Military Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on military corruption
In nearly nine years of warfare in Afghanistan, U.S. Special Forces have done their fighting in the shadows, governed by rules largely of their own making. Now, these elite and secretive troops, their actions long shielded from public scrutiny, are the focus of a high-profile investigation that could shed unprecedented light on their methods and tactics. American and Afghan officials are probing a possible attempted coverup in the deaths of five Afghan civilians in February in a raid carried out by U.S. Special Forces accompanied by Afghan troops. Three of those killed were women and among the charges is that the bodies were tampered with by coalition forces to conceal the cause of death. Special Forces are inextricably linked to one of the most contentious issues between the Afghan government and Western forces: civilian deaths and injuries. Special Forces account for a disproportionate share of civilian casualties caused by Western troops ... though there are no precise figures because so many of their missions are deemed secret. In mountain villages and desert hamlets, the Special Forces inspire dread among Afghans, who tend to speak of them in whispers. Their strikes are usually swift and violent, most often taking place in the dead of night.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on US military atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, click here.
The invasion of Iraq had no "legal basis in international law", the senior government lawyer Sir Michael Wood has told the Chilcot inquiry. Sir Michael ... was the most senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office at the time of the invasion. "I considered that the use of force against Iraq in March 2003 was contrary to international law," he said in a written statement. "In my opinion, that use of force had not been authorised by the (United Nations) Security Council, and had no other basis in international law." Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary, rejected advice that the war would be unlawful, the inquiry heard. Sir Michael wrote to Mr Straw on January 24, 2003 to express concerns about comments [Straw] made to then-US vice president Dick Cheney. Mr Straw told Mr Cheney that Britain would "prefer" a second resolution but it would be "OK" if they tried and failed to get one "a la Kosovo". Sir Michael commented that this was "completely wrong from a legal point of view". Sir Michael said this was "probably the first and only occasion" that a minister rejected his legal advice in this way.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the real reasons behind the invasion of Iraq, click here.
President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year. The missed deadline spells trouble for the White House’s promises to introduce an era of government openness, say advocates, who believe that releasing historical information enforces a key check on government behavior. They cite as an example the abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War, including domestic spying and assassinations of foreign officials, that were publicly outlined in a set of agency documents known as the "family jewels." The White House has given the agencies ... an extension beyond Dec. 31 of an undetermined length - possibly years. It will be the third such extension: Clinton granted one in 2000 and Bush granted one in 2003. The documents, dating from World War II to the early 1980s, cover the gamut of foreign relations, intelligence activities, and military operations. The records in question are held by the Central Intelligence Agency; the National Security Agency; the departments of Justice, State, Defense, and Energy; and other security and intelligence agencies. None of the agencies involved responded to requests for comment. Steven Aftergood, a specialist on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington [said] "If binding deadlines can be extended more or less at will, then any new declassification requirements will be similarly subject to doubt or defiance."
Note: These documents are all more than 25 years old. Why can't the public know what their government is trying to hide from them? For lots more on government secrecy, click here.
A written exam administered by the Pentagon labels "protests" as a form of “low-level terrorism” – enraging civil liberties advocates and activist groups who say it shows blatant disregard of the First Amendment. The written exam, given as part of Department of Defense employees’ routine training, includes a multiple-choice question that asks: “Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorism?” – Attacking the Pentagon – IEDs – Hate crimes against racial groups – Protests. The correct answer, according to the exam, is "Protests." “Its part of a pattern of equating dissent and protest with terrorism," said Ann Brick, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained a copy of the question after a Defense Department employee who was taking the test printed the screen on his or her computer terminal. "It undermines the core constitutional values the Department of Defense is supposed to be defending,” Brick said, referring to the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. She said the ACLU has asked the Defense Department to remove the question and send out a correction to all employees who took the exam. “There were other employees who were unhappy with it and disturbed by it,” Brick said. Anti-war protesters, who say they have been targets of federal surveillance for years, were livid when they were told about the exam question. “That’s illegal,” said George Martin, national co-chairman of United for Peace and Justice. “Protest in terms of legal dissent has to be recognized, especially by the authorities. It’s not terrorism or a lack of patriotism. We care enough to be active in our government.”
Note: For lots more on the continually-escalating government threats to civil liberties, click here.
