Sudhama Ranganathan | 28.07.2010 12:22
Here we were ready to begin losing jobs, nest eggs, college funds and homes – essentially ready to go broke - never knowing which one of us it would be. We knew for a long time, throughout most of 2008, something was wrong. After a while all the polls and all the street side interviews showed the country felt it was in a recession though the previous administration waited till four weeks after the 2008 elections to let us know they had recently discovered we had been in a recession for a little over a year. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/05/bush-ad...sion/)
Since then times were officially tight and became quickly worse and terrifyingly so. So after the big spending measures it’s no shock people started to ponder the question of where we could make changes. It’s no surprise we want to know how we can cut back deficit spending. It’s no wonder we want to cut as much pork form government as possible now more than ever.
There are many places to start and we can follow the myriad small hoofed animal tracks. But there are places where the tracks are deliberately covered up and those are some of the scariest. Take the spending behavior allowed by the CIA Act of 1949. It’s a law which literally has gone unchanged since its passage.
“The 1949 CIA Act comprised additions to those sections of the 1947 National Security Act that dealt with the creation of CIA. The 1949 CIA Act gave a Congressional stamp of approval to the creation of a ‘black budget’ as the following sections make clear:
… any other Government agency is authorized to transfer to or receive from the Agency such sums without regard to any provisions of law limiting or prohibiting transfers between appropriations [emphasis added]. Sums transferred to the Agency in accordance with this paragraph may be expended for the purposes and under the authority of sections 403a to 403s of this title without regard to limitations of appropriations from which transferred.
This section meant that funds could be transferred from the appropriations of other government departments earmarked for specific tasks, “without regard to any provisions of law”. For example, a Congressional appropriation earmarked for housing subsidies to low-income workers by Housing and Urban Development (HUD), could be legally transferred either to the CIA for covert intelligence activities or through the CIA to a DoD associated intelligence agency for a classified program.
Thus HUD employees might find that their relevant housing programs were lacking the necessary funds for relief efforts even though Congress had appropriated these funds for this purpose. Any HUD official unfortunate enough as to enquire into the location of the missing funds would be deterred from pursuing the issue, and if these officials persisted, they could be summarily dismissed, and then exposed to a variety of CIA activities to silence them.” (http://www1.american.edu/salla/Articles/BB-CIA.htm)
That’s right and the scope of funding appropriation isn’t limited to HUD. They may take funds from infrastructure, social security, Medicare or anything else and without limits. We often hear about million dollar amounts of taxpayer dollars missing from this and that agency and the billions overall. Is it possible so many accountants hired based on resumes, with college degrees and certification are all that inept and repeatedly so en masse? Is it some extraordinary popular delusion? Is there some neurological virus picked up by bean counters the minute they enter the public sector which immediately expires when they leave? Big Pharma could clean up!
What’s more shady is the funds are not only taken for the CIA. They are appropriated by them and then dispersed to numerous agencies for top secret activities. Most of the work done in the field of US intelligence today is handled by private contractors. (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/06/01/intel_cont...tors/) That’s right people like Blackwater (now Xe) and countless, and sometimes nameless, others.
The fact it is still a very commonly used tool for intelligence spending can be witnessed when reviewing the CIA’s Freedom of Information request form. It states “ Statute: 26 U.S.C. § 6103 1. Brief description of type(s) of information withheld under each statute. Among other things, the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 authorizes the Agency to protect CIA budget information from disclosure and information relating to the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the CIA, including information relating to intelligence sources and methods. 26 U.S.C. 6103 prohibits the disclosure of tax returns and return information.” (http://www.foia.cia.gov/txt/Annual_Report_2007.pdf)
Why should we be worried? Well let’s look at an example of the amount we know private security/ intelligence contractors are being paid out of our pockets. “According to data provided to the House panel, the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater hired was $600. According to the schedule of rates, supplies and services attached to the contract, Blackwater charged Regency $1,075 a day for senior managers, $945 a day for middle managers and $815 a day for operators.
“An unmarried sergeant (in the US Army) given Iraq pay and relief from U.S. taxes makes about $83 to $85 a day, given time in service. A married sergeant with children makes about double that, $170 a day…
“Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Baghdad overseeing more than 160,000 U.S. troops, makes roughly $180,000 a year, or about $493 a day. That comes out to less than half the fee charged by Blackwater for its senior manager of a 34-man security team.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20....html)
Sometimes it’s better to see the actual figures for a real understanding of where things are. The positions occupied by private intelligence contractors are often a part of a revolving door entailing going into public service, securing connections, leaving to get huge sums leveraging those connections at guess who’s expense. Right.
This starts at lower level and goes right on up to high level US personnel like Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director of Operations under the Bush Administration, for example who has been snatched up by Blackwater (now Xe) leaving the government with no choice, but to go through them for certain high level often classified interactions with countries like Jordan in this case. The government of that country has dealt with him, and they only wish to work with him on certain high level dealings. (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/09/sb-revolving-doo...94722) So our arms are twisted behind our backs without most of us knowing a thing about it. Thanks, Rob.
And how effective are they really? I mean we recently discovered 10 Russian spies just living the American life in plain sight and where were these billion dollar rent a cops then? We could have done bad all by ourselves.
Those are all our dollars being tossed about like so much confetti. Our funds say a manager of a private security team of 34 people is worth more than Gen David Patraeus. Wow. Imagine what they are – well –paying themselves when we are not looking. What they are paying themselves while through the other side of their face saying ‘sorry we can’t tell you what we get paid it’s classified.’
It is definitely time to cut spending and one of the best ways to start is by bringing to light which private intelligence and security contractors are being paid by us and how much. It’s our money. There should be civilian oversight of this to ensure our hard earned dollars aren’t being blown on some kooky experiment or to protect some collective of rich guys’ foreign factory once located here. If they want to move our jobs let them pay to protect them. Why should we?
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
Original article on IMC Bristol: http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/692781