Wednesday, January 31, 2018

After GOP Votes to #ReleaseTheMemo, ACLU Says Dems Have 'Duty' to Make FISA Intel Public

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

After GOP Votes to #ReleaseTheMemo, ACLU Says Dems Have 'Duty' to Make FISA Intel Public

Civil libertarians argue Republicans are "cherry-picking" to help Trump by voting to release only secret memo and not underlying intelligence
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) speak to the media about Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, at the U.S. Capitol on March 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

   For what critics are denouncing as blatantly partisan reasons that have nothing to do with concerns about mass surveillance and everything to do with protecting President Donald Trump from an active investigation, House Republicans voted on Monday to release a secret memo that purports to show the FBI abused its power in spying on a Trump campaign adviser while blocking a Democratic report which explains how the GOP memo was "cherry-picked" from underlying intelligence material.

"The Nunes memo on FISA surveillance of a Trump adviser should be made public—but the Schiff report must be made public at the same time. Trump's supporters can't be allowed to cherry-pick their way to undermining the Mueller investigation."

  Though Democrats have come under fire from journalists and privacy advocates for their "supine" faith in the benevolence of the FBI—an institution that has a long history of appalling criminalitysanctioned by both parties—the ACLU wrote in a series of tweets after Monday's vote that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and others in his party are correct to be skeptical of GOP motives, especially given their refusal to release the intelligence underlying the four-page memo.

    If the memo, drafted by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), is ultimately released, Democrats have a "duty" to "read the Schiff report and all other underlying documents on the House floor," the ACLU argued.

  According to the narrative peddled by the GOP and its partners in right-wing media, the memo the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release Monday night demonstrates that the Justice Department and the FBI conducted unlawful surveillance of Trump's presidential campaign, which they claim discredits the FBI's Russia investigation.

"The House Intelligence Committee, and the entire congressional oversight apparatus, needs systematic reform."
—Demand Progress

But civil libertarians have consistently argued that Nunes cannot be trusted and that the fight over the memo's release has been more about partisan political maneuvering than transparency for the good of the public.

   The fact that Republicans and Democrats "came together to push into law the privacy-destroying FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act just a few weeks back" demonstrates that the struggle over the Republican memo "is about who has power, not protecting the American people against the inappropriate exercise of that power," the advocacy group Demand Progress said in a statement on Monday.

  "Rep. Nunes is hell-bent on protecting President Trump at all costs, and Rep. Schiff's supine deference to the intelligence agencies undermines Congress's role as a check on the executive branch," added Demand Progress policy director Daniel Schuman. "The House Intelligence Committee, and the entire congressional oversight apparatus, needs systematic reform."

   As Glenn Greenwald and Jon Schwartz argued in a piece for The Intercept earlier this month, Republicans and Trump could easily defeat these allegations of partisan opportunism by either using their constitutional abilities to make public the intelligence behind the memo or leaking the information to the press.

  If they fail to do so, Greenwald and Schwartz concluded, they will prove themselves to be "shameless frauds."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baltimore Activist Alert - January 31 to February 1, 2018

21] Free Ahed – Jan. 31
22] Save Our System – Jan. 31
23] “Beyond the Capitalist Enterprise” -- Jan. 31
24] Bystander Training – Jan. 31
25] Fossil Free Watch Party -- Jan. 31
26] The Fossil Free Fast – Jan. 31
27] Tree Team – Feb. 1
28] Rally for 100% Clean Energy – Feb. 1
29] Courageous Conversations with Bobby Seale – Feb. 1
30] A staged reading of There is a Field -- Feb. 1
31] See the film THE MAN – Feb. 1
32] See the film “The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer” – Feb. 1
33] Real Causes of Depression – Feb. 1
21] – On Wed., Jan. 31 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM, be at Free Ahed: Jewish High School Students Speak Out, hosted by IfNotNow DC at the Embassy of Israel, 3514 International Dr. NW, WDC 20008.  On Jan. 31, Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl will be put on trial for twelve counts of assault against Israeli soldiers — that day is also her 17th birthday. Ahed was detained after armed soldiers raided her house in the middle of the night, just days after her 15-year-old cousin was shot by an Israeli soldier with a rubber bullet at close range, and had to undergo surgery to remove part of his skull. Multiple Israeli politicians, including Naftali Bennett, have publicly stated that she — as well as her mother and cousin (both detained at the same time as Ahed, though her cousin is now free) — should never be released. 

