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A Submarine to Fight al-Qaida?s Navy

Posted on Apr 1, 2008
AP photo / Carol Phelps

A U.S. Navy Virginia-class submarine.

By Robert Scheer

A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, and soon you’re talking real money. But when it comes to reporting on what the Bush war legacy has cost American taxpayers, the media have been shockingly indifferent to the highest run-up in military spending since World War II. Even the devastating defense spending audit released Monday by the Government Accountability Office documenting the enormous waste in every single U.S. advanced weapons system failed to provoke the outrage it, and five equally scathing previous annual audits, deserved.

This is not about the waste of taxpayer dollars—already pushing a trillion—in funding the Iraq war, which, while reprehensible enough, pales in comparison to the big-ticket military systems purchased in the wake of 9/11. In the horror of that moment, the floodgates were lifted and the peace dividend promised with the end of the Cold War was washed away by a doubling of spending on ultra-complex military equipment originally designed to defeat a Soviet enemy that no longer exists, equipment that has no plausible connection with fighting stateless terrorists. Example: the $81-billion submarine pushed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, presumably to fight al-Qaida’s navy.

That’s the huge scandal the media and politicians from both parties have studiously avoided. But as the GAO’s authoritative audit details, the costs are astronomical. The explosion of spending on expensive weaponry after 9/11 had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of that day. The high-tech planes and ships commissioned for trillions of dollars to defeat an enemy with no navy, air force or army, and using $3 knives as its weapons arsenal, were gifts to the military-industrial complex that will go on giving for decades to come.

The Iraq war may end someday, but rest assured that major weapons systems, once commissioned, have a life-support system unmatched in any other sector of public spending. Rarely does the plug get pulled on even the most irrelevant and expensive war toy. Not while both Democratic and Republican politicians feed at the same trough, and when so much is at stake in the way of jobs and profit.

Just how expensive and wasteful this is was marked in the GAO’s audit: “Since 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) has roughly doubled its planned investment in new systems from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion in 2007, but acquisition outcomes in terms of cost and schedule have not improved.” Pentagon cost overruns, always a huge problem, have mushroomed. As the GAO reported, “Total acquisition costs for major defense programs in the fiscal year 2007 portfolio have increased 26 percent from first estimates, compared with 6 percent in 2000.”


Square, Site wide

I know eyes glaze when government budgets are discussed, but keep in mind that defense spending accounts for more than half of all the federal government’s discretionary spending. In short, funding for all the other stuff we argue about—science research, education, Arabic translators, insuring uninsured children—is minor compared to the waste on these military boondoggles that go unexamined.

Yet nothing else the federal government does involves such waste because we are talking about weapons systems shrouded in secrecy and protected from unwelcome scrutiny by the Teflon coating of “national defense.” Credit the GAO for providing a rare glimpse into the most egregious waste of taxpayer dollars, concluding in its exhaustive, 205-page report:

“Of the 72 programs GAO assessed this year, none of them had proceeded through system development meeting the best-practice standards for mature technologies, stable design, or mature production processes by critical junctures of the program, each of which are essential for achieving planned cost, schedule, and performance outcomes.”

That’s a grade of zero for every major weapons system. Let’s take just one, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program estimated to be worth $300 billion in sales to its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, the nation’s biggest defense contractor and most generous donor to lobbyists and politicians’ campaigns. The program to build what Lockheed boasts is “the most complex fighter ever built” is also the most expensive, with estimated acquisition costs having increased a whopping $55 billion in just the last three years.

Lockheed need not worry about future profits, because the procurement schedule on this troubled plane has been stretched out to the year 2034. As the GAO says, “currently unproven processes and a lack of flight testing could mean future changes to design and manufacturing processes.” Hey, no problem, Lockheed will just add that to the taxpayer tab. Maybe by 2034, the plane will be ready to go take out Osama bin Laden. Or not.

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By Catmoves, April 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“A trillion dollars here, a trillion dollars