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US military doctors participate in torture of detainees, report says

RT | November 4, 2013

An independent report has charged that medical personnel, working under the direction of the Department of Defense and CIA in military defense facilities, violated medical ethics by participating in the torture of detainees.

The services provided by American doctors and psychologists included “designing, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of detainees, according to the report.

The 19-member task force concluded that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA ordered medical professionals to assist in intelligence gathering, as well as forced-feeding of hunger strikers, in a way that inflicted “severe harm” on detainees in US custody.

The authors of the 269-page report, entitled “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the ‘War on Terror’” is based on information from unclassified, publicly available information.

The task force revealed that a “theory of interrogation” emerged in US detention facilities, including Guantanamo Bay detention camp, that was based on “personality disintegration” as a means of breaking down the resistance of the detainees in an effort to extract confessions and information.

Over time, new interrogation methods were developed by interrogators and psychologists from techniques used in the pre-9/11 Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program that was designed for training US troops to withstand interrogation and mistreatment techniques in the event they were captured.

The interrogators and medical professionals transformed torture-resistant tactics into abusive methods of interrogation, which they employed on detainees. This included so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ techniques, such as waterboarding, which involves covering a restrained detainee’s face with a towel and then soaking it with water. The technique is said to induce a feeling of drowning and complete helplessness.

The detainees are not permitted to receive treatment for the mental anguish caused by their torture.

The report also gave special mention to the Bush administration, which declared that the legal safeguards regarding the treatment of prisoners of war set down in the Geneva Convention did not apply to the “unlawful combatants” (i.e. terrorists) in the War on Terror.

The lack of any judicial restraints on the part of the military and medical personnel involved opened the door to “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners at GITMO under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Task Force member, Dr. Gerald Thomson, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at Columbia University, said physicians violated medical code of conduct by willingly becoming “agents of the military.”

“The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,” Dr. Thomson said in a released statement. “It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice.”

The medical community has “a responsibility to make sure this never happens again,” he added.

The authors cited a number of sources that informed their study, including recently published accounts of force-feeding hunger-striking detainees, a 2008 Senate report on the treatment of terrorists in custody, and a Red Cross probe of CIA interrogation measures that was leaked to the New York Times.

Dr. Thomson summarized the feelings of many people when he called the participation of physicians in the torture and interrogation of detainees a “big striking horror.”

“This covenant between society and medicine has been around for a long, long time — patient first, community first, society first, not national security, necessarily,” he continued. “If we just ignore this and satisfy ourselves with the (thought that), ‘Well, they were trying to protect us,’ when it does happen again we’ll all be complicit in that.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale, reviewed the charges contained in the report and called them “wholly absurd.”

“The health care providers at the Joint Strike Force who routinely provide not only better medical care than any of these detainees have ever known, but care on par with the very best of the global medical profession, are consummate professionals working under terrifically stressful conditions, far from home and their families, and with patients who have been extraordinarily violent,” Breasseale told NBC News.

Arthur Caplan, head of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the medical personnel working at Gitmo may believe they are doing something valuable for society.

“What I’ve seen over the years is that people (doctors) who don’t want to do that, don’t. They find ways to avoid it, get out of it, or get reassigned,” Caplan told NBC News. “But for someone who does it, that doctor’s impulse may be to say: ‘I want to fight terrorism. I want to get information that protects the American people.’ They think they’re doing the right thing.”

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misunderstanding, militarized

By Matt Erickson | LJWorld | August 21, 2013

[Jerry] Dobson, a professor of geography at Kansas University [KU], is the lead researcher on one of 14 projects to win grants this year from the Minerva Research Initiative, a U.S. Department of Defense effort to learn more about other parts of the world through social-science research.  He and other researchers will receive about $1.8 million over three years to study indigenous communities throughout Central America, with a possibility to apply for renewal and receive a total of $3 million over five years. […] “There are too many instances where misunderstanding of other areas has cost us,” Dobson said. From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, the United States may have fared better in many of its conflicts over the past half-century with more knowledge about the culture and politics of other parts of the world.

Yes, the Bowman expeditions are back, rebooted by a Department of Defense Minerva grant, and soon to arrive in all seven Central American countries.  To study which indigenous peoples, exactly?  Usually in academia such things are not secret, but this project involves the US military.  After reading Erickson’s story I wrote Professor Dobson to ask for a copy of his research proposal.  In reply to my request, he sent me a link to one of his peevish essays.  I thanked him for the piece and asked for the proposal again; he replied by asking if I had read his essay—which, I gather, he sees as a scathing rebuke of critical scholars like me, hence an answer in itself.  That’s the thing about collaborating with the military: it makes you more cloistered and secretive.  The fraternal romance of power creeps in.  Pretty soon you don’t share basic information about your research with other scholars, even when the work is funded from the public and motivated, ostensibly, by a need to create an “informed public.”

In fairness to Professor Dobson, he has reason to be defensive.  His work has come under sharp criticism (see Joe Bryan’s essay, e.g., and its links).  I recently published a book, Geopiracy: Oaxaca, militant empiricism, and geographic thought, that examines how Dr. Dobson and other geographers from the University of Kansas went to Mexico to map indigenous lands with funds from the US military and, according to the communities they studied, failed to mention the source of their funds and their ties to the US military.  I won’t recapitulate the whole story (you can read Jeremy Crampton’s review here), but it’s worth remembering that the controversy started when indigenous communities in Oaxaca discovered the ties between the Bowman expeditions and the US military.  They rebelled, publishing a trio of public denunciations of the project, such as this 2009 letter from the community of San Miguel Tiltepec, Oaxaca:

[The geographers] never informed us that the data they collected in our community would be given to the Foreign Military Study Office (FMSO) of the Army of the United States, nor did they inform us that this institution was one of the sources of financing for the project.  Because of this, we consider that our General Assembly was tricked by the researchers, in order to draw out the information the[y] wanted.  The community did not request the research[;] it was the researchers who convinced the community to carry it out.  Thus, the research was not carried out due to the community’s need, it was the researchers […] who designed the research method in order to collect the type of information that truly interested them. […] [W]e wish to express to the public […] our complete disagreement with the research carried out in our community, since we were not properly informed of the true goals of the research, the use of the information obtained, and the sources of financing [for the entire statement, see Zoltan Grossman’s website].

The ‘Oaxaca controversy’ shocked many by revealing US military collaboration with academic geographers.  With his NSF/Minerva grant, Professor Dobson is again spearheading the military front within the discipline.  Although to read the coverage of his work in LJWorld, it seems the sole motivation is cultural understanding.

Thanks to the Public Records Office at the University of Kansas, I was able to obtain a copy of the proposal that won Dr. Dobson the $3 million.  As a scholarly proposal it is not worth serious discussion.  The text is comprised mainly of recycled bits of Bowman Expedition doggerel; superficially it resembles an NSF proposal, but the analytical architecture is just shoddy.  For instance, their research hypothesis is: “certain land tenure and land use practices will mean significant level of cultural resilience, with associated benefits, such as environmental conservation and tourism development…” (p 4).  Yet these “certain” practices are never defined and the brief theoretical discussion on land tenure relies mainly on a handful of US military sources.  Their methodology is to vacuum up as much material about indigenous communities as they can obtain and repackage everything into one giant “ArcGIS database of digital maps, data, and statistics” (p 5).

Nevertheless, the proposal contains these useful hints about the project.  Their fieldwork is based out of the Department of Anthropology at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (or UNAH) where they are collaborating with anthropologist Dr. Silva Gonzalez (p 5).  They aim to study all the municipalities in Central America where at least 30% of the population is indigenous as classified by language (p 7).  Presumably this means that they will conduct considerable fieldwork in Guatemala – home to the largest percentage of indigenous people in Central American – although, curiously, Honduras is the only country singled out for fieldwork in the proposal.