The U.S. economy is in free fall, the banking system is in a state of complete collapse and Americans all across the country are downsizing their standards of living. The nation as we’ve known it is fading before our very eyes, but we’re still pouring billions of dollars into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with missions we are still unable to define. Even as the U.S. begins plans to reduce troop commitments in Iraq, it is sending thousands of additional troops into Afghanistan. The strategic purpose of this escalation, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged, is not at all clear. We invaded Afghanistan more than seven years ago. We don’t even have an escalation strategy, much less an exit strategy. An honest assessment of the situation ... would lead inexorably to such terms as fiasco and quagmire. Instead of cutting our losses, we appear to be doubling down. As for Iraq, President Obama announced last week that substantial troop withdrawals will take place over the next year and a half and that U.S. combat operations would cease by the end of August 2010. But, he said, a large contingent of American troops, perhaps as many as 50,000, would still remain in Iraq for a “period of transition.” That’s a large number of troops, and the cost of keeping them there will be huge. I can easily imagine a scenario in which Afghanistan and Iraq both heat up and the U.S., caught in an extended economic disaster at home, undermines its fragile recovery efforts in the same way that societies have undermined themselves since the dawn of time — with endless warfare.
Note: The strategic purpose of keeping the wars going is well known by the bankers and power elite. A top U.S. general revealed it all in a powerful book, of which we have a two-page summary available here. For revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the Iraq and Afghan wars, click here.
Armed robotic aircraft soar in the skies above Pakistan, hurling death down. Soon -- years, not decades, from now -- American armed robots will patrol on the ground as well, fundamentally transforming the face of battle. The detachment with which the United States can inflict death upon our enemies is surely one reason why U.S. military involvement around the world has expanded over the past two decades. The Future Combat Systems program is aimed at developing an array of new vehicles and systems -- including armed robots. These killers will be utterly without remorse or pity when confronting the enemy. Armed robots will all be snipers. Stone-cold killers, every one of them. They will aim with inhuman precision and fire without human hesitation. They will not need bonuses to enlist or housing for their families or expensive training ranges or retirement payments. Commanders will order them onto battlefields that would mean certain death for humans, knowing that the worst to come is a trip to the shop for repairs.
Note: For lots more on developing war technologies from reliable sources, click here.
We no longer have a civilian-led government. The most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk. President-elect Barack Obama's selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence ... could complete the silent military coup d'etat that has been steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media. While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in faraway places -- Iraq and Afghanistan. As military officers sought to take over the role played by civilian development experts abroad, Pentagon bureaucrats quietly populated the National Security Council and the State Department with their own personnel ... to ensure that the Defense Department could keep an eye on its rival agencies. The encroachment within America's borders continued with the military's increased involvement in domestic surveillance and its attempts to usurp the role of the federal courts in reviewing detainee cases. The Pentagon also resisted ceding any authority over its extensive intelligence operations to the ... director of national intelligence. Now the Pentagon has drawn up plans to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers inside our borders by 2011.
Note: The author of this piece, Thomas A. Schweich, served the Bush administration as ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs.
Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest. Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey. General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington’s power elite. A consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point or commanded in the Persian Gulf war. But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000 appearances on NBC and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New York Times. His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.
Note: This in-depth article on the "military-industrial-media complex" is worth reading in its entirety. For lots more on war profiteering from reliable sources, click here.
Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security. Deliberate employment of weapons of mass destruction or other catastrophic capabilities, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters are all paths to disruptive domestic shock. An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home. Already predisposed to defer to the primacy of civilian authorities in instances of domestic security and divest all but the most extreme demands in areas like civil support and consequence management, DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance.
Note: For an analysis which deconstructs the opaque military jargon in which this revealing strategic document is written, click here. Use of military forces to maintain domestic order has been forbidden since 1878 by the Posse Comitatus Act. The Pentagon appears to be planning to abrogate this key support of civil liberties.
Over the past week the media was gripped by the news that the FBI was about to charge Bruce Ivins, a leading anthrax expert, as the man responsible for the anthrax letter attacks in September/October 2001. But despite the seemingly powerful narrative that Ivins committed suicide because investigators were closing in, this is still far from a shut case. The FBI needs to explain why it zeroed in on Ivins, how he could have made the anthrax mailed to lawmakers and the media, and how he (or anyone else) could have pulled off the attacks, acting alone. The spores could not have been produced at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where Ivins worked, without many other people being aware of it. Furthermore, the equipment to make such a product does not exist at the institute. The product contained essentially pure spores. The particle size was 1.5 to 3 microns in diameter. There are several methods used to produce anthrax that small. But most of them require milling the spores to a size small enough that it can be inhaled into the lower reaches of the lungs. In this case, however, the anthrax spores were not milled. They were also tailored to make them potentially more dangerous. The spores were coated with a polyglass which tightly bound hydrophilic silica to each particle. Each particle was given a weak electric charge, thereby causing the particles to repel each other at the molecular level. This made it easier for the spores to float in the air, and increased their retention in the lungs. In short, the potential lethality of anthrax in this case far exceeds that of any powdered product found in the now extinct U.S. Biological Warfare Program.
