It never occurred to me, when I lost the first bureaucratic battle on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in 1992, that my innate sense of integrity [do the right thing] would lead me to resign from the Marine Corps civil service in 1993 as a very young GM-14, and spend not five, not ten, but twenty years wandering in the wilderness helping over 66 governments and over 7,500 mid-career officers get a grip on sources and methods the traditional secret services refused to consider and the traditional consumers of intelligence did not know how to do. Of all my student bodies, the USA was the worst, remaining ignorant at the leadership level, helpless at the follower level–butts in seats, no brain required. Hence, as we approach a historic turning point, the possibility that we might have a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense that can actually get a grip on reality together, I thought it might be useful to offer up three things I have learned during my 20-year walk-about:
There is a lot of waste in the defense budget, much of it inserted by Congress for pork reasons, but DoD is also used to mask many other non-Defense programs, not just intelligence but in energy, health, foreign aid, etcetera. Breaking the bargain with military retirees on health care is both a major betrayal, and a window into an alternative, a national health care service that does not pay full price for pharmaceutical that rarely work.
By Donna Cassata, Associated Press
WASHINGTON–One war is done, another is winding down and the calls to cut the deficit are deafening. The military, a beneficiary of robust budgets for more than a decade, is coming to grips with a new reality — fewer dollars.
The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic that next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard of reductions in defense.
President Barack Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year. Those reductions are part of the so-called fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the across-the-board cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned would be devastating to the military.
June 18, 2012 – Do you know how your tax dollars are spent?
US radio host Dennis Bernstein and investigative reporter Dave Lindorff illustrate just how much US tax money goes towards the country’s war chest.
“People have to realise that 53 cents of every dollar that they are paying into taxes is going to the military to an astonishing figure there is an enormous, enormous amount of money being blown on war an killing and destruction.”
Paul Craig Roberts: Collapse at Hand – and ONE THING an Honest Government Could Do To Make It All Right
Ever since the beginning of the financial crisis and quantitative easing, the question has been before us: How can the Federal Reserve maintain zero interest rates for banks and negative real interest rates for savers and bond holders when the US government is adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt every year via its budget deficits? Not long ago the Fed announced that it was going to continue this policy for another 2 or 3 years. Indeed, the Fed is locked into the policy. Without the artificially low interest rates, the debt service on the national debt would be so large that it would raise questions about the US Treasury’s credit rating and the viability of the dollar, and the trillions of dollars in Interest Rate Swaps and other derivatives would come unglued.
In other words, financial deregulation leading to Wall Street’s gambles, the US government’s decision to bail out the banks and to keep them afloat, and the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rate policy have put the economic future of the US and its currency in an untenable and dangerous position. It will not be possible to continue to flood the bond markets with $1.5 trillion in new issues each year when the interest rate on the bonds is less than the rate of inflation. Everyone who purchases a Treasury bond is purchasing a depreciating asset. Moreover, the capital risk of investing in Treasuries is very high. The low interest rate means that the price paid for the bond is very high. A rise in interest rates, which must come sooner or later, will collapse the price of the bonds and inflict capital losses on bond holders, both domestic and foreign.
The question is: when is sooner or later? The purpose of this article is to examine that question.
Tim King | Salem-News.com
(WASHINGTON DC) – As news about Israeli political parties merging dominates headlines, this one is being overlooked. The US House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee yesterday approved almost $1 billion for Israel’s anti-missile defense programs.
The expensive systems are called Arrow 3. The American politicians propose spending this exorbitant amount in order to upgrade the current Arrow system, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.
The names are fancy, unlike the missiles they say they are defending themselves from. The munitions fired from Gaza are al Qassam rockets and they are little more than unguided fireworks.
Israeli and American media portray the ‘rocket attacks from Gaza’ as a serious danger and they claim that the large U.S. tax payer contributions are necessary in order to ‘defend’ Israel. The Gaza rockets have in all time, killed a total of 28 Israeli citizens. Some place the number at 29.
