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Pentagon plans work on new ‘missile defense’ interceptor 25 Feb 2014 The next U.S. military budget will include funds to overhaul Boeing Co’s ground-based missile defense system and develop a replacement for an interceptor built by Raytheon Co, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer said Tuesday, citing “bad engineering” on the existing system. Reuters reported earlier this month that the Pentagon planned to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in additional funding for missile defense over the next five years, including $560 million for work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests in recent years.

[Oh, but there’s no money for food stamps, though, right?

We’ve got to get to more reliable systems,” Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associations and Credit Suisse.

 

Asked if the problems with the current interceptors stemmed from a shortage of funding, Kendall said he attributed the issues more to decisions to rush deployment of technologies that had not been completely and thoroughly tested.

 

“As we go back and understand the failures we’re having and why we’re having them, we’re seeing a lot of bad engineering, frankly,” Kendall said. “It’s because there was a rush … to get something out.”

 

Given problems with all the currently fielded interceptors, a new development effort was needed, Kendall said.

 

“Just patching the things we’ve got is probably not going to be adequate. So we’re going to have to go beyond that,” he said, although he gave no details.

 

Reuters reported earlier this month that the Pentagon planned to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in additional funding for missile defense over the next five years, including $560 million for work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests in recent years.

 

The White House plans to send its fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress on March 4. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed the Pentagon’s portion of the budget on Monday but did not provide specific details about missile defense.

 

Missile defense is one of the biggest items in the Pentagon’s annual budget, although Republicans have faulted the Obama administration for scaling back funding in recent years.

 

Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin Corp are already working on early designs of a new “common kill vehicle”, the part of the ground-based interceptor that hits and destroys an incoming enemy missile on contact. The new development effort would likely accelerate and expand that program, but details have not been released.

 

Sources familiar with the process say the Pentagon now plans to fund development of a new interceptor, specifically the kill vehicle.

 

Missile defense experts say that problems with the Raytheon kill vehicle stem from the fact that testing and development were not complete when the Bush administration opted to deploy some initial ground-based interceptors.

 

The kill vehicle is part of the larger ground-based missile defense system managed by Boeing, with a rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corp.

 

Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s chief weapons tester, earlier this month questioned the robustness of the Raytheon kill vehicle after a series of test failures and said the Pentagon should consider a redesign.

 

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Kenneth Maxwell)

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Pentagon, scientists closing in on rapid DNA technology

Researchers are closing in on the final steps of a new system to analyze human DNA in 90 minutes instead of the two to three weeks it now takes, according to interviews with Pentagon and industry officials.

Such a dramatic cut in the amount of time to get a DNA sample has huge ramifications for law enforcement, war crimes investigations and immigration, said Chris Asplen, the executive director of the Global Alliance for Rapid DNA Testing.

“When it comes to solving crime (not proving it in court but actually using DNA to find the killer, rapist, burglar, etc.) the value of DNA as an investigative tool is directly proportional to the speed at which it can be leveraged in any given investigation,” Asplen said.

Pentagon researchers expect to finish evaluating prototypes of the Accelerated Nuclear DNA Equipment (ANDE) system by June, said Jenn Elzea, a Pentagon spokeswoman. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice are also investigating prototypes, she said.

Once deployed, these systems would significantly reduce the time to analyze DNA, the building blocks of the human body. They would let investigators use the technology in the field instead of sending samples to a clean lab.

NetBio of Waltham, Mass., is developing the rapid DNA prototype under review by the Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office, Elzea said. The company was founded in 2000 and is based on research done at MIT’s Whitehead Institute.

Beyond law enforcement, rapid DNA can be used for a variety of applications, Asplen said. They include immigration, human trafficking, war crimes and natural disasters. Military units could track the DNA of suspected terrorists or militants in places such as Afghanistan to gain a better understanding of the “biometrics” of certain populations.

