Monday, December 17, 2012

Bottoming Out Culture 2012

Just as any drunk and addict bottoms out so will a culture. As much as the cold blooded killings to those beautiful children and teachers that occurred on Friday would possibly be the bottoming out of our addicted culture it will not. This one has stumped us though as a country and a culture.

Where does one start to express the anger and sadness about such an act as Sandy Hook. It is all of one piece like a tapestry. Gun laws, the making of weapons, the life of perpetual war, the senseless killings of other harmless countries children, the years of funding a war machine, killing machine. The incredible toxicities in our air and water and land, polluting our minds beyond what we really comprehend and we are not willing to fund for better understanding because of our love of weapons.

Not funding those that teach us, our teachers. Doing long days working for very little pay, their reward watching the light of learning go off in that child's mind. More funding for teachers less for war I would like to hear spoken from our politicians mouths. Teachers should be held up as high and dignified as our first responders. They were the first responders in this Sandy Hook tragedy.

How about the glorification of killing in movies and videos. These industries make billions all just making killers. The young males that get into this particular addiction should be discussed. Maybe even that the killing craze is mainly done by white males should be studied.

Greed, how about greed fellow humans. Why won't we take care of each other? Some people don't have bootstraps folks. We are continuing generations of poverty now, just so the filthy rich don't have to help others. Many good citizens now jobless, no future, no dignity, no way out, sickness hitting home, cancers. Tons of cancer, an epidemic that we don't talk about either affecting millions of people.

The planet we call home we are continuously harming. Killing off entire species. Polluting our waters so our children will be waterless. Polluting our air so our children can not breath.

It is all of the same friends. One sick addicted selfish culture.

Buy buy buy, consumerism, materialistic craze. All just band aids to a sick culture. Almost every product having some sort of plastic in it. What is plastic made of? Petroleum, fossil fuel our other major addiction. What are the hazards of plastics? Plastics are known to kill off sperm counts in males, what does it do to female eggs? Maybe that is what is causing such depravity? Ingesting plastics. We fashion ourselves an advanced culture, we could study this relationship of plastics and mental illness. But we can not as long as most of our collective money goes to the american war machine. How can we study this when we have guns to make and sell to the world.

The rant could go on. The point is it is all of one piece. We can not blame the NRA or this or that when we allow our weapons killing manufacturing buzz to continue, each of us have to consider our relationship to this massive killing machine industry. We cannot look for answers without looking at our fossil fuel oil addiction and what relationship we have to it. It is all of the same. The NRA is every military base, every nuclear weapon stored here in Albuquerque. More jobs in this country are for the killing machine then are for helping others. We are a culture based on violence and we all have a part right now.

One more thing, am I the only one that is disgusted with the vision of one of the swat military peace officers and the stupid machine gun they carry walking beside a youngster exiting the school? Is this what we have become? Ever since 911 we have funded homeland security to the tune of billions as well. For sure one of the answers to this sickness will be to have more security, instead of dealing with the problem head on. More security devices and gadgets and guns will be sold in order to protect us. Some rich pig becoming more filthy rich all with the disguise of protecting us. Maybe every school will have it's own militia like APS does now. All funded by our tax dollars.

Just like an addict we will let one day slip to the next and eventually the horror of the previous action will become distant we will forget and slip back into our addiction.

December 17, 2012 at 12:28 PM in Government, Guns, Military Affairs, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why is NM Job Growth Non Existent? A Response to Abq Jrnl Winthrop Q

Dear Winthrop, You are one of my favorite writers for the Journal. You always offer a less slanted objective then what the paper is known for. In your piece today regarding job growth you suggest readers offer their suggestions of how to improve job growth in NM. Knowing the Journal is selective over what they publish I figured I would respond here to your request.

There is an elephant in the room you neglect to mention in the article and listing of "It's" (ex. It's the Labor Pool?). It's the war and the size of the defense budget.

It's the cost of the wars we have been in since October 7, 2001, for 11 years and counting. The Afghan and Iraq wars have cost our country 2 billion dollars a week. $2bil per WEEK. Staggering costs, no one mentions this cost anymore. How much is the cost of the Afghanistan war now? Last I heard it is costing 1.5bil per week.

