TBR News February 27, 2018

Feb 27 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. February 27, 2018:””In previous times, when an incident happened that was not to the liking of official Washington or when official Washington did not wish to alert the voting public about one of their own negative acts, all that was necessary for official Washington to do was to have one of their people contact the editorial desks of major print media or offices of the television media and be certain that certain issues received the proper kind of coverage. With the advent of the Internet, however, these once-useful techniques began swiftly to erode. The Internet was a market-place of all kinds of information, some true, some only partly true and more wholly invented.This meant that rigged, or ignored, news that might have a negative effect, was supplanted with material that was most certainly not welcome to official Washington. These people made a valient, but unsuccessful, effort to control the Internet news by following their tried-and-true method of planting rigged stories on cooperative sites but as these were generally clumsy and ill-prepared, the reading public found more truthful stories much more interesting…and dangerous. This has resulted in the general disbelief in the great bulk of the American voting public of lies, half-truths and twisted reportage and a public that does not accept official concoctions is, potentially, a very dangerous voting public.”


Table of Contents

  • The Story Behind the California Democratic Party Convention’s Floor Fracas
  • Arctic warmer than much of Europe is a worrying sign of climate change
  • Understanding the polar vortex
  • A secret Mossad report on 911
  • Trump close adviser Kushner loses access to coveted intelligence briefing: sources
  • Antisemitic incidents in US soar to highest level in two decades
  • Secrecy News
  • How the Pentagon Devours the Budget


The Story Behind the California Democratic Party Convention’s Floor Fracas

February 27 2018

by David Dayen

The Intercept

A ruckus broke out on the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday following a contested endorsement for a congressional seat in Orange County, California, that Democrats hope to flip, leading to recriminations across the state between the competing ideological wings of the party.

Dave Min, a former legislative staffer to Chuck Schumer and economic policy director at the Center for American Progress who now teaches at the University of California, Irvine, won the state party endorsement for California 45th Congressional District over three challengers. Democrats looking to unseat Republican incumbent Mimi Waters have targeted the district, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016, as critical to their efforts to win back the House.

Under state party rules, candidates who get more than 60 percent of the vote of delegates in the district at the endorsing caucus win the endorsement, which entitles them to a spot on party slate mailers and, potentially, fundraising support. Indeed, the state party endorsement can make a decided difference in races for House seats with low-turnout primaries. A 2012 study from UC San Diego found that the party endorsement in downballot campaigns increased the candidate’s vote total by about 10 percent.

Min got 30 of the 50 votes cast at the caucus — exactly 60 percent — but just barely. One delegate who supported a different candidate showed up five minutes late to the caucus; if he were on time, the endorsement wouldn’t have gone through.

Because of that narrow margin, Min’s challengers had a second option. If a candidate gets between 60 and 66 percent at the endorsing caucus, the rivals can gather 300 signatures to force a fight on the floor of the convention to pull the endorsement. UC Irvine professor and foreclosure fraud expert Katie Porter, former Sherrod Brown aide Kia Hamadanchy, and Obama administration science and technology official Brian Forde decided to do so.

The signature-gathering process, done late at night while delegates partied in hospitality suites at the San Diego Convention Center, was marred by accusations of Min staffers interfering with their opponents. An Asian Pacific Islander caucus supporting Min told delegates not to sign petitions “to overturn the will of local delegates.” Hamadanchy claimed that his sister, collecting signatures on his behalf, was screamed at by Min and shoved by staffers. Videos of Min campaign staffers sprinting with signature gatherers appeared online; the Min campaign said they were merely trying to clear up “false information” being presented to delegates. Another video charged that Min was “intimidating” female Porter staff members. The video, which includes Porter’s field director, appears to begin after any alleged intimidation started, but Min can be seen telling staffers to “make sure she doesn’t get signatures.”

The videos don’t exactly confirm intimidation, and the highly charged environment and tight deadlines of petition gathering can lead to misunderstandings. Sources inside the Min campaign even report that their volunteers were being harassed, and that opposing volunteers tried to capture their people in moments that might make them look bad. “Volunteers were there to make their case for the petition to be presented to delegates accurately,” said Min campaign manager Paige Hutchinson. “The paid staff of our opponents were deliberately stirring up controversy.” Hutchinson cited several petitions that were thrown out because they did not include proper information.

Whatever happened, it didn’t stop the successful signature gathering, and the fight moved to the floor of the convention. Supporters and opponents of Min each offered up three speakers for one minute to state their case, and here fissures between the ideological wings of the party emerged.

“It’s not just about electing any Democrat, it’s about electing a Democrat who will act like a Democrat,” said Porter in her speech. “My opponent in this race is endorsed by the New Democrat coalition, the former Blue Dog caucus.” Indeed, the New Dem PAC has put Min on its “candidate watch list.” Porter has been endorsed by Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Opponents have also criticized Min for trying to have it both ways on single payer health care. Min consistently says he’s “fighting for universal health care,” which is not exactly the same thing. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., was seen pulling delegates out of the convention hall during the endorsement caucus to make the case for Min. He said that while he had not endorsed in the race, running on more conservative ideas would have the best chance of success in the district.

“Dave is not the candidate who is furthest to the left,” said Paige Hutchinson, Min’s campaign manager. “Do we think that better represents the district? Yes. No Democrat has won here. It’s a conservative district that’s rapidly changing, but people here care a lot about their taxes, and single payer would be a tremendous tax increase.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents California’s 17th District, rebutted that theory in an email released by the PCCC today. “Democrats don’t have to sacrifice progressive values to win this district,” Khanna wrote. “In fact, what we have seen over and over again is that Democratic performance improves when we give voters something inspiring to come out and vote for. Katie is the most reliable leader on progressive issues we care about.”

The DCCC, often criticized for blocking more progressive candidates, has identified California’s 45th District as a “majority maker” seat, but has not gotten involved in choosing sides in the race, according to Porter. “We’ve had the freedom on the ground to run our race and deliver our message,” she said in an interview.

Orange County Democratic Party Chair Fran Sdao and popular State Controller Betty Yee spoke on Min’s behalf; both stressed unity and listening to local leaders. Delegates from across the state, who had little information about one Orange County House race, then had to vote on whether to pull Min from the endorsement calendar. Historically those delegates are reluctant to get involved in a local matter. State Party Chair Eric Bauman called a voice vote and determined that Min won, keeping his name on the endorsement calendar. No roll call vote of the 3,000 delegates was taken.

