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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."

Aerospace, "defense" deals reach record

By UPI via SpaceWar

Global aerospace and defense business reached record levels in 2011, up from $22 billion in 2010 to $44 billion, despite fears it could turn out to be a bad year overall for the industry, latest data indicated.

Most fears were based on reports of a decline in defense acquisitions, which did happen but was more than offset by an aerospace boom that seems set to continue this year.

U.S.-affiliated transactions dominated activity and cross-border deals showed a significant increase.

US Iran Policy in 'Lockstep' with Israel?: President Obama Risks Becoming a Major-League War Criminal

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

 

Drones So Popular in Pakistan, Congress Demands More of Them in US Skies

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

CONGRESS CALLS FOR ACCELERATED USE OF DRONES IN U.S.

A House-Senate conference report this week called on the Administration to accelerate the use of civilian unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or "drones," in U.S. airspace.

The pending authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration directs the Secretary of Transporation to develop within nine months "a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system."

"The plan... shall provide for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015."

The conference bill, which still awaits final passage, also calls for establishment of UAS test ranges in cooperation with NASA and the Department of Defense, expanded use of UAS in the Arctic region, development of guidance for the operation of public unmanned aircraft systems, and new safety research to assess the risk of "catastrophic failure of the unmanned aircraft that would endanger other aircraft in the national airspace system."

The Department of Defense is pursuing its own domestic UAS activities for training purposes and "domestic operations," according to a 2007 DoD-FAA memorandum of agreement.  ("Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace," Secrecy News, January 19, 2012.)

And We Actually Pay These Guys?: 'Intelligence' Chief Warns of Threat of Iran Attacks Inside US

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

 

Let’s see now. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence who oversees both the FBI and the CIA, is warning that Iran’s leaders have “changed their calculus” and, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, “now appear willing to conduct an attack within the US.”

 

Speaking at a Join Intelligence Committee hearing in Congress, the aptly-named Clapper said that Iranian leaders, “probably including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” are “now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States as a response to real or perceived actions that threaten the regime.”

 

Well gee, that sure should come as a shocker.

 

A Crazy Republican Attack That Obama Himself Agrees With

Imagine if a bunch of the craziest war-hungry Republicans in the House filmed themselves in a nutty bat-guano video packed with lies addressed to the President of the United States.  And then imagine President Barack Obama almost immediately agreeing with them.  I can think of two ways in which such a series of events could go unnoticed, as it just has

First, it could be about something insignificant. But this was about undoing the automatic cuts to the military mandated by the failure of the Supercommittee (remember, the top news story of a few months back?).  The military, across various departments, swallows over half of federal discretionary spending, and there's no greater obsession in the corporate media than the great Spending vs. Cuts issue.  This is NOT insignificant.

Second, it could be about something that the elites of both major parties agree on, the media therefore ignores, most Republican voters love, and Democratic voters pretend not to notice because the President is a Democrat and an election is less than a year away.

If you're guessing the second option, you are right. (Tell them what they've won, Leon!)  You are now the proud owners of the most expensive military ever seen, plus coming increases that will be presented as "cuts."

When the Supercommittee failed, automatic federal budget cuts were to kick in -- half to things we need and half to the bloated military.  The military cuts would take us back to 2004 spending.  We seem to have survived 2004 and the years preceding it OK.

The Pentagon claims to be making other cuts already, but they are "cuts" to dream budgets resulting in actual budget increases -- and that's not even counting increased war spending through other departments.

House Republicans have sent President Obama this crazy video opposing military cuts and introduced legislation to slash 10% of non-military government jobs instead. In the Senate, John McCain is said to be working on a similar bill.

Meanwhile "Defense" Secretary Leon Panetta has just announced the Obama Administration's position: They will oppose the automatic cuts, or any other actual cuts, to the military. This will mean severe cuts to education, transportation, and -- as President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech -- to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

At last Thursday's press conference the first question following Panetta's remarks was:

"Mr. Secretary, you talked a little bit on this, but over the next 10 years, do you see any other year than this year where the actual spending will go down from year to year? And just to the American public more broadly, how do you sort of explain what appears to be contradictory, as you talk about, repeatedly, this $500 billion in cuts in a Defense Department budget that is actually going to be increasing over time?"