Less ambiguous are their promises about the project’s usefulness to the US military.  The proposal’s one-page ‘abstract’ includes this statement:

Impact on DoD Capabilities and Broader Implications for National Defense: The proposed research addresses recognized deficiencies in U. S. foreign policy, military strategy, and foreign intelligence.  DoD will gain new capabilities to conduct human geographic research, similar to but more advanced than those employed extensively in World Wars I and II.  DoD will benefit directly and abundantly from the openly-reported research and the geographic information disseminated and from a greatly improved pool of regional experts, an improved labor pool, and a better informed public in times of future political debates and conflict [my italics].

Never mind a weak analytical argument; this is the stuff that wins Minerva grants.

The Minerva program emerged out of the DoD circa 2007, i.e. the same era as the Bowman expeditions.  Through Minerva the DoD seeks to derive ideas and data about potential targets from US-based social scientists.  To do so, the Pentagon has teamed up with NSF (which engages the scholars and handles the money).  The funding isn’t enormous – a few million dollars per grant – but these are times when money is scarce and even research proposals rated as ‘excellent’ are not necessarily funded by NSF.  Ironically, the competitiveness of normal NSF (scientific) funding increases the prestige value of the Minerva (military) grants.  And the NSF helps some Minerva applicants assuage their fears that they are not actually conducting military research.  But make no mistake; it is the DoD’s money and they shape the agenda.  They will also certainly get the ArcGIS database being built by the Kansas geographers.

Geographers have not been at the forefront of the Minerva program; Dr. Dobson’s was, I believe, the only geography proposal funded in this year’s batch.  Among geographers there is practically nothing written on Minerva, but perhaps Dobson’s grant will change that (the Social Science Research Council has posted a useful overview on Minerva with some good essays, such as this one by Priya Satia at Stanford).  To grasp something of the psychology of those geographers working with the US military today, we are best served by studying the recent pair of extraordinary papers published by Trevor Barnes on Walter Christaller’s work for the Nazi regime (including this one, coauthored with Claudio Minca, in Annals of the AAG 103(3)).  And in times of Bowman redux, we should reread the late Neil Smith’s outstanding biography of Isaiah Bowman, American Empire:

[C]iting the ‘growing influence of geography among military men,’ [Bowman] even urged the War Department [today’s Department of Defense] to send some officers to the AGS [sponsor of today’s Bowman expeditions] to advance their studies in ‘the field of geography as applied to military operations’.  He hedged about whether Latin American governments should be informed.  What became of these plans tendering geography for the purpose of government spying is not clear.  There have always been social scientists who have collaborated with government intelligence organizations, and from the time of the Roman geographer Strabo to the current CIA [headed by Petraeus], geography as a scholarly pursuit has traditionally operated as a handmaiden to the state.  But the great majority of scholars have traditionally frowned on collusion with military intelligence operations, and scholarly associations often carry explicit prohibitions against spying. […] What is remarkable about Bowman’s injudicious peddling of geography and the services of the AGS is the lack of any sense that his eager cooperation with Military Intelligence, the government’s premier spy agency of this period, in any way compromises his scientific integrity or endangers scientists (pp. 89-90).

The Bowman Expeditions represent only one side-project for the US state/military and a small one at that.  Thanks to Edward Snowden, the NSA’s spying has been exposed and we’ve learned how hundreds of thousands of people in the US have been subject to government surveillance.  The situation is much worse when we consider US state surveillance of the rest of the world.  The task of systematically collecting geospatial data and conducting routine surveillance around the world for the US state/military falls to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), an organization that has not received the scrutiny given to the NSA.  (On the NSA revelations and the NGA, see Jeremy Crampton’s excellent essay at the Society and Space website.)  No less worrying are the myriad military programs to improve how the US armed forces – particularly the Army – ‘uses’ human geography as a weapon.  As I have discussed elsewhere, these are geographical projects of much greater significance than the Bowman expeditions and led by people who are more dangerous than Professor Dobson.

We are witnessing an unprecedented attempt by one state to collect data – much of it geocoded – from multiple sources (data mining, satellites, outright spying, and much more), reaching into the most intimate spaces of our lives and saturating our very means of communication.  The US government has constructed an unparalleled platform for geospatial data collection and analyses, capable of mapping people’s movements and communications across the entire planet.  All of this has potential military ‘applications’, meaning the potential to harm people, including US citizens (since we can have little faith that these tools cannot be used on civilians through police, FBI, or other agencies).  The capacity of the US state/military to locate, follow, track, and kill people is without precedent and without equal, and that is the point.  Given the extraordinary record of violence carried out by the US government over the past century – from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan – one would have to have an almost religious faith in the infallibility of US leadership and the rightness of their ideology not to look at the government’s military/intelligence capacities and feel enraged at the injustices already committed—and the many more to come.

What are we to do?  One way to answer this question, as Professor Dobson reminds us, is to ask how we can “reduce international misunderstandings.”  His approach is to militarize those misunderstandings by providing maps and data to the Pentagon.  There is another way, one elaborated beautifully by Edward Said in a 1991 interview.  Allow me to quote at length:

There’s only one way to anchor oneself [as an intellectual], and that is by affiliation with a cause, a political movement.  There has to be identification not with the secretary of state or the leading philosopher of the time but with matters involving justice, principle, truth, conviction.  Those don’t occur in a laboratory or a library.  For the American intellectual, that means, at bottom, that the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world, now based upon profit and power, has to be altered to one of coexistence among human communities that can make and remake their own histories and environments together. … [Unfortunately, even] inside the university, the prevalence of norms based upon domination and coercion is so strong because the idea of authority is so strong, whether it’s derived from the nation-state, from religion, from the ethnos, from tradition. … Part of intellectual work is understanding how authority is formed.  Authority is not God-given.  It’s secular.  And if you can understand that, then your work is conducted in such a way as to be able to provide alternatives to the authoritative and coercive norms that dominate so much of our intellectual life, our national and political life, and our international life above all.

If we are going to criticize the formation of authority and provide alternatives to the norms that dominate intellectual life, we have no choice: we must confront the US military.

~

Joel Wainwright is an Associate Professor in Geography at The Ohio State University. His most recent book Geopiracy: Oaxaca, Militant Empiricism, and Geographical Thought delivers an expanded critique of the first round of Bowman expeditions.

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Misunderstanding, militarized

As Pentagon Officials Whine about Budget Cuts, How about Canceling some of These Projects?

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | April 22, 2013

Even as Pentagon officials complain that budget cuts threaten to hollow out its ranks and degrade its military capabilities, they have been able to find money for new sun rooms, a museum, golf course netting and other “questionable projects,” according to a Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week.

The report focuses on the military’s $10 billion-a-year overseas construction efforts, about 70% of which is spent in just three countries with a large U.S. troop presence: Japan, South Korea, and Germany. According to the report, much of this spending occurs with little oversight, sometimes in violation of military regulations and Pentagon promises to Congress.

The specific boondoggles include addition of sun rooms to housing for senior officers in Stuttgart, Germany; a $10 million museum in South Korea praising the U.S. Army; and $2.9 million worth of netting around an Army golf course at Camp Zama, Japan.

Perhaps more disturbing than the amounts involved is the surreptitious manner in which the Pentagon spent the money and kept Congress and the public in the dark. The U.S. is withdrawing or relocating troops in all three countries, and as the military relinquishes various facilities to the host countries, they are expected to pay the U.S. for the returned properties. However, a little-known rule lets local American commanders waive these payments in return for work of an equivalent value performed by the host country—without approval from Congress or even the Pentagon itself. Each of the most questionable expenses—the sun rooms in Germany, the pro-Army museum in South Korea and the golf netting in Japan—was financed this way.

“When the Pentagon and the entire federal government face enormous fiscal challenges, the questionable projects and lack of oversight identified in this review are simply unacceptable,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the committee chairman.

“We are aware of the report, and we take it very seriously,” said Air Force Maj. Robert Firman, a Department of Defense spokesman. “The DOD strives to be a good steward of taxpayer resources and we look forward to discussing it with Congress in the near future.”

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on As Pentagon Officials Whine about Budget Cuts, How about Canceling some of These Projects?

Under CISPA, Who Can Get Your Data?

