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Pentagon Leads PR Campaign to Counter Critical Inspector General Reports on Afghanistan

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman | AllGov | February 6, 2014

Frustrated by numerous reports criticizing U.S. spending in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has launched a public relations campaign aimed at countering the work of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). That watchdog agency is charged with overseeing the military’s $96.5 billion reconstruction program in Afghanistan.

John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, has upset military commanders by frequently reporting on million-dollar programs that haven’t panned out or failed to account for missing American tax dollars.

One recent example involved a hospital in northeastern Afghanistan costing $600,000 that lacked adequate water, sewer, electrical, and heating systems—and was vulnerable to collapsing in an earthquake, according to SIGAR.

The U.S. military countered SIGAR’s report by issuing a news release that praised the hospital and even rejected some of the critical findings.

Somehow, the military came to these conclusions even though the Army hadn’t inspected the hospital in months because the insurgency made the area too dangerous to visit.

In addition to putting out press releases, the military has crafted an in-house strategy for dealing with SIGAR’s negative reports. This plan was revealed in a slide presentation, a copy of which was obtained by USA Today, that stated the goal was to “[build] the right combination of ammunition to achieve desired effects on a specified target.”

That target was Sopko, who was mentioned in the presentation during a hunting analogy: “In the past we may have shot where we saw the duck, but now, with our plan of action—we will bag our limit of birds before Mr. Sopko wakes up to feed his dogs.”

When informed of the anti-SIGAR campaign, Sopko told the newspaper: “It’s disappointing to see that funds appropriated by Congress are being used by elements of the Department of Defense to misrepresent the work of an independent inspector general. American taxpayers would be better served if ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] spent less time writing misleading press releases and more time fixing the problems we’ve identified.”

SIGAR spokesperson Philip LaVelle shares his boss’s concerns. “Let me get this straight,” he recently said to the Los Angeles Times. “They’re complaining we’re telling the American people how their tax dollars are being spent? The public has a right to know and we have a duty to tell them — and we intend to keep doing just that.”

Since 2008, SIGAR’s investigations have resulted in 56 criminal convictions or guilty pleas, involving nearly three dozen civilians and members of the U.S. military, along with 21 Afghans.

The Pentagon’s overall public relations campaign—exercised at home and abroad—grew by 63% during a five-year period since 2004, reaching $4.7 billion in 2009, according to Defense Department budgets and other documents produced that year. The budget included the employment of 27,000 people to handle public relations, advertising and recruitment.

The military’s budget for outreach and media amounts to 1% of the total Pentagon budget, according to Fox News.

To Learn More:

The Pentagon’s PR War Against SIGAR (by Neil Gordon, Project On Government Oversight)

Military Yanks Leash of Critical Government Watchdog (by Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today)

U.S. Embassy in Kabul Defends Itself Against Blistering Fraud Reports (by David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times)

Pentagon Spending Billions on PR to Sway World Opinion (Fox News)

Harsh Inspector General Report Says 0 of 16 Afghan Agencies can be Trusted with U.S. Aid (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

U.S.-Led Military Unit in Afghanistan Lost $230 Million in Spare Parts, Then Spent $138 Million for More (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Paid $6.8 Million to “Maintain” Non-Functioning Afghan Police Vehicles (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

February 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon Leads PR Campaign to Counter Critical Inspector General Reports on Afghanistan

Israel, Pentagon ‘big winners’ in US spending bill

345768_President Barack Obama

Press TV – January 15, 2014

The Pentagon, defense industry and Israel came out as big winners in a bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would pay for government operations through October, a report says.

The massive measure, unveiled Monday night, fleshes out the details of the budget deal that US Congress passed last month.

The spending bill provides about $497 billion for the Pentagon in 2014 — about the same as in 2013. In addition, it allocates $85.2 billion for the war in Afghanistan as part of the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations (OCO), $5 billion more than requested.

“The big winner is the Defense Department. They should be breaking out champagne in the Pentagon,” said Gordon Adams, a defense budget expert and former US official, as quoted by the Hill.

Before last month’s budget deal that relieved $22.4 billion in sequestration cuts, the Pentagon budget for 2014 would have been around $475 billion.

Fiscal watchdog and antiwar groups criticized the $5 billion increase from the Pentagon’s request in overseas contingency funding as a “slush fund to pad the department’s budget and avoid spending reductions,” the Hill said.

“There is no excuse for a $5 billion increase to OCO especially in a time of belt tightening throughout the federal government,” David Williams, president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance, said in a statement Tuesday.

The defense industry was also a winner in the omnibus spending bill, Adams said.

The bill largely fulfills the Pentagon’s procurement request for ships, aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other war-fighting equipment, including 29 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eight new warships as requested by the Navy, and a variety of other aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, new and improved F-18 fighters and new Army helicopters.

Israel is also a “winner” in the spending measure, as it fully funds the Arrow, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome rocket systems, the Hill said.

The spending bill authorizes $173 million in added funding for Israel’s missile systems, including nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $117.2 million for development of the David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile system and $22 million for an upper-tier interceptor.

The US provides $3.1 billion in annual military aid to Israel, making the Zionist regime the largest recipient of US aid in the world.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to extend annual military aid to Tel Aviv through 2027.

The pending 10-year military aid package would commit the United States to give up to $40 billion in military grant assistance to Israel. It would automatically kick in after the current 10-year, $30 billion agreement expires in 2017.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood

By Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham | January 21, 2009

Here we build a prima facae case supporting the idea that Hollywood continues to be a target for infiltration and subversion by a variety of state agencies, in particular the CIA. Academic debates on cinematic propaganda are almost entirely retrospective, and whilst a number of commentators have drawn attention to Hollywood’s longstanding and open relationship with the Pentagon, little of substance has been written about the more clandestine influences working through Hollywood in the post-9/11 world. As such, our work delves into the field of what Peter Dale Scott calls “deep politics”; namely, activities which cannot currently be fully understood due to the covert influence of shadowy power players.

