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Sir! No Sir

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Not Your Soldier Action Camps bring together young people who are heavily targeted by military recruitment. At the camps, youth learn how to take action to fight military recruitment, the poverty draft, and the corporations that profit off of war.

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Re: Sir! No Sir

wapo: Army Using Policy to Deny Reserve Officer Resignations
The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures.

"I don't think during a time of war you would want to let people go when you have a shortage of people," Army Reserve spokesman Steve Stromvall said when asked to comment on the memo, which surfaced during litigation over the policy. At least 10 reserve officers have sued the Army, saying they should be allowed to get out because they have finished their mandatory eight years of service.

Blocking reserve officers' resignations is one of several steps the Army has undertaken in recent years to keep soldiers beyond their original terms of service, as today's wars place unprecedented demands on the all-volunteer force. Under another practice, known as "stop-loss," thousands of active-duty Army and reserve soldiers have been temporarily prevented from leaving the military, either because their skills were needed or because their units were going overseas. As of January, more than 13,000 soldiers were being kept in the service under stop-loss, a policy criticized by some as a "backdoor draft," which the Army says it seeks to end.

Defense Department lawyers say that the federal law, including its use of the phrase "indefinite term," clearly gives the administration the authority to disapprove officer resignations. "The term 'indefinite' means what it says," they said in a filing in the Schwan case. "An indefinite term has no specific length, but is rather unlimited."

In addition, Army regulations have included broad language for several decades that could be used to restrict a reserve officer's ability to leave the service, including a 1987 rule that resignations may be accepted except during a national emergency proclaimed by the president or "other conditions which may necessitate such action."

"The Army Reserve told me it's based on the needs of the Army," said retired Maj. Gen. David Bockel, deputy executive director of the Reserve Officers Association, a professional association that represents 75,000 officers from all services. "If the Army needs you, you can't resign," said Bockel, who has received calls from officers whose resignations were rejected.

The indefinite forced service has come amid a surge of call-ups for the reserve, which has mobilized more than 140,000 soldiers since 2001 for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and for homeland defense. Army Reserve units, known as the Selected Reserve, have a total of about 188,000 soldiers, including 34,000 officers.

Meanwhile, the Army Reserve is falling short of recruits, making only 84 percent of its recruiting goal in fiscal 2005, and 95 percent so far this fiscal year.

Helmly cited the heavy operational demands combined with officer shortages as the main reasons for setting down new guidelines to curtail resignations, a move that led the Army Reserve to turn down 176 resignation requests in 2004, 190 in 2005 and 34 so far this year, the Army said.

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peter dale scott: Chapter 8: Al Qaeda and the U.S. Establishment

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Death Made In America: Impacts of Depleted Uranium Contamination on Afghanistan's Children
Disturbing Photographs
[warning — they are very disturbing]

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john pilger: Return Of The Death Squads - Iraq's Hidden News

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today in iraq

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usa today: NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said.

The NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.

In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

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philip giraldi on sibel edmonds, turkey, israel([search]), the neocons, and the MIC

Sibel Edmonds, the Turkish FBI translator turned whistleblower who has been subjected to a gag order could provide a major insight into how neoconservatives distort US foreign policy and enrich themselves at the same time. On one level, her story appears straightforward: several Turkish lobbying groups allegedly bribed congressmen to support policies favourable to Ankara. But beyond that, the Edmonds revelations become more serpentine and appear to involve AIPAC, Israel and a number of leading neoconservatives who have profited from the Turkish connection. Israel has long cultivated a close relationship with Turkey since Ankara’s neighbours and historic enemies - Iran, Syria and Iraq - are also hostile to Tel Aviv. Islamic Turkey has also had considerable symbolic value for Israel, demonstrating that hostility to Muslim neighbours is not a sine qua non for the Jewish state.

Turkey benefits from the relationship by securing general benevolence and increased aid from the US Congress - as well as access to otherwise unattainable military technology. The Turkish General Staff has a particular interest because much of the military spending is channeled through companies in which the generals have a financial stake, making for a very cozy and comfortable business arrangement. The commercial interest has also fostered close political ties, with the American Turkish Council, American Turkish Cultural Alliance and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations all developing warm relationships with AIPAC and other Jewish and Israel advocacy groups throughout the US.

