Category Archives: Military Spending

The Administration and the CIA versus the Constitution

As John Brennan is considered for confirmation by the US Senate, Eleven senators including both Oregon senators have raised the simple question: “If the United States targets a US citizen to be killed, does that person merit being notified as to why?”

Bizarre! In a country ruled by a constitution which states that a person cannot be deprived of life liberty or property without due process of law. ….. this question is asked by a Senator to a drone assassination champion who has supported or overseen over 2,700 people killed in three countries in which we are not at war, including 200 children. These are the minimum numbers as reported by the British: Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

If this were Kabuki, what masks would they be wearing in this senate hearing… The supporters, the CIA ‘leader’, the questioners?

“We are at war with terror.” says the drone champion Brennan.  ” I support rendition and now banned interrogation techniques. I have strongly advocated public discussion of thresholds and limitations of CIA authority in this. (really ?) A trust deficit with this committee is wholly unacceptable to me.

The CIA will do all it can to protect Americas secrets, Americas classified information. The CIA indicates 103 deaths of CIA agents. ”

The above was my ragged shorthand from the confirmation hearing today.

According the Federation of American Scientists there are somewhere between 4.2 and 4.8  million Americans with security clearances.

According to Dana Priest and the Top Secret America project of the Washington Post: “(1) Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. (2) An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ”

“(4) Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. (5) Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.”

I ask the discriminating reader this question:  If the congress  usually has very little oversight of the CIA ,  as Senator Murkowski said, and its only power to influence it is Now, during a confirmation hearing….. what oversight does the American People have over the ” 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies ” listed above?   Who cuts their checks?,  who directs their directors? *

In short, and you can quote me….. “You are being protected by a genuine self-breeding cluster fuck.” …. suffering from too many resources and resulting in too much overlapping confusion. ___ David Bean.   Many duplications are seeking to solve the problem and none are looking to find the source of it if you ask me. (hint: it is not a personality… second hint: ask Pogo.^)  As stated elsewhere, a war on a tactic can never find its end.

The world has changed.   We have got what we worked for these many years…. magnificent productivity.  Yet we are stuck thinking we are in the old world and people want our stuff.  We are locked in the past in our own minds.   Like peoples through the centuries, all people do not want to me messed with. As we screw them more and more with our “security” procedures and assassination drones is there any wonder they fight back? Isn’t ten years fighting goatherds on the other side of the planet in stark mountains with a population with an illiteracy rate of 70% an indication of misspent resources? ” We have the technology…. why not use it?” say the consultants. They are paid well… as are the drone makers. America has been captured by our own tools.

Well, from my observation of the hearing, Brennan is a shoe in. Yes Sir, Gumby. A shoo in.

Here is my concern. Leon Panetta, a budget wizard, has been the head of the CIA and Defense,  and he is stepping down. He has not, nor has the President, in my humble opinion, been in charge of either. They grow exponentially as exemplified by the drone boom.  It is a pathology that  I believe will come home to bite us, and perhaps destroy our civilization. I have no opinion about  what motivates the current President who now operates a kill list. I do not believe he is a good administrator, as evinced by the burgeoning security state, the  consequent budget hole it, the military and the militarized CIA create. That the press and the parties can only discuss social security and cutting entitlements  without addressing this mammoth fiscal hemorrhage is an example inability to prioritize.

NOW is the time for congress, and the people telling congress….. Get a Grip! Rare it is to have a handle to comment on our national secret police. We are captives of our own technology and it will impoverish us. … in security and in health. We have to say No to ourselves, to the technological equivalent to “I believe I want to investigate myself.”… and we cannot seem to say “no” to technology.   How about cutting our spook agencies to a mere thousand, and top secret spooks to a mere hundred thousand. Even that may be too many to keep track of.

Thus my plea to you to write your senator, your congressman. Do not confirm Brennan for CIA Director. To do so would implicitly support drone assassinations, which are lawless.   Tell your congressman to get a grip on self breeding security agencies.

* constitutional note: Letters of Marque and Reprisal.  Readers of this blog may recall my emphasis on the King Clause of the constitution.   It reads:” (only) The Congress shall have the power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water. ”  (It is called the King Clause because if not observed, we have a king with fiat rule over all of us.)   Not well taught in school is what is that danged letter of marque and reprisal.   Here is the scoop:  It is a Pirate’s License.

Today we would call it a Private Contractor’s License, a license to kill on the authority of the People of the United States.   That power is only granted to the congress….. and is not granted to either the executive branch (the President, CIA,   FBI, NSA et all) nor the judicial branch.