The Latest Picture

A variety of state agencies have liaison offices in Hollywood today, from the FBI, to NASA and the Secret Service. Few of these agencies, though, have much to offer in exchange for favourable storylines, and so their influence in Hollywood is minimal. The major exception here is the Department of Defense, which has an ‘open’ but barely publicized relationship with Tinsel Town, whereby, in exchange for advice, men and invaluable equipment, such as aircraft carriers and helicopters, the Pentagon routinely demands flattering script alterations. Examples of this policy include changing the true identity of a heroic military character in Black Hawk Down (2001) due to his real-life status as a child rapist; the removal of a joke about “losing Vietnam” from the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and cutting images of Marines taking gold teeth from dead Japanese soldiers in Windtalkers (2002). Instances such as these are innumerable, and the Pentagon has granted its coveted “full cooperation” to a long list of contemporary pictures including Top Gun (1986), True Lies (1994), Executive Decision (1996), Air Force One (1997), The Sum of All Fears (2002), Transformers (2007), Iron Man (2008), as well as TV series such as JAG (1995-2005).

Such government activity, whilst morally dubious and barely advertised, has at least occurred within the public domain. This much cannot be said of the CIA’s dealings with Hollywood, which, until recently, went largely unacknowledged by the Agency. In 1996, the CIA announced with little fanfare the dry remit of its newly established Media Liaison Office, headed by veteran operative Chase Brandon. As part of its new stance, the CIA would now openly collaborate on Hollywood productions, supposedly in a strictly ‘advisory’ capacity.

The Agency’s decision to work publicly with Hollywood was preceded by the 1991 “Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness,” compiled by CIA Director Robert Gates’ newly appointed ‘Openness Task Force,’ which secretly debated –ironically– whether the Agency should be less secretive. The report acknowledges that the CIA “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and the authors of the report note that this helped them “turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success’ stories, and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.” It goes on to reveal that the CIA has in the past “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests…”

These admissions add weight to several reports and Congressional hearings from the 1970s which indicated that the CIA once maintained a deep-rooted and covert presence in national and international media, informally dubbed “Operation Mockingbird.” In its 1991 report, the CIA acknowledged that it had, in fact, “reviewed some film scripts about the Agency, documentary and fictional, at the request of filmmakers seeking guidance on accuracy and authenticity.” But the report is at pains to state that, although the CIA has “facilitated the filming of a few scenes on Agency premises,” it does “not seek to play a role in filmmaking ventures.” But it seems highly implausible that the CIA, whilst maintaining a decades-long presence in media and academia, would have shown no interest in the hugely influential Cinema industry.

Indeed, it should come as no surprise that the CIA has been involved in a number of recent blockbusters and TV series.The 2001 CBS TV series, The Agency, executive produced by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, Air Force One) was actually co-written by ex-CIA agent and Marine Bazzel Baz, with additional ex-CIA agents working as consultants. The CIA gladly opened its doors to the production, and facilitated both external and internal shots of its Langley headquarters as the camera gazed lovingly at the CIA seal. This arrangement was comparable to the Feds’ efforts on the popular TV series The FBI (1965-74) which was shaped by the Bureau in cooperation with ABC and which thanked J. Edgar Hoover in the credits of each episode. Similarly, The Agency glorified the actions of US spooks as they fought predictable villains including the Russian military, Arab and German terrorists, Columbian drug dealers, and Iraqis. One episode even shows the CIA saving the life of Fidel Castro; ironically, since the CIA in real life had made repeated attempts to assassinate the Cuban President. Promos for the show traded on 9/11, which had occurred just prior to its premiere, with tag lines like “Now, more than ever, we need the CIA.”

A TV movie, In the Company of Spies (1999) starring Tom Berenger depicted a retired CIA operative returning to duty to save captured Agency officers held by North Korea. The CIA was so enthusiastic about this product that it hosted its presentation, cooperated during production, facilitated filming at Langley, and provided fifty off-duty officers as extras, according to its website.

Espionage novelist Tom Clancy has enjoyed an especially close relationship with the CIA. In 1984, Clancy was invited to Langley after writing The Hunt for Red October, which was later turned into the 1990 film. The Agency invited him again when he was working on Patriot Games (1992), and the movie adaptation was, in turn,granted access to Langley facilities. More recently, The Sum of All Fears (2002) depicted the CIA as tracking down terrorists who detonate a nuclear weapon on US soil. For this production, CIA director George Tenet gave the filmmakers a personal tour of the Langley HQ; the film’s star, Ben Affleck also consulted with Agency analysts, and Chase Brandon served as on-set advisor.

Media sources indicate that the CIA also worked on the Anthony Hopkins/Chris Rock feature Bad Company (2002) and the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster Enemy of the State (2001). However, no details whatsoever about these appear to be in the public domain. Similarly, Spy Game director Tony Scott’s DVD commentary for said film indicates that he visited Langley whilst in pre-production but, according to one report, endorsement appeared to have been withheld after Chase Brandon read the final draft of the script.

More details than usual emerged about CIA involvement in the Tom Hanks movie Charlie Wilsons War (2007) and Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd (2006) – but not many. Milt Beardon had traveled to the Moscow Film Festival with De Niro and claims the pair then “disappeared and hung out with the mob and KGB crowd for a while. I introduced him to generals and colonels, the old guys I had been locked with for so many years.” De Niro later tagged along with Beardon to Pakistan. “We wandered around the North-West Frontier Province,” Bearden recalls, “crossed the bridge [to Afghanistan] I built years ago, hung out with a bunch of guys firing off machine guns and drinking tea.” Still, The Good Shepherd didn’t fulfill the CIA’s earnest hopes of being the CIA equivalent of Flags of Our Fathers (2006), which the Agency’s official historian says it should have been – all in the interests of what he calls a “culture of truth.”

Charlie Wilson’s War depicted the United States’ covert efforts to supply arms to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s which had the real-life consequence of America’s old ally turned against it in the form of al-Qaeda (as Crile explains in the book of the film). However, Beardon, who was the CIA agent who supplied the weapons, worked as consultant on the film and said prior to its release that it “will put aside the notion that because we did that, we had 9/11.” CIA involvement in the film therefore appears to have paid dividends.

The real reasons for the CIA adopting an “advisory” role on all of these productions are thrown into sharp relief by a solitary comment from former Associate General Counsel to the CIA, Paul Kelbaugh. In 2007, whilst at a College in Virginia, Kelbaugh delivered a lecture on the CIA’s relationship with Hollywood, at which a local journalist was present. The journalist (who now wishes to remain anonymous) wrote a review of the lecture which related Kelbaugh’s discussion of the 2003 thriller The Recruit, starring Al Pacino. The review noted that, according to Kelbaugh, a CIA agent was on set for the duration of the shoot under the guise of a consultant, but that his real job was to misdirect the filmmakers: “We didn’t want Hollywood getting too close to the truth,” the journalist quoted Kelbaugh as saying.