These are enormous numbers of which no one mentions. No politician, no media. The real cost is calculated out in trillions, which includes taking care of the wounded soldiers for years and the hard costs of these wars in dollars expended, hard earned dollars which could have been used in this country

The following article featured on TruthAlliance.net dated July 17, 2012 starts to expose some of the reason we are screwed as far as job growth here.

120717-khan-bani-saad-prison-315p_photoblog600
Photo above is “The Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, about 12 miles northeast of Baghdad, is seen with unused building materials nearby. The site is a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million. The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse.”

The article goes on to say “In Friday’s report, Bowen said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development.”

And these articles from Judicial Watch: “Billions for Iraq reconstruction lost to fraud", highlighting an audit done by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) dated July 13, 2012. And this arictle The largest theft of funds in history. And in 2008 this article "Pervasive fraud and waste in Iraq reconstruction efforts. “

So here we have it we were ripped off and no one has the will to stand up and say this, the political will or the media will. Where does 2 bil per week go for years and years? We at DFNM have been asking this question for years. Mr Quigley we suggest you look into this and see what you come up with, just a suggestion. See if you as an american citizen can find where this gross amount of money could have gone. How could we spend 2 billion dollars a week? Let's see a breakdown of costs for one week in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have worked on public design and construction projects most of my adult life and I know when I work for the US or State government, I am held accountable for every dollar and to every dollar for the work I produce. And if the media or regulatory agencies find out otherwise there is hell to pay.

To surmise the cost of these wars at 2 billion a week has destroyed our prospect of jobs for years to come. The elephant in the room is the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the cost of the actual war and the cost of the reconstruction both of these having no restrictions for costs and billions of dollars of waste and fraud.

Our military spending is totally out of control. We as a country have no money for other matters and concerns, like taking care of our seniors and building schools for our children. All our tax dollars go to the War Machine, if you are not part of the war machine business you have no work, both in the public sector and the private sector.

What to do now? Get out of Afghanistan. Stop spending our tax dollars over there. Let’s start a reconstruction effort here in this country. Let’s start with New Jersey and New York.

And if I was a real journalist and not an architect pretending to be a journalist while looking for real work myself, this story of the fleecing of America from 2001 to 2012 would be my passion to expose. To have it be known in every household what has occurred these critical years, and the lack of accountability of our elected officials and media.

PS. Please take a look at the SIGIR audit linked to above and here for your ease, just this report alone only 31 pages long is so light weight as to the corruption and robbery that has taken place. Meanwhile many people go yet another day without full employment.

December 11, 2012 at 02:31 PM in Afghanistan, Economy, Populism, Iraq War, Jobs, Military Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Good News and Bad News for the National Defense Authorization Act 2013

Senator Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman released the following press statement "Udall, Bingaman Offer Amendments to Defense Authorization Act" highlighting amendments they introduced and passed to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2013.

These are very positive amendments for the state of New Mexico. Below are quotes from Udall and Bingaman.

"With these amendments, we are ensuring New Mexico is a leader in the 21st century clean energy economy, and at the forefront of the national security achievements being made at our national labs and within the defense community," Udall said. "Our biofuels amendment is especially important to national security and businesses in our state so I'm glad we were able to get one over the finish line today."

"The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important bills for New Mexico because it helps fund our national labs and our military installations. I am especially glad that the Senate adopted our amendment to allow the Pentagon to invest in all types of fuels - including biofuels -- for its fleets. The Defense Department is a major consumer of fuel, and the more homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel it purchases the better off we will be," said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

However, there remains troubling language within NDAA 2013 regarding laws of Detention. The HuffPost has a good write up of this: Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA. An excerpt:

A bipartisan group of senators made a bid Wednesday to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the United States.

Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II's internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year's defense bill.

The authority to detain anyone on suspicions that they backed Al Qaeda was codified in law for the first time in the NDAA last winter, although the two most recent White House administrations have asserted since 2001 that the military has always had that authority, stemming from Congress' Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks.

Senator Rand Paul had this to say about the indefinite detention, "If we give up our rights, have not the terrorists won?" Paul said. "If we relinquish our rights because of fear, what is it exactly that we are fighting for?"

