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[VIDEO] KGB Atomic Spy Rudolf Abel: ‘The Hollow Coin’, US Department of Defense, 1958

KGB Atomic Spy Rudolf Abel: “The Hollow Coin” 1958 US Department of Defense.

MORE – Intelligence & Espionage playlist and more at fbi.gov

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[VIDEO] Senator Ben Sasse on the Heart of America and Its Founders 

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks at The Heritage Foundation‘s 2016 President’s Club Meeting about America, its founders, and today’s youth.

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Report: Secret Pentagon Study Found $125B in Wasted Spending

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The Defense Department has more than 1 million contractors, civilians, and uniformed personnel on its payroll.

Anna Giaritelli reports: A Pentagon-commissioned study in 2015 found the Defense headquarters wasted $125 billion. But upon learning of the study’s results, military leaders ordered the findings never be released to the press or public, according to a report published Monday evening.

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In January 2015, the Pentagon learned it could cut $125 billion in administrative costs at the Arlington, Va., facility over the next five years. But Defense leaders chose to keep the report secret in fear lawmakers would cut funding, the Washington Post found.

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The Defense Business Board study stated all of these cutbacks could take place without any military employees being terminated. The federal advisory board of corporate executives and consultants recommended that some employees be encouraged into early retirements and their positions be eliminated through attrition, while overcompensated contractors would be cut back. Read the rest of this entry »


A First Look at America’s Supergun

The Navy’s experimental railgun fires a hardened projectile at staggering velocity—a battlefield meteorite with the power to blow holes in enemy ships and level terrorist camps.

DAHLGREN, Va.— Julian E. Barnes reports: A warning siren bellowed through the concrete bunker of a top-secret Naval facility where U.S. military engineers prepared to demonstrate a weapon for which there is little defense.

Officials huddled at a video screen for a first look at a deadly new supergun that can fire a 25-pound projectile through seven steel plates and leave a 5-inch hole.

“I can’t conceive of a future where we would replicate Cold War forces in Europe. But I could conceive of a set of railguns that would be inexpensive but would have enormous deterrent value. They would have value against airplanes, missiles, tanks, almost anything.”

— Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work

The weapon is called a railgun and requires neither gunpowder nor explosive. It is powered by electromagnetic rails that accelerate a hardened projectile to staggering velocity—a battlefield meteorite with the power to one day transform military strategy, say supporters, and keep the U.S. ahead of advancing Russian and Chinese weaponry.

In conventional guns, a bullet begins losing acceleration moments after the gunpowder ignites. The railgun projectile gains more speed as it travels the length of a 32-foot barrel, exiting the muzzle at 4,500 miles an hour, or more than a mile a second.

“This is going to change the way we fight,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Mat Winter, the head of the Office of Naval Research.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, right, views the hole made in a steel plate by a railgun projectile during testing last year at a top-secret Naval facility in Dahlgren, Va.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, right, views the hole made in a steel plate by a railgun projectile during testing last year at a top-secret Naval facility in Dahlgren, Va. Photo: U.S. Department of Defense

The Navy developed the railgun as a potent offensive weapon to blow holes in enemy ships, destroy tanks and level terrorist camps. The weapon system has the attention of top Pentagon officials also interested in its potential to knock enemy missiles out of the sky more inexpensively and in greater numbers than current missile-defense systems—perhaps within a decade.

The future challenge for the U.S. military, in broad terms, is maintaining a global reach with declining numbers of Navy ships and land forces. Growing expenses and fixed budgets make it more difficult to maintain large forces in the right places to deter aggression.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

“Chinese hackers in particular have tried to penetrate the computer systems of the Pentagon and its defense contractors to probe railgun secrets, U.S. defense officials said. Pentagon officials declined to discuss the matter further.”

“I can’t conceive of a future where we would replicate Cold War forces in Europe,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, one of the weapon’s chief boosters. “But I could conceive of a set of railguns that would be inexpensive but would have enormous deterrent value. They would have value against airplanes, missiles, tanks, almost anything.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Inside the test bunker at Dahlgren, military officials turned to the video monitor showing the rectangular railgun barrel. Engineer Tom Boucher, program manager for the railgun in the Office of Naval Research, explained: “We are watching the system charge. We are taking power from the grid.”

