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unhappycamper's Journal
unhappycamper's Journal
June 11, 2013

Pakistanís Nawaz Sharif declares end to secret approval of U.S. drone strikes


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif declares end to secret approval of U.S. drone strikes
By Tom Hussain | McClatchy Foreign Staff
Posted on Monday, June 10, 2013

ISLAMABAD — In office for less than a week, Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, vented his anger Monday at two recent U.S. drone strikes, all but accusing his country’s overbearing military of lying to Pakistanis about its cooperation with the CIA to eliminate terrorism suspects in northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

"The policy of protesting against drone strikes for public consumption, while working behind the scenes to make them happen, is not on," Sharif said, according to an official statement issued after the first meeting of his Cabinet.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, Pakistan’s equivalent of the House of Representatives, in a general election May 11. His assumption of office last Wednesday was the first time that a full-term democratic administration had handed power to an elected successor.

Whether Sharif can change the balance of power with the military, which has staged four coups since Pakistan’s independence in 1947 and retains a stranglehold over foreign and defense policy, remains to be seen.
June 11, 2013

New layer of secrecy emerges at Guantanamo court


New layer of secrecy emerges at Guantanamo court
By CAROL ROSENBERG | The Miami Herald
Posted on Monday, June 10, 2013

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — When the war court reconvenes this week, pretrial hearings in the case of an alleged al-Qaida bomber will be tackling a government motion that's so secret the public can't know its name.

It's listed as the 92nd court filing in the death-penalty case against a Saudi man, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was waterboarded by CIA agents.


But what makes the no-name government motion so intriguing is that those who've read it can't say what it's about, and those who haven't don't have a clue. Not even the accused, who, unless the judge rules for the defense, is not allowed to get an unclassified explanation of it - and cannot sit in on the court session when it's argued in secret.

The motion was so secret that al-Nashiri's Indianapolis-based defense attorney said members of the defense team would not characterize it over the phone. "Literally, I had to fly to Washington, D.C., to read it," said attorney Rick Kammen of Indianapolis, a career death-penalty defender whom the Pentagon pays to represent al-Nashiri.

unhappycamper comment: This is Orwellian at best: We can't tell you what you're being charged with.
June 11, 2013

Ted Rall Cartoon for June 11th, 2013: Flying Blind

According to classified records obtained by NBC News, the CIA doesn’t know the identities of drone attack targets one out of four times.
June 9, 2013

64 indicted in N. County auto theft rings


Military tactical gear stolen from Camp Pendleton was among items recovered, including 92 vehicles, in a North County auto theft sting operation.

64 indicted in N. County auto theft rings
By Pauline Repard
11:35 a.m.June 6, 2013 Updated 4:39 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — An eight-month North County auto theft sting operation that also netted stolen military gear led to the indictment of 64 people, including seven Marines and a sailor, officials announced Thursday.

Arrests on Tuesday capped the investigation into dozens of auto theft rings operating throughout North County and southwest Riverside County, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a news conference.

Dumanis joined local, state, federal and military officials in announcing the results of "Operation Perfect Storm" in which undercover detectives seized 92 stolen vehicles worth nearly $700,000, as well as 10,000 rounds of ammunition, nine guns, and drugs.

"It's clear that criminal activity often goes well beyond just stealing cars," Dumanis said.

June 9, 2013

What (sic) next for Duke Cunningham?


Convicted felon "Duke" Cunningham

What next for Duke Cunningham?
John Wilkensnoon
June 8, 2013

Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the disgraced former North County congressman, took his nickname from John Wayne, the larger than life Hollywood star whose Westerns sometimes ended with him riding off into the sunset.

The question now is whether Cunningham will do the same.

Will the 71-year-old Vietnam War ace, released Tuesday from federal custody after serving more than seven years in a $2.4 million bribery case, quietly retreat to a small cabin in rural Arkansas and wait for what he's called "my last flight into the wild blue yonder"?