After the research determines if the technology works well enough to deploy to the field, policymakers need to decide who can be screened and when, Elzea said. The Pentagon is already developing the guidance “for the use of rapid DNA analysis capabilities,” she said.

Most government policies governing the use of DNA analysis go back to 1994 and the DNA Identification Act, Asplen said. That law did not anticipate rapid analysis. “The language requires that only DNA tests done in an accredited laboratory may be entered” into the national database. “That language will have to changed,” he said.

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Senate passes $630 billion military budget bill

The United States Senate has approved a massive $632.8 billion worth of military spending, including $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and $17.6 billion for nuclear weapons programs.

The Senate Thursday passed the National Defense Authorization Act, 84-15. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill last week on a strong bipartisan vote.

The spending measure for the 2014 fiscal year will now go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees had each passed their own version of the bill in June. During late November, Republicans and Democrats on the committees worked out a compromise bill that incorporated elements of their competing versions.

The bill would authorize everything from overall spending on wars and military salary to procurement of weapons systems and military-related foreign policy issues.

It also includes more than 30 provisions aimed at overhauling the Pentagon’s response to sex crimes, giving greater support to victims and reforming the military justice code to enable a tougher response to sexual assaults.

The Pentagon has estimated that 26,000 members of the military may have been sexually assaulted last year, though thousands were afraid to come forward for fear of inaction or retaliation.

The huge military budget comes as US lawmakers are considering a compromise five-year farm bill that would cut the food stamp program by $8 billion over the next 10 years.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program provides food stamps for nearly 48 million Americans.

On Wednesday, the Senate gave final passage to a two-year budget plan that keeps the government funded at over $1 trillion a year through 2015 and avoids potential government shutdowns in January and again in October.

The budget plan gives sequester relief of $22 billion to the Pentagon in fiscal 2014 while allowing unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans to expire

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Obama war chiefs widen drone kill box…Lethality of collateral damage ‘must not be excessive’

The Pentagon has loosened its guidelines on avoiding civilian casualties during drone strikes, modifying instructions from requiring military personnel to “ensure” civilians are not targeted to encouraging service members to “avoid targeting” civilians.

In addition, instructions now tell commanders that collateral damage “must not be excessive” in relation to mission goals, according to Public Intelligence, a nonprofit research group that analyzed the military’s directives on drone strikes.

“These subtle but important changes in wording provide insight into the military’s attempts to limit expectations in regards to minimizing collateral damage and predicting the lethal effects of military operations,” Public Intelligence said in a recent report.

The number of civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes is a point of contention among Washington, human rights groups and countries where strikes are conducted, chiefly Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Because the strikes are classified operations, the U.S. typically does not acknowledge when they occur, or reveal how many combatants and civilians are killed or injured.

An official for the Air Force — the service primarily tasked with carrying out drone strikes — said “tactical directives have changed a number of times over the years to tackle collateral damage concerns not only from aircraft and helicopters but from mortars and other weapons that deliver effects beyond line of sight.”

The official, who requested anonymity to discuss security matters, declined to say how the directives have changed or what the collateral damage concerns are, citing “operational security.”

Military officials, however, said the Joint Chiefs document is one of several that instruct commanders on conducting drone strikes, as well as theater-specific rules of engagement and the overarching Law of Armed Conflict.

The October 2012 document was published on a Pentagon website several months ago but has since been removed, said Public Intelligence founder and editor Michael Haynes, who obtained and analyzed the documents.

A military official confirmed that the document is being used, among others, to provide guidance for drones.

Human rights groups say such secrecy prevents scrutiny and accountability for civilian casualties. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released reports focused on Pakistan and Yemen that say the strikes could be illegal and that the U.S. has killed more than 4,700 people, including more than 1,000 civilians.

Administration officials say the strikes are legal because the U.S. is at war with al Qaeda and its associates. They also insist there is a wide gap between the government’s civilian casualty count and those of human rights groups.

“Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set,” President Obama said in a rare acknowledgment of the strikes in May 2013.

Public Intelligence conducted a word-for-word analysis of an instructional document from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff titled “No-Strike and the Collateral Damage Estimate Methodology,” which was provided to the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009, and a version of the document that was updated in October 2012. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the 2009 version, which is posted on its website.

The 2009 version directs military personnel to take reasonable precautions to ensure that civilians are not targeted in attacks; the 2012 version says service members should “avoid targeting” civilians.

“A requirement to ‘ensure’ that civilians are not the subject of attacks is changed to an admonishment to ‘avoid targeting’ civilians,” Mr. Haynes said.

Moreover, commanders had been instructed to “consider the military necessity for attacking the target, proportionality of the means planned, and reasonableness within the framework of operational objectives.” The modified language tells leaders that collateral damage “must not be excessive” in relation to mission objectives.

What’s more, the updated version adds a paragraph that says the process for estimating collateral damage outlined in the document “does not account for secondary explosions” caused by the strike, such as of a weapons cache or fuel tank, because those explosions “cannot be consistently measured or predicted.”

“The section does say that commanders should be ‘cognizant of the risks’ from secondary explosions, but this is fairly weak wording and does not imply necessary compliance,” Mr. Haynes said.

The earlier version also defines “collateral concern” as objects that are “not considered lawful military targets” under the Law of Armed Conflict. The updated version defines the term as objects “located inside the collateral hazard area.”

The guidance applies only to military drone strikes and not necessarily to those carried out by the CIA, although the military and the CIA work together on some drone operations.

Citing an increase in drone operations last year in Libya, Air Force officials said the number of military drone strikes in 2013 is expected to be lower than in 2012. Officials said military drones last year led to or helped ground troops kill and/or capture more than 1,850 enemy combatants.

Officials declined to specify how many enemy combatants were killed or captured. Pentagon statistics show that 361 Hellfire missiles and six 500-pound laser-guided bombs were fired in 2012. In 2011, 432 Hellfire missiles and 19 500-pound laser-guided bombs were fired.

Military officials say they take great care in differentiating civilians from combatants and sometimes wait several weeks until a target is away from relatives and civilians. But they also acknowledge that it can be difficult to assess civilian casualties or other collateral damage, especially when a target is hiding in a structure or under foliage.

Given this difficulty, the collateral damage estimate “is our best means of minimizing civilian casualties and damages to nearby structures,” said a spokesman for Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I have talked to Pentagon officials that say they are very, very careful,” said Sarah Holewinski, executive director of Civilians in Conflict. “But it’s not enough to have a conversation and have to trust. There should be a lot more transparency.”

Despite Mr. Obama’s pledge for more transparency on drone strikes, the administration “continues to answer legitimate questions and criticisms by saying, ‘We can’t really talk about this,’” said Naureen Shah, advocacy adviser at Amnesty International.

Senior administration officials recently met with representatives of human rights organizations to discuss reports that the groups published in October, but told participants not to reveal who attended the meetings, where they met or what was discussed.

“To me, this is just yet another example of the unreasonable level of secrecy surrounding this program,” said Letta Tayler, author of Human Rights Watch’s report on U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. “We hope that the U.S. will move swiftly to acknowledge basic details of these strikes.”

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“$8.5 TRILLION In Taxpayer Money Doled Out By Congress To The Pentagon Since 1996 … Has NEVER Been Accounted For”

We’ve repeatedly documented that military waste and fraud are the core problems with the U.S. economy.

For example, we’ve noted that we wouldn’t be in this crisis of hitting the debt ceiling in the first place if we hadn’t spent so much money on unnecessary wars … which are horrible for the economy.

But it goes far beyond actual fighting.  We could easily slash the military and security budget without reducing our national security.

For example, homeland security agencies wasted money on seminars like “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” and training for a “zombie apocalypse” instead of actually focusing on anti-terror efforts.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn notes that the Department of Defense can reduce $67.9 billion over 10 years by eliminating the non-defense programs that have found their way into the budget for the Department of Defense.

BusinessWeek and Bloomberg point out that we could slash military spending without harming our national security. Indeed, we could slash boondoggles that even the generals don’t want.

BusinessWeek provides a list of cost-cutting measures which will not undermine national security. American Conservative does the same.

Moreover, we’ve shown that the military wastes and “loses” (cough) trillions of dollars.  See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

The former Secretary of Defense acknowledged in May 2012 that the DOD “is the only major federal agency that cannot pass an audit today.”  The Pentagon will not be ready for an audit for another five years, according to Panetta.

Reuters quantifies these numbers today:

The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.

Bonus:

Bill Clinton On NSA Spying: “We Are On The Verge Of Having The Worst Of All Worlds: We’ll Have No Security And No Privacy”

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People Who Grow Their Own Food Labeled Extremist By Dept. Of Defense

If the founding fathers were reincarnated today, they’d probably start another revolution, this time to break away from an American government that has become far too imperial for its own good.

And as such, they’d be labeled “extremists” by those who mean to rule us.

In fact, the nation’s founders are considered extremists by the Pentagon, according to a new “training manual” that explicitly labels the framers as such.

Discovered by legal watchdog Judicial Watch via a Freedom of Information Act request, the manual was part of 133 documents provided by the Air Force. The January 2013 Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute “student guide” is entitled “Extremism.” The document says that it is “for training purposes only” and “do not use on the job.”

Believe in freedom? You’re an extremist…

The manual defines an “extremist” as “a person who advocates the use of force or violence; advocates supremacist causes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or national origin; or otherwise engages to illegally deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.”

In addition, it says, “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publically espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”

So, if ye love liberty and freedom more than ye love a big, powerful central government that has grown well beyond its constitutional boundaries, you’re an extremist. If ye dare to take care of yourself, to be an individual who grows his own food (weren’t there a number of farmers and plantation owners in the group of founding fathers?) ye are an enemy of the state.

Under the section, “Extremist Ideologies,” the manual states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”

Though the document released today by Judicial Watch was obtained from the Air Force, it originated in a DOD office and is, therefore, thought to likely be used in other agency components, said Judicial Watch.

“The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism. And now, in a document full of claptrap, its Defense Department suggests that the Founding Fathers, and many conservative Americans, would not be welcome in today’s military,” long-serving JW president Tom Fitton said.

“And it is striking that some [of] the language in this new document echoes the IRS targeting language of conservative and Tea Party investigations. After reviewing this document, one can’t help but worry for the future and morale of our nation’s armed forces,” he added.

This isn’t the first time the federal government, one of its agencies or some other “official” source has equated freedom-loving Americans who have an originalist view of the Constitution and its meaning with extremists.

Irreconcilable violence ahead?

Per InfoWars:

In 2009, Infowars obtained the “law enforcement sensitive” contents of a Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” which listed supporters of presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr as potential “militia” influenced terrorists.

Also, in July 2012 Infowars blew the lid on a Department of Homeland Security-funded study, produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland, that characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.

In the past couple of decades it became clear that the federal government has become increasingly hostile towards anyone or any political movement that seeks to curb its power. Constitutionalists are portrayed as kooks and psychos, while the ruling class is portrayed as righteous, forthright and proper.

This is dangerous, for not only has it made dialogue next to impossible, but it has also created a climate of irreconcilability that could someday lead to violence.

Sources:

http://www.judicialwatch.org

http://www.infowars.com

http://www.judicialwatch.org

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The Pentagon, headquarters of the United State...

The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pentagon admits to holding phony arrival ceremonies for soldiers’ remains

12 Oct 2013 The Department of Defense unit charged with recovering servicemembers’ remains abroad has been holding phony “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains returning that day from old battlefields. The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly, and were towed into position. NBC News writes that the ceremonies have been known among some of the military and civilian staff at the base as The Big Lie.

