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The penetration of the military into the nation’s bastions of learning had been gathering pace for decades. In 1996, in the middle of Bill Clinton’s tenure, the Solomon Amendment, named for its sponsor, US Representative Gerald B. H. Solomon, permitted the denial of federal funding to any educational institution which refused to allow military recruiters to go about their business on campus. This increased level of aggressive recruitment was facilitated and supported by one of George W. Bush’s flagship pieces of legislation. In 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law with great fanfare and bipartisan support. The act was supposed to enforce a more standardized testing regimen, but deep into its thousands of pages was a directive that would prove to be of huge help to recruiters looking to pester high school students to sign up. Though it drew no comment from the media at the time, which probably didn’t have time to read the whole thing, the Act stipulated: “each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide, on a request made by military recruiters or an institution of higher education, access to secondary school students names, addresses, and telephone listings.” In other words, high schools would now be obliged to hand over the phone numbers of all their pupils (no matter how young) to military recruiters, so a process of grooming them for service in the US military could get underway. It represented the manipulation of US youth at its worst. Before the age of eighteen, young people were not trusted to vote, to make legal or medical decisions, among others, but now they were ready to be solicited for the job of putting their life on the line.

[…]

Investigative journalist David Goodman did the most serious research into the effects of this policy. He found that the Pentagon had gathered the names of 34 million young people, what they called “the largest repository of 16-25-year-million young people, in something they called the JAMRS database, or the Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies program run by the DOD.

[…]

The result was a full-scale militarization of high schools throughout America. A concerned BBC report profiled Sergeant Larry Arnold, a career soldier “with a charming line of fast-paced chatter” who “circulates through the town like a salesman.” The victims of his sales routine were the youth of Kokomo, Indiana—population 46,000—many of whom receive “cold calls” from the sergeant in order to get them to enlist. “He uses lists of student that federal law requires the schools to provide to military recruiters,” the article notes, without referencing the offending No Child Left Behind Act. Therefore “it is not uncommon for students to get calls from every branch of the service.” Sgt. Arnold said that army recruiters will make 300 calls a day, adding, “Pressure is always there. It’s the army, it’s your mission, and they drill that into you every day.”

[…]

In the process, they were breaking the law. A report, Soldiers of Misfortune, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that the US government was actually in contravention of an international protocol prohibiting the recruitment of children into military service when they are under eighteen years old. It also noted that the US military disproportionately targets poor and minority public school students, but its findings were dutifully ignored after being submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Maybe that was because the US is one of only two countries (the other is Somalia) to have never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even so, the Senate puts the age minimum for recruitment at seventeen, but the report found that recruiters “regularly target” younger children, “heavily recruiting on high school campuses, in school lunchrooms, and in classes.”

Matt Kennard, Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror. (via toxicmilitary)

Oil Wars: The United States Invasion Of Iraq For Its Oil Was A Waste Of Money & Lives

wotfigo:

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Total cost of Iraq invasion and occupation estimated at $6 trillion – Study finds costs of U.S. wars linger for over 100 years

Another reason why the invasion and occupation were disastrous: If the U.S. had instead poured trillions of dollars into upgrading its energy-production infrastructure to renewables, we wouldn’t need to invade oil-producing nations ever again.

… So what did that $6 trillion get us, exactly? Since we borrowed to pay for much of the war, we’re facing nearing $4 trillion in cumulative interest between now and 2053, according to the 30 researchers who worked on the Costs of War report for Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. –Mar. 19, 2013
Obama has said that when it comes to the issue of torture during the Bush years, he prefers to “turn the page.” He’s pointed out that his Administration has banned “enhanced interrogation techniques” by executive order, but another Administration can just as easily re-authorize them. Without access to this meticulous, tragic, and available history, what’s to stop the country from repeating it? Before turning the page, the President might do well to make sure he, and the rest of us, can read it.
 Jane Mayer on why the Obama Administration should push for the public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s still-classfied blockbuster report on C.I.A. wrongdoing during the Bush years: http://nyr.kr/12satrW (via newyorker)
occupyallstreets:

