Wednesday, May 18, 2016

America’s RAW Deal
4th Post

Not a Raw Deal for Some

Over 3 million DOD employees
Nearly 150,000 work for spy agencies
Nearly 3 million in the uniformed services
1.4 million work for the defense & aerospace industry
150,000 work for the spy industry
Countless politicians at all levels of government
Businesses in locales with military bases and contractors

Any way you slice it, and recognizing that the above numbers are very rough and partly speculative because our government is so secretive about its warring and spying, it is a good deal for millions of Americans, excluding, of course, those who are wounded or killed while in harm’s way.

A Look Inside Our Government’s Good Deal for Some

How Our Government is Organized
Executive Branch: The War Bureaucracy

Office of the President
  The President
  Chief Counter Terrorism Advisor
  National Security Advisor and Staff
  Office of Digital Strategy
  Office of Legal Counsel
  Office of Legislative Affairs
  Office of National Drug Control Policy
  Office of Science and Technology Policy
  Office of the White House Counsel
  President's Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board
Department of Defense
     Defense Policy Board
     Defense Agencies
          Defense Advanced Research Project  
          Defense Intelligence Agency
          Defense Security Service
          Defense Threat Reduction Agency  
          Missile Defense Agency
          National Counterterrorism Center            
          National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
          National Reconnaissance Office
          National Security Agency
          Plus Many More         
      Field Activity Bureaucracy
           Defense Media Alert
           Plus More
      Joint Chiefs of Staff
           Uniformed Branches
                Army + More
                Unified Combatant Commands
                     National Defense University
                     Special Operations Command
                     Plus More

Executive Branch: The Spy Bureaucracy

Independent agencies
    Central Intelligence Agency
United States Department of Defense
    Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
    Army Military Intelligence
    Defense Intelligence Agency
    Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
    Military Intelligence Board
    National Security Agency
    National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
    National Reconnaissance Office
    Office of Intelligence and Analysis
    Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
    Office of Naval Intelligence
United States Department of Energy
   Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
United States Department of Homeland Security
    Office of Intelligence and Analysis
    Coast Guard Intelligence
United States Department of Justice
    Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Branch
    Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Security Intelligence
United States Department of State
    Bureau of Intelligence and Research
United States Department of the Treasury
    Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

Legislative Branch

Aka: Bureaucracy of Checks and Imbalances Or The Lost and Fund Departments;
“Capital” Hill for the War and Spy Business; and Enriching the War & Spy Business: Impoverishing the Taxpayer

Senate Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Senate Committee on Armed Services (six subcommittees) Senate Committee on the Budget Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (six relevant subcommittees) Senate Subcommittee on Energy Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Senate Committee on Finance (two relevant subcommittees) Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (seven subcommittees) Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs (five subcommittees) Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee 

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (three subcommittees) House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations House Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations House Committee on Armed Services (nine subcommittees) House Committee on Budget House Committee on Energy and   Commerce (three relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Foreign Affairs (seven subcommittees) House Committee on Homeland Security (six subcommittees) House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (five subcommittees) Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation House Subcommittee on Small Business Contracting and the Workforce House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (two relevant subcommittees) House Committee on Veterans' Affairs (four subcommittees) House Committee on Ways and Means (oversight committee)

George Washington fought the American Revolution without any of them. Today, President Obama delegates that “work” to the subordinate chiefs of too many offices and agencies to count. They are listed in Appendix C. It may not be a complete list. Some offices and/or agencies may be hidden from public view, part of an invisible government so to speak.

Although the war and spy agencies are listed separately they overlap in their work. Notice on the list for instance that the military intelligence components dominate the spy bureaucracy. Author and journal editor Clay Risen noted in 2009 that “Military snooping on civilians, which escalated in the turbulent 60’s, never entirely went away and is back again.”[5] Well, Mr. Risen, when you thought it was partly gone I’d say it probably had partly gone underground for a while before resurfacing.

Knowing how organizations really are versus how they should be organized and run is one of my specialties. But it doesn’t take any specialty to see the obvious. The above list depicts an organizational structure of the worst kind, the classic hierarchical and bloated bureaucracy, which is not atypical of government or corporations.