Peculiarly, in a strongly-worded email to the authors, Kelbaugh emphatically denied having made the public statement and claimed that he remembered “very specific discussions with senior [CIA] management that no one was ever to misrepresent to affect [film] content – EVER.” The journalist considers Kelbaugh’s denial “weird,” and told us that “after the story came out, he [Kelbaugh] emailed me and loved it… I think maybe it’s just that because [the lecture] was ‘just in Lynchburg’ he was okay with it – you know, like, no one in Lynchburg is really going to pay much attention to it, I guess. Maybe that’s why he said it, and maybe that’s why he’s denying it now.” The journalist stands by the original report, and Kelbaugh has pointedly refused to engage us in further discussion on the matter.

Early Screening

Clandestine agencies have a long history of interference in the cinema industry. Letters discovered in the Eisenhower Presidential Library from the secret agent Luigi G. Luraschi (identified by British academic John Eldridge), the Paramount executive who worked for the CIA’s Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), reveal just how far the CIA was able to reach into the film industry in the early days of the Cold War, despite its claims that it sought no such influence. For instance, Luraschi reported that he had secured the agreement of several casting directors to subtly plant “well dressed negroes” into films, including “a dignified negro butler” who has lines “indicating he is a free man” in Sangaree (1953) and in a golf club scene in the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis vehicle The Caddy (1953). Elsewhere, CIA arranged the removal of key scenes from the film Arrowhead (1953), which questioned America’s treatment of Apache Indians, including a sequence where a tribe is forcibly shipped and tagged by the US Army. Such changes were not part of a ham-fisted campaign to instill what we now call “political correctness” in the populace. Rather, they were specifically enacted to hamper the Soviets’ ability to exploit its enemy’s poor record in race relations and served to create a peculiarly anodyne impression of America, which was, at that time, still mired in an era of racial segregation.

Other efforts were made. The PSB tried –unsuccessfully– to commission Frank Capra to direct Why We Fight the Cold War and to provide details to filmmakers about conditions in the USSR in the hope that they would use them in their movies. More successfully, in 1950, the CIA –along with other secretive organizations like the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) and aided by the PSB– bought the rights to and invested in the cartoon of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1954), which was given an anti-Soviet spin to satisfy its covert investors. Author Daniel Leab has pointed to the fact it took decades for the rumours about CIA involvement in Animal Farm to be properly documented; this, he observes, “Speaks volumes about the ability of a government agency to keep its activities covert.”

Additionally, the production of the Michael Redgrave feature Nineteen-Eighty Four (1956) was in turn overseen by the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, which was supervised by the CIA. Key points in the movie were altered to demonise the Soviets.

The CIA also tampered with the 1958 film version of The Quiet American, provoking the author, Graham Greene, to denounce the film. US Air Force Colonel Edward Lansdale, the CIA operative behind Operation Mongoose (the CIA sabotage and assassination campaign against Cuba) had entered into production correspondence with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who accepted his ideas. These included a change to the final scene in which we learn that Redgrave’s anti-hero has been hoodwinked by the Communists into murdering the suspicious American, who turns out not to be a bomb-maker as we had been led to believe, but instead a manufacturer of children’s toys.

Behind the Scenes

It would be a mistake to regard the CIA as unique in its involvement in Hollywood. The industry is in fact fundamentally open to manipulation by a range of state agencies. In 2000, it emerged that the White House’s drug war officers had spent tens of millions of dollars paying the major US networks to inject anti-drug plots into the scripts of primetime series such as ER, The Practice, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Chicago Hope. Despite criticism for this blatant propagandizing, the government continued to employ this method of spreading its message on drugs.

The White House went to Tinsel Town again the following year when, on November 11, 2001 a meeting was held in Hollywood between President Bush’s then Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, and representatives of each of the major Hollywood studios to discuss how the film industry might contribute to the ‘War on Terror.’ Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America said with a straight face that, “content was off the table”, but Rove had clearly outlined a series of requests. It is hard to gauge the consequences of the meeting, but a Rambo sequel, for instance, was certainly discussed, and duly produced. Similarly, several series with national security themes emerged within a short time of the meeting including She Spies (2002-2004) and Threat Matrix (2003).

The meeting was, in fact, just one in a series between Hollywood and the White House from October to December, 2001. On October 17, in response to 9/11, the White House announced the formation of its “Arts and Entertainment Task Force,” and by November, Valenti had assumed leadership of Hollywood’s new role in the ‘War on Terror’. As a direct result of meetings, Congress sought advice from Hollywood insiders on how to shape an effective wartime message to America and to the world. In November 2001, John Romano, writer-producer of the popular US TV series Third Watch, advised the House International Relations Committee that the content of Hollywood productions was a key part of shaping foreign perceptions of America.

On December 5, 2001, the powerful Academy of Television Arts & Sciences convened its own panel entitled “Hollywood Goes to War?” to discuss what the industry might do in response to 9/11. Representing the government at the meeting were Mark McKinnon, a White House advisor, and the Pentagon’s chief entertainment liaison, Phil Strub. Also in attendance, among others, were Jeff Zucker, President of NBC Entertainment, and Aaron Sorkin, creator and writer of the White House drama The West Wing (1999-2006). Immediately after, Sorkin and his team set about producing a special episode of the show dealing with a massive terrorist threat to America entitled “Isaac and Ishmael”. The episode was given top priority and was successfully completed and aired within just ten days of the meeting. The product championed the superiority of American values whilst brimming with rage against the Islamist jihadists.

The interlocking of Hollywood and national security apparatuses remains as tight as ever: ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, “There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood” and revealed that former CIA director George Tenet is currently, “out in Hollywood, talking to studios.” Baer’s claims are given weight by the Sun Valley meetings, annual get-togethers in Idaho’s Sun Valley in which several hundred of the biggest names in American media –including every major Hollywood studio executive– convene to discuss collective media strategy for the coming year. Against the idyllic backdrop of expansive golf courses, pine forests and clear fishing lakes, deals are struck, contracts are signed, and the face of the American media is quietly altered. The press has yet to be granted permission to report on these corporate media gatherings and so the exact nature of what is discussed at the events has never been publicly disclosed. It is known, however, that Tenet was keynote speaker at Sun Valley in 2003 (whilst still CIA head) and again in 2005.

