The Emperor's New Clothes (pt. 3)
per Sudhama Ranganathan
Correu-e: firstname.lastname@example.org (no verificat!)
07 set 2010
Around the world the reputation of the US as a place of freedom and liberty where anyone can find their dream if they’re willing to work is unmatched. From all over people with dreams come to find fulfillment. That image is very well maintained. It has inspired people to not only want to come here, but to make the nations they’re from more like ours.
Additionally we are seen as guardians of freedom. When there are problems abroad most often the country people ask for help from first is us. When there is a terrible natural disaster people most often turn to us first. When there is a civil conflict people ask for our intervention. When there is a war people look to America to see how we feel about it. They want to know if and when we will take a side or attempt to bring peace.
Often we are very well aware of that. Here in the US that image is something the vast majority of us buy into and for good reason. We have been successful in almost every military conflict we’ve entered into from the beginning of our history. We feel safe. We feel secure. Despite what happened on 9/11 we still feel invulnerable on our own soil.
That has been the case for so many of us from the time we grew up. We would never have to worry about being attacked by foreign powers because we were strong. We stopped almost everyone who posed a threat in one way or another including the USSR. We’ve held everyone who wanted to reach us at bay. That’s how most of us feel.
We are more worried about the war on drugs than being invaded. We’re more worried about paying too much in taxes than an invading force knocking on our front doors. We are more worried about government corruption than of conquerors parachuting in and taking over. We are more anxious about pork barrel spending, hidden projects and wastes of hard earned tax dollars than any 80’s apocalyptic movie plot come to life.
However, those very things we worry about could well be tied to our national security in ways we’ve never before realized. Theories abound online about the CIA or other intelligence outfits secretly up to nefarious activities so it’s easy to dismiss most of them. The CIA is connected to aliens and flying saucers in some way. The NSA is doing something equally as bizarre etc. There is a secret society they all belong to of devil worshippers with some dark sinister sounding name. “Oh boy, I think I have to be somewhere.” (yawns) (rollseyes)
So, when an investigative story in the Washington Post broke on July 19 of this year many wondered how real it was. But soon everywhere news channels were covering the story. Reporters who’d been working on the story for two years were being interviewed and what it came down to had nothing to do with crazy conspiracy stories. It was the serious state of our current intelligence system. There was nothing about aliens, codes in our currency or secret devil worshippers, but everything to do with government corruption, lack of oversight and out of control government spending.
The journalists used government records, interviews with top level intelligence officials, corporate records and more in pulling the story together. The article quoted retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who said, “ ‘I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities… The complexity of this system defies description.
“The result, he added, is that it's impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. ‘Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste… We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe.’ " (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-/)
What we have is out of control Government spending, initiated and greenlighted during the previous administration, still out of control. Just the kind of thing the Tea Party revolution was sparked by whether they realized it or not. The previous administration may have created the biggest, most bloated, out of control, pork barrel spending, most unregulated, deficit inflating free-for-all in the history of the United States.
Some of the examples the article listed are, “1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies [which] work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
“In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space. Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, [simultaneously] track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.” (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-/) Happy, happy, joy, joy.
We have over 850,000 people right now with access to our nation’s most secret activities. Further, the ridiculous number of government intelligence agencies is eclipsed by the number of private companies contracted to work for our nation’s intelligence endeavors. Many may very well work for private corporations and foreign governments without our knowledge.
After all even Robert Gates said, "There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that - not just for the CIA, for the secretary of defense - is a challenge." (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-/) He went beyond that to say, “I wish I could find out how many contractors work for my own office, but I haven't been able to do so.” (http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/07/23/01) What exactly prevents the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America from learning this?
There have also been other credible articles written and interviews given on the subject in the past. Blackwater (now XE Services) has worked for our nation’s government while simultaneously holding contracts with private corporations and foreign governments. Any chance of our secrets walking over into the wrong hands there? What more assurance would we have than their word?
They have accumulated so much wealth from mostly government contracts they have, “a 7,000 acre (1.3 size of island of Manhattan) private military base, that has its own aviation division, that actually rents aircrafts to the U.S. armed forces for use in sensitive operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, has it's own Maritime Division and has multiple locations in the United States where they are training law enforcement, military and special forces[.] All of those - and they're all intelligence company.” (http://ww.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121502690)
That’s just one of the 1,931 private companies contracted to do intelligence work by our government no one has real oversight or control over. They were recently handed a new contract. To this Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois said, “I’m just mystified why any branch of the government would decide to hire Blackwater, such a repeat offender… We’re talking about murder… A company with a horrible reputation that really jeopardizes our mission in so many different, different ways.” (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/06/cia-defends-blackwater-c) Great.
Sometimes it’s not the pork barrel projects we can see, like the bridge to nowhere in Alaska, we need worry about. Sometimes the worst things and most threatening are those we cannot see. We realize something is wrong when we consider the fact that in one case for diplomatic security in Iraq,” the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater [was] hired [for] was $600… $1,075 a day for senior managers, $945 a day for middle managers and $815 a day for operators.
“An unmarried sergeant given Iraq pay and relief from U.S. taxes makes about $83 to $85 a day, given time in service. A married sergeant with children makes about double that, $170 a day. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad overseeing more than 160,000 U.S. troops, makes roughly $180,000 a year, or about $493 a day.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/30/AR200709)
So how much are they getting paid on the new gig? Imagine how much we are paying to the tens of thousands of employees of private security and intelligence personnel whose pay is considered “classified.” Imagine the wealth being accumulated by the workers at these firms not to mention owners at our expense. There is nothing wrong with working hard and profiting in this country, but fleecing the taxpayers to do so? Is that the legacy we want to leave our children and the next generation of Americans? It seems it’s time to do something about this.
This is the true giant pork barrel pit our money is being unloaded into by the dump truck. All this frenzied check after check writing to ensure our public image stayed gleaming and glistening following 9/11. Was it worth it? How much does the false sense of security cost us? They couldn’t even stop the underwear bomber! And they want us to worry about outdated memos on Wikileaks?
The real truth to be told here is we’ve been walking around with our backsides showing and paying huge quantities of cash to remain embarrassingly so for close to a decade now. This doesn’t mean we need to become more cynical. It means we need to take legal action and fix the broken system.
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
This work is in the public domain