Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon

Over Two Decades, The Pentagon Has Lost $10 Trillion

And the Defense Department has no idea where it went.

Over a mere two decades, the Pentagon lost track of a mind-numbing $10-trillion — that’s trillion, with a fat, taxpayer-funded “T” — and no one, not even the Department of Defense, really knows where it went or on what it was spent.

Even though audits of all federal agencies became mandatory in 1996, the Pentagon has apparently made itself an exception, and — fully 20 years later — stands obstinately orotund in never having complied.

Because, as defense officials insist — summoning their best impudent adolescent — an audit would take too long and, ironically, cost too much.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” Rafael DeGennaro, director of Audit the Pentagontold the Guardian recently. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.”

Worse, President Trump’s newly-proposed budget seeks to toss an additional $54-billion into the evidently bottomless pit that is the U.S. military  — more for interventionist policy, more for resource-plundering, more for proxy fighting, and, of course, more for jets and drones to drop more bombs suspiciously often on civilians.

Because, without the mandated audit, the DoD could be purchasing damned near anything, at any cost, and use, or give, it — to anyone, for any reason.

Officials with the Government Accountability Office and Office of the Inspector General have cataloged egregious financial disparities at the Pentagon for years — yet the Defense Department grouses the cost and energy necessary to perform an audit in compliance with the law makes it untenable.

Astonishingly, the Pentagon’s own watchdog tacitly approves this technically-illegal workaround — and the legally-gray and, yes, literally, on-the-books-corrupt practices in tandem — to what would incontrovertibly be a most unpleasant audit, indeed.

Take the following of myriad examples, called “plugging,” for which Pentagon bookkeepers are not only encouraged to conjure figures from thin air but, in many cases, they would be physically and administratively incapable of performing the job without doing so — without ever having faced consequences for this brazen cooking of books.

To wit, Reuters reported the results of an investigation into Defense’s magical number-crunching — well over three years ago, on November 18, 2013 — detailing the illicit tasks of 15-year employee, “Linda Woodford [who] spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.”

Woodford, who has since retired, and others like her, act as individual pieces in the amassing chewed gum only appearing to plug a damning mishandling of funds pilfered from the American people to fund wars overseas for resources in the name of U.S. defense.

“Every month until she retired in 2011,” Scot J. Paltrow wrote for Reuters“she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

“And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. ‘A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,’ Woodford says. ‘We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.’”

Where a number of disparities could be corrected through hurried communications, a great deal — thousands each month, for each person on the task — required fictitious figures.

Murkily deemed, “unsubstantiated change actions” — tersely termed, “plugs” — this artificial fix forcing records into an unnatural alignment is common practice at the Pentagon.

Beyond bogus books, the Pentagon likely flushed that $10 trillion in taxes down the toilet of insanity that is unchecked purchasing by inept staff who must be devoid of prior experience in the field of defense.

This tax robbery would eclipse the palatability of blood money — if it weren’t also being wasted on items such as the 7,437 extraneous Humvee front suspensions — purchased in surplus over the inexplicable 14-year supply of 15,000 unnecessary Humvee front suspensions already gathering warehouse-shelf dust.

And there are three items of note on this particular example, of many:

One, the U.S. Department of Defense considers inventory surpassing a three-year supply, “excessive.”

Two, the stupefying additional seven-thousand-something front suspensions arrived, as ordered, during a period of demand reduced by half.

Three, scores of additional items — mostly unaccounted for in inventory — sit untouched and aging in storage, growing not only incapable of being used, but too dangerous to be properly disposed of safely.

Worse, contractors greedily sink hands into lucrative contracts — with all the same supply-based waste at every level, from the abject disaster that is the $1 trillion F-35 fighter program, to the $8,123.50 shelled out for Bell Helicopter Textron helicopter gears with a price tag of $445.06, to the DoD settlement with Boeing for overcharges of a whopping $13.7 million.

The latter included a charge to the Pentagon of $2,286 — spent for an aluminium pin ordinarily costing just $10 — the irony of whose 228.6 percent markup cannot be overstated.

Considering all the cooking of numbers apparently fueled with burning money stateside, you would think Defense channeled its efforts into becoming a paragon of economic efficiency when the military defends the United States. Overseas. From terrorism. And from terrorists. And terrorist-supporting nations.

But this is the Pentagon — and a trickle of telling headlines regularly grace the news, each evincing yet another missing shipment of weapons, unknown allocation of funds, or retrieval of various U.S.-made arms and munitions by some terrorist group deemed politically less acceptable than others by officials naming pawns.

In fact, so many American weapons and supplies lost by the DoD and CIA become the property of actual terrorists — who then use them sadistically against civilians and strategically against our proxies and theirs — it would be negligent not to describe the phenomenon as pattern, whether or not intent exists behind it.

Since practically the moment of nationalist President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the ceaselessly belligerent of the military-industrial machine have been granted a new head cheerleader with a bullhorn so powerful as to render calls to apply the brakes effectively, if not unpatriotically, moot.

Sans any optimistic indication thus far lacking from the Trump administration it would reverse course and move toward, rather than against, transparency, the painstaking audit imperative to DoD accountability remains only a theory — while the Pentagon’s $10 trillion sits as the world’s largest elephant in apathetic America’s living room.

For now, we know generally where our money is going: war. Which aspect of war — compared to the power of your outrage about its callous and reckless execution in your name — matters little.

Note: I posted an article on that subject on my blog a few years ago

Noam Chomsky: An interesting interview

Profile: Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Nick Mutch
Cherwell, November 15, 2014

There is a beautiful, tragicomic moment in Norman Mailer’s famous book on the march on the Pentagon, Armies of the Night, where he writes of being beaten and bundled into the back of a police wagon before being carted off to a cell.

Thrown in with him is a uniformed member of the American Nazi party, and a dour, slight scholar with a burning fight in his eyes.

Mailer says the man reminds him a bit of Woody Allen. It turns out to be Noam Chomsky.

The anecdote above has more to it than just its obvious gallows humour, as it shows Noam Chomsky as the ultimate example of what the activist academic should be. From the very start of the Vietnam War, through long forgotten American wars of aggression in Indochina, Latin America, Africa and South East Asia, to the more vividly remembered conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has been the leading light of intellectual opposition.

He is also the model scholarly academic, considered the most influential figure in the field of linguistics since the discipline was founded.

Chomsky has a reputation for extreme generosity — offering his time to anyone and everyone who wishes to consult him for the purpose of political debate or scholarly research.

He personally replies to each and every one of the hundreds of emails he receives. He is the utter antithesis of the detached professor in an ivory tower — despite being voted the most influential public intellectual in the world.

We talked initially about the lingering shadow of American power and the hope that was once vested in President Barack Obama to change the direction of the United States.

Why, I ask, did he disappoint his supporters on the Left? And why did political anger against the US government manifest itself mainly as right wing populism, such as in the tea party movement?

Its true Obama is regarded as a disappointment on the Left, but there’s really no reason for that. He’s a master of illusion and many people fell for the illusion — even Europe, which is typically much more sceptical about American leaders. But there was never any basis for it. I don’t say that in retrospect, I was writing about that before his first election. Vote for him maybe, but without any illusions. He’s sort of a centrist liberal, and could easily be a moderate Republican.

He has no particular principles that I can identify. In fact, the advertising industry enthusiastically gave the best marketing campaign of the year to Obama, the year he was first elected. The business press, like the Financial Times reported to executives that they were euphoric at his being elected: they knew he wouldn’t try and rock the system. So, we really have no reason to be surprised.”