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are show cases for bureaucracy. DHS, a hodgepodge collection of 23 formerly separate agencies with a budget of around $40 billion and 240,00 employees is a testimony to how fast government, once it seizes on an opportunity, in this case the 9/11 catastrophe, can build a monumental house of cards. In no time flat it has become the third largest federal bureaucracy, one regarded as “being without direction” and ineffective to say the least. The way it mishandled its response to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of parts of New Orleans is perhaps to date the agency’s most well-known piece of ineptitude. 

If all of the people involved in one way or another with America’s warring and spying were moved to a new city out in the desert it would instantly become the fourth largest city in the U.S., which would make it easier for the rest of America to gather up enough nerve to close it down.

How Our Government Works to Make War and Spy

Getting and Staying Elected

To get elected and reelected to Congress is a very costly pursuit, and the candidates with the most money invariably win. So campaign financing is the key to the office. That is hardly a secret (although the givers and takers would like to keep it a secret).

Politicians campaign for office by tacitly promising once in office to favor wealthy self-interest groups that richly finance their campaigns. Does the thought of “bribery” enter your mind? If you follow the money trail as the authors of “The People’s Business” have, you will see, they say, that a “pattern of influence will inevitably emerge” when major votes on issues affecting particular industries are compared to the campaign money and follow-up lobbying by those industries.

How could this pattern not emerge? Would any sane person think corporations finance campaigns as a way to strengthen democracy and not themselves? If there were no issues, no huge profits, and no political careers at stake, you can take money to the bank there would be much less money for corporations and their lobbyists and much less job security for politicians. An indirect benefit to corporations incidentally, is that donations to politicians, particularly to the political careerists (and who in Congress isn’t?) buoy share price by giving comfort and assurance to shareholders of politically favored corporations.

Mike Masnick, an editor and entrepreneur, has written about just how much it “cost to win election to Congress” in the 2012 cycle. “Both major political parties,” he wrote, “have set up phone banks across the street from the Capitol (because it's seen as demeaning to do the calls directly from your Congressional office), and members of the House and the Senate spend a ridiculous amount of time there” hustling money for their re-election campaign. One U.S. Senator calls it “dialing for dollars,” and “Nothing,” he says, “dominates the life of a senator more than raising money.”

According to Mr. Masnick, House members hustled on the average $1,689,580 each and Senators on the average $10,476,451 each I didn’t do the math from those figures because I simply learned elsewhere that for the 2012 election cycle campaign contributions from all industries to candidates for Congress and the White House totaled about $6.2 billion. A sizeable portion of the money paid for expensive advertising costs charged by the corporatized TV media that freely and very profitably uses airwaves that should be publicly owned and operated. 

In the same 2012 election cycle the “defense” industry spent a total of about $27 million on campaign financing. It is a relatively small amount compared to the other industries’ contributions, but the reason is simple. The other industries don’t have as many other ways (discussed in the next chapter) to capture politicians. Nevertheless, the politicians know they can’t take the war and spy industries completely for granted and so they are constantly holding fundraising events. Moreover, over time the contributions continue to mount, with nearly $200 million having been spent since 1990.

Being the secretive spy industry that it is makes it next to impossible to find out how much money that industry has spent on campaign contributions on any given election cycle. At a minimum the amount would start at $9.7 million. That’s how much of a slush fund Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee got for the 2012 election cycle. That’s a hefty contribution, but totally understandable because of her influential position. She’s certainly not the exception, though. One reason members of Congress salivate over getting an influential committee assignment is because of that sluice fund.

To her total would need to be added the contributions to other key members of Congress. One of them, Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, received over $60 thousand in contributions for the same election cycle. This is the person who said on television; "You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know about it." Mind you, he’s the House Chair of Spying! Oh, I almost forgot. Among the other members are Mo, Dutch, Buck, and Bill reminiscent of the Marx Brothers. No, seriously, I’m not kidding.

Any doubts about what the spy business gets in return for its campaign finance spending ought to be erased by just this one fact: “Lawmakers who upheld NSA phone spying received double the defense industry cash.” That fact’s description happens to be the title of an article.
 