One last thing in this monster bill. The cost of this war machine bill does not seem to be in any dialog at all. Click on this link and go to page 597 to see the tables of what we are paying for within this bill. Make sure you are sitting down. One because it is 70 pages long and the other because it is billions and billions of dollars. Our tax dollars, line after line, page after page. Descriptions of who knows what. Who goes through these items? An example below, the numbers are in thousands of dollars.

MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT

172 ROUGH TERRAIN CONTAINER HANDLER (RTCH) ....... 0 0

173 FAMILY OF FORKLIFTS ................5,895

174 ALL TERRAIN LIFTING ARMY SYSTEM ......... 0 0

TRAINING EQUIPMENT

175 COMBAT TRAINING CENTERS SUPPORT ....... 104,649

176 TRAINING DEVICES, NONSYSTEM .................. 125,251

177 CLOSE COMBAT TACTICAL TRAINER ............ 19,984

178 AVIATION COMBINED ARMS TACTICAL TRAINER ........ 10,977

179 GAMING TECHNOLOGY IN SUPPORT OF ARMY TRAINING ... 4,056

What are these things and why do we need them? Why are'nt we as a nation screaming about this list of killing devices or training of killers. Meanwhile we judge the person on foodstamps? Or punish the people on unemployment. One word comes to mind, unsustainable.  

November 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM in Military Affairs, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

General Petraeus General Betray Us Now

Remember the General Petraeus, General Betray Us MoveOn ad controversy?

From Wikipedia:
The MoveOn.org ad controversy began when the US anti-war liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org published a full-page ad in the NY Times on September 10, 2007 accusing General David H. Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House". The ad also labeled him "General Betray Us". The organization created the ad in response to Petraeus' Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq. MoveOn hosted pages on its website about the ad and their reasons behind it from 2007 to June 23, 2010. On June 23, 2010, after President Obama nominated General Petraeus to be the new top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan (taking over the position from retiring General Stanley McChrystal), MoveOn erased these webpages and any reference to them from its website.

Democracy for New Mexico wrote about this back on Sept. 26, 2007. Barb wrote a pointed piece back then, and the piece received a few great comments, even by the now late PlacitasRoy. Roy passed away only a few weeks ago and his rebel voice is missed.

Fast forward to now

Current Cost of Iraq and Afghan Wars: $1,393,007,867,900.00
Current Cost of Iraq War: $808,617,213,890.00
Current Cost of Afghan War: $584,390,833,930.00

It is important to remember where our hard earned tax dollars are going as we approach the perverbial fiscal cliff. The National Priorities project is still a great Cost of War tracker of this obscene number. Our tax dollars keep on flooding out of this country like a fire hydrant turned on full blast, or the Hoover damn in overflow position.

We have written about this outrage before, almost one year ago DFNM had this post "Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About" on the obscene amount of money flooding out of our country. How is this sustainable? And to make matters worse it appears the GAO issued a report on August 1, 2012 showing little enthusiasm by agencies to make changes to the rip-off happening with War Time Contracting. For really good maddening reading see the final report to Congress on the War Time Rip-off waste.

And now we find out that General P was getting his rocks off. While the thieves and robbers are ripping us off blind. If General PP did not Betray us back in September 2007, he most certainly has betrayed us now.

And just to think of the human life's lost. And there is a business as usual theme still continuing. Why do we have such a huge debt? Why are there no jobs? Just watch the Cost of War ticker and think how and when will this stop.

Our Country is in the need of leaders now! Not cover up, go along to get alongers. The war was no issue in the past election, shameful. NO one even tried to tie the cost of war to the lack of jobs in our own communities. What is the actual monetary cost of this war every week now? This information is unattainable to my knowledge and searching. We Americans are asleep, like serious amnesia, and denial. Is anyone listening or paying attention? Let's all hold our newly elected Congressional and Senatorial leaders accountable to answer these questions. Where is this money going?

November 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, NM Congressional Delegation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

$642,000,000,000 (billion) for the War Machine "Ike was Right"

Ike was right$642,000,000,000.00 for Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Budget, 8 billion more than what Obama or the Defense Secretary even asked for. I bet the Department of Education would love 8 bil more for their FY2013.