By Rainey Reitman | EFF | March 20, 2013

Under CISPA, companies can collect your information in order to “protect the rights and property” of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for “cybersecurity purposes.” Companies aren’t required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data they give to the government, and the government can then use the information for purposes wholly unrelated to cybersecurity – such as “national security,” a term the bill leaves undefined.

One question we sometimes get is: Under CISPA, which government agencies can receive this data? For example, could the FBI, NSA, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement receive data if CISPA were to pass?

The answer is yes. Any government agency could receive data from companies if this were to pass, meaning identifiable data could be flowing to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Security Agency, or even the Food and Drug Administration.

Below is a list of agencies that could get your data under CISPA (Thanks, Wikipedia!). Note that this is just agencies we’ve identified; it’s possible there are even more we haven’t listed here.

Find this offensive and deeply concerning? Email Congress today to oppose CISPA.

Under CISPA, which government agencies can get your data?

Executive Office of the President

Agencies within the Executive Office of the President:

Council of Economic Advisers
Council on Environmental Quality
Domestic Policy Council
National Economic Council
National Security Council
Office of Administration
Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Office of Management and Budget
Office of National AIDS Policy
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of the President
Office of the First Lady
Office of the First Children
Office of the Vice President
Office of the Second Lady
Office of the Second Children
President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board
President’s Intelligence Oversight Board
President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
United States Trade Representative
White House Office
White House Military Office

United States Department of Agriculture

Agencies within the Department of Agriculture:

Agricultural Marketing Service
Agricultural Research Service
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Economic Research Service
Farm Service Agency
Commodity Credit Corporation
Food and Nutrition Service
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Foreign Agricultural Service
Forest Service
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
Marketing and Regulatory Programs
National Agricultural Statistics Service
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
4-H
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Risk Management Agency
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
Rural Business and Cooperative Programs
Office of Rural Development
Research, Education and Economics
Rural Housing Service
Rural Utilities Service

United States Department of Commerce

Agencies within the Department of Commerce:

Census Bureau
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Industry and Security
Economic Development Administration
Economics and Statistics Administration
Export Enforcement
Import Administration
International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
Invest in America
Manufacturing and Services
Marine and Aviation Operations
Market Access and Compliance
Minority Business Development Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA Commissioned Corps
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic Service
National Weather Service
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Patent and Trademark Office
National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Technical Information Service
Trade Promotion and the U.S. And Foreign Commercial Service

United States Department of Defense

Agencies within the Department of Defense:

Department of the Army
United States Army
Army Intelligence and Security Command
Army Corps of Engineers
Department of the Navy
United States Navy
Office of Naval Intelligence
U.S. Naval Academy
Marine Corps
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
Department of the Air Force
United States Air Force
Civil Air Patrol
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
Joint Chiefs of Staff
J-2 Intelligence
National Guard Bureau
Natural Disaster and Disaster Help Program
J-2 Intelligence Directorate
Air National Guard
Army National Guard
America Citizen Militia
America Citizen Militia Intelligence
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Defense Commissary Agency
Defense Contract Audit Agency
Defense Contract Management Agency
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Defense Information Systems Agency
Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Logistics Agency
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
Defense Security Service
Defense Technical Information Center
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Missile Defense Agency
National Security Agency
Central Security Service
National Reconnaissance Office
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Pentagon Force Protection Agency
United States Pentagon Police
American Forces Information Service
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
Department of Defense Education Activity
Department of Defense Dependents Schools
Defense Human Resources Activity
Office of Economic Adjustment
TRICARE Management Activity
Washington Headquarters Services
West Point Military Academy

United States Department of Education

Agencies within the Department of Education:

Federal Student Aid
Institute of Education Sciences
National Center for Education Statistics
National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
Education Resources Information Center
National Center for Education Research
National Center for Special Education Research
National Assessment Governing Board
National Assessment of Educational Progress
Office for Civil Rights
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Safe and Healthy Students
Office of Postsecondary Education
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
Office of Special Education Programs
Rehabilitation Services Administration
Special institutions
American Printing House for the Blind
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Gallaudet University
Office of Vocational and Adult Education

United States Department of Energy

List of agencies within the Department of Energy:

Energy Information Administration
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
National Laboratories & Technology Centers
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
National Nuclear Security Administration
Power Marketing Administrations:
Bonneville Power Administration
Southeastern Power Administration
Southwestern Power Administration
Western Area Power Administration

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services:

Administration on Aging
Administration for Children and Families
Administration for Children, Youth and Families
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Epidemic Intelligence Service
National Center for Health Statistics
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Food and Drug Administration
Reagan-Udall Foundation
Health Resources and Services Administration
Patient Affordable Healthcare Care Act Program {to be implemented fully in 2014}
Independent Payment Advisory Board
Indian Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Health Intelligence Service
Public Health Service
Federal Occupational Health
Office of the Surgeon General
United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

United States Department of Homeland Security

Agencies

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA Corps
U.S. Fire Administration
National Flood Insurance Program
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Transportation Security Administration
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Coast Guard (Transfers to Department of Defense during declared war or national emergency)
Coast Guard Intelligence
National Ice Center
United States Ice Patrol
United States Customs and Border Protection
Office of Air and Marine
Office of Border Patrol
U.S. Border Patrol
Border Patrol Intelligence
Office of Field Operations
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
United States Secret Service
Secret Service Intelligence Service

Offices

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Office of Health Affairs
Office of Component Services
Office of International Affairs and Global Health Security
Office of Medical Readiness
Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biodefense
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Office of Operations Coordination
Office of Policy
Homeland Security Advisory Council
Office of International Affairs
Office of Immigration Statistics
Office of Policy Development
Office for State and Local Law Enforcement
Office of Strategic Plans
Private Sector Office

Management

Directorate for Management

National Protection and Programs

National Protection and Programs Directorate
Federal Protective Service
Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Communications System
National Cyber Security Division
United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
Office of Emergency Communications
Office of Infrastructure Protection
Office of Risk Management and Analysis
United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)

Science and Technology

Science and Technology Directorate
Environmental Measurements Laboratory

Portfolios

Innovation/Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency
Office of Research
Office of National Laboratories
Office of University Programs
Program Executive Office, Counter Improvised Explosive Device
Office of Transition
Commercialization Office
Long Range Broad Agency Announcement Office
Product Transition Office
Safety Act Office
Technology Transfer Office

Divisions

Border and Maritime Security Division
Chemical and Biological Division
Command, Control and Interoperability Division
Explosives Division
Human Factors Division
Infrastructure/Geophysical Division

Offices and Institutes

Business Operations Division
Executive Secretariat Office
Human Capital Office
Key Security Office
Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Planning and Management
Corporate Communications Division
Interagency and First Responders Programs Division
International Cooperative Programs Office
Operations Analysis Division
Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute
Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute
Strategy, Policy and Budget Division
Special Programs Division
Test & Evaluation and Standards Division

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Agencies

Federal Housing Administration
Federal Housing Finance Agency

Offices

Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (HUD)
Departmental Enforcement Center
Office of Community Planning and Development
Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
Office of Equal Employment Opportunity
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Office of Field Policy and Management
Office of the General Counsel
Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
Office of Hearings and Appeals
Office of Labor Relations
Office of Policy Development and Research
Office of Public Affairs
Office of Public and Indian Housing
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities

Corporation

Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)

United States Department of the Interior

Agencies:

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
Fish and Wildlife Service
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly Minerals Management Service)
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (formerly Minerals Management Service)
National Park Service
Office of Insular Affairs
Office of Surface Mining
National Mine Map Repository
United States Geological Survey

United States Department of Justice

Agencies:

Antitrust Division
Asset Forfeiture Program
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Civil Division
Civil Rights Division
Community Oriented Policing Services
Community Relations Service
Criminal Division
Diversion Control Program
Drug Enforcement Administration
Environment and Natural Resources Division
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Executive Office for Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces
Executive Office for United States Attorneys
Executive Office for United States Trustees
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Prisons
UNICOR
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
INTERPOL – United States National Central Bureau
Justice Management Division
National Crime Information Center
National Drug Intelligence Center
National Institute of Corrections
National Security Division
Office of the Associate Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of the Deputy Attorney General
Office of Dispute Resolution
Office of the Federal Detention Trustee
Office of Information Policy
Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Assistance
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Community Capacity Development Office
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
National Institute of Justice
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Office for Victims of Crime
Office of Legal Counsel
Office of Legal Policy
Office of Legislative Affairs
Office of the Pardon Attorney
Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties
Office of Professional Responsibility
Office of Public Affairs
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking
Office of the Solicitor General
Office of Special Counsel
Office of Tribal Justice
Office on Violence Against Women
Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
Tax Division
United States Attorneys
United States Marshals
United States Parole Commission
United States Trustee Program

United States Department of Labor

Agencies and Bureaus

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (DOL)
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Employment and Training Administration
Job Corps
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
Wage and Hour Division
Women’s Bureau

Boards

Administrative Review Board
Benefits Review Board
Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board

Offices

Office of Administrative Law Judges
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Office of the Solicitor
Office of Worker’s Compensation Program
Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program

United States Department of State

Agencies and Bureaus

National Council for the Traditional Arts

Reporting to the Secretary

Bureau of Intelligence and Research
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March 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Comments Off on Under CISPA, Who Can Get Your Data?

