Welfare Cheats

October 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Economy, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Migrant agricultural worker's family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California. 1936 Feb. or Mar. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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One of America's new warships of the air, a mighty YB-17 bomber, is pulled up at a bombardment squadron hangar, Langley Field, Va. It is all set to taxi out to a runway and take off . 1942 May. Alfred T. Palmer, photographer. (Library of Congress)

USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs are the first line of our Nation’s defense against hunger. … In FY 2001, 17.3 million people recipients received a total of $16.0 billion in benefits. In FY 2008, average monthly participation increased to more than 27.7 million people and benefits totaled more than $31.8 billion – an increase of 60 percent in participants and 99 percent in benefits during that period.

Food stamp fraud isn’t people signing up who aren’t eligible, it’s retailers “paying EBT cardholders in cash for half of the value of their food stamp benefits, then pocketing the remainder.” But that is small potatoes compared to what the defense industry is getting away with.

“I ain’t marching any more”

November 6, 2010 at 7:00 am | Posted in Department of Defense, Reality Bites, terrorism, torture | Leave a comment
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Following Rules of War American style: Shoot first, lie about it later.

April 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Reality Bites, terrorism, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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On July 12, 2007 Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh and nine others, including two children, were killed by a U.S. helicopter strike in Baghdad. The American military authorities claimed they were armed insurgents.

“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad.

WikiLeaks, their Freedom of Information Act request stonewalled by the Defense Department, has obtained video from unnamed military sources that clearly shows that the people targeted and killed in cold blood were not carrying, and certainly not firing, AK-47s or RPGs.

I can only hope that the people who committed this atrocity are haunted by their crime because they will certainly never be held accountable.

UPDATE: If you don’t believe your lying eyes and think that this film was edited in some way to make the US military look bad, go here to see the full, unedited video.

UPDATE: Josh Stieber, a former US Army solider, deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 as a member ofBravo Company 2-16 — the same Company as the infantry ground soldiers involved in the Apache helicopter attack — spoke with Glenn Greenwald about the video and “compellingly explains how the incident depicted there — from the initial killing of the Reuters journalist to the shooting of unarmed rescuers to the language used by the pilots — was anything but rare; it was extremely common.”

Give them a minute, they’ll come up with another excuse.

February 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Posted in civil rights, Department of Defense, Historical, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Manila, the Philippine Islands. For extraordinary heroism during attacks on Jap bridgeheads at Vigan, in Northern Luzon, Lieutenant Jack Dale of the U.S. Army Air Corps received a Distinguished Service Cross from General MacArthur (right) before Japanese forces forced American troop retirement from Manila. Other air heroes decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross were Captain Jesus A. Villamor (center rear) of the Philippine Army, and posthumously, Captain Colin P. Kelly, Jr., who bombed and sank a Jap battleship off Luzon. This picture, made December 22, 1941, was one of the last to leave the Philippines. (Library of Congress)

Back in the good old days the excuse for banning gays from the military is that they were a security risk, even though “as far back as 1957, … the Navy’s Crittenden Report found ‘no factual data’ to support the idea that they posed a greater security risk than heterosexual personnel.” People only pose a security risk when they can be blackmailed for engaging in a proscribed activity. The only security risk that exists with respect to gay people serving in the military is as a result of forcing people to hide their sexual orientation.

In 1950 the Super Patriot, Republican senator Joseph McCarthy, and some of his friends “formed a subcommittee to study the effects of the Truman administration’s employment policy concerning homosexuals.”

Expert testimony gave the senators enough evidence to argue that “moral perverts [were] bad national security risks because of their susceptibility to blackmail and threat of exposure.”

The result of McCarthy’s efforts was that “[o]n April 27, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed “sexual perversion” as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants. Homosexuality, moral perversion, and communism were categorized as national security threats; the issue of homosexual federal workers had become a dire federal personnel policy concern.

More recently the argument against gays in the military is that “[f]or somebody to go around flaunting their sexuality is going to make a lot of people more uncomfortable” and that it is a “moral” issue. It is in fact a moral issue, but unfortunately it is proponents of the ban who are the bad moral actors here. “Military officials often turn a blind eye to the exploitation of women by military and contract personnel, because they want to boost their men’s ‘morale.’

U.S. Army Forces in New Guinea. U.S. soldiers with their equipment are brought ashore in a landing barge from a transport of Buna, New Guinea, during the Allied offensive that drove the Japanese out of Papua. Between 1940 and 1946. (Library of Congress)

On February 4, 1993 Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) spoke at a hearing of the Republican Research Committee’s Task Force on Military Personnel. He was greatly concerned that that by changing the law we would “lose this perception by middle America of the military as a wholesome environment for their young people.”