Panetta had no substantive answer.  And he didn't need one.  The media almost unanimously put out the false story that the military was undergoing serious cuts.  That first year's cut, by the way, is 1%, to be followed by nine years of larger increases. 

You might have forgotten that in 2008, three times in three presidential debates, Senator John McCain proposed cutting the military, while Senator Obama campaigned on increasing it -- one promise he has actually kept. 

Lately supporters have been saying that the President will become the Obama of our Dreams once he's a lame duck.  But the history and the logic of lame duck officials is that they become less, not more, representative of the public will.  And the public will is strongly in favor of major cuts to the military.

Others may be inclined to suggest that while Obama and Panetta are increasing the military and calling it "cuts," they are actually cutting the budget for wars.  Some may have been misled by this line in the State of the Union: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

But in reality, Obama and Panetta are proposing to cut the war budget by only $27 billion.  Meanwhile, the $27 billion has already been spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget.  Plus military spending is on the rise in other departments.  Plus any new wars and confrontations -- like in Iran or Syria -- will offer the opportunity for supplemental bills.  And less expensive but more secretive and equally deadly wars are underway, investment will increase in drones and special forces, and I have doubts we could rebuild our nation here at home for $13.5 billion even if we had it, while continuing to dump over $1 trillion into preparations for the crime of war year after year.

We do have the option to resist.

##

David Swanson is a campaigner for RootsAction.org and author of "War Is A Lie."

Richmond, California, Takes on Military Spending

Attend the Richmond City Council meeting on February 7 to show support for the New Priorities Resolution

The Richmond Human Rights and Human Relations Committee adopted and has referred to the City Council a resolution calling for “New Priorities.” (Text below) It calls on our elected officials in Congress to fund urgently needed city services by reducing military spending. 

The resolution will be considered by the City Council at its meeting on February 7th at 6:30 pm.  Members of the Richmond community and concerned citizens will be given two minutes each to speak on the resolution.

The Civic Center Complex is between 25th and 27th St.  off MacDonald Ave.  (Enter City Hall at the right from its center off the Mall.)

'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody

 

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

He’s out!

Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’

For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.

Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.

A Modest Proposal for Israel and Iran

 

By John Grant

 

The State Department has threatened to withdraw the $1.3 billion it sends every year to Egypt because the Egyptians are holding US citizens connected with pro-democracy groups the Egyptians claim have instigated the Tahrir Square movement.

Specifically, the Egyptian military government prevented a half dozen Americans -- including Sam LaHood, director of the US International Republican Institute in Cairo -- from leaving the country. LaHood is the son of US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The State Department’s goal in supporting groups like Mr LaHood’s is to encourage democracy friendly to the US.

Pentagon Budgets and Fuzzy Math

By Peter Hart,  FAIR

By the tone of  some of the media coverage, you might have thought Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a plan to slash military spending yesterday.  On the front page of USA Today (1/27/12), under the headline "Panetta Backs Far Leaner Military," readers learn in the first paragraph:

The Pentagon's new plan to cut Defense spending means a reduction of 100,000 troops, the retiring of ships and planes and closing of bases--moves that the Defense secretary said would not compromise security.

Washington State Legislature Takes on Excessive Military Spending and the War on Afghanistan

AFSC and FOR ask that you please take a few minutes to read this message carefully and in its entirety and forward it.  
We heartfully thank you for your support has made the following possible: 

What Would Peter Zenger Say: We are the Champions...of the World?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

Say it loud and say it proud: We’re Number 47! We’re Number 47!  Boo-yah!

 

If you want to know why the US -- beacon of freedom, land of the First Amendment --  is now ranked number 47th (out of 179) in terms of freedom of the press in the annual ranking put out by Reporters Without Borders, below South Africa, Botswana, South Korea and Comoros, and just above Argentina, Romania and Latvia, you could ask Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York and himself owner of a huge news organization, or his Chief of Police Raymond Kelly.

 

Four Congress Members Write to President Pressing Him to Back Actual Cuts to the Military

Lee: National Strength Tied to Economic Strength 

Members join Lee in penning letter to President asking for restraint on military spending

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to the Pentagon’s preview of the 2013 budget request:

Panetta: Military Spending Is Going Up

On Thursday, Leon Panetta held a press conference announcing what he called "cuts" to military spending.  The first question following his remarks pointed out that the "cuts" are to dream budgets, while the actual spending will be increased over Panetta's 10-year plan.  Is there any year, the reporter asked, out of the 10 years in question, other than the first one, 2013, in which spending will actually decrease at all?  Panetta replied that he was proposing really truly to cut the projected dream budgets that he had hoped for.  In other words, he did not answer the question.