The California Democratic Party has endorsed prior to primary elections for some time, and with an earlier convention date, this year’s endorsements came before the deadline to formally get on the ballot, enabling candidates to drop out if their path to victory narrows.

Winnowing the large fields in House races was a theme of the party convention, with its leaders openly stating a desire to thin the ranks. That’s because of the state’s top-two primary, where the leading two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party. It could set up situations in swing races with lots of Democrats running where they cancel each other out, leading to two Republicans competing in November.

“We may be aced out of seats that are primed, set and ready for us,” Bauman said on the convention floor.

But in the two seats where this issue is most acute — the 39th and 49th districts where Republicans Ed Royce and Darrell Issa aren’t running for re-election — the party did not endorse anyone, lessening the chances of a narrowed field.

The nightmare two-Republican scenario is not necessarily a problem in the 45th District, where it’s overwhelmingly likely one Democrat joins Mimi Walters in the November election. A poll released by the PCCC over the weekend showed Walters at 42 percent in the primary, with Porter at 16 percent and Min at 12 percent. Another 10 percent went to the other two candidates, with 21 percent undecided. In head-to-head matchups, Porter was ahead of Walters 46-44; Min led Walters 45-44.

Porter’s fortunes could change with Min’s Democratic endorsement. And it does make some wonder why the party gets involved so early to pick winners and losers, rather than leaving it to the voters. “I don’t understand the state party endorsement from the outside,” said Warren in an interview. “I asked (Sen. Harris) about it and she did this giant eyeball roll.”

To some it seems odd that 30 delegates can make a decision worth potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to the endorsed candidate. To others it’s a signal of grassroots support and organizing and ought to be rewarded. These debates have gone back and forth within the state party for decades, and mirror the fight at the national level over superdelegates in presidential nominations.

“I’m grateful to be the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate against Representative Mimi Walters, and humbled by the incredible grassroots support that propelled us to this victory,” said Min in a statement.  “Democrats are uniting to defeat Walters and stop the Trump agenda.”


Arctic warmer than much of Europe is a worrying sign of climate change

As frigid air sweeps across Europe, the Arctic itself is seeing an unprecedented warm spell. What’s going on and does it relate to global warming?

February 27, 2018

by Stuart Braun


“Freezing cold ‘Siberian Express’ is roaring towards Britain,” screamed the front page of the Daily Express newspaper last Friday as a cold front, the so-called “Beast from the East,” battered its way west.

By the weekend, snow and temperatures of minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) had hit Britain, while cities like Rome in southern Italy had transformed into a winter wonderland. This came soon after Moscow experienced a record whiteout during the “snowfall of the century.”

But the weather situation looked very different high up in the polar ice cap, where it’s actually supposed to be freezing cold. In northernmost Greenland, it was 6 degrees Celsius above zero on Sunday. And it’s consistently been above zero for the last fortnight. Arctic sea ice has also been retreating at record rates.

Arctic meltdown

“It’s really quite remarkable for February, when it’s dark permanently,” said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist for the Danish Meteorological Institute, which has been mapping average temperatures in the far northern Arctic.

“It’s never been this high at this time of year,” Mottram told DW. “It’s never been this warm. It’s really, really unprecedented, I would say.”

Over the pole from Europe, nearly a third of the ice covering the Bering Sea to the west of Alaska has also disappeared. But this was no gradual process; the ice retreated over an astonishing eight days in mid-February, according to a report by Inside Climate News.

At a time when sea ice is supposed to be experiencing peak winter growth, coverage in the Bering Sea is now 60 percent below its 1981 to 2010 average.

Climate experts expressed shock at the level of Arctic warming. Robert Rohde, lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, a climate science consultancy in California, graphically illustrated the far northern temperature spike on socia media.

“Wacky weather continues with scary strength and persistence,” Lars Kaleschke, professor for sea ice remote sensing at the University of Hamburg, wrote in a tweet. He added that he hadn’t seen such temperatures in his 25 years of research.

Weakening polar vortex due to climate change

But what’s causing the freakish Arctic warmth? And how does this relate with the European freeze?

The predominant theory revolves around a weakening of the so-called polar vortex — that is, the mass of freezing air held together above the Arctic during winter. That is also regulated by the jet stream — which itself has become irregular, due likely at least in part to climate change.

“High-pressure systems over Greenland and the European continent are funnelling warmer, lower pressure air northward, toward the North Pole,” Kathryn Adamson, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University, explained to DW.

This is causing the polar vortex to break up and split, the result being a mass of cold air moving south to Europe and North America.

But such “intrusion events” are happening with increasing frequency, says Adamson. And they “are linked to increased temperatures and reduced sea ice cover.”

Global warming may be to blame.

“There is now a large and strong body of evidence that the major changes we are seeing are linked to climate change,” Adamson said. “Changes in one part of the ocean-atmosphere system can have major impacts on another.”

Mottram agrees. While the polar vortex split is to some extent a normal weather event, the recent storms bringing warming air up the east and west Greenland coast “are being pumped up, probably by climate change,” she said.

The warmer atmosphere is ultimately contributing to the increased frequency of these storms, and to the consistent weakening of the polar vortex.

Broad-reaching impacts

Due to the extraordinary warmth, current sea ice cover in the Arctic is at its lowest level on record for this time of year.

Furthermore, there is open water north of Greenland where old, thick ice once stood. “This is extraordinary, it very very rarely happens,” says Mottran.

Last August, Adamson wrote about the largest ever wildfire in Greenland, an event she partly attributed to climate change. Since 80 percent of Greenland is covered in ice, it also helps to moderate global temperatures by reflecting the sun’s radiation.

As the Arctic warms at twice the rate as the rest of the planet, permafrost has also been thawing — which could unleash a feedback loop.

Newly exposed and dried out peat and biomass from thawed permafrost releases a large amount of climate change-inducing carbon, especially when it starts to to burn.

This is one of numerous consequences around a warming Arctic. Shrinking sea ice also results in the loss of habitat and prey for animals like polar bears and seals.

Many also fear that less ice will leave the North Pole vulnerable to increased shipping, and therefore more mining and fishing.