Conclusions

Many would recoil at the thought of modern Hollywood cinema being used as a propagandist tool, but the facts seem to speak for themselves. Do agencies such as the CIA have the power, like the Pentagon, to affect movie content by providing much-sought-after expertise, locations and other benefits? Or are they able to affect script changes through simple persuasion, or even coercion? Do they continue to carry out covert actions in Hollywood as they did so extensively in the 1950s, and, beyond cinema, might covert government influence play some part in the creation of national security messages in TV series such as 24 and Alias (the star of the latter, Jennifer Garner, even made an unpaid recruitment video for the CIA)? The notion that covert agencies aspire to be more open is hard to take seriously when they provide such scant information about their role within the media, even regarding activities from decades past. The spy may have come in from the cold, but he continues to shelter in the shadows of the movie theatre.

Source

January 11, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Lights, Camera… Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood

No austerity for military budget in 2014

Press TV – December 28, 2013

In an era of bipartisan agreement on austerity cuts to vital services and workers’ benefits, US military-industrial-complex spending will continue into the new year untouched.

President Barack Obama signed into law on Thursday the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2014 that allots $526.8 billion for the Pentagon’s budget and $80 billion for the war in Afghanistan—totaling nearly $607 billion in defense-related spending.

This is nearly $30 billion more than was agreed to in the bipartisan federal budget deal that was also signed by Obama on Thursday.

“The passage of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that calls for $30 billion more for the Pentagon and allied agencies than is contained in the recent budget deal passed by both houses of Congress is just the latest indication that defense hawks continue to live in their own world, untroubled by fiscal constraints,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

The bill does include an ease of restrictions on transferring Guantanamo Bay US military prison inmates to the custody of other countries, while banning transfers to the United States, in what human rights advocates are calling a limited victory.

“We hope that President Obama will make swift use of the new NDAA provisions to actually act on his removal of the ban,” reads an official statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has battled unlawful detentions at Guantánamo for the past 11 years.

“Despite President Obama’s announcement in May that he would lift his self-imposed ban on transfers to Yemen, seven months later not a single Yemeni has been released,” the statement warns.

The bill also introduces limited protections for survivors of sexual assault within the US military, yet keeps power over legal cases within the chain of command—which survivors and their advocates say is inadequate in a system where higher ranking service members have near impunity for sexual assaults perpetrated down the chain of command.

Critics slammed the NDAA as a military handout at a time of great human need.

“The bill is a massive spending program on the war economy with no justification in a time of austerity and limited security threats,” writes D.S. Wright for FiredogLake.

“Washington’s spending priorities are upside down: continuing to fund the Afghan war and the taxpayer ripoff F-35 warplane while cutting funding for human needs,” said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, in an interview with Common Dreams.


spending_-_discretionary_pie_2014

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

Military sexual assault prevention officer accused of running prostitution ring

RT | May 15, 2013

The US military officer overseeing sexual assault prevention at the Fort Hood base in Texas is now under investigation for sexual assault, including allegations of maltreatment of subordinates and running a prostitution ring.

Two senior officials at the Pentagon and a Capitol Hill staffer briefed on the case confirmed to USA Today that a sergeant serving at the Texas military installation, whose name has not been released, is under investigation for abusive sexual contact, forcing a subordinate into prostitution and sexually assaulting at least two others.

The officer has now been relieved of his duties, though charges had yet to be filed. The sergeant oversaw a sexual assault prevention program at the battalion level, and was responsible for a unit of some 800 soldiers.

Both Pentagon officials who confirmed the investigation, including inquiries into the alleged prostitution ring, spoke on condition of anonymity as the case is still ongoing.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reacted with “frustration, anger and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said on Tuesday, following official acknowledgment of the investigation at Fort Hood.

The announcement also comes on the heels of another blow to the armed forces, adding to an ongoing narrative showing a widespread culture of sexual abuse in the American military. Earlier in May, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, the officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual abuse prevention program based at the Pentagon, was arrested for drunkenly groping a woman. Krusinski is set to appear in court in July for sexual battery.

To compound the unwanted attention, Krusinski’s arrest came the same week that the Pentagon released an annual report revealing a 35% increase in unreported sexual assault incidents over two years, totaling 26,000 up from 19,300 in 2010.

Reported sexual assaults of both men and women in the military rose to 3,374 last year, up from 3,192 a year earlier, according to that same Pentagon report. About a quarter of those who were assaulted and received medical attention declined to press charges, which officials cited as an indicator of victims’ fears of retribution.

“Tragically, the depth of the sexual assault problem in our military was already overwhelmingly clear before this latest highly disturbing report,” said Sen. Carl Levin, (D-MI), who currently chairs the personnel panel of the US Armed Services Committee, in response to Tuesday’s revelation.

Air Force officials have already been criticized for their handling of sexual assault issues. Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh was blasted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for blaming “hook-up culture” for contributing to continuing sexual abuse problems.

“To say this report is disturbing would be a gross understatement. For the second time in a week we are seeing someone who is supposed to be preventing sexual assault being investigated for committing that very act,” said Gillibrand.

“We have to do better by the men and women serving and assure them that they will not be attacked by their colleagues,” she added.

In response to this latest incident, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday ordered the armed services to immediately “re-train, re-credential and re-screen” tens of thousands of recruiters and military sexual assault prevention officers.

May 15, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Military sexual assault prevention officer accused of running prostitution ring

Three rapes happen every hour in US military: Report

Press TV – May 9, 2013

A new report by the US Defense Department, Pentagon, says almost three rapes occur every hour in the US military, raising serious concern about the soaring rate of sexual assault among US servicemen.

According to the Pentagon, sexual assaults in the military have increased to the alarming level of 70 per day or three every hour, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The report added that 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35-percent increase since 2010 when 19,000 such cases were reported.

However, the overall rate of sexual assault in the US military may be higher, as many victims fail to report out of fear of vengeance or lack of justice under the military’s system of prosecution, the report added.

“The more closed and hierarchical an institution is, the more the victim is stigmatized and the rapist gets away with it,” said Susan Brooks, pastor and volunteer rape crisis counselor.

Brooks went on to condemn the US military for maintaining a culture of gender and power relations, which she says produces the rape culture among service members.

Many high-ranking US military commanders have recently been convicted and relieved of duties for multiple sexual offenses and corruption over the years.

