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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
June 15, 2013

Veterans' personal data from Fayetteville VA hospital found in recycling bin


Veterans' personal data from Fayetteville VA hospital found in recycling bin
The Associated Press
Published: 05:56 AM, Sat Jun 15, 2013

The Veterans Affairs hospital in Fayetteville says documents containing the personal information of nearly 1,100 veterans were found in a recycling bin two months ago.

The Fayetteville VA Medical Center announced Friday it's notifying the 1,093 affected veterans whose consultation reports from the optical shop were incorrectly placed in a recycle bin over a three-month period.

The documents found April 17 contained patients' names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and prescriptions.

Officials say there's no indication the information has been misused. But the hospital is notifying veterans who visited the optical shop between Jan. 11 and April 16 and offering them free credit monitoring services.
June 14, 2013

How broke does the U.S. have to be to cut military spending?


How broke does the U.S. have to be to cut military spending?
OpEdNews Op Eds 6/13/2013 at 08:20:24
By Lisa Savage

The omnibus military spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) rolled out of the House Armed Services Committee pulling a trailer load of amendments and barreling down an increasingly potholed road. In the same week as news broke of massive school closings in Chicago and Philadelphia for lack of funding, only two members of the committee, California representatives Jackie Speier and John Garamendi, had the presence of mind to vote "no" on $637.5 billion more for drones, nukes, and missile "defense" in FY2014.

The NDAA will now make its way through a House of Representatives packed with liberals and conservatives who take massive campaign contributions from military contracting firms. Democrats will take their lead from President Obama, who proposed the $1.15 trillion annual budget that includes a whopping 56.5% military share of the discretionary spending pie.

Despite the crisis of sequestration and claims that the U.S. is too broke to adequately fund food stamps, Head Start, or "Meals-on-wheels" for the elderly, the NDAA contains $85.8 billion for the war in Afghanistan plus another $7.7 billion for the Afghan Security Forces. These funding levels are $52.2 billion over what sequestration would supposedly require -- an additional $1 billion a week.

The House Armed Services Committee also passed a "Sense of Congress" endorsement of a continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 as well as ongoing funding for the Afghan Security forces. Thus the U.S. "withdraws" from Afghanistan.

unhappycamper comment: Keep in mind all we are talking about is a lousy five percent budget cut.
June 14, 2013

Edward Snowden and Washington's revolving-door culture


The recent NSA leak reveals the disturbing extent to which the US' government and corporate sectors have merged.

Edward Snowden and Washington's revolving-door culture
Nikolas Kozloff
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2013 15:53

In the wake of the Edward Snowden controversy - the National Security Agency whistleblower who revealed secret US government surveillance programmes - the Obama administration has been forced on the defensive and obliged to answer uncomfortable questions about the extent and power of government eavesdropping.

The scandal, however, has also placed a spotlight on Washington's revolving-door culture between private contractors and official government agencies. As further details emerge, it seems increasingly clear that Snowden's company Booz Allen Hamilton has been able to amass unprecedented power over the nation's affairs. In a perversion of democracy, Booz Allen now handles everything from consulting services to technology support and analysis for the Obama administration.

Americans might be surprised to learn of the extent and scope of government outsourcing. Booz Allen holds a contract to provide IT modernisation and support to key Justice Department agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Executive Office for United States Attorneys.

Snowden's company, which receives nearly all of its funding from the federal government, is in turn owned by private equity firm Carlyle Group. According to Forbes magazine, the Booz Allen sale has proven very lucrative for Carlyle, netting a whopping $2bn for the firm so far. A corporation known for its ties to insider politicians, Carlyle once employed none other than George Herbert Walker Bush as an adviser. His son George W, meanwhile, served on the board of directors of Carterair, an airline food company which was later acquired by Carlyle.

June 14, 2013

Guantanamo hearing spirals into notebook safety debate


Guantanamo hearing spirals into notebook safety debate
By Jane Sutton
Thursday, June 13, 2013 19:31 EDT

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) – The Guantanamo prison warden testified on Thursday that he banned defense lawyers from bringing spiral notebooks into client meetings because the metal spirals could be removed and made into garrotes.

He appeared ready to demonstrate when the judge in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal blocked him from field-stripping a red notebook on the witness stand.

The debate over the danger of spiral notebooks came as defense lawyers for an alleged al Qaeda bomb plotter argued that prison rules are arbitrary and capricious and interfere with efforts to prepare a defense in a case that could end with the execution of defendant Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

Nashiri, a 48-year-old Saudi, is accused of directing suicide bombers to ram a boat full of explosives into the side of the USS Cole off Yemen in 2000, causing a blast that killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured dozens more.

unhappycamper comment: Too bad they can't argue about the reason this person has been held for up to twelve years without being charged of a crime. Delay and obfuscation are the words of the day.
June 14, 2013

U.S. to keep military forces in Jordan: official


U.S. to keep military forces in Jordan: official
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, June 13, 2013 20:16 EDT

The United States will keep F-16 fighter jets and Patriot anti-missile weapons in Jordan after a joint military exercise ends this month, a US defense official said Thursday.

The US administration, which is weighing a decision to arm rebels fighting in neighboring Syria’s civil war, also planned to keep a unit of US Marines on amphibious ships off the coast after consultations with Jordanian leaders, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The warplanes, anti-missile systems and warships had been sent to Jordan for a major exercise, dubbed Eager Lion, but officials decided to keep the troops and weapons in place on the request of Jordan, which is anxious about a spillover of violence and a growing influx of refugees from the conflict.