Now, there are additional minor cuts "on the table" as the saying goes, cuts that Panetta has described as disastrous, cuts that would take U.S. military spending back to about 2007 2004 levels, cuts nowhere close to what a majority of the country favors.  (How we survived 2007 2004 and all the years preceding it has never been explained.)  Earlier this week, Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee sent President Obama a video denouncing these cuts.  They are, of course, the cuts mandated by the legislation that created the Super Committee, which failed, resulting in supposedly automatic cuts.

The video (available here) is itself packed with lies.  It falsely claims that cuts have already been made.  It uses dollar figures derived from lumping 10 years of budgets together to make cuts sound 10 times larger.  It pretends the automatic cuts would all be to the military, whereas many could be to the State Department and other subsidiary arms of the military.  These Republicans propose slashing 10% of non-military government jobs and describe this as saving jobs, even though non-military spending produces more jobs for the same dollars than military spending does.  And of course there is no mention in this video or in any official discussion of exactly how outrageously huge the U.S. military has become.  But a crazy video, and a bill to go with it, can not only pass the House and make its way into the Senate (Senator John McCain is already working on companion legislation), but the President is already in agreement with this bill's primary purpose of undoing any actual cuts to the military.  The history of lame duck officials, by the way, is that of becoming less, not more, representative of the public will. Caveat emptor!

In 2004 2008, three times in three debates Senator John McCain proposed cutting military spending and Obama avoided the topic. Candidate Obama proposed significantly enlarging the largest military the world had ever seen.  And he has done so.  He now proposes not to cut it while pretending to cut it.  The best bit of rhetoric in this week's State of the Union address was this:

"Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home." 

On Thursday, Panetta put that in real dollar terms.  Setting aside any possible supplemental spending bills, and ignoring increased war participation by the CIA, the State Department, etc., and apart from the much larger "non-war" military spending that continues to inch upward, not downward, Panetta claimed that, if Congress would agree, we would spend $88 billion on wars next year, instead of $115 billion this year.  That $115 billion is fairly typical of the past decade, in which we have spent between $100 billion and $200 billion on wars each year (not counting veterans care, fuel price impacts, lost opportunities, debt interest, etc.)  I suspect it also does not include Libya.  So, we're saving $27 billion, maybe.  Take half of that for debt, and we've got $13.5 billion with which to do our nation-building right here at home.  Let's be generous and round it up to $100 billion. That's still in comparison with an overall war and "security" budget of well over $1 trillion annually.  And $13.5 billion is less than a quarter of the $60 billion Panetta now claims he will save purely through "increased efficiency."  (Granted, that actually could be done in the Pentagon if it were not, you know, the Pentagon.)

The talk of cuts serves more than a political purpose for Panetta and Obama.  It also serves to justify actual cuts to services for troops and veterans even while increasing spending on weapons and occupying new nations.  Also announced on Thursday, Obama is working on re-occupying the Philippines.  To his credit, there has been no mention of the benefits to "our little brown brothers."  There will be an increased Asian presence, Panetta said.  The Marines will maintain their Pacific presence, he noted in particular, horribly smashing the hopes of the entire population of Okinawa.  There will be no cuts to bombers.  We will have a "posture forward" and be able to "penetrate defenses" strengthening "the ability to project power in denied areas," also known as other people's countries.  But healthcare fees and deductibles for troops and veterans will have to go up, Panetta said.  

The second question asked at Panetta's press conference (how did actual reporters get in there?) was why a tiny reduction following a massive increase in troops in Afghanistan was really sufficient.  Panetta was unable to explain.  Can you?

U.S. Public Favors Cutting Military Spending

By Steven Kull, World Public Opinion .org

This article was originally published in tandem with an article by R. Jeffrey Smith on IWatch, a publication of the Center for Public Integrity.