With the circulation and weather patterns in the Arctic “going almost backwards,” according to Mottram, it’s a compelling — albeit worrying — time for researchers on the frontline of climate change.

“It’s very interesting being an Arctic scientist at the moment,” she says. “But sometimes you really wish it would be a little more boring.”



Understanding the polar vortex

As the North American East Coast experiences some of the coldest temperatures ever, DW takes a look at the factors that lead to this weather phenomenon, and why temperatures are unseasonably high in Europe.

January 8, 2014

by Chiponda Chimbelu


The weather is a result of the Earth’s atmosphere’s attempt to balance its energy – warm air travels from the equator, which has a surplus of energy, to the poles, which have an energy deficit, according to Andreas Bott, head of the Meteorological Institute at the University of Bonn.

Cold air also moves from the North and South poles to warmer parts of the planet. The extremely low temperatures being experienced in North America are actually a result of the attempt by the Earth’s atmosphere to compensate for its energy deficit at the North Pole. But it’s below -10 degrees Celsius (14 F) in Rochester, New York, while its 11 degrees Celsius in Bonn – even though the German city’s higher latitude puts it closer to the Arctic.

The difference in temperature between Europe and North America is much larger than it tends to be at this time of the year. North America is currently doing more than its share of compensating for the North Pole’s energy deficits – what is being called the polar vortex.

How the polar vortex works

The “big freeze” in North America is actually due to a slow-moving depression, or trough, of a Rossby wave. The troughs and ridges of these waves carry wind around the world and generally have a speed rating of six or seven, with higher numbers representing faster moving winds. The current rate, however, is just four.

“Fewer waves means that the trough does not move,” Bott explained. “It opens the gate for the Arctic wind in [North America].”

As air moves more slowly than usual from west to east along the Rossby wave, cold Arctic air continues to blow south, pushing down temperatures in parts of the US that are typically warmer in winter.

The same depression that keeps eastern North America frozen has also meant the warm air can continue to be blown from the Canaries into Europe – leading to spring-like temperature and high winds in England and France.

The birthplace of depressions

But there are other factors that pre-dispose the US to colder winters than most countries in Europe along the same latitudes.

“The Rocky Mountains are sort of a birthplace for the troughs of Rossby waves,” Bott said, adding that the downwind side of the mountains triggers the depressions of Rossby waves.

The rest topography of the states east of the mountains only serves to intensify the effect. With no forests in the plains of the mid-western US, the ferocity of winds from Canada also increases. Europe on the other hand, doesn’t have the topography to create a similar effect. The winds coming in from the north are from the sea and that leads to a maritime effect that leads to milder winters and summers.


A secret Mossad report on 911

February 27, 2018

by Christian Jürs

In 2017, an investigative reporter working for the New York Times, was handed, by an old school friend who was a member of the Naval Security Group, a lengthy file.

It was an Israeli post- mortem analysis of the 9-11 attack, complied from their inside sources in May of 2003, and one of the most remarkable historical chronicles I have ever read.

And here is the complete report.

You will note that there are a number of comments and explanations in italics. Those are mine and are taken from reliable sources and duly noted.

This is a prime, even classic, example of that oeuvre. When you read it, you will understand why no media outlet in the United States would ever dare address its contents.


The Initial attack on the World Trade Center

On Friday, February 26, 1993, at approximately 12:18 PM, a huge car bomb exploded  in the Secret Service section of the underground garage of the World Trade Center in New York. The blast killed five people and injured many more  The concrete ceiling over the Path subway station collapsed and the casualties were killed by the debris. The blast destroyed three floors of reinforced concrete and set off fires that sent dense clouds of smoke up into one of the two towers. Power was interdicted and the lighting and elevator systems were not functioning.

Many thousands of office workers had to be evacuated . There was great chaos in the building with occupants breaking windows to get air and filling the stairwells with a panic stricken mass of fleeing people. This attack was the work of a handful of amateur Muslims who were soon apprehended and tried. Four of them, Nidal Ayvad, Mohammed Salameh, Amad Ajaj and Mahmud Aboulhalma were tried and convicted of this act and in May of 1994 were sent to prison for life. Their putative leader, one Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a New York area religious leader, was also sentenced to life for his controlling role in the attack.

The issues of this bomb attack were quite simple. Muslim fundamentalists had tried to destroy a major American financial institution. That they were amateurs and very inept was beside the point. Other, better organized and funded groups would note the disruption and panic and use it for future such attempts.

The Americans are not anywhere as competent in dealing with terrorists as we are. We have been intimately involved with them since before 1948. As usual, the American media made a large production of it for about a week and then it simply vanished.

The attitude of the Clinton administration was that they did not want to disturb the American Muslim population and in the end, viewed the attack as an aberration  that was unlikely to be repeated. The terrorists were viewed as a group of rank amateurs and the matter was not pursued. We have good rapport with the Central Intelligence Agency and have many of our people employed there but this is a domestic matter and these internal matters are addressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is not as friendly with us as other agencies. They have been instructed to cooperate with our people on such things but are very sparing in this cooperation.  In summation, the Americans did not learn from this attack and this will be dealt with later in this report.

Muslim extremists in US

Because of very lax, almost incompetent, enforcement of American immigration laws, many Muslim terrorists go to America to conduct their plotting, secure in the knowledge that unless they commit a crime, no one in authority will bother with them. They are free to enter, overstay their short-term visas and go to ground without fear of detection. Because many of these individuals and groups are a distinct threat to us, we have sought and obtained permission from the American authorities to send our counter intelligence people into their country and keep these potential terrorists under close surveillance.

Part of the agreement permitting this is that we were to keep the FBI fully appraised of anything we might find. They also agreed to supply us with information. This was rarely fully forthcoming so we set up our own surveillance, using telephonic systems we controlled. Also, we have been able to track bank records without any difficulty and can immediately locate funds coming into the United States from suspect foreign banks, known to act as conduits for terrorist funding. Because the FBI is often not particularly responsive or cooperative, we, in turn, only inform them of matters of common interest when absolutely necessary.

Mossad Observations

Due to our investigations, we early on learned that known Muslim terrorists and suspected terror cells were primarily located in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in both the Miami and Hollywood, Florida areas and once this had been ascertained, these groups were kept under close local surveillance from December 2000 to April 2001. The terrorists were watched daily and all telephone usage was closely observed. They often used codes when talking both inside the United States and overseas but these were fairly easily broken.