Wires splay out the back of the railgun, which requires a power plant that generates 25 megawatts—enough electricity to power 18,750 homes.

The siren blared again, and the weapon fired. The video replay was slowed so officials could see aluminum shavings ignite in a fireball and the projectile emerge from its protective shell.

“This,” Mr. Boucher said, “is a thing of beauty going off.”

The railgun faces many technical barriers before it is battle ready. Policy makers also must weigh geopolitical questions. China and Russia see the railgun and other advances in U.S. missile defense as upending the world’s balance of power because it negates their own missile arsenals. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Fighter Jets, Reconnaissance Helicopter Buzzed U.S. Navy Destroyer

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 reports: In the latest incident of aggressive Russian probing of American military assets, a Defense Department official said Wednesday that two Russian military jets engaged in an “aggressive” overflight maneuver of a U.S. Navy vessel sailing in international waters off the Russian coast.

The official, speaking on background, said the two jets flew uncomfortably close to a U.S. guided-missile destroyer in what the official called “simulated attack profiles” in Tuesday’s incident…(more)

Source: Washington Times


Marine Corps Boot Camp: Job Titles to Be ‘Gender Neutral’ by April

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Gina Harkins reports: The Marine Corps has been ordered to come up with a plan to make its enlisted entry-level training coed, and to make its job titles more gender-neutral following the recent move to open all military combat roles to women.

“It requires a look at … how much personnel to bring, how many drill instructors to bring, the leadership and support cadre that comes along with that.”

In a Jan. 1 memo to Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requested a “detailed plan” on how the service will fully integrate its boot camp and Officer Candidate School. The plan is due Jan. 15 and will be implemented by April 1, the memo states.

“The barracks in San Diego are H-shaped, for example, so you can see everything that’s going on. If women are living in them, do you black out the windows or make an entire building that’s theirs? Do you do a floor for men and a floor for women?”

“The Department of the Navy’s implementation plan must include gender integration of Marine Corps enlisted recruit training and officer candidate school,” Mabus wrote. “In this submission, identify where, if anywhere, this training is already integrated, where it is separate, and specific steps that you will take to fully integrate these trainings.”

In a second memo from Mabus to Neller on the same day, the SecNav directed the Marine Corps to conduct a full review of its military occupational specialty titles in an effort to ensure that they are gender neutral.

“Please review the position titles throughout the Marine Corps and ensure that they are gender-integrated as well, removing ‘man’ from the titles and provide a report to me as soon as is practicable and no later than April 1, 2016.”

A Navy official said that the service received a similar memo pertaining to its MOS titles and descriptions. Mabus doesn’t intend to require iconic titles like “infantryman,” “rifleman” or “midshipman” to be changed, however, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »


John Bolton: Why Benghazi Still Makes a Difference

Hillary Clinton may not see the point, but her testimony may tell us much about her ability to lead.

boltonJohn Bolton writes: Only in Perry Mason stories does the real culprit break down in open court. After Hillary Clinton’s now-immortal Capitol Hill outburst about investigations into the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya—“What difference, at this point, does it make?”—the former secretary of state and Democratic candidate for president is unlikely to offer any such spontaneity when she testifies Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

“As the crisis unfolded that day in Benghazi, with violence also erupting in Tunis, Cairo and potentially elsewhere, Mrs. Clinton disappeared. Instead of staying at her desk, ‘on the bridge’ of the State Department’s seventh floor, Mrs. Clinton literally left the building. Why?”

Nonetheless, the committee’s work is utterly serious, its preparations extensive (and extensively stonewalled by Mrs. Clinton’s team) and its mission vital to our fight against still-metastasizing Islamist terrorism. Much is at stake. The hearing’s focus must be on the key policy and leadership implications of the mistakes made before, during and after the murders of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11 three years ago.

“Imagine the effect on morale when, with colleagues in Libya in mortal peril, State Department personnel learned that their leader had gone home for the evening. There is no evidence that Mrs. Clinton or President Obama did anything other than passively monitor events.”

Before the attack, there was ample warning that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi wasn’t secure, with terrorist threats in the area multiplying. Even the International Red Cross had pulled out of Benghazi. After a string of requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli for more security, in mid-August came a joint Embassy-CIA recommendation to move the State Department’s people into the CIA’s Benghazi compound. The State Department in Washington was invariably unresponsive, even though, as Joint 51+ElROmDmL._SL250_Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey later testified, the rising terrorist threat in Libya was well known.

