After 12 years of war, labor abuses rampant on US bases in Afghanistan
A year and a half after President Barack Obama issued an executive order outlawing human trafficking and forced labor on U.S. military bases, a five-month investigation by “Fault Lines” has found compelling evidence that these abuses remain pervasive at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan.
“Fault Lines” traveled to India, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan to trace the journey of a typical migrant worker seeking a job at a U.S. military base. We found Department of Defense subcontractors and their recruiters colluding to profit directly from exorbitant fees charged to job candidates, who are sometimes left with no choice but to work for six to 12 months to recoup those costs.
Over the past decade, the U.S. military has outsourced its overseas base-support responsibilities to private contractors, which have filled the lowest-paying jobs on military bases with third-country nationals, migrant workers who are neither U.S. citizens nor locals. As of January 2014, there were 37,182 third-country nationals working on bases in the U.S. Central Command region, which includes Afghanistan and Iraq — outnumbering both American and local contract workers.
CIA investigating whether its officers spied on Senate
The CIA is investigating whether its officers improperly monitored members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversees the agency, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
CIA Inspector General David Buckley is looking into the circumstances surrounding the allegations of CIA abuse of a Bush-era detention and interrogation program, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told reporters. The investigation will examine whether CIA officers improperly monitored Senate members or accessed their computers, two officials familiar with the case said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
(Photo: 2004 Getty Images)
I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them. —
Edward Snowden, explaining that he raised concerns over 10 times internally before choosing to leak any information, during testimony to the European Parliament released on March 7th, 2014.
In an August news conference, President Obama said there were “other avenues" available to someone like Snowden "whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions." Obama pointed to Presidential Policy Directive 19 — which set up a system for questioning classified government actions under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. However, as a contractor rather than an government employee or officer, Snowden was outside the protection of this system. “The result,” Snowden said, “was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.”
Nuclear boondoggle put on "cold-standby" in Obama's FY2015 budget -
The President’s FY 2015 budget has put the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MOX) at the Savannah River Nuclear Site on “cold-standby.”
by Erica Fein, WAND Nuclear Weapons Policy Officer
The President’s budget release is a perfect time to think about our national priorities over the coming years: Do we want to invest in programs to keep America vibrant, well-educated, and healthy, or do we want a hollowed-out America where spending on expensive and unworkable weapons systems take precedent?
Nuclear weapons, increasingly less useful for 21st century defense, should be one of the places where we are re-prioritizing. Yet, the President’s budget increased spending on nuclear weapons by seven percent, to $8.31 billion. It appears the increase is almost fully offset by a decrease in funding for nonproliferation programs – the programs that prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.
B61 A Prime Example of Misplaced Priorities
Much of this increase is for the unnecessarily complex upgrade to the B61, a Cold War-era nuclear bomb. While most experts agree that some sort of life extension to this weapon is needed as long as it is part of the nuclear stockpile, leaders in the U.S. Congress are not convinced of the Administration’s plans. As Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that makes funding decisions on nuclear weapons, has stated, “A more narrow scope of work [on the B61] would safely extend its life while meeting military requirements.”
How the Government Pays Defense Contractors Tens of Billions for Nothing -
By starting expensive technology programs but ending them before they ever bear fruit, the military has spent a taxpayer fortune without getting anything in return.
Money for Nothing: Defense Contractor Edition
See the rest of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s testimony about the FDA’s surveillance of whistleblowers.
Government Contractor Database Finally Gets a Hill Hearing -
Tomorrow, the public will finally get the lowdown on the government’s FAPIIS database when the Senate convenes a hearing on contractor performance information.
POGO and our general counsel will be live tweeting the hearing tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Watch for yourself here and follow @POGOblog and @SAmeyJD on Twitter for our thoughts.
FDA Surveillance Threatened Whistleblowers
See more from Angela Canterbury’s testimony before a House committee.
Nuclear Waste: Energy Department proposes to kill multi-billion dollar nuclear fuel plant -
The costliest U.S. nonproliferation program has been undone by huge cost overruns.
This is great news.