On May 6, authorities said Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski, director of the sexual assault prevention program for the US Air Force, has himself been detained for sexually assaulting a woman not far from the military headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

In 2012, over 30 male Air Force boot camp trainers were cited for sexually harassing, abusing and raping at least 59 military recruits at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Three rapes happen every hour in US military: Report

DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

RT | March 4, 2013

Your digital footprint could be getting a whole lot bigger: Pentagon scientists are searching for a way to transcribe every real-world conversation that happens into computer-readable files.

Robert Beckhusen of Wired’s Danger Room says it wouldn’t be unlike a real-life Twitter feed or an “email archive for everyday speak.”

“Imagine living in a world where every errant utterance you make is preserved together,” Beckhusen writes in an article this week that explores a Defense Department project that’s been undertaken by its Darpa laboratories and is now in the hands of a University of Texas computer scientist named Matt Lease.

Least has received a few hundred thousand dollars from Darpa — the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — to help find a way to take cell phone conversations, board room meetings and every miniscule real world back-and-forth and have them digitized.

The project is being called “Blending Crowdsourcing with Automation for Fast, Cheap and Accurate Analysis of Spontaneous Speech,” and Lease will receive $300,000 in all from the government to work on it after winning a 2012 Young Faculty Award from Darpa last year.

Lease has previously worked with the Pentagon scientists on another project, Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text, or EARS, which had him trying to find a better way to transcribe dialogue into text. Now after winning the respect of Darpa, he’s putting that research to work in hopes of finding a way to streamline all real world conversations into digital transcriptions. And by strategically crowd-sourcing the information, he thinks he might be able to do just that.

“Like other AI [artificial intelligence], it can only go so far, which is based on what the state-of-the-art methodology can do,” Lease tells Wired. “So what was exciting to me is thinking about going back to some of that work and now taking advantage of crowdsourcing and applying that into the mix.”

Lease says he saw both the “need and opportunity to really make conversational speech more accessible, more part of our permanent record instead of being so ephemeral, and really trying to imagine what this world would look like if we really could capture all these conversations and make use of them effectively going forward,” Lease adds.

Wired reports that the end result could mean that conversations and events could be transcribed and edited through crowdsourcing, then eventually and easily be shared with friends, family and colleagues. Once digitized, those dialogues could also be perused for general search purposes. By uploading everything, though, some concerns are quickly showing up. For one, there’s the matter of possible privacy violations brought on by the seemingly constant collection of data. Then, of course, there’s the matter of what is being done with it.

According to a 2003 memo from the Congressional Research Service, the EARS project that first got Lease involved in the Pentagon was being considered for a rather particular kind of use. That report said that dialogue could be inputted into the system by way of telephone conversations so that “the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities” could “extract clues about the identity of speakers.”

For now, Lease won’t even speculate as to why the Pentagon wants him to develop his crowdsourcing project. He agrees, however, that there is an issue with “respecting the privacy rights of multiple people involved.”

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

The U.S.’s Grossly Corrupt Health Protection System

Blame the Pentagon

By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR and JOSHUA FRANK | CounterPunch | February 15, 2013

The nation’s biggest polluter isn’t a corporation. It’s the Pentagon. Every year the Department of Defense churns out more than 750,000 tons of hazardous waste — more than the top three chemical companies combined.

Yet the military remains largely exempt from compliance with most federal and state environmental laws, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pentagon’s partner in crime, is working hard to keep it that way.

For the past five decades the federal government, defense contractors and the chemical industry have joined forces to block public health protections against perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that has been shown to effect children’s growth and mental progress by disrupting the function of the thyroid gland which regulates brain development.

Perchlorate has been leaking from literally hundreds of defense plants and military installations across the country. The EPA has reported that perchlorate is present in drinking and groundwater supplies in 35 states. Center for Disease Control and independent studies have also overwhelmingly shown that perchlorate is existent in our food supplies, cow’s milk, and human breast milk. As a result virtually every American has some level of perchlorate in their body.

Currently only two states, California and Massachusetts, have set a maximum allowable contaminant level for perchlorate in drinking water. But the EPA won’t follow these states’ lead. In the Colorado River, which provides water for over 20 million people, perchlorate levels are high. The chemical is most prevalent in the Southwest and California as a result of the large number of military operations and defense contractors in the region.

In 2001 the EPA estimated that the total liability for the cleanup of toxic military sites would exceed $350 billion, or five times the Superfund Act liability of private industry. But the federal government has been complacent and allowed perchlorate to run rampant throughout our water supplies. This negligence and lack of regulatory oversight has left the Pentagon, NASA and defense contractors free to set their own levels, trimming the high, but necessary costs of restoring groundwater quality.

While the situation has become dire in recent years, it was the Clinton administration that didn’t do nearly enough to begin cleaning up these sites and certainly did not keep a close eye on how the Pentagon spent the money it received. During the 1990s the Defense Department spent only $3.5 billion a year cleaning up toxic military sites — much of that on studies, not actual work. In 1998, the Defense Science Review Board, a federal advisory committee set up to provide independent advice to the secretary of defense, looked at the problem and concluded that the Pentagon had no clear environmental cleanup policy, goals or program, which led lawyer Jonathan Turley, who holds the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at George Washington University, to call the Pentagon the nation’s “premier environmental villain.”

“If they can spend $1 million on a cruise missile, it seems kind of ridiculous they won’t spend $200,000 to see if our food is contaminated with rocket fuel,” says Renee Sharp, a scientist with Environmental Working Group. But if the Clinton program was chintzy, the Bush plan has been downright penurious.

While Bush has boosted overall Pentagon spending by billions, the administration has simultaneously slashed its environmental remediation program. Moreover, the Bush defense plan has called for “new rounds of base closures” to “shape the military more efficiently.” Efficiency is usually a code word for sidestepping environmental rules.

These military sites, which total more than 50 million acres, are among the most insidious and dangerous legacies left by the Pentagon. They are strewn with toxic bomb fragments, unexploded munitions, buried hazardous waste, fuel dumps, open pits filled with debris, burn piles and yes, rocket fuel. An internal EPA memo from 1998 warned of the looming problem: “As measured by acres, and probably as measured by number of sites, ranges and buried munitions represent the largest cleanup program in the United States.”

When a site gets too polluted, the Pentagon has chosen simply to close it down and turn it over to another federal agency. Over the past three decades, the Pentagon has transferred more than 16 million acres, often with little or no remediation. The former bombing areas have been turned into wildlife refuges, city and state parks, golf courses, landfills, airports and shopping malls.

