HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » unhappycamper » Journal
Page: « Prev 1 2 3


Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

Journal Archives

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, 05:17 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, 07:26 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, 07:05 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, 06:12 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, 06:41 AM (7 replies)
Go to Page: « Prev 1 2 3