Or will he take the route of countless scandal-plagued politicians before him and climb back into the spotlight, maybe on the speaking circuit or with a book promising the inside story of his spectacular fall from grace?
June 9, 2013

Our Distorted National Priorities


Our Distorted National Priorities
by Peter G. Cohen | June 8, 2013 - 9:14am

The House Armed Services Committee has just finished the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2014. Little has changed. “the one and only rule is, ‘my district can’t be reduced by anything,’ (so) we wind up paralyzed,” said
senior Democrat, Washington Rep. Adam Smith in Breaking Defense of June 5th. The committee authorized $552.1 billion in the base budget and $ 85.8 billion in contingency operations for the war.

The vote on the F-35 joint Strike Fighter, grounded at the moment for faulty performance, supports jobs in 47 states. Rep Tammy Duckworth offered an amendment to delay purchases until the software is fully verified and tested. Why wait? It failed with only ten members supporting. The closing of domestic military bases also failed to pass, though the Pentagon has admitted that it has more bases than it needs.

Meanwhile, Mayors for Peace, with 197 members in the U.S. and 5,600 worldwide, has passed a strong Resolution, which will be considered at the U.S. Conference of Mayors later this month. After carefully listing many “whereas” it resolves:

“Be it further resolved, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the President and Congress to substantially reduce military spending and to reinvest those funds in programs to address the dramatic increase in poverty and inequality in our country; take emergency measures to repair the social safety net and protect Social Security and Medicare; create jobs, retrain displaced workers, including military contractors, rebuild deteriorating physical infrastructure, invest in new technologies for a sustainable energy future, and aid local government to restore and maintain vital public services, reemploying teachers, police, firefighters and other workers;...” See the Resolution at: http://wslfweb.org/docs/uscmres2013.pdf
June 9, 2013

Making the hero pay: A Nation's Betrayal


Making the hero pay: A Nation's Betrayal
OpEdNews Op Eds 6/8/2013 at 13:53:53
By Dave Lindorff


Let's take a moment to consider some of the conduct of our most recent leaders and the outcomes of that conduct. Lyndon Johnson lied about a naval incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in order to initiate combat in Vietnam. Nixon lied to the American people about a secret plan to end the war while he was actually using intermediaries to delay peace talks to help his election chances. More than one million Vietnamese and 58,209 Americans perished in that senseless war. America's prestige was exposed as a fraud and we are still exacting a price from homeless veterans, Agent Orange survivors and PTSD victims, not to mention the decades it has taken in restoration efforts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Ronald Reagan lied about selling arms to Iran in exchange for freeing hostages. He also lied about the terrorist assault that America was sponsoring against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua through our proxy army of contras, funded with the profits from the illegal arms sales. Those and other policies in latin America contributed to the extermination of over a million peasant, farmers and indigenous people in the region.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, in the face of contradictory evidence, lied about weapons of mass destruction to get us into war in Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell substantiated the lie. The military ignored the lie and got down to the dirty work of committing war crimes and devastating a civilian population. The results: hundreds of thousands dead, a corrupt government is slowly turning back into a dictatorship, sectarian strife is rampant, mercenary American corporations have made billions and America is even hated more fiercely than it was prior to the start of our unprovoked attack. Now muslims worldwide accuse the U.S. of conducting a religious crusade in an attempt to destroy Islam. It's not too hard to understand why they've drawn that conclusion.

Obama lied to us just last week when he assured us that his administration only murders bad guys when they can't be caught first.
June 9, 2013

Pentagon May Be Wasting a Billion Dollars a Year in Erroneous Payments to Contractors


Pentagon May Be Wasting a Billion Dollars a Year in Erroneous Payments to Contractors
Saturday, 08 June 2013 10:53
By Richard H.P. Sia, The Center for Public Integrity | Report

The Pentagon has been paying hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year to people and companies that don’t deserve it, but its financial management shortcomings are so severe that it’s made little progress in halting the errors or even measuring their magnitude, according to a report released by a Senate committee Thursday.