He tells me that he did not vote himself. “If I was in a swing state I would have voted against Romney and Ryan, not because I was for Obama, but because they are very dangerous people, and I would vote to keep them out.

The United States doesn’t have anything close to a functioning democratic system. Democracy is supposed to be a system where public opinion strongly influences public policy; that’s the general idea.

In America, we have a very heavily polled society, so we know a lot about what people want. The eminent Princeton authority on elections in the United States concluded that the bottom 70% of the population in terms of low income has no influence on policy whatsoever.

The very rich get everything they want, and the remainder get a small bit of leeway on deciding social issues. That’s not a democratic system that I can recognize.”

Chomsky goes on to invoke Gore Vidal’s comment that American politics has one party: the property party, with two right wings.

In an interesting example he says the last progressive liberal president was Richard Nixon. “Nixon was actually the last real liberal president of the United Status, and far more so than the incumbent. The US establishment is now dedicated to dismantling his legacy: the Environmental Protection Agency, the protection for workers’ rights, the properly graded earned income tax, which essentially gives a subsidy to working people who could barely afford to pay their taxes. This was the peak of the 1960’s activism. They’ve been trying to repeal those ‘mistakes’ ever since.”

We move on to the role of the United States’ power over the rest of the world, particularly the precarious position it holds in the Middle East. Should the West ever intervene in the Arab spring to ensure the spread of democracy?

“The West is strongly opposed to the Arab Spring — based on the terminology of course. The US and their allies don’t want to see democracy develop in the Arab world.

It’s very obvious why there’s not much public opinion undertaken by leading Western polling agencies in these countries.

Take Egypt, in many ways the most important country. A huge majority of the Egyptian population regards Israel as its greatest threat, followed closely by the United States. And yet, the West is trying to press the idea that Iran is the greatest threat in the region.

They [people in the Middle East] don’t particularly like the Iranian regime, but they don’t see it as much of a threat. Sometimes they even believe the region would like Iran to have nuclear weapons to counteract the threat of the US and Israel.

“These are not the opinions that the US and Great Britain want to see put into policy. Whenever you see corporate elites or US politicians citing Arab countries fear of Iran, you’re really seeing them cite the opinions of the dictators, like Mubarak or the Saudi royal family.

But of course they’re going to be opposed to democracy; they’re going to try to stop and limit the spread as much as possible. The US is often considered opposed to radical Islam, which is why they say they stand up to Iran, but the most extreme radical Islamic state in this part of the world is Saudi Arabia, the United States greatest ally in the region.

“There is a long history of Britain and the US supporting radical Islam as a barrier to secular nationalism. Secular nationalism is a real concern for these powers, because it threatens to use the resources of the country to benefit its own populations, rather than Western investors and so on.

“They don’t like radical Islam, if it negatively affects the interests of the United States, but they also strongly oppose the Catholic Church when it negatively affects their interests.

There was a war with the Catholic Church and its associated liberation theology in Latin America in the 1970’s and 1980’s — conveniently glossed over in most accounts of the period.”

We finished by discussing the case of the most controversial activist in the world, Julian Assange, currently languishing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“If there are charges against Julian Assange in Sweden he should face them. In fact he’s been entirely willing to when he’s in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Swedish prosecutors have been invited inside by the Ecuadorian government multiple times. But the sex issues are not what this prosecution is about. The issue is that he acted the way a responsible citizen should. He tried to bring to the public information about what their governments are doing.

He compares Assange’s experience to his involvement in distributing the Pentagon Papers, the controversial files about US policy in Vietnam released in 1971. “We were trying to do exactly the same thing.

There are cases where there is genuinely a need for secrecy, but they have to be treated with the utmost scepticism. If you’ve ever studied declassified documents, you find almost nothing that needs to be concealed for reasons of national security. Mostly the classification system is only a defence of those in power against their own populations. He [Assange] was helping release to the population.”

He ends with the perfect note of irony when I ask him if he has any closing comments. “I have a lot of comments, but nothing ever closes.”

Pentagon’s bad bookkeeping?

Where the $8.5 Trillion (8.5 thousand billion) vanished?

LETTERKENNY ARMY DEPOT, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania –

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency.

Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”

The data flooded in just two days before deadline.

As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” – in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s.

Jeff Yokel, who spent 17 years in senior positions in DFAS’s Cleveland office before retiring in 2009, says supervisors were required to approve every “plug” – thousands a month. “If the amounts didn’t balance, Treasury would hit it back to you,” he says.

After the monthly reports were sent to Treasury, the accountants continued to seek accurate information to correct the entries. In some instances, they succeeded. In others, they didn’t, and the unresolved numbers stood on the books.

At the DFAS offices that handle accounting for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies, fudging the accounts with false entries is standard operating procedure, Reuters has found.

And plugging isn’t confined to DFAS (pronounced DEE-fass). Former military service officials say record-keeping at the operational level throughout the services is rife with made-up numbers to cover lost or missing information.

A review of multiple reports from oversight agencies in recent years shows that the Pentagon also has systematically ignored warnings about its accounting practices. “These types of adjustments, made without supporting documentation … can mask much larger problems in the original accounting data,” the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in a December 2011 report.

Plugs also are symptomatic of one very large problem: the Pentagon’s chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen.

This is the second installment in a series in which Reuters delves into the Defense Department’s inability to account for itself.

The first article examined how the Pentagon’s record-keeping dysfunction results in widespread pay errors that inflict financial hardship on soldiers and sap morale.

This account is based on interviews with scores of current and former Defense Department officials, as well as Reuters analyses of Pentagon logistics practices, bookkeeping methods, court cases and reports by federal agencies.

As the use of plugs indicates, pay errors are only a small part of the sums that annually disappear into the vast bureaucracy that manages more than half of all annual government outlays approved by Congress.

The Defense Department’s 2012 budget totaled $565.8 billion, more than the annual defense budgets of the 10 next largest military spenders combined, including Russia and China. How much of that money is spent as intended is impossible to determine.

In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known.

And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.

The consequences aren’t only financial; bad bookkeeping can affect the nation’s defense.

In one example of many, the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units. Affected units “may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies,” the Pentagon inspector general said in a September 2012 report.

AT SEA: Since 2000, the Navy has spent more than $1 billion to upgrade its record-keeping, but it still lacks the ability to account for ships, submarines and other physical assets. REUTERS/HO NEW

Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments.

That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.

Congress in 2009 passed a law requiring that the Defense Department be audit-ready by 2017. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in 2011 tightened the screws when he ordered that the department make a key part of its books audit-ready in 2014.

Reuters has found that the Pentagon probably won’t meet its deadlines. The main reason is rooted in the Pentagon’s continuing reliance on a tangle of thousands of disparate, obsolete, largely incompatible accounting and business-management systems.

Many of these systems were built in the 1970s and use outmoded computer languages such as COBOL on old mainframes.

They use antiquated file systems that make it difficult or impossible to search for data. Much of their data is corrupted and erroneous.

“It’s like if every electrical socket in the Pentagon had a different shape and voltage,” says a former defense official who until recently led efforts to modernize defense accounting.

“AMALGAM OF FIEFDOMS”

No one can even agree on how many of these accounting and business systems are in use. The Pentagon itself puts the number at 2,200 spread throughout the military services and other defense agencies. A January 2012 report by a task force of the Defense Business Board, an advisory group of business leaders appointed by the secretary of defense, put the number at around 5,000.

“There are thousands and thousands of systems,” former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England said in an interview. “I’m not sure anybody knows how many systems there are.”