Neuroscience, Special Forces and Yale

The Ethics of Deception Detection Research

By ROY EIDELSON | CounterPunch | March 6, 2013

Last month, a proposal to establish a U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Center for Excellence in Operational Neuroscience at Yale University died a not-so-quiet death. The broad goal of “operational neuroscience” is to use research on the human brain and nervous system to protect and give tactical advantage to U.S. war fighters in the field. Crucial questions remain unanswered about the proposed center’s mission and the unusual circumstances surrounding its demise. But just as importantly, this episode brings much needed attention to the morally fraught and murky terrain where partnerships between university researchers and national security agencies lie.

A Brief Chronology

Let’s start with what transpired, according to the news reports and official press releases. In late January, the Yale Herald reported that the Department of Defense had awarded $1.8 million to Yale University’s School of Medicine for the creation of the new center under the direction of Yale psychiatrist Charles Morgan III. Descriptions of the proposed center’s work revolved around the teaching of Morgan’s interviewing techniques to U.S. Special Forces in order to improve their intelligence gathering. To heighten the soldiers’ cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, Morgan reportedly intended to draw volunteer interviewees from New Haven’s immigrant communities.

Such details typically become public only after a university center has been formally established and its funding officially secured. In this case, however, the early news reports – which included statements from director-to-be Morgan – quickly led last month to a widely circulated Yale Daily News op-ed, an online petition, a Facebook page, and protests by students and local groups outraged over reports of Yale’s support for the military center and plans to treat immigrants as “guinea pigs.” According to ABC News/Univision, in response Morgan explained that he was approached by the Defense Department to help “promote better relations between U.S. troops and the people whose villages they work in and around” – by teaching soldiers “better communication skills” and “how to ask non-leading questions, how to listen to what people are saying, how to understand them.”

A public affairs officer for U.S. SOCOM initially confirmed that it was providing funding for the center. Shortly thereafter, Yale University representatives issued a conflicting statement. Characterizing the center as “an educational and research center with a goal of promoting humane and culturally respectful interview practices among a limited number of members of the armed forces, including medics,” they emphasized that no formal proposal had been submitted for academic and ethical review. Yale also noted that volunteer interviewees “selected from diverse ethnic groups” would be protected by university oversight, and that public reports about the center were in part “based on speculation and incomplete information.” Three days later, SOCOM’s spokesperson retracted his previous statement, explaining that the information provided had been incorrect, and that no funds for the center would be forthcoming. Yale confirmed that the center would not be established at the university. Two days later, SOCOM declared that, in fact, they had decided a year earlier not to fund Morgan’s proposal.

Ethical Risks of Operational Neuroscience

The name of the proposed center – the U.S. SOCOM Center of Excellence for Operational Neuroscience – deserves more attention and scrutiny than it has received thus far. The burgeoning interdisciplinary field of operational neuroscience – supported by hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Defense – is indisputably much larger and much more worrisome from an ethical perspective than the mere teaching of interview techniques and people skills would suggest. What makes this particular domain of scientific work so controversial is not only its explicit purpose of advancing military goals. The methods by which these ends are pursued are equally disquieting because they raise the specter of “mind control” and threaten our deeply held convictions about personhood and personal autonomy.

In a presentation to the intelligence community five years ago, program manager Amy Kruse from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) identified operational neuroscience as DARPA’s latest significant accomplishment, preceded by milestone projects that included the Stealth Fighter, ARPANET, the GPS, and the Predator drone. National security interests in operational neuroscience encompass non-invasive, non-contact approaches for interacting with a person’s central and peripheral nervous systems; the use of sophisticated narratives to influence the neural mechanisms responsible for generating and maintaining collective action; applications of biotechnology to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm cognitive capabilities; remote control of brain activity using ultrasound; indicators of individual differences in adaptability and resilience in extreme environments; the effects of sleep deprivation on performance and circadian rhythms; and neurophysiologic methods for measuring stress during military survival training.

Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson, bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, and other outspoken scholars have offered strong warnings about potential perils associated with the “militarization of neuroscience” and the proliferation of “neuroweapons.” Comparing the circumstances facing neuroscientists today with those faced by nuclear scientists during World War II, Gusterson has written, “We’ve seen this story before: The Pentagon takes an interest in a rapidly changing area of scientific knowledge, and the world is forever changed. And not for the better.” Neuroscientist Curtis Bell has called for colleagues to pledge that they will refrain from any research that applies neuroscience in ways that violate international law or human rights; he cites aggressive war and coercive interrogation methods as two examples.

Research Misapplied: SERE and “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”

Some may argue that these concerns are overblown, but the risks associated with “dual use” research are well recognized and well documented. Even though a particular project may be designed to pursue outcomes that society recognizes as beneficial and worthy, the technologies or discoveries may still be susceptible to distressing misuse. As a government request for public comment recently highlighted, certain types of research conducted for legitimate purposes “can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety….”

Yale’s Morgan must surely be aware that operational neuroscience research can be used for purposes contrary to its purported intent – as this appears to be what happened with some of his own work. Morgan’s biographical sketch on the School of Medicine website refers to his research on the “psycho-neurobiology of resilience in elite soldiers” and “human performance under conditions of high stress.” Both of these topics are related to his extensive study of the effects of the military’s physically and psychologically grueling Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training program. In SERE training, soldiers are subjected to extreme conditions in order to inoculate them against enemy interrogation should they be captured and subjected to torture by forces that don’t observe international laws prohibiting prisoner abuse. The techniques applied during the trainee’s simulated incarceration and mock interrogations include isolation, stress positions, sleep and food deprivation, loud noises, sexual humiliation, extreme temperatures, confinement in small spaces, and in some cases waterboarding.

Along with colleagues, Morgan has published a series of research articles examining the psychological, physiological, and biological effects of the SERE program. In summarizing key findings of this research, Morgan and his co-authors highlighted the following: the stress induced by SERE is within the range of real-world stress; SERE students recover normally and do not show negative effects from the training; and the mock interrogations do not produce lasting adverse reactions as measured by physiological and biological indicators. However, after reviewing these same studies, the authors of a Physicians for Human Rights report reached a starkly different conclusion: “SERE … techniques, even when used in limited and controlled settings, produce harmful health effects on consenting soldier-subjects exposed to them.” They also emphasized that during the training many students experienced dissociative reactions and hormone level changes comparable to major surgery or actual combat; the post-training assessments were short-term and insufficient to evaluate soldiers for PTSD and related disorders; and the soldiers benefited from knowing that they could end their participation whenever they chose to do so.