The total appropriation is the highest ever approved for the four programs; it reflects the willingness of the United States to back yet another racist, apartheid government that uses American investments to send Israeli youth to college, and to kill Palestinians; Muslims and Christians, who have few rights under a system that Israel created, offering one set of laws and punishments to Jews, and a different set for all other human beings.
Phi Beta Iota: Equally troubling is the continued borrowing of $1 trillion a year and the continued waste of over $2 trillion a year.
POGO Source Page, May 8, 2012
Americans are tightening their belts, and it’s time for the U.S. government to do the same. In light of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the subsequent failure of the “Super Committee,” Congress is still desperately seeking ways to reduce spending. To this end, the Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense have closely examined the proposed national security budget and found plenty of wasteful spending. Adjusted for inflation, U.S. national security spending is higher than at any point during the Cold War and accounts for more than half of all discretionary spending. However, the U.S. faces no existential threats as it did then, and U.S. defense needs are changing as the military draws down its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Still, military spending at the Department of Defense (DoD) has increased by an astounding 95 percent from FY 2001 to the FY 2013 estimate, adjusted for inflation. Nuclear weapons spending at the Department of Energy (DOE) is projected to grow by billions of dollars over the next decade. And the federal government’s reliance on contractors, most of whom work on national security-related work and cost on average nearly twice as much as the federal workers who do the same job, is also driving budgets through the roof. It’s clear that any serious proposal to shrink the U.S. deficit must include cuts to the national security budget.
The following list updates our recommendations from 2011 and details nearly $700 billion in savings over the next ten years, including cuts to wasteful weapons systems as well as limits on out-of-control contract spending. We found programs for which there are cheaper yet equally effective alternatives, and programs that can be cancelled or delayed without putting America’s security at risk.
The Project On Government Oversight is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.
Taxpayers for Common Sense is a nonpartisan budget watchdog serving as an independent voice for American taxpayers. Its mission is to achieve a government that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly and operates within its means. TCS works with individuals, policymakers, and the media to increase transparency, expose and eliminate wasteful and corrupt subsidies, earmarks, and corporate welfare, and hold decision makers accountable.
Starting to see initial indications that at least one part of DoD is gearing up to cut anywhere from 6% to 50% of its workforce within the fairly near term, perhaps beginning as soon as 01 Oct. Drivers could be generic deficit reduction, sequestration, and historic limitations on strength levels in certain types of organizations. Expect it to be ugly — sprung at last minute, execute without finesse.)
By Ted Kaufman, US Senator (DE)
Wilmington (DE) News Journal
April 8, 2012
We’ve heard a lot in the past couple of years, pro and con, about escalating CEO compensation, but it seems to me at least one argument in their defense has merit. It is important to pay enough to recruit and retain the best talent available in the highly competitive global marketplace.
What seems strange to me is that those who believe this is true, that you have to pay well to attract the best talent, usually don’t accept the same argument when it comes to government employees.
One of the more dangerous consequences of the financial crisis is how governments at all levels are, in effect, cutting off their noses to spite
their faces. In the rush to balance their budgets, some are indiscriminately firing, freezing and cutting pay, and cutting pensions — too often impacting the people who actually make government work.
Cost growth in the last year in DOD’s acquisition system was $74 billion, 34 percent more than the $55 billion presumed to occur in the sequester in January; while the time frames are different (see discussion below), so much for Secretary of Defense Panetta’s asinine rhetoric that sequester would be a ”Doomsday.”
Analysis of two recent acquisition reports is available at Time’s Battleland blog at http://battleland.blogs.time.
Cost growth in the last year in DOD’s acquisition system was $74 billion, 34 percent more than the $55 billion presumed to occur in the sequester in January; while the time frames are different (see discussion below), so much for Secretary of Defense Analysis of two recent acquisition reports is available at Time’s Battleland blog at http://battleland.blogs.time.
Lies, Damn Lies, and The Pentagon’s Latest Budget Numbers
There’s a pair of must-reads just out for anyone paying attention to the Pentagon’s acquisition nightmare: one is a routinely scheduled, but important, report from the Defense Department; the other comes from one of the very few entities doing even minimal oversight of the Department of Defense these days, the Government Accountability Office.
Reviewing the reports separately results in a muddled picture of how the Pentagon buys its weapons. Happily, each report fills some of the data missing in the other. But, the two reports still leave some gaping holes, while providing a false impression of progress in the way the Defense Department buys weapons.
The two reports are GAO’s annual review of major hardware acquisition, Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs, and DoD’s new Selected Acquisition Report (SAR), both released March 30. What follows is my own After-Action Report – including the gaps, contradictions, and false assurances – after studying the data they do – and don’t – contain.
The Death Spiral is Alive and Well
Revolution @State: The Spread of Ediplomacy
The US State Department has become the world’s leading user of ediplomacy. Ediplomacy now employs over 150 full-time personnel working in 25 different ediplomacy nodes at Headquarters. More than 900 people use it at US missions abroad.
Ediplomacy is now used across eight different program areas at State: Knowledge Management, Public Diplomacy and Internet Freedom dominate in terms of staffing and resources. However, it is also being used for Information Management, Consular, Disaster Response, harnessing External Resources and Policy Planning.
In some areas ediplomacy is changing the way State does business. In Public Diplomacy, State now operates what is effectively a global media empire, reaching a larger direct audience than the paid circulation of the ten largest US dailies and employing an army of diplomat-journalists to feed its 600-plus platforms. In other areas, like Knowledge Management, ediplomacy is finding solutions to problems that have plagued foreign ministries for centuries.
The slow pace of adaptation to ediplomacy by many foreign ministries suggests there is a degree of uncertainty over what ediplomacy is all about, what it can do and how pervasive its influence is going to be. This report – the result of a four-month research project in Washington DC – should help provide those answers.
2012-04-03 Hanson_Revolution-at-State (PDF 34 pages)
ROBERT STEELE: Fergus Hanson of Australia has done a truly superb job of describing the considerable efforts within the Department of State to achieve some semblance of electronic coherence and capacity. What he misses–and this does not reduce the value of his effort in the slightest–is the complete absence of strategy or substance within State, or legitimacy in the eyes of those being addressed. If the Department of State were to demand the pre-approved Open Source Agency for the South-Central Campus, and get serious about being the lead agency for public intelligence in the public interest, ediplomacy could become something more than lipstick on the pig. The money is available. What is lacking right now is intelligence with integrity in support of global Whole of Government strategy, operations, tactics, and technical advancement (i.e. Open Source Everything).
Alexander Higgins, Contributor
Activist Post, 28 March 2012
As China is expected to rise to the status of a financial superpower within the next 8 years and eclipse the US economy by 2020, Africa becomes center stage in the greatest currency war the world has seen since the 1930s, which is now shifting into overdrive.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, collectively known as the BRICS nations, are moving forward with their plan to unseat the US dollar from its throne as the global trade currency and to replace it with a Chinese-denominated “super-sovereign” international currency.
This Geo-political game to establish global monetary dominance is by no means limited to the attack on the US dollar. Instead this is merely the first strike of a concerted campaign of worldwide economic warfare that will soon follow which seeks to bring the United States and its western allies to their knees.
Ultimately the BRICS collective is staging a coup to overthrow the current global financial regime that has been dominated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund since the last global currency war was won at the end of World War II.
The attack comes partially in retaliation for the latest round of quantitative easing in which we witnessed the Federal Reserve deliberately printing trillions of dollars in an attempt to jump-start the U.S. economy by forcing investors back into the U.S. stock market by devaluing the US dollar.
Phi Beta Iota: One third of the global economy is transnational crime, and one third System D or “off the books” entrepreneurial information economics routing around governments. Now that we know the final third is legalized crime, it becomes much easier to understand why two thirds of the brain power on the planet has opted out of the legalized crime world that favors the 1%.