What do average Americans say when they are faced with the budget tradeoffs on national security that policymakers face today? When polls ask in the abstract about defense spending, Americans are often reluctant to cut it. However when Americans are asked to consider the deficit and presented with tradeoffs, majorities cut defense and cut it more than any other area of the budget. Furthermore when they learn how much of the budget goes to defense, large majorities cut it, on average quite deeply.

(Image Credit: Greg West)

This issue has become confused in public discussion, because many polls simply ask Americans whether they favor cutting defense, increasing it, or keeping it the same. These find that more favor cuts than increases, but those favoring cuts are still fewer than half of those surveyed. A February 2011 Pew poll found only 30% ready to cut, while fewer (13%) favored increases, and most (53%) said they accepted current levels.

When pollsters frame the issue in terms of the budget deficit, the number ready to cut defense may rise to about half. Most recently, an October Washington Post/Bloomberg Poll asked respondents whether they supported or opposed "reducing military spending" to help reduce the nation's budget deficit. Fifty-one percent supported it and 42 percent were opposed. Some polls have found lower numbers in support.

As respondents are given more information, support for reductions rises. When Quinnipiac University in March simply told respondents that defense, Social Security and Medicare together constitute more than half of the federal budget, 54% favored cutting defense spending.

And when they are asked to choose between defense and other programs, defense is consistently the most popular program to cut. When CBS/NY Times, on several occasions over the least year asked respondents to choose where they would prefer to cut Medicare, social security or the military, 45-55 percent chose the military, 16-21 percent Medicare, 13-17 percent Social Security.

If respondents are given choices between large and small cuts, overall support for cutting rises even more. In a Kaiser Foundation poll conducted in September, 67% favored some reduction in defense to address the deficit, with 28% favoring a major reduction and 39% a minor reduction.

Active-Duty Soldiers Take Their Own Lives (and commit rape) at Record Rate: And Obama Says We Should All Be More Like Them -- Hmm

From NYTimes:

Suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011, Army officials said on Thursday, although there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation.

The Army also reported a sharp increase, nearly 30 percent, in violent sex crimes last year by active-duty troops. More than half of the victims were active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21.

Obama set to use military intervention against longshoremen: Which side is Trumka on?

By Ben Schreiner

A decisive struggle promising to shape the fate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), West Coast dockworkers, and all organized labor is swiftly nearing a climax in Longview, Washington.

Within weeks, if not days, the international conglomerate EGT Development will seek to commence operations at its new $200 million export grain terminal at the Port of Longview. In refusing to use ILWU labor, EGT is breaking the precedent in place since the 1930s, which holds that all public port docks up and down the West Coast are to be worked by the ILWU.

House Armed Services Republicans Send Obama a Crazy Lying Video

Note the false claim that cuts have already been made.  Cuts to dream budgets are not cuts to actual spending.  Note the use of dollar figures arrived at by combining 10 years of budgets to make possible cuts sound large, as viewers assume a single year's budget is under discussion.  Note the pretense that the automatic cuts will all be made to the military, whereas the law actually permits making them to the State Department and other areas as well.  Note the claim that they will save jobs by cutting 10% of public jobs, as if military jobs are jobs and non-military jobs are not, even though the same dollars produce more jobs when spent in non-military industries. And of course there is no mention here of how enormous U.S. military spending is in comparison with the rest of the world.

Here's the bill: HR3662.  Thanks to Mike Prokosch for pointing this out.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES.

    (a) Definition- In this section, the term `agency' means an executive agency as defined under section 105 of title 5, United States Code.
    (b) Determination of Number of Employees- Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall determine the number of full-time employees employed in each agency. The head of each agency shall cooperate with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in making the determinations.
    (c) Replacement Hire Rate-
    • (1) IN GENERAL- During the period described under paragraph (2), the head of each agency may hire no more than 1 employee in that agency for every 3 employees who leave employment in that agency.
    • (2) PERIOD OF REPLACEMENT HIRE RATE- Paragraph (1) shall apply to each agency during the period beginning 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act through the date on which the Director of the Office of Management and Budget makes a determination that the number of full-time employees employed in that agency is 10 percent less than the number of full-time employees employed in that agency determined under subsection (a).
    (d) Waivers- This section may be waived upon a determination by the President that--
    • (1) the existence of a state of war or other national security concern so requires; or
    • (2) the existence of an extraordinary emergency threatening life, health, public safety, property, or the environment so requires.