Someone has to be in the middle to keep the happy affair going, so enter the neocons, intent on securing Israel against all comers and also keen to turn a dollar. In fact the neocons seem to have a deep and abiding interest in Turkey, which, under other circumstances, might be difficult to explain. Doug Feith’s International Advisors Inc, a registered agent for Turkey in 1989 - 1994, netted $600,000 per year from Turkey, with Richard Perle taking $48,000 annually as a consultant. Other noted neoconservatives linked to Turkey are former State Department number three, Marc Grossman, current Pentagon Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, Paul Wolfowitz and former congressman Stephen Solarz. The money involved does not appear to come from the Turkish government, and FBI investigators are trying to determine its source and how it is distributed. Some of it may come from criminal activity, possibly drug trafficking, but much more might come from arms dealing. Contracts in the hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars provide considerable fat for those well placed to benefit. Investigators are also looking at Israel’s particular expertise in the illegal sale of US military technology to countries like China and India. Fraudulent end-user certificates produced by Defense Ministries in Israel and Turkey are all that is needed to divert military technology to other, less benign, consumers. The military-industrial-complex/neocon network is also well attested. Doug Feith has been associated with Northrup Grumman for years, while defense contractors fund many neocon-linked think tanks and “information” services. Feith, Perle and a number of other neocons have long had beneficial relationships with various Israeli defense contractors.

Update: Sibel Edmonds says, “Giraldi has it 100% right; this I consider the most accurate summary of my case.”

Re: Sir! No Sir

reuters: Army hits recruiting goal; Reserve, Guard miss
The U.S. Army, which fell short in recruiting in fiscal 2005, met its April goal, but the Army Reserve and Army National Guard missed their targets amid persistent concern among potential recruits over the Iraq war.

…the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard, which both also missed their fiscal 2005 recruiting goals, showed fresh signs of weakness in April even as the Pentagon reduces its reliance on these soldiers in Iraq.

More than three years into the Iraq war, the Army continues to provide the bulk of U.S. ground forces in Iraq. As recently as last summer, 40 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq was Guard and Reserve troops. The number is now about 20 percent, the Pentagon said.

The Army Reserve, a force which can be summoned by the Pentagon to active-duty from civilian life in times of need, missed its April goal by 17 percent — getting 2,164 recruits compared to a target of 2,611. The Army Reserve stands 5 percent behind its year-to-date goal.

The Army National Guard, whose part-time soldiers come under the command of state governors but can be mobilized by the Pentagon in times of need, missed its April recruiting goal by 10 percent but is still ahead of its year-to-date goal. It got 5,875 recruits in April, compared to a goal of 6,530.

Fiscal 2005 was one of the toughest recruiting years since the start of the all-volunteer military in 1973 during the tumult of the Vietnam War era. Some analysts have said if the military cannot attract enough recruits, the United States might have to consider reinstating the draft.

the olympian: Army releases 18-year-old with autism from enlistment contract
An 18-year-old Portland man with autism, whose recruitment renewed questions about Army practices, was released Tuesday from his enlistment contract.

Jared Guinther signed up for one of the Army’s most dangerous jobs, cavalry scout, after being heavily recruited. He passed medical and other examinations. He was scheduled to leave for basic training in August.

Guinther’s mother told The Oregonian she informed recruiters about her son’s disability by telephone as Jared was being tested, but that he was accepted for enlistment anyway.

An investigation is under way into whether recruiters improperly concealed Guinther’s condition.

Guinther started talking about joining the military after a recruiter stopped him and offered him a $4,000 signing bonus and $67,000 for college, his parents say. His parents said he didn’t know there was a war in Iraq until last fall, shortly after he spoke with a recruiter, and asked them about it.

The Army has been under intense pressure to recruit, and the number of recruiting abuses hit record levels in recent years.

In response to the Guinther case, Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to conduct a broad investigation into military recruitment practices and abuses.

In Guinther’s case, the Army had heavily recruited him even though his disability should have disqualified him from enlisting.

When Guinther’s parents found out he had enlisted, they contacted the Portland U.S. Army Recruiting Station where he signed up. His parents say the Army did not initially respond to their concerns.

wapo: Faces of the Fallen: U.S. service members who died in OIF and OEF (for OIL)

DoD to Deny VA Disability to Recalled Disabled
Subsection (e)(12) of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, (5 U.S.C. 552a) requires agencies to publish advance notice of any proposed or revised computer matching program by the matching agency for public comment. The DoD, as the matching agency under the Privacy Act is hereby giving notice to the record subjects of a computer matching program between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD that their records are being matched by computer. The purpose of this agreement is to verify an individual's continuing eligibility for VA benefits by identifying VA disability benefit recipients who return to active duty and to ensure that benefits are terminated if appropriate. … This matching agreement will identify those veterans who have returned to active duty, but are still receiving disability compensation.

u.s. newswire: More Than 200 Middle East Experts Warn Against Military Option in Iran;_ylt=Amql6URH8m2NbsArqss98VsEKekE;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA&;

re: Sir! No Sir

FACT CHECK: The State of the National Guard
- 20 percent of the approximately 130,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq are members of the Guard and Reserve.

- 352 National Guard soldiers have died in Iraq.

- The National Guard Bureau estimated that “nondeployed units had only about 34 percent of their essential warfighting equipment as of July 2005.”

- The Army National Guard “reported that it had less than 5 percent of the required amount of more than…220 critical items.”

- In response to equipment shortages, governors from all 50 states called for the White House to better equip the National Guard so they can “carry out their homeland security and domestic disaster duties.”

- In April, both the Army Reserve and Army National Guard missed their recruiting goals “amid persistent concern among potential recruits over the Iraq war.”

- With hurricane season quickly approaching, the National Guard will have “more troops at home than last year but with less equipment to handle emergencies.”

- The Louisiana Guard does not have around 100 of its “high-water vehicles” and North Carolina is “missing nearly half its Humvee fleet.”

Iraq War Images Uncensored
This collection of photos is the most complete we are aware of. Many of them are being made public here for the first time. Many of them are extremely gruesome. These must not be censored, because this is what a war really looks like, and that is something citizens need to see in order to cast informed ballots and lobby our representatives for or against war.

Please copy all of these images onto your own website. No need to ask permission. Please simply give credit to

Re: Sir! No Sir

national defense magazine: The U.S. Military: Under Strain And at Risk
In the current debate over the nation’s defense strategy and spending priorities, there is an elephant in the room that few are willing to acknowledge: Our ground forces are under enormous strain. This strain, if not soon relieved, will have highly corrosive effects on the force.

Much of the pressure on ground forces today stems from their high tempo of operations. Every available combat brigade from the active duty Army has already been to Afghanistan or Iraq at least once for a 12-month tour. Many units are now in their second or third tours of duty, and some individuals are going back for their fourth tours. In addition, approximately 95 percent the Army National Guard’s combat battalions and special operations units have been mobilized since 9/11.

Short of full mobilization or a new presidential declaration of national emergency, there is little available combat capacity remaining in the Army National Guard. Less than 16 percent of the Army Reserve remains eligible for mobilization to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under current authorities, and many of the remaining specialties are not in demand. At the same time, the average length of tour for reservists has more than doubled — from 156 days in Desert Storm to 342 days in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This high tempo of operations, combined with raised expectations that new recruits will be sent to the dangerous environment of Iraq, have increased the difficulty of recruiting young men and women into the Army. Indeed, the Army is experiencing the beginnings of what could become a major recruiting crisis. The active duty Army began missing its recruiting goals in February 2005, when it fell short of its monthly goal — by 27 percent — for the first time since 2000. At the end of fiscal 2005, the active Army fell 6,627 recruits short of its annual goal of 80,000 new accessions.

Although this development is not alarming in and of itself, the recruiting shortfall may become far larger this year if public support for the war in Iraq continues to decline, the demographic of young Americans eligible to serve continues to shrink, the economy continues to offer more attractive alternatives to young job seekers and the propensity of young Americans to enlist continues to decrease. Although the Army has made its monthly recruiting goals in the first months of 2006, it has done so by “front loading” its intake of new recruits and by lowering its quality standards. In October 2005, for example, 19 percent of Army recruits were drawn from “Category IV,” the lowest aptitude level accepted — a percentage far higher than the historical average.

The Army Reserve fell 16 percent behind its recruiting target for the year, and the Army National Guard 20 percent short of its annual goal. Although the National Guard appears to be coming out of its recruiting slump, the Army Reserve is still struggling to bring new people into its ranks.

Part of the problem is that not as many people leaving the active duty military are signing up for the Guard and reserves as in the past. Some are being prevented from leaving the active Army by “stop loss” orders. Others are choosing to stay in the active force. Still others, once they get out, do not want to risk being deployed again as a reservist. As a result, the Army Guard and reserves have fewer “prior service” personnel and are now in direct competition with the active Army for new recruits.

