Articles (Apr – Dec 2013)

U.S. Government Shutdown

Looks like it is on. Who remembers what happened 17 years ago?

What might be the immediate effects?

Is it off-topic to speculate on the consequences for drone strikes?

Here’s a list of government agencies that CNN thinks have shut down, or still partially functioning.

US killer robot policy: Full speed ahead

Bulleting of the Atomic Scientists – By Mark Gubrud – September 20, 2013

In November 2012, United States Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signed directive 3000.09, establishing policy for the “design, development, acquisition, testing, fielding, and … application of lethal or non-lethal, kinetic or non-kinetic, force by autonomous or semi-autonomous weapon systems.” Without fanfare, the world had its first openly declared national policy for killer robots.

The policy has been widely misperceived as one of caution. According to one account, the directive promises that a human will always decide when a robot kills another human. Others even read it as imposing a 10-year moratorium to allow for discussion of ethics and safeguards. However, as a Defense Department spokesman confirmed for me, the 10-year expiration date is routine for such directives, and the policy itself is “not a moratorium on anything.”

A careful reading of the directive finds that it lists some broad and imprecise criteria and requires senior officials to certify that these criteria have been met if systems are intended to target and kill people by machine decision alone. But it fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons. …

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‘Black budget’ shows CIA swells in size: Snowden leak – AFP – August 29, 2013

The CIA has mushroomed into the largest US spy agency with a nearly $15 billion budget as it expands intelligence, cyber sabotage and overseas covert operations, secret leaked documents showed..

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked the government’s “black budget” for fiscal year 2013 to The Washington Post, which published portions of the top-secret document online in the latest in a series of revelations that have put the US intelligence community under a spotlight.

The $52.6 billion budget request for the nation’s 16 spy agencies is not a startling revelation in itself — the White House has published overall intelligence spending since 2007.

But it shows a dramatic resurgence of the Central Intelligence Agency, once thought to be on the decline after it acknowledged intelligence failures prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It now is the dominant colossus within the national intelligence community, expanding its workforce by more than 25 percent from a decade ago, to 21,575 this year. …

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Cashing in on Conflict

War Profiteers, Slavery and the Hypocrisy of Imperialism – By Nathan Goodman – September 5, 2013

Across the world, people are protesting against US intervention in Syria. Polls show widespread skepticism of the impending war. Rather than making Americans safer, intervention is likely to support forces connected to al Qaeda. Yet it still seems inevitable that the US government will launch cruise missiles at Syria, escalating the country’s bloody civil war. Why?

Because politicians don’t work for the people. As Thomas Knapp of the Center for a Stateless Society puts it, “politicians and soldiers work for (and constitute part of) the political class. Their job is to transfer as much wealth as possible from your pockets to that class’s bank accounts.”

In that case, they’re doing their job quite well. The war profiteers at Raytheon have seen their stock prices soar in anticipation of the Syrian war. …

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Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2013

…and Barack Obama who holds the Nobel Peace Prize
is about to start another war…

Congressional Research Service. May 3, 2013.

A staggering list of conflicts by the US

Download/read the list here: (450 kB pdf)

This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes.

From The Truth Contest

Senate defense subcommittee approves $594 billion Pentagon bill – July 30, 2013

The Senate defense subcommittee approved a $594.4 billion bill Tuesday that keeps Pentagon spending in 2014 at pre-sequestration levels.

The bill includes $516.4 billion in base defense spending and $77.8 billion for war spending. It follows the same path as three other defense spending bills in Congress this year.

If sequestration is not averted, the Pentagon’s 2014 budget will be lessened by $52 billion, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported.

Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, warned the Pentagon would face more pain in 2014 than it did in 2013 if the issue of sequestration were considered, pointing out, “Civilian workers will have to be laid off rather than simply furloughed.”