“It was decided the assets would remain in place,” said the official.

unhappycamper comment: It's kinda interesting that the DoD (and Congress-critters) are still trying to get around a five percent DoD budget cut AND they will need more money to keep more troops overseas.

Jordan and Syria are gonna cost some big $$$$. Will our warmongers need another Emergency Supplemental to pay for this? If not, how will they cough up the dough?

How many more people do we need to kick off welfare and food stamps? How many more schools do we need to close to make sure Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Acidemi and the rest of MIC meets their quarterly growth numbers?
June 14, 2013

U.S. to provide ‘direct military support’ to Syrian rebels


U.S. to provide ‘direct military support’ to Syrian rebels
By Reuters
Thursday, June 13, 2013 23:28 EDT

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has authorized sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time, a U.S. official said on Thursday after the White House said it has proof the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against opposition forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

The U.S. decision came as Assad’s surging forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies turned their guns on the north, fighting near the northern city of Aleppo and bombarding the central city of Homs after having seized the initiative by winning the open backing of Hezbollah last month and capturing the strategic town of Qusair last week.

The White House said Washington would provide “direct military support” to the opposition but did not specify whether it would include lethal aid, which would mark a reversal of Obama’s resistance to arming the rebels. But the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package would include weapons.

Syrian rebel and political opposition leaders immediately called for anti-aircraft and other sophisticated weaponry.

unhappycamper comment: This reminds me of a comment from a former official: "What could possibly go wrong?"

We just keep on digging that hole.....
June 13, 2013

The Secret War



The Secret War
By James Bamford
06.12.13 9:00 PM

Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.

This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.


But there is a flip side to this equation that is rarely mentioned: The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary’s equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill. Alexander—who declined to be interviewed for this article—has concluded that such cyberweapons are as crucial to 21st-century warfare as nuclear arms were in the 20th.

And he and his cyberwarriors have already launched their first attack. The cyberweapon that came to be known as Stuxnet was created and built by the NSA in partnership with the CIA and Israeli intelligence in the mid-2000s. The first known piece of malware designed to destroy physical equipment, Stuxnet was aimed at Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz. By surreptitiously taking control of an industrial control link known as a Scada (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, the sophisticated worm was able to damage about a thousand centrifuges used to enrich nuclear material.
June 13, 2013

Senate drops measure to curb sexual assault in the military


Sen. Carl Levin stripped a measure to bring in outside prosecutors in sexual assault cases from a defense bill

Senate drops measure to curb sexual assault in the military
By Katie Mcdonough
Wednesday, Jun 12, 2013 08:46 AM EDT

A measure to bring in independent prosecutors to decide which sexual assault cases in the military go to trial was blocked late Tuesday night after Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) sided with military officials seeking to keep prosecution of sexual assault within the chain of command.

The measure to remove sexual assault prosecution from the chain of command — introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and co-sponsored by 27 others, including four Republicans — was intended to encourage service members to report crimes without fear of retaliation from superiors, a major barrier to coming forward. After stripping the measure from the defense spending bill, Levin announced he intended to replace it with a provision requiring senior military officers to review decisions when commanders decline to prosecute a case.

“They basically embrace the status quo here,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) told the New York Times. “It’s outrageous.”


Explaining why prosecuting sexual assault cases should be removed from the chain of command at a Senate hearing last week, Gillibrand said: “Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force, not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is, not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape.”

June 13, 2013

There Are 108,000 Private Contractors in Afghanistan and the Pentagon Has No Idea What They're Doing


There Are 108,000 Private Contractors in Afghanistan and the Pentagon Has No Idea What They're Doing
By Abby Zimet
06.11.13 - 4:19 PM

Edward Snowden's NSA leaks have highlighted the issue of lack of oversight for intelligence contractors, but they're not the only contractors acting on their own. Two recently released reports, by the Congressional Research Service and Government Accountability Office, show that the number of private contractors in Afghanistan is on the rise - they now far outnumber troops, with 108,000 private workers vs. 65,700 soldiers, or 1.6 contractors for every soldier - and that the Pentagon "lacks the ability to document the work each contractor is performing." The result: A de facto private army likely for years to come, with little or no accountability or transparency, which over the last six years has cost the Department of Defense approximately $160 billion, "a figure that exceeds total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency." Welcome to the drawdown.

June 11, 2013

Tet of 2013 Continues


Sayed Maqbol gestures at the the unfinished house next door to his in Kabul, Afghanistan. It was used by Taliban fighters to attack a NATO base at the adjacent Kabul International Airport. The Afghan police rescued his family in the resulting fierce firefight.

In quiet Kabul neighborhood, Taliban attack began with mugging at mosque
By Jay Price and Rezwan Natiq | McClatchy Foreign Staff
Posted on Monday, June 10, 2013

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide attack that paralyzed a key NATO headquarters at Kabul’s international airport early Monday began, as it turns out, with a mugging outside a mosque.

The seven Taliban fighters drove into a residential neighborhood adjacent to the northern, military side of the airport, in a car and a delivery truck, about 4 a.m. Monday. They got out and tried to enter a house but the gate was locked, said a man named Berhannudin, who was walking with a friend to a nearby mosque for morning prayers.


At first, Berhannudin – who like many Afghans uses only one name – thought the men really were police. Then the one in civilian clothes pointed a pistol at another man outside the mosque and demanded his cellphone before the men returned to their vehicles.

What happened next was a five-hour orgy of gunfire and explosions as the men took up positions in a massive four-story home under construction about 350 yards north of the airport’s security perimeter and opened fire on the operational headquarters of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force and the headquarters of the Afghan air force.

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