional supercommittee on debt. This wasn’t a featured part of the White House budget rollout, and for good reason—it undercuts the administration’s carefully crafted message of benevolent government action and economic fairness.

The US and Its Dark Passenger

 

By John Grant

 

I could have been a vicious raving monster who killed and killed and left towers of rotting flesh in my wake. Instead, here I was on the side of truth, justice and the American way. Still a monster, of course, but I cleaned up nicely afterward, and I was OUR monster, dressed in red, white and blue 100 percent synthetic virtue.
 
-Jeff Lindsay
Dearly Devoted Dexter

 


I teach creative writing in a maximum security prison in Philadelphia. During the week I scour two thrift shops for 35-cent paperbacks that I haul in to stock a small lending library I created for inmates. Amazingly, the prison had no library.

Drone Makers Write Our Laws on Drones

From Republic Report:

Drones are mainly associated with the Predator airships that patrol the Afghanistan sky. But thanks to a bipartisan vote last week, the public can expect 30,000 domestic drones flying over the United States in the next eight years.

The dramatic change in policy, which has raised concerns with everyone from civil liberties groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation to the pilot association and the Independent Institute, as well as conservative think tanks, occurred thanks to an aggressive and well-organized effort by drone makers and their lobbyists.

Yesterday, we reported how the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVS), a drone trade group, actually doubled its recent lobbying expenses. Today, we report on a PowerPoint presentation put together by top AUVS lobbyists Michael Toscano, Mario Mairena, and Ben Gielow. The lobby group — which maintains an official partnership in Congress with Reps. Buck McKeon (R-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and dozens of other lawmakers — was the driving force behind the domestic drone decision passed last week. In the presentation obtained by Republic Report, there are several fascinating concerns raised by the lobbyists:

– Page 5: Drone lobbyists claimed access to airspace and “Global Conflict – particularly U.S. and allied nation involvement in future conflicts” will “either positively or negatively” influence “market growth” for the industry.

– Page 6: The drone lobbyists take full credit for authoring the expansion of domestic drone use codified in the FAA authorization bill passed last week, noting “the only changes made to the UAS section of the House FAA bill were made at the request of AUVSI. Our suggests were often taken word-for-word.”

– Pages 10-12: The drone industry eagerly anticipates that civil drone use, including use of drones for “suspect tracking” by law enforcement, will soon eclipse military use of drones. Under a section called “Challenges facing UAS,” the lobbyists warn that they face concerns about “Civil Liberties.”

View the presentation below:

GO HERE.

PENTAGON DISCLOSES MILITARY INTEL BUDGET REQUEST

Secrecy News Blog:  http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

From a secrecy policy point of view, the Administration's FY 2013 budget proposal that was released yesterday contained one surprise:  The Department of Defense disclosed the amount of its request for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP).  This is something that the Pentagon has never done before and indeed had refused to do.

"The Department of Defense released today the military intelligence program (MIP) requested top line budget for fiscal 2013," the DoD said in a February 13 news release.  "The total request, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $19.2 billion."

This disclosure is noteworthy from several points of view, and not only because it represents a sizable drop from the recent peak MIP budget of $27 billion in FY2010.

Significantly, the Pentagon was not obliged or compelled to release this information.  In the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (section 364), Congress mandated that the President "shall disclose to the public" the amount of the budget request for the National Intelligence Program (NIP).  And that NIP budget request -- $52.6 billion for FY 2013 -- was also disclosed yesterday by the Director of National Intelligence, for the second year in a row.

But Congress was silent on public disclosure of the MIP request, and DoD was under no legal obligation to release it.

Moreover, DoD had explicitly refused to divulge its MIP budget request as recently as two months ago.  In response to a FOIA request for release of last year's MIP request, the Pentagon wrote on December 7, 2011 that the size of the MIP budget request "is currently and properly classified."  (See "DoD Says Military Intel Budget Request is Classified," Secrecy News, December 14, 2011.)

So what happened between then and now?  Something all too rare in the world of secrecy policy:  DoD classification officials reconsidered their position and changed their mind.  An impartial assessment of the matter evidently led to the conclusion that disclosure of the MIP budget request would not damage national security and therefore should not be classified.

The ongoing Fundamental Classification Guidance Review is an effort to systematically promote similar "impartial assessments" of all other aspects of national security classification.

The disclosure of the MIP budget request now goes on a short but weighty list of declassification "firsts" that have occurred in the Obama Administration, including routine publication of the NIP, MIP and aggregate intelligence budgets, disclosure of the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, and a handful of other revelations.

Yesterday's news release announcing the MIP total request stated that "No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons."  However, DoD budget materials that were released yesterday indicated that the new MIP budget request included $4.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, a reduction from $5.8 billion in the current fiscal year.

Drones and Special Forces Invite Payback: Time for a Return to Sanity and Peace

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.

 

The technology of terror has become so wide-spread, and the materials needed to construct magnetically-attached  car bombs, cell-phone detonators, armor-piercing IEDs, diesel/fertilizer bombs and the like, so accessable at consumer shops, hardware stores and local junkyards, that any government, and even any relatively savvy non-government group, can assemble and employ them.

'Hundreds of thousands of Americans want the military budget reduced'

PressTV audio here

Aimee Allison, Co-executive director with RootsAction.org talks about a growing movement in America that is rejecting the bloated military spending in FY 2013 Budget.

In an interview with Press TV's U.S. Desk on Saturday, Allison said that a broad coalition "have come together to say: remember those cuts that the super committee promised. Well, just because the Super Committee process failed doesn't mean that those cutsaren't legitimate and shouldn't go through."

"If we took $300 billion from the military budget and shifted it to other kinds of federal spending like education, we create jobs in a time our economy is really faltering," Allison added.

She continued that "we want to make sure that they [the president and Congress] hear loud and clear that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who don't like the spending priorities and want the military budget to be reduced."

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