Hunter is currently in full freak-out mode over the idea of gays being able to legally serve their country: “[T]he military is not civilian life, and I think the folks that have been in the military that have been in these very close situations with each other — there has to be a special bond there, and I think that that bond is broken if you open up to the military to transgenders, to hermaphrodites, to gays and lesbians.

I am not sure that Hunter knows what a hermaphrodite is. Is he suggesting that the US military conduct gender tests on each recruit?

Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyle, one of the co-chairs of the Republican Research Committee’s Task Force and at that time a representative, has been strangely quiet on the repeal of DADT.

Given the rates of STDs contracted by members of the US military, it’s pretty clear that what we’re talking about is homophobia.

A European court ten years ago ordered the British military to allow gays to serve.

Colored mechanic, motor maintenance section, Fort Knox, Kentucky. June 1942. (Library of Congress)

There was much shrieking and rending of garments that this was going to lead to disaster.

Sadly, for the haters, there have been no problems.

Not only do the British allow gay people in their military, Israel does as well. And Germany, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Romania, and a host of others.

In 1994 conservative Republican icon Barry Goldwater spoke out against the irrational and costly banning of gay people from the military.

“The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay,” Goldwater asserts. “You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that’s what brings me into it.”

Today’s “conservative” Republican has no qualms about dismissing the judgment of military leaders or rejecting one of their allegedly core principles — government should stay out of private lives.

John McCain, failed Republican candidate for president in 2008, stands out as Hypocrite-In-Chief on this issue. He would do well to consider the ongoing damage his hypocrisy is doing to the country he claims to love so well.

Honor Soldiers of Conscience

November 11, 2009 at 1:00 am | Posted in Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Obituary | Leave a comment
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U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, at night, with reflection in pool in the foreground. The specific time was 10:30 p.m. on November 11, 1921, the date of the first celebration of Veterans Day. G.W. Stephenson, photographer. (Library of Congress)

This Veterans Day I will be remembering soldiers of conscience.

What Are We Defending?

April 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Economy, torture | Leave a comment
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M-4 tank, Fort Knox, Kentucky.  1942 June.  Alfred T. Palmer, photographer.

M-4 tank, Fort Knox, Kentucky. 1942 June. Alfred T. Palmer, photographer.

(DemocracyNow) A new study, meanwhile, from the National Priorities Project says that more than thirty-seven cents of every income tax dollar goes to military spending. By contrast, environment, energy and science spending projects split 2.8 cents of every tax dollar, while housing, community and food programs split 3.8 cents.

(WaPo) The Obama administration opposes any effort to prosecute those in the Justice Department who drafted legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations at secret CIA prisons, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said yesterday.

Hopes Raised, Dashed.

April 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Posted in Bush, Department of Defense, Foreign Affairs, law, torture | Leave a comment
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Justicia - Justice stands blindfolded as people around her are being tortured.  Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569), artist

"Justicia" - Justice stands blindfolded as people around her are being tortured. Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569), artist

Scott Horton at The Daily Beast:

Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid.

[snip]

The six defendants—in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith—are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.”

[snip]

The Bush Six labored at length to create a legal black hole in which they could implement their policies safe from the scrutiny of American courts and the American media. Perhaps they achieved much of their objective, but the law of unintended consequences has kicked in. If U.S. courts and prosecutors will not address the matter because of a lack of jurisdiction, foreign courts appear only too happy to step in.

I am having a hard time believing that anyone will prosecute the bastards, but the Spaniards give me hope.

It’s more than sad that an American should feel more hopeful at the effectiveness of a foreign legal system than their own.

h/t Hilzoy

UPDATE (4/16/09): It looks like my small hope has been dashed, at least for now.

The End of American Torture.

January 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Executive Orders, torture | Leave a comment
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Abu Ghraib prison photo released February 15, 2006 by Australias Special Broadcasting Service TV.

Abu Ghraib prison photo released February 15, 2006 by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service TV.


The full Executive Order is not yet posted at WhiteHouse.gov but when it is, you will find it here.

Executive Order revokes Executive Order 13440 that interpreted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It requires that all interrogations of detainees in armed conflict, by any government agency, follow the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines. The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009. The Order requires all departments and agencies to provide the ICRC access to detainees in a manner consistent with Department of Defense regulations and practice. It also orders the CIA to close all existing detention facilities and prohibits it from operating detention facilities in the future. Finally, the Order creates a Special Task Force with two missions. The Task Force will conduct a review of the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines to determine whether different or additional guidance is necessary for the CIA. It will also look at rendition and other policies for transferring individuals to third countries to be sure that our policies and practices comply with all obligations and are sufficient to ensure that individuals do not face torture and cruel treatment if transferred. This Task Force will be led by the Attorney General with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence as co-Vice Chairs.

h/t Dependable Renegade and Attackerman

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