In a May 2011 speech, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described the Pentagon’s business operations as “an amalgam of fiefdoms without centralized mechanisms to allocate resources, track expenditures, and measure results. … My staff and I learned that it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to questions such as ‘How much money did you spend’ and ‘How many people do you have?’ ”

The Pentagon has spent tens of billions of dollars to upgrade to new, more efficient technology in order to become audit-ready. But many of these new systems have failed, either unable to perform all the jobs they were meant to do or scrapped altogether – only adding to the waste they were meant to stop.

Mired in a mess largely of its own making, the Pentagon is left to make do with old technology and plugs – lots of them. In the Cleveland DFAS office where Woodford worked, for example, “unsupported adjustments” to “make balances agree” totaled $1.03 billion in 2010 alone, according to a December 2011 GAO report.

In its annual report of department-wide finances for 2012, the Pentagon reported $9.22 billion in “reconciling amounts” to make its own numbers match the Treasury’s, up from $7.41 billion a year earlier.

It said that $585.6 million of the 2012 figure was attributable to missing records. The remaining $8 billion-plus represented what Pentagon officials say are legitimate discrepancies. However, a source with knowledge of the Pentagon’s accounting processes said that because the report and others like it aren’t audited, they may conceal large amounts of additional plugs and other accounting problems.

The secretary of defense’s office and the heads of the military and DFAS have for years knowingly signed off on false entries. “I don’t think they’re lying and cheating and stealing necessarily, but it’s not the right thing to do,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said in an interview. “We’ve got to fix the processes so we don’t have to do that.”

Congress has been much more lenient on the Defense Department than on publicly traded corporations. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, a response to the Enron Corp and other turn-of-the-century accounting scandals, imposes criminal penalties on corporate managers who certify false financial reports. “The concept of Sarbanes-Oxley is completely foreign” to the Pentagon, says Mike Young, a former Air Force logistics officer who for years has been a consultant on, and written about, Defense Department logistics.

Defense officials point out that most plugs represent pending transactions – like checks waiting to clear with a bank – and other legitimate maneuvers, many of which are eventually resolved.

The dollar amounts, too, don’t necessarily represent actual money lost, but multiple accounting entries for money in and money out, often duplicated across several ledgers. That’s how, for example, a single DFAS office in Columbus, Ohio, made at least $1.59 trillion – yes, trillion – in errors, including $538 billion in plugs, in financial reports for the Air Force in 2009, according to a December 2011 Pentagon inspector general report. Those amounts far exceeded the Air Force’s total budget for that year.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declined to comment for this article.

In an August 2013 video message to the entire Defense Department, he said: “The Department of Defense is the only federal agency that has not produced audit-ready financial statements, which are required by law. That’s unacceptable.”

DFAS Director Teresa McKay declined to be interviewed for this article.

In an email response to questions from Reuters, a Treasury spokesman said: “The Department of Defense is continuing to take steps to strengthen its financial reporting. … We’re supportive of those efforts and will continue to work with DOD as they make additional progress.” While the Treasury knowingly accepts false entries, it rejects accounts containing blank spaces for unknown numbers and totals that don’t match its own.

Senators Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, and Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, introduced legislation earlier this year that would penalize the Pentagon if it isn’t audit-ready by 2017. Under the proposed Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013, failure to meet the deadline will result in restrictions on funding for new acquisition programs, prohibit purchases of any information-technology systems that would take more than three years to install, and transfer all DFAS functions to the Treasury.

“The Pentagon can’t manage what it can’t measure, and Congress can’t effectively perform its constitutional oversight role if it doesn’t know how the Pentagon is spending taxpayer dollars,” Coburn said in an email response to questions. “Until the Pentagon produces a viable financial audit, it won’t be able to effectively prioritize its spending, and it will continue to violate the Constitution and put our national security at risk.”

TOO MUCH STUFF

The practical impact of the Pentagon’s accounting dysfunction is evident at the Defense Logistics Agency, which buys, stores and ships much of the Defense Department’s supplies – everything from airplane parts to zippers for uniforms.

It has way too much stuff.

“We have about $14 billion of inventory for lots of reasons, and probably half of that is excess to what we need,” Navy Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek, the director of the DLA, said at an August 7, 2013, meeting with aviation industry executives, as reported on the agency’s web site.

And the DLA keeps buying more of what it already has too much of. A document the Pentagon supplied to Congress shows that as of Sept. 30, 2012, the DLA and the military services had $733 million worth of supplies and equipment on order that was already stocked in excess amounts on warehouse shelves. That figure was up 21% from $609 million a year earlier. The Defense Department defines “excess inventory” as anything more than a three-year supply.

Consider the “vehicular control arm,” part of the front suspension on the military’s ubiquitous High Mobility Multipurpose Vehicles, or Humvees. As of November 2008, the DLA had 15,000 of the parts in stock, equal to a 14-year supply, according to an April 2013 Pentagon inspector general’s report.

And yet, from 2010 through 2012, the agency bought 7,437 more of them – at prices considerably higher than it paid for the thousands sitting on its shelves. The DLA was making the new purchases as demand plunged by nearly half with the winding down of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The inspector general’s report said the DLA’s buyers hadn’t checked current inventory when they signed a contract to acquire more.

Just outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the DLA operates its Eastern Distribution Center, the Defense Department’s biggest storage facility. In one of its warehouses, millions of small replacement parts for military equipment and other supplies are stored in hundreds of thousands of breadbox-size bins, stacked floor to ceiling on metal shelves in the 1.7 million-square-foot building.

Sonya Gish, director of the DLA’s process and planning directorate, works at the complex. She says no system tracks whether newly received items are put in the correct bins, and she confirmed that because of the vast quantities of material stored, comprehensive inventories are impossible. The DLA makes do with intermittent sampling to see if items are missing or stored in the wrong place. Gish also says the distribution center does not attempt to track or estimate losses from employee theft.

The Pentagon in 2004 ordered the entire Defense Department to adopt a modern labeling system that would allow all the military branches to see quickly and accurately what supplies are on hand at the DLA and each of the services. To date, the DLA has ignored the directive to use the system. William Budden, deputy director of distribution, said in an interview that the cost would have exceeded the potential benefits, and that the DLA’s existing systems are adequate.

A “Clean Out the Attic” program to jettison obsolete inventory is making progress, DLA Director Harnitchek said in an interview. But the effort is hindered because the lack of reliable information on what’s in storage makes it hard to figure out what can be thrown out.

The DLA also has run into resistance among warehouse supervisors who for years have been in charge of a handful of warehouse aisles and jealously husband their inventory. “I believe that the biggest challenge is helping item managers identify things we have in our warehouses that they can just let go of,” Budden said in an interview published in an undated in-house DLA magazine.

OLD AND DANGEROUS

A few miles away, amid the gently rolling hills of south central Pennsylvania, a series of 14 explosions interrupt the stillness of a spring afternoon, shooting fountains of dirt more than 100 feet into the air.

Staff at the Letterkenny Army Depot – one of 8 Army Joint Munitions Command depots in the United States – are disposing of 480 pounds of C4 plastic explosive manufactured in 1979 and at risk of becoming dangerously unstable.

BOMBS AWAY: Staff at the Letterkenny Army Depot detonate three-decade-old explosives that were at risk of becoming dangerously unstable in storage. REUTERS/GARY CAMERON

If Woody Pike could have his way, the soldiers would be destroying a lot more of the old, unused munitions stored in scores of turf-covered concrete “igloos” ranged across the Letterkenny compound.

There are runway flares from the 1940s, and warheads for Sparrow missiles that the military hasn’t fielded since the 1990s. Most irksome, because they take up a lot of space, are rocket-launch systems that were retired in the 1980s. “It will be years before they’re gone,” says Pike, a logistics management specialist and planner at Letterkenny.