Fight back against these extreme threats and show Ahed that the American Jewish community stands with her. Show those who dehumanize Ahed that there is a global movement that will fight until all Palestinian teenagers like Ahed don’t have to spend their childhood facing the brutal reality of the Occupation on a daily basis. No child should have to be subjected to the daily atrocities of the Occupation, let alone the dehumanization of military court and prison. But unfortunately, Ahed is just one of over 300 Palestinian children in Israeli detention facilities. Go to

22] – On Wed., Jan. 31 at 6 PM at 600 5th St. NW at WMATA headquarters, Jackson Graham Building, there will be a WMATA Budget Hearing on FY2019 budget. Join riders and members of Save Our System testifying for a safe, reliable, and affordable public transit system.  Meet at 5:30 PM outside to sign up to testify and get an SOS t-shirt. Visit

23] -- On Wed., Jan. 31 from 7 to 8:30 PM, hear a talk by Prof. Richard Wolff – “Beyond the Capitalist Enterprise - The Movement for Worker Co-ops (And What You Can Do!)” The event hosted by Democracy at Work DC will take place at St. Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, WDC 20010.  Find tickets at  This event is free to the public, however RSVPs are required. Go to to RSVP.

Capitalism is failing around the world and what many of us are looking for is the solution, the fix, and a way forward. Dr. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of many books including “Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism,” will discuss how the movement for Worker Coops represents a way to build a more just and sustainable economy for the future.

24] – On Wed., Jan. 31 from 7 to 9 PM, come to Beth Am Bystander Training, 2501 Eutaw Pl., Baltimore 21217.  The Training will be facilitated by CASA. From the termination of DACA to unjust detentions and deportations of our neighbors, this moment requires preparedness to stand with and advocate for our immigrant communities in Baltimore.  The Training will include information on immigrants' rights, the current political context, and what YOU can to do as an ally. Go to

25] –2017 was the second hottest year on record, and had the greatest number of billion-dollar climate disasters in United States history. From Trump’s revival of Keystone XL to climate disasters in Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida, California and beyond, the need for a nationwide climate mobilization has never been greater. As a nation of climate disaster survivors, it’s up to us to bring the polluters and their allied politicians to justice.

The Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis are hosting a Fossil Free Watch Party on Wed., Jan. 31 at 7:30 PM at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House, 351 Dubois Road, Annapolis 21401.  RSVP at

26] – On Wed., Jan. 31 at 8 PM, the day after Trump’s first State of the Union, Sen.  Bernie Sanders, co-founder Bill McKibben, Rev. Lennox Yearwood from Hip Hop Caucus, Jacqueline Patterson from the NAACP, Cherri Foytlin from BOLD Louisiana, Varshini Prakash from the Sunrise Movement, and others will unveil a clear roadmap for the movement. The Fossil Free Fast event will take place at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Hundreds of people from across the D.C. Metro area will be coming together to defend our planetary future against the profiteering of big oil. RSVP to get a ticket at  General admission tickets are being offered at a pay-as-you-can sliding scale from $5 to $50.

27] –  On Thurs., Feb. 1 from 9 AM to 4 PM get over to TreeTeam Green Up, hosted by Blue Water Baltimore at 2631 Sisson St., Baltimore 21211. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Lorax for a day? Join TreeTeam for this unique one-on-one volunteer experience, where you will learn all about how to properly care for the urban forest. You will work in partnership with expert staff to care for forestry projects all throughout Baltimore City and County. Activities may include pruning, weeding or general beautification.  You are welcome to join for a full or half-day experience. All are welcome from the novice to the experienced TreeKeeper! Sign up for the morning shift: and/or sign up for the afternoon shift:

28] – There is a Bill Introduction & Rally for 100% Clean Energy on Thurs., Feb. 1 at noon at College Ave,, Annapolis 21401, organized by the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. Contact Veronica Poklemba at or 301-277-7111.  Join for a rally and press conference to officially introduce the bill that will move Maryland to 100% clean energy! This is the strongest climate bill ever introduced in Annapolis, so we need to show up and show our support.  After the rally, stick around to visit your elected officials’ offices and ask them to support the bill! You can get instructions and materials to use. Speakers will include activists and environmental advocates, along with our champions in the legislature. RSVP at

29] –  On Thurs., Feb. 1 at 5:30 PM be at a Courageous Conversations with Bobby Seale, hosted by University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities at the Orem Alumni Hall,  Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, 7801 Alumni Drive, College Park 20742. Tickets are available at Hate and bias are persistent global problems. What does it look like to engage in courageous conversations that speak to these difficult realities across personal, political, and historical frames? This year’s UMD College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) Dean’s Lecture Series (DLS) is an opportunity for the campus to join together for provocative conversations about these issues across disciplines. Join ARHU for the second DLS Courageous Conversations: ARHU Resists Hate & Bias, focused on 'The Historical’, with famed author, founding chairman, and national organizer of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale. Mr. Seale will present “Resistance: From the Sixties to Trump,” followed by a book signing and reception.  Admission is FREE, but registration is required. RSVP at or email See

30] – On Thurs., Feb. 1 from 7 to 9 PM catch a Staged Reading- “There is a Field on Palestine & Black Solidarity,” hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace - DC Metro and Gilda Papoose at the Sandovan Restaurant & Lounge, 4809 Georgia Ave. NW, WDC 20011.  Tickets are available at  Attend this transformational work which leverages theater as a way to engage people outside and within the carceral system, impacted by and bearing witness to police violence, from DC to Palestine, in order to better enable Black and Palestinian people to survive and thrive. This project will bring an infusion of funds to the DMV Black Mama’s bailout and a critical mass of support to the new DC campaign to end the deadly exchange of policing between the US and Israel. Sign up at

“There Is A Field,” written by Jen Marlowe, tells the story of a 17-year old Palestinian boy (and a friend of Jen’s), Aseel Asleh, who was killed by Israeli police. Through Nardeen’s struggle to cope with the murder of her brother, the play offers an intimate view into the daily racism and violence faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, and contributes to the vital conversation around the systematic devaluation of Black and Brown lives in the United States. With the solidarities and political convictions the play inspires, you can be plugged in to social justice campaigns in D.C. to put an end to the injustices the play exposes.

  Black women organizers, including this play’s director, Je Nae Taylor, came together to free Black mamas sitting behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail. They fundraised enough in order to bail out 10 mamas on Mother’s Day 2017, and 2 mamas for the March for Black Women, and 1 mama for Thanksgiving. For the Christmas holiday, one of the bailed out mothers gave birth (in freedom, outside the prison walls!), and they fundraised for her wish list for baby.  Visit

31] –  On Thurs., Feb. 1 at 7:30 PM, tickets $10, $7 MEMBERS (+$3 at the door), see a screening of THE MAN  at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 21224. Email or call 410/276-1651.  An African-American senator (played by James Earl Jones) becomes President, after an accident kills the President of the United States. So the first black President attempts to end bigotry. 

Enjoy a Post-Film Discussion with Clayton Lebouef who is currently developing a feature-length documentary on Rod Serling (screenwriter of "The Man") and Katrina Bell McDonald who holds the title of Associate Professor of Sociology, and is the Co-Director of the Center for Africana Studies, and has served as the Associate Dean of Multicultural at The Johns Hopkins University.