When will this craziness stop? CD1 Congressman Martin Heinrich voted yes, CD2 Congressman Pearce voted yes, CD3 Congressman Lujan voted no. Heinrich voting with Pearce is not good. Heinrich's press release is at the end of this post. To see how Congressional votes across the Country were cast for this bill see this article.

This kind of obscene money spent on war and defense has got to stop. 88 billion still going over to Afghanistan for 2013, that is $1.5 bill every week. Think of what this Country could do with $1.5 bil every week. The bill funds a missile defense site to be built on the east coast, that the military itself opposes, old star-wars garbage, and even Russian cold war garbage. We have gone insane, when we will fund things the military does not even want and threaten drastic cuts to social security for our seniors which is desperately needed now, we have gone insane.

Ok yes there are jobs that come from all that obscene money for people in NM. At Kirkland mainly, yes these jobs have real people working in them, but it is time we ask; do we spend our precious tax dollars on space war or fireman, Russian cold war or teachers, more nuclear weapons or solar energy, fixing the San Juan coal plant that we know is killing people which will cost $800 mil, or 1.5 bil for another week in Afghanistan?

Heinrich says in his statement below: "H.R. 4310 includes language that restores these missions, and includes $25 million for the continuation of the ORS program and $45 million for the continuation of STP. The United States Air Force (USAF) estimates that there are 68 jobs at the KAFB ORS headquarters office, not including the New Mexico small businesses that contract with and provide support to ORS. Further, the USAF estimates there are 74 jobs at the KAFB STP office." So let me do a quick calc...that is 142 jobs for $70 mil tax dollars. Not a good return I say. Maybe if it was even 1,420 jobs or 14,200 jobs for 70 mil I would be more in favor. If you are one of those 142 people working on this project you are psyched, but if you are us underemployed and unemployed, we are not so psyched.

How about the constant drum beat of the funding social security, and medicare costing the country too much money. We have paid into this fund for all the years we have been working, let's face it, it has been used as a slush fund for other war machine spending. It is time we stop being a super power around the world, rebuilding and protecting the world meanwhile our own needs go untended. Our seniors struggling, our children slipping more and more behind. Channel 7 is having a debate tonight with the CD1 Candidates I hope they ask how each of the candidates would have voted for this bill.

These are the questions we face this election. More of the same use of our money for war machine spending or funding realistic things for our citizens needed now. Like President Eisenhower said in his 1961 farewell address "restrain the "military-industrial complex." you can read the entire speech here. 51 years ago, and we are have done nothing but increase our military industrial complex to the point it is now the only budget of our country that receives more and more than requested and has very little accountability for where the funds go, and meanwhile we are out of work, kids have no food to go to school with a full belly, moms and dads are not working, no money for healthcare, no money for sustainability projects.

If the election was today who would you vote for? Who would be the most likely to not cave for star war spending, even if it does have jobs related to it in Kirkland, does it make sense for now? Is it the best use of your/our tax dollars? I do not think so. You decide.

Heinrich Fights to Save KAFB Missions and Boost New Mexico’s Economy
Defense Authorization Bill to Strengthen National Security, Ease Export Controls and Promote Tech Transfer Passes House

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2012) – Today, U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) announced that H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 passed the House by a 299 to 120 vote. The bill ensures that our military is fully prepared for threats and challenges worldwide and that our troops get the benefits they deserve and have earned. This year’s NDAA includes several important provisions authored by Rep. Heinrich that support U.S. service members and their families, create jobs, and spur economic growth in New Mexico.

“I will keep working to ensure that our national laboratories and military installations have the resources they need to perform their critical national security missions,” said Rep. Heinrich.

In February, as part of the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013, the Department of Defense recommended eliminating funding and terminating the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program and the Space Test Program (STP), both of which are headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB). Since that time, Rep. Heinrich, a Member of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee, has led the fight in the House to restore the ORS and STP missions.

As a result of Rep. Heinrich’s work, H.R. 4310 includes language that restores these missions, and includes $25 million for the continuation of the ORS program and $45 million for the continuation of STP. The United States Air Force (USAF) estimates that there are 68 jobs at the KAFB ORS headquarters office, not including the New Mexico small businesses that contract with and provide support to ORS. Further, the USAF estimates there are 74 jobs at the KAFB STP office.