Although the Defense Department reported making over $1.1 billion in overpayments in fiscal year 2011 to military personnel and retirees, civilian defense workers, contractors, and others, investigators from the Government Accountability Office said that figure is not credible due to missing invoices and other flawed paperwork, as well as errors in arithmetic.

The Pentagon is required by law to ferret out programs susceptible to significant payment errors and then use statistical sampling to estimate the size of those errors, so that Congress can determine the size of the problem. But GAO found defense finance officials didn't have procedures in place to collect and maintain the data they need to come up with a credible estimate.


The Pentagon’s payment system is so weak that sometimes it doesn’t pay what’s owed. By its own estimate, for example, the Pentagon made $238.2 million in overpayments and $48.4 million in underpayments related to travel alone during fiscal 2011, for a total of $286.6 million in incorrect payments.
June 8, 2013

HASC Struggles For Compromise On Evangelicals, Atheists: NDAA 2014


HASC Struggles For Compromise On Evangelicals, Atheists: NDAA 2014
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. and Colin Clark on June 06, 2013 at 1:33 PM

CAPITOL HILL: Lobbyists and journalists focus on the big numbers in the defense budget when they look at the annual National Defense Authorization Act. But in the political theater that is the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the NDAA, sometimes it’s the small dramas that are most telling. So it was yesterday evening, when an amendment proposed by Louisiana Republican John Fleming put his fellow Republicans right between the Rock of Ages and a political hard place.

A bipartisan majority had already slapped down an amendment offered by New Jersey Democrat Rob Andrews that would allow the appointment of atheists as chaplains. (It’s not quite such an oxymoron as it sounds: more on that below). But then Fleming, a Mississippi-born medical doctor elected to Congress in 2008, introduced his own amendment that threatened to undo a compromise worked out by GOP leaders last year in the fiscal 2013 NDAA.

The law currently on the books (Public Law 112, Section 533) states that “the Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs” of servicemembers and not discriminate against them except for “actions and speech that threaten good order and discipline.” A major purpose of the law was to protect conservative and evangelical Christians, especially chaplains, from official retribution for statements that might offend other groups, such as denouncing homosexual marriage as contrary to the Bible, urging non-Christians to convert, or simply ending a public prayer with “in Jesus’s name, amen.”

But Fleming argue that protection still isn’t enough, that “accomodat(ing) beliefs” had been interpreted so broadly by some commanders that they had punished conservative Christian servicemembers for statements potentially offensive to secularists and gays. He wanted to amend Section 533 to “the Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs, actions, and speech” of servicemembers except for “actions and speech that actually harm good order and discipline.”
June 8, 2013

Congress, SecDef MUST Lead Pentagon From The Vale Of Seven Sins: CNAS


Congress, SecDef MUST Lead Pentagon From The Vale Of Seven Sins: CNAS
By Colin Clark on June 06, 2013 at 5:50 PM

WASHINGTON: Some of Chuck Hagel’s best friends in the defense world offered him a compelling report on how to save almost as much as the $500 billion that the Budget Control Act will force him and his successors to cut over the next decade.

The wonderful title of the report, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending,” will certainly give this effort a better chance of cutting through the enormous amount of white noise currently surrounding the sequestration and drawdown debate. Also, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has close ties to the Obama administration that will give this report a much better chance of being read at senior levels in the Pentagon than most of the myriad other budget prescriptions.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Redundant overhead, layering and workforce;
Inefficient business practices;
Excessive acquisition costs and overruns;
Excess infrastructure, installations and management costs;
Unaffordable increases in cash compensation;
Unsustainable growth of military retirement system costs; and
Escalating military health care costs.

Of course, none of those are new in and of themselves. But the report’s five authors provide fairly specific areas where the Pentagon could cut without endangering the country’s ability to project power globally.

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