SERE research like that conducted by Morgan and his colleagues was subsequently misused by the Bush Administration after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to illegitimately authorize the abuse and torture of national security detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base, and CIA “black sites.” The infamous“enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) were developed by former SERE psychologists – working for the CIA – who “reverse-engineered” the SERE interrogation tactics. But even more importantly here, a crucial 2002 Office of Legal Counsel “torture memo” asserted that the EITs did not cause lasting psychological harm, and it cited as evidence consultation with interrogation experts and outside psychologists, as well as a review of the “relevant literature” – which plausibly would have included Morgan’s own extensive work in the area. In short, this appears to be a striking and tragic instance where operational neuroscience research, undertaken in a different context, was subsequently appropriated and misapplied for unconscionable purposes. It is worth adding that these prisoners were subjected to indefinite detention without trial and they were not free to discontinue their torturous interrogations at will. Their torture sessions were also substantially longer and the techniques were instituted more frequently and with greater intensity than Morgan’s research subjects experienced.

Morgan’s Deception Detection Research

Another significant area of operational neuroscience research for Morgan has been deception detection – that is, figuring out when someone isn’t being truthful during an interview, or an interrogation. According to his online CV, he has received Department of Defense funding totaling nearly $2 million for this work over the past several years. Research on this same topic reportedly also became an important focus of attention for several intelligence agencies – including the CIA – immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Befitting his expertise and stature in the field, Morgan has been involved in a variety of high-level initiatives designed to bring together university researchers and personnel from the defense and intelligence sectors.

For example, Morgan is among the listed attendees at a July 2003 invitation-only workshop on “The Science of Deception: Integration of Theory and Practice.” The event was co-hosted by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the RAND Corporation, with generous funding from the CIA. The participants discussed various scenarios, including one focused on law enforcement interrogation and debriefing, and another on intelligence gathering. They also explored specific research questions, such as which pharmacological agents affect truth-telling, and whether it might be possible to overwhelm a person’s senses so as to reduce his capacity to engage in deception during an interrogation. Psychologist Jeffrey Kaye has noted that, in a very unusual step, the APA has scrubbed most of the information about this workshop from its website.

In June 2004 Morgan was a participant at another invitation-only workshop – co-sponsored by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the APA – titled “The Nature and Influence of Intuition in Law Enforcement: Integration of Theory and Practice.” Among the topics examined were the extent to which police officers, intelligence analysts, interrogators, and others can effectively use “intuition” in their work – for instance, in order to detect deception – and how such capabilities might be applied to counterterrorism efforts. The proceedings from this event identify Morgan as “Senior Research Scientist, Behavioral Science StaffCentral Intelligence Agency” – a professional affiliation that does not appear on his online CV.

Morgan is credited with a similar affiliation in the 2006 report “Educing Information,” published by the National Defense Intelligence College. As a member of the Government Experts Committee, Morgan is listed as working for the “Intelligence Technology Innovation Center,” an administrative unit that falls under the CIA. The foreword to the report describes the volume as “a primer on the ‘science and art’ of both interrogation and intelligence gathering.” Included is a chapter on deception detection by Morgan’s close research colleague, psychologist Gary Hazlett. One of Hazlett’s recommendations in the report is that “the United States adopt an aggressive, focused plan to support research and development of enhanced capabilities to validate information and the veracity of sources.” He also notes that the most troubling limitation of deception research thus far is the lack of “various Asian, Middle Eastern, Central and South American, or African populations” as research participants.

Responding to Morgan’s reported plans for a new center at Yale, local advocacy group Junta for Progressive Action issued a statement of concern last month. It noted that, “As a city that has worked to establish itself as a welcoming and inclusive city for immigrants, the idea of targeting immigrants specifically for the purpose of identifying the distinction of how they lie is offensive, disrespectful and out of line with the values of New Haven.” In a recent newspaper report, Morgan called rumors that the proposed center at Yale would teach new interrogation techniques mere “hype and fantasy,” explaining that he instead “suggested to the Army that perhaps some training in people skills – how to talk to and listen to people might be helpful and create better relations.” Even assuming that this reassuring account is true, it’s certainly not unreasonable to question whether deception detection research and training might have been part of the proposed center’s future operational neuroscience agenda.

Classified and Unclassified Research on Campus

There are broader questions beyond those focused specifically on the uncertain details and background surrounding the not-to-be Center of Excellence for Operational Neuroscience at Yale. The unusual sequence of events that unfolded in New Haven last month should ideally serve as a springboard for open discussion of the opportunities and pitfalls associated with research partnerships between universities and national security agencies. To its credit, Yale University has a clear policy that explicitly prohibits its faculty from conducting secret or classified research:

The University does not conduct or permit its faculty to conduct secret or classified research. This policy arises from concern about the impact of such restrictions on two of the University’s essential purposes: to impart knowledge and to enlarge humanity’s store of knowledge. Both are clearly inhibited when open publication, free discussion, or access to research are limited.

But not all academic institutions have such stringent rules, which are necessary to promote full transparency, informed critiques by other scholars and researchers, and constructive engagement beyond the walls of higher education institutions. At the same time, it should be noted that, even at Yale, voluntary faculty members – Morgan’s official status at the university – do not need to disclose research activities that are not being conducted on behalf of Yale.

Some of the most challenging ethical issues remain even when classified research is not conducted on university campuses. As psychologist Stephen Soldz has highlighted, in cases of unclassified research funded by national security agencies, the academic researchers are not necessarily informed about the totality of the projects to which they are contributing. He offers the example of findings from seemingly uncontroversial deception detection studies, which may ultimately become the basis for the capture, indefinite detention, and torturous interrogation of prisoners in undisclosed locations – well beyond the university researchers’ awareness. Soldz also warns that researchers may never know if their campus work has become “part of a vast secret effort to unlock the mystery of mind control and develop techniques for coercive interrogations, as happened to hundreds of behavioral scientists and others in the decades of the CIA’s MKULTRA and other Cold War behavioral science initiatives.” These risks are further exacerbated for psychologists, psychiatrists, and other health professionals for whom a “do no harm” ethic intrinsically poses conflicts with research projects aimed at identifying and destroying those who are considered adversaries.

Next Steps

There are applications of operational neuroscience – such as improved prosthetic limbs for injured veterans and more effective treatments for victims of brain injury – that are compelling in their apparent value and their promotion of human welfare. But other applications raise profound concerns, especially where the defining goals and priorities of a university and its medical researchers and scientists diverge from those of national security and intelligence operatives. Community health sciences professor Michael Siegel – a graduate of Yale’s School of Medicine – emphasized this point when he was interviewed on Democracy Now! last month. Siegel noted: “The practice of medicine was designed to improve people’s health, and the school of medicine should not be taking part in either training or research that is primarily designed to enhance military objectives.”

In this context it’s worthwhile to recall exactly who Morgan envisioned as the trainees for his proposed “people skills” interview project at the medical school: U.S. Special Forces, the highly skilled soldiers often assigned the military’s most difficult and dangerous missions. These forces – over 60,000 strong including military personnel and civilians – are now covertly deployed around the globe. Journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin have described them as“America’s secret army.” Their counterterrorism operations include intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids – not only in Afghanistan but also in countries where the United States is not at war. They’ve been authorized to keep “kill lists” of individuals who can be assassinated rather than captured, and some have conducted brutal interrogations at secret detention sites. The Army refers to its Special Forces as the “most specialized experts in unconventional warfare.”

At this point, signs clearly indicate that a U.S. SOCOM Center of Excellence for Operational Neuroscience will not be coming to Yale. But it would be a mistake to assume that this research – and the very considerable national security sector funding it attracts – will not find another home. This is why it’s important that the current controversy not be dismissed without fuller engagement and discussion among all stakeholders of pressing practical and ethical considerations – before a similar project appears on another campus or resurfaces in a reconfigured form in New Haven. The prospect of all defense-related neuroscience research being conducted clandestinely by government or corporate entities – away from the public and expert oversight that universities can offer – is far from reassuring, so difficult issues like this must be tackled head-on.

One valuable next step would be an open forum at Yale. Dr. Morgan could have the opportunity to describe in greater detail the nature of his deception detection work and related projects – including his ongoing research in New Haven about which Yale recently claimed it was unaware. Other distinguished scientists, ethicists, and human rights experts could provide their commentaries. And community members, students, faculty, and administrators could offer their own perspectives and pose questions. Such an event would not likely produce consensus, but the sharing of information, the free expression of differing viewpoints, and informed debate are among the most vital functions of a university. Pending further developments, there are very good reasons to be concerned – and confused – about the recent twists and turns surrounding the proposed center at Yale. Many of the most critical questions still await answers.