Auditors at a Pentagon oversight agency were pressured by supervisors to skew their reports on major defense contractors to make them look more favorable instead of exposing wrongdoing and charges of overbilling, according to an 80-page report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. The Defense Contract Audit Agency, which oversees contractors for the Defense Department, "improperly influenced the audit scope, conclusions and opinions" of reviews of contractor performance, the GAO said, creating a "serious independence issue." The report does not name the projects or the contractors involved, but staff members on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who were briefed on the findings cited seven contractors, some of whom are among the biggest in the defense industry: Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Fluor, Parker Hannifin, Sparta, SRS Technologies and a subsidiary of L3 Communications. Supervisors at DCAA attempted to intimidate auditors, prevented them from speaking with GAO investigators and created a "generally abusive work environment," the report said. It cited incidents of "verbal admonishments, reassignments and threats of disciplinary action" against workers who "raised questions about management guidance." The GAO said it launched the two-year inquiry after complaints on a fraud hotline. Its investigators conducted more than 100 interviews of 50 people involved in audits between 2003 and 2007.
Note: For eye-opening reports on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
The two-star general who led an Army investigation into the horrific detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib has accused the Bush administration of war crimes and is calling for accountability. In his 2004 report on Abu Ghraib, then-Major General Anthony Taguba concluded that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees." He called the abuse "systemic and illegal." And, as Seymour M. Hersh reported in The New Yorker, he was rewarded for his honesty by being forced into retirement. Now, in a preface to a Physicians for Human Rights report based on medical examinations of former detainees, Taguba adds an epilogue to his own investigation. The new report, he writes, "tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individual's lives on their bodies and minds. The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes."
Note: For many revealing reports on the brutal realities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, click here.
The Army official who managed the Pentagon’s largest contract in Iraq says he was ousted from his job when he refused to approve paying more than $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR, the Houston-based company that has provided food, housing and other services to American troops. The official, Charles M. Smith, was the senior civilian overseeing the multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the first two years of the war. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Smith said that he was forced from his job in 2004 after informing KBR officials that the Army would impose escalating financial penalties if they failed to improve their chaotic Iraqi operations. Army auditors had determined that KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. But he was suddenly replaced, he said, and his successors — after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR’s claims — approved most of the payments he had tried to block. Mr. Smith’s account fills in important gaps about the Pentagon’s handling of the KBR contract, which has cost more than $20 billion so far and has come under fierce criticism from lawmakers. Mr. Smith ... is giving his account just as the Pentagon has recently awarded KBR part of a 10-year, $150 billion contract in Iraq.
Note: For a summary of US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler's book on war profiteering, click here.
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantďż˝namo Bay. The detention center had just been branded ďż˝the gulag of our timesďż˝ by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure. The administrationďż˝s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantďż˝namo. To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as ďż˝military analystsďż˝ whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world. Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administrationďż˝s wartime performance. The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants.
The Pentagon has placed unprecedented restrictions on who can testify before Congress, reserving the right to bar lower-ranking officers, enlisted soldiers, and career bureaucrats from appearing before oversight committees or having their remarks transcribed. The guidelines, described in an April 19 memo to the staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, adds that all field-level officers and enlisted personnel must be "deemed appropriate" by the Department of Defense before they can participate in personal briefings for members of Congress or their staffs. In addition, according to the memo, the proceedings must not be recorded. Any officers who are allowed to testify must be accompanied by an official from the administration. Veterans of the legislative process -- who say they have never heard of such guidelines before -- maintain that the Pentagon has no authority to set such ground rules. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the guidelines are new. The memo has fueled complaints that the Bush administration is trying to restrict access to information about the war in Iraq. [A] special House oversight panel, according to aides, has written at least 10 letters to the Pentagon since February seeking information and has received only one official reply. Nor has the Pentagon fully complied with repeated requests for all the monthly assessments of Iraqi security forces.
Note: When the military begins to control the legislative, democracy begins to shift towards dictatorship. And for reliable information how the Pentagon cannot account for hundreds of billions of dollars, click here.