[Order John Bolton’s book “Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” from Amazon.com]

Given her self-proclaimed central role in deposing dictator Moammar Gadhafi, why was Mrs. Clinton so detached from the deteriorating situation in Libya? She has so far dodged the issue, pawning off such “technical” matters on her subordinates. Working in the State Department in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, I saw firsthand how Secretary of State James Baker dived into every detail of safeguarding U.S. diplomats stranded in Kuwait City. If earlier secretaries of state have been perfectly prepared to get their fingernails dirty in operational details when those under their responsibility were threatened, why wasn’t Mrs. Clinton?

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Libya was no backwater for Mrs. Clinton. It was one of President Obama’s highest foreign-policy priorities, touted by the administration as evidence of successfully “leading from behind,” averting a Gadhafi bloodbath through “humanitarian intervention,” and with democracy and stability to follow. So acknowledging that precisely the opposite was happening, and appropriately increasing security in Libya, would demonstrate failure. That was politically unacceptable.

As the crisis unfolded that day in Benghazi, with violence also erupting in Tunis, Cairo and potentially elsewhere, Mrs. Clinton disappeared. Instead of staying at her desk, “on the bridge” of the State Department’s seventh floor, Mrs. Clinton literally left the building. Why? Read the rest of this entry »


Cyberwar Ignites a New Arms Race 

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Dozens of countries amass cyberweapons, reconfigure militaries to meet threat.

Damian Paletta, Danny Yadron and Jennifer Valentino-DeVries report: Countries toiled for years and spent billions of dollars to build elaborate facilities that would allow them to join the exclusive club of nations that possessed nuclear weapons.

“The acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy. Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”

–Matthijs Veenendaal, a researcher at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a research group in Estonia. “

Getting into the cyberweapon club is easier, cheaper and available to almost anyone with cash and a computer.

A series of successful computer attacks carried out by the U.S. and others has kicked off a frantic and destabilizing digital arms race, with dozens of countries amassing stockpiles of malicious code. The programs range from the most elementary, such as typo-ridden emails asking for a password, to software that takes orders from a rotating list of Twitter handles.

The proliferation of these weapons has spread so widely that the U.S. and China—longtime cyber adversaries—brokered a limited agreement last month not to conduct certain types of cyberattacks against each other, such as intrusions that steal corporate information and then pass it along to domestic companies. Cyberattacks that steal government secrets, however, remain fair game.

[Read the full text here, at the Wall Street Journal]

This comes after other countries have begun to amass cyberweaponry on an unprecedented scale. Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed rivals, regularly hack each other’s companies and governments, security researchers said. Estonia and Belarus are racing to build defensive shields to counter Russia. Denmark and the Netherlands have begun programs to develop offensive computer weapons, as have Argentina and France.

[Also see – Cybersecurity Expert Confirms Pundit Planet’s Full-Scale Non-Stop Global Panic Warnings]

In total, at least 29 countries have formal military or intelligence units dedicated to offensive hacking efforts, according to a Wall Street Journal compilation of government records and interviews with U.S. and foreign officials. Some 50 countries have bought off-the-shelf hacking software that can be used for domestic and international surveillance. The U.S. has among the most-advanced operations.

In the nuclear arms race, “the acronym was MAD—mutually assured destruction—which kept everything nice and tidy,” said Matthijs Veenendaal, a researcher at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a research group in Estonia. “Here you have the same acronym, but it’s ‘mutually assured doubt,’ because you can never be sure what the attack will be.”

Governments have used computer attacks to mine and steal information, erase computers, disable bank networks and—in one extreme case—destroy nuclear centrifuges.

Nation states have also looked into using cyberweapons to knock out electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems, experts believe.

Large conventional militaries and nuclear forces are ill-suited to this new kind of warfare, which evens the playing field between big and small countries. Cyberattacks are hard to stop and sometimes impossible to trace. The West, as a result, has been forced to start reconfiguring its militaries to better meet the threat.

Adm. Michael Rogers, center, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, confers with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work ahead of testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September.

Adm. Michael Rogers, center, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, confers with Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work ahead of testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

“With some countries, we’re comfortable with knowing what their capabilities are, but with other countries we’re still lost. We don’t have the visibility into their toolset.”

— Andre McGregor, a former cyber special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and now the director of security at Tanium Inc.

Access to cyberweapons, according to U.S. and foreign officials and security researchers, is far more widespread than access to nuclear weapons was at the height of the nuclear arms race, a result of inexpensive technology and the power of distributed computing.

“It’s not like developing an air force…You don’t need to have your own cyberforce to have a very robust and very scary offensive capability.”

— Michael Schmitt, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and part of an international group studying how international law relates to cyberwarfare.

More than two dozen countries have accumulated advanced cyberweapons in the past decade. Some Defense Department officials compare the current moment to the lull between the World Wars when militaries realized the potential of armed planes. Read the rest of this entry »


The Top-Secret Flights that Ended the War

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70 years after the atomic bombings, time stands still on the island of Tinian

 writes:Imagine disembarking on the shore of a remote tropical island. Walking cautiously past swaying palm trees into the heavy undergrowth, you soon encounter what appears to be the fossilized bones of an enormous prehistoric creature. The thick parallel lines might have been ribs, and the long straight stretches its spine or appendages. Naturally you’re moved to wonder how it appeared when alive, how it moved about and what it ate.

For dyed-in-the-wool history buffs or those merely looking for an exotic place off the beaten track to relax, Tinian beckons. It’s an easy trip from Japan. If you take a Delta Airlines flight to Saipan during daylight hours, be sure to request a window seat on the right side of the aircraft. On the plane’s approach to neighboring Saipan, you’ll get a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the “ribs” of that prehistoric creature — the four runways of North Field — which in the waning months of World War II was the largest operational U.S. air base in the world.

Home to barely 3,000 people, the 101-sq.-km island of Tinian is one of three inhabited islands of 14 that make up the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Over a period of half a century — between 1899 and 1944 — Tinian went from being controlled by Spain to Germany, Japan and finally the U.S., which in July 1944 captured the island in an eight-day campaign that was largely overshadowed by the bigger and bloodier battle on Saipan, located just 9 km to the north.

From the late 1930s, Japan had begun to augment its military presence in the Nampo Shoto (groups of islands south of the main archipelago), sending 1,280 convicts from Yokohama Prison to Tinian to expand Hagoi Field, located at the north end of the island, with a 1,450-meter-long runway.

Once in American hands, teams of U.S. Navy construction battalions (known as “CBs” or “Seabees”) swarmed over the island, eventually moving an estimated 11 million tons of coral to build runways, taxiways, buildings and some 145 km of roads. The former Japanese airstrip was extended for use by the U.S. Air Force’s new long-range B-29 bombers, adding three more 2,440-meter runways.

It was from North Field’s runway, “Able,” that a specially modified B-29 christened Enola Gay, took off in the early hours of Aug. 6, 1945, to drop the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima.

Retracing history

I’d visited Tinian once before in 2007, but left to my own devices failed to find several of the places I’d wanted to see. This time I had much better luck, thanks to an introduction to the island’s resident historian, Don Farrell.

Farrell, who’s married to a native of Tinian, has taken up the story of his new home with gusto. In addition to publishing an illustrated guidebook for visitors in 2012 titled “Tinian: A Brief History,” he’s currently nearing completion of his magnum opus, a detailed history of the atomic bomb project that promises to shed new light on Tinian’s role in the war.

Arriving at the lobby of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino clad in sandals, Bermuda shorts, aloha shirt and a baseball cap, Farrell appears like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe — if Crusoe had driven a Mazda pickup truck.

“What would you like to see?” he asks me while delivering a firm handshake.

“What do you say we retrace the actual route the bomb parts took from their arrival on the island?” I suggest.

After stopping for bottled water and gasoline, we head north. Our first destination is Tinian’s small port, where the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, on a top-secret mission, delivered the housing and key components of the uranium bomb on July 26, 1945. (Four days later a Japanese submarine would sink the ship east of the Philippines, with great loss of life.)

No ships, or people, are in port and there’s little left to see. We turn around and head northward on a bumpy, but still negotiable, road marked “8th Avenue.” (The roads in Tinian, named after streets in Manhattan, also include Broadway, Columbus Avenue and Riverside Drive.)