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“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “A Time To Break Silence,” April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City

Global Rescue Plan – By David Swanson – June 22, 2013

When the wealthy nations of the world meet as the G8 or in any other gathering, it’s interesting to imagine what they would do if they followed the golden rule, valued grandchildren, disliked unnecessary suffering, or wished to outgrow ancient forms of barbarism, or any combination of those.

The United States alone is perfectly capable, if it chooses, of enacting a global marshall plan, or — better — a global rescue plan. Every year the United States spends, through various governmental departments, roughly $1.2 trillion on war and war preparations. Every year the United States foregoes well over $1 trillion in taxes that billionaires and centimillionaires and corporations should be paying. … ↓ ↓ Show more ↓ ↓

Apple Says The U.S. Government Requested Customer Data Several Thousand Times This Year

Talking Points Memo – Associated Press – June 17, 2013

Apple says it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data for the six months ended in May. … ↓ ↓ Show more ↓ ↓

A lesson from history for those who strive to bring intelligence agencies to account

The Privacy Surgeon – By Simon Davies

“The role of Menwith Hill is to act on US instructions to spy on the world’s communications systems.”

“The network is controlled by the United States, managed by the key English speaking countries bonded by a secret agreement called UKUSA and operates under targeting instruction from the US National Security Agency”

Sixteen years ago a high-profile campaign began in Europe to expose the NSA’s global spying operations – an activity which at the time was almost unknown to the world. The outcome of this prolonged campaign should be a warning from history to anyone who believes that reform of the intelligence services can easily be wrought from the current spying controversy. … ↓ ↓ Show more ↓ ↓

Obama’s terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see

The Guardian – By Glenn Greenwald – May 27, 2013

Some eager-to-believe progressives heralded the speech as a momentous change, but Obama’s actions are often quite different than his rhetoric.

The hallmark of a skilled politician is the ability to speak to a group of people holding widely disparate views, and have all of them walk away believing they heard what they wanted to hear. Other than Bill Clinton, I’ve personally never seen a politician even in the same league as Barack Obama when it comes to that ability. His most consequential speeches are shaped by their simultaneous affirmation of conflicting values and even antithetical beliefs, allowing listeners with irreconcilable positions to conclude that Obama agrees with them.

The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal.

But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do. How many times does Obama have to deliver a speech embracing a set of values and polices, only to watch as he then proceeds to do the opposite, before one ceases to view his public proclamations as predictive of his future choices? Speeches, especially presidential ones, can be significant unto themselves in shaping public perceptions and setting the terms of the debate, so Obama’s explicit discussion of the “ultimate” ending of the war on terror can be reasonably viewed as positive. …

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Afghanistan Drawdown, 20 More Years Of War

Was Is A Crime .org – By Lisa Savage – May 23, 2013

In order to reduce the number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan, the Pentagon asked Congress for $9.6 billion of its allowance to be moved from one budget line to another. They asked permission to shift funds away from research and weapons purchases to instead “support funding shortfalls” in transportation, due to the high cost of removing from landlocked, mountainous Afghanistan. The Pentagon is reluctant to run short on funds for fuel, engaged as it is in the business of maintaining the largest carbon footprint on the planet. …

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Missile Defense Obstructs Nuclear Forces Cuts – General

RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 23, 2013

The United States’ insistence on pursuing a missile defense system in Europe is standing in the way of further cuts to Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces, Russia’s top general said on Thursday at an international security conference in Moscow.

“Russia will cut its strategic attack force only when it is certain that the United States’ development of global missile defense will not undermine its nuclear deterrent potential,” Chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov said at the start of the two-day Military and Political Aspects of European Security conference.

The event brings together senior defense officials from Russia, the EU, the United States and Canada, as well as independent military and political experts.

Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov reiterated Russia’s position on missile defense, stressing Moscow does not seek an advantage, merely legal guarantees regarding its current and future security.

In an opening address to participants read by Sergei Ivanov, President Putin expressed his confidence that, despite differences over issues such as missile defense, the international community is in a good position to build and strengthen collective defense and security strategies.