Specific Activities of Mossad in US against terrorists

We were aware that several terrorist cells were operating in Germany, thanks to cooperation with the German BND and another agency.  In 1996 and 1997, we were watching a number of suspected terrorists, specifically one Mohammed Atta and his lieutenant, Marwan al-Shehi were located at 54 Maarienstrasse in Hamburg  We learned from telephone intercepts and one of our undercover people, a Yemeni , that the Muslims were planning to attack American naval units ported in Yemen. This was the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000.

Our informant said that the Hamburg people were talking about the idea of launching a “massive and impressive” attack on American territory that would be planned to achieve the maximum public relations effect. In 2000, we learned that Atta and others had left Germany for the United States and that they were specifically preparing to launch a spectacular terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States. We had notified the FBI headquarters about this and then learned from them that Atta and others were now resident in Hollywood, Florida.

We sent a team of Arab-speakers led by Hanan Serfati, into the area and they were able to lease apartments had rented several dwellings near the corner of 701st St. and 21st St. in Hollywood,  in direct proximity to the terrorist cell. Initially, we kept them under constant surveillance and when they had left their residence, conducted a break-in and planted listening devices.  Also, one of our people, speaking perfect Arabic, made personal contact with the Atta people. The team leader himself kept a residence in proximity to the American Postal Service office where it had been determined that they had a drop box. At this point, we had kept both the FBI and the CIA fully informed of our actions and they, in turn, were able to help us with mail covers and other information. .

We observed that several of the terrorists began to take flight training.  Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi took jet flying lessons at  Huffman Aviation, a flight school in nearby Venice. Again, we notified the FBI and CIA of this training because it indicated a probable aerial assault but neither agency expressed any genuine interest in the information.

Comment: The Arab extremist plot that led to the attacks of September 11 was hatched in Hamburg, Germany.

The main movers in this plot, Mohammed Atta, Ramzi bin al Shibh and Said Bahaji, moved into an apartment at 54 Marienstrasse in the German port city. In 1999 these men, and others, went to an al Quaeda camp in Afghanistan for training purposes. In 2000, they were back in Hamburg, boasting about planned attacks against American targets. In the same year, a number of the Hamburg Arab plotters went to the United States to attend flight training schools.

From this time onwards, until the date of the actual attacks, the Hamburg terrorist cell was in constant telephonic and fax communication with their members in America.

Shortly before the attacks, most of the Hamburg terrorists left Germany for Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Source: New York Times, August 30, 2002]

The Actual Terrorist Plan revealed

Our undercover agent with the Atta group had proven to be of great value to them by giving them information we supplied him. As they grew more confident of him, they confided to him, and we had made tapes of these conversations, that they planned to launch a massive aerial attack against targets inside the United States. The USS Cole incident, they felt, had had very little impact on the American public. It was then that an enlargement of the 1993 car bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York was put forward They developed the idea that if they crashed their planes into both buildings, the results would be far more dramatic than the initial attack. Later, our man also suggested a possible attack on other targets in Washington. They discussed attacks on the White House, the Capitol building and the Pentagon.

The number of terrorists to fly commercial planes into targets was limited by the number of men who were available and could be trained. It was then decided to rule out the White House because it was such a small target and concentrate on the Pentagon and the Capitol building. Once that had been settled, the actual planning began in earnest. Our man kept us advised at all times of the progress and we, in turn, immediately notified the (Israeli) Embassy in Washington and our own agency, both in Tel Aviv and the United States.

Reports to Department of Justice (FBI)  and CIA to White House in re coming attacks: The President notified.

As it appeared that there would be such attacks for a certainty., our Embassy first of all contacted both the American Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency and appraised them of the seriousness of the situation. Eventually, the office of the Ambassador made contact with top aides of the Vice President Cheney.

It was felt at the time that Mr. Cheney would understand this matter and be able to make a presentation to the President. In a number of substantive talks with Mr. Cheney, it was mutually decided that the attacks should proceed. The reasons agreed upon were that it would at once give the President the opportunity of securing great domestic power with the legislature and the public. It would also permit, and most important, that the  U.S. could attack Saddam Hussein. He was then one of our top enemies and had, in fact, bombarded us with missiles during the Gulf War.

It was felt strongly that if Hussein were removed, the country invaded by American troops and occupied, not only would the United States have secure rights to the huge Iraqi oil reserves but could set up a large, permanent military base in Iraq. This would act as a buffer for Israel and a constant threat to other Arab states plus set up a vital block between Iran, who has threatened Israel many times, and our state. Mr. Cheney, who has excellent connections with the American oil business, was entirely in favor of this on both counts.

He then made a presentation, with our people present, to the President who at once accepted all the aspects of it. The decision was made not to interdict the attack in any way and allow it to happen as it would and to await the outcome. Both the CIA and FBI were to be listened to but forbidden to act “until informed to do so.”Mr. Cheney remarked that he did not want an attack on the Pentagon to emasculate its military leadership so he suggested that since a part of the building was empty due to interior renovations, that our man with the Atta group inform them that this empty side was where the important people worked.

When the subject came up of the air attack on the Capitol building, an enormous and easily hit target, the President remarked that if the Congress was sitting at the time of the attack, the death or injury of many of its members would not only add to national outrage but also strengthen his powers as a President during a wartime. There was at this point in time, no doubt that a subsequent American military attack on Iraq with ground troops would be made as discussed above.

Influx of Foreign Intelligence Warnings

Since well before the target date, a number of high-level warnings were received by American governmental agencies concerning news of a pending terrorist attack. Because, at the highest level, it was wished not to interfere with the probability of such an attack, all such information was sent to either the Vice President or the President himself. Of course, nothing was done in fact but there were many worried conversations back and forth. The most persistent were the Germans who had developed inside information and on a number of occasions sent their finding on to the Americans. All were ignored.

Comment: In mid-August, 2001, President Vladimir Putin of Russia made a report about possible Arab attacks against domestic American targets..

On August 20, 2001, the French government made a similar report.

On August 24, 2001, the head of the Israeli Mossad reported the imminence of an Arab attack against American targets and a similar report was made by the same agency on September 7, 2001.

