Defense Department

Report on DOD Response to Benghazi Released by House subcommittee

After reviewing thousands of pages of a series of Benghazi-related documents, including classified emails and situation reports, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a summary of its members’ particular reviews regarding what is known of the circumstances surrounding the Benghazi attack and the Department of Defense’s response.

According to Think Progress, the Subcommittee concluded that “there was no way for the U.S. military to have responded in time to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya to save the four Americans killed that night,” but according to the report, “given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.”

In other words, what the Subcommittee concluded appears to sound nothing close to what Think Progress reported.

The White House, the Subcommittee found, failed to address a growing concern related to the deteriorating security situation in Libya, which created a particularly vulnerable situation for U.S. personnel stationed in Benghazi. The Subcommittee also found that the response of our military was “severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding.”

Sequestration: An Inside Perspective

In two days, the sequestration axe will either drop, or it won’t.  Personally, I am about as close as you can get to the situation, and I have no idea how it will turn out.  While the “national security” argument against sequestration was gradually left behind, the arguments against the cuts have become increasingly economic in nature.  These arguments are problematic at best and disingenuous at worst.

A while back, I proposed a couple of ways to gradually cut more than sequestration does, therefore creating less pain in the current fiscal year; but as dieting often fails, cutting swiftly might be the only surefire method to actually cut spending.  Putting the cuts into perspective, as George Will did in his article this weekend, $85 billion from a $3.6 trillion budget, or 2.3%, is miniscule. The “draconian” cuts merely return us to 2006 levels.

I have been advocating deeper cuts for some time now, and as a defense contractor, am prepared to lose my job as a result (although I don’t expect to). I will try to be as objective as possible herein as I offer a couple of personal thoughts as we draw closer to the actuality of sequestration:

Audit the Pentagon: The Defense Department is wasting your money, and it’s time for Congress to put a stop to it

In the film Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, is absolutely stunned to learn that the Defense Department had constructed a massive complex, known as Area 51, to hide the existence of aliens.

“I don’t understand, where does all this come from?” he asks. “How do you get funding for something like this?” Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) sarcastically replies, ”You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”

While there isn’t an alien threat (or is there?), the Defense Department has become rife with waste. Businessweek takes note of a recent Government Accountability Office that documents the spending problems at the Pentagon:

Across the military, the average major Pentagon acquisition comes in at 40 percent over budget, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. In spite of the Pentagon’s well-documented history of profligacy, the Congress continues to enlarge its responsibilities. The DOD’s mandate now includes wide-ranging scientific and medical research and international infrastructure projects, diffusing the focus on its core mission—like buying planes that don’t set themselves afire on the runway. That’s a disservice to America’s military and a burden to the country’s taxpayers.

Defense Department spent your tax dollars to make plans for the zombie apocalypse

The Walking Dead

The brass at the Pentagon must have read Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide. Military leaders have, apparently, come up with a contingency plan for how to take down the undead in the event of the zombie apocalypse.

Unlike the Centers for Disease control, which used a fictional zombie threat to educate Americans on disaster preparedness, the Defense Department is totally serious (emphasis added):

Incredibly, the Defense Department has a response if zombies attacked and the armed forces had to eradicate flesh-eating walkers in order to “preserve the sanctity of human life” among all the “non-zombie humans.”

Buried on the military’s secret computer network is an unclassified document, obtained by Foreign Policy, called “CONOP 8888.” It’s a zombie survival plan, a how-to guide for military planners trying to isolate the threat from a menu of the undead — from chicken zombies to vegetarian zombies and even “evil magic zombies” — and destroy them.

“This plan fulfills fictional contingency planning guidance tasking for U.S. Strategic Command to develop a comprehensive [plan] to undertake military operations to preserve ‘non-zombie’ humans from the threats posed by a zombie horde,” CONOP 8888’s plan summary reads. “Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population — including traditional adversaries.”

Coalition to Reduce Spending blasts Paul Ryan’s budget hypocrisy

A nonpartisan group focused on reducing spending and the national debt has blasted Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for having a “short-sighted view of the nation’s spending crisis” and “hypocrisy” for not putting defense spending under the same scrutiny as other parts of the federal budget.

Ryan penned an op-ed this week for Real Clear Defense in which he decried President Barack Obama and administration official’s “cuts” to the Defense Department and the military. The Wisconsin Republican argued that his budget “would change course,” spending “$274 billion more than the President’s request.”

Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, says that Ryan’s criticism is off the mark, offering it as an example of why Republicans lack credibility to claim that they can deal with the United States’ fiscal woes.