“I asked the tough questions and I worked with my colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, to protect these missions at Kirtland,” said Rep. Heinrich. “As the Department of Defense looks for ways to cut spending across the country, I am committed to fight for New Mexico and ensure that jobs remain intact.”

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-9) added, “I applaud Congressman Heinrich for his hard work in bringing the committee to a more sensible approach that prevents the loss of the ORS and STP missions and their personnel.”

Additional provisions included in the NDAA that are positive for New Mexico:

  • Preserved Directed Energy jobs at KAFB. NDAA provided an increase of $30 million to preserve the skilled workforce that was involved in the Airborne Laser Test Bed program and to accelerate experimentation with next generation directed energy system development.
  • Increased Technology Transfer. Rep. Heinrich successfully offered an amendment that would authorize a pilot program between one national laboratory and one non-profit entity for the purpose of accelerating technology transfer from national laboratories to marketplace.
  • Ease Satellite Export Controls To Boost NM Small Business. An amendment, based on legislation Rep. Heinrich introduced last year to ease satellite export controls, was accepted. Easing export controls will provide a strong boost to New Mexico’s aerospace industry.
  • Possible 2013 and 2015 BRAC Rejected. KAFB, Cannon Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and White Sands Missile Range would be protected from a 2013 or 2015 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).

May 19, 2012 at 11:19 AM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Hector Balderas, Martin Chavez, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Military Affairs, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Heinrich Statement on the President's Speech in Afghanistan

U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich released the following statement in response to President Obama's address from Afghanistan tonight:

It is time to end the combat operations in Afghanistan. A nation at war comes at a great cost to its people. Our brave men and women in uniform have made incredible sacrifices over the last decade. It is time to bring them home to their families.”

Heinrich, currently serving his second term on the House Armed Service Committee, traveled to Afghanistan nearly two years ago to Kabul and Kandahar to meet with troops, military and diplomatic leaders, and humanitarian workers in the region.

May 2, 2012 at 10:50 AM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Afghanistan, Military Affairs, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest blog: All Military Families Deserve the Benefits they have Earned

EQNM-Nick Rimmer Headshot-2012-3-18Guest blog provided by: Nick Rimmer is a graduate of the UNM School of Law, and serves as Associate Director of Equality New Mexico.

Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner pledged to continue defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court—this time against a challenge brought by members of the US armed forces who claim that the law unconstitutionally denies them access to over 100 family benefits that are otherwise offered to all other active duty personnel and veterans. These include housing allowances, surviving spousal benefits, the ability to apply for joint duty assignments, among others.  DOMA denies these benefits to our enlisted men and women, as well as veterans, because the Department of Defense grants certain family benefits on the basis of regulations that define the terms  “spouse” or “marriage”, terms that must be interpreted to mean opposite-sex spouses because of DOMA.

Speaker Boehner’s defense of DOMA in this case demonstrates his willingness to protect a glaring inequality in how we treat many of those who have chosen to serve in our nation’s armed forces. The fact of the matter is that enlisted men and women risk their lives defending our country against harm, yet they are denied the right to fully protect and marry the one’s they love once they return home because of who they are.

The litigation in question, known as McMcLaughlin v. Panetta, was filed on behalf of gay troops and veterans by the Service members Legal Defense Network and Chadbourne & Parke LLC; the lawsuit is now pending before the District Court of Massachusetts. The case centers largely around Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a Lesbian in the New Hampshire National Guard, who has been diagnosed with stage-four, incurable breast cancer and is seeking survivor benefits that are awarded to veterans in opposite-sex marriages for her spouse, Karen Morgan.

Should Speaker Boehner succeed in court, Ms. Morgan would be ineligible to receive the benefits that her wife has earned through her service. Perhaps before proceeding with his lawsuit, Speaker Boehner should ask himself a few simple questions: do the same-sex partners of our enlisted men and women sacrifice any less when their loved ones are deployed? Do they feel any less pain in the event that their loved ones never return home? Of course not. Why then should they be denied the ability to provide for, and protect their families in the same ways afforded to all other military families?