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Pentagon Uses ‘Phony’ Ceremonies for MIAs, with Planes that Can’t Fly

Government ‘Big Lie’ Plays Horrific Joke on U.S. Veterans and Their Families

By Bill Dedman, Investigative Reporter, NBCnews.com

HONOLULU — A unit of the U.S. Department of Defense has been holding so-called “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains of missing American service men and women returning that day from old battlefields.

After NBC News raised questions about the arrival ceremonies, the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly but were towed into position.

The solemn ceremonies at a military base in Hawaii are a sign of the nation’s commitment to returning and identifying its fallen warriors. The ceremonies have been attended by veterans and families of MIAs, led to believe that they were witnessing the return of Americans killed in World War II, Vietnam and Korea.

Petty Officer 1st Class Barry Hirayama / U.S. Navy A joint service honor guard escorts a transfer case during an "arrival ceremony" at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu on April 27, 2012. The Defense Department has acknowledged that human remains were not in fact arriving on that day. The ceremonies are held by the Pentagon's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

Petty Officer 1st Class Barry Hirayama / U.S. Navy
A joint service honor guard escorts a transfer case during an “arrival ceremony” at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu on April 27, 2012. The Defense Department has acknowledged that human remains were not in fact arriving on that day. The ceremonies are held by the Pentagon’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.

The ceremonies also have been known, at least among some of the military and civilian staff here, as The Big Lie.

Photos behind the scenes show that the flag-draped boxes had not just arrived on military planes, but ended their day where they begin it: at the same lab where the human remains have been waiting for analysis.

The Pentagon insisted that the flag-draped cases do contain human remains recently recovered, just not ones that arrived that day. It said its staff “treat the remains with the utmost of care, attention, integrity, and above all, honor.” The Pentagon statement did not explain why the rituals were called “arrival ceremonies” if no one was arriving, or why the public had been told that remains removed that morning from the lab were about to go to the lab to “begin the identification process.” (Read the full Pentagon statement.)

From now on, the Pentagon said, the ceremonies will be re-branded as “honors ceremonies,” expressly described as symbolic honors for bodies previously recovered.

“The name changed because they’ve already arrived, technically,” said Army Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith, public affairs officer for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), whose mission is to return and identify the 83,000 missing service men and women from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The agency is identifying the dead at a rate of fewer than 80 per year, at a cost of more than $1 million per identification. Bodies now wait in the JPAC lab an average of 11 years before being identified, according to an internal report released this year.

What the audience sees
Here’s what the public has seen at the ceremonies, usually held about four times a year.

A C-17 military transport aircraft was parked, its ramp down, outside hangar 35 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. At precisely 9 a.m., after generals and other dignitaries were introduced, a military chaplain offered a prayer, the audience sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and a Marine bugler played “Taps.” Then a military honor guard in dress uniforms carried flag-draped transfer cases, which look like coffins, down the ramp and across in front of the audience. The cases were placed in the back of blue buses and driven away.

The emcee, reading from an official script, thanked the audience for “welcoming them home.” The script continued, “After removal from the aircraft, the remains will be taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s Central Identification Laboratory. There, JPAC scientists will begin the identification process.”

The Defense Department has used the arrival ceremonies as publicity tools, posting videos of the “arrival” on its website, on YouTube and on Facebook. A video of one of the ceremonies is shown below, and others are online here and here. The videos sometimes say explicitly that “the remains returned to U.S. soil on the C-17,” and other videos leave the viewer to draw that conclusion.

A peek backstage
Here’s what actually happened, according to eyewitness accounts and photographs taken behind the scenes at one of the ceremonies.

Before 6 a.m., the members of the honor guard assembled at the loading dock behind the JPAC headquarters on the base. They loaded the transfer cases, which had been stacked outside the door to the lab, and the buses drove to the hangar.