More than one-third of the weapons and munitions the Joint Munitions Command stores at Letterkenny and its other depots are obsolete, according to Stephen Abney, command spokesman. Keeping all those useless bullets, explosives, missiles, rifles, rocket launchers and other munitions costs tens of millions of dollars a year.

The munitions sit, year after year, because in the short term, “it’s cheaper for the military to store it than to get rid of it,” said Keith Byers, Letterkenny’s ammunition manager. “What’s counterproductive is that what you’re looking at is stocks that are going to be destroyed eventually anyway.”

Also, an Army spokesman said, the Pentagon requires the Army to store munitions reserves free of charge for the other military services, which thus have no incentive to pay for destroying useless stock.

To access ammunition and other inventory still in use, depot staff often must move old explosives, much of which is stored in flimsy, thin-slatted crates. “Continuing to store unneeded ammunition creates potential safety, security and environmental concerns,” Brigadier General Gustave Perna said in a 2012 military logistics newsletter, when he was in charge of the Joint Munitions Command. The cost and danger of storing old munitions “frustrates me as a taxpayer,” he said. Perna declined requests for an interview.

LANDSCAPING: Scores of storage bunkers dot the rolling hills of the Letterkenny Army Depot. GOOGLE EARTH

Sometimes the danger leads to action, as when the C4 was detonated. And the depot recently received funding to destroy 15,000 recoilless rifles last used during World War II, Pike says.

Yet, on the day of the C4 blasts, piles of Phoenix air-to-air missiles – used on Navy F-14 fighter jets that last flew for the U.S. in 2006 – had just been offloaded from rail cars and were waiting to be put into storage.

In 2010, as part of the Defense Department’s modernization effort, the Joint Munitions Command scrapped a computer system that kept track of inventory and automatically generated required shipping documents. It was replaced with one that Pike says doesn’t do either.

His staff now must guess how much inventory and space Letterkenny has. The Army built at additional cost a second system to create shipping documents and an interface between the two systems. “We’re having problems with the interface,” Pike says.

COSTLY REPAIRS

Media reports of Defense Department waste tend to focus on outrageous line items: $604 toilet seats for the Navy, $7,600 coffee makers for the Air Force. These headline-grabbing outliers amount to little next to the billions the Pentagon has spent on repeated efforts to fix its bookkeeping, with little to show for it.

The Air Force’s Expeditionary Combat Support System was intended to provide for the first time a single system to oversee transportation, supplies, maintenance and acquisitions, replacing scores of costly legacy systems. Work got under way in 2005. Delays and costs mounted.

In late 2012, the Air Force conducted a test run. The data that poured out was mostly gibberish. The Air Force killed the project.

LETHAL INVENTORY: Missile warheads like these are among the thousands of munitions that sit in Letterkenny igloos year after year because it is cheaper in the short term to store them than to destroy them. REUTERS/GARY CAMERON

The system “has cost $1.03 billion … and has not yielded any significant military capability,” the Air Force said in a November 2012 announcement.

Fixing the system would cost an additional $1.1 billion, it said, and even then, it would do only about a quarter of the tasks originally intended, and not until 2020.

The Air Force blamed the failure on the main contractor, Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corp, saying the company was unable to handle the job.

Computer Sciences spokesman Marcel Goldstein said that the company provided the Air Force with important “capabilities,” and that “the progress we made, jointly with the Air Force, and the software we have delivered could be the foundation for the next effort to develop and deploy a logistics system for the Air Force.”

David Scott Norton, an expert in accounting systems who worked for CSC on the Air Force contract, said the project employed too many people, making coordination and efficiency impossible. “There were probably thousands of people, both Air Force and contractors, on it,” he says. High turnover among both Air Force and contractor staff hurt, too, he says; many of the people who worked on it weren’t the people who had conceived and designed it.

More than $1 billion was wasted when the Pentagon in 2010 ditched the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, launched in 2003 as a single, department-wide pay and personnel system that would eliminate pay errors. Interagency squabbles and demands for thousands of changes eventually sank it.

The Air Force’s Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System was supposed to take over the Air Force’s basic accounting functions in 2010. To date, $466 million has been spent on DEAMS, with a projected total cost of $1.77 billion to build and operate it, an Air Force spokeswoman said. The system lacks “critical functional capabilities,” and its “data lacks validity and reliability,” according to a September 2012 Defense Department inspector general report.

It now isn’t expected to be fully operational until 2017.

The Army’s General Fund Enterprise Business System is often held up as an example of rare success. Up and running in 2012, GFEBS is now used in Army posts all over the world to handle basic accounting functions.

Some things it does well, but the inspector general said in March last year that the system didn’t provide department management with required information and may not resolve “longstanding weaknesses” in the Army’s financial management, “despite costing the Army $630.4 million as of October 2011.”

In 2000, the Navy began work on four separate projects to handle finances, supplies, maintenance of equipment and contracting. Instead, the systems took on overlapping duties that each performed in different ways, using different formats for the same data. Five years later, the GAO said: “These efforts were failures. … $1 billion was largely wasted.”

The Navy started again in 2004 with the Navy Enterprise Resources Planning project to handle all Navy accounting – at first. The Navy later decided on a system design that would cover only about half of the service’s budget because a single, service-wide system would be too difficult and time-consuming, according to former Navy personnel who worked on the project. Accounting for property and other physical assets was dropped, too.

Now in use, the Navy ERP relies on data fed to it from 44 old systems it was meant to replace. “Navy officials spent $870 million … and still did not correct” the system’s inability to account for $416 billion in equipment, the Pentagon inspector general said in a July 2013 report.

The Navy declined to comment.

Even an effort to coordinate all these projects ended in failure. In 2006, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England established the Business Transformation Agency to force the military branches and other agencies to upgrade their business operations, adhere to common standards and make the department audit-ready.

Three years later, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that while the Defense Department was spending “in excess of $10 billion per year on business systems modernization and maintenance, (o)verall the result is close to business as usual.”

Defense Secretary Gates shut it down in 2011 – after the Pentagon had spent $700 million on it. England declined to comment on the episode.

Former BTA officials blamed the failure on their lack of authority to enforce their decisions and resistance from the individual services.

CONTRACT HITS

Over the past 10 years, the Defense Department has signed contracts for the provision of more than $3 trillion in goods and services. How much of that money is wasted in overpayments to contractors, or was never spent and never remitted to the Treasury, is a mystery. That’s because of a massive backlog of “closeouts” – audits meant to ensure that a contract was fulfilled and the money ended up in the right place.

The Defense Contract Management Agency handles audits of fixed-price contracts, which are relatively problem-free. It’s the Defense Contract Audit Agency that handles closeouts for department-wide contracts that pay the company or individual for expenses incurred. At the end of fiscal 2011, the agency’s backlog totaled 24,722 contracts worth $573.3 billion, according to DCAA figures. Some of them date as far back as 1996.

The individual military services close out their own contracts, and the backlogs have piled up there, too. The Army’s backlog was 450,000 contracts, the GAO said in a December 2012 report.

TICK-TOCK: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said the Pentagon’s inability to be audited “is unacceptable” and is overseeing efforts to meet audit-readiness deadlines. REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS

The Navy and Air Force did not have estimates of their backlogs.

“This backlog represents hundreds of billions of dollars in unsettled costs,” the GAO report said. Timely closeouts also reduce the government’s financial risk by avoiding interest on late payments to contractors.