Although the Army is reporting that many soldiers are taking advantage of reenlistment bonuses, it is difficult to get an accurate picture of retention, because of the administration’s use of “stop loss” orders to keep members in service beyond their original commitment. This practice has skewed the data somewhat and effectively hidden growing personnel deficits, particularly in the junior grades of the Army. Some 9,800 soldiers are currently under “stop loss” orders, and the Army will likely continue stop loss for up to 9,000 soldiers through the end of fiscal 2006.

While the Army Reserve and Army National Guard exceeded their retention goals for people in more senior grades, they fell substantially short of their goals for those deciding whether to renew their commitment for the first time, creating the potential for long-term imbalances in the force. Of particular concern is the downward trend in Army Reserve end strength. Current authorized end strength is 205,000 personnel, but actual end strength is only about 190,000. The Army Reserve now projects increased losses of personnel, which will make achieving its fiscal 2006 target extremely difficult.

The Army and the Army National Guard also have experienced equipment shortfalls that increased the level of risk to forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and reduced the readiness of units in the United States. From the beginning of the Iraq war until as late as last year, the active Army experienced shortages of key equipment — such as radios, up-armored Humvees, trucks, machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and night vision equipment — for troops deploying overseas.

While many of these shortfalls have now been addressed for deployed units, the readiness ratings of many non-deployed units have dropped. This is particularly worrisome because some of these units are slated to deploy later this year. This situation is even worse for Army National Guard units, many of which have had to leave their equipment sets in Iraq for arriving units. These readiness shortfalls are only likely to grow as the war in Iraq continues to accelerate the wear-out rate of all categories of equipment for ground forces.

If recruiting trends do not improve during the next year, the Army, both active and reserve, will experience great difficulties. Fewer than needed recruits and first-term re-enlistees could result in a significant “hollowing” and imbalance in the Army. There is already a deficit of some 18,000 personnel in the Army’s junior enlisted grades. Even if it meets its recruiting and retention goals, the Army is expected to be short some 30,000 soldiers — not including stop loss — by the end of fiscal 2006.

The all-volunteer force is now in historically uncharted waters — fighting a protracted conflict with volunteers rather than draftees. What will happen if the current surge for Iraq becomes the steady state, and the Army and Marines are not resourced with the people, units and equipment they need for a long-term fight? When will the dedication and sacrifice of our troops run up against the needs of families and communities? Will they vote with their feet?

The Guard and reserves have evolved from being a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. The reality is that the operational reserve model is here to stay. … But budget, demographic and recruiting realities preclude a major expansion of the active duty military in the foreseeable future. This new reality is not yet reflected in how reserve forces are being organized, trained, equipped, and funded. Consequently, there is a legacy force that is making heroic efforts to perform a new set of missions at an unsustainable tempo of operations and without the necessary resources, training and equipment.

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link for the actual "Sir! No Sir" docu
The Suppressed Story of The GI Movement to end the war in Viet Nam 49 minutes

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hartford courant: Report: Military Ignoring Mental Illness,0,2155148.story
U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring, the Courant reported. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for "extended deployments."

"I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal," said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. "You're creating chemically activated time bombs."

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

"I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country," said Dr. Arthur S. Blank, Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

The Army's top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.

"The challenge for us … is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge," she said. "And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers' personal needs."

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nbc news: Haditha: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’
A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

Murtha, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, said at a news conference Wednesday that sources within the military have told him that an internal investigation will show that "there was no firefight, there was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed.

One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine.

“This one is ugly," one official told NBC News.


Re: Sir! No Sir

sam smith: Bush Calls Up National Guard To Help In Campaign
The abuse of the National Guard for political purposes is not unique to George Bush. Ronald Reagan, for example, used the scam of training to mobilize National guard troops for his war against Nicaragua. GOP governor Perpich of Minnesota and Democratic governor Dukakis of Massachusetts went to the Supreme Court to try to stop this on the grounds that the Constitution gives authority for Guard training to the governors. A number of governors backed the pair in this unsuccessful effort. One of the exceptions was Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Clinton, who already had close ties to Reagan administration thanks to enabling CIA operations out of his state, happily dispatched his Guard to Honduras, even sending his own security chief, Buddy Young, along to keep an eye on things. Winding up its tour, the Arkansas Guard declared large quantities of its weapons "excess" and left them behind for the Contras, a clever if sleazy way of getting around the hassle of congressional budgeting.

It is in this cynical tradition that Bush has been treating the Guard as his personal political toy, killing its troops to make Iraq turn out better and now calling them up for border patrol to help out in this fall's political campaign.

The increasing federalization of the National Guard has not bothered federally-oriented liberals but has definitely played a role in the downfall of the first American republic. Once, every president understood that there were a large number of states with their own militias that wouldn't stand quietly by during an attempted coup. The weakening of state control of the Guard has paralleled the weakening of democracy in the U.S. Bush is taken heavy advantage of this weakness.

chris floyd: Border Lords: Immigration Plan is Crony Pork Bonanza
My, my, my, isn't this a surprise! It turns out that George W. Bush's "Secure Border Initiative" to "control illegal immigration" is actually just a great big pork trough for his cronies and benefactors in the weapons biz to cash in big-time off the suffering and poverty of dusky foreigners. Now where have we seen that before?

The NYT reports that Bush is limbering up the federal checkbook to funnel even more millions to masters of war like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, still feasting sumptuously off the bloated corpse of conquered Iraq. These fine purveyors of contemporary "defense" (who says irony is dead?) will soon string the border with all manner of hugely expensive high-tech gizmonics designed to keep the hemisphere's most desperate and vulnerable people from crossing over to take the slave-wage, no-benefit, no-protection jobs offered to them by, well, Bush's cronies and benefactors in big business and among the wealthy elite (whom he has recently larded with more tax-cut largess). It's a neat scam, really, a win-win situation: your corporate cronies get even more loot from the public treasury – and they still get the cheap Latino labor that keeps them in clover.

nyt: Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors for Border Control
The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders.

Using some of the same high-priced, high-tech tools these companies have already put to work in Iraq and Afghanistan — like unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance satellites and motion-detection video equipment — the military contractors are zeroing in on the rivers, deserts, mountains and settled areas that separate Mexico and Canada from the United States.

Through its Secure Border Initiative, the Bush administration intends to not simply buy an amalgam of high-tech equipment to help it patrol the borders — a tactic it has also already tried, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, with extremely limited success. It is also asking the contractors to devise and build a whole new border strategy that ties together the personnel, technology and physical barriers.

The government's track record in the last decade in trying to buy cutting-edge technology to monitor the border — devices like video cameras, sensors and other tools that came at a cost of at least $425 million — is dismal.

Because of poor contract oversight, nearly half of video cameras ordered in the late 1990's did not work or were not installed. The ground sensors installed along the border frequently sounded alarms. But in 92 percent of the cases, they were sending out agents to respond to what turned out to be a passing wild animal, a train or other nuisances, according to a report late last year by the homeland security inspector general.

A more recent test with an unmanned aerial vehicle bought by the department got off to a similarly troubling start. The $6.8 million device, which has been used in the last year to patrol a 300-mile stretch of the Arizona border at night, crashed last month.

Re: Sir! No Sir ... The Army Guard said Friday that it signed up more than 26,000 soldiers in the first five months of fiscal 2006, exceeding its target by 7 percent in its best performance in 13 years. At this pace, Guard leaders say they are confident they will reach their goal of boosting manpower from the current 336,000 to the congressionally authorized level of 350,000 by the end of the year.

"Will we make 350,000? The answer is: Absolutely," said Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The rebound is striking because since 2003, the Army Guard has performed worse in annual recruiting than any other branch of the U.S. military. The Guard was shrinking while it was being asked to shoulder a big part of the burden in Iraq. Together with the Army Reserve, it supplied as many as 40 percent of the troops in Iraq while also dispatching tens of thousands of members to domestic disasters.

Today, the Guard is surpassing its goals and growing in strength -- a welcome boost for an all-volunteer Army stretched thin by unprecedented deployments. In recent months, the Guard enlisted nearly as many troops as the active-duty Army, even though it is a much smaller force. Indeed, the Army Guard, present in about 3,500 U.S. communities, will launch pilot programs this year to recruit for the entire Army.

"We're seeing quantum leaps," said Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard. "We should probably be America's recruiter for the Army."

The Missouri Army National Guard is number one in the Nation in overall accession (that's total number of enlistments vs assigned mission) and write-rate (that's accessions per recruiter).

Additionally, Soldiers in the US Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard are exceeding the reenlistment goal. Currently, these 3 services are 107% of their goal, and this figure does not take into account stop loss or other involuntary measures.

Try as you might ... You cannot prove that "we're stretched thin" or "having trouble getting recruits".

One can always find some random bit of information or some cook to support a claim, but that does not make a trend.

Re: Sir! No Sir

And again, in the face of facts that are contrary to her hate-blog postings, Silising Wi fails to reply or counter post and runs back to her cubicle to continue her work towards the on-line law degree.

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Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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