On our way north, we deviate up an overgrown hillside leading to the ruins of the Rasso Jinja, a Shinto shrine at the top of Mount Lasso, which at 171 meters marks the highest point on Tinian. Little remains of the shrine or the B-29 homing tower that stood close by. What can be seen is the concrete foundation of the old U.S. Army hospital. Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Rushing to Open Space-War Center To Counter China, Russia

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The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S.military and government satellites

The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.

“We want to be able to establish patterns of life from space. We want to know what the unusual looks like. If, all of a sudden, a lot of cars show up in a parking lot of an adversary’s missile plant, we want to know about it and we want to know about it quickly. If, suddenly, small boats are swarming in the Gulf or pirates are starting to congregate off Aden, we want to know.”

“[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.”

“If Russian soldiers are snapping pictures of themselves in war zones and posting them in social media sites, we want to know exactly where those pictures were taken.”

Work also said that Air Force Secretary Deborah James would soon be named the “principal space advisor” to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, where she will to provide “independent advice separate from the consensus process of the department.”

Senior officials at the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are still finalizing details of the new center, which will back up the military’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The center will help the military and government coordinate their preparations for and responses to any attack, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work. Read the rest of this entry »


Fred Bauer: Pluralism vs. Sectarian Secularism

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The debate over religious liberty has brought out some odd readings of American history

Fred Bauer writes: A number of forces are fueling the current debate about religious liberty in the United States: among them, good-faith efforts to promote the continued improvement of the Union, senses of cultural grievance, anti-religion paranoia, ignorance, self-righteousness, opportunism, partisanship, and new-wave authoritarianism. However, it might be helpful to see this debate as taking place against the backdrop of a clash between two different views of the role of religion in public life. On one side stand sectarian secularists, who want to remove religion from public life altogether, and on the other stand pluralists, who support a more open society.

“Leaving aside the religious and political beliefs of Americans before 1776, appeals to the divine suffuse American culture and politics. Many of the Founders — along with Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Martin Luther King Jr., and countless others — would have a bone to pick with those who say that our foundational rights do not come from God.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Modeled in some respects on the French tradition of laïcité, sectarian secularism holds that appeals to religious ideas have absolutely no place in the public square, and its adherents will ridicule as out of bounds any appeal to the divine. This position goes well beyond a separation of church and state, which is about distinguishing the institutions of religion from those of governance, and instead suggests that the religious and the political should be entirely separate spheres. Unlike a more moderate and open-minded secularism, sectarian secularism seeks to police the bounds of public debate by rendering religious approaches to politics illegitimate.

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“This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: ‘Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country’.”

[Also see – Religious Liberty and the Left’s End Game]

This sectarian-secularist approach seems to inform Chris Cuomo’s much-mocked declaration in February on CNN about the source of our rights: “Our rights do not come from God. That’s your faith. That’s my faith, but not our country.” Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not “our country.” In a later Facebook post, Cuomo continued to insist that the language of the Declaration was not really part of American life: “Because the US does not draw on divine authority for recognition of rights.

“Particularly telling, and demonstrative of a sectarian-secularist viewpoint, is Cuomo’s insistence that it is somehow un-American to believe that our rights do come from God — that’s not ‘our country’.”

[Also see – RFRA: Now More than Ever]

Founding documents were the beginning of course but the first amendment in that seminal constitution, which has infinitely more authority than the dec of indep obviously keeps faith out of government.” Cuomo is far from an outlier here. The past few weeks alone have offered numerous examples of attempts to stigmatize religious references in public debates. The sectarian secularists have defined once and for all what the U.S. is: a society where religion should be kept in the closet and not influence politics or policy-making.

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“Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike.”

[Read the full text here, at National Review]

Pluralism offers a radically different account of the Republic. A pluralist welcomes all to the public square: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists alike. Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it. Indeed, pluralists believe that such a sealing off is practically and philosophically impossible.

“Pluralism does not seek to make the public square a hermetically sealed chamber, nor do pluralists ask believers to take off their faiths the instant they enter it.”

From a pluralist perspective, religion can perhaps never be fully separated from politics. Politics is shaped by broader philosophical principles about the ends of human existence, and one’s religious beliefs will undoubtedly influence one’s understanding of these principles. If one believes that all men and women are made in the image of a divine Creator, that will likely lead to a different set of principles from those that one would espouse if one believes that some people are innately better than others. Read the rest of this entry »


House Passes $3.8 Trillion Spending Plan

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The House on Wednesday approved a $3.8 trillion spending plan for fiscal 2016 that balances the budget in a decade, reforms Medicare and Medicaid, and eliminates Obamacare.