Roy Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Neuroscience, Special Forces and Yale

DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

RT | March 4, 2013

Your digital footprint could be getting a whole lot bigger: Pentagon scientists are searching for a way to transcribe every real-world conversation that happens into computer-readable files.

Robert Beckhusen of Wired’s Danger Room says it wouldn’t be unlike a real-life Twitter feed or an “email archive for everyday speak.”

“Imagine living in a world where every errant utterance you make is preserved together,” Beckhusen writes in an article this week that explores a Defense Department project that’s been undertaken by its Darpa laboratories and is now in the hands of a University of Texas computer scientist named Matt Lease.

Least has received a few hundred thousand dollars from Darpa — the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — to help find a way to take cell phone conversations, board room meetings and every miniscule real world back-and-forth and have them digitized.

The project is being called “Blending Crowdsourcing with Automation for Fast, Cheap and Accurate Analysis of Spontaneous Speech,” and Lease will receive $300,000 in all from the government to work on it after winning a 2012 Young Faculty Award from Darpa last year.

Lease has previously worked with the Pentagon scientists on another project, Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text, or EARS, which had him trying to find a better way to transcribe dialogue into text. Now after winning the respect of Darpa, he’s putting that research to work in hopes of finding a way to streamline all real world conversations into digital transcriptions. And by strategically crowd-sourcing the information, he thinks he might be able to do just that.

“Like other AI [artificial intelligence], it can only go so far, which is based on what the state-of-the-art methodology can do,” Lease tells Wired. “So what was exciting to me is thinking about going back to some of that work and now taking advantage of crowdsourcing and applying that into the mix.”

Lease says he saw both the “need and opportunity to really make conversational speech more accessible, more part of our permanent record instead of being so ephemeral, and really trying to imagine what this world would look like if we really could capture all these conversations and make use of them effectively going forward,” Lease adds.

Wired reports that the end result could mean that conversations and events could be transcribed and edited through crowdsourcing, then eventually and easily be shared with friends, family and colleagues. Once digitized, those dialogues could also be perused for general search purposes. By uploading everything, though, some concerns are quickly showing up. For one, there’s the matter of possible privacy violations brought on by the seemingly constant collection of data. Then, of course, there’s the matter of what is being done with it.

According to a 2003 memo from the Congressional Research Service, the EARS project that first got Lease involved in the Pentagon was being considered for a rather particular kind of use. That report said that dialogue could be inputted into the system by way of telephone conversations so that “the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities” could “extract clues about the identity of speakers.”

For now, Lease won’t even speculate as to why the Pentagon wants him to develop his crowdsourcing project. He agrees, however, that there is an issue with “respecting the privacy rights of multiple people involved.”

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

Pentagon Continues Contracting US Companies in Latin America

By John Lindsay-Poland  | FOR | January 31, 2013

The Pentagon signed $444 million in non-fuel contracts for purchases and services in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 2012 fiscal year, an overall decrease of nearly 15% from the previous year. But US military spending in the region is still considerably higher than during the George W. Bush administration, when the equivalent Pentagon spending in Latin America averaged $301 million a year.

Fellowship Of Reconcilliation conducted an analysis of Defense Department contracts listed on usaspending.gov for Fiscal Year 2012, building on the review we did last year.

More than a third of funds for these contracts in the region are being carried out in Cuba, with $158 million for housing upgrades, intelligence analysis, port operations and other services. The United States maintains the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba, site of the 11-year-old detention center that holds 171 prisoners without trial, many of whom have been cleared for release.

An additional $130 million in Pentagon contracts was for fuel purchases, including more than $44 million in Brazil, $35 million in Costa Rica, and $24 million in Honduras. Such fuel purchases supply the Fourth Fleet of the Navy, as well as military aircraft and land vehicles used in exercises, operations, and training.

Colombia remained the country with the largest amount of Pentagon contracts in continental Latin America, with $77 million. A multi-year contract shared by Raytheon and Lockheed for training, equipment and other drug war activities accounted for more than a third of Pentagon contract spending in Colombia. Honduras, which has become a hub for Pentagon operations in Central America, is the site for more than $43 million in non-fuel contracts signed last year.

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The US Southern Command (SouthCom), responsible for US military activities in Central and South America and the Caribbean, is assisting the Panamanian border police, known as SENAFRONT, by upgrading a building in the SENAFRONT compound. The force was implicated in killings of indigenous protesters (PDF) in Bocas del Toro in 2011, and fired indiscriminately with live ammunition (PDF) on Afro-Caribbean protesters last October.

Many countries that host US military activities hope to receive economic benefits and jobs as a result. But more than five of every six Pentagon dollars contracted for services and goods in the region went to US-based companies. Only nine percent of the $574.4 million in Pentagon contracts signed in 2012 (including fuel contracts) were with firms in the country where the work was to be carried out. In the Caribbean, there were virtually no local companies that benefited from the $245 million in Defense Department contracts.

A few corporations dominated Pentagon contracts in the region. CSC Applied Technologies, based in Fort Worth, Texas, received more than $53 million in contracts to operate the Navy’s underwater military testing facility in the Bahamas. Lockheed Martin received more than $40 million in contracts, almost entirely for drug war training, equipment and services in Colombia and Mexico.

Pentagon Focus on Guatemala

Although the Pentagon spent less in most Latin American countries in 2012 than the year before, DOD contracts have more than doubled since 2010 in Guatemala, where there is a ban on most State Department-channeled military aid to the army. However, the ban does not apply to Defense Department assistance. The contracts for nearly $14 million in 2012 amount to more than seven times what it was in 2009. In addition, the US military spent another $8.1 million on fuel in Guatemala last year, probably for “Beyond the Horizon” military exercises held there and in Honduras from April to July, and perhaps to support the deployment of 200 Marines to Guatemala in August.

The contracts included new assistance to the Guatemalan special forces, known as Kaibiles, former members of which have been implicated in giving training to the Zetas drug cartel, as well as the worst atrocities during the genocide period of the 1980s. Two contracts, funded by SouthCom and signed in September, were for a “shoot house” and “improvements” at the Kaibiles training base in Poptun, Petén.

SouthCom also funded a contract for construction of a new $3 million counter-drug base in Santa Ana de Berlin, in Quetzaltenango. This year, SouthCom is slated to build a $1.8 million counternarcotics operations center and barracks in Mantanitas, Guatemala, according to an Army Corps of Engineers presentation.

The expenditures included equipment. For the last two years, SouthCom has been providing Boston whaler boats, radios, and tactical vehicles (Jeeps) to Central American militaries. Guatemala is receiving more of the equipment than other countries in the region – 47 Jeeps and 8 Boston whalers, according to a SouthCom document. SouthCom signed a $2.5 million contract in September for Jeeps for Guatemala, and it has purchased more than $2.8 million of Harris military radios for Guatemala since September 2011.

Department of Defense contracts, summaries of which are posted on usaspending.gov, only represent a portion of Pentagon spending. A report to Congress last April (PDF) of Defense Department assistance worldwide showed more than $15 million in military aid to Guatemala in 2010, including $9 million for intelligence analysis, training, boats, trucks, night vision devices, and a “base of operations.” These funds also included more than $6 million of unspecified support for Guatemalan police operations in Cobán, in the Guatemalan highland department of Alta Verapaz.  The report didn’t include data after 2010.

On December 7, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency signed a $1.4 million contract with a Guatemalan firm to manage a 10,000-barrel supply of turbine fuel for the next five years in Puerto Quetzal, on Guatemala’s southern coast. This followed a July 2012 solicitation to deliver 63,000 gallons of jet fuel to another southern Guatemalan site, in Retalhuleu.