“The necessary prerequisites are in place: the lack of any fundamental ideological differences, mutually intertwined economies, and developing cultural, scientific and business contacts between people,” Putin’s message said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the lack of trust between Russia and the West, which he described as a “cold war relic,” is a key problem in European security, and stressed that “Russia and NATO have agreed not to view each other as enemies.” …

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Bum Rap: The U.S. Role in Guatemalan Genocide

FAIR Blog – By Peter Hart – May 20, 2013

I was struck by this May 17 headline in the New York Times:

“Trial on Guatemalan Civil War Carnage Leaves Out U.S. Role”

Reporter Elisabeth Malkin provides a pretty thorough accounting of U.S. support for Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. The “long history” of U.S. support for the brutal military went back to a CIA-backed coup in 1954, Malkin reported. She added:

When General Ríos Montt was installed in a coup in March 1982, Reagan administration officials were eager to embrace him as an ally. Embassy officials trekked up to the scene of massacres and reported back the army’s line that the guerrillas were doing the killing

The U.S. role in facilitating genocide was not central to the trial of Ríos Montt, but the fact remains that U.S. aid helped fuel the military, and Reagan-era officials like Elliott Abrams brushed off concerns about atrocities against indigenous villages. As Malkin put it, “For some in Guatemala, the virtual invisibility of the American role in the trial was disturbing.”

This kind of report raises at least one obvious question: How much has U.S. coverage of the Ríos Montt trial talked about U.S. support for genocide?

According to a search of the Nexis news database, some prominent outlets haven’t just ignored the U.S. role–they’ve ignored the story altogether. On the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), there have been no references to Guatemala genocide trial at all over the past two months. The Washington Post ran one brief item (5/12/13) about Ríos Montt’s conviction . …

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Under Nixon, Reagan or the Bushes, We Wouldn’t Have Tolerated Obama’s Surveillance State

TruthOut/ – Mark karlin – May 20, 2013

Exhilirated by the promise of transparency, accountability and change, it is painful for progressives and those who believe in the guaranteed rights of the Constitution to find themselves in the midst of a Kafkaesque attack on the public’s right to know, legal inimidation of journalistic investigation of the government, increased prosecution of whistleblowers and unaccountable executive branch censorship.

It is almost incomprehensible to fathom how a president who is a constitutional lawyer has exceeded all his Republican predecessors when it comes to prosecuting and punishing whistleblowers, expanding executive branch secrecy, declaring the most basic information classifed, and bullying and surveilling journalists. One can be grateful that the Tea Party has not yet won the White House, but the use of police powers, prosecution and surveillance state measures being implemented with President Obama’s approval are nothing short of creeping fascism. That is not an exaggeration. …

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The Weaponisation of Space

Stratcom Strives to Build Coalitions for Space Operations

U.S. Department of Defense – By Donna Miles (American Forces Press Service) – May 14, 2013

Recognizing the value of multinational coalitions for operations in the land, maritime and air domains, officials at U.S. Strategic Command here hope to forge a coalition that shares assets and capabilities in space.

The United States and its allies are discussing details for the first agreement of its kind promoting combined space operations, Air Force Brig. Gen. David D. Thompson, Stratcom’s deputy director of global operations, told American Forces Press Service.

The agreement could spell out specific areas in which the participating nations will work together, and what each will contribute to those efforts, Thompson said.

The agreement will formalize an arrangement tested last year during a period discovery. Based on the findings, the U.S. and its allies agreed in September to continue working toward closer combined space operations.

Thompson said he hopes the agreement will be the first step in forging international military-to-military cooperation in space that is essential to all. The Stratcom staff already is promoting the concept with what is hoped to be the next wave of nations to join the coalition.

“Our intent with combined space operations is to mirror some of the partnerships we have in other mission areas that are long-term and enduring,” Thompson said.