The resolution passed by a vote of 228 to 199, and over the objections of some conservatives who opposed additional defense money because it would increase funding for a special defense spending account that does not require reductions elsewhere in the budget.

Lawmakers passed the budget after hours of debate on a half-dozen spending plans, three from Democrats and three from Republicans.

“A budget is a vision of the future and Republicans are making our vision very clear,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

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The GOP gave their rank and file the choice of voting for a budget blueprint that did not boost defense spending.

But that measure had little chance of passing because 77 defense-minded Republicans, citing the threat of terrorism at home and abroad, pledged to vote against it.

They cited warnings from the military that the current funding levels are too low to maintain the nation’s defense.

“It would be rather reckless of us to ignore those warnings and do less,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said.

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Some fiscal conservatives decided to back the measure with extra defense funding, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., because the proposal includes a a bigger priority for the far Right: A provision that would make it easier for the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act with 51 votes, instead of 60.

The Senate is expected to approve its own budget blueprint early Friday morning. The plan is similar to the House version but not identical, so the two plans will have to be merged in a conference committee in April, when Congress returns from the two-week Easter recess. Read the rest of this entry »


REWIND: ‘Cruz Only Speaks in Stump Speeches, and Won’t…Stop…Giving…Them’

Ted Cruz, a Republican, represents Texas in the Senate, where he is a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Andrew Ferguson’s Ted Cruz Profile September 23,2013

From yesterday’s New York Times, this:

In 2013, a Ferguson profile of Ted Cruz included a devastating section in which the journalist, trapped in cars and green rooms with his subject, realizes that Cruz only speaks in stump speeches, and won’t … stop … giving … them.

editor-commen-deskI remember reading the Cruz profile, “Washington Builds a Bugaboo” in in  The Weekly Standard back in 2013, and the impression it left was permanent. Even now, it’s hard to look at Cruz without recalling the  unflattering depictions of Cruz’s unyielding conversational style and tone-deaf careerism. It’s a good cautionary tale. Read the whole thing here.

September 23, 2013, Andrew Ferguson writes:

Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party.

“Ted really worked at it. He’d practice at home in front of the mirror to get everything just right.”

— Paige Moore, a friend of the Cruz family

“I call them the Children of Reagan,” he says. He means the rising group of Republican officeholders who came to political consciousness during President Reagan’s two terms. He rattles off their names: “young leaders” like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Mike Lee, Scott Walker .  .  . and then sometimes he’ll pause, letting you wonder if he’s leaving out any of the Children’s names. Sometimes a helpful fan in the audience will volunteer it, to general appreciation from the crowd.

[Read the full text here, at Weekly Standard]

Among that tiny fraction of Americans who are paying attention to such things, Cruz seems to be the only person who is forgetting Ted Cruz’s name.

“Americans who worry about democracy need to keep on this guy,” warned a reporter for the New Republic back in February. And no wonder! Skim the tweets or scan the blogs or, if you’re older than one of Reagan’s Children, read the actual newspapers, and you’ll soon discover that Ted Cruz is far more than the freshman senator from Texas, only eight months in office. He is also the “scary” “McCarthyite” “Taliban” “bully” and “bomb-thrower” known for his “extremism” and his “arrogant” and “nihilistic” “disregard of facts.”

When you follow him around, however—for he is in constant motion, from Iowa to New Hampshire to every corner of Texas—this nasty fellow you’ve been reading about, the caricature Cruz, never appears. If “Ted Cruz” didn’t exist, professional Democrats and the mainstreamers in the Washington press corps would have to invent him.

And, in a way, he doesn’t, and they have: Indeed, the invention of Ted Cruz as Republican bugaboo makes an excellent case study in how partisan journalism and politics commingle these days, as jittery Washington prepares for the post-Obama era.

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 Already the litany of Cruz’s extremism has become an item in the progressive catechism. Most of it involves alleged violations of Senate etiquette, and it’s useful to glance over a few of them, to see how the legend grows.

The unnerved New Republic reporter mentioned above was alarmed in particular by Cruz’s questioning of soon-to-be defense secretary Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearings.