To trim its backlog, the DCAA last year raised to $250 million from $15 million the threshold value at which a contract is automatically audited. DCAA says that by concentrating its auditors on the biggest contracts, it will recoup the largest sums of money, and that it will conduct selective audits of smaller contracts, based on perceived risk and other factors. Still, hundreds of thousands of contracts that would eventually have been audited now won’t be.

“Having billions of dollars of open, unaudited contracts stretching back to the 1990s is clearly unacceptable, and places taxpayer dollars at risk of misuse and mismanagement,” Senator Thomas Carper, a Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in an email response to questions. “We must make sure that the Department of Defense is actively assessing risks and making sure that contractors who fall underneath the threshold remain accountable for their work.”

Spotty monitoring of contracts is one reason Pentagon personnel and contractors are able to siphon off taxpayer dollars through fraud and theft – amounting to billions of dollars in losses, according to numerous GAO reports. In many cases, Reuters found, the perpetrators were caught only after outside law-enforcement agencies stumbled onto them, or outsiders brought them to the attention of prosecutors.

In May this year, Ralph Mariano, who worked as a civilian Navy employee for 38 years, pleaded guilty in federal court in Rhode Island to charges of conspiracy and theft of government funds related to a kickback scheme that cost the Navy $18 million from 1996 to 2011. Mariano was sentenced Nov. 1 to 10 years in prison and fined $18 million.

Mariano admitted that as an engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, he added money to contracts held by Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow. The Georgia-based company then paid kickbacks to Mariano and others, including friends and relatives.

Mariano was charged more than five years after the allegations against him first emerged in a 2006 civil whistleblower lawsuit in federal court in Georgia that had been kept under seal. Court documents suggest one reason why the conspiracy went undetected for so long: The Navy not only gave Mariano authority to award money to contractors; it also put him in charge of confirming that the contractors did the work. The Navy never audited any of the contracts until after Mariano was arrested, a Navy spokeswoman confirmed.

On the opposite side of the country, federal prosecutors in San Diego, California, in 2009 accused Gary Alexander, a Navy civilian employee, of arranging with subcontractors to have them bill the Defense Department for services never performed and then pay him kickbacks from money the subcontractors received. Alexander masterminded the scheme while he was head of the Air Surveillance and Reconnaissance Branch of the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, based in San Diego.

Alexander in 2010 pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy and filing false tax returns. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison and was required to pay restitution and forfeitures totaling more than $500,000.

Robert Ciaffa, a federal prosecutor assigned to the case, said the bills were easily padded because DFAS didn’t require detailed invoices. The case came to light, he said, only after “a woman friend” of one of Alexander’s associates went to prosecutors in 2008 with information about the fraud.

A Navy spokeswoman said that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has taken steps to avert such fraud, including creating a contract review board, requiring closer oversight of employees who manage contracts and establishing antifraud units within Navy contracting services.

Ciaffa said the Alexander case prompted his office in 2009 to set up a toll-free fraud tip line that has so far have yielded at least six cases. One led to guilty pleas in March 2012 by four civilian employees of the North Island Naval Air Station, near San Diego, after they were accused of receiving $1 million in kickbacks from contractors.

PLUGGING ALONG

In its 2007 audit-readiness plan, the Defense Department called on DFAS to eliminate plugs by June 2008. That hasn’t happened.

In its financial report for 2012, the Army said each month it “adjusts its Fund Balance With Treasury to agree with the U.S. Treasury accounts.” In its 2012 annual report, the Defense Logistics Agency said it does the same. “On a monthly basis, DLA’s (Fund Balance With Treasury) is adjusted to agree with the U.S. Treasury accounts.”

The Navy, in a footnote in its 2012 financial report, “acknowledges that it has a material internal control weakness in that it does not reconcile its” numbers with the Treasury’s. The footnote said the Navy inserts inaccurate numbers in its monthly reports so that they agree with the Treasury’s. It said it is working with DFAS to try to eliminate the problems.

The Treasury says it requires the monthly reports from Pentagon agencies to ensure that it is “providing accurate financial information to Congress and the general public.” The reports verify that the military is using money for its intended purposes; spending money on things other than what it was appropriated for is, with rare exceptions, a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which forbids anyone but Congress to appropriate money. The law carries penalties for individuals involved in violating it.

Because of the lack of accurate accounting, a 2012 GAO report said, “the Department of the Navy is at increased risk of Antideficiency Act violations.”

Without a functioning, unified bookkeeping system, the Pentagon’s accountants have no option but to continue taking that risk.

Woodford, the former accountant in DFAS’s Cleveland office, says that in the frenzy to complete the Navy’s monthly financial reports to the Treasury, much of the blame rested with the “old antiquated systems” the Pentagon used. A common reason for inserting plugs was that “you knew what the numbers were, but you didn’t have the supporting documents.”

Mariano was charged more than five years after the allegations against him first emerged in a 2006 civil whistleblower lawsuit in federal court in Georgia that had been kept under seal. Court documents suggest one reason why the conspiracy went undetected for so long: The Navy not only gave Mariano authority to award money to contractors; it also put him in charge of confirming that the contractors did the work. The Navy never audited any of the contracts until after Mariano was arrested, a Navy spokeswoman confirmed.

On the opposite side of the country, federal prosecutors in San Diego, California, in 2009 accused Gary Alexander, a Navy civilian employee, of arranging with subcontractors to have them bill the Defense Department for services never performed and then pay him kickbacks from money the subcontractors received. Alexander masterminded the scheme while he was head of the Air Surveillance and Reconnaissance Branch of the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, based in San Diego.

Alexander in 2010 pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy and filing false tax returns. He was sentenced to 75 months in prison and was required to pay restitution and forfeitures totaling more than $500,000.

Robert Ciaffa, a federal prosecutor assigned to the case, said the bills were easily padded because DFAS didn’t require detailed invoices. The case came to light, he said, only after “a woman friend” of one of Alexander’s associates went to prosecutors in 2008 with information about the fraud.

A Navy spokeswoman said that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has taken steps to avert such fraud, including creating a contract review board, requiring closer oversight of employees who manage contracts and establishing antifraud units within Navy contracting services.

Ciaffa said the Alexander case prompted his office in 2009 to set up a toll-free fraud tip line that has so far have yielded at least six cases. One led to guilty pleas in March 2012 by four civilian employees of the North Island Naval Air Station, near San Diego, after they were accused of receiving $1 million in kickbacks from contractors.

PLUGGING ALONG

In its 2007 audit-readiness plan, the Defense Department called on DFAS to eliminate plugs by June 2008. That hasn’t happened.

In its financial report for 2012, the Army said each month it “adjusts its Fund Balance With Treasury to agree with the U.S. Treasury accounts.” In its 2012 annual report, the Defense Logistics Agency said it does the same. “On a monthly basis, DLA’s (Fund Balance With Treasury) is adjusted to agree with the U.S. Treasury accounts.”

The Navy, in a footnote in its 2012 financial report, “acknowledges that it has a material internal control weakness in that it does not reconcile its” numbers with the Treasury’s. The footnote said the Navy inserts inaccurate numbers in its monthly reports so that they agree with the Treasury’s. It said it is working with DFAS to try to eliminate the problems.

The Treasury says it requires the monthly reports from Pentagon agencies to ensure that it is “providing accurate financial information to Congress and the general public.” The reports verify that the military is using money for its intended purposes; spending money on things other than what it was appropriated for is, with rare exceptions, a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which forbids anyone but Congress to appropriate money. The law carries penalties for individuals involved in violating it.

Because of the lack of accurate accounting, a 2012 GAO report said, “the Department of the Navy is at increased risk of Antideficiency Act violations.”