And so the true tale of money in politics goes on and on. Follow the money and you will find a politician in office or wanting to get there. I imagine you get the point and don’t need any more data because I’m worn out finding what I did find.

Legislating to Make War and Spy

Congress does everything in its power and connives in secrecy to legislate U.S. warring and spying so as to make it legal (White House and agency lawyers can be counted on to pitch in and help in misinterpreting pesky laws that somehow got passed). 

This is where the true story of the “touts” comes in. Touts are what Winston Churchill called lobbyists. When any of them comes through a Capitol Hill door the public’s interest in getting legislation and budget allocations for the common good gets thrown out the window.

There are so many touts (over 11,000) that when they attend public hearings they pay “line sitters” who are law school students, bicycle messengers, even the homeless, to camp out overnight to get tickets in the Chamber’s galleries. Seems kind of silly and unnecessary to me. The hearings are just for show. By the time an issue of real significance gets a public hearing, the touts behind the scenes have already ghost written legislative drafts and their pawns are committed to them.

Lobbying is a follow up to the tacit bribery on the campaign trail. The follow up doesn’t come cheaply, but it is money smartly spent by the industry and its touts.  Would you believe, for instance, that the return on investment (ROI) in lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry has been estimated at a mindboggling 77,500% on just one issue, barring the government from bargaining for cheaper drug prices through Medicare? I have never ever seen reported such a huge percentage on anything else, let alone on industrial investments. I could find no comparable data for the war and spy industries but we can be sure their ROI is nothing to sneeze at or they wouldn’t be spending the money on lobbying. Witness the aforementioned case of lawmakers protecting NSA. 

In recent years over $3 billion has been spent annually by lobbyists swarming the halls and offices of Capitol Hill. Those lobbyists obviously aren’t there on behalf of what the public needs from “public servants.” They are there to keep and expand their clients’ profits and to maximize their ROI’s on lobbying by doing three things: writing draft legislation favoring their industries; making sure Congress funds warring and spying and protects those funds in times of “cutbacks,” and telling the war and spy agencies what to buy.

The six industries most reckless with life (the war industry, the spy industry, the agribusiness industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the energy industry, and the firearms industry) spent almost half of the lobbying expenses of all 20 industries combined in 2012. The closest I could come to a figure on lobbying expenses of the warring and spying industries for the year 2013 was over $57.7 million for the “defense aerospace industry.”That figure surely leaves out some of the lobbying expenses by the spying industry.

Funding Wars and Spying

For the year 2013 the habits’ budget was $1.3 trillion, over one-half the entire discretionary budget for the entire U.S. government. And if my calculations are correct, the habits’ budget is 67 times greater than the combined budgets of all 50 states. Does that prove that the anti-federalists were right about opposing a strong central government during the debate over writing the U.S. Constitution? I think all of us who are opposed to America’s warring and spying would think the proof is in the war and spy pudding. I can’t imagine the 50 states and their citizens would have ever agreed to pool their money and people to create enemies around the world. 

That is the short and long woeful story of 535 members of Congress throwing money left and right to sustain the war and spy addictions with eyes, ears, and conscience closed to the real needs of America.

“Overseeing” the Executive’s Role

The war and spy business spends a lot of money keeping their kind of people in influential legislative positions, muzzled and blindfolded except to the industrial benefactors. And their kind of people, some of whom also invest their own money in spying and warring contractors, are not about to tell the executive branch to crack down on both branches’ benefactors. It’s all a bribe, take, and don’t-rock-the-boat society.

Bookkeeping

America’s war and spy annual budget is not only second to none in the world, it is eight to none. That is, the U.S. budget is larger than the next eight countries’ combined budgets.  With an annual budget of over one-half trillion dollars, a natural question to ask is how on earth does the DOD keep track of its incoming and outgoing money? There must be millions of dollars falling through the cracks every day. 