This King Clause makes it explicit that only representatives of our people can kill and really piss off their people.   Not agents of the President on his own initiative. Thus saving us, in theory,  from the innumerable idiotic wars that our founders observed being started by irascible kings.

Whatever say the eloquent and well endowed constitutional lawyers, including the one that currently runs a kill list in our name… the words of the constitution are written for you, citizen, to grasp and understand.   The King Clause can be found in Article I, Section 8, clause 11.      Let your own intelligence decide, for together we stand,  if we defer to the experts (who inevitably quote statute and not the constitution) we will find ourselves divided and sold off to the highest bidder.

^ the cartoon character Pogo in the midst of the Viet Nam War famously said :  “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”  (The Gulf of Tonkin incident which gravely escalated that war was consequence of a ‘radar shadow’, i. e. electronic feedback from our own equipment.)

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Fourth of July Quandary

Yeah,  We are going through a Big Change and I bet you cannot make it.        But I dare you.
You see, I love this country and I think we are losing it.     Here is the Quandary:
Sure, we have a little financial problem, some persistent unemployment, a wad of debt, a war or two or three, (if you don’t count the assassination drones), and a decades old political stalemate that is really mated in stale, I mean really puewy stale, but that leaves out the failure of the people to fund the press and the failure of the press to cover the important stuff when funded only by commercial interests, a supreme court that thinks money is speech, two administrations that think the constitution is meaningless words, but the Big One, that big slow moving change that we all see and don’t want to admit, and is leaving muddy boot prints all over the future of our dreams:  global climate change: climate chaosYup, you are right and I know it too.   All the Republican Presidential candidates deny climate change as a point of pride.  “How the hell can you grow your way out of a depression, if you admit that the consequences of that growth would just make things worst?”   And what does worst mean?   Migrations of people seeking higher ground and, well, food.    No, not timid people,  desperate ones, wars.

Truth is, the Democrats are not much better.  While mouthing green jobs, and I have to laugh when they call robotics green  and  jobs, they too think the only way out of our recession is to manufacture more stuff.  Ah, efficiency. Democrats can only see growth as the answer too.

OK, maybe the case can be be made that since 82% of Americans don’t have passports, they would not know nor care that Australia had a flood the size of France and Germany put together.   Or that the Russian wheat crop failed. Well, Australia’s conservatives used to deny climate change too.  No more.   Will cyclone ally, or the Mississippi flood, or hundred square mile fires wake up ours?
Back in history at a point similar to now, FDR primed the pump.  He got young men working in the CCC camps instead of inventing a life of crime.  Sending money home.  Imagine that.  Our current stimulus envisioned a giant pump priming, thinking there was just one big pump: the banks.  Truth to tell they can just deal with money when it is moving, they don’t make it move, people do, real ones with real locations… on earth.  So how do we get real people in real jobs?, and that could be doing anything since only 8% of us work growing our food.  Planting trees, cutting brush and making trails worked in the 30’s and made kids into strong men with good values.   Kids today want to manipulate stuff with their fingers, because that is all that they have seen: manipulation, money for nothin’ and ever better remotes.  But I digress.
So these parties, the Democrats and Republicans cannot seem to find a lick of common sense among ’em.  Now Will Rogers had some.  He said, “The United States had two great friends…………..  the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.”   I dare say he is still right even though we have spent TEN years traveling half way around the planet, fighting in the place called the Graveyard of Empires: Afghanistan.We are told by both parties it is for national security. Well my goodness, look at the map. Their neighbors are China, Iran, India and Pakistan.     Talk about a rough neighborhood far away.  Are we snookered or what.  For a decade!  What is this national security?  Domination of all places anywhere on the globe?   It seems to be of the same quality as anything that is  securitized. Even if we had a booming real economy rather than one based upon insurance, financial products and speculation on house values we could not afford that.   Darn.   I was going to dare you, not wheedle bout the thicket of our tarbaby mess.  Seems like I got off my trail.

The dare comes in to design a wiki, you know, one of those computer internet gizmos that allows a lot of folks to work together and figure stuff out.  I think the ancient Chinese saying says it best: “If we don’t change direction, we are bound to end up where we are headed.”  And here I think we need to put our heads together and not expect some celebrity to fix it.  We need change that is not a slogan.