Speaker Boehner’s decision to go-it-alone in defending DOMA also reflects a problem with setting priorities. After the Obama administration instructed Congress that it would no longer defend DOMA, on the grounds that the president considers the law to be unconstitutional, Republican leaders in congress appropriated $750,000 in legal fees to defend the law. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the cost of defending DOMA may easily reach $1.5 million by the end of the year. President Obama is not alone in thinking that DOMA is unconstitutional; every federal court that has ruled on the law to date has come to the same conclusion. At a time of soaring deficits, it is disappointing that House Republicans seem willing to spend millions of dollars on defending this unconstitutional law while asking for deep cuts in education and vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

When it comes to continuing their quixotic defense of DOMA in this case, House Republicans have a simple choice: focus on getting the economy back on track, or spend millions of dollars defending a law that denies benefits to thousands of military families.

March 19, 2012 at 05:49 PM in GLBT Rights, Guest Blogger, Military Affairs, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Garamendi/Heinrich Bill Clarifies Detention Policy & Protects American Citizens' Due Process Rights

Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) and Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque, NM), members of the House Armed Services Committee, on December 16, 2011, introduced H.R. 3702, the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011. The bill clarifies U.S. law by amending the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to ensure that within the United States, U.S. citizens and permanent residents cannot be detained indefinitely without trial. It is companion legislation to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011.

“Every American deserves their day in court, and this legislation changes existing law to protect our due process rights,” Congressman Garamendi said. “We cannot allow our basic rights to be lost, and there is no legitimate national security reason to deny any citizen in America a trial. We can both keep America safe and maintain our liberties.”

“Detainee provisions included in this year’s Defense Authorization and retained in the final Conference Report do not strengthen our national security and are at complete odds with the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Heinrich. “It is time we restore the proper balance between individual liberties and national security.”

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the just passed NDAA Conference Report would authorize the indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without explicitly protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this new law, individual American citizens suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.” The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 ensures that U.S. citizens and permanent residents on American soil are protected from this provision.

The bill clarifies existing U.S. law and states unequivocally that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens or lawful U.S. residents. The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 became necessary due to ambiguous language in the National Defense Authorization Act.

December 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), U.S. Constitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bravo! Heinrich Votes Against Flawed Defense Authorization Bill

Fresh from Rep. Martin Heinrich's office:

220px-Martin_HeinrichU.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) voted today against the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has supported all previous defense authorization bills that have been voted on in the House of Representatives.

“Our brave men and women in uniform serve honorably every day, and it is our responsibility in Congress to ensure they receive the funding and resources they need to carry out their mission,” said Rep. Heinrich. “However, the Defense Authorization bill was used as a vehicle to authorize the military to go anywhere in the world to imprison anyone suspected of terrorism—even American citizens on U.S. soil—without charge or trial. By mandating military detention of suspected terrorists, this law places additional responsibilities on the military that they have not sought, nor have the resources to carry out, compromising our national security.”

Section 1022 (formerly Section 1032 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities. This would deny civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective interrogation, detention, and prosecution.  Respected bipartisan members of the national security community— including the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division—oppose this provision.

“If we have evidence that a U.S. citizen is planning to or causing harm to our country, that person should absolutely be arrested, tried and brought to justice,” said Rep. Heinrich. “But instead, this law would harm our justice system and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this authority, any individual—including Americans on U.S. soil—suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.”

“Since September 11, 2001, Americans have made tremendous sacrifices in both blood and treasure,” said Rep. Heinrich.  “In President Obama’s inaugural address, he asked every American to ‘reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’  Now, a decade after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, it is time we follow through in rejecting this false choice.  America can be both safe and free.”

December 14, 2011 at 06:54 PM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Terrorism, U.S. Constitution | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Heinrich Details Opposition To Indefinite Detention of Americans

220px-Martin_HeinrichFrom U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich:

U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-1), U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4), and 30 colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives today sent an urgent letter to House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders and conferees opposing provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would authorize indefinite detention of Americans and tie the hands of domestic law enforcement in terrorism cases. Read the letter (PDF) »

“I strongly oppose mandating military custody and allowing for indefinite detention without due process or trial,” said Rep. Heinrich, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. “These provisions are deeply concerning and would risk putting American citizens in military detention, indefinitely.  In short, this authority is at complete odds with the United States Constitution.”

The letter details Rep. Heinrich’s opposition to Sec. 1034 of the House-passed defense authorization, and Secs. 1031 and 1032 of the Senate-passed bill.

Sec. 1034 of the House bill would authorize the use of military force against broadly defined adversaries substantially exceeding the scope of such authorizations already in law.  The expanded authority would have no geographical limits and provide authority for open-ended armed conflict.  Sec. 1031 of the Senate bill would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ right to trial.  Sec. 1032 of the Senate bill would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities, denying civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective counterterrorism operations.

"These provisions have no place in our law," said Rep. Johnson, who serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary Committees.  "If we include this language, we're on a slippery slope."

House and Senate conferees are meeting today to finalize the Defense authorization bill. It is anticipated that the conference report will be voted on by the House this coming Thursday, December 15.

The signed letter will be available at Heinrich.house.gov.

December 13, 2011 at 09:08 AM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About

This commentary post is by Mary Ellen Broderick. It encompasses material about military fraud and waste that is not being talked about, anywhere. 

The following press release was provided by the Whitehouse on 11/15/11: “We Can’t Wait: Agencies Cut Nearly $18 Billion in Improper Payments, Announce New Steps for Stopping Government Waste”.

The first two paragraphs of the report state the following: “Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today announced that the Administration cut wasteful improper payments by $17.6 billion dollars in 2011 as part of the Obama Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, fueled by decreases in payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps.  Combined with the improper payment cuts in 2010, agencies have avoided making over $20 billion in improper payments in the two years since President Obama issued an Executive Order initiating an aggressive campaign against wasteful payment errors.

“When the President and I launched the Campaign to Cut Waste we knew success would be measured by results, not rhetoric,” said Vice President Biden. “The sharp reduction in payment errors announced today demonstrates this Administration is serious about cutting waste,” he added.

Although it is commendable to be finding fraud in the programs that serve the poorest and most in need in our nation -- Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps -- there is no mention in this release regarding the obscene Military Waste and Fraud. This report, “Wartime Contracting Commission releases final report to Congress” , starts out with these 4 bullets:

• Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion

• Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects

• Faults both government officials and contractors

• Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform

This report was issued back on 8/31/11, and there has been no discussion of this fraud and waste anywhere. Here is the entire report, with great waste graphs and photos on everything, as well as who is doing the most stealing. I have not seen a single member of Congress comment on this report and its findings. None of our elected officials in NM have commented on this report.  Did our elected officials not see this report -- nor did any of their staff? Well, here it is and I am asking for more motivation from our elected officials to start pushing for this waste and fraud to be addressed. This whole website -- Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan--  is full of interesting maddening, information, yet no one is saying a word about it.

Occupy Congress
Remember this ticker many blogs had up when the Afghanistan and Iraq war started? Cost of War Ticker. Well, it is still ticking away -- to the tune of billions. Every minute of every day the people of this country are struggling while these billions go out into unknown places and pockets, with zero accountability. This link, Ten Years After 9/11: The Dollars and Sense of War, is also informative on where our tax dollars are going and what the funds could be doing if spent here in this country.

It is staggering that we have this amount of our tax dollars leaving our country not accounted for and with no one even mentioning it. We need some of our Senators and Representatives to start camping out on the floor of the people’s house. Camp out until someone listens.

Estimated War-Related Costs, Iraq and Afghanistan
According to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.29 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011. The chart below shows yearly expenditures for the Iraq and Afghan wars. 

War spnding chart 001

1. Includes $5.5 billion of $7.1 billion appropriated in DOD's FY2003 Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-48) for the global war on terror that CRS cannot allocate and DOD cannot track.

2. Of the $25 billion provided in Title IX of the FY2005 DOD appropriation bill, CRS includes $2 billion in FY2004 when it was obligated and the remaining $23 billion in FY2005. Because Congress made the funds available in FY2004, CBO and OMB score all $25 billion in FY2004.

3. Includes funds in the FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L. 110-28), Title IX, P.L. 109-289, FY2007 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 5631) designated for war and funds for other agencies in H.J. Res 20, P.L. 110-50, the year-long Continuing Resolution. VA Medical estimates reflect VA FY2008 budget materials and CRS estimates. Amounts for foreign and diplomatic operations reflects State Department figures.

Source: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, RL33110, p. CRS-9).

Read more: Estimated War-Related Costs, Iraq and Afghanistan — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html#ixzz1dyw8JIFR.

Where is All This Money Going?
Besides the wartime contracting fraud report linked to above, I see no other place where these dollars are being accounted for. This report is just dealing with that one portion of war funding too -- needless to say the tip of the iceberg.

I am an architect and in my career I have worked on many public sector projects, many federal projects. And it is my experience that the contractor is held to high scrutiny when working for the federal government, both on ensuring accuracy within documentation and accountability in terms of actual production. I do not see how this Iraq-Afghan boondoggle is being managed at all, and yet just the pure volume of 2 bil a week leaving our country is a huge undertaking to account for. There should be scores of people tracking these monies -- and reporting on them in a timeless and honest manner. I like the saying I encountered recently: Let's invade the US so we can have massive Wartime Contracting Spending rebuilding this country.

Just remember, every week 2 bil dollars leaves this country that could be being used to put our people back to work. 

Defense Spending Cant' Be Immune
This article, "Dire warnings from Pentagon over potential defense cuts", reports what Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta said recently to the Super Committee about any cuts to defense spending.  Paraphrasing -- don't do it or we will not be prepared for the boggie men. Leon, my bad dreams are not about the boogiemen invading this country or the so-called freedom haters; my worries first thing in the morning are about jobs, money, healthcare.

Yet since September 11, 2001, the Military Industrial Complex has had free reign. A bonanza of fraud and waste. Sinful really. Read this report: The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: Shifting Patterns of Military Contracting in the Post-9/11 Period. The companies listed should be prosecuted for treason. Not given more contracts. They are part of the problem. They and their investors are the controllers of that 1% of all the wealth in the nation. This is one of the major issues of the Occupy movement. How can we as the 99%'ers ever get our message heard as long as our elected officials refuse to face realities and talk about it.

To Remain Silent is to Condone This Waste and Fraud
The silence around this military spending matter is deafening. Why? Because the war profiteers and crooks own the elected officials. From Kucinich to Boehner. From McCain to Schumer. Bought, owned. The only elected official with a soul talking about these matters in depth seems to be Sen. Sanders. I challenge our Senators and Congressmen to break their silence on these outrages. Take action, and do not mention cutting the people's programs without -- in the same sentence -- talking about cutting the military programs that are draining our nation's treasury and enriching crooks. And that just might mean no more "Tacos" and other unnecessary and wasteful military and lab spending here in New Mexico. There is no more of a lot of what we used to have. Why should military spending be immune?

Lab Spending
One last point. It was reported in this morning's Albuquerque Journal that LANL has almost 50% of its funding going towards administration.  HALF!! You can’t tell me there isn't any fraud or waste in that bloat. I suggest our Congressional delegation and the rest of Congress set about finding it.

November 17, 2011 at 03:17 PM in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Military Affairs, Occupy Wall Street, Super Committee | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NM-1 Candidate Eric Griego: A Milestone for Equality -- But There is More Work to be Done

The Eric Griego campaign for Congress in NM-1 released the following statement today in response to the military's implementation of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

With the official repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” yesterday, our nation hit an important milestone for civil rights and equality. The repeal means that every man or woman can serve in our nation’s military without fear of legal discrimination for who they are and who they choose to love.

But there is more work to be done.

Diversity makes a workplace stronger and more productive. That is why Congress should also pass and the President should sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act so that all workers will be valued and respected. The military is leading the way and it’s time for Washington to step up.

As Congressman I will be a champion for equality and fight against hate and discrimination. Together we can make our country better.

 As a nation, we should also value and respect any two persons to love and marry one another without government interference. I believe that love between individuals is a sacred right protected in the Constitution and that is why I also support the full repeal of DOMA.

September 20, 2011 at 05:12 PM in Eric Griego, GLBT Rights, Military Affairs, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)