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the activist organization, Code Pink, tells us in one of her articles that former Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates once complained that “it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to basic questions, such as "How much money did you spend?" and "How many people do you have?" I personally think it was a hollow complaint. He knew very well that DOD can ignore with impunity the legal requirement to audit itself. Who’s going to hold DOD accountable? Certainly not the warrior/spy-in-chief or any other federal agency and certainly not Congress or the Supreme Court.

Buying from Contractors

Uncle Sam is the Sugar Daddy for the thousands of weapons makers and all other makers and vendors in the warring and spying business. Stories about Sugar Daddy’s profligacy, waste and inefficiency are legendary. A chief DOD buyer, officially known as the “Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics,” once lamented that “We tend to retry things every 10 years or so because we don’t remember what happened the last time they were tried. That is because we don’t have any data. It takes data and in-depth analysis to understand what really works.”

In other words, DOD doesn’t seem to know, or perhaps even to care, about what works and doesn’t work in its bottomless inventory of weapons and all of its other overflowing material goods (read “material bads” ).

The Forgotten Soldiers

One of my heart-felt convictions is reflected in this personal homily: “Mourn wars’ victims, scorn the war lords.” Inexcusably, among the millions of victims are America’s forgotten soldiers and castoffs, paid lip service at ceremonies but essentially left to tend for themselves despite the mission and partly because of the bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the shameful Congress that penny pinches just that one piece of the gargantuan military budget.

Remember the heart breaking story of Army vet William Busbeer in an earlier post? His story is one of legions. A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes. For every service member who dies in battle, 25 return and die by their own hands.

Then there are the thousands of vets who struggle with “PTS” daily and somehow manage to get to the next day. There are thousands of vets with estranged or lost personal relationships. There are thousands of vets who are homeless.

William Boardman, five-term elected sitting judge and distinguished author, tells about a group of veterans going to the VA headquarters “to talk to officials there about veteran suicides, veteran homelessness, veteran joblessness, and other veteran struggles. No one from the department would talk to them.”

Shameless, shameless, shameless VA! I’m sure you have your side of the story, and part of it would probably be that you are woefully understaffed because Congress starves you of funds. So shame on Congress, too!

Let’s Not Forget SCOTUS

Never have I urged impeachment of Supreme Court justices.I do so now, for the sake of ending the Supreme Court's corporate-judicial dictatorship that is not accountableunder our system of checks and balance in any other way. ---Ralph Nader

The Supreme Court of the United States is the nation’s so-called “court of last resort.” That means it can make dreadful mistakes that millions of people affected adversely by it must live with unless SCOTUS later reverses itself. And the “robed injustices” have indeed made dreadful mistakes over the years that have impaired and enraged one group or another of our society.  

Cases involving America’s warring and spying seldom rise to be heard by SCOTUS. The biased and compromised court rules in their favor of warring and spying when cases do arise. For instance, SCOTUS supports U.S. wars; doesn't like the CIA being embarrassed; and supports military exercises over protection of marine species.

The Make-Believe Courts

It seems nothing legal can break the two habits of warring and spying while everything illegal sustain them. The government devilishly created two systems of “make-believe courts” to rubberstamp illegal warring and spying activities and to detain and punish military whistleblowers and suspected terrorists. One is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that rubberstamps requests from the spy agencies to do illegal spying. The other is the U.S. system of military tribunals and courts. It is a military tribunal that detains people at the Guantanamo encampment and allows them to be inhumanely treated, including that of torture. It was a military court that rendered such a harsh verdict on and sentencing of the whistleblower Bradley/Chelsea Manning.

The Chariot before the Horse
How the Two Industries Dictate to Uncle Sam

Let's count the ways: five. The two overlapping industries, not the American people at large, tell their government what its annual war/security budget should be, what its war/security purchases should be, for what purposes, and how much they should cost, and what minimal legislation and oversight would be acceptable. These industries exercise this stranglehold in several ways. Some of them we have already mentioned.

1. The Two Industries Get their Pawns and Patrons Elected

The industries donate millions of dollars in campaign contributions. The main focus is always to ensure that members of Congressional committees important to these two industries get reelected.