32] – On Thurs., Feb. 1 from 7:30 to 9 PM, see a screening of “The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer,” hosted by Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland Library and City of Takoma Park - Municipal Government at the Takoma Park Community Center Auditorium, 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park 20912.  Hamer was a middle-aged sharecropper living in poverty in Mississippi before she rose up to become a pivotal civil rights activist of the 1960s. She helped organize the 1964 Freedom Rides through Mississippi that culminated with the brutal murders of three activists by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob, prompting nationwide outrage and renewed support for the civil rights movement. Hamer herself was threatened, arrested and beaten during her work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  Robin Hamilton, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, highlights Hamer’s neglected story in a free screening of her film “This Little Light of Mine: The Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer.” There is more info about the film at  After the film, Hamilton will discuss Hamer’s life and the ongoing fight for civil rights with José Morales, the community engagement and projects director for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which works to end gerrymandering across the country. The event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Takoma Park Maryland. Visit

33] – On Thurs., Feb. 1 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, turn out for JOHANN HARI PRESENTS "LOST CONNECTIONS UNCOVERING THE REAL CAUSES OF DEPRESSION – AND THE UNEXPECTED SOLUTIONS."   From the New York Times bestselling author of “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” a radical new way of thinking about depression and anxiety.

What really causes depression and anxiety - and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari´s journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin. Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions – ones that work. Call 443-602-7585. RSVP at

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, January 29, 2018

War Pay: Another Good Year for Weapons Makers Is Guaranteed

Published on Portside (

War Pay: Another Good Year for Weapons Makers Is Guaranteed

William D. Hartung
January 11, 2018

  President Trump moved boldly in his first budget, seeking an additional $54 billion in Pentagon funding for fiscal year 2018. That figure, by the way, equals the entire military budgets of allies like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Then, in a bipartisan stampede, Congress egged on Trump to go even higher, putting forward a defense authorization bill that would raise the Pentagon’s budget by an astonishing $85 billion. (And don’t forget that, last spring, the president and Congress had already tacked an extra $15 billion onto the 2017 Pentagon budget.)  The authorization bill for 2018 is essentially just a suggestion, however -- the final figure for this year will be determined later this month, if Congress can come to an agreement on how to boost the caps on domestic and defense spending imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The final number is likely to go far higher than the staggering figure Trump requested last spring.

   And that’s only the beginning of the good news for the big weapons companies. Industry officials and Beltway defense analysts aren’t expecting the real increase in Pentagon spending to come until the 2019 budget. It’s a subject sure to make it into the mid-term elections. Dangling potential infusions of Pentagon funds in swing states and swing districts is a tried and true way to influence voters in tight races and so will tempt candidates in both parties.

  President Trump has long emphasized job creation above much else, but if he has an actual jobs program, it mainly seems to involve pumping more money into the Pentagon and increasing overseas arms sales. That such spending is one of the least effective ways to create new jobs evidently matters little.  It is, after all, an easy and popular way for a president to give himself the look of stimulating economic activity, especially in an era of steep tax cuts favoring the plutocratic class and attacks on domestic spending.

   Trump’s much-touted $1 trillion infrastructure plan may never materialize, but the Pentagon is already on course to spend $6 trillion to $7 trillion of your taxes over the next decade. As it happens though, a surprising percentage of those dollars won’t even go into the military equivalent of infrastructure. Based on what we know of Pentagon expenditures in 2016, up to half of such funds are likely to go directly into the coffers of defense contractors rather than to the troops or to basic military tasks like training and maintenance.

  While the full impact of Trump’s proposed Pentagon spending increases won’t be felt until later this year and in 2019, he did make a significant impact last year in his role as arms-dealer-in-chief. Early estimates for 2017 suggest that arms sales approvals in the first year of his administration exceeded the Obama administration’s record in its last year in office -- no mean feat given that President Obama set a record for overseas arms deals during his eight-year tenure.

   You undoubtedly won’t be surprised to learn that President Trump greatly exaggerated the size of his administration’s arms deals. Typically enough, he touted “$110 billion” in proposed sales to Saudi Arabia, a figure that included deals already struck under Obama and highly speculative offers that may never come to fruition.  While visiting Japan in November, he similarly took credit for sales of the staggeringly expensive, highly overrated F-35 combat aircraft, a deal that was actually concluded in 2012.  To add insult to injury, those F-35s that the U.S. is selling Japan will be assembled there, not in the good old U.S.A.  (So much for the jobs benefits of global weapons trading.)

