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Army Major Exposes The US Military’s Empire Of Secrecy

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“Democracy dies in darkness.” That’s an old saying that The Washington Post recycled as its motto at the dawn of the Trump era.

Truth is, the journalists at the Post don’t know the half of it; nor do they bother to report on the genuine secrecy and increasing lack of transparency in the Department of Defense. Nothing against the Post – neither do any of the other mainstream media outlets.

But it’s true: Right under most Americans’ noses, the military has become more opaque over the last several years. Now, few outlets cover foreign policy with any particular gusto – after all, there’s so much to say about Stormy Daniels or the Brett Kavanaugh drama. But this trend should concern all citizens.

Thing is, what the U.S. military is up to on any given day is done in your name. If civilians are killed, locals alienated or civil liberties restricted, then the global populace, including concerned U.S. citizens, aren’t going to fix blame solely on the armed forces … they’re going to blame you! If for no other reason than this, citizens of an – ostensible – democracy ought to be paying attention. The military is a fierce, potentially brutal instrument, and anyone who cares about liberty ought to watch it closely.

Only that’s getting harder and harder to do in today’s political climate. On one issue after another the U.S. military has recently intensified its secrecy, has classified previously open information and has suppressed any remaining sense of transparency. Don’t just take my word for it: This week a relatively mainstream congressional Democrat, Adam Smith – a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee—wrote at length on this very topic.

Make no mistake, these trends are long-standing and gradual. So, what follows is not some vacuous liberal attack on President Trump, who remains, for legal purposes, and so long as I remain in uniform, my commander in chief. Still, the time is long past when someone needs to scream from the proverbial mountaintop about America’s expanding empire of secrecy.

Though there are plenty of examples to review, there’s something else to keep in mind: The military isn’t some monolithic monster. It’s far more discreet than that, and so are these trends, so watch closely. Evidence abounds.

Soon after the inauguration, the military—which had long recognized and planned for the existential threat of climate change—received guidance to all but purge the term from its reports. It was to be replaced with more nebulous (and inaccurate) phrases, such as “extreme weather.”

Then there’s the minor matter of the war in Afghanistan and its progress—after, you know, 17-plus years. One of the key benchmarks or metrics for progress has been the success or failure of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Well, for years the DOD released annual casualty figures for the ANSF, and the trends were alarming. Afghan Security Force casualties are frankly unsustainable—the Taliban are killing more than the government can recruit. The death rates are staggering, numbering 5,500 fatalities in 2015, 6,700 in 2016, and an estimate of “about 10,000” in 2017. The reason we’re not sure about the exact count last year is because that data—admittedly at the request of the Afghan government—has been newly classified. This seems absurd. How can the legislature or the public determine the viability or prognosis of America’s longest war without such key statistics? The short answer is, it can’t. And so, the war drags on. …

What’s more, the military’s historically uneasy relationship with the press has also further chilled. As Rep. Smith reported, and complained about, the DOD had issued edicts to curtail or discourage officers from providing candid assessments on readiness challenges, the control of nuclear weapons and other key appraisals. Only after a prolonged public outcry were these once-common press interactions partially reinstated. Nevertheless, this all points to an alarming trend of apparent furtiveness.

There are other examples to add into the disturbing mix.

The Navy has stopped publicly posting accident reports. Also, at a time of exploding, record defense budgets, once routine public reports on the cost, schedule and performance of expensive weapons systems have, since 2017, been labeled as “For Official Use Only”—which keeps the data from the public through an ever-expanding regime of “over-classification.” Without such public releases, the populace and their elected representatives cannot effectively scrutinize what President (and five-star General) Eisenhower aptly labeled the “dangerous” military-industrial complex. Is that the point? Let’s hope not.

Then there is the internal censorship within the military’s computer networks. Recently, credible, left-leaning websites such as Tom Dispatch and The Intercept have reportedly been blocked on many government computers. The reason provided in the firewall warning message is the existence of “hate and racism” on the two sites. Now, many readers, and even more American citizens, may not like the content of these publications—which is fine—but anyone who has even briefly read anything on these sites can vouch for one salient truth: There is absolutely nothing hateful or racist at Tom Dispatch or The Intercept. These publications are professionally edited and reviewed, and, indeed, are unique in that they focus on long-form analytical essays.

It appears that the only crime of these sites is that they are, indeed, left-leaning. Need proof? Well, guess which genuinely racist, conspiracy-theory-peddling websites are not blocked? You guessed it: Breitbart and InfoWars. Heck, even Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to ban Alex Jones’ InfoWars from their social media sites. So, there’s only one major conclusion to draw: Genuinely shocking and offensive right-leaning publications are just fine; meanwhile, even credible, respected left-leaning sites are apparently a threat. This sort of rank partisanship is disturbing from a purportedly apolitical organization like the DOD.

Now, there are no doubt times when tactical necessity requires secrecy in military operations. I’ve lived at the sharp end of that spear, and do not discount its occasional inexorability. That said, much of the move away from transparency has little to do with combat, so to speak, and more to do with politics. We, the citizenry, trust our military with immense responsibility, but as a supposed democracy, that same military ought to be accountable to Congress and to the public. These days, that seems ever more like a distant fantasy.

This all matters. America has a choice. It can be an empire—or it can be a genuine republic. It may not be both.

37 Comments on "Army Major Exposes The US Military’s Empire Of Secrecy"

  1. Cloggie on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 8:19 am 

    “This all matters. America has a choice. It can be an empire—or it can be a genuine republic. It may not be both.”

    America has no choice. It is an empire since 1945, based on the preplanned massmurder of the German people…

    …prepared for in cooperation with the USSR since 1933.

    But now the tables are turned.

  2. JuanP on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 9:16 am 

    I don’t think the people of the USA have many choices at this point in time. Maybe Davy has a different opinion? LOL!

  3. Duncan Idaho on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 9:42 am 

    “Ballot box voodoo … shall the left hand of the American oligarchy run this country, or the right?? “

  4. Chrome Mags on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 4:44 pm 

    “We The People” at this point doesn’t mean too much, other than you can vote and think it makes a difference in a rigged corrupt system. When politicians end their political career to then work as lobbyists in DC, you know its corrupt. When electronic voting machines that can easily be hacked to change the outcome of a close race, with no trace, it’s corrupt. When the president of the US is making millions in his businesses because of his position, it’s corrupt. When regular people come last, it’s corrupt. When the military becomes opaque it’s corrupt. Its what happens to all forms of government no matter how well intentioned they may have been originally.

  5. Dredd on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 5:28 pm 

    Some of the most abundant “secrets” are those hidden in plain sight (The Ghost Plumes).

    Sometimes they are hidden by ideas about things that don’t exist.

  6. DerHundistLos on Mon, 5th Nov 2018 9:08 pm 

    Please keep this in mind for tomorrow…

    Only the Democratic Party has consistently supported environmental and wildlife conservation regardless of administration. Sadly, the Republican Party is working overtime to destroy the natural world by selling America’s parks, repelling the highly successful Endangered Species Act, repelling the Migratory Bird Act, denying the reality of global climate change, etc.

    Think about this reality and the young members of your family,

  7. Cloggie on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 12:24 am 

    Bregret – Latest large poll now says 54-46 in favor of Remain.

    Note that the British are the most Euro-skeptic of them all, always have been:

    It would be the biggest boost for the EU since it came into existence in 1993. It would also mean that the UK would become a full paying member, without rebates.

    This poll is a boost for those who seek a soft Brexit, like May (“Norway”).

    In the (still unlikely) event that the UK would drop Brexit after all, this should be the moment to rethink unrestricted immigration between EU member states and install an optional upper limit.

    The outer borders need to be protected with a vigor last seen during the days of the Iron Curtain (do we still have that thing still lying around somewhere?)

  8. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 3:51 am 

    And neder says Italy is the most stable finacial country in the world…cough..This will not end well for the Euro House of Cards. Add to that house of cards Brexit.

    “GEFIRA: The Italian People Must Understand That Their Country Is At War”

    “To make the euro sustainable, the European financial elites want the Italians to reduce their spending and turn a budget deficit into a budget surplus. However, due to the country’s shrinking population the Italian budget deficit — as we have argued many times – can only increase. “

    “The country has entered a demographic winter and sustainable economic growth is simply impossible, at least for the foreseeable future. As is the case with the whole of Europe, the continent needs a plan to support an ageing and declining population.”

    “The Italian rulers know that they are under assault and are contemplating how to shield the banks from the European banking authorities. Rome has to come up with a national strategy to preserve its banking system even if this is against the European rules. Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, met with his counterpart from the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, to discuss the condition of the Italian economy, budget and banks, a spokesman for Salvini said. “No banks will be in difficulty,” Salvini said.”

    “The leadership in Rome will not leave it to Brussels or Frankfurt bureaucrats to decide whether Italian banks are insolvent or not. In theory, every sovereign government can declare a bank solvent by the stroke of a pen. The Italian authorities can refuse to close their banks and force them to stay in business.”

    “To put even more pressure on the Italian government, Karsten Wendorff, Member of the Advisory Board of the German federal banks, suggested confiscating private Italian properties to make good for the Italian public debt obligations.”

    “Such a fund would be financed by “national solidarity bonds” that Italian households would be obliged to purchase, for example, to the tune of 20 per cent of their net wealth. At such a rate “almost half of the Italian government debt could be converted into solidarity bonds.” If the plan were to be implemented, it would mean that Italian house owners would be forced to pay 20% of their asset value to foreign banks. The plan is first and foremost a warning to the leadership in Rome against violating their budget rules. Germany is willing to confiscate whatever it is entitled to.”