Space is vital to military operations, providing an array of capabilities that give space-faring nations’ forces a military advantage, he said. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that enhance warfighters’ situational awareness, space-based communications that provide them instant, global communications, and global positioning systems that deliver highly accurate navigation and targeting positions.

“This gives them an awareness and understanding that enhances their capabilities to conduct operations the way no other armed forces can today,” Thompson said. “That’s why it’s vitally important to our military forces.”

However, as more nations, organizations and commercial companies vie to take advantage of space-based capabilities, the once-pristine space domain is becoming increasingly congested and competitive, Thompson said. …

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Companies That Are Profiting From War

SPY EYES – May 6, 2013

The business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide in 2011.

These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in military spending in the U.S., which by far has the largest military budget in the world….Read more:


This is an excellent new Drones resource website:

“TARGET FILMS” by film maker and human rights activist Carol Anne Grayson.

Drone Resources, Petitions, Organisations, Information and Links
And information about the up and coming file “The Approximate Target”

As U.S. Moves to Arm Syrian Rebels, Questions Raised About Reports of Chemical Weapons Attack

Democracy Now – May 2, 2013

The Obama administration is reportedly close to begin arming Syrian rebels with “lethal weaponry” in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. … Read more:

‘Mission Unaccomplished’: Iraq ‘One of the World’s Most Neglected Crises’

Common Dreams – By Andrea Germanos – May 1, 2013

New report outlines deteriorating situation for Iraqi children a decade after Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech … Read more:

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Attack on Civil Liberties Has Gone Way Beyond Imagination – By Mike Stivers, Noam Chomsky – April 26, 2013

Under Obama’s administration, if you meet with someone in a terrorist group and advise them to turn to nonviolent means, then that’s material assistance to terrorism.

Mike Stivers: Anyone following issues of civil liberties under Obama knows that his administration’s policies have been disastrous. The signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively legalizes indefinite detention of US citizens, the prosecution of more whistleblowers than any previous president, the refusal to close Guantanamo, and the adoption of ruthless positions in trials such as Hedges vs. Obama and Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project don’t even encapsulate the full extent of the flagrant violations of civil, political and constitutional rights. One basic question that a lot of people seem to be asking is, why? What’s the rationale?

Read Naom Chomsky’s answer:

Obama accused of nuclear U-turn as guided weapons plan emerges

The Guardian – By Julian Borger – April 21, 2013

Plan to spend $10bn on updating nuclear bombs goes against 2010 pledge not to deploy new weapons, say critics

Barack Obama has been accused of reneging on his disarmament pledges after it emerged the administration was planning to spend billions on upgrading nuclear bombs stored in Europe to make the weapons more reliable and accurate. …


Wing adopts new space surveillance mission – By Steve Brady – April 9, 2013

The 21st Operations Group assumed the Cobra Dane Radar mission at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, April 1. Eareckson AS is located on the western tip of Alaska’s Aleutian islands. The radar has the ability to detect objects about 2,000 miles away, and provides data for the Space Surveillance Network and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Cobra Dane will continue to be operated by a contract workforce, and no military personnel will be assigned to the unit at Eareckson AS. (U.S. Air Force photo).

The 21st Operations Group assumed the Cobra Dane radar mission at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, April 1, and takes responsibility for contract and program management Oct. 1.

Eareckson Air Station is located on the western tip of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands near the larger island of Attu, and is approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage. The airport lies on the south side of the two-mile by four-mile island.

The radar is about 120 feet tall, the face is about 95 feet in diameter, and with its ability to detect objects about 2,000 miles away, it provides data for the Space Surveillance Network and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. …


George W. Bush: ‘No Need to Defend Myself’ – By Jon Queally – April 22, 2013

Former US president says that history will be his judge

Ahead of the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center later this week on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the controversial former president says that the library and museum dedicated to his two terms in office will be a place “to lay out facts” but not—as USA Today phrased it—a place that will seek to “explain” or “defend” his policies.