    Nonetheless, when you peel away the layers of Trumpian bombast and exaggeration, his administration still posted one of the highest arms sales figures of the last decade and there’s clearly much more to come. In all of this, the president may not have done major favors for America’s workers, but he’s been a genuine godsend for the country’s arms manufacturers. After all, such firms extract significantly greater profits on foreign deals than on sales to the Pentagon. When selling to other countries, they normally charge higher prices for weapons systems, while including costly follow-on agreements for maintenance, training, and things like additional bombs, missiles, or ammunition that can continue for decades.

  In fact, Trump’s biggest challenge in accelerating U.S. arms exports may not be foreign competition, but the fact that the Obama administration made so many high-value arms deals. Some countries are still busy trying to integrate the weapons systems or other merchandise they’ve already purchased and may not be ready to conclude new arms agreements.

The Good News for Arms Makers: More War

  There are, however, a number of reasons to think that the major weapons makers will do even better in the coming years than they did in the banner year of 2017.

  Start with America’s wars. As defense expert Micah Zenko of Chatham House explained recently at Foreign Policy, President Trump has been doubling down on many of the wars he inherited from Obama.  The moves of his administration (peopled, of course, by generals from those very wars) include the increasing use of Special Operations forces, a dramatic rise in air strikes, and an increase in troop levels in conflicts ranging from Afghanistan and Yemen to Syria and Somalia. It remains to be seen whether the president’s favorite Middle Eastern ally, Saudi Arabia, will be successful in goading his administration -- replete with Iranophobes, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo -- into taking military action against Tehran. Such calculations have been complicated by recent anti-government protests there, which the president and his inner circle hope will lead to regime change from within. (Trump’s crowing about unrest in Iran has, however, been decidedly unhelpful to genuine advocates of democracy in that country, given the low esteem in which he’s held throughout Iranian society.)

   Such far-flung military operations will naturally cost money. Lots of it. Minimally, tens of billions of dollars; hundreds of billions if one or more of those wars escalates in an unexpected way -- as happened in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Bush years. As a study by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute recently noted, our post-9/11 wars have already cost at least $5.6 trillion when one takes into account both direct budgetary commitments and long-term obligations, including lifetime care for the hundreds of thousands of American veterans who suffered severe physical and psychological damage in those conflicts.  It’s important to remember that such immense costs emerged from what was supposed to be a quick, triumphant war in Afghanistan and what top Bush administration officials were convinced would be a relatively inexpensive regime change operation in Iraq and the garrisoning of that country. (That invasion and occupation was then projected to cost just a cut-rate $50 billion to $200 billion.)

  Don’t be surprised if the conflicts that Trump has inherited and is now escalating follow a similar pattern in which actual costs far outstrip initial estimates, even if not at the stratospheric levels of the Afghan and Iraq wars, which involved the commitment of hundreds of thousands of “boots on the ground.”  All of this spending will again be good financial news for the producers of combat aircraft, munitions, armored vehicles, drones, and attack helicopters, among other goods and services needed to sustain a policy of endless war across significant parts of the planet.

   Beyond the hot wars that have involved U.S. troops and air strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, there are scores of other places where this country’s Special Operations forces are on the ground training local militaries and in many cases accompanying them on missions that could quickly turn deadly, as happened to four Green Berets operating in Niger in October 2017. With Special Ops personnel engaged in a staggering 149 countries last year and a pledge to step up U.S. activities yet more in Africa -- there are already 6,000 U.S. troops and scores of “train and equip” missions on that continent -- spending is essentially guaranteed to go up, whatever the specifics of any given conflict. There are already calls by leading members of Congress to increase the size of U.S. Special Operations forces, which, as TomDispatch’s Nick Turse notes, already number nearly 70,000 personnel. 

Boondoggles, Inc.

  Rest assured, however, that so far we’ve only taken a dip in the shallow end of the deep, deep pool of military spending.  Equally important to the bottom lines of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and their cohorts is the Trump administration’s commitment to continue funding weapons systems the Pentagon doesn’t need at prices we can’t afford.  Take the F-35 combat plane, a Rube Goldberg contraption once designed to carry out multiple missions and now capable of doing none of them well.