Domestically, the picture is not as clear but it is known that:

On June 26, 2001, the CIA informed the White House that they had intercepted foreign intelligence traffic concerning possible al-Qaeda strikes in America on July 4.

On July 1, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated that her staff had advised her that there was a “major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months.” (emphasis added)       

On July 2, 2001, the FBI reported to the White House that al-Qaeda terrorist attacks outside the United States were very possible and that domestic attacks could not be discounted.

On July 5, 2001, the CIA informed the President that al-Qaeda attacks against American targets were entirely possible during the summer of that year.

On July 28, 2001, authorities in Dubai arrested one Djamel Beghal who revealed information about a planned al-Qaeda explosive attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris

On August 6, 2001, the CIA also presented a warning to the President, explicitly concerned with terrorism inside the United States. The actual content of this message has been the subject of considerable debate, with White House officials understandably downplaying its significance.[Sources: Time May 27, 2002]

Mossad agrees to provide special services to US in addition to updates on Atta people

After many discussions, it was determined that the American authorities could not be seen to have had real knowledge and specific information on this attack. It was also reasoned that for the attack to achieve its geo-political goals, the targets would have to be destroyed. Of course they could not destroy the Pentagon nor would this be wished. As stated above, the damage was to be in a so-called “safe” area. Our man in Florida did give to the Atta people his ‘inside” information as to which part of the building to attack and thereby save the lives of top military officials. Because the main public relations targets were the two tall buildings, it was imperative that they be either badly damaged or destroyed in full view of the cameras and the American public. Heavy loss of life was expected but mention was made of an air accident previously in which an American bomber got lost in the clouds and rammed into the Empire State building. Damage to the building was not great. It was finally agreed that we would supply certain technical assistance to absolutely insure the very visual and dramatic damage.

The Americans would have no provable connection with this. To achieve this, first a study of both buildings was made that showed they were very cheaply erected and that it would be very possible to “assist” the terrorists in their work. To do this, three teams of our people were selected with the idea that they would leave the country right away and that no one would attempt to interdict or block their exit.

The actual plan was to enter the big buildings at night as maintenance people, to proceed to the part of the buildings most likely to be struck. We knew approximately where this would happen but not certainly. Then, entering the office spaces, quick access through the false ceilings allowed the team to use locally-made thermite bombs with magnetic attachments which would  easily and quickly be placed against a strategic number of the horizontal steel beams that held up each floor.

They were to be triggered by a specific rise in heat and were placed against each beam at an angle so as to insure burring the beam through sufficiently to materially weaken it. Our engineers calculated that first the plane would strike the building and start big fires. The fires would weaken the beams and when the heat had reached a certain point, the thermite hidden up above the false ceilings would ignite and burn through the beam. The weight of the building above would press down below and it was then hoped that everything would crash down.

As we did not know just on what floor the plane would strike, these heat bombs were placed, five to a floor, for five floors, up and down. These bombs were small enough, and safe enough, to conceal in maintenance equipment. And, in the event that the attacks were aborted for any reason, our people could easily return to the buildings afterwards and retrieve the bombs without leaving a trace. The thermite would certainly eat into the steel but would not explode and reveal its presence.

The attack

About three weeks prior to the actual attack, the special code words were developed by Atta. In that case, the Pentagon was called  ‘The Faculty of  Fine Arts”, the Capitol was termed “The Faculity of Law;” and the Trade Building tower was termed, as “The Faculty of Town Planning.”  This, of course was part of the cover story that Atta and his people were students, following an educational career in America and used these for international telephone calls to their superiors in Saudi Arabia.

As soon as the date was fixed for the attack, the White House warned very senior American officials like the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense and his staff, not to fly on commercial aircraft because of “rumors of possible hijackings” . No one outside of a very small circle was told the truth. And because of the possibility that the White House might still be a target of opportunity, the President went in early October, well before the projected attack date, to Texas and then later went to Florida where he and his staff remained in safety until after the attack was over.

Comment: July 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stops flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment but “neither the FBI nor the Justice Department … would identify [to CBS] what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.”. [Source: CBS, 7/26/01]  He later walks out of his office rather than answer questions about this. [Source: Associated Press, 5/16/02]

August 4-30, 2001: President Bush spends most of August 2001 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, nearly setting a record for the longest presidential vacation. While it is billed a “working vacation,” ABC reports Bush is doing “nothing much” aside from his regular daily intelligence briefings. [ABC 8/3/01; Washington Post 8/7/01; Salon 8/29/01] One such unusually long briefing at the start of his trip is a warning that bin Laden is planning to attack in the US, but Bush spends the rest of that day fishing (see August 6, 2001). By the end of his trip, Bush has spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route. [Washington Post 8/7/01] At the time, a poll shows that 55 percent of Americans say Bush is taking too much time off. [USA Today, 8/7/01] Vice President Cheney also spends the entire month in a remote location in Wyoming. [Jackson Hole News and Guide 8/15/01]

September 6-7, 2001: 4,744 put options (a speculation that the stock will go down) are purchased on United Air Lines stock as opposed to only 396 call options (speculation that the stock will go up). This is a dramatic and abnormal increase in sales of put options. Many of the UAL puts are purchased through Deutschebank/AB Brown, a firm managed until 1998 by the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]

September 10, 2001: 4,516 put options are purchased on American Airlines as compared to 748 call options. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal.]

September 6-11, 2001: No other airlines show any similar trading patterns to those experienced by UAL and American. The put option purchases on both airlines were 600% above normal. This at a time when Reuters (September 10) issues a business report stating “airline stocks may be poised to take off.”

September 6-10, 2001: Highly abnormal levels of put options are purchased in Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AXA Re (insurance) which owns 25% of American Airlines, and Munich Re. All of these companies are directly impacted by the September 11 attacks.