FOR compiled data on the “country of performance” for contracts. For Guatemala, we also examined data on additional contracts that reference the country, which included a $2.5 million contract signed in late September with a Chrysler distributor to deliver tactical vehicles – some of the Jeeps slated for the country. The US Army also purchased $7.6 million worth of trousers from a producer in Guatemala in 2012.

“Mini-Bases”

Some legislation for DOD drug war construction of bases and other infrastructure limits projects to $2 million, and the Southern Command continues to employ this authority frequently to construct a variety of facilities all over the Americas. Here are some of the facilities the US military is constructing around Latin America.

City, Country Amount of contract Date signed Description
Tecun Uman, Guatemala $550K Dec. 5, 2011 Health post refurbishment
Champerico, Guatemala none — part of multi-award contract Sept 17, 2012 Counter Narco-terrorism (CNT) Ops Center; pier and fuel
Santa Ana de Berlin, Guatemala $3 million (Army Corps of Engineers says $4.1 million) Sept 29, 2012 CNT Barracks, Latrines, refurbish chow hall, motorpool
Las Mantanitas, Guatemala $1.8 million Not known; see ACE FY13 plan. CN Operations Center/Barracks
Summit, Panama $1,078,971 Sept 22, 2012 Counternarcotics maintenance facility
Hunting Caye, Belize $1,778,420 August 10, 2012 Construction of operations barracks/maintenance facility
Puerto Castilla, Honduras $374,882 March 9, 2012 Construction of helicopter landing pads and team room improvements
Dominican Republic $1.8 million Sept 28, 2012 Construct dormitory building
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic $414,444 Jan. 24 and March 8, 2012 Refurbish peace keeping operations training school buildings
Antigua none — supplemental to existing contract October 19, 2011 Emergency response warehouse
Tarapoto, Peru $1,049,265 September 12, 2012 Disaster relief warehouse and search and rescue training facility
Puno and Huaraz, Peru $1,037,808 July 27, 2012 Emergency Operations Centers
Piura and Concepción, Peru $853,500 July 27, 2012 Emergency Operation Center and Disaster Relief Warehouse

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon Continues Contracting US Companies in Latin America

Pentagon: ‘Gitmo drugged prisoners for their sake… then interrogated’

RT | July 13, 2012

A recently-released Pentagon report admits to interrogating Guantanamo Bay prisoners after administering mind-altering treatments to them – often forcibly against their will – but stresses it was not done for the purposes of interrogation.

The report by the inspector general of the US Department of Defense obtained by truth-out.org under the Freedom of Information Act, found that some Gitmo inmates were questioned while receiving prescribed psychoactive treatments.

The Pentagon has tried to justify the facility staff’s actions, saying that “nowhere in the medical records did we find any evidence of mind-altering drugs being administered for the purpose of interrogation,” as the report states on page 13.

“The detainees were not given drugs as a means to facilitate interrogation,” insisted Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

But the report does admit that “certain detainees, diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis, were interrogated.”

The inspector general also notes that “numerous” inmates have complained of being medicated against their will, but adds that wardens have used treatments known as “chemical restraints” to quell the aggressive individuals.

“Some detainees were involuntarily medicated to help control serious mental illnesses,” says a former commander of the Joint Medical Group at Guantanamo.

The report further admits that drugs administered “could impair an individual’s ability to provide accurate information.”

The medication under question, known as Haldol, has been used for over 50 years, and is often administered in psychiatric wards. Several side effects including depression, suicidal behavior and heart attacks are known to exist.

The Pentagon spokesman has refused to comment about how often such substances are used at the detention center, where the US has locked up nearly 170 men, writes the Washington Post.

Being drugged-up changes nothing?

After reviewing the report, David Remes, an attorney of one of the detainees, sounded an alarm saying that there is a vast possibility that statements and evidence obtained from those using psychoactive medication cannot be used in order to justify charging detainees held at the base.

The revelations in the study have raised numerous concerns among human rights activists.

“The inspector general’s report confirms that detainees whose mental deterioration and suffering was so great as to lead to psychosis and attempts at self-harm were given anti-psychotic medication and subjected to further interrogation,” Leonard Rubenstein, a medical ethicist at Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, told truth-out.org.

However, some stipulate that evidence obtained through these methods would hold up in court.

Shayana Kadidal, from the Center for Constitutional Rights says that under the system set up by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, any statements detainees made during these interrogations would be presumed accurate “even if detainees took medication that could produce unreliable information.”

Kadidal added that “the burden ends up falling upon the detainee to prove what was said wasn’t accurate if they were challenging their detention in habeas corpus proceedings.”

July 13, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pentagon: ‘Gitmo drugged prisoners for their sake… then interrogated’

The Nearly $1 Trillion National Security Budget

By Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer | TomDispatch | May 22, 2012

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the U.S. defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.

Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion — a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5% cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the U.S. spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Pentagon’s base budget doesn’t include war funding, which in recent years has been well over $100 billion. With U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq and troop levels falling in Afghanistan, you might think that war funding would be plummeting as well.  In fact, it will drop to a mere $88 billion in fiscal 2013. By way of comparison, the federal government will spend around $64 billion on education that same year.

Add in war funding, and our national security total jumps to $618 billion. And we’re still just getting started.

The U.S. military maintains an arsenal of nuclear weapons. You might assume that we’ve already accounted for nukes in the Pentagon’s $530 billion base budget.  But you’d be wrong. Funding for nuclear weapons falls under the Department of Energy (DOE), so it’s a number you rarely hear. In fiscal 2013, we’ll be spending $11.5 billion on weapons and related programs at the DOE. And disposal of nuclear waste is expensive, so add another $6.4 billion for weapons cleanup.

Now, we’re at $636 billion and counting.

How about homeland security? We’ve got to figure that in, too. There’s the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will run taxpayers $35.5 billion for its national security activities in fiscal 2013. But there’s funding for homeland security squirreled away in just about every other federal agency as well.  Think, for example, about programs to secure the food supply, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So add another $13.5 billion for homeland security at federal agencies other than DHS.

That brings our total to $685 billion.

Then there’s the international affairs budget, another obscure corner of the federal budget that just happens to be jammed with national security funds. For fiscal 2013, $8 billion in additional war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan is hidden away there. There’s also $14 billion for what’s called “international security assistance” — that’s part of the weapons and training Washington offers foreign militaries around the world. Plus there’s $2 billion for “peacekeeping operations,” money U.S. taxpayers send overseas to help fund military operations handled by international organizations and our allies.

That brings our national security total up to $709 billion.

We can’t forget the cost of caring for our nation’s veterans, including those wounded in our recent wars. That’s an important as well as hefty share of national security funding. In 2013, veterans programs will cost the federal government $138 billion.

That brings us to $847 billion — and we’re not done yet.

Taxpayers also fund pensions and other retirement benefits for non-veteran military retirees, which will cost $55 billion next year. And then there are the retirement costs for civilians who worked at the Department of Defense and now draw pensions and benefits. The federal government doesn’t publish a number on this, but based on the share of the federal workforce employed at the Pentagon, we can estimate that its civilian retirees will cost taxpayers around $21 billion in 2013.

By now, we’ve made it to $923 billion — and we’re finally almost done.

Just one more thing to add in, a miscellaneous defense account that’s separate from the defense base budget. It’s called “defense-related activities,” and it’s got $8 billion in it for 2013.

That brings our grand total to an astonishing $931 billion.

And this will turn out to be a conservative figure. We won’t spend less than that, but among other things, it doesn’t include the interest we’re paying on money we borrowed to fund past military operations; nor does it include portions of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that are dedicated to national security. And we don’t know if this number captures the entire intelligence budget or not, because parts of intelligence funding are classified.

For now, however, that whopping $931 billion for fiscal year 2013 will have to do. If our national security budget were its own economy, it would be the 19th largest in the world, roughly the size of Australia’s. Meanwhile, the country with the next largest military budget, China, spends a mere pittance by comparison. The most recent estimate puts China’s military funding at around $136 billion.

Or think of it this way: National security accounts for one quarter of every dollar the federal government is projected to spend in 2013. And if you pull trust funds for programs like Social Security out of the equation, that figure rises to more than one third of every dollar in the projected 2013 federal budget.

Yet the House recently passed legislation to spare the defense budget from cuts, arguing that the automatic spending reductions scheduled for January 2013 would compromise national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said such automatic cuts, which would total around $55 billion in 2013, would be “disastrous” for the defense budget. To avoid them, the House would instead pull money from the National School Lunch Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps, and programs like the Social Services Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels, among other initiatives.

Yet it wouldn’t be difficult to find savings in that $931 billion.  There’s plenty of low-hanging fruit, starting with various costly weapons systems left over from the Cold War, like the Virginia class submarine, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, the missile defense program, and the most expensive weapons system on the planet, the F-35 jet fighter. Cutting back or cancelling some of these programs would save billions of dollars annually.

In fact, Congress could find much deeper savings, but it would require fundamentally redefining national security in this country. On this issue, the American public is already several steps ahead of Washington. Americans overwhelmingly think that national security funding should be cut — deeply.

If lawmakers don’t pay closer attention to their constituents, we already know the alternative: pulling school-lunch funding.

Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer are research analysts at the National Priorities Project. They wrote the soon-to-be-published book A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget, and host weekly two-minute Budget Brief videos on YouTube.

Copyright 2012 Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia Destroys 62% of its Chemical Weapons

April 29, 2012 – RIA Novosti

MOSCOW – About 25,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, or 62 percent of Russia’s stockpile, have been destroyed by April 29, the day when the International Chemical Weapons Convention came into force.

In 15 years Russia destroyed about two thirds of its world-largest stockpile of 40,000 metric tons. The goal is to destroy 100 percent of chemical weapons in Russia by 2015.

The 188 states parties to the Convention initially planned to destroy all chemical weapons in the world by 2012. Russia and the United States, who have 40,000 and 27,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, respectively, said they were behind schedule and the deadline was postponed until December 31, 2015.

The U.S. said it had already destroyed about 90 percent of its chemical weapons. The Department of Defense, however, postponed the deadline for destroying the remaining 2,000 metric tons first until 2021 and then until 2023.

As of January 31, 2012, more than 50,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, or 73 percent of the global stockpile, have been destroyed.

The convention came into force on April 29, 1997, and 188 out of 195 UN member states have joined it. Myanmar and Israel are signatories to the treaty, but are yet to ratify it. Only Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Somalia and Syria are still outside the convention.

The countries that officially admitted having chemical weapons are Albania, Libya, Iraq, India, Russia, the United States and South Korea.

April 30, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Russia Destroys 62% of its Chemical Weapons

America stores $800 million of military gear in Israel

Palestine Information Center – 23/04/2012

NAZARETH — Hebrew media sources reported, on Monday, that the US stores military equipment worth U.S. $800 million in Israel, noting that this quantity will increase soon reaching $1.2 billion.

Citing a report issued by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Hebrew TV Channel2 said the US ordnance, including missiles, armored vehicles and artillery ammunition, is allowed to be used by Israel in the event of a military emergency.

The storage of military equipment came within the strategic partnership between the two countries which began in the early nineties. The report revealed that during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the US allowed Israel to access its military emergency stores.

It is noted that the US began stockpiling $100 million in military equipment in Israel in 1990, then it increased to $800 in 2010, and it is predicted to reach $1.2 billion in the coming years.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on America stores $800 million of military gear in Israel

Changes made in DOD Instruction “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces”

Discussion and commentary by James M. Branum, Military Law Task Force | February 25, 2012

On February 22, 2012, the Department of Defense made major changes to DOD Instruction 1325.06 (PDF download).

These changes appear to be part of a major military policy change that is designed to stifle and suppress a growing GI movement against the wars in the Middle East.

Some of the more troubling changes include:

Enclosure 3, section 2. OFF-POST GATHERING PLACES. Commanders have the authority to place establishments off-limits in accordance with established procedures when, for example, the activities taking place there at these establishments include, but are not limited to, counseling, encouraging, or inciting Service members to refuse to perform duty or to desert; pose a significant adverse effect on Service members’ health, morale, or welfare; or otherwise present a clear danger to the loyalty, discipline, or morale of a member or military unit.

The changes in this section certainly appear to be directed at the GI coffeehouses at Fort Hood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Free speech and GI Rights advocates need to be ready to respond to possible moves by commanders to place the coffeehouses off-limits under this newly revised regulation.

Also one could argue that a commander could place a Mennonite Church or a Quaker Meetinghouse on the off-limits list, since these establishments have been known to encourage their members to resist participation in war.

Enclosure 3, Section 8. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

a. Military personnel must not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.

b. Military personnel must reject active participation in criminal gangs pursuant to section 544 of Public Law 110-181 (Reference (i)) and in other organizations that advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes; including those that attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin; advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights. Active participation in such gangs or organizations is prohibited. Active participation includes, but is not limited to, fundraising; demonstrating or rallying; recruiting, training, organizing, or leading members; distributing material (including posting online); knowingly wearing gang colors or clothing; having tattoos or body markings associated with such gangs or organizations; or otherwise engaging in activities in furtherance of the objective of such gangs or organizations that are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service.

c. Commanders have the authority to employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions, including administrative separation or appropriate criminal action, against military personnel who engage in activity prohibited in paragraphs 8.a. or 8.b. of this enclosure when such conduct or activity is detrimental to good order and discipline or is service discrediting.

d. The functions of command include vigilance about the existence of such activities; active use of investigative authority to include a prompt and fair complaint process; and use of administrative powers such as counseling, reprimands, orders, and performance evaluations to deter such activities.

e. The Military Departments shall ensure that the policy and procedures on prohibited activities in this Instruction are included in initial active duty training, precommissioning training, professional military education, commander training, and other appropriate Service
training programs.

On the surface, this section may not look so troubling. The military has, at least officially, long banned its members from active participation in hate groups. However, if read carefully, these changes are in fact very troubling. First, the DOD does not define the term “extremist” anywhere in this regulation, which opens the door for soldiers to be prosecuted for mere membership in peaceful organizations that are deemed to be “extremist.”

Secondly, the DOD has omitted the requirement (previously found in section 8 (c) above), that prohibited conduct or activity in a banned organization must be “detrimental to good order and discipline or is service discrediting.”

Third, the DOD has now banned even the wearing of clothing or colors off-post that would reflect membership in one of the loosely defined banned organizations.

Enclosure 3, Section 9. PREVENTIVE ACTIVITIES

a. Commanders should remain alert for signs of future prohibited activities. They should intervene early, primarily through counseling, when observing such signs even though the signs may not rise to active advocacy or active participation or may not threaten good order and discipline, but only suggest such potential. The goal of early intervention is to minimize the risk of future prohibited activities.

b. Examples of such signs, which, in the absence of the active advocacy or active participation addressed in paragraphs 8.a and 8.b are not prohibited, could include mere membership in criminal gangs and other organizations covered under paragraph 8.b. Signs could also include possession of literature associated with such gangs or organizations, or with related ideology, doctrine, or causes. While mere membership or possession of literature normally is not prohibited, it may merit further investigation and possibly counseling to emphasize the importance of adherence to the Department’s values and to ensure that the Service member understands what activities are prohibited.

This entire section is completely new to the regulation, and requires that commanders be alert for “future prohibited activities.” While the regulation tries to skirt the line of not violating the First Amendment (i.e. “mere membership or possession of literature” is not prohibited), it makes it clear that commanders are expected to “investigate” such soldiers, which will inevitably result in negative counseling statements (blackmarks against a soldier’s record) and subsequent harassment from NCO’s (non-commissioned officers).

As a whole, the newly revised DOD Instruction 1325.06 poses serious dangers for the civil liberties of all military service-members. We at the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild remain ready to do our part to protect soldiers in need. Please do not hesitate to contact us, if we can be of assistance.

UPDATE ADDED ON FEBRUARY 25, 2012: In section 8 (b) above, the DOD bans organizations that “attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.” Interesting enough, in the post-DADT era, sexual orientation didn’t make the list.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , | 5 Comments