2. The Two Industries Strategically Locate their Facilities

The industries’ lifelines and profit bonanzas come from contracts awarded by influential and courted members of Congress. Locating facilities in their Congressional districts and States helps ensure that contracts will be steered to them. Few things make a member of Congress more anxious than the prospect of a facility moving out or a member more pleased than a facility moving in. If I’m not mistaken there are one or more military and/or spy contractor facilities in every state of the union.  I call it the “spread your employment security blanket.”

3. The Two Industries Swarm Capitol Hill with their Touts

In one year alone millions of dollars were spent to send about 1,000 touts up Capitol Hill to cash in on all those campaign financing bribes from the sector by telling their elected officials to keep boosting the federal budget for the sector, what and how to legislate and regulate the sector’s business, and to peddle its products and supplies. Trade associations are clusters of touts concentrating on a particular kind of war/security business and thus represent not one but all of the corporations in that business. These associations include the Aerospace Industries Association, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, Intelligence and National Security Alliance, International National Defense Industrial Association (INSA), and the Submarine Industrial Base Council.

By the way, want to know a funny story about INSA? Two days after publishing a paper on cyber security the top spy trade association discovered its website was hacked. [33] I imagine it’s embarrassing, not funny to INSA.

4. The Two Industries’ Representatives Come and Go Through the Revolving Door

Now you see them here. Now you see them there. Who are they and where are they coming and going? They don’t stay put like the career bureaucrats do. They are the self-serving shufflers back and forth through the so-called, perfectly named “revolving door.” The war and spy agencies and contractors are no different from the rest of the shufflers throughout America’s corpocracy.

There are actually three sets of revolving doors. One is for industry executives and lobbyists who go through to appointments in key government posts to ensure industry interests aren’t denied by the American people. There’s the government-to-industry door through which public officials, having gotten experience and valuable contacts from the inside in keeping public interests at bay, go to the industry and parlay their experience and contacts into furthering industry interests in exchanges, usually private, with the government.  And finally, there’s the government-to-lobbyist door through which former legislators, their staffs, and executive-branch officials pass on the way to lucrative positions in lobbying firms to lobby their former colleagues.


5. The Two Industries Give Politicians Junket Trips and Other Goodies

Congressional members vital to the two industries are plied with junkets to sunny places in the winter, honored with awards, and in other ways to cater to their egos, palates and pleasures. For example, the Aerospace Industries Association in 2011 handed one of its top awards, the Wings of Liberty, to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), one of the co-chairmen of the special deficit-cutting committee. The award was given to her, not coincidentally, “on the same day the congressional super committee held its first public business meeting,” presumably to influence her vote on any budget cut that would hurt that Association’s industrial interests.

A Marriage Made in Hell
A True Story of Drone Lovers

This true story about a drone trade show illustrates quite well I think the flow of money and favors between government and industry.

If the two were not tied together at the groin and all parts above and below, you would expect the show to be held at a private facility, like say, a big arena rented by the “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). But this is a true story, not fiction.

The event, publicly masked as a “science fair,” was held in the large foyer of the Rayburn House Office building adjacent to Capitol Hill. The host was the U.S. House Unmanned Systems Caucus (USUMSC), a bunch of politicians who care more about robots than people, except of course, themselves and their kind of people. I’m not sure which name came first, but I would guess that AUVSI did and then convinced “the industry's man on Capitol Hill” ---to start an Unmanned Systems Caucus---.” And as fast as a knee jerk its members have since been “showered ---with cash.”

Hawkers “in suits, polo shirts or military garb” from companies like those listed in Appendix D were showing “the hottest new drones, robots and mini blimps.” Well, they weren’t the real thing obviously, just toy replicas.

The author of this story, John Amick, director of Brave New World Foundation’s “War Costs” project, concluded the story with this witty remark, “The toy du jour for this [marriage] is the drone. New technology, same game.” And the game is endless. A trade show for each new toy. The story John told was just his “drone edition.”

Who is getting more screwed than the marriage of drone lovers who never get out of bed? You got it, the taxpayers who are not even in the house, let alone in the bedroom. Truth is indeed stranger and definitely more deadly and costly than fiction

                                        The End of this Sordid True Story
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