  In fact, as the Project on Government Oversight has pointed out, it’s an aircraft that may never be fully ready for combat. To add insult to injury, billions more will be spent to fix defects in planes that were rushed through production before they had been fully tested.  The cost of this “too big to fail” program is currently projected at $1.5 trillion over the lifetimes of the 2,400-plus aircraft currently planned for.  This means it is likely to become the most expensive weapons program in the history of Pentagon procurement. 

  Unfortunately, the F-35 is hardly the only boondoggle that will continue to pad the coffers of defense contractors while offering little in the way of defense (no less the usual offense). A recent estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, for example, suggests that a projected three-decade Pentagon plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed missiles, bombers, and submarines, initiated under President Obama and close to the heart of Donald Trump, will cost up to $1.7 trillion dollars.  This stunning figure includes spending on new nuclear warheads under development at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, one of many channels for military spending that are outside the Pentagon’s already bloated budget.  And given the history of such weapons systems and the cost overruns that regularly accompany them, keep in mind that $1.7 trillion will probably prove a gross underestimate.  The Government Accountability Office, for instance, has released a report suggesting that the program to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines, now priced at $128 billion, is going to blow past that figure.

  In recent years, hawks in Congress have been pressing for more funding for missile defense and Donald Trump (with the help of “Little Rocket Man”) is their guy.  David Willman of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump administration wants to spend more than $10 billion over the next five years beefing up a deeply flawed project for placing ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska and California.  This is just one of a number of missile defense initiatives under way.

   In 2018, Lockheed, Boeing, and General Atomics are also scheduled to test drones that will reportedly use lasers to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles like those being developed by North Korea.  It’s a program that will undoubtedly garner tens of billions of dollars more in taxpayer funding in the years to come.  And Congress isn’t waiting until a final Pentagon budget for 2018 is wrapped up to lavish more money on missile defense contractors. A stopgap spending bill passed in late December 2017 kept most programs at current levels, but offered a special gift of nearly $5 billion extra for anti-missile initiatives.

  In addition, a congressionally financed study of the best place to base an East Coast missile defense system -- a favorite hobbyhorse of Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee that even the Pentagon has little interest in pursuing -- is scheduled to be released later this year.   The Congressional Budget Office already suggests that the price tag for that proposed system would be at least $3.6 billion in its first five years of development.  Yet deploying it, as the Union of Concerned Scientists has pointed out, would have little or no value when it comes to protecting the United States from a missile attack.  If the project moves ahead, it won’t be the first time Congress has launched a costly, unnecessary spending program that the Pentagon didn’t even request.

   Cybersecurity has been another expanding focus of concern -- and funding -- in recent years, as groups ranging from the Democratic National Committee to the National Security Agency have been hit by determined hackers. The concern may be justified, but the solution -- throwing billions at the Pentagon and starting a new Cyber Command to press for yet more funding -- is misguided at best. One of the biggest bottlenecks to crafting effective cyber defenses is the lack of personnel with useful and appropriate skills, a long-term problem that short-term infusions of cash will not resolve. In any case, some of the most vulnerable places -- from the power grid to the banking system -- will have to be dealt with by private firms that should be prodded by stricter government regulations, a concept to which Donald Trump seems to be allergic. As it happens, though, creating enforceable government standards turns out to be one of the most important ways of addressing cybersecurity challenges.

   Despite the likely spending spree to come, don’t expect the Pentagon, the arms makers, their lobbyists, or their allies in Congress, to stop crying out for more. There’s always a new weapons scheme or a new threat to hype or another ill-conceived proposal for a military “solution” to a complicated security problem.  Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives later, the primary lesson from the perpetual wars and profligate weapons spending of this century should be that throwing more money at the Pentagon isn’t making us any safer.  But translating that lesson into a change in Washington's spending patterns would take major public pushback at a level that has yet to materialize.

  Genuine opposition to runaway Pentagon spending may yet emerge, if, as expected, President Trump, Paul Ryan, and the Republican Congress follow up their trillion-dollar tax giveaway with an assault on Medicare and Social Security.  At that point, the devastating domestic costs of overspending on the Pentagon should become far more difficult to ignore.

