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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
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Demand That Clapper and Brennan Be Fired


Demand That Clapper and Brennan Be Fired
by Kevin Zeese | August 4, 2014 - 7:34am

This week it became clear that the head of the CIA, John Brennan lied when he said: “As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the scope of reason.”


Last year, James Clapper, the head of the NSA, responded falsely to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden when he claimed that the NSA did not spy on Americans. Sen. Ron Wyden asked whether the National Security Agency “collected data on millions of Americans.” Clapper testified falsely, saying: “No sir, not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect but not wittingly.” Documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed his statement to be false and in fact Americans are subjected to dragnet surveillance by the NSA.

President Obama has expressed his full support for both men, the Department of Justice has taken no action to investigate or prosecute either. Join us in demanding that President Obama fire Brennan and Clapper.

These are not minor lies. The separation of powers that gives Congress the power to be a check on the executive branch is foundational to the US Constitution. We are supposed to have three equal branches in order to prevent abuse. How can there be any check on the intelligence community if they spy on Congress and then lie about it in congressional testimony? Already intelligence oversight is too weak and allows intelligence abuse, this practice will surely intimidate Congress and create an even weaker check on intelligence agencies.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 4, 2014, 11:39 AM (0 replies)

Are the 17 Intel Agencies now the Fourth Branch of Government?


Are the 17 Intel Agencies now the Fourth Branch of Government?
By contributors | Aug. 4, 2014
By Tom Engelhardt via Tomdispatch.com

The Fourth Branch
The Rise to Power of the National Security State
By Tom Engelhardt

As every schoolchild knows, there are three check-and-balance branches of the U.S. government: the executive, Congress, and the judiciary. That’s bedrock Americanism and the most basic high school civics material. Only one problem: it’s just not so.

During the Cold War years and far more strikingly in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government has evolved. It sprouted a fourth branch: the national security state, whose main characteristic may be an unquenchable urge to expand its power and reach. Admittedly, it still lacks certain formal prerogatives of governmental power. Nonetheless, at a time when Congress and the presidency are in a check-and-balance ballet of inactivity that would have been unimaginable to Americans of earlier eras, the Fourth Branch is an ever more unchecked and unbalanced power center in Washington. Curtained off from accountability by a penumbra of secrecy, its leaders increasingly are making nitty-gritty policy decisions and largely doing what they want, a situation illuminated by a recent controversy over the possible release of a Senate report on CIA rendition and torture practices.

All of this is or should be obvious, but remains surprisingly unacknowledged in our American world. The rise of the Fourth Branch began at a moment of mobilization for a global conflict, World War II. It gained heft and staying power in the Cold War of the second half of the twentieth century, when that other superpower, the Soviet Union, provided the excuse for expansion of every sort.

Its officials bided their time in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union, when “terrorism” had yet to claim the landscape and enemies were in short supply. In the post-9/11 era, in a phony “wartime” atmosphere, fed by trillions of taxpayer dollars, and under the banner of American “safety,” it has grown to unparalleled size and power. So much so that it sparked a building boom in and around the national capital (as well as elsewhere in the country). In their 2010 Washington Post series “Top Secret America,” Dana Priest and William Arkin offered this thumbnail summary of the extent of that boom for the U.S. Intelligence Community: “In Washington and the surrounding area,” they wrote, “33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings — about 17 million square feet of space.” And in 2014, the expansion is ongoing.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Aug 4, 2014, 06:17 AM (0 replies)

How DOD’s $1.5 Trillion F-35 Broke the Air Force


How DOD’s $1.5 Trillion F-35 Broke the Air Force
David Francis
Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 8:35 AM ET
Fiscal Times

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive, and possible the most error ridden, project in the history of the United States military. But DOD has sunk so much money into the F-35 — which is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over the 55-year life of the program — that the Pentagon deemed it "too big to fail" in 2010.


The F-35 isn't mentioned by name in the forecast, but the program's greasy fingerprints are all over it. The Air Force is apparently concerned that it is pricing itself out of the weapons market because it is spending so much time and money on large programs.


More than anything, the shift in strategy is an indictment of the way that the Air Force and the rest of DOD have been doing business for years. The F-35 has come to symbolize all that's wrong with American defense spending: uncontrolled bloat, unaccountable manufacturers (in this case, Lockheed Martin), and an internal Pentagon culture that cannot adequately track taxpayer dollars.

It's no small irony that on the same day the change in Air Force strategy was revealed, Winslow Wheeler, a staff member at the Project On Government Oversight and a long-time critic of the F-35 program, reported that American taxpayers will pay between will pay between $148 million and $337 million per jet in 2015, depending on the model.

Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 3, 2014, 08:26 AM (0 replies)

Doomsday Trigger for Megadrought?


Doomsday Trigger for Megadrought?
by Thom Hartmann | August 1, 2014 - 9:21am

One of the worst North American droughts in history could be getting a whole lot worse.

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map released on Tuesday, more than 58 percent of California is in an "exceptional drought" stage. That's up a staggering 22 percent from last week's report.

And, in its latest drought report released earlier today, the National Drought Mitigation Center warned that "bone-dry" conditions are overtaking much of the Golden State, and noted that, overall, California is "short more than one year's worth of reservoir water, or 11.6 million acre-feet, for this time of year."

All across California, streams are drying up, crops are dying off, and local communities are struggling to maintain access to water, thanks to three years of persistent drought conditions.


Perhaps it's time we should think about building some desalinization plants. Australia built one in 2010 for around $2.5 billion dollars --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurnell_Desalination_Plant .

Where would the money come from?

That big blue slice o pie.

Obviously we are going to need to downsize our military, and projects like this would provide very good job opportunities. Another win win situation.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 3, 2014, 08:05 AM (22 replies)

The Iron Dome Inside The Heads of Israel's Leaders


The Iron Dome Inside The Heads of Israel's Leaders
by Danny Schechter | August 2, 2014 - 8:04am

When you go to a dictionary to look up dome, you find lots of references to hemispherical structures or forms. You also find that it is slang word for the human head.

And so, it may not be much of a stretch to look at the “Iron Dome” counter-missile system utilized by the Israeli forces as a perfect metaphor for the men authorizing its deployment and use, the iron domes of the heads who head up Israel’s military, and orchestrate its most assuredly not defensive war against Gaza.

It is also a metaphor for the war itself. The finger pushing reliance on computer technology — whether with domes or drones — tends to block all sensitivity of the human costs and consequences.


One reason for the timing of this Gaza invasion may be that sales of the Dome may soon have lower-cost competition, thanks to hacking, allegedly, by a cyber-war crew from China.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 3, 2014, 07:12 AM (0 replies)

GOP lawmaker: You will ‘rethink everything’ when full 9/11 report is released


GOP lawmaker: You will ‘rethink everything’ when full 9/11 report is released
By Travis Gettys
Thursday, July 31, 2014 14:48 EDT

A Republican lawmaker renewed his call for the release of 28 redacted pages from the investigative report into the 9/11 terrorist attacks — which a left-wing fringe group claims implicates the British monarchy.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) appeared Wednesday on the Glenn Beck Program to discuss the excerpt, which he and two other current lawmakers and one former lawmaker were permitted to read earlier this year.

The Tea Party-backed freshman lawmaker, who was one of five House Republicans who voted against authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama, posted video earlier this month from a news conference on those classified portions of the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

“It is sort of shocking when you read it,” Massie told reporters. “As I read it, we all had our own experience, I had to stop every couple of pages and absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to rethink everything.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 2, 2014, 07:41 AM (7 replies)

Exposing Monsanto: Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects - the Vitamin A Connection


Exposing Monsanto: Herbicide Linked to Birth Defects - the Vitamin A Connection
Monday, 28 July 2014 09:27 By Jeff Ritterman, M.D., Truthout | Op-Ed

Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, with glyphosate as the primary ingredient, has recently been linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic ravaging parts of Central America, India and Sri Lanka. A leading theory hypothesizes that complexes of glyphosate and heavy metals poison the kidney tubules. El Salvador and Sri Lanka have adopted the precautionary principle and taken action to ban the herbicide. In the United States, glyphosate is coming up for review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in late 2014. Monsanto claims a low risk to human health, but the research is showing something very different. Will these health concerns be enough for the EPA to put restrictions on the herbicide - or to ban it altogether?

Monsanto's Claims of Safety

Thus far, Monsanto has been successful in portraying Roundup as a safe and effective herbicide. The Monsanto website claims:
Glyphosate binds tightly to most types of soil so it is not available for uptake by roots of nearby plants. It works by disrupting a plant enzyme involved in the production of amino acids that are essential to plant growth. The enzyme, EPSP synthase, is not present in humans or animals, contributing to the low risk to human health from the use of glyphosate according to label directions.

Public Kept in the Dark

Contrary to the company's claims of safety, a virtual avalanche of scientific studies on animals, including some funded by Monsanto itself, show alarming incidences of fetal deaths and birth defects. The record also shows that Monsanto has known since the 1980s that glyphosate in high doses causes malformations in experimental animals. Since 1993, the company has been aware that even middle and low doses can cause these malformations. These malformations include absent kidneys and lungs, enlarged hearts, extra ribs, and missing and abnormally formed bones of the limbs, ribs, sternum, spine and skull.

These startling revelations can be found in the report Roundup and Birth Defects: Is the Public Being Kept in the Dark? The document is authored by eight experts from the fields of molecular genetics, agro-ecology, toxico-pathology, scientific ethics, ecological agriculture, plant genetics, public health and cell biology. This report, written primarily for a European readership, is highly critical of the biotech industry and of the European Union's failure to evaluate glyphosate based on the science rather than on political concerns. It calls for an immediate withdrawal of Roundup and glyphosate from the European Union until a thorough scientific evaluation is done on the herbicide. From the report:
The public has been kept in the dark by industry and regulators about the ability of glyphosate and Roundup to cause malformations. In addition, the work of independent scientists who have drawn attention to the herbicide's teratogenic effects has been ignored, denigrated or dismissed. These actions on the part of industry and regulators have endangered public health. (Authors note: A teratogen is any agent that can disturb the development of an embryo or a fetus. The term stems from the Greek teras, meaning monster).

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 28, 2014, 11:02 AM (9 replies)

Rebuilding National Intelligence -- A 12-Step Plan


Rebuilding National Intelligence -- A 12-Step Plan
By Robert Steele
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/27/2014 at 08:38:49


Context -- Where We Went Wrong

National intelligence is a sub-set of the military-industrial-congressional complex that was created during World War II and then refused to go away. In the years following our touted victory over fascism we imported thousands of Nazis and facilitated the escape to Argentina of thousands more along with vast stores of stolen wealth; we also created a secret covert action fund (the Black Lily Trust) undeclared to Congress or the public, a fund that we used to restore fascists to power in Germany, Italy, and Japan.[2] We also turned Harry Truman's 1947 idea for a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) focused on integrating already known information,[3] into a clandestine and covert action hydra that today specializes in waves of indiscriminate assassination by drone,[4] rendition and torture,[5] and not-so-secret support to 42 of 42 dictators that are "best pals"[6] to a government that, as recent history has shown, works for the banks, not for the public. Connecting the dots, we have a federal government owned by banks, managed on their behalf by politicians whose principal foreign policy objective appears to be the cultivation of dictators and the subversion of democracy, all abetting the agenda of the 1% -- the banks -- instead of the 99% -- the public. This policy, by the by, is responsible for the flood of illegal immigrants compounding the 22.4% unemployment rate in the USA.[7]

As an afterthought to the CIA, in 1952 the National Security Agency (NSA) was created -- as an executive organ without a legislative charter -- to advance monitoring of foreign signals (Signals Intelligence or SIGINT) beyond what the military services already did. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) followed in 1961, to fund satellites capable of taking high-resolution images of Soviet targets (Imagery Intelligence or IMINT). Also created in 1961 was the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), intended by then Secretary of Defense McNamara to be a coherent single point of reference for decision-support to defense strategy, defense policy, defense acquisition, and defense operations. The two technical collection agencies, being vastly more expensive than Human Intelligence (HUMINT) or Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) became the darlings of Congress, where a 5% kick-back paid to the appropriate Political Action Committee (PAC) is the standard expectation for any outlay authorized and approved by Congress that is more often than not inconsistent with the public interest.[8] DIA, "led" in the past by flag officers unwilling to alienate the Services, was simply ignored and became a dumping ground, as did the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), for unpromotable mid-grade military officers.

On the counterintelligence front during all those years, we allowed J. Edgar Hoover, to use the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a personal tool for blackmailing elites both political and financial, while going through the motions of counter-intelligence and counter-espionage. Hoover gave his sacred mission no more than lip service, because he gained more personally by leaving traitors in power than by keeping government honest. Today, we have information suggesting that the NSA has replaced the FBI as the primary means of collecting lurid information with which to blackmail elites,[9] while also collecting insider trading information with which to create off-budget windfalls.[10] Meanwhile the NRO and the NGA have been far out-stripped by faster, better, cheaper commercial technology.

In 2004 we created the position of a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and abolished the historic position of Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), relegating the DCI to being merely the Director of the CIA. This was a military financial coup explicitly intended by Dick Cheney to marginalize the CIA and place all national intelligence and covert action budgets under predominantly military control. It was accompanied by a massive expansion of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence USD(I), who proceeded to neglect counterintelligence, Human Intelligence (HUMINT), Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), and expert human analysis, while embracing the industrial complex focus on spending tens of billions of dollars on technical collection and arcane scientific and technical means that have yet to yield any return on investment (ROI) validated by an ethical informed professional US Intelligence Community (US IC).
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 28, 2014, 07:38 AM (0 replies)

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan's proclivity for war


Pakistan's proclivity for war
Reviewed by Ehsan Ahrari
Jul 28, '14

For the past 15-plus years, Pakistan has been the unenviable focus of a variety of unflattering depictions of its state of affairs in scholarly and journalistic narratives. It appears as if various authors are in competition to select increasingly ominous phrases to describe that country and its cataclysmic state of affairs.

Some called it "the most dangerous place", "a country that is descending into chaos", a county that possesses a "Kalashnikov" culture, a "garrison state", or a "hard country".

As if following the same tradition, T V Paul's book, The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, adds one more phrase, "warrior state", to portray it as a country where the security state has outgrown all other institutions and activities and where radical Islamization and its attendant obscurantism have been the consequences of state policy.

He describes Pakistan as a place where the chances for the decline of power of the security state are minimal and the prospects of the development of other institutions for the evolution of that country as a politically stable democracy or economically prosperous state are slim.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 28, 2014, 06:35 AM (0 replies)

Navy secretary says combat ship costs will decline


Navy secretary says combat ship costs will decline
The Associated Press
© July 25, 2014


Operating costs for the U.S. Navy's newest ships will decline and "become more normal" over time, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday.

The Navy designed littoral combat ships to have smaller crews and lower costs than other vessels, but a Government Accountability Office report earlier this month said they each cost about $79 million to operate annually. That's more than the $54 million it costs to operate a frigate, which are larger and have more sailors on board.

As more of the ships enter the fleet and are used, the costs will be "well within acceptable limits" Mabus told The Associated Press during a visit to the USS Independence, the second littoral combat ship to be commissioned, while it participated in exercises off Hawaii.

"I think as we get into the operations, you're going to see them become more normal," Mabus said of the costs.



The USS Freedom, LCS #1 cost $584 million dollars, delivered. $79 million in annual operating costs is an overhead of 13.52%.

The USS Independence, LCS #2 cost $704 million dollars, delivered. $79 million in annual operating costs is an overhead of 11.22%.

Imagine a 10% annual operating cost on a $1.8 billion dollar Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (62 currently in service) or a 10% annual operating cost on a $5.6 billion dollar Zumwalt-class destroyer.

I'd like to see normal, Admiral. Wait a minute - what's normal operating costs on these things?
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jul 27, 2014, 08:12 AM (4 replies)
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