The C-17 had been towed into position outside hangar 35. The honor guard loaded the transfer cases into the belly of the plane, then practiced walking them through the empty hangar. Then the honor guard returned to the plane, and waited.
At nearly 9 a.m., the public was allowed in: invited politicians, media, families of the missing and veterans. Employees from JPAC were bused over to fill out the crowd.

Then the show began, with tears and salutes as the remains were marched to the buses, then driven off to the lab to “begin the identification process.”

‘A very pissed-off citizen’
Jesse Baker, an 81-year-old Air Force veteran of World War II and Korea living in Honolulu, said he has been to more than 50 of these ceremonies. He told NBC News that he’s always been under the impression that the plane had just arrived carrying recovered remains.

“If I have been fooled, I am going to be a very pissed-off citizen, because I’ve been going for years,” Baker said. “And I know a lot of guys who are going to be pissed off. … They’re out there honoring warriors.”

Baker tried to make sense of why America’s Department of Defense would work so hard to trick him and other veterans. “That’s disturbing. I don’t know when they stopped being honest and switched over to this Mickey Mouse, but whoever did it, I hope they find him a new job somewhere.”

One leading figure in the MIA/POW field said she has known for years about the charade. The head of the largest group of families of missing service men and women, Ann Mills-Griffiths, is a staunch defender of JPAC, but she told NBC that she has warned Pentagon officials and JPAC repeatedly that they should stop holding “those phony arrival ceremonies.”

But Mills-Griffiths, the chairman of the National League of POW/MIA Families, said she had never told any family members that the ceremonies were phony, because she supported JPAC’s mission, if not the way it was carrying it out.

‘Static aircraft’
On Wednesday, after NBC submitted questions, the Pentagon acknowledged that the airplanes were often towed out of maintenance hangars for the ceremonies and could not have just flown in. “Many times, static aircraft are used for the ceremonies, as operational requirements dictate flight schedules and aircraft availability,” said a Department of Defense spokesperson, Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost.

The Pentagon said its own words, used since 2006, had led to the ceremonies being “misinterpreted” as arrivals.

“Based on how media announcements and ceremony remarks are currently written, it is understandable how these ‘arrival’ ceremonies might be misinterpreted, leading one to believe the ceremonies are ‘dignified transfer ceremonies,’ which they are not.” She said the Pentagon is reviewing its procedures and is committed to conducting all recovery operations honorably.

NBC asked about another discrepancy: Current and former JPAC employees said that the emcee often announces that the remains were from specific countries where JPAC staff had not recently recovered remains. The Pentagon statement said that the correct country is always announced, but that it may have been a few months since the remains were recovered. And occasionally, it said, there has been no JPAC mission to a country, but the remains have been turned over by those countries and are still deserving of a “symbolic tribute.”

An emotional ceremony
Other veterans, a former POW’s wife, even the bagpiper at the ceremonies — all told NBC they had assumed the arrival ceremony meant that soldiers’ remains were actually arriving. They said they found the ceremony to be moving.

“It was a very humbling experience for me,” said bagpiper Alan Miyamura. “The thing that I remember most vividly is the silence. … It meant respect and a feeling that these soldiers are welcomed home.”

The ceremony “makes me very proud that our country does such a thing,” said Carole Hickerson, whose first husband was a POW in the Vietnam War. She helped design the black POW/MIA flag. “You don’t know how important a funeral is until you don’t have one.”

‘Acutely dysfunctional’
After NBC News requested permission to attend an arrival ceremony in July, JPAC canceled the ceremony. It hasn’t held any ceremonies since April, scheduling and canceling them repeatedly.