   This year will undoubtedly be a banner year for arms companies.  The only question is: Might it also mark the beginning of a future movement to roll back unconstrained weapons expenditures?
William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

  Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, as well as John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2018 William D. Hartung  Reprinted with permission.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s True Colors Shine!

Solutions-Oriented Peace Journalism
Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s True Colors Shine!
Dr. Maung Zarni – TRANSCED Media Service

25 Jan 2018 – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Social Welfare Minister has declared already that all the burned lands in the region stretching over 100 km (68 miles) are reclaimed by the State.   Northern Rakhine region of predominantly Rohingya residents has also been designated as the Special Economic Zone II:  Zone I is in the area which were cleared of Rohingya and other Muslim habitation (communities) in the 2012 bouts of large scaled organized ‘mass violence’ backed by the State under Thein Sein’s presidency (2010-15).

  She has made no attempt to travel across the border j–in fact 30 minutes helicopter ride or 10 minutes boat ride across the boundary Naf River to the vast Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar. Instead she has gone to N. Rakhine State –not with UN investigators or diplomats in Yangon, but with her hand-picked cronies.

  The world has long been fooled by the true colours of this manufactured Burmese icon of human rights and democracy.

   She made her name on the corpses of Burmese democrats who died struggling for a freer Burma, and now she is going to strengthen and deepen her symbiosis with the Burmese cronies and military families which control the Burmese economy, on the mass graves of Rohingyas.

   We are witnessing nothing short of the emergence of a cold-hearted and immoral Burmese politician.  Suu Kyi’s evident priority to turn the killing fields of Western Burma (stretching over 100 KM in length) into a lucrative opportunity for the local cronies who financially support her and her party is utterly morally repugnant.

   In countries which have a dark history of genocides and crimes against humanity such as Cambodia, Germany and Bosnia, the sites of mass killings and destruction are national or world heritage sites.    In sharp contrast, Myanmar State Counsellor is evidently trying to turn the killing fields and mass graves into industrial agricultural projects, mineral exploration, beach resorts and tax-free Special Economic Zone where the Rohingyas who survived the latest bout of slaughter by her father’s army would be allowed to work as cheap labourers for her cronies.

   Aung San Suu Kyi is not simply “lacking moral leadership” as the US diplomat Bill Richardson put it reportedly, when he resigned yesterday from what he called Aung San Suu Kyi’s (genocide) “white wash” international advisory commission; she is proving herself to be as cold, commercially minded and criminally responsible for the plight of the genocide victims as any past genocidal leader in history, Europe or Asia or elsewhere.

   She has in fact already taken her favorite cronies and their families on the exploratory tour of parts of these vast killing fields from where over 750,000 fled in a span of 4 months last year.   We have seen pictures of smiling Suu Kyi posing with these cronies in these ghostly villages.

   Lest we forget genocides are not simply one-dimensional racist destruction:  economic benefits always accrue the perpetrating.     At Auschwitz, Himmler and his men, for instance, were keen on providing German corporations with inmate labourers, as well as commercially motivated “agriculturalists”.

   The level of callousness this woman displays is beyond not just words, but imagination.

    A Buddhist humanist from Burma, Maung Zarni is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, former Visiting Lecturer with Harvard Medical School, specializing in racism and violence in Burma and Sri Lanka, and Non-resident Scholar in Genocide Studies with Documentation Center – Cambodia.  His analyses have appeared in leading newspapers including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Times. Among his academic publications on Rohingya genocide are The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingyas (Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal), An Evolution of Rohingya Persecution in Myanmar: From Strategic Embrace to Genocide, (Middle East Institute, American University), and Myanmar’s State-directed Persecution of Rohingyas and Other Muslims (Brown World Affairs Journal, forthcoming). He holds a PhD (U Wisconsin at Madison) and a MA (U California), and has held various teaching, research and visiting fellowships at the universities in Asia, Europe and USA including Oxford, LSE, UCL Institute of Education) , National-Louis, Malaya, and Brunei. He is the recipient of the “Cultivation of Harmony” award from the Parliament of the World’s Religions (2015).

