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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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21 August 2011

An "Invisible" Epidemic...

by: Anna Van Z

This is from the blog Redneck Liberals:

Jared Hagemann was a 25-year-old army ranger with PTSD who killed himself after being ordered to return to Afghanistan for a ninth tour of duty. Yes. A ninth tour of duty. According to Hagemann's widow:

Jared tried to come to grips with what he'd seen and done on his eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. "And there's no way that any God would forgive him - that he was going to hell," says Ashley. "He couldn't live with that any more."

A big, sad, heart-breaking story... But try Googling "Hagemann suicide". You won't find much - just a couple of local news pages and a linkback from Crooks & Liars. And this in a country that supposedly "supports our troops"?

More military personnel like Hagemann have died at their own hands than have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a f*cking obscenity. But where are the media? Where are the armchair warriors who drive round town with their little yellow ribbon magnets? Where is the f*cking president who promised to get our kids out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Yup. Nowhere. And here's how the military reward the family of just another guy they've used and destroyed:

The Army has refused to give Hagemann a memorial service... because it does not want the news media drawing more attention to service-connected suicides.

If our media had an ounce of humanity, Hagemann's story would be top news, not an obscure sidebar. If we as a people had an ounce of compassion, he'd be held up as a real hero by a country that wanted to say sorry from the bottom of its ignorant, ADD heart. F*ck all the phony thank yous, we need to be apologizing like a m*therf*cker to the troops and their families for the hell we're putting them through.
03 August 2010

Dogs Are Us

by: Peter of Lone Tree

"Back home at Peterson, Gina wanted nothing to do with people.

"She'd withdrawn from society as a whole," Haynes said.

"Haynes, who has worked with more than 100 dogs in 12 years as a handler and kennel master, said he has seen other dogs rattled by trauma, but none as badly as Gina.

"Haynes and other handlers coaxed Gina on walks, sending someone ahead to pass out treats for bystanders to give her. They got her over her fear of walking through doors by stationing someone she knew on the other side to reward her with pats and play. They eased her farther into buildings with the same technique."

She used to be playful. We have corrupted everything with war.

Military dog comes home from Iraq traumatized

God help us.
12 July 2010


by: Peter of Lone Tree

Foreword from "All Quiet On The Western Front":
"This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war."

Headline from The Seattle Times:
Local veteran's suicide reflects troubling trend.
10 November 2009

Veterans Day 2009

by: Dark Wraith

Veterans Day 2009

The flag and her warriors are with you.

Even in the stormy night, we will not leave you.

As you are the Nation to which we pledged our blood, we will not fail you.

Not ever.

Not even through that stormy night.

· · · ·
16 July 2009

Pissed off ain't the right expression!

by: Father Tyme

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook is seeking a federal court order to stall and eventually prevent an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. In the 20-page document — filed July 8 with the United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia — Cook's California-based attorney, Orly Taitz [online PhD.] , asks the court to consider granting his client's request based upon Cook's belief that President Barack Obama is not a natural-born citizen of the United States and is therefore ineligible to serve as commander-in-chief of U.S Armed Forces.

It may be helpful to recap the timeline here. March: Cook acknowledges he's among the plaintiffs in a class-action suit "on behalf of 120 military officers" challenging President Obama's authority as Commander in Chief. In May, Cook tells the Army he wants [requests] to be sent to Afghanistan. In June, the Army accepts Cook’s offer. In July, Cook sues to "get out" of that assignment, based on the same grounds (Obama not qualified) and using the same attorney (who actively seeks military members to participate in such suits) for a previous suit he was involved in that pre-dates his volunteering to deploy to Afghanistan.

Of course, those on the right who would put down their keyboards, shut off Fox and patriotically march off to defend America and do what they’ve always claimed they would do (as long as bake sales, letter writings and find raising don't interfere), don’t understand that as a reserve officer, [hopefully temporary, major] Cook can refuse to serve in Afghanistan. Even if he asked for it, he has the right of refusal up to the day of deployment. Needless to say, the chickenhawks on the right aren’t telling the offal in their coups the whole story.

I would offer a suggestion to those who have the authority. Stop-loss [major] Cook for the next 30 years, reassign him to something more along his chickenshit lines. I’d send him to walk the DMZ in Korea, steady nights for 5 straight years. After that, maybe he could count polar bears at Thule for about 15 years. Then a solo, 5 year fact finding recon in Northern Cambodia to see if he can determine if any of our boys were ever there. And finish it as a “forward penguin observer” or better yet, lineman at McMurdo for the last scheduled 5. Then discharge him, dishonorably; no benefits; no retirement; no nothing.

I wrote a critical piece about the daughter of a serviceman I used to respect and managed to upset someone. The disdain I have for the statement she made is only slightly less than what passes for my contempt for a chickenshit (Reservist, no less) major who thumbs his nose at the people who served and those who are now serving in another illegal conflict. The hypocrisy of those on the right and especially the mouthpieces of Sauron at NewsCorp(se) is unbounded.

While I’m thinking of Fox, one last suggestion for Rupert. Show the world that those dedicated patriots of your airwaves, those who you hired to support our efforts in Bush’s War, those who claim to be true Americans, those who called us traitors when most railed against an illegal war, send them to Afghanistan for a couple of 18 month tours to report from the front. Sadly, we’ll be there longer than the number of expendables you employ, but think of the good will and publicity for your video tabloid! It would be the supreme act of patriotism to have Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly, Joey and Mikka (from MSNBC) right there along side CNN’s Michael Ware reporting to all the Fox viewers just how wonderfully things are going. You could even take Pat Buchanan along for morale. I’m sure MSNBC wouldn't mind.

How ‘bout it mate? Be good fer the cause, eh? You betcha!
03 February 2009

Pentagon Rip-off?

by: Foiled Goil

America Is Completely Broke, And Here We Are Funding Fantasy Wars at the Pentagon

Americans don't usually think of the Pentagon as a scam operation -- but it's never to late to wake up and smell the rip-off.

Chalmers Johnson,
Like much of the rest of the world, Americans know that the U.S. automotive industry is in the grips of what may be a fatal decline. Unless it receives emergency financing and undergoes significant reform, it is undoubtedly headed for the graveyard in which many American industries are already buried, including those that made televisions and other consumer electronics, many types of scientific and medical equipment, machine tools, textiles, and much earth-moving equipment -- and that's to name only the most obvious candidates. They all lost their competitiveness to newly emerging economies that were able to outpace them in innovative design, price, quality, service, and fuel economy, among other things.

A similar, if far less well known, crisis exists when it comes to the military-industrial complex. That crisis has its roots in the corrupt and deceitful practices that have long characterized the high command of the Armed Forces, civilian executives of the armaments industries, and Congressional opportunists and criminals looking for pork-barrel projects, defense installations for their districts, or even bribes for votes.

Given our economic crisis, the estimated trillion dollars we spend each year on the military and its weaponry is simply unsustainable. Even if present fiscal constraints no longer existed, we would still have misspent too much of our tax revenues on too few, overly expensive, overly complex weapons systems that leave us ill-prepared to defend the country in a real military emergency. We face a double crisis at the Pentagon: we can no longer afford the pretense of being the Earth's sole superpower, and we cannot afford to perpetuate a system in which the military-industrial complex makes its fortune off inferior, poorly designed weapons.[snip]

It is hard to imagine any sector of the American economy more driven by ideology, delusion, and propaganda than the armed services. Many people believe that our military is the largest, best equipped, and most invincible among the world's armed forces. None of these things is true, but our military is, without a doubt, the most expensive to maintain. Each year, we Americans account for nearly half of all global military spending, an amount larger than the next 45 nations together spend on their militaries annually.

Equally striking, the military seems increasingly ill-adapted to the types of wars that Pentagon strategists agree the United States is most likely to fight in the future, and is, in fact, already fighting in Afghanistan -- insurgencies led by non-state actors. While the Department of Defense produces weaponry meant for such wars, it is also squandering staggering levels of defense appropriations on aircraft, ships, and futuristic weapons systems that fascinate generals and admirals, and are beloved by military contractors mainly because their complexity runs up their cost to astronomical levels.

That most of these will actually prove irrelevant to the world in which we live matters not a whit to their makers or purchasers. Thought of another way, the stressed out American taxpayer, already supporting two disastrous wars and the weapons systems that go with them, is also paying good money for weapons that are meant for fantasy wars, for wars that will only be fought in the battlescapes and war-gaming imaginations of Defense Department "planners."

30 July 2008

One More Instance Of GOP Hypocrisy

by: Debra

Support the troops!  Unless you're a member of the GOP and think that 25 million is too much to spend on paralyzed veterans.  A bridge to nowhere is okay, helping people who can't walk or pee without assistance is not.  And then to add insult to injury the GOP tries to use the issue to accuse the Demowienies of avoiding dealing with high gas prices.  Otherwise known as offshore drilling for their corporate buddies.
Republicans blasted the bill as an attempt to bait them and distract from measures to deal with high gas prices.

"They're using every trick to get us away from dealing with high gas prices," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Let's recap the GOP support of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Bad armor, insufficiently armored vehicles, no plan other than shock and awe, multiple tours, poor medical care if they get back to the United States in less than pristine condition, ignoring the emotional costs of war in veterans, closing brain injury units as the incidences of brain injuries in the troops was increasing due to the IEDs that nobody "could have foreseen", obstruction of the GI Bill and now willing to let injured veterans be forever hostage to other people for help.   

The best part?  Tom Coburn has the nerve to consider himself a doctor. Unlike recently departed Randy Pasuch, not the kind that helps people.


04 July 2008

Stars And Stripes Salute To The Troops

by: Foiled Goil

A pictoral history and tribute to the American Military:

[ 5:16 ]

11 May 2008

How Much Lower Can We Go?

by: Debra

Are there any depths to which this current administration will not sink? I know it seems like a stupid question considering everything they've screwed up over the last seven years, but even this one boggles what little mind I have left. It seems that those who have served faithfully in this misbegotten war, are not eligible for the tax stimulus checks that the country really can't afford. Yes, I know people have conveniently ignored the fact that quite a few military families are forced to used food stamps to survive, but how anyone in their right mind would think that the troops don't deserve the maximum amount of the stimulus package totally baffles me.

Every morning I'm greeted with some stupid ass story about how the troops are being supported. But not by the government that sends them into harm's way time after time without adequate armor, decent food or water, poor housing when they get back and an atrocious medical system that punishes them for being injured on the field of battle. If they were in the Reserves or the National Guard, even though it's against the law, their jobs aren't waiting for them when they get back and due to the high rate of PTSD that everyone except the government recognizes, our military veterans can't find decent employment while they wait for the next time they are called up. Even if it's three years after their last tour.

What kind of country are we that we can obsess about flag pins and not worry about those who have been injured or killed supposedly defending this nation from terrorists from without while the terrorists from within destroy everything this country used to stand for?

Our troops passed fucked up without collecting $300 and the rest of us are on our way to cultural armageddon. The rich continue to get richer, the poor continue to get poorer and our troops continued to get screwed.


30 April 2008

Fort Bragg, Charlie Company, 82nd Airborne

by: Foiled Goil

Dad's video of run-down barracks sparks military response

The U.S. military is promising action to address conditions in a barracks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after a soldier's father posted images on YouTube showing a building that he said "should be condemned."

"This is embarrassing. It's disgusting. It makes me mad as hell," Ed Frawley said of the building where his son, Sgt. Jeff Frawley, had to live upon his return this month from a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Frawley said Monday that Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody called him to say he shares Frawley's anger and that "there's no excuse." Cody said he would not want his own sons or any troops to return to such conditions, Frawley said.

Frawley's 10-minute video shows still photos from throughout the building, which appears to be falling apart and filled with mold and rust.

Frawley's video:

Army widens probe after finding bad conditions at Fort Bragg

Army officials said Tuesday they are inspecting every barracks building worldwide to see whether plumbing and other problems revealed at Fort Bragg, N.C., last week are widespread.

Brig. Gen. Dennis Rogers, who is responsible for maintaining barracks throughout the Army, told reporters at the Pentagon that most inspections were done last weekend but he had not seen final results.

While not providing specifics about problems discovered during the weekend inspections, Rogers indicated some deficiencies were corrected. In cases where extensive repairs are deemed necessary, the soldiers in that housing would be moved elsewhere until the fixes are completed, he added.

Rogers said it was too soon to know whether the Fort Bragg problem was an isolated incident. He acknowledged the revelations from a video shot by the father of an 82nd Airborne Division soldier showing poor conditions such as mold inside the barracks, peeling interior paint and a bathroom drain plugged with sewage.

· · ·
03 April 2008


by: Foiled Goil

The Gavel:

Next week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker will testify before Congress about the Iraq war. As many media reports have made apparent, the intention of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker next week is simply to announce a continuation of the current strategy – the decision to maintain at least 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely was made weeks ago.

The American people understand the enormous cost of the war in Iraq and are looking for more than running out the clock until the next President takes office in January 2009.

What Military Leaders Are Saying:

• Gen. Richard Cody, Army Vice Chief of Staff: “When the five-brigade surge went in… that took all the stroke out of the shock absorbers for the United States Army…I’ve never seen our lack of strategic depth be where it is today.”

• Gen. Robert Magnus, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps: “There has been little, if any, change of the stress or tempo for our forces…[the current pace of operations is] unsustainable.”

• Lt. Col. Paul Bliese, Chief of Department of Military Psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research: “Soldiers are not resetting entirely before they get back into theater…They’re not having the opportunity…to completely recover from previous deployment and then go back into theater.”

• Ret. Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, Commission on the National Guard and Reserves: “We think there is an appalling gap in readiness for homeland defense, because it will be the Guard and reserve that have to respond for these things.”

• Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen: “So, should we be in a position where more troops are removed from Iraq, the possibility of sending additional troops [to Afghanistan] — where we need them, clearly — certainly it’s a possibility. But it’s really going to be based on the availability of troops. We don’t have troops — particularly in Brigade Combat Team size — sitting on the shelf, ready to go.”

• Gen. James Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps: “[The Marines] cannot have one foot in Afghanistan and one foot in Iraq.”

• Lt. Gen. John Sattler (USMC), Director for Strategic Plans & Policy: “…the priority now for resources is going towards Iraq at this time…there are some things we could do and, as Admiral Mullen said, we may like to do, we would like to do, but we can’t take those on now until the resource balance shifts, sir.”

W – ha, M. E. worry? It's all good!

Bush Administration Wastes Trillions in Worthless Weapons

By Robert Scheer:

A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, and soon you're talking real money. But when it comes to reporting on what the Bush war legacy has cost American taxpayers, the media have been shockingly indifferent to the highest run-up in military spending since World War II. Even the devastating defense spending audit released Monday by the Government Accountability Office documenting the enormous waste in every single U.S. advanced weapons system failed to provoke the outrage it, and five equally scathing previous annual audits, deserved. [snip]

That's the huge scandal the media and politicians from both parties have studiously avoided. But as the GAO's authoritative audit details, the costs are astronomical. The explosion of spending on expensive weaponry after 9/11 had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of that day. The high-tech planes and ships commissioned for trillions of dollars to defeat an enemy with no navy, air force or army, and using $3 knives as its weapons arsenal, were gifts to the military-industrial complex that will go on giving for decades to come. [snip]

Just how expensive and wasteful this is was marked in the GAO's audit: "Since 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) has roughly doubled its planned investment in new systems from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion in 2007, but acquisition outcomes in terms of cost and schedule have not improved." Pentagon cost overruns, always a huge problem, have mushroomed. As the GAO reported, "Total acquisition costs for major defense programs in the fiscal year 2007 portfolio have increased 26 percent from first estimates, compared with 6 percent in 2000." [snip]

"Of the 72 programs GAO assessed this year, none of them had proceeded through system development meeting the best-practice standards for mature technologies, stable design, or mature production processes by critical junctures of the program, each of which are essential for achieving planned cost, schedule, and performance outcomes."

That's a grade of zero for every major weapons system.

See How the Bush Budget Affects You

The President’s misguided budget cuts health care for seniors and working families, raises health care costs for Veterans, leaves a staggering legacy of debt that our young people will inherit and slashes energy assistance - all at a time of rising prices and a slowing economy. And once again, the President does not fully account for the true cost of the war in Iraq.

· · · ·
02 April 2008

Is There A Draft In Here?

by: Foiled Goil

Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody:

Change Course, Face Draft, or Lose Army

Apr 02, 2008 — Brandon Friedman, VetVoice:

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody sternly rebuked all those who’ve been blowing sunshine and spreading baseless happy talk for five years with regard to the war in Iraq. And he was blunt–blunter than I’ve ever heard him before–about the crisis facing the Army. He even went so far as to hint at the “D-word” in his prepared remarks:
Today’s Army is out of balance. The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies . . . Current operational requirements for forces and insufficient time between deployments require a focus on counterinsurgency training and equipping to the detriment of preparedness for the full range of military missions.

Given the current theater demand for Army forces, we are unable to provide a sustainable tempo of deployments for our Soldiers and Families. Soldiers, Families, support systems, and equipment are stretched and stressed by the demands of lengthy and repeated deployments, with insufficient recovery time. Equipment used repeatedly in harsh environments is wearing out more rapidly than programmed. Army support systems, designed for the pre-9/11 peacetime Army, are straining under the accumulation of stress from six years at war. Overall, our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it.
And then he added the kicker:
If unaddressed, this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the All-Volunteer Force and degrades the Army’s ability to make a timely response to other contingencies.
When Cody says "this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the All-Volunteer Force," he's really saying we have three options:

1. We can change course now and save everyone a lot of trouble.

2. We can maintain our current course in Iraq and watch the Army disintegrate as it did during and after Vietnam.

3. We can institute the Draft.

The adjective "All-Volunteer" is the key part of the statement. He's implying that if the force were not all-volunteer, then there would be no "significant risk." As no sane officer would accept the disintegration of the Army, Cody is saying that if we want to keep up this thing in Iraq, we're going to have to move toward instituting a draft. It's that simple.
11 March 2008

The Fox and the Weasels: CENTCOM Commander Resigns under Pressure from White House

by: Dark Wraith

Admiral William FallonIn the wake of a favorable profile article just published in Esquire magazine, CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon, a former fighter pilot with the nickname "Fox," has resigned. The Esquire article, written by former Pentagon official Thomas P.M. Barnett, describes what had been the Admiral's on-going "challenge" to official Bush Administration policy regarding Iran: Fallon had stated in interviews and in meetings with Mideast leaders that an unprovoked, preemptive U.S. attack on Iran was "not on the table," directly contradicting saber-rattling words by White House officials including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who have both asserted that "all options" (presumably including aggressive war) are, indeed, on the table. In fact, Fallon's attempts to reassure friendly regimes in the Middle East were in direct contradiction to the standing views not just of the Bush Administration, but also of leaders in Congress, among them three U.S. Senators currently running for President: Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, along with Republican John McCain, have all refused to categorically rule out a military option against Iran, leaving Fallon with no one other than fellow military commanders to publicly or privately express grave reservations about commencing a third war to complement the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan in which the United States is mired with attendant, perilous depletion of the war-making ability of its armed forces.

Admiral Fallon's disputes with White House decision-making have not been limited to military and diplomatic policy regarding Iran. When the Bush Administration appointed General David Petraeus to head military operations in Iraq, his first meeting with Admiral Fallon in Baghdad turned ugly when Petraeus, having attempted to ingratiate himself to the CENTCOM head, received a sharp rebuke. Although, in the Esquire article, the Admiral denies this exchange transpired, sources familiar with the incident report that Fallon called Petraeus "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and went on to add, "I hate people like that." The disconnect between Fallon's view of Petraeus and that of members of Congress was stark. When Petraeus testified on the Hill, congressional representatives fawned shamelessly over him; and the U.S. House of Representative went so far as to overwhelmingly pass a resolution condemning the anti-war group for having mocked Petraeus' name in an advertisement opposing the Bush Administration's plan to send a "surge" of troops to Iraq, a plan Petraeus had been installed, at least in part, to promote.

A permanent replacement for Admiral Fallon has not been named, but it seems certain that the choice will be governed not by the need for top-notch command-level leadership, but instead by the ideologically driven imperative of White House officials to empower only those who are certain not to deviate in words or actions from Bush Administration war-making policies, guided as they are by neo-conservatives like Vice President Dick Cheney who have never served in the armed forces. Concern is being expressed in some quarters that the resignation of Admiral Fallon has removed one significant remaining barrier to a pre-emptive attack on Iran that would not only solidify Bush's legacy as a war President, but also embroil his successor, whoever ends up being elected, in three simultaneous wars. Because such a scenario now looms considerably more feasible in the wake of Adm. Fallon's resignation, the candidates running for President might very well find their unwillingness to take war with Iran off the table a moot point.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums

· · · ·
28 February 2008

Air Force To Troops: No Blogs For You

by: Foiled Goil

Air Force Blocks Access to Many Blogs

From the article by Noah Shachtman:

The Air Force is tightening restrictions on which blogs its troops can read, cutting off access to just about any independent site with the word "blog" in its web address. It's the latest move in a larger struggle within the military over the value -- and hazards -- of the sites. At least one senior Air Force official calls the squeeze so "utterly stupid, it makes me want to scream."

Until recently, each major command of the Air Force had some control over what sites their troops could visit, the Air Force Times reports. Then the Air Force Network Operations Center, under the service's new Cyber Command," took over.
AFNOC has imposed bans on all sites with "blog" in their URLs, thus cutting off any sites hosted by Blogspot. Other blogs, and sites in general, are blocked based on content reviews performed at the base, command and AFNOC level ...

The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said ...

AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.

"Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.

As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites -- such as educational databases and some work-related sites -- getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.

One of the blogs banned is In From the Cold, which examines military, intelligence and political affairs from a largely right-of-center perspective. It's written by "Nathan Hale," the pseudonym for a former journalist and Air Force intelligence officer, who spent more than two decades in the service. He tells Danger Room, "If knowledge and information are power -- and no one disputes that -- then why not trust your people and empower them to explore all sides of issues affecting the service, air power and national security?"
Obviously, DoD [Department of Defense] can decide what internet content should be filtered -- they spent billions on the IT architecture and billions more to maintain it. But if it's a matter of "ensuring worker productivity" and deterring "wasteful surfing of the internet," does it really make sense to block relatively small blogs (that just happen to focus on military and security issues), while allowing everyone to access ESPN or FoxSports? Wonder how much work time will be lost on filling out "March Madness" brackets, versus reading a military or intelligence blog?

In short, there doesn't seem to be any consistency in the current DoD policy. And that's no surprise. A few months ago, a senior Pentagon P.A. [public affairs] official told me that his service had no plans to engage the blogosphere, because their studies showed that "people don't rely on blogs for news and information." And he said it with a straight face.

· · ·
22 October 2007

Blackwater: Back Taxes?

by: Foiled Goil

Waxman: Blackwater may have engaged in tax evasion

Klaus Marre, The Hill:
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asserted Monday that Iraq security contractor Blackwater USA "may have engaged in significant tax evasion."

In a letter to Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince, panel Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) noted that the IRS earlier this year ruled that the company "violated federal tax laws by treating an armed guard as an 'independent contractor,'" Waxman said. "The implication of this ruling is that Blackwater may have avoided paying millions of dollars in Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and related taxes for which it is legally responsible."
The lawmaker stated that his panel has found out that "Blackwater required this employee to sign a non-disclosure agreement before it agreed to pay the back pay and other compensation that he was owed. The terms of this agreement explicitly prohibited the guard from disclosing any information about Blackwater to 'any politician' or 'public official.'"

Waxman charges that "it now appears that Blackwater used this illegal scheme to avoid millions of dollars in taxes and then prevented the security guard who discovered the tax evasion from contacting members of Congress or law enforcement officials."
Waxman is calling on Prince to provide the committee with documents regarding the issue, including all communications between the government and Blackwater with regard to the classification of the company’s employees, non-disclosure agreements and documents related to the security guard who requested the IRS ruling.

The panel also set up a tipline to allow people with knowledge of Blackwater's potential tax evasion to come forward.
Waxman Accuses Blackwater of Millions in Tax Fraud, Cover-Up

Spencer Ackerman, TPM Muckraker:



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