NDAA Fuels Militarization, Enriches Defense Corporations: Covert Wars Make Us Less Safe
February 12, 2013
Rep. Ron Paul / US House of Representatives
Commentary: "Far from simply providing an authorization for the money needed to defend this country, [the NDAA has] long been used to fuel militarization, enrich the military industrial complex, expand our empire overseas, and purchase enormously expensive equipment that we do not need.... The military industrial complex is a jigsaw puzzle of state-sponsored enterprises.... This convenient arrangement is the welfare of the warfare state."
NDAA Fuels Militarization, Enriches Defense Corporations, Expands Empire
Rep. Ron Paul / US House of Representatives
WASHINGTON, DC (February 11, 2013) -- Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) gave the following speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on December 20, 2012.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose what will be the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) I will face as a Member of the US House of Representatives. As many of my colleagues are aware, I have always voted against the NDAA regardless of what party controls the House.
Far from simply providing an authorization for the money needed to defend this country, which I of course support, this authorization and its many predecessors have long been used to fuel militarization, enrich the military industrial complex, expand our empire overseas, and purchase military and other enormously expensive equipment that we do not need and in large part does not work anyway. They wrap all of this mess up in false patriotism, implying that Members who do not vote for these boondoggles do not love their country.
The military industrial complex is a jigsaw puzzle of seemingly competing private companies; but they are in reality state-sponsored enterprises where well-connected lobbyists, usually after long and prosperous careers in the military or government, pressure Congress to fund pet projects regardless of whether we can afford them or whether they are needed to defend our country. This convenient arrangement is the welfare of the warfare state.
Because of the false perception that we must pass this military spending authorization each year or our men and women in uniform will go hungry, Congress has over the years taken the opportunity to pack it with other items that would have been difficult to pass on their own. This is nothing new on Capitol Hill. In the last few years, however, this practice has taken a sinister turn.
The now-infamous NDAA for fiscal year 2012, passed last year, granted the president the authority to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge, without access to an attorney, and without trial. It is difficult to imagine anything more un-American than this attack on our Constitutional protections. While we may not have yet seen the widespread use of this unspeakably evil measure, a wider application of this "authority" may only be a matter of time.
Historically these kinds of measures have been used to bolster state power at the expense of unpopular scapegoats. The Jewish citizens of 1930s Germany knew all about this reprehensible practice. Lately the scapegoats have been mostly Muslims. Hundreds, perhaps many more, even Americans, have been held by the US at Guantanamo and in other secret prisons around the world.
But this can all change quickly, which makes it all the more dangerous. Maybe one day it will be Christians, gun-owners, home-schoolers, etc.
That is why last year, along with Reps. Justin Amash, Walter Jones, and others, we attempted to simply remove the language from the NDAA (sec. 1021) that gave the president this unconstitutional authority. It was a simple, readable amendment. Others tried to thwart our straightforward efforts by crafting elaborately worded amendments that in practice did noting to protect us from this measure in the bill. Likewise this year there were a few celebrated but mostly meaningless attempts to address this issue.
One such effort passed in the senate version of this bill. The conferees have simply cut it out. The will of Congress was thus ignored by a small group of Members and Senators named by House and Senate leadership.
There are many other measures in this NDAA Conference Report to be concerned about. It continues to fund our disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere for example.
The Conference Report contains yet another round of doomed-to-fail new sanctions against Iran. These are acts of war against Iran without actually firing a shot. But this time the House and Senate conferees are going further than that. The report contains language that pushes the US as close to an actual authorization for the use of force against Iran as we can get.
The Report "... asserts that the US should be prepared to take all necessary measures, including military action if required, to prevent Iran from threatening the US, its allies, or Iran's neighbors with a nuclear weapon and reinforces the military option should it prove necessary."
This kind of language just emboldens Iran's enemies in the region to engage in increasingly reckless behavior with the guarantee that the US military will step in if they push it too far. That is an unwise move for everyone concerned.
This Conference Report contains increased levels of foreign military aid, including an additional half-billion dollars in missile assistance to an already prosperous Israel and some $300 million to help an increasingly prosperous Russia control its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. And Russia does not even want the money!
Overall, this authorization will give the president even more money for military activities next year than he requested. At a time when the news has been dominated by reports of our budget crisis, the "fiscal cliff," and the "need" to increase taxes on Americans, Congress is foolishly spending even more on the military budget than the administration wants! I suppose that is what counts as a reduction in the language of Washington.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this, and all future, reckless and dangerous military spending bills that are destroying our national security by destroying our economy.
Expanding Covert Warfare Makes Us Less Safe
Rep. Ron Paul / US House of Representatives
WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2012) -- Earlier this month we learned that the Obama administration is significantly expanding the number of covert Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) agents overseas. From just a few hundred DIA agents overseas today, the administration intends to eventually deploy some 1,600 covert agents.
The nature of their work will also shift, away from intelligence collection and more toward covert actions. This move signals a major change in how the administration intends to conduct military and paramilitary operations overseas. Unfortunately, it is not a shift toward peace, but rather to an even more deadly and disturbing phase in the "war on terror."
Surely attacks on foreign countries will increase as a result of this move, but more and more the strikes will take place under cover of darkness and outside the knowledge of Congress or the American people. The move also represents a further blurring of the lines between the military and intelligence services, with the CIA becoming more like a secret military unto itself. This is a very troubling development.
In 2010, I said in a speech that there had been a CIA coup in this country. The CIA runs the military and the drone program, and they are in drug trafficking. The CIA is a secretive government all on its own. With this new expanded Defense Intelligence Agency presence overseas it will be even worse.
Because the DIA is operationally under control of the Pentagon, direct congressional oversight of the program will be more difficult. Perhaps this is as intended. The CIA will be training the DIA in its facilities to conduct operations overseas. Much of this will include developing targeting data for the president's expanding drone warfare program.
Already the president has demonstrated his preference for ever more drone attacks overseas. In Pakistan, for example, President Obama has in his first four years authorized six times more drone strikes than under all eight years of the Bush administration. Nearly three thousand individuals have been killed by these drones, many of those non-combatants.
President Obama said recently of Israel's strikes against the Palestinians in Gaza, "No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders." This announcement by the administration amounts to precisely that: the US intends to rain down ever more missiles on citizens overseas.
I believe what the president says about Israel is true everywhere, so what about those overseas who live in fear of our raining missiles? How will they feel about the United States? Is it not possible that we may be inviting more blowback by expanding the covert war overseas? Does that make us safer?
An exhaustive study earlier this year by Stanford and New York University law schools found that US drone strikes on Pakistan are "damaging and counterproductive," potentially creating more terrorists than they kill. Its recommendations of a radical re-appraisal of the program obviously fell on deaf ears in the administration.
Thousands of new DIA spies are to be hired and placed undercover alongside their CIA counterparts to help foment ever more covert wars and coups in foreign lands. Congress is silent. Where will it all end?
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