Our collective failure has been to take our political leaders at their word. This week the BBC reported that the government's own scientists advised ministers that the Johns Hopkins study on Iraq civilian mortality was accurate and reliable. Published in the Lancet ...it estimated that 650,000 Iraqi civilians had died since the American and British led invasion in March 2003. Immediately after publication, the prime minister's official spokesman said that the Lancet's study "was not one we believe to be anywhere near accurate". The foreign secretary ... said that the Lancet figures were "extrapolated" and a "leap". President Bush said: "I don't consider it a credible report". Scientists at the UK's Department for International Development thought differently. They concluded that the study's methods were "tried and tested". Indeed, the Johns Hopkins approach would likely lead to an "underestimation of mortality". The Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser ... recommended "caution in publicly criticising the study". When these recommendations went to the prime minister's advisers, they were horrified. Tony Blair was advised to say: "The overriding message is that there are no accurate or reliable figures of deaths in Iraq". At a time when we are celebrating our enlightened abolition of slavery 200 years ago, we are continuing to commit one of the worst international abuses of human rights of the past half-century. Two hundred years from now, the Iraq war will be mourned as the moment when Britain violated its delicate democratic constitution and joined the ranks of nations that use extreme pre-emptive killing as a tactic of foreign policy.
Note: This article is written by Richard Horton, the editor of the highly esteemed British medical journal Lancet.
A House committee report on Tuesday questioned whether some of the billions of dollars in cash shipped to Iraq after the American invasion — mostly in huge, shrink-wrapped stacks of $100 bills — might have ended up with the insurgent groups now battling American troops. Democrats sharply questioned the former American civilian administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, about lax management of the nearly $12 billion in cash shipped to Iraq between May 2003 and June 2004. Mr. Bremer defended his performance as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, noting that the United States had to bring tons of American dollars into Iraq because the country had no functioning banking system. Government auditors have repeatedly criticized the American and Iraqi governments for failing to monitor the money once it reached Iraq. “We have no way of knowing if the cash that was shipped into the Green Zone ended up in enemy hands,” [Committee Chairman Henry Waxman] said. “We owe it to the American people to do everything we can to find out where the $12 billion went.” Mr. Waxman, whose panel is pursuing investigations of fraud and abuse by the federal government and its contractors in Iraq, said he found it remarkable that the Bush administration had decided to send billions of dollars of American currency into Iraq so quickly after the United States occupied the country. The committee calculated that the $12 billion in cash, most of it in the stacks of $100 bills, weighed 363 tons and had to been flown in on wooden pallets aboard giant C-130 military cargo planes. “Who in their right mind would send 360 tons of cash into a war zone?” Mr. Waxman said.
Note: Think about Bremer's assertion that Iraq needed U.S. dollars as the banking system had collapsed. Banking systems have collapsed in numerous countries in the last century, yet that has never stopped the country from functioning, nor has the U.S. ever offered to send huge amounts of cash to help out in the past.
Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public. Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission. Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission [said], "It was just so far from the truth." In an article scheduled to be on newsstands today, Vanity Fair magazine reports aspects of the commission debate...and publishes lengthy excerpts from military audiotapes recorded on Sept. 11. ABC News aired excerpts last night. For more than two years after the attacks, officials with NORAD and the FAA provided inaccurate information about the response to the hijackings in testimony and media appearances. Authorities suggested that U.S. air defenses had reacted quickly, that jets had been scrambled in response to the last two hijackings and that fighters were prepared to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 if it threatened Washington. In fact, the commission reported a year later, audiotapes from NORAD's Northeast headquarters and other evidence showed clearly that the military never had any of the hijacked airliners in its sights.
Note: Why didn't they report this in the media when the 9/11 report was issued?
A $300 million Pentagon psychological warfare operation includes plans for placing pro-American messages in foreign media outlets without disclosing the U.S. government as the source, one of the military officials in charge of the program says. Run by psychological warfare experts at the U.S. Special Operations Command, the media campaign is being designed to counter terrorist ideology and sway foreign audiences to support American policies. The program will operate throughout the world, including in allied nations and in countries where the United States is not involved in armed conflict. The three companies handling the campaign include the Lincoln Group, the company being investigated by the Pentagon for paying Iraqi newspapers to run pro-U.S. stories. (Related story: Contracts for pro-U.S. propaganda) It's legal for the government to plant propaganda in other countries but not in the USA.
Sixty years ago the US hired Nazi scientists to lead pioneering projects, such as the race to conquer space. These men provided the US with cutting-edge technology which still leads the way today, but at a cost. Major-General Hugh Knerr, deputy commander of the US Air Force in Europe, wrote: "Occupation of German scientific and industrial establishments has revealed the fact that we have been alarmingly backward in many fields of research. "If we do not take the opportunity to seize the apparatus and the brains that developed it...we will remain several years behind." Thus began Project Paperclip, the US operation which saw von Braun and more than 700 others spirited out of Germany from under the noses of the US's allies. Its aim was simple: "To exploit German scientists for American research and to deny these intellectual resources to the Soviet Union." President Truman authorised Paperclip in August 1945 and, on 18 November, the first Germans reached America. All of these men were cleared to work for the US, their alleged crimes covered up and their backgrounds bleached by a military which saw winning the Cold War, and not upholding justice, as its first priority.
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