Pentagon Chief Admits U.S. Is At War With Pakistan
“We are fighting a war in the FATA (NW Pakistan), we are fighting a war against terrorism,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday, referring to the tribal areas of Pakistan that the U.S. has spent three years bombing heavily. Was that so hard to admit?
For years, it has been. Neither the Bush nor Obama administration has been forthright about the starkest fact of the recent war on terrorism: most of it takes place in western Pakistan. As CIA director and now Pentagon chief, Panetta has been one of the key architects of the accelerated drone-and-commando war the U.S. wages there in what amounts to an open secret. In 2009, the critical year in that acceleration, Danger Room boss Noah Shachtman started pressing the Obama administration for disclosure about a war the U.S. waged in all but name.
It’s hard to imagine the reverberations Panetta’s comment will have amongst Pakistanis: polls indicate most don’t realize there’s a drone war going on at all. Americans are understandably preoccupied with domestic economic anxiety. The U.S. government, in other words, might have obscured its shadow war for nothing.
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occupyallstreets:

Pentagon Chief Admits U.S. Is At War With Pakistan

We are fighting a war in the FATA (NW Pakistan), we are fighting a war against terrorism,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday, referring to the tribal areas of Pakistan that the U.S. has spent three years bombing heavily. Was that so hard to admit?

For years, it has been. Neither the Bush nor Obama administration has been forthright about the starkest fact of the recent war on terrorism: most of it takes place in western Pakistan. As CIA director and now Pentagon chief, Panetta has been one of the key architects of the accelerated drone-and-commando war the U.S. wages there in what amounts to an open secret. In 2009, the critical year in that acceleration, Danger Room boss Noah Shachtman started pressing the Obama administration for disclosure about a war the U.S. waged in all but name.

It’s hard to imagine the reverberations Panetta’s comment will have amongst Pakistanis: polls indicate most don’t realize there’s a drone war going on at all. Americans are understandably preoccupied with domestic economic anxiety. The U.S. government, in other words, might have obscured its shadow war for nothing.

In Supreme Court Case, Obama Tries to Block Challenges to Illegal Surveillance

email and internet authorizations

The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty International, a case which will determine whether or not the government’s warrantless surveillance of American citizens can be challenged in court, even when the specifics of the program are secret. 

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was enacted by Congress in the 1960s and 70s and regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. In 2001 – following the 9/11 attacks – President Bush illegally authorized the National Security Agency to launch a warrantless wiretapping program, in breach of FISA “and in 2008 Congress ratified and expanded that program, giving the NSA almost unchecked power to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and emails,” the ACLU explains.

Court challenges to the government’s new surveillance laws have come forth since 2001, but the government has typically stopped the judicial process in its tracks, arguing that the case cannot proceed because aspects of the program must remain secret for national security reasons and that plaintiff’s don’t have “standing” to challenge the law unless they know for sure they have been surveilled.

Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, participated in the oral arguments on Monday and firmly told the Supreme Court justices that the new FISA surveillance laws are unconstitutional.

But “the constitutionality of the global spying is not directly at issue,” writes Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUS blog. ”[T]he sole issue is whether anyone has a legal right to file a lawsuit against it.”

“As part of its concerted campaign to prosecute whistleblowers and to classify state secrets,” writes Jeff Rosen at The New Republic, “the Obama administration has taken a position in Clapper that makes the Bush administration pro-secrecy campaign seem pale in comparison: namely, that no one can challenge warrantless surveillance unless the government tells you in advance that you’re being surveilled—which national security interests prevent it from doing.”

The New York Timescalled the Obama administration’s position in the case “a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance.”

The Obama administration has fought tooth and nail to keep the details of its surveillance activities hidden from the public. For years it has insisted that its snooping on Americans’ phone and email communications fell perfectly within the law. But last month, the ACLU, “after months of litigation,” was provided with some internal documents that showed a dramatic increase in surveillance of Americans

So while it is now known that the government has been increasingly spying on its own citizens without warrant, an abominable violation of basic constitutional rights, the government is trying to say that unless specific cases of surveillance are known, which is impossible because of their own secrecy, the courts cannot challenge these blatant violations of the law.

Naomi GilensACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project: 

In fact, more people were subjected to pen register and trap and trace surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade.

(Source: jayaprada)

10 years ago Wednesday, the first batch of terrorist suspects seized in Pakistan and Afghanistan arrived at Guantanamo Bay

… Over the past decade, the very word Guantanamo has become a touchstone in the debate over how democracy can protect itself from terror while not denying access to justice.

… Apparently without irony, the remaining detainees are offered classes in “time management.”

— Tim Lister, CNN, January 11, 2012

(Source: CNN)

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