Serious contamination of streams, soil and groundwater is a problem at nearly every military training ground. The sites are often saturated with heavy metals and other pollutants as well as unexploded weapons. The Government Accountability Office’s list of the kinds of unexploded munitions left behind on many training sites reads like a catalogue for a Middle East arms bonanza: “hand grenades, rockets, guided missiles, projectiles, mortars, rifle grenades, and bombs.”

But the government has gone to great extents to cover up its deadly legacy. In 2002 the Pentagon, defense contractors and perchlorate makers persuaded the editors of a prestigious journal to rewrite an article on the chemical’s health effects without the lead author’s knowledge or consent. Then in 2005 the White House loaded a National Academy of Science panel, which was set up to assess the health risks of perchlorate, with paid consultants of the rocket fuel industry, which, not surprisingly, recommended that exposure levels be set many times higher than the lower doses recommended by numerous independent research studies.

“Perchlorate provides a textbook example of a corrupted health protection system, where polluters, the Pentagon, the White House and the EPA have conspired to block health protections in order to pad budgets, curry political favor, and protect corporate profits,” Richard Wiles, Executive Director of the Environmental Working Group, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 7 during a hearing held by committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who would like to see national safety standards for perchlorate in drinking water.

“All the pieces needed to support strong health protections are in place,” said Wiles. “This is a nightmare of epic proportions for the Department of Defense and its contractors, and rather than address it head-on, they have spent 50 years and millions of dollars trying to avoid it.”

Jeffrey St. Clair’s latest books are Born Under a Bad Sky and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format.  He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net

Joshua Frank, Managing Editor of CounterPunch, is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, and of Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The U.S.’s Grossly Corrupt Health Protection System

The Pentagon’s Budget Crunch: No Dissenting Views

By Peter Hart | FAIR | February 13, 2013

We’ve noted many times that when it comes to corporate media coverage of the so-called budget “sequester”–the immediate cuts to military and social spending set to hit in a matter of weeks–what matters most is what will happen to the military.  The Washington Post had a whole piece (2/13/13) devoted to yet another round of complaints from military leaders–without a single comment from anyone who might take the view that cutting military spending would not be such a disaster.

“Defense Officials Again Sound Alarm on Sequestration,” said the Post headline, signaling that readers were probably well aware by now that this perspective has been heard loud and clear. Steve Vogel was reporting on a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing that featured a series of military leaders warning of the disaster to come– “the looming sequestration cuts represent a dire and unpre­cedented threat to the U.S. military.”

The quotes all reiterated that point: “The wolf is at the door,” we may return to “a hollow Army,” military forces would be “degraded and unready,” and on a scale of 1 to 10, “it sure feels like a 10.”

Apparently the Post’s idea of balance is quoting spokespeople from different branches of the military–the Army’s point of view, but also someone from the Marine Corps!

Near the end, Vogel writes:

The military panel met with a sympathetic audience Tuesday, as most members of the Senate panel expressed support for ­protecting the defense budget from automatic, across-the-board cuts.

The senators’ failure to challenge the military line is all the more reason to seek out a different perspective;  say, someone who would point out that military spending skyrocketed since the 9/11 attacks, and the current round of reductions–both as part of the sequester and a separate set of budget cuts–still leave total military spending levels at around 2006 levels.

There are military analysts who could provide a different take on the supposed crisis in military spending. An article like this could use another point of view.

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on The Pentagon’s Budget Crunch: No Dissenting Views

Pentagon study questions efficiency of US missile system in Europe

Press TV – February 9, 2013

Secret Pentagon studies have cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of the US-planned multi-billion-dollar missile system in Europe, congressional investigators say.

The classified studies by the Missile Defense Agency were summarized in a briefing for lawmakers by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a congressional nonpartisan investigative body.

The GAO investigators said the briefing cast serious doubt on whether the system is capable of protecting Europe and US interests against potential missile attacks.

So far, the US has signed agreements for launching the missile system in Poland, Romania and Turkey.

The GAO briefing concluded that Romania was a poor location for an interceptor to protect the US interests.

The studies also expressed other concerns about the missile system, including production glitches, cost overruns as well as problems with radars and sensors that cannot distinguish between warheads and other objects.

Although military officials say the problems of the system can be overcome with difficulty, the governmental and scientific reports have expressed doubt on whether the system would ever work as planned.

While the Pentagon has embarked on giant budget cuts, the study is expected to prompt the Congress to reconsider the continuation of the multi-billion-dollar plan.

Republican lawmaker Michael Turner, who requested the GAO study, said the missile system might be useless, adding, “This report really confirms what I have said all along: that this was a hurried proposal by the president.”

The US plan for a missile system in Europe has been a bone of contention since former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

One the one hand, American critics said the plan was rushed and based on unproven technology. Russia, on the other hand, expressed concern that the plan sought to counter Russian missiles and undermine its nuclear deterrent power.

In his latest article on non-proliferation, the Executive Director of the US Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball urged the White House to delay plans for developing its missile interceptors in Europe as they merely prompt Russia to resist further cuts in its nuclear stockpile.

February 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon study questions efficiency of US missile system in Europe

Pentagon Continues Contracting US Companies in Latin America

By John Lindsay-Poland  | FOR | January 31, 2013

The Pentagon signed $444 million in non-fuel contracts for purchases and services in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 2012 fiscal year, an overall decrease of nearly 15% from the previous year. But US military spending in the region is still considerably higher than during the George W. Bush administration, when the equivalent Pentagon spending in Latin America averaged $301 million a year.

Fellowship Of Reconcilliation conducted an analysis of Defense Department contracts listed on usaspending.gov for Fiscal Year 2012, building on the review we did last year.

More than a third of funds for these contracts in the region are being carried out in Cuba, with $158 million for housing upgrades, intelligence analysis, port operations and other services. The United States maintains the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba, site of the 11-year-old detention center that holds 171 prisoners without trial, many of whom have been cleared for release.

An additional $130 million in Pentagon contracts was for fuel purchases, including more than $44 million in Brazil, $35 million in Costa Rica, and $24 million in Honduras. Such fuel purchases supply the Fourth Fleet of the Navy, as well as military aircraft and land vehicles used in exercises, operations, and training.

Colombia remained the country with the largest amount of Pentagon contracts in continental Latin America, with $77 million. A multi-year contract shared by Raytheon and Lockheed for training, equipment and other drug war activities accounted for more than a third of Pentagon contract spending in Colombia. Honduras, which has become a hub for Pentagon operations in Central America, is the site for more than $43 million in non-fuel contracts signed last year.