The Pentagon spokesperson said the commander of JPAC, Army Maj. Gen. Kelly K. McKeague, authorized in April the renaming of the ceremonies “to more accurately reflect the purpose of these events.” However, public affairs staff at JPAC, which organized the events, continued to call them “arrival ceremonies” on into the summer, and until Wednesday they were still identified that way on the agency’s website. (That page of the JPAC website was renamed to “honors ceremonies” on Wednesday.) The Pentagon would not answer when asked when Gen. McKeague and other military officers became aware that the public was being misled.

Read Full Report on NBCnews.com >>>>>

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Pentagon Spent $5 Billion on Weapons on Eve of Shutdown

01 Oct 2013 The Pentagon pumped billions of dollars into contractors’ bank accounts on the eve of the U.S. government’s shutdown that saw 400,000 Defense Department employees furloughed. All told, the Pentagon awarded 94 contracts yesterday evening on its annual end-of-the-fiscal-year spending spree, spending more than five billion dollars on everything from robot submarines to Finnish hand grenades and a radar base mounted on an offshore oil platform. To put things in perspective, the Pentagon gave out only 14 contracts on September 3, the first workday of the month.

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Pentagon to invest over $1 billion to upgrade US drone base in Djibouti

–At least five drones based at Camp Lemonnier have crashed since January 2011 24 Sep 2013 The U.S. military has been forced to relocate a large fleet of drones from a key counterterrorism base on the Horn of Africa after a string of crashes fanned local fears that the unmanned aircraft were at risk of colliding with passenger planes, according to documents and interviews. Air Force drones ceased flying this month from Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. installation in Djibouti, after local officials expressed alarm about several drone accidents and mishaps in recent years.That uncertainty raises fresh questions about the Pentagon’s plan to invest more than $1 billion to upgrade Camp Lemonnier into a major regional base, supporting operations throughout Africa, as well as in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean. Those plans include a $228 million compound to house up to 700 personnel from the highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command.

[Debt ceiling debate, anyone?]

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U.S. infrastructure boom in Afghanistan: $37 million aviation facility used to store opium

21 Sep 2013 The U.S.-led ‘effort’ to train the Afghan air force faces big challenges ranging from security threats to possible repercussions from a new review of infrastructure and equipment projects, the U.S. general in charge said. “This is a hard deal. We’re far from 100-percent guaranteed on delivery,” said Air Force Brigadier General John Michel, who leads NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan, which is due to complete its training of the Afghan air force by December 31, 2017 – three years after most U.S. forces leave Afghanistan. He said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was re-examining all infrastructure projects after a report that one $37 million aviation facility may have been used to store opium and other concerns raised by Congress. A group of U.S. lawmakers this week called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to use all available resources to back up the Pentagon’s criminal investigation into potentially improper payments made by an Army aviation unit that awarded contracts to Russian and U.S. firms to maintain and overhaul Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters.

[Debt ceiling debate, anyone? GOPigs and DemocRATs have NO PROBLEM spending billions to protect the CIA’s heroin trade routes in Afghanistan, under the guise of ‘infrastructure’ building. But these sociopaths vote to cut *food stamps?*

 

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By Paul Rosenberg,
FreemansPerspective.com

Freeman's Perspective

There was a shooting earlier this week in DC. The details are still sketchy as I write this, but it appears that a deranged man decided to kill other people for some reason. In response, the usual talking heads will be debating whether this is actual TerrorTM or merely something like it. But the T-word will be spoken in the same grave way we speak of cancer – a thing to be dreaded above all else.

Certainly this shooting was a horrible, tragic thing – especially for the families involved. But that said, any talk about an “age of terror” is utter crap.

Terror is NOT worse now than it was before 9/11 – it’s just that we’ve been bombarded with fear for more than a decade, creating a culture-wide residue that poisons every mind it touches. In actual fact, you are eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist. Does that mean that we should all have a collective panic attack and beg for anti-police police?

Now here’s the truth they don’t want you to know: You are taught to fear because fear makes you easy to manipulate. If someone is making you afraid, they’re also making you into an easy mark – a sucker.