SEC. 3. REDUCTION OF DISCRETIONARY SPENDING LIMITS TO ACHIEVE SAVINGS FROM FEDERAL EMPLOYEE PROVISIONS.

    Section 251(c) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 is amended to read as follows:
    `(c) Discretionary Spending Limit- As used in this part, the term `discretionary spending limit' means--
    • `(1) with respect to fiscal year 2012--
      • `(A) for the security category, $684,000,000,000 in new budget authority; and
      • `(B) for the nonsecurity category, $359,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(2) with respect to fiscal year 2013--
      • `(A) for the security category, $686,000,000,000 in new budget authority; and
      • `(B) for the nonsecurity category, $361,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(3) with respect to fiscal year 2014, for the discretionary category, $1,051,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(4) with respect to fiscal year 2015, for the discretionary category, $1,070,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(5) with respect to fiscal year 2016, for the discretionary category, $1,091,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(6) with respect to fiscal year 2017, for the discretionary category, $1,115,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(7) with respect to fiscal year 2018, for the discretionary category, $1,141,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(8) with respect to fiscal year 2019, for the discretionary category, $1,166,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    • `(9) with respect to fiscal year 2020, for the discretionary category, $1,192,000,000,000 in new budget authority; and
    • `(10) with respect to fiscal year 2021, for the discretionary category, $1,217,000,000,000 in new budget authority;
    as adjusted in strict conformance with subsection (b).'.

SEC. 4. REDUCTION OF REVISED DISCRETIONARY SPENDING LIMITS TO ACHIEVE SAVINGS FROM FEDERAL EMPLOYEE PROVISIONS.

    Paragraph (2) of section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 is amended to read as follows:
    • `(2) REVISED DISCRETIONARY SPENDING LIMITS- The discretionary spending limits for fiscal years 2013 through 2021 under section 251(c) shall be replaced with the following:
      • `(A) For fiscal year 2013--
        • `(i) for the security category, $546,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $501,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(B) For fiscal year 2014--
        • `(i) for the security category, $551,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $500,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(C) For fiscal year 2015--
        • `(i) for the security category, $560,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $510,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(D) For fiscal year 2016--
        • `(i) for the security category, $571,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $520,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(E) For fiscal year 2017--
        • `(i) for the security category, $584,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $531,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(F) For fiscal year 2018--
        • `(i) for the security category, $598,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $543,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(G) For fiscal year 2019--
        • `(i) for the security category, $610,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $556,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(H) For fiscal year 2020--
        • `(i) for the security category, $624,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $568,000,000,000 in budget authority.
      • `(I) For fiscal year 2021--
        • `(i) for the security category, $638,000,000,000 in budget authority; and
        • `(ii) for the nonsecurity category, $579,000,000,000 in budget authority.'.

SEC. 5. CALCULATION OF TOTAL DEFICIT REDUCTION.

    Section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 is amended--
    • (1) in paragraph (3)(A), by striking `$1,200,000,000,000' and inserting `$1,073,000,000,000';
    • (2) in paragraph (4), by striking `On January 2, 2013, for fiscal year 2013, and in' and inserting `In';
    • (3) in paragraphs (5) and (6), by striking `2013' each place it appears and inserting `2014'; and
    • (4) in paragraph (7), by striking subparagraph (A) and by striking `(B) FISCAL YEARS 2014-2021- ', moving the remaining text 2 ems to the left, and redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively.

Japanese Delegation Wants the U.S. Out of Okinawa

A 24-member delegation from Japan is in Washington, D.C., this week opposing the presence and new construction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.  Participating are members of the Japanese House of Councilors, of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and of city governments in Okinawa, as well as leading protest organizers and the heads of several important organizations opposed to the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Okinawa.

The famously stingy U.S. tax payer, frequently seen bitterly protesting outrageously wasteful spending of a few million dollars, is paying billions of dollars to maintain and expand some 90 military bases in Japan (and to make those who profit from such business filthy rich).  Thirty-four of those bases, containing 74% of their total land area, are in Okinawa, which itself contains only 0.6% of Japanese land.  Okinawa is dominated by U.S. military bases and has been for 67 years since the U.S. forcibly appropriated much of the best land.