    “The general public is unaware of the seriousness of the situation. Both Salvini and Matteo – as well as the Italian people – should realize that they are at war with the European establishment which ultimately intends to remove them from power. To win this battle they need unconditional support from the state security apparatus and the Italian people. The confrontation between Rome on the other hand and Brussels and Frankfurt on the other, however, will not break out before the European Parliament elections.”

  9. Antius on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 5:27 am 

    Totalitarian Britain.

    Five men decide to make a model of Grenfell tower and burn it on a fire. Admittedly, this is shockingly bad taste. But what the hell are the police doing arresting people for a prank like this at a private party?

    This is how the UK differs most from the US. There is literally no equivalent of the first amendment protecting individuals from being victimised by the state for expressing an opinion. Saying the wrong thing could land you in prison for ‘hate crimes’.

  10. Antius on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 5:30 am 

    “Bregret – Latest large poll now says 54-46 in favor of Remain.”

    Completely irrelevant now. The referendum has been and gone. The result is what it is. Referendums are not something that can be repeated endlessly until they give the result that one side happens to want.

  11. anon on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 5:47 am 

    antius- ask the irish about that…
    or of course ask the greeks about an irrelevant smokescreen referendum that was carried out entirely as an act of theater.
    the simple folk thought they were voting against more ‘bailouts’ (where bailout means even more debt, not less, and more freebies to the banks) , but their ‘no’ was tied to a specific wording of a specific ‘bailout’ agreement.. which the politicians promptly changed some minor wording in it and a week later signed it into law.. so, dont trust these politicians and bankers even when theres a referendum to try and stop them.

    another comment: what’s with the pointless rage in this article praising some arbitrary things/people as ‘left’ and condemning others as ‘right’, this whole left/right thing is another false difference , there’s more difference between coke and pepsi, than there is between ‘left’ and ‘right’ as theyre thrown about. Ignore the labels, look at the actions. Is it even more tyrannical abuse of power? i hardly care if it’s being perpetrated by a supposedly ‘left’ or a supposedly ‘right’ politician. it’s still tyrranical and i’m still getting screwed by it. so, people, wake up from the left/right illusion!

  12. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 5:59 am 

    anon, I agree until you mix in the extremist fringe elements then the conversation changes. This forum is populated by extremist of various flavors. The extremist then become discriminatory with anything moderate, independent, or centrist. The reason is anything that moderates an extremist’s message destroys it.

  13. joe on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 6:20 am 

    Cloggie will never understand Brexit. The elites want the benefits of globalism without the oversight of a politburo ruling over them. The EUSSR is a dead end. Ireland has always broken EU law with its tax haven status. The EUSSR will force Ireland out of the EU as soon as it tries to enforce its corporation tax laws and socialist national budget controls. Cloggie sees everything in terms of race and ‘culture’, UK elites see everything in terms of wealth and status, religion and cultural conflict is nothing but a means to control the poor. Brexit is not a serious effort to leave Europe, but merely a means to define its own terms of membership. Barnier understands this and seeks to limit the scope of those terms. May has never been a serious backer of a clean break, if she was, Brexit would already be a done deal, as in no deal.

  14. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 6:26 am 

    Saudi Wahhabists conduct 9/11. US sanctions Iran.

    Saudi funds & arms ISIS. Iran fights ISIS. US sanctions Iran.

    Saudi chops up DC based journalist. US sanctions Iran.

    Saudi bombs & starves Yemen. US sanctions Iran.

  15. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 6:51 am 

    One man’s extremist, is another man’s moderate. It is all a matter of perspective.

  16. Anonymouse on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 6:55 am 

    And no is more extreme(ly), delusional, than you are exceptionalturd.

  17. Antius on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 6:58 am 

    An excellent article from Kris DeDecker on the problems around the idea of a ‘circular economy’.

    There is a popular myth that it will be possible in the future to move towards a closed cycle economy, in which all inputs are recycled and no new mining is necessary. Some proponents even claim that this will allow economic growth to continue even as inputs of new materials decline.

    There are severe problems that stand between this idea and its achievement in reality. High levels of recycling are only really practical when products are simple, requiring minimal processing to recycle. Steel girders from buildings and aluminium cans are easily recyclable because they can be melted in induction furnaces without any efforts to dismantle them. But as we continue to build more technology into products this becomes more difficult. Old analogue phones were simple, often lasted for decades and contained just a handful of components. A mobile phone contains dozens of different elements in tiny components that would be all but impossible to physically separate. A typewriter contained some relatively simple components mostly made from carbon steel. A modern PC contains a huge number of microelectronic components that would be much more difficult to separate. The technology of yesteryear was altogether much easier to recycle because it was simple and composed of fewer elements. As technology advances, we are moving further away from (not closer to) the idea of a circular economy.