On September 10, 2001, the NSA intercepted two messages in Arabic. One message read:

“Tomorrow is zero hour” and the second “The match begins tomorrow.” [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002] On June 19, 2002, CNN reported the contents of these two National Security Agency intercepts. Other news outlets, including The Washington Post, also reported on the intercepts.  [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002]

September 10, 2001: Bush flew to Florida from Texas to visit with his brother Governor Jeb Bush. Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau’s counter-terrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs, but none of them relate to counter-terrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relating to counter-terrorism. This is more than a little strange, since Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to terrorist threats (see July 26, 2001) and he told a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his “highest priority.” [New York Times, 6/1/02, Guardian, 5/21/02]

Final Observations

The final attack varied very little from the last planning stage. One of the hijacked planes, the one intended to hit the Capitol building, was crashed by action of its passengers but the other three struck their targets as anticipated. The flames, smoke and general confusion were indeed a public spectacle, seen by all of America and the buildings, beams severed when the heat reached a certain point, did collapse in great clouds. A third building was tended to from the inside, not struck by an aircraft, and because great tanks of fuel were ignited, burned until it collapsed some time later.

The carnage was not to believe and everyone involved in this felt is was a most profitable operation. As we know, the President was acclaimed as a great leader and he was then able to marshal national support into his attack on Iraq. The military campaign, as foreseen, has proven to be quick and decisive, Hussein and his henchmen were swept away and now the American military and civilian forces are in complete control of Iraq. Iran has been put on notice and we expect a large, permanent American military base in the area to act as a deterrent to any future manifestation of Arab nationalism. All of our technicians, as opposed to our intelligence people, were immediately evacuated and aside from several who were temporarily detained by American authorities, eventually all were released and returned safe home.Now, we have moved from a defensive to an offensive posture and, with American support and a large military presence, the ever-present fears of attacks have been neutralized, hopefully for a very long time.”


Trump close adviser Kushner loses access to coveted intelligence briefing: sources

February 27, 2018

by Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, has lost access to the most valued U.S. intelligence report, the President’s Daily Brief, as the White House imposes greater discipline on access to secrets, two U.S. officials familiar with the matter said on Tuesday

Kushner, who has been operating under an interim security clearance for about a year, had his access to the highly classified briefing cut off in the past few weeks, said the sources.

A third official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently passed new information to White House Counsel Don McGahn that led to the slowing or stopping of Kushner’s pending clearance application. The nature of that information was not clear.

It also is unclear if and when Kushner’s access to the PDB, which requires not only a Top Secret clearance, but also access to even more closely guarded intelligence, would be reinstated.

A White House spokesman for Kushner did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement: “Mr. Kushner has done more than what is expected of him in this process.”

“My inquiries … have confirmed that there are a dozen or more people at Mr. Kushner’s level whose process is delayed, that it is not uncommon for this process to take this long in a new administration, that the current backlogs are being addressed, and no concerns were raised about Mr. Kushner’s application,” Lowell said.

The President’s Daily Brief is distributed to a small number of top-level U.S. officials. It includes highly classified intelligence analysis, information about CIA covert operations and reports from the most sensitive U.S. sources or those shared by allied intelligence agencies.

Trump’s White House has been grappling with the security clearance issue since it emerged this month that staff secretary Rob Porter worked for Trump for a year with a temporary clearance despite accusations by his two former wives of domestic abuse. Porter has maintained his innocence.

Additional reporting by John Walcott and Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney


Antisemitic incidents in US soar to highest level in two decades

Largest year-on-year increase since 1979 comes as Trump administration is accused of failing to condemn bigotry

February 27, 2018

by Oliver Holmes

The Guardian

Antisemitic incidents in the US surged 57% in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League said on Tuesday, the largest year-on-year increase since the Jewish civil rights group began collecting data in 1979.

Close to 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and physical assault were recorded, the highest number of antisemitic incidents since 1994, it said.

The rise comes amid a climate of rising incivility, the emboldening of hate groups and widening divisions in American society, according to ADL’s national director, Jonathan Greenblatt.

“A confluence of events in 2017 led to a surge in attacks on our community – from bomb threats, cemetery desecrations, white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, and children harassing children at school,” he said.

Rising numbers were in part attributed to the fact that more people were reporting incidents than ever before, the ADL said, adding that its staff independently verify the credibility of each claim.

Incidents were reported in all 50 US states for the first time since 2010, with higher numbers reported in areas with large Jewish populations.

Donald Trump’s administration has been accused of failing to condemn religious bigotry. Jewish groups scolded the president last year for not mentioning Jews or antisemitism in a statement about the Holocaust.

Following August violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists waved insignia from Nazi Germany and yelled “Jews will not replace us”, Trump was slammed for suggesting a moral equivalency between members of the far right and counterdemonstrators. “You had people that were very fine people on both sides,” he said.

The ADL’s report said US schools and colleges were particularly affected, with antisemitic incidents nearly doubling since 2016, often including swastikas drawn on school facilities or Jewish students’ notebooks. Sometimes vandalism included phrases such as: “Hitler was not wrong” or “white power”.

There were 204 incidents on university campuses in 2017, compared with 108 in 2016. A separate ADL study released last month found a more than 250% increase in white supremacist activity, such as distributing neo-Nazi fliers, on college campuses in the current academic year.

Jewish graves or cemeteries were desecrated seven times in 2017, the group said, contributing to a sense that the American Jewish community was “under siege”.

“One bright spot in this was the response of members of the Muslim and Christian faiths, who raised thousands of dollars to help repair the damaged tombstones,” it said.

Last year’s surge bucks a trend in which numbers have mostly declined over the past two decades, although there were moderate increases in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 the numbers started to rise significantly.

Jews and Muslims were the most targeted groups in the US for religious-motivated hate crimes in 2016, according to the FBI, accounting for 54% and 24% of offences respectively.

The ADL’s report included 163 bomb threats in 2017, the vast majority of which were made by an Israeli-American teenager who was later arrested and faces accusations of making threats for financial gain. The teenager’s calls stoked fears of rising antisemitism.

The ADL said it “included the bomb threats in the total count because, regardless of the motivation of any specific perpetrator, Jewish communities were repeatedly traumatised by these assaults on their institutions and threats to their safety.”

Secrecy News

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2018, Issue No. 13

February 26, 2018


The Trump Administration requested $220 million next year “to continue the orderly and safe closure of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility.”

The MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility was intended to eliminate excess weapons-grade plutonium by blending it with uranium oxide to produce a “mixed oxide” that is not suitable for nuclear weapons. The Administration proposes instead to pursue a “dilute and dispose” approach.

Termination of the MOX Facility in South Carolina had previously been proposed — but not approved — in budget requests for the last two years, due to mounting costs.