“With his Wednesday statements, Rep. Paul Ryan offers a stunningly shortsighted view of the nation’s spending crisis and shows clearly why so many Republicans have no credibility on the spending issue,” said Bydlak in a press release.

“Ryan seems to be working from the clichéd and dubious assumption that President Obama is ‘gutting’ the military,” he said. “President Obama and Defense Sec. Hagel have a different approach to military funds, to be sure. But Pentagon-budget slashers they are most certainly not.”

Defense Cuts in the Time of Crimea

The situation in Ukraine has come at a very inconvenient time for the Obama administration given their desire, announced at the end of February, to “shrink [the] Army to pre-WWII level.” The optics, as they say, are bad.

According to the paper of record at the time of the announcement:

The cuts proposed by Mr. Hagel fit the Bipartisan Budget Act reached by Mr. Obama and Congress in December to impose a military spending cap of about $496 billion for fiscal year 2015. If steeper spending reductions kick in again in 2016 under the sequestration law, however, then even more significant cuts would be required in later years.

The budget is the first sweeping initiative that bears Mr. Hagel’s full imprint. Although Mr. Hagel has been in office one year, most of his efforts in that time have focused on initiatives and problems that he inherited. In many ways his budget provides an opportunity for him to begin anew.

So, okay, that’s good. This administration isn’t known for paying attention to things like budgets. Nice to see them decide to meet one of the parameters of a bipartisan effort to get things under control. And, truthfully, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out last year in pushing back against the National Defense Authorization Act, defense spending could use some oversight and tightening up:

Susan Rice has no regrets for false Benghazi narrative

Susan Rice

In an interview yesterday on Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told host David Gregory that she had no regrets for her appearances on Sunday shows after the Benghazi attacks in which she said that the incident at the American outpost was a “spontaneous” reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube video.

“When you were last here, Ambassador Rice, it was an eventful morning on the story of Benghazi and the horrible attack on our compound there. We haven’t seen you in a while. As you look back in your involvement in that, do you have any regrets?” Gregory asked.

“David, no, because what I said to you that morning, and what I did every day since, was to share the best information that we had at the time,” Rice said.

“The information I provided — which I explained to you was what we had at the moment, it could change, I commented that this was based on what we knew on that morning — was provided to me and my colleagues, and, indeed, to Congress by the intelligence community,” the former U.N. Ambassador continued. “And that’s been well validated in many different ways since.”

Defense Department training docs: Individual liberty is an “extremist” view

Do you believe in individual liberty or federalism? If so, the Department of Defense (DOD) says you’re an “extremist,” according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch.

The documents were part of training guides used by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in 2011 and 2013 to educate Air Force employees and/or recruits on extremism in the United States. It uses the far-left group the Southern Poverty Law Center, which frequently smears conservatives and libertarians, as a source for determining extremist groups.

There are valid as aspects to the report, such as raising awareness toward groups that are supremacist in nature or advocate violence as a means to a desired political end. But Judicial Watch notes that there is no mention Islamic extremism in the report, though it does passively discuss radical religious ideologies and cults. It also briefly mentions eco-terrorism, which comes from the far-left.

But other parts are incredibly concerning, such as how it broadly paints limited government advocates as racists and supremacists.

“The standard hate message has not changed, but it has been packaged differently. Modern extremist groups run the gamut from the politically astute and subtle to the openly violent,” says the report on page 45. “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”

Government agencies reduce sequester furloughs

Remember all the complaining about the sequester from the Obama Administration and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle? They presented Americans a doom and gloom scenario in an effort to cancel the very meager spending cuts.

Well, it turns out that government agencies, many of which have seen substantial growth over the years, haven’t experienced that the kind of problems that they claimed they would see. In fact, as Government Executive explains, many have reduced furloughs for government employees:

The earliest examples came from departments that told Congress they would have to furlough employees, but ended up backtracking. The Education and Justice departments fall into this category. The Agriculture, Transportation and Homeland Security departments all received authority to transfer funds between agency accounts, and were therefore able to cancel planned furloughs. The Commerce Department projected furloughs at its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, only to cancel them in May.

Why the Areas Affected by Sequestration Should be Cut

Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The scheduled implementation of the sequestration spending cuts is a little more than a week away, which has Republicans, Democrats, bureaucrats, special interests, and the media warning that the apocalypse is nigh. Sequestration isn’t the ideal way to cut spending, but it would be a start. And despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the areas of federal spending targeted by sequestration should be cut.

Many of these areas have been covered by Cato’s Downsizing Government website. The following is a “guide” for those who are interested in alternative points of view (and who haven’t already sought refuge in a bunker):


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.