Without a functioning, unified bookkeeping system, the Pentagon’s accountants have no option but to continue taking that risk.

Woodford, the former accountant in DFAS’s Cleveland office, says that in the frenzy to complete the Navy’s monthly financial reports to the Treasury, much of the blame rested with the “old antiquated systems” the Pentagon used. A common reason for inserting plugs was that “you knew what the numbers were, but you didn’t have the supporting documents.”

The Navy data, pouring in through dozens of jury-rigged pipelines into similarly disparate systems, required many “manual workarounds” – typing data from one system into another, which only added to the potential for errors.

“They do so much manual work, it’s just ridiculous,” says Toni Medley, who retired five years ago after 30 years doing an assortment of jobs at the same DFAS office. It’s tedious work, she says, and the people doing it “make a lot of mistakes.”

The Navy declined to comment.

Yokel, the retired official at the DFAS Cleveland office, worked as a consultant on the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning project, the new accounting system that fell short of expectations. He says that in recent years, the new system has managed to reduce the number of plugs, though they still can add up to a lot in dollar terms. And nearly half the Navy’s budget isn’t covered by the system.

The Pentagon has spent billions of dollars on efforts to make itself audit-ready in time for not one, but two deadlines – one in 2014, the other in 2017.

It won’t meet the first and probably won’t meet the second.

PRESSURE TACTICS: While serving as secretary of defense, Leon Panetta imposed a 2014 deadline on the Pentagon to make a major portion of its accounts audit-ready. REUTERS/POOL

The deadlines represent efforts inside and outside of the Pentagon toward meeting a goal that has eluded it since the mid-1990s, when all government departments were first required by law to submit to annual audits. The Defense Department, alone among all federal agencies, has so far failed to meet that requirement – leaving trillions of dollars in cumulative annual defense budgets unaudited.

Amid fierce national debate over ballooning national debt, Congress in 2009 passed a law to prod the Pentagon, setting a 2017 deadline for audit-readiness. Two years later, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta added to the pressure, ordering that a significant portion of the Pentagon’s books – its annual report on the status of all appropriations – be audit-ready by 2014.

That report, the Statement of Budgetary Resources, is, in essence, the Pentagon’s checkbook, showing the amount of money from congressional appropriations spent or committed to being spent, and the amount remaining for new spending. Without it, there is no way to budget accurately or ensure accountability.

Tina Jonas, Defense Department comptroller from 2004 through 2008 and now president of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, says that when she was drafting budgets, the lack of reliable financial statements made it impossible for her to know how much money the Pentagon had and how much it needed. “I didn’t want to ask Congress for money that we didn’t need,” she says.

A senior Pentagon official confirmed that the 2014 deadline won’t be met. The Pentagon discreetly acknowledged the same in an unremarkable passage on page 5 of section II of the November 2012 “Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) Plan Status Report” from Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale’s office: “The scope of first year audits of the SBR (Statement of Budgetary Resources) in FY 2015 will be limited to audits of schedules containing only current year appropriation activity.” (Panetta’s order requires that the SBR be audit-ready in 2014 so that a first audit can be conducted in 2015.)

That means the audit will ignore the hundreds of billions of dollars in unspent appropriations from previous years, as when, for example, Congress approves a multiyear weapons contract. The reason, Pentagon officials said, is that huge amounts of essential data have been lost in the Pentagon’s accounting systems, or were never recorded in the first place. The comptroller’s office said that out of $992 billion in appropriations, about $220 billion won’t be examined, using estimates based on 2012 numbers.

“This is a tactical change that refines the scope of the audit,” said Jennifer Elzea, a spokeswoman for the secretary of defense. “It does not change the goal, which is to improve the strength of our business processes and the quality of our financial information.”

Comptroller Hale said through a spokesman this month: “I expect most DoD budget statements will be ready for audit. It is possible that, because of budget turmoil and other problems, a few may not be ready.”

Lack of trustworthy data also makes the 2017 legally mandated deadline a long shot. Absent reliable accounting systems in the military services and other defense agencies, it will remain impossible to trace specific accounting entries to the “transaction level” to determine what the money paid for and whether the goods or services were delivered. Rivalries among the military services and Defense Department offices that want to keep their own systems also stand in the way. So does the services’ inability to figure out a way to value assets like ships, planes and weaponry.

For these reasons, says Gordon Adams, an American University professor of U.S. foreign policy and a specialist on defense issues, “we’ll get to 2017, and if past is prologue, the Defense Department will just move the goal posts again.”

ALTERED STATES: “We cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in 2001. The next day, al Qaeda attacked the U.S., and priorities changed. REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST

For decades, fighting and winning the Cold War dominated Congress’s permissive approach to annual Pentagon appropriations. Then Congress passed the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1992, requiring annual audits of all federal departments, did lawmakers begin to pressure the Pentagon to manage its purse like any other government department. The law mandated that the Pentagon by audit-ready by 1996.

But year after year, top defense officials would appear before the House and Senate armed services committees to be scolded for missing their deadlines, and then they would set new ones. The next year, and the next, the scene was re-enacted. Congress and the White House stood back as more than half a trillion taxpayer dollars a year went unaudited.

Just weeks into his new job as secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld stated the problem: “Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.” The importance of the issue, he said in a speech at the Pentagon, was not “about business practices, nor is the goal to improve figures on the bottom line. It’s really about the security of the United States of America. And let there be no mistake, it is a matter of life and death.”

That was Sept. 10, 2001. The next day, al Qaeda hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It would be nearly a decade before Pentagon accounting drew the attention of Congress.

(Edited by John Blanton)

Andrew Bossone shared this link

$8.5 trillion (yes, trillion) to the US military is unaccounted for as the Pentagon falsified its ledgers

Behind the Pentagon’s doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste
t.co

 

At long last, Pentagon Admitted That Israel Has Nuclear Weapons

—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—

It’s not exactly news.

According to opinion polls, two-thirds of the American people, know this facts.

Many articles and documentaries have expounded on this fact: That Israel possessed Nuclear bombs since the late 1960’s, thanks to France total participation in providing Israel with nuclear capabilities.

France even tested an Israeli bomb in Algeria desert and scores of Algerian and French soldiers were not informed of the terrible consequences of this live test.

Andrew Bossone  shared this link and commented on it on FB.
 

Could this be true?

After five decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs as well as awesome weapons…
thenation.com

While the Washington press corps were obsessed over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails at the State Department, reporters were missing a far more important story about government secrets. After 5 decades of pretending otherwise, the Pentagon has reluctantly confirmed that Israel does indeed possess nuclear bombs, as well as awesome weapons technology similar to America’s.

Early last month the Department of Defense released a secret report done in 1987 by the Pentagon-funded Institute for Defense Analysis that essentially confirms the existence of Israel’s nukes.

DOD was responding to a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by Grant Smith, an investigative reporter and author who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy.

Smith said he thinks this is the first time the US government has ever provided official recognition of the long-standing reality.

It’s not exactly news.

Policy elites and every president from LBJ to Obama have known that Israel has the bomb.

But American authorities have cooperated in the secrecy and prohibited federal employees from sharing the truth with the people.

When the White House reporter Helen Thomas asked the question of Barack Obama back in 2009, the president ducked. “With respect to nuclear weapons, you know, I don’t want to speculate,” Obama said. That was an awkward fib. Obama certainly knows better, and so do nearly two-thirds of the American people, according to opinion polls.

In my previous blog, “What about Israel’s Nuclear Bomb?” I observed that the news media focused solely on Iran’s nuclear ambitions but generally failed to note that Israel already had nukes.

That produced a tip about the Pentagon release in early February.