The people of Okinawa tell pollsters year after year that they oppose the bases.  Year after year they elect government officials who oppose the bases.  Year after year they march, sit-in, protest, and demand to be heard.  Year after year, the national Japanese government confronts the issue and fails to take any decisive steps to resolve it.  Year after year, the people of the United States remain blissfully unaware that, as in so many other places around the world, our military occupation of Okinawa is ruining people's lives.

Members of the delegation spoke at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., Monday night.  Toshio Ikemiyagi thanked people who came to hear them and pointed out that we all looked healthy and alert.  That, he said, is because you have all had sleep.  You've been able to sleep at night without deafening jet noise, he said.  Ikemiyagi is the lead attorney on a lawsuit challenging the Kadena Air Base's noise pollution.  He played us a video on Monday of what it is like.  For the people who live there, he said, the war that ended 67 years ago has never ended.

keikoKeiko Itokazu, a Member of the Japanese National Diet, depicted in this painting, said the Okinawan people had been heartbroken since having been unable to protect a 12-year-old girl from gang rape by U.S. troops in 1995.  The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan gives U.S. troops immunity from Japanese prosecution.  Between 1979 and 2008, U.S. forces in Okinawa caused 1,439 accidents (487 of them airplane related), and 5,584 criminal cases (559 of them involving violent crimes).  The list includes fatal driving incidents, residential break-ins, taxi robberies, sexual violence, and other serious crimes against local citizens.

I spoke recently with Maria Allwine who describes herself as "a former Marine Corps spouse."  She said, "It is common practice for military personnel to use Japanese women as 'mama-sans,' exchanging house cleaning and sexual favors for money.  Nothing new, but it's given a wink and a nod by military brass.  Those who don't cheat are considered abnormal by their peers."

The sex police are as absent as the skinflints from their usual place of prominence in U.S. political debate when it comes to occupying other people's countries.  Imagine, however, just for a moment, that even one Japanese military base existed in the United States, and imagine that even one Japanese soldier committed a single crime.  Can you imagine some things that U.S. television talking heads might say?

Our military is trying to build yet more bases in Okinawa.  Why, you ask?  Word around town is that even the Pentagon thinks it serves no purpose, but the Marine Corps likes to hold onto anything it's got.  The Marines have even named one of their bases in Okinawa for Smedley Butler, the author of "War Is A Racket," and a man whom the Marines once imprisoned at Quantico for having spoken badly of Benito Mussolini.  Don't look for logic.  Look for petty rivalry and power, combined with unaccountability and we the people missing in action.

The least popular base in Okinawa is probably Futenma Air Base, which sits in the middle of a city, near schools, a hospital, and houses -- houses which military helicopters have been known to crash into.  The Marine Corps plans to bring the accident-prone MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Futenma in 2012.  Overwhelmingly, the people of Okinawa want the base closed, and do not want it relocated to a less populated area, and do not want it combined with another existing base.  For the past 16 years, residents of Henoko, a location under consideration for relocation of the base, have held a continuous sit-in protest without pause.  They have also risked their lives hanging onto a floating platform in the ocean, surrounded by supportive fishing boats, successfully preventing the military from surveying the site for construction.

Hiroshi Ashitomi has been a leader of the nonviolent resistance in Henoko for 16 years.  "We use our own bodies," he said on Monday, "to resist aggressive actions by the Japanese government."  Pointing to the picture of Gandhi in the collage on the wall at Busboys, Ashitomi said, "We follow the example of Gandhi.  It is not easy.  We receive threats from the police.  But we are determined to use nonviolent resistance, and we get a lot of support from all over Japan.  We are trying to protect the environment, so many young people from all over Japan come to our tent and participate in our resistance."

dugongIn fact, the environment and the rights of certain endangered species have come to dominate the anti-base movement in Okinawa.  Apparently the rights of humans are far less interesting than the rights of the black naped tern, the blue coral, or above all the dugong.  The dugong is the manatee-like creature in this photo.  Osamu Makishi of the Citizens' Network for Okinawan Biodiversity spoke movingly about these species and their ecosystem on Monday, which he said are protected by treaty.