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The US Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for US military activities in Central and South America and the Caribbean, is assisting the Panamanian border police, known as SENAFRONT, by upgrading a building in the SENAFRONT compound. The force was implicated in killings of indigenous protesters (PDF) in Bocas del Toro in 2011, and fired indiscriminately with live ammunition (PDF) on Afro-Caribbean protesters last October.

Many countries that host US military activities hope to receive economic benefits and jobs as a result. But more than five of every six Pentagon dollars contracted for services and goods in the region went to US-based companies. Only nine percent of the $574.4 million in Pentagon contracts signed in 2012 (including fuel contracts) were with firms in the country where the work was to be carried out. In the Caribbean, there were virtually no local companies that benefited from the $245 million in Defense Department contracts.

A few corporations dominated Pentagon contracts in the region. CSC Applied Technologies, based in Fort Worth, Texas, received more than $53 million in contracts to operate the Navy’s underwater military testing facility in the Bahamas. Lockheed Martin received more than $40 million in contracts, almost entirely for drug war training, equipment and services in Colombia and Mexico.

Pentagon Focus on Guatemala

Although the Pentagon spent less in most Latin American countries in 2012 than the year before, DOD contracts have more than doubled since 2010 in Guatemala, where there is a ban on most State Department-channeled military aid to the army. However, the ban does not apply to Defense Department assistance. The contracts for nearly $14 million in 2012 amount to more than seven times what it was in 2009. In addition, the US military spent another $8.1 million on fuel in Guatemala last year, probably for “Beyond the Horizon” military exercises held there and in Honduras from April to July, and perhaps to support the deployment of 200 Marines to Guatemala in August.

The contracts included new assistance to the Guatemalan special forces, known as Kaibiles, former members of which have been implicated in giving training to the Zetas drug cartel, as well as the worst atrocities during the genocide period of the 1980s. Two contracts, funded by SouthCom and signed in September, were for a “shoot house” and “improvements” at the Kaibiles training base in Poptun, Petén.

SouthCom also funded a contract for construction of a new $3 million counter-drug base in Santa Ana de Berlin, in Quetzaltenango. This year, SouthCom is slated to build a $1.8 million counternarcotics operations center and barracks in Mantanitas, Guatemala, according to an Army Corps of Engineers presentation.

The expenditures included equipment. For the last two years, SouthCom has been providing Boston whaler boats, radios, and tactical vehicles (Jeeps) to Central American militaries. Guatemala is receiving more of the equipment than other countries in the region – 47 Jeeps and 8 Boston whalers, according to a SouthCom document. SouthCom signed a $2.5 million contract in September for Jeeps for Guatemala, and it has purchased more than $2.8 million of Harris military radios for Guatemala since September 2011.

Department of Defense contracts, summaries of which are posted on usaspending.gov, only represent a portion of Pentagon spending. A report to Congress last April (PDF) of Defense Department assistance worldwide showed more than $15 million in military aid to Guatemala in 2010, including $9 million for intelligence analysis, training, boats, trucks, night vision devices, and a “base of operations.” These funds also included more than $6 million of unspecified support for Guatemalan police operations in Cobán, in the Guatemalan highland department of Alta Verapaz.  The report didn’t include data after 2010.

On December 7, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency signed a $1.4 million contract with a Guatemalan firm to manage a 10,000-barrel supply of turbine fuel for the next five years in Puerto Quetzal, on Guatemala’s southern coast. This followed a July 2012 solicitation to deliver 63,000 gallons of jet fuel to another southern Guatemalan site, in Retalhuleu.

FOR compiled data on the “country of performance” for contracts. For Guatemala, we also examined data on additional contracts that reference the country, which included a $2.5 million contract signed in late September with a Chrysler distributor to deliver tactical vehicles – some of the Jeeps slated for the country. The US Army also purchased $7.6 million worth of trousers from a producer in Guatemala in 2012.

“Mini-Bases”

Some legislation for DOD drug war construction of bases and other infrastructure limits projects to $2 million, and the Southern Command continues to employ this authority frequently to construct a variety of facilities all over the Americas. Here are some of the facilities the US military is constructing around Latin America.

City, Country Amount of contract Date signed Description
Tecun Uman, Guatemala $550K Dec. 5, 2011 Health post refurbishment
Champerico, Guatemala none — part of multi-award contract Sept 17, 2012 Counter Narco-terrorism (CNT) Ops Center; pier and fuel
Santa Ana de Berlin, Guatemala $3 million (Army Corps of Engineers says $4.1 million) Sept 29, 2012 CNT Barracks, Latrines, refurbish chow hall, motorpool
Las Mantanitas, Guatemala $1.8 million Not known; see ACE FY13 plan. CN Operations Center/Barracks
Summit, Panama $1,078,971 Sept 22, 2012 Counternarcotics maintenance facility
Hunting Caye, Belize $1,778,420 August 10, 2012 Construction of operations barracks/maintenance facility
Puerto Castilla, Honduras $374,882 March 9, 2012 Construction of helicopter landing pads and team room improvements
Dominican Republic $1.8 million Sept 28, 2012 Construct dormitory building
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic $414,444 Jan. 24 and March 8, 2012 Refurbish peace keeping operations training school buildings
Antigua none — supplemental to existing contract October 19, 2011 Emergency response warehouse
Tarapoto, Peru $1,049,265 September 12, 2012 Disaster relief warehouse and search and rescue training facility
Puno and Huaraz, Peru $1,037,808 July 27, 2012 Emergency Operations Centers
Piura and Concepción, Peru $853,500 July 27, 2012 Emergency Operation Center and Disaster Relief Warehouse

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon Continues Contracting US Companies in Latin America

Top 10 Myths of the Jobs Argument Against Military Cuts

By Miriam Pemberton | IPS | August 14, 2012

Members of Congress, led by the team of Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte, are touring military contracting plants, bases and defense-dependent communities this summer raising the alarm about “sequestration.” This is the part of the current budget deal that will force $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts to federal spending, unless Congress comes up with the same amount of money some other way. Half is supposed to come from the military, half from domestic programs, beginning January 2.

It is true: cutting everything indiscriminately is no way to run a government. But this alarm-raising campaign, buttressed by defense industry spending to buy and promote “independent”studies, and mount lobbying campaigns, is focused not on federal spending in general, but on military cuts in particular. And the centerpiece of their pitch against these cuts is not the standard line that we need to spend ever more on the Pentagon because it needs every penny to keep us safe. Instead the focus is: jobs.