Think of how many things people have accepted from governments just because they were afraid. Things like complete online surveillance, crotch searches at airports, random searches on the highways, and so on. Do you think those would have been accepted in 1920? Of course they wouldn’t, because people hadn’t been sufficiently frightened at that time.

The Facts About Terrorism

The fact is, there has been terror in every age of human history. Our time is not unusual at all. A small but consistent percentage of people are always crazy enough to kill strangers and blow things up.

Let me give you some proof from a single year:

  • March 6: A bomb being assembled by terrorists explodes, killing 3.
  • April 8: 47 children are killed by (peacetime) bombs from a neighboring country.
  • May 4: Soldiers kill four American college students.
  • May 8: A huge mob of construction workers in New York attacks protestors.
  • May 14: Police fire on a crowd at a college, killing 2 and injuring 12.
  • June 9: A bomb explodes at New York police headquarters.
  • July 12: Two canisters of tear gas are thrown into the British House of Commons.
  • August 7: Terrorists take a judge hostage in California, then kill him.
  • September 1: An assassination attempt on the King of Jordan.
  • September 6: Terrorists hijack four airplanes on flights to New York.
  • October 5: Terrorists kidnap a British diplomat.
  • October 10: Terrorists kidnap a Canadian Minister. He is found dead a week later.
  • November 25: Terrorists seize the headquarters of Japan’s Defense Forces.
  • November 27: An assassination attempt on the Pope.
  • December 3: A major government caves and releases 5 terrorists.
  • December 4: Spain declares martial law.
  • December 7: A Swiss ambassador is kidnapped.
  • December 13: Martial law is declared in Poland.

Can You Guess The Year?

Think it was in some terrible period of history? Maybe one of the worst years during World War Two?

It was 1970.

But you don’t have any horrible, scary feelings about 1970, do you? That’s because you were never taught to have them – unlike the endless fear that has been promoted to you in recent years.

You may not remember 1970, but I do, and I’ll tell you that people weren’t peeing themselves over this stuff. They thought these events were horrible, of course, but they also knew that such things had always happened, and would continue to happen.

Acts of Terrorism in the US

While 9/11 resulted in the single highest loss of life due to terrorism, such events aren’t isolated incidents. We’ve always had them:

  • 1910: A bomb goes off at the Los Angeles Times building, killing 21.
  • 1917: A race riot in East St. Louis kills between 40 and 200.
  • 1919: A race riot in Chicago kills dozens and injures hundreds.
  • 1920: A bomb explodes on Wall Street, killing 38 and injuring 143.
  • 1927: A deranged man blows up a school in Michigan, killing 44 and injuring 58.
  • 1943: A race riot in Detroit kills 34 and injures 433.
  • 1968: Race riots erupt in at least 125 US cities.
  • 1972: Terrorists detonate a bomb inside the Pentagon.
  • 1988: A terrorist poisons bottles of Tylenol in Chicago. 7 people die.

Get the picture? And I can give you examples of terror back to a few thousand years BC, from every corner of the world.

Do you really think that our new Nazi-style police state will stop this? (The Nazis couldn’t even stop assassination attempts on Hitler.)

These events are tragic, of course, but the chorus of fear that accompanies them it is all about manipulation: to keep us quiet and well behaved while we are bled of our money and our freedoms.

And boy, are they good at it.

[Editor's Note: Paul Rosenberg is the outside-the-Matrix author of FreemansPerspective.com, a site dedicated to economic freedom, personal independence and privacy. He is also the author of The Great Calendar, a report that breaks down our complex world into an easy-to-understand model. Click here to get your free copy.]

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Radioactive Warfare in Iraq and the Balkans. When the US Used Cancer as a WeaponRadioactive Warfare in Iraq and the Balkans

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

“We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

“The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: “The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: “during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame. “There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.

JEFFREY ST. CLAIR is the editor of CounterPunch and the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net.

This essay is adapted from a chapter in Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature.

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