Yet the confirmation of this poorly kept secret opens a troublesome can of worms for both the US government and our closest ally in the Middle East.

Official acknowledgement poses questions and contradictions that cry out for closer inspection.

For many years, the United States collaborated with Israel’s development of critical technology needed for advanced armaments. Yet Washington pushed other nations to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires international inspections to discourage the spread of nuclear arms.

Israel has never signed the NPT and therefore does not have to submit to inspections.

Washington knew all along what the inspectors would find in Israel. Furthermore, as far back as the 1960s, the US Foreign Assistance Act was amended by concerned senators to prohibit any foreign aid for countries developing their own nukes.

Smith asserts that the exception made for Israel was a violation of the US law but it was shrouded by the official secrecy. Since Israel is a major recipient of US aid, American presidents had good reason not to reveal the truth.

The newly released report—“Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations”—describes Israel’s nuclear infrastructure in broad terms, but the dimensions are awesome.

Israel’s nuclear research labs, the IDA researchers reported, “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.” Indeed, the investigators observed that Israel’s facilities are “an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories.”

The IDA team visited Israeli labs, factories, private companies and government research centers in Israel and relevant NATO nations (details on NATO allies were redacted from the released version).

On Israel, the tone of the report was both admiring and collegial. “The SOREQ center,” it said, for instance, “runs the full nuclear gamut of activities from engineering, administration and non-destructive testing for electro-optics, pulsed power, process engineering and chemistry and nuclear research and safety. This is the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication.”

The IDA team added: “It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level.” So far, The IDA estimated, Israel scientists were about where the US had been in the 1950s in understanding fission and fusion processes.

The report does not include a single declarative sentence that directly states the taboo—Israel has nukes—but the meaning is obvious.

For many years, scholars and other experts have estimated that Israel has at least 100 to 200 bombs, possibly more.

Some of the IDA’s observations seem to hint at a copy-cat process in which the US government either actively helped or at least looked the other way while Israel borrowed or purloined technologies to establish a parallel nuclear system that looks a lot like America’s.

The IDA document does not say anything, one way or the other, on the history of how this happened. But critics of Israel and advocates for banning all nuclear weapons have harbored suspicions for decades.

The Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, Smith said, is pushing another FOIA request aimed at the CIA, hoping to pry open long-secret intelligence investigations about how Israel managed to get the bomb in the first place.

The institute is seeking disclosure of a CIA study that supposedly investigated how quantities of uranium were leaked or allegedly smuggled by Israeli agents from a Pennsylvania defense plant to provide seed corn for the Israel bomb.

Smith and others suspect that elements of the US government knew what happened back then or may even have assisted the stealthy transfer. That particular mystery was a hot issue back in the 1970s. It seems likely to get renewed interest now that the pretense of official ignorance has been demolished by release of the 1987 report.

However, the IDA’s most powerful message may not be what it says about Israel’s nukes but what it conveys about the US-Israel relationship.

It resembles a technological marriage that over decades transformed the nature of modern warfare in numerous ways. The bulk of the report is really a detailed survey of Israel’s collaborative role in developing critical technologies—the research and industrial base that helped generate advanced armaments of all sorts. Most Americans, myself included, are used to assuming the US military-industrial complex invents and perfects the dazzling innovations, then shares some with favored allies like Israel.

That’s not altogether wrong but the IDA report suggests a more meaningful understanding. The US and Israel are more like a very sophisticated high-tech partnership that collaborates on the frontiers of physics and other sciences in order to yield the gee-whiz weaponry that now define modern warfare. Back in the 1980s, the two nations were sharing and cross-pollinating their defense research at a very advanced level.

Today we have as a result the “electronic battlefield” and many other awesome innovations. Tank commanders with small-screen maps that show where their adversaries are moving. Jet pilots who fire computer-guided bombs. Ships at sea that launch missiles over the horizon and hit targets 1,000 miles away.

I had to read the report several times before I grasped its deeper meaning. The language is densely technological and probably beyond anyone (like myself) who is not a physicist or engineer. The researchers reported on the state of play in electronic optical systems, plasma physics, laser-guided spacecraft, obscure communication innovations and many other scientific explorations that were underway circa 1987.

Finally, it dawned on me. These experts were talking in the 1980s about technological challenges that were forerunners to the dazzling innovations that are now standard. I saw some of these new war-fighting devices in the late 1990s when I wrote a short book on the post-Cold War military struggling to redefine itself when it no longer had the Soviet Union as an enemy (Fortress America: The American Military and the Consequence of Peace).

While reporting on numerous military bases—land, sea and air—I saw some of the early attempts at battlefield communications and guidance systems. A lot of the new stuff didn’t work very well. Soldiers and commanders sometimes had to put it aside or work around it. Drones at that stage were still on the drawing boards, known as UAV’s—“unmanned aerial vehicles.”

The Middle East wars became the live-fire testing ground where new systems were perfected. The consequences of peace were brushed aside by the terror of 9-11. War became America’s continuous preoccupation.

Israel participated importantly in developing groundwork for some of the wonder weapons and, as the IDA survey makes clear, Israeli physicists or engineers were sometimes a few steps ahead of their American counterparts. To be sure, the Israelis were junior partners who brought “technology based on extrapolations of US equipment and ideas.” But the report also observed: “Much Israeli fielded electronic warfare and communications [is] ahead of US fielded equipment.”

On several occasions, the research team spoke of “ingenious” or “Ingeniously clever” solutions that Israeli technologists have found for mind-bending problems of advanced physics. The IDA team also suggested opportunities for American researchers to piggy-back on what Israel had discovered or to team up with one of their R&D centers. Yale’s Office of Naval Research, IDA suggested, should collaborate with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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“Scientists at RAFAEL [another Israeli center] have come up with an ingenious way of using the properties of a glow discharge plasma to detect microwave and millimeter waves,” the report said. “The attractiveness of the project lies in the ability of the discharge to withstand nuclear weapons effects.”

This observation gave a me a chill because the earnest defense scientists have yet to find a way for human beings “to withstand nuclear weapons effects.”

It would be good to keep in mind that these extraordinary breakthroughs in technology have one purpose—fighting wars—and are intended to give still greater advantage to advanced nations like the US and Israel that dwarf more primitive adversaries. Many of the new technologies, it is true, will find commercial applications that improve everyday lives (some already have). Yet it is also true that our advances in high-tech killing power have not subdued all the enemies.

They find irregular ways to fight back. They blow the legs off our soldiers. They plant home-made bombs in crowded restaurants. They recruit children to serve as their guided missiles. They capture and slaughter innocent bystanders, while our side merely bombs the villages from high altitude. The victims do not see our way as pristine or preferable. Their suffering becomes their global recruiting.

The highly successful partnership of American and Israeli military science is one more reason it will be most difficult to disentangle from the past and turn the two countries in new directions, either together or separately. But many people are beginning to grasp that lopsided wars—contests between high-tech and primitive forms of destruction—do not necessarily lead to victory or peace. They have led the United States into more wars.

 

Read Next: William Greider on how Israel’s nuclear superiority affects Middle East conflicts

 

Finally, it’s happening. The waking up of what is Israel and Zionism

Zeina Saab posted on FB this July 31, 2014

“The world is waking up. Slowly. But it’s happening.

Magic Johnson and other NBA players have cancelled their trip to Israel.

Disney heiress has just divested from an Israeli company.

Several Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador have recalled the Israeli ambassadors or severed trade ties with Israel.

Major celebrities are speaking out.

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem have written an open letter condemning Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Many others, including John Legend, Madonna, Mia Farrow, and Russell Brand are also clearly voicing their disgust with Israel’s policies.