The Japanese delegation is meeting with Congress Members, including Senator Jim Webb on Wednesday, urging them to close and consolidate bases.  I once accompanied a group of Italians on almost identical visits to Congress.  The people of Vicenza, Italy, oppose the bases the U.S. military and the national Italian government impose on them, just as the people of Okinawa do.  The congress members and staffers we met with at that time gave not the slightest damn for human rights or the environment or popular opinion.  I don't think any of the Japanese delegates expect to encounter such humanity this week either.  Their hope is to highlight the financial costs to the United States of the occupation of Japan.  My hope is that we can help them by telling our misrepresentatives that we agree with the members of the delegation.  If you're inclined to help, please call your rep and two senators with that message.

Specifically, the delegation is asking for the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station; cancellation of plans to construct a new Marine Corps air base at Cape Henoko; reduction of unbearable noise caused by air operations at Kadena Air Base; withdrawal of any proposal to integrate Futenma's helicopter squadrons into Kadena's operations; an end to the construction of six new helipads in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa; and revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to allow fair prosecutions of crimes.

Ultimately, however, the members of the delegation want the bases all to be closed.  And they do not want them relocated to Guam or Australia or anywhere else, except perhaps to the United States.  Itokazu suggested that the U.S. government could save money and produce jobs by bringing bases home.  But, of course, we don't want a military occupation any more than Japan does, and the same money would produce more jobs if spent on a non-military industry.

Base opponents in Okinawa work with others in Korea, Guam, and Hawaii, and with former residents of Diego Garcia, as well as others around the world.  An international conference called "Dialogue Under Occupation" was held in Okinawa last summer.  In fact, people are working extremely hard in cities around the world to shut down or prevent the construction of giant military bases that we in the United States pay for and are endangered by but have very little awareness of.

John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies (see http://closethebase.org ) believes Futenma can be closed and can serve as a model for closing more.  It is very difficult, however, Feffer says, to accomplish base closings cleanly without some sort of asterisk attached.  When a base was closed in Seoul, Korea, a new one was opened outside it.  When bases were closed in the Philippines, a Visiting Forces Agreement was drawn up.  Yet, the Navy left Vieques, and the President of Ecuador seems to have found the magic formula in his proposal that any U.S. base in Ecuador be matched by an Ecuadorean base in Florida.

Here is another proposal: bring in the IAEA for inspections.  No independent organization has verified U.S. claims to no longer be storing nuclear weapons in Japan.  On the model of Iran, if full inspections are not permitted by, say, Thursday, or even if they are, we should seriously consider launching preemptive strikes against ourselves.  The Constitution that the United States imposed on Japan 65 years ago forbids war preparation, yet the United States trains its forces in Japan to fight wars elsewhere in the world.  Are we spreading democracy or hypocrisy? Are we building trust or animosity?  

Ikemiyagi says democracy requires U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa.  As with the location of nuclear power plants in Japan, he says, the Japanese government wants the military bases out of sight.  If Tokyo wants bases, he says, then put them in Tokyo.  The people of Okinawa have had enough. 

Haven't we all?

Stop Coast Guard Union Busting

Take Action

Stop Coast Guard Union Busting

in Longview, WA

The Coast Guard is being used to escort a grain ship to the Port of Longview, WA where a corporation named CGT is trying to bust the ILWU, which has had jurisdiction over all longshore work there for more than 7 decades. [read details below]

Using the U.S. military against American workers represents a grave erosion of our rights and liberties.

The last time that happened was in 1981 when Reagan used military air traffic controllers to replace striking PATCO workers. American workers have been paying for that ever since because not enough workers and unions spoke up at the time to object.

We need to drown the president and our congressional representatives with messages that strongly object to any use of our military against American workers and our unions.  We need your help to make this protest effective.

Send a message HERE.

It's quick and easy. Tell Obama and Congress "NO MORE PATCOs! Don't use our military to help bust unions!"

Please share this alert with your social networks.  Post it to your Facebook page.  Tweet about it.  Send messages to coworkers, colleagues and friends.  Ask unions, labor councils and other social justice and peace organizations to register their protest.*

Thanks for your help.

*Send copies of resolutions and letters to USLAW at 1718 M Street NW, #153, Washington, DC 20036.

Members of ILWU Local 21 in Longview, WA, are engaged in a bitter fight with the multinational grain conglomerte EGT for survival of their union's 70 year jurisdiction, the jobs for its members and the welfare of their families, standards of work secured by decades of struggle, and for the very existence of the union itself.