Cruz opposed Hagel’s nomination. The reasons seemed straightforward—Cruz disagreed with the nominee on questions of national defense and foreign policy, including Hagel’s well-attested aversion, or “antagonism,” as Cruz put it, toward Israel’s behavior in the Middle East. Cruz grilled Hagel (the verb is required when writing about congressional hearings) about his association with a ferociously anti-Israel U.S. diplomat called Chas Freeman. In 2009 Freeman resigned from the president’s National Intelligence Council after pro-Israel senators like Charles Schumer said his “statements against Israel were way over the top.”

At the hearing, Cruz asked Hagel whether he and Freeman had ever worked or junketed together, as press reports suggested. Hagel said no. Cruz moved on.

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“Those old enough to remember, or who are familiar with, the history, will recognize Cruz’s line of attack as classic McCarthy tactics,” wrote TNR’s reporter. The mention of McCarthy is catnip for a good mainstreamer. “The Reincarnation of Joe McCarthy?” wondered a columnist for Forbes. The mere scent jogged the memory of a left-wing reporter for the New Yorker,who, Pavlov-style, wrote a story headlined: “Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?” She dug out old notes she had taken at a speech Cruz gave to a group of right-wingers a couple years before.

The New Yorker’s reporter didn’t mention it, but other people who were there say Cruz’s informal speech was boisterous and funny, tailored to an audience of like-minded ideologues. Just as a mention of Joe McCarthy thrills people on the left, so the right delights in mockery of Harvard, especially its law school—and especially if the speaker, like Cruz, is a graduate in good standing.

According to the New Yorker reporter, Cruz said this two years ago:

“There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

Cruz-speech

Having been found guilty as a McCarthyite, Cruz is of course granted no license for hyperbole, even among friends (and donors!). When Cruz attended Harvard Law, in the mid-90s, it was still the intellectual locus of a dying movement called Critical Legal Studies that was explicitly inspired by Marx, whose other followers, history shows, seldom reconciled themselves to the U.S. government. Earnestly, with that mock disinterestedness that characterizes the most dutiful of the mainstreamers, the reporter got an “equal-time” comment from a spokesman for the law school. The spokesman confessed to being “puzzled by the senator’s assertions.” For the record.

[Read the full text here, at Weekly Standard]

There is a professor at Harvard Law famous for, among other things, being a Republican. The New Yorker sleuth tracked him down. He told her that in fact, during Cruz’s Harvard years, 4 professors had publicly confessed to Republicanism. There were over 200 faculty at the law school at the time, but none, according to the New Yorker’s investigation, called for the Communists to overthrow the government. The question in the New Yorker headline answered itself. Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Official: ‘Even in the Best-Case Scenario in an Unstable Country We Never Have 100 Percent Accountability’

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Pentagon Loses Track of $500 Million in Weapons, Equipment Given to Yemen

Craig Whitlock reports: The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.

With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.

In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands.

“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

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[Yemen Arms View Graphic] 

U.S. military officials declined to comment for the record. A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, said there was no hard evidence that U.S. arms or equipment had been looted or confiscated. But the official acknowledged that the Pentagon had lost track of the items.

“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official said.

Yemen’s government was toppled in January by Shiite Houthi rebels who receive support from Iran and have strongly criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have taken over many Yemeni military bases in the northern part of the country, including some in Sanaa that were home to U.S.-trained counterterrorism units. Other bases have been overrun by fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Auditors with the Government Accountability Office found that Humvees donated to the Yemeni Interior Ministry sat idle or broken because the Defense Ministry refused to share spare parts. (Government Accountability Office)

Auditors with the Government Accountability Office found that Humvees donated to the Yemeni Interior Ministry sat idle or broken because the Defense Ministry refused to share spare parts. (Government Accountability Office)

As a result, the Defense Department has halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware that were scheduled for delivery this year, including unarmed ScanEagle drones, other types of aircraft and Jeeps. That equipment will be donated instead to other countries in the Middle East and Africa, the defense official said. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Mainstream Media: From Puffery to Savagery on Bergdahl

From the other Hammer M.K.Ham – Hot Air


10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

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When US-Soviet relationships were at their frostiest in the 1980s, there was no telling what sort of exotic threat was about to come roaring through Russia’s Iron Curtain. That’s where the Defense Intelligence Agency came in.

This low-profile intelligence agency—the DoD’s answer the the CIA—worked around the clock to discover emerging Soviet military menaces and report them to Washington. Because of the Top Secret nature of these subjects, the agency employed a team of artists to create highly accurate renderings of each threat, for use in policy briefings and DIA publications like Soviet Military Power. These subjects were so top secret that the renderings themselves were considered classified material.

Between 1965 and 1989, DIA’s artists created more than 1000 paintings and drawings of Soviet threats—now known as the DIA Military Art Collection. Here are ten of the most intimidating weapons we thought the Soviets were developing.

10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

Soviet Space-Based Strategic Defenses by Ronald C. Wittmann, 1987

Just because the Soviets were publicly opposed to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, aka “Star Wars,” doesn’t mean they weren’t feverishly working on their own version. The Soviet Space-Based Strategic Defenses were part of a unified land, air, and space-based shield against Moscow-bound ballistic missiles

10 Cold War Weapons That Terrified U.S. Military Intelligence

Space Particle Beam by Ronald C. Wittmann, 1987

Rather than try to hit a tiny satellite zooming thousands of miles an hour miles overhead with a ground-based laser, why not just send up another satellite to shoot it out of the sky? The Soviets explored the idea of hunter-killer satellites armed with particle-beam, kinetic, and laser-based weaponry throughout the 1980s. None of the technologies were ever launched, though.

Read the rest of this entry »


A shutdown that isn’t a shutdown over a rollout that isn’t a rollout, a debt ceiling that isn’t a ceiling…

…and an arrival ceremony that isn’t an arrival ceremony. Even in a world of Beltway-as-Broadway, this is deeply weird.

An honor detail comprised of joint military members prepares to escort the remains of fallen servicemembers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War during an arrival ceremony April 26, 2013, hosted by the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command.  SEAN FUREYU.S. NAVY

An honor detail comprised of joint military members prepares to escort the remains of fallen servicemembers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War during an arrival ceremony April 26, 2013, hosted by the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. SEAN FUREYU.S. NAVY

Mark Steyn writes:  A week ago, I wrote about the decline of government into mere simulacrum thereof – a shutdown that isn’t a shutdown over a rollout that isn’t a rollout and a debt ceiling that isn’t a ceiling. But even in a world of Beltway-as-Broadway this story is deeply weird:

WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense unit charged with recovering servicemembers’ remains abroad has been holding phony “arrival ceremonies” for seven years, with an honor guard carrying flag-draped coffins off of a cargo plane as though they held the remains returning that day from old battlefields.

The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday that no honored dead were in fact arriving, and that the planes used in the ceremonies often couldn’t even fly, and were towed into position…

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PSYOPS OVERDRIVE: The Shutdown Myths

pic_giant_093013_SM_The-Shutdown-Myths

The debate over the government shutdown should acknowledge its limited effects.

Andrew Stiles reports: Several hours remain until government funding expires, and if Congress cannot agree on a resolution to continue that funding before midnight, the government will shut down. If that happens, Democrats will be ready with countless horror stories about the consequences of extremist Republican obstructionism, so it’s worth examining the details of what will and will not occur during a government shutdown.

One common argument is likely to be that Republicans, in forcing a government shutdown, are hurting the most highly respected government employees: our troops. But according to the Department of Defense, funding for active-duty military personnel, as well as military operations in Afghanistan, will be unaffected by a government shutdown. About 400,000 civilian defense employees, on the other hand, could face furloughs, according to the Pentagon’s contingency plan. Read the rest of this entry »


Why the West Should Relax About China

Air-Sea Battle and the pivot seem an overreaction to China’s rise, given the number of challenges Beijing already faces.

Air-Sea Battle and the pivot seem an overreaction to China’s rise, given the number of challenges Beijing already faces.

By Robert E. Kelly

Westerners are nothing if not breathless about China. Books describing its rise often have titles like When China Rules the WorldContest for SupremacyEclipse (of the U.S. by China), and so on. China is such a preoccupation that the U.S. has now “pivoted” to Asia. And the U.S. Department of Defense, eager to cash-in on the China hype in an era of sequestration and domestic exhaustion with the “Global War on Terror,” tells us now that the U.S. must shift to an Air-Sea Battle concept (ASB).

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