Tag Archives | Military

Senators Who Voted Yes on Syrian Strike Received More Defense Cash Than Those Who Didn’t

vaderIt’s no surprise, really, but it’s always sickening to see yet another clear sign that democracy is an illusion. (It’s particularly obvious in this case, given that the majority of Americans do not want a military strike against Syria.)

Via WIRED:

Senators voting Wednesday to authorize a Syria strike received, on average, 83 percent more campaign financing from defense contractors than lawmakers voting against war.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $1,006,887 to the 17 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted yes or no on the authorization Wednesday, according to an analysis by Maplight, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that performed the inquiry at WIRED’s request.

Committee members who voted to authorize what the resolution called a “limited” strike averaged $72,850 in defense campaign financing from the pot. Committee members who voted against the resolution averaged $39,770, according to the data.

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Who Are The Experts Urging Us To Bomb Syria?

Waterwheels_in_Hamma,_SyriaLawyers, Guns & Money points out that we should no longer be listening to these people:

The Weekly Standard has an open letter explaining that blowing up lots of stuff in Syria is a great idea: The signatories on the letter addressed to President Obama inlcude Senator Joe Lieberman, Bernard-Henri Levy, Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Leon Wieseltier, and many others.

The “other people” include Max Boot, Paul Berman, Dr. Clifford D. May, Marty Peretz, and Danielle Pletka. I suppose it’s not literally true that the endorsement of these people means that bombing and/or invading Syria is a bad idea, but…let’s just if there was some way of betting that these people would be wrong you could be living in your own $32 million apartment complete with $160,000 wine cellar and million-dollar apartments for your many domestic servants.

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U.S. Army Restricts Troops’ Access To The Guardian Newspaper Website

guardian newspaper website Soldiers will not be allowed to catch up on Glenn Greenwald’s column in The Guardian Newspaper during their spare time. Reported first by the Monterey County Herald:

The Army admitted Thursday to not only restricting access to the Guardian news website at the Presidio of Monterey, as reported in Thursday’s Herald, but Armywide. Presidio employees said the site had been blocked since the Guardian broke stories on data collection by the National Security Agency.

Gordon Van Vleet, spokesman for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, or NETCOM, said in an email the Army is filtering “some access to press coverage and online content about the NSA leaks.”

He wrote it is routine for the Department of Defense to take preventative “network hygiene” measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

The Guardian’s website has classified documents about the NSA’s program of monitoring phone records of Verizon customers, a project called Prism which gave the agency “direct access” to data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and others, and more.

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The Millitary Should Only Ever Be Used After a Referendum.

cards_warisnothealthy_detail“I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong… no Vietcong ever called me ‘Nigger’” – Muhammed Ali

Catholics and Protestants still continue to fight in Ireland, divisons sewn by religion are driven with a supernatural force many cannot understand. Alike to this conflict is the dissagreement between the two major factions within Islam, the Shia and Sunni Muslims. In Syria the most extreme forms are fighting each other and, for reasons even my old LBC (a London talk-radio station) collegue Iain Dale is at a loss to fathom, it looks like the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron wants to follow Obama’s lead and draw us into it. Earlier last week the US announced it was to get involved on the side of the rebels.

“the White House announced on Thursday .. America would provide ‘military support’ for the Supreme Military Council (SMC) after tests confirmed that Bashar al-Assad’s regime had killed up to 150 people with sarin, the lethal chemical weapon.”

These plans to support rebels fighting against the current administration would effectively place us on the side of Sunni Muslims fighting and killing Shia.

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NSA Contractor Booz Allen Hamilton Has Made $2 Billion For The Carlyle Group

booz allen hamiltonWondering what the deal is with Booz Allen Hamilton, the defense contractor for which NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden worked? Well, for starters, since 2008, it’s been owned by global investment firm the Carlyle Group, to which both the Bush and bin Laden families were connected, Forbes reports:

In 2008, the Carlyle Group made a large $910 million investment to buy a majority stake in Booz Allen’s government consulting business.

Washington-based Carlyle, which has a long and successful history doing deals involving government contractors, has really made the Booz Allen deal work. The private equity firm has made $2 billion in realized and unrealized profits on the Booz Allen Hamilton deal so far. Its $910 million investment is now worth $3 billion.

There was a time when Carlyle’s ties to the government made the private equity giant a target of conspiracy theories, but the firm has worked hard and successfully to improve its image and limit its connections to the government.

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Inside The Neverending Simulated Middle Eastern War At The U.S. National Training Center

simulated warVenue visits the surreal Fort Irwin, arguably the Pentagon’s Universal Studios, where U.S. soldiers spend three weeks role-playing urban warfare in a mock city, complete with gruesome special effects, food markets filled with burqa-clad women, and gamer-style cards which instruct soldiers as to what injuries they must pretend to have:

Fort Irwin is a U.S. army base nearly the size of Rhode Island, located in the Mojave Desert about an hour’s drive northeast of Barstow, California. There you will find the National Training Center, at which all U.S. troops, from all the services, spend a twenty-one day rotation before they deploy overseas.

Sprawling and infernally hot in the summer months, the base offers free public tours twice a month of the simulated battlefields in which imaginary conflicts loop, day after day, without end. Picture paid actors shooting entire magazines full of blank rounds out of machine guns behind simulated Middle Eastern buildings in the Mojave desert.

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Obama Calls For End To “Perpetual War On Terror”

perpetual war on terror

A welcome development? Via Yahoo! News, the president announces new guidelines which will reduce the use of drone strikes and once again pushes for the closure of Guantanamo Bay:

Twelve years after the “war on terror” began, President Barack Obama wants to pull the United States back from some of the most controversial aspects of its global fight against Islamist militants.

In a major policy speech on Thursday, Obama narrowed the scope of the targeted-killing drone campaign against al Qaeda and its allies and took steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.

He acknowledged the past use of “torture” in U.S. interrogations; expressed remorse over civilian casualties from drone strikes; and said that the Guantanamo detention facility “has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.”

New U.S. drone rules are likely to reduce “signature” drone strikes, which target suspicious-looking groups.

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Since 9/11 Private Contractors Have Made $385 Billion From Overseas Bases

baseworldVia TomDispatch on the staggering sum being passed from U.S. taxpayers to a handful of contracting corporations in the name of maintaining the Pentagon’s global “baseworld”:

Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history. With US troops gone from Iraq, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about 1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands.

The Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the US since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Department budget over the same period. Almost a third of the $385 billion has flowed into the coffers of just 10 top contractors, [with the largest amount going to] KBR, the former subsidiary of Halliburton.

Once upon a time, however, the military, not contractors, built the barracks, cleaned the clothes, and peeled the potatoes at these bases. This started to change during the Vietnam War, when Brown & Root, better known to critics as “Burn & Loot” (later KBR), began building major military installations in South Vietnam as part of a contractor consortium.

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The “Rot” Rots On

Titan II MissileAt what point does an organization “rot?”

“Rot” seems to be a new phrase du jour being used by the military in the case of several offices charged with mishandling the highly sensitive and uber-responsible job of operating our top-secret nuclear weapons systems. They are the people who literally have their fingers on the big boom button.

According to a Guardian report, here’s how this rot came to public attention.

“The US Air Force has stripped an unprecedented 17 officers of their authority to oversee nuclear missiles, after a string of failings that the group’s deputy commander said stemmed from ‘rot’ within the ranks.”

“Rot within the ranks!”  That’s a neat way of putting it. Is that rot just confined to the underground silos on the lonely plains below their “amber waves of grain?”

Could there be mental “rot” in the intelligence world that we know is usually anything but intelligent?… Read the rest

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