Yesterday ( June 30th)was funny day, not ha ha, when the Greek and British peoples rioted in the streets because the bankers had the legislators renege on pensions, a lifetime promise in those countries.  It is called bait and switch.  In response the US stock market gained 150 points.  What does that say? It seems crazy to one like me.  Bet, we’ll see those same kind of riots in the US within two years time.   You have heard the bankers, haven’t you, complaining about all the greedy people.  Folks get funny when you revoke a life long promise. Not ha ha.
I’ll tell you this, people don’t like to get a screwin’, and there are at least 6 million Americans that have got a good one as the banks have foreclosed them out of their home to collect upon credit default swaps and bonuses.  And the screwin’s not done.  And the politics ain’t mappin it, and the press ain’t covering it, and well, that’s why I ask you to help design this wiki.Because without some meta thinking, some big creative thinking, we are going to have a big train wreck.  Our housing has already lost more than after 1929, and the Parties, if you can call them that are, Clubs are more like it, are still having a pissing contest.  Dumping the economy into the gutter…. simply by having the firm and stupid Republicans come to loggerheads with the firm (well, not really) and stupid Democrats about the debt and create here, just what we observed happening in Greece and Britain yesterday.

So I double dog dare you to figure a way out of this fix.   Or to figure a path to a way……. out.   And don’t tell me you are waiting for Elvis to lead the way.

yours,The Old Sodbuster.

Why We Must Reduce Military Spending.. a bipartisan plea

by Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul
Posted: July 6, 2010 09:02 AM Huffington Post

As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree.

By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts. For decades, the subject of military expenditures has been glaringly absent from public debate. Yet the Pentagon budget for 2010 is $693 billion — more than all other discretionary spending programs combined. Even subtracting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending still amounts to over 42% of total spending.

It is irrefutably clear to us that if we do not make substantial cuts in the projected levels of Pentagon spending, we will do substantial damage to our economy and dramatically reduce our quality of life.

We are not talking about cutting the money needed to supply American troops in the field. Once we send our men and women into battle, even in cases where we may have opposed going to war, we have an obligation to make sure that our servicemembers have everything they need. And we are not talking about cutting essential funds for combating terrorism; we must do everything possible to prevent any recurrence of the mass murder of Americans that took place on September 11, 2001.

Immediately after World War II, with much of the world devastated and the Soviet Union becoming increasingly aggressive, America took on the responsibility of protecting virtually every country that asked for it. Sixty-five years later, we continue to play that role long after there is any justification for it, and currently American military spending makes up approximately 44% of all such expenditures worldwide. The nations of Western Europe now collectively have greater resources at their command than we do, yet they continue to depend overwhelmingly on American taxpayers to provide for their defense. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Europeans have boasted about their social model, with its generous vacations and early retirements, its national health care systems and extensive welfare benefits, contrasting it with the comparative harshness of American capitalism. Europeans have benefited from low military spending, protected by NATO and the American nuclear umbrella.”

When our democratic allies are menaced by larger, hostile powers, there is a strong argument to be made for supporting them. But the notion that American taxpayers get some benefit from extending our military might worldwide is deeply flawed. And the idea that as a superpower it is our duty to maintain stability by intervening in civil disorders virtually anywhere in the world often generates anger directed at us and may in the end do more harm than good.

We believe that the time has come for a much quicker withdrawal from Iraq than the President has proposed. We both voted against that war, but even for those who voted for it, there can be no justification for spending over $700 billion dollars of American taxpayers’ money on direct military spending in Iraq since the war began, not including the massive, estimated long-term costs of the war. We have essentially taken on a referee role in a civil war, even mediating electoral disputes.

In order to create a systematic approach to reducing military spending, we have convened a Sustainable Defense Task Force consisting of experts on military expenditures that span the ideological spectrum. The task force has produced a detailed report with specific recommendations for cutting Pentagon spending by approximately $1 trillion over a ten year period. It calls for eliminating certain Cold War weapons and scaling back our commitments overseas. Even with these changes, the United States would still be immeasurably stronger than any nation with which we might be engaged, and the plan will in fact enhance our security rather than diminish it.

We are currently working to enlist the support of other members of Congress for our initiative. Along with our colleagues Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Walter Jones, we have addressed a letter to the President’s National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which he has convened to develop concrete recommendations for reducing the budget deficit. We will make it clear to leaders of both parties that substantial reductions in military spending must be included in any future deficit reduction package. We pledge to oppose any proposal that fails to do so.

In the short term, rebuilding our economy and creating jobs will remain our nation’s top priority. But it is essential that we begin to address the issue of excessive military spending in order to ensure prosperity in the future. We may not agree on what to do with the estimated $1 trillion in savings, but we do agree that nothing either of us cares deeply about will be possible if we do not begin to face this issue now.

David Adds. This is a clarion call. We either pay for bombs in Asia, or teachers in Oregon. You communication will get this wheel rolling…