    We could in principle, recycle even complex components by converting them to plasma and using magnetic fields to separate the ions. That way, all elements would be perfectly separated. But that implies heating those objects to tens of thousands of centigrade, something that would be very energy intensive. Moving to a renewable energy economy is generally understood as requiring less energy intensity rather than more.

    So we are left with a logical contradiction. We cannot move towards sustainability in materials whilst simultaneously reducing energy intensity and moving towards lower grade energy sources. Complex technology makes the problem harder, not easier. It is either much more labour intensive or much more energy intensive to recycle a more complex component. Trying to do these things whilst growing economic output and thereby increasing material throughput makes the problem even more intractable.

  18. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 7:08 am 

    Thanks Anonymouse. Good point.

  19. Anonymouse on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 7:43 am 

    “NUTTER ALERT” thanks Juan for the exceptionalturd attacks.

  20. JuanP on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 7:47 am 

    Anonymouse, if we just had Greg and Mak we could get back to the good old days of roughhousing the exceptionalturd. I hate the mother fucker and plan on daily attacks until I get bored.

  21. Cloggie on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 8:17 am 

    Now you’re talking!

    “Macron Calls for ‘Real European Army’ to Protect EU from U.S.“

  22. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 8:26 am 

    The less sensational and more accurate than the breitbart drool goes something like this:

    “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America,” Macron said, according to Agence France-Presse.”

    Macron should have added “ourselves” referring to the disastrous 19th and 20th century of Euro hooliganism.

  23. JuanP on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 9:15 am 

    Delusional Davy “I agree until you mix in the extremist fringe elements then the conversation changes.”
    Says the worst extremist I’ve come across in my whole life! You can’t make this shit up! LOL!

  24. JuanP on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 9:30 am 

    Another day arrives, and Davy ruins the board again. Poor widdle Davy, nobody loves him and not even his imaginary goats will fuck him. I wonder if his body is as diseased as his mind?

  25. Davy on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 9:36 am 

    “NUTTER ALERT” JuanPee, the board mental clown is speaking his insanity.

    Deport the ungrateful asshole back to South America.

    BTW, asswipe you give me more attention instead of less you crave. The dumbshit can’t control his emotions.

  26. Cloggie on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 10:56 am 

    The future map of America:

  27. Cloggie on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 11:01 am 

    Infowars dummies do not understand what globalism means:

    The EU wanting to defend itself against the US, Russia and China, definately is NOT globalism.

  28. Free Speech Message Board on Tue, 6th Nov 2018 7:31 pm 

    What would a racist say if he found out that his great-grandma was half-Jewish?

  29. Cloggie on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 3:37 am 

    Free Speech is somebody who proclaims the end of America and yet still pretends that the word “racism” represents the holy grail and highest moral norm.

    What he fails to see is that the word is a poisson cookie, backed by those people who want to destroy white America and meanwhile succeeded in their endeavour.

    People like Free Speech are most accurately described by “we had no clue”.

    What follows is the return of history, the very history Fukuyame had declared to be ended.

    Fukuyame had no clue either.

  30. Davy on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 4:49 am 

    Neder, I am seeing here an acknowledgment of US protection and an attack on your populism by Macron. This is hardly an article you should be referencing per your agenda. BTW, “calls for” means there is no Euro army yet despite what you say.

    “Macron Calls For “Real European Army” – Decries Trump’s INF Pullout As Harming EU Security”

    “We won’t protect Europeans if we don’t decide to have a real European army,” Macron said. “We must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States,” he asserted.”

    “He further framed the idea in terms of combating rising nationalism and populism at home which might threaten the fragile peace on the continent, in an indirect reference to the build-up of tensions behind WWI. He called for a “stronger, protective Europe,” and decried an “increasingly fractured” continent that’s recently witnessed nationalism on the ascent.”

  31. Antius on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 6:52 am 

    “This poll is a boost for those who seek a soft Brexit, like May (“Norway”).”

    Well, if it does happen, you must promise not to try and sell us any more of those worn out wooden shoes 🙂

  32. I AM THE MOB on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 7:12 am 


    I thought according to zerohedge republicans were going to keep the house?

    You are so dumb and easily duped..

  33. I AM THE MOB on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 7:17 am 


  34. Cloggie on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 11:47 am 


    Reads as: Serbian nationalism is as much as a threat to Yugoslavia as is Islamic fundamentalism.



  35. Cloggie on Wed, 7th Nov 2018 11:50 am 

    “Well, if it does happen, you must promise not to try and sell us any more of those worn out wooden shoes ”


  36. Dredd on Thu, 8th Nov 2018 10:22 am 

    They have tried to keep the meaning of “whoever” secret but let’s expose it (What Does The Word “Whoever” Mean?).

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