MilitaryWe’re in the process of ending two wars. Since 9-11, spending on the Pentagon has nearly doubled. Clearly we’re due for a military budget downsizing.

And the urgent need for job creation is on everyone’s mind.

That’s why the military contractors and their congressional allies are departing from the usual script to argue for more military spending. Instead of saying, as usual, that the Pentagon needs every penny to keep us safe, they’re saying it needs every penny to preserve jobs.

From the crowd that wants to shrink government because this will create jobs, we are now hearing that we can’t shrink the Pentagon because that would cost jobs.

Here are main points of their case, rebutted one by one.

Myth # 1: The military cuts will cost a million (or, according to the Pentagon, a million and a half) jobs.

You don’t need to get into the details of the many reasons to question these figures to recognize the big flaw: Cutting military spending will only cost jobs if nothing else is done with the money. As economists from the University of Massachusetts have shown, (findings recently corroborated by economists at the University of Vienna [i]) military spending is an exceptionally poor job creator.  Taking those cuts and investing them in other things—clean energy, education, health care, transportation—will all result in a net gain in jobs. Even cutting taxes creates more employment than spending on the military.[ii]

Myth # 2:  More Pentagon spending will create more jobs.

A researcher at the Project on Government Oversight recently exposed the shaky foundation of this argument. He found that since 2006 the largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin, has increased its revenues from military contracts, even as it was cutting jobs.[iii]

Myth # 3: Defense sequestration will gut our military industrial base.

Hardly. The Pentagon cuts contained in the budget deal will bring the military budget, adjusted for inflation, to where it was in 2006. Close to its highest level since World War II. More than the next 17 countries (most of them our allies) put together.[iv]

These cuts are easily doable, with no sacrifice in security, because they are being made to a budget that has nearly doubled since 2001.

Myth # 4:  The public is buying the myth.

President Obama is actually running an ad criticizing his opponent for advocating military spending increases. The clear pattern in recent polling shows that this is a smart move. Majorities agree military spending is too high.[v]

Myth # 5:  The military economy is part of the bedrock of our jobs base.

A researcher at the Project on Defense Alternatives looked at this one. He cited a Congressional Research Service study of aerospace employment. More than 500,000 Americans are employed in aerospace manufacturing. About two-thirds of this is commercial, however. Though the defense industry has worked hard to spread itself around for maximum political effect, more than half (61%) of the nation’s aerospace industry jobs are concentrated in six states.[vi]

By contrast, more than 8 million Americans are employed in education, law enforcement, fire fighting, and other emergency and protective services — working in every community in America.

The effects on the jobs base from cuts on the domestic side of the budget, in other words, will be much larger and more widespread than the effects of military cuts.

Myth # 6:  The military economy is part of the bedrock of our overall economic health.

Alan Greenspan, among many others, has contrasted spending on infrastructure, education, and health care with military spending. The former, he noted, strengthens the productivity—the performance—of the economy as a whole; the latter does not.

Military spending is like a family’s insurance policies, he said. The family should spend enough to insure against disaster, but not a penny more, because that family should put as much as possible toward increasing its well-being through education and other enhancements to its quality of life.

Myth # 7:  Military workers have already taken their share of the hits.

No. The global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas tracks layoffs month by month. For the past three years, while military spending has absorbed more than half of the discretionary budget (the part Congress votes on every year), the private sector contractors it supports have absorbed an average of only 4% of the nation’s job loss. See this spreadsheet (docx).

During those three years, the defense industry laid off a total of 106,000 workers. During the same period, state and local governments laid off more than 500,000 workers.

Myth # 8:   The political campaign against sequestration is consistent with the dominant economic philosophy of the politicians doing the campaigning.

No again. The free marketeers who think shrinking government will create jobs are preaching that the Pentagon budget can’t be shrunk because this will cost jobs.

Congressman Barney Frank has summed up nicely what they are asking us to believe: “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.”

Myth # 9:  The contractors have their workers’ interests at heart.

If they did, they might narrow the gap a bit between the CEO’s and the average worker’s salary.  For Lockheed Martin (CEO: $25 million[vii]; average worker: $58,000[viii]) this gap is more than 400 to 1.

Myth # 10:  Sequestration will force contractors to warn most of their workers of an impending layoff. 

Lockheed is threatening to send these notices a few days before the November election.  The argument for this bit of political blackmail is that since the cuts aren’t specified, all workers are at risk.  While Lockheed claims these notices are required by law, the Labor Department, i.e. the controlling legal authority, says they are not.

In fact, as researchers from Win Without War and the Center for International Policy recently pointed out,[ix] the defense and aerospace industry is sitting on a pile of cash from yet another year of record revenue and profits in 2011.[x] Lockheed alone has $81 billion in backlogged orders, and more coming in.[xi] They have it a lot better than most companies.

And this cushion gives them time to plan for the downsizing, and keep the workers they profess to care about employed, by developing new work in other areas. See Fact Sheet: Replacing Defense Industry Jobs for some ideas on how.

Footnotes

[i] https://www.dropbox.com/s/6s4ix8muj2kmhhx/a%20non%20linear%20defense%20growth%20nexus.pdf

[ii] http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/0b0ce6af7ff999b11745825d80aca0b8/publication/489/

[iii] http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2012/08/defense-contractor-time-machine-less-spending-more-jobs-analysis-reveals.html#more.

[iv] http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-congress-repeal-the-scheduled-cuts-to-defense-spending/7-reasons-to-keep-the-defense-budget-sequestration-cuts

[v] http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2012/08/obama_s_ad_against_military_spending_have_polls_shifted_on_the_defense_budget_.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

[vi] “US Aerospace Manufacturing: Industry Overview and Prospects,” Congressional Research Service, December 3, 2009. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40967.pdf.

[vii] http://www.businessinsider.com/the-highest-paid-ceos-at-the-largest-us-based-financial-companies-2012-6#2-george-roberts-kkr-49

[viii] http://www.peri.umass.edu/236/hash/0b0ce6af7ff999b11745825d80aca0b8/publication/489/

[ix] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-hartung/lockheed-martin_b_1625183.html

[x] http://www.pwc.com/en_US/us/industrial-products/assets/pwc-aerospace-defense-review-and-forecast.pdf

[xi] http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120620-709424.html

August 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on Top 10 Myths of the Jobs Argument Against Military Cuts