“Construction remains significantly over budget and behind schedule,” the Department of Energy said in a November 2017 report to Congress. “The MOX production objective was not met in 2015 or 2016 and will not be met in 2017.”

“Due to the increasing costs of constructing and operating the MOX facility, both the Department’s analysis and independent analyses of U.S. plutonium disposition strategies have consistently and repeatedly concluded that the MOX fuel strategy is more costly and requires more annual funding than the dilute and dispose approach,” the DOE report said. The report was released by DOE under the Freedom of Information Act.

Though disfavored by the Administration, the MOX program has a champion in South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham. “I will fight like crazy” to preserve it unless he is convinced that a superior alternative exists, he said at a February 8 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Detailed background on the MOX program can be found in Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Plant and Plutonium Disposition: Management and Policy Issues, Congressional Research Service, December 14, 2017.

The latest proposal to terminate the MOX program was reported in “Aiken County legislators unsurprised by Trump’s anti-MOX budget” by Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard, February 19.


Recent polls indicate that a large majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws. But lately Congress has been moving in the opposite direction.

In December, the House of Representatives passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (HR 38) which would generally allow persons who are authorized to carry a concealed handgun in one state to carry a handgun in other states even if the latter states have different eligibility requirements for concealed carry.

Not only that: The bill also provides for a private right of action so that the gun owner could sue any person or agency, apparently including a law enforcement agency, that interferes with his concealed-carry rights.

This provision “raises numerous legal questions,” the Congressional Research Service said in a brief new analysis. “For instance, what rights does the bill bestow, who may enforce them, and who may be sued for interfering with those rights?”

See Civil-Suit Provision in House-Passed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill (H.R. 38): Scope and Application, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 21, 2018.

These questions were also addressed at greater length in another new CRS publication. See Civil-Suit Provision in the House-passed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38), CRS memorandum, February 20, 2018.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

  • FY2019 Budget: Government Reorganization and Federal Workforce Reform, CRS Insight, February 22, 2018
  • Pedal to the Metal: Commerce Recommends Revving Up Trade Measures on Steel and Aluminum, CRS Legal Sidebar, February 21, 2018

Bankruptcy and Student Loans, February 22, 2018

  • FY2018 Defense Spending Under an Interim Continuing Resolution, CRS In Focus, updated February 20, 2018
  • Defense Primer: Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, CRS In Focus, February 21, 2018
  • Defense Primer: Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), CRS In Focus, February 16, 2018


How the Pentagon Devours the Budget

Normalizing Budgetary Bloat

by William D. Hartung

Tom Dispatch

Imagine for a moment a scheme in which American taxpayers were taken to the cleaners to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and there was barely a hint of criticism or outrage.  Imagine as well that the White House and a majority of the politicians in Washington, no matter the party, acquiesced in the arrangement.  In fact, the annual quest to boost Pentagon spending into the stratosphere regularly follows that very scenario, assisted by predictions of imminent doom from industry-funded hawks with a vested interest in increased military outlays.

Most Americans are probably aware that the Pentagon spends a lot of money, but it’s unlikely they grasp just how huge those sums really are.  All too often, astonishingly lavish military budgets are treated as if they were part of the natural order, like death or taxes.

The figures contained in the recent budget deal that kept Congress open, as well as in President Trump’s budget proposal for 2019, are a case in point: $700 billion for the Pentagon and related programs in 2018 and $716 billion the following year.  Remarkably, such numbers far exceeded even the Pentagon’s own expansive expectations.  According to Donald Trump, admittedly not the most reliable source in all cases, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reportedly said, “Wow, I can’t believe we got everything we wanted” — a rare admission from the head of an organization whose only response to virtually any budget proposal is to ask for more.

The public reaction to such staggering Pentagon budget hikes was muted, to put it mildly. Unlike last year’s tax giveaway to the rich, throwing near-record amounts of tax dollars at the Department of Defense generated no visible public outrage.  Yet those tax cuts and Pentagon increases are closely related.  The Trump administration’s pairing of the two mimics the failed approach of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s — only more so.  It’s a phenomenon I’ve termed “Reaganomics on steroids.”  Reagan’s approach yielded oceans of red ink and a severe weakening of the social safety net.  It also provoked such a strong pushback that he later backtracked by raising taxes and set the stage for sharp reductions in nuclear weapons.

Donald Trump’s retrograde policies on immigration, women’s rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, and economic inequality have spawned an impressive and growing resistance.  It remains to be seen whether his generous treatment of the Pentagon at the expense of basic human needs will spur a similar backlash.

Of course, it’s hard to even get a bead on what’s being lavished on the Pentagon when much of the media coverage failed to drive home just how enormous these sums actually are. A rare exception was an Associated Press story headlined “Congress, Trump Give the Pentagon a Budget the Likes of Which It Has Never Seen.” This was certainly far closer to the truth than claims like that of Mackenzie Eaglen of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which over the years has housed such uber-hawks as Dick Cheney and John Bolton.  She described the new budget as a “modest year-on-year increase.” If that’s the case, one shudders to think what an immodest increase might look like.

The Pentagon Wins Big

So let’s look at the money.

Though the Pentagon’s budget was already through the roof, it will get an extra $165 billion over the next two years, thanks to the congressional budget deal reached earlier this month.  To put that figure in context, it was tens of billions of dollars more than Donald Trump had asked for last spring to  “rebuild” the U.S. military (as he put it).  It even exceeded the figures, already higher than Trump’s, Congress had agreed to last December.  It brings total spending on the Pentagon and related programs for nuclear weapons to levels higher than those reached during the Korean and Vietnam wars in the 1950s and 1960s, or even at the height of Ronald Reagan’s vaunted military buildup of the 1980s. Only in two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when there were roughly 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or about seven times current levels of personnel deployed there, was spending higher.

Ben Freeman of the Center for International Policy put the new Pentagon budget numbers in perspective when he pointed out that just the approximately $80 billion annual increase in the department’s top line between 2017 and 2019 will be double the current budget of the State Department; higher than the gross domestic products of more than 100 countries; and larger than the entire military budget of any country in the world, except China’s.