“There’s no need to defend myself,” Bush said in a phone interview with the newspaper. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”

Though the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that initiated under Bush still linger for millions of people, the former president describes how he is enjoying his new painting hobby and his life outside the “limelight”. Recent estimates of the financial cost of the two wars are now between $4 and $6 trillion.

“My life is obviously much simpler than it was in the past, but in many ways the simplicity creates contentment,” he said to USA Today in an interview that asked no tough questions about the significant loss of innocent life in Iraq, which many experts on human rights and international law agree was an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign state.

According to the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, at least 134,000 innocent Iraqis lost their lives as a direct result of the US-led war that began in March of 2003. For numerous reasons, the groups says, this number could well “double” before a complete count is reached. …

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Can Antimissile Tech Protect the US?

Discovery News – April 11, 2013

In the wake of threats from the North Korean government, the United States is sending batteries of missiles to Guam and a warship (the USS John S. McCain) that can shoot down rockets fired from North Korea. As powerful as these defenses are, their effectiveness may lie more in their symbolic value than in how well they would stop missiles.

“The real value as a deterrent is to show we’re interested in the region,” Philip Coyle III, a former associate director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, said in an email. …

“The Administration felt they had to do something to respond to the latest DPRK (North Korea) sword rattling, especially after North Korean officials mentioned Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, Guam, among potential targets.”

That isn’t to say that the U.S. can’t stop North Korean missiles. But missile defense is different depending on whether one is trying to stop a single ballistic missile or a barrage of them fired by North Korea.

How To Take Out A Missile

Modern missile defense is nothing like the “Missile Command” video game, in which players defend cities from incoming ballistic missiles by blowing them up just before they strike their targets. In real life, targeting incoming missiles is a lot harder, and missiles still need to be pretty close to their targets to destroy them, and they don’t always manage to do that. The systems that the U.S. sent to the waters off South Korea and to Guam (a U.S. territory) are “kinetic kill” designs, which means the missile is fired and actually hits another missile, ensuring complete destruction of the warhead.

There are two ways to take out missiles: close to the target when they are in the “descent” or “terminal” phase of their trajectories, and farther off during launch or before the missiles re-enter the atmosphere. (Any ballistic missile going more than about 200 miles traces a high, arcing path that takes it out into space, albeit briefly). …

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DPRK: How effective are US missile defences?

The Interpreter – By Stephan Fruehlingn – April 8, 2103

Once again, North Korea’s missile program has led the US to make major investments into its missile defence capabilities: a Theatre High Altitude Area Defense battery will be deployed to Guam and fourteen additional Ground Based Interceptors (GBI) will be deployed in Alaska and California at a cost of roughly US$1 billion. This raises the question of the effectiveness of these systems. It is a question that has bedeviled missile defence for many decades, and it is not easy to answer.


Tony Blair and Iraq: The damning evidence

Secret testimony to Chilcot Inquiry by British intelligence shows former PM ‘accepted Libya was a bigger threat’

The Independent – By Jonathan Owen – April 7, 2103


Giant ‘golf ball’ radar ship to monitor North Korea

Honolulu Star-Advertiser – By William Cole – April 1, 2013


The towering Sea-Based X-band Radar, a fixture at a Ford Island pier for most of the past year, left Pearl Harbor recently for the second time amid heightened concerns over North Korea’s missile program.

Navy Region Hawaii said the 280-foot-tall radar tracking system got under way March 22 “to conduct routine systems checks at sea.”

CNN, however, said the Pentagon made the decision to send the “SBX” and at least one ship to monitor North Korea’s moves.

U.S. officials said a Japan-based U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer capable of shooting down ballistic missiles had been positioned slightly closer to the Korean peninsula, the Associated Press reported.

The SBX, which has the appearance of a giant golf ball on a six-legged platform …

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