The military-industrial complex is pulling out all the stops to ensure that not one dime of its vast federal largess is taken away even as the nation faces nearly $15 trillion in debt. Defense contractors, Representatives and Senators, and current and former Defense Secretaries are working together to thwart actual and potential cuts in defense spending resulting from the August debt ceiling deal.
The deal calls for $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years — an average of $35 billion per year. In addition, it tasks the newly created congressional super-committee with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in savings over that same time period. Should the committee fail to come to an agreement on those savings, automatic cuts totaling the same amount, split evenly between defense and domestic spending, are slated to occur. If that took place, defense spending would then be reduced by $600 billion, an average of $60 billion per year.
That may sound like a huge dent in the Pentagon’s budget, but there are two things to keep in mind.
The U.S. is leaning on the government in Baghdad for a new Status of Forces Agreement that will keep American troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year. The current agreement, signed by the U.S. and Iraq in 2008, requires the removal of all U.S. military forces by December 31, 2011. If nothing changes, Americans will adhere to that deadline, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the New York Times.
"I think our public position, our private position, hasn't changed, that our plan is to withdraw by the end of the year," Nuland said. "Were the Iraqi government to come forward and make a request for some continued security assistance, we would be prepared to look at it."
But it appears the U.S. is asking to be asked, and has been for some time. Fox News reported Tuesday that the Pentagon recently secured a commitment from the Iraqis to negotiate on the matter and the question is not whether, but how many, American troops remain in Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker told Reuters that American forces must continue the fight against the Taliban and for a stable Afghanistan as "the ultimate guarantee that there will not be another 9/11."
"It is going to require more resources, its going to require time," said Crocker, a career diplomat who also served as Ambassador to Iraq. "I hope we can bring all those to bear, because as hard, painful, as expensive as this has been in blood and treasure, it has cost a lot less than 9/11 did."
The Central Intelligence Agency continues to rapidly expand its global extrajudicial assassination program under the Obama administration, secretly murdering people with drones from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Somalia and Yemen. Even American citizens are fair game, according to the President.
The dramatic evolution of the agency’s priorities and operations has become so extreme that a former senior intelligence official told the Washington Post the CIA had been turned into “one hell of a killing machine.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the paramilitary transformation was “nothing short of a wonderment.”
But the dramatic metamorphosis, detailed in a recent exposé by the Post, entitled “CIA shifts focus to killing targets,” is hardly without critics. Some experts have even warned Congress that the illegal killings may constitute war crimes.
Documents discovered in the rebel-occupied capital of Libya offer evidence that the CIA assisted the now-deposed Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi in apprehending and jailing suspected terrorists. Those suspects include members of the rebel forces the United States and NATO have aided in toppling the Qaddafi regime.
The files were found by journalists and the activist group Human Rights Watch in the Tripoli headquarters of former External Security Organization chief Moussa Koussa. They show that both the CIA and its British counterpart, MI-6, turned captured enemies of the Qaddafi regime, including suspected al-Qaeda operatives, over to the Libyan dictator. Both the United States and Great Britain sent terrorist suspects to Libya for questioning, knowing the country's reputation for brutal interrogation techniques. Some of the documents included warnings to the Libyan government to respect the human rights of the detainees, the New York Times reported.
According to an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks citing numerous officials and reports, a team of U.S. soldiers in Iraq may have handcuffed and then executed an entire family — including five children under the age of six and four women. The troops, who were previously cleared of any wrongdoing by a U.S. investigation, then allegedly called for an air strike on the home in an apparent effort to cover up the evidence.
The 2006 massacre, which happened in an Iraqi town called Ishaqi, left at least 10 civilians dead. Among them were 28-year-old farmer Faiz Khalaf, his young wife, and all three of their children — aged five, three, and five months. Khalaf’s 74-year-old mother, his sister, and his two nieces — five and three years old — were also killed after being placed in handcuffs, officials said.
According to multiple accounts, U.S. forces approached the house for a raid at around 2:30 a.m. on March 15. Shots were reportedly fired, though it remains unclear who was shooting and why. But what happened next — the alleged executions — is being called a war crime.
Usually when U.S. citizens argue in favor of downsizing the military budget, they are treated as anti-American by neoconservatives and other "hawks." When presidential contender Ron Paul advocates bringing the troops home and reducing federal military spending, he is called an isolationist. But what can critics say of a military general who makes such assertions?
Brigadier General John Adams, in a piece for The Hill, makes such declarations. He claims that while the federal government has increased military spending, it has not increased national security, and such spending only serves to threaten economic security and fiscal sanity:
Earlier this month, a special task force assembled by General David Petraeus released the findings from its investigation that determined approximately $360 million in U.S. tax dollars landed in the hands of those that the American military have been fighting for over a decade: Taliban, criminals, and power brokers. More recently, however, another commission determined that the figure is actually closer to $60 billion.
An independent panel, the Commission on Wartime Contracting-established by Congress in 2008- asserts that $60 billion in American tax dollars has been lost to waste and corruption in Afghanistan and Iraq within the last decade.
The Commission’s 240-page report asserts that the United States is expected to have spent beyond $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year on its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of that $206 billion, it has determined that approximately 10 to 20 percent has been spent on “contracting waste” while an additional 5 to 9 percent of that total was absorbed by fraud.
Elements of Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups were known to be key players in the NATO-backed uprising in Libya from the beginning, but now it appears that prominent Jihadists and terrorists are practically leading the revolution with Western support.
One terror leader in particular, Abdelhakim Belhaj, made headlines around the world over the weekend after it emerged that he was appointed the chief of Tripoli’s rebel Military Council. Prior to leading rebel forces against Gaddafi’s regime, Belhaj was the founder and leader of the notorious Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
Eventually the terror “Emir,” as he has been called, was arrested and tortured as an American prisoner in the terror war. In 2004, according to reports, he was transferred to the Gaddafi regime — then a U.S. terror-war ally.
The persecution of Christians is the biggest untold story in the establishment media. Consider Iran, a nation that we fear because it may soon acquire nuclear weapons. This fear is so strong in the school of popular punditry that strategic military strikes, embargoes and a host of other fairly dramatic remedies are seriously discussed. But is not our true fear of Iran that it is a nation which is intolerant, warlike and barbaric?
We have lived for more than fifty years with Britain and France, which each has the power to destroy most major American cities on any given day. The Soviet Union and its offspring, the thuggish Russian nation, each have a vast nuclear arsenal, as does China, which bears us no goodwill. Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa and probably a few other nations have nuclear capacity or could acquire it quickly. Our former Axis enemies — Germany, Japan and Italy — could all go nuclear fairly quickly, if they wished. What is it about Iran that makes us sweat?