Millions are protesting around the world.

None of these protests have stopped the widespread destruction of Gaza, not yet.

And it won’t bring back all the 1,300+ dead.

But if enough pressure is applied on Israel, eventually we may be able to hope that one day it will be held accountable for its crimes against humanity, so that “Never Again” really will mean “Never Again” for all.”

Tonnie Choueiri shared this

From 1978 to 1994, Rabbi Henry Siegman  served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress, long described as one of the US “big three” Jewish organizations along with the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League:

Rabbi Henry Siegman – a German-Jewish refugee who fled Nazi occupation to later become a leading American Jewish voice and now vocal critic of Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories – says the following on Gaza:

“When one thinks that this is what is necessary for Israel to survive, that the Zionist dream is based on the repeated slaughter of innocents on a scale that we’re watching these days on television, that is really a profound, profound crisis.

It should be a profound crisis in the thinking of all of us who were committed to the establishment of the state and to its success.”

 Responding to Israel’s U.S.-backed claim that its assault on Gaza is necessary because no country would tolerate the rocket fire from militants in Gaza, Siegman says:

“What undermines this principle is that no country and no people would live the way that Gazans have been made to live. …

The question of the morality of Israel’s action depends, in the first instance, on the question, couldn’t Israel be doing something [to prevent] this disaster that is playing out now, in terms of the destruction of human life?

Couldn’t Israel have done something that did not require that cost?

And the answer is, sure, they could have ended the occupation.”

HENRY SIEGMAN resumed:

” It’s disastrous. It’s disastrous, both in political terms, which is to say the situation cannot conceivably, certainly in the short run, lead to any positive results, to an improvement in the lives of either Israelis or Palestinians, and of course it’s disastrous in humanitarian terms, the kind of slaughter that’s taking place there.

It leads one virtually to a whole rethinking of this (Zionism) historical phenomenon

 

Andrew Bossone posted:

Does an entity “release” a statement if it gave the same exact statement two years earlier?
The Pentagon, 2014 on Israel accessing $1.2 billion ammunition stockpile:

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability.”

The Pentagon, 2012, on selling $647 million precision bomb kits and munitions to Israel:

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
http://cynicalidealism.tumblr.com/post/93392109742/does-an-entity-release-a-statement-if-it-gave-the

Note: Evo Morales, Bolivia President lambasted Israel and the US as terrorist States.

Pentagon: PowerPoint mania demoralizing troops?

Stanley McChristal, former commander in chief of the forces in Afghanistan (before he was sacked by Obama for expressing his opinion publicly) , has this right to two briefings a day in Kaboul on PowerPoint and 3 supplementary briefings per week. Once, McChristal commented acidly: “When we manage to comprehend (these spaghetti strategy) represented in PowerPoint then, war will be won!”

In 2009, Company Command, an internet site specilized in military matters, asked an army chief section in Iraq: “How do you spend most of your time?”  The officer replied: “I do presentations on PowerPoint.  I constantly have to prepare story-boards, strong with numerical images, diagrams and text summaries on everything that is happening.”

General James Mattis recently declared: “PowerPoint is driving us to stupidity.  It is dangerous: it gives the officers the illusion that they understand and that situations are under control.”

The Italian contingent in Afghanistan are livening up PowerPoint presentations accompanied by symphonic music.  PowerPoint is the ideal tool to hypnotizing officials and press journalists; only 5 minutes out of 25 are reserved for fielding questions; the remaining 20 minutes are for PowerPoint snoozing.

Apparently, as PowerPoint failed to hurt Stanley McChrista,l  the Senate defense group did: McChristal fainted during cross examination. Most probably, the Senate thought McChristal must be a PowerPoint guru and was trying to comprehend PowerPoint presentation on the state of war in Afghanistan.

It seems that PowerPoint graphics was the rage before the Iraq invasion in 2003.

General David McKiernan was commanding the land forces and he was losing patience waiting for orders in Iraq.  Instead of clear orders, General Tommy Franks kept sending McKiernan PowerPoint graphics that were already presented to this genius of Defense minister Rumsfeld.

Law of silence: CIA; (Oct. 28, 2009)

On September 18, seven ex-CIA chiefs exhorted President Barak Obama to emulate former Presidents and cover up the serious infringements to laws and regulations.

The CIA and FBI during the two Bush Junior Administrations committed excesses by the operators in anti-terrorist interrogations; the CIA chiefs claim that opening public investigation may jeopardize State security. 

 Brigadier General John Magruder has stated the objective of the CIA by 1947: “Clandestine operations constantly implicate infringement of internal laws and regulations. The Pentagon and the State Department cannot take risks for covering such operations.  A new service for clandestine actions has to take charge for covering up the official institutions.” 

This statement is fundamentally the main reason for establishing the CIA: it was meant to execute unlawful orders and decisions taken by the Executive Administrations.

Allen Dulles, chief of the “Agency” from 1953 to 61, confirm the doctrine that the “CIA is to execute what the President authorizes it in the wide gamut of political assassinations and destabilization of countries. The CIA main job is to cover for the President; all plausible denials should be extended to cover the involvement of the President in the decision process.  Thus, the President can securely admit that he ignored any failed operations overseas.”

John Prados noted: “Thirty years ago the public perception of the CIA was of a lone and solitary elephant that escaped all kinds of control; that the CIA was running amuck with clandestine operations all over the world.  It is now clear that the Agency and its phalanges were just following presidential orders.  It is the Presidency that is the lone elephant because the Agency was not doing its publicly declared mission of providing intelligence to the President.  All the revealed documents show that Presidents had no intelligence of the imminent coming to power of Khomeini in Iran in 1979, the potential disintegration of the Soviet Union, or the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers.”

Gordon Thomas said: “The Agency never managed to implant a spy in the higher circles of the Soviet Union decision makers. Bill Casey just took the risk of misinforming Ronald Reagan and systematically overestimated whatever intelligence he had”

At every new Presidency, the CIA got worse in control and management: it was overwhelmed by paramilitary operations than doing intelligence gathering; intelligence was thus relegated to non-human operators of remote control data from satellites and computer processing of images.

 The newly sacked CIA chief Porter Goss pronounced an allocution at Tiffin University and gave a sound counsel to new recruits “Never admit, deny everything, and take the best strategy of launching counter accusations when targeted within the CIA and the political circles.”

 The engraved motto of the CIA at Langley is St. John pronouncement “And you will know truth and truth will set you free”. 

Apparently, to setting you free to assassinate and get away with it; to lie on State interests and get away with it; to cover up Evil Presidents and Administrations who follow orders from lobbying powerful interest groups.

The US had agreed to finance the Nile dam during Nasser but reneged on the deal. It was learned later that the lobby of the cotton producers in the US South put the squeeze on the ground that Egypt would later compete with US cotton.  The Soviet Union was invited to Egypt and many other regions.        

The CIA and FBI think that they can get away with a lot of crimes on the premise that the US citizen believes that intelligence gathering cannot be performed without breaking a couple of eggs in a democratic society in order to preserve citizen from further hardship and secure him more liberty. 

It is becoming evident that the more power you let a government gets the less liberty you should expect.  If the last eight years did not exhibit this fact then do not blame anyone for further slavery and totalitarianism.

It is a good thing to have more than two superpowers: extreme fundamentalism (i.e., religious and liberal capitalism) would be checked, cultural life would rejuvenate and people would enjoy more opportunities and choices instead of a gigantic financial crisis and global mass ignorance floating all over our planet.

For further declassified evidences read my post “The critical decade of Islamic extremism


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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