They have been picketing and demonstrating at the Port of Longview to compel EGT, which received public financing for a new $200 million terminal,  to honor the contract that ILWU has with the port covering all longshore work performed there.  The union has represented the dock workers there for more than 70 years.

EGT is bringing the first ship to the port where it will be loaded with grain bound for Asia.  The union and its supporters are determined that the ship will not be loaded by anyone except the ILWU members, as the contract requires. 

The local is receiving support from unions, labor councils, union members and allies throughout the region and beyond, including the Occupy movements in Portland, Seattle, Olympia and Oakland, which are organizing caravans to Longview when the ship is due to arrive.  That could occur within the next two weeks.

Recently, it has been reported that when the ship nears the mouth of the Columbia River for the eight hour trip up river to Longview, it will be accompanied by an armed Coast Guard cutter and helicopters.

Using U.S. military forces to intervene on behalf of the employer in a local labor dispute threatens the interests of every union and union member in the country.

The last time the U.S. military was mobilized against American workers in a labor dispute was when Reagan ordered military air traffic controllers to replace striking members of PATCO in 1981.  The time before that was when Nixon used the military against the nationwide postal strike in 1971. Both of these were nationwide strikes.

Reagan and Nixon were Republican presidents with a long record of hostility to organized labor. They proudly served to protect and advance the interests of corporations and the wealthy (the 1%). There never was any doubt whose side they were on.

Why then is a Democratic president elected with solid labor support becoming the first to use federal military forces against workers in a local labor dispute at a single small port involving a shipment of grain?

Over the course of the last decade of the "War on Terror", we have witnessed the militarization of transportation, militarization of the police, the militarization of the courts, the militarization of education, growing threats to our Constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, and - with the recent enactment of the Natonal Defense Authorization Act - even to due process and the right of U.S. citizens to a speedy trial by a jury of one's peers.
With this development, the creeping militarization of our society is being extended to the realm of labor relations!  

The entire labor movement and every union member and citizen concerned with the preservation of our Constitutional rights should register the strongest possible objection to this threat to our democracy. 

Unions, labor councils, civil liberties and other social justice organizations should write or call the White House and their Congressional delegation to demand that the Coast Guard and other military services play no part in the labor dispute in Longview or anywhere else in the U.S.  

Tell President Obama (as the South Central Federation of Labor in Madison, WI has already done):

". . . . Use of our tax dollars and our military to assist such union busting is horrifying.

Mr. President, as Commander in Chief, we call upon you to order the Coast Guard to stand down, to not interfere on the side of management in this labor dispute. . . ." 

SIGN THE OPEN LETTER

TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Send copies of union and labor council resolutions to USLAW for posting on our website

Send to: <info@uslaboragainstwar.org>

Please share this call with coworkers, colleagues, friends and your social network.  Spread the word and involve others in telling the President:

MILITARY UNION BUSTING?

NOW THAT'S DISGUSTING!!!

These organizations have expressed their Solidarity with Local 21

US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.

 

On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River. 

 

How Newt Gingrich Saved the Military Industrial Complex

The idea of economic conversion, of retooling and retraining pieces of the military industrial complex to build what other wealthy nations have (infrastructure, energy, education, etc.) converged with the end of the Cold War two decades back.  It was time for a peace dividend as well as a little sanity in public spending.  Among the cosponsors of a bill to begin economic conversion in the late 1980s was a guy by the name of Leon Panetta.

Standing in the way was Congressman Newt Gingrich (Republican, Lockheed Martin).

As Mary Beth Sullivan recounts ( http://MIC50.org ),

Lucid Derangement

One would think that if condemned to lose sanity it would be preferable not to be aware of what was happening.  On the contrary, as in lucid dreaming, there is something empowering and even comforting in lucid derangement, particularly national as opposed to personal derangement.

We may be in the advanced stages of going loony as a society and a polity, and yet expanding one's awareness of how this process is proceeding is a form of enlightenment, even if the enlightenment is offered with some defeatist shading.

"The United States of Fear" is a collection of Tom Engelhardt's writings from his TomDispatch blog.  It turns our world inside out any number of times, allowing us to glimpse with startling clarity the horrifying world outside our cave without ever quite persuading us that the real world can be real if it isn't on television, and not infrequently building into the presentation the understanding that there is no cure for what ails us.

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