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Military Industrial Complex
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.:
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.
& The Reader
(Scroll page for issues - latest at top)
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
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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
© 2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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 , 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.”
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
By Linn Washington, Jr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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?
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
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.
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.