Democrats signed on to that congressional budget as part of a deal to blunt some of the most egregious Trump administration cuts proposed last spring.  The administration, for example, kept the State Department’s budget from being radically slashed and it reauthorized the imperiled Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another 10 years.  In the process, however, the Democrats also threw millions of young immigrants under the bus by dropping an insistence that any new budget protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or “Dreamers,” program.  Meanwhile, the majority of Republican fiscal conservatives were thrilled to sign off on a Pentagon increase that, combined with the Trump tax cut for the rich, funds ballooning deficits as far as the eye can see — a total of $7.7 trillion worth of them over the next decade.

While domestic spending fared better in the recent congressional budget deal than it would have if Trump’s draconian plan for 2018 had been enacted, it still lags far behind what Congress is investing in the Pentagon.  And calculations by the National Priorities Project indicate that the Department of Defense is slated to be an even bigger winner in Trump’s 2019 budget blueprint. Its share of the discretionary budget, which includes virtually everything the government does other than programs like Medicare and Social Security, will mushroom to a once-unimaginable 61 cents on the dollar, a hefty boost from the already startling 54 cents on the dollar in the final year of the Obama administration.

The skewed priorities in Trump’s latest budget proposal are fueled in part by the administration’s decision to embrace the Pentagon increases Congress agreed to last month, while tossing that body’s latest decisions on non-military spending out the window.  Although Congress is likely to rein in the administration’s most extreme proposals, the figures are stark indeed — a proposed cut of $120 billion in the domestic spending levels both parties agreed to. The biggest reductions include a 41% cut in funding for diplomacy and foreign aid; a 36% cut in funding for energy and the environment; and a 35% cut in housing and community development.  And that’s just the beginning.  The Trump administration is also preparing to launch full-scale assaults on food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare.  It’s war on everything except the U.S. military.

Corporate Welfare

The recent budget plans have brought joy to the hearts of one group of needy Americans: the top executives of major weapons contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. They expect a bonanza from the skyrocketing Pentagon expenditures. Don’t be surprised if the CEOs of these five firms give themselves nice salary boosts, something to truly justify their work, rather than the paltry $96 million they drew as a group in 2016 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available).

And keep in mind that, like all other U.S.-based corporations, those military-industrial behemoths will benefit richly from the Trump administration’s slashing of the corporate tax rate.  According to one respected industry analyst, a good portion of this windfall will go towards bonuses and increased dividends for company shareholders rather than investments in new and better ways to defend the United States.  In short, in the Trump era, Lockheed Martin and its cohorts are guaranteed to make money coming and going.

Items that snagged billions in new funding in Trump’s proposed 2019 budget included Lockheed Martin’s overpriced, underperforming F-35 aircraft, at $10.6 billion; Boeing’s F-18 “Super Hornet,” which was in the process of being phased out by the Obama administration but is now written in for $2.4 billion; Northrop Grumman’s B-21 nuclear bomber at $2.3 billion; General Dynamics’ Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine at $3.9 billion; and $12 billion for an array of missile-defense programs that will redound to the benefit of… you guessed it: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing, among other companies.  These are just a few of the dozens of weapons programs that will be feeding the bottom lines of such companies in the next two years and beyond.  For programs still in their early stages, like that new bomber and the new ballistic missile submarine, their banner budgetary years are yet to come.

In explaining the flood of funding that enables a company like Lockheed Martin to reap $35 billion per year in government dollars, defense analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group noted that “diplomacy is out; air strikes are in… In this sort of environment, it’s tough to keep a lid on costs. If demand goes up, prices don’t generally come down. And, of course, it’s virtually impossible to kill stuff. You don’t have to make any kind of tough choices when there’s such a rising tide.”

Pentagon Pork Versus Human Security

Loren Thompson is a consultant to many of those weapons contractors.  His think tank, the Lexington Institute, also gets contributions from the arms industry.  He caught the spirit of the moment when he praised the administration’s puffed-up Pentagon proposal for using the Defense Department budget as a jobs creator in key states, including the crucial swing state of Ohio, which helped propel Donald Trump to victory in 2016.  Thompson was particularly pleased with a plan to ramp up General Dynamics’s production of M-1 tanks in Lima, Ohio, in a factory whose production line the Army had tried to put on hold just a few years ago because it was already drowning in tanks and had no conceivable use for more of them.

Thompson argues that the new tanks are needed to keep up with Russia’s production of armored vehicles, a dubious assertion with a decidedly Cold War flavor to it.  His claim is backed up, of course, by the administration’s new National Security Strategy, which targets Russia and China as the most formidable threats to the United States.  Never mind that the likely challenges posed by these two powers — cyberattacks in the Russian case and economic expansion in the Chinese one — have nothing to do with how many tanks the U.S. Army possesses.

Trump wants to create jobs, jobs, jobs he can point to, and pumping up the military-industrial complex must seem like the path of least resistance to that end in present-day Washington.  Under the circumstances, what does it matter that virtually any other form of spending would create more jobs and not saddle Americans with weaponry we don’t need?

If past performance offers any indication, none of the new money slated to pour into the Pentagon will make anyone safer.  As Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has noted, there is a danger that the Pentagon will just get “fatter not stronger” as its worst spending habits are reinforced by a new gusher of dollars that relieves its planners of making any reasonably hard choices at all.

The list of wasteful expenditures is already staggeringly long and early projections are that bureaucratic waste at the Pentagon will amount to $125 billion over the next five years.  Among other things, the Defense Department already employs a shadow work force of more than 600,000 private contractors whose responsibilities overlap significantly with work already being done by government employees.  Meanwhile, sloppy buying practices regularly result in stories like the recent ones on the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency losing track of how it spent $800 million and how two American commands were unable to account for $500 million meant for the war on drugs in the Greater Middle East and Africa.

Add to this the $1.5 trillion slated to be spent on F-35s that the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight has noted may never be ready for combat and the unnecessary “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and missiles at a minimum cost of $1.2 trillion over the next three decades.  In other words, a large part of the Pentagon’s new funding will do much to fuel good times in the military-industrial complex but little to help the troops or defend the country.

Most important of all, this flood of new funding, which could crush a generation of Americans under a mountain of debt, will make it easier to sustain the seemingly endless seven wars that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.  So call this one of the worst investments in history, ensuring as it does failed wars to the horizon.

It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.  A national debate about such matters in the run-up to the 2018 and 2020 elections could determine whether it continues to be business-as-usual at the Pentagon or whether the largest agency in the federal government is finally reined in and relegated to an appropriately defensive posture.

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