The Nobel Peace Prize 1991 was awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”

 \This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Jan 2018.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s True Colors Shine!, is included. Thank you.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Dutch Security Services Infiltrated Russian DNC Hackers

Published on Portside (

Dutch Security Services Infiltrated Russian DNC Hackers

Joshua Eaton
January 27, 2018
Think Progress

  Dutch security services watched Russian hackers break into email accounts at the State Department, the White House, and the Democratic National Committee and passed critical intelligence along to U.S. officials between 2014 and 2016, according to a report Thursday in the Dutch news outlets Nieuwsuur and Volkskrant.

   This intelligence from Dutch security services reportedly prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigations to first look into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

  In the summer of 2014, Dutch AIVD and MIVD intelligence agencies infiltrated computers used by Cozy Bear, one of two state-sponsored Russian hacking operations U.S. intelligence officials believe swiped emails and other documents from the DNC in 2016. Their goal was to influence the general election in favor of President Donald Trump.

  At the time, Cozy Bear was based out of a university building near Red Square, in Moscow, the outlets reported. Dutch intelligence infiltrated their systems so completely that they were able to capture security footage of the hackers as they entered and exited the room where they worked.
Most significantly, the Dutch spies captured footage that proves Cozy Bear operated under the direction of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, according to Volkskrant.

  The new report cites “six American and Dutch sources who are familiar with the material, but wish to remain anonymous,” according to Volkskrant.

  Last April, The Washington Post first reported details of a 24-hour pitched battle that occurred in 2014 between the U.S. National Security Agency and Russian hackers who had infiltrated unclassified State Department email systems.

  “It was hand-to-hand combat,” former NSA Deputy Director Richard Legett told a cyber forum at the Aspen Institute last March, according to The Post.

  The NSA eventually cut off Cozy Bear’s access to computers at the State Department, according to the reports in both The Post and Volkskrant. But Russian hackers were able to use their brief State Department access to compromise computers systems at the White House, Volkskrant reported Thursday.

  The relationship between Dutch and U.S. intelligence agencies grew so close, according to Volkskrant, that U.S. officials sent their Dutch counterparts cake and flowers to express their appreciation. In 2016, Rob Bertholee and Pieter Bindt, who headed AIVD and MIVD, met then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and outgoing NSA Director Michael Rodgers.

  That same year, email servers at the Democratic National Committee were infiltrated by Cozy Bear and another group of state-sponsored Russian hackers, Fancy Bear, that acted independently. Those emails would later leak to the online transparency group Wikileaks, which published them as part of what U.S. intelligence agencies believe was a Russian campaign to sway the election toward Trump.
Dutch intelligence reportedly passed key intelligence about the DNC hack to U.S. officials. That triggered an ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

   At some point, Dutch security services lost access to Cozy Bear’s systems. But they also came to trust their American counterparts less. The Washington Post report from last April attributed the tipoff about the 2014 State Department hack to a  “western ally.” That leak upset Dutch officials who felt their American counterparts had betrayed their trust, according to Thursday’s reports.

   President Donald Trump has also openly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin while criticizing the very U.S. security services the Dutch worked alongside so closely. Trump’s position reportedly made Dutch officials nervous about sharing future intelligence.

   A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, criticized Thursday’s report.
“If the Dutch media want to fuel anti-Russian hysteria in the U.S., it’s an activity that can’t be called honorable,” Peskov told the Associated Press.

   Dutch officials did not confirm or deny the report. “I cannot not go into causation,” Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren told Nieuwsuur, according to a translation. “In general, I have pointed to the risk of state actors trying to influence democracies by, for example, spreading disinformation or hacking. And not for nothing.”

Joshua Eaton is an investigative reporter at ThinkProgress. His work has also appeared at The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera America, The Intercept, PRI’s The World, and Teen Vogue. Before joining ThinkProgress, Joshua was a digital producer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (now The Eye) and WGBH News.

ThinkProgress is launching a membership program to help fund our work.

If just a small percentage of our readers chip in a few dollars each month, we’ll be able to do more to hold the administration and their allies accountable.

If you invest in us, we also want to invest in our relationship with you. We’re creating a members-only 
Facebook page where you can interact with ThinkProgress writers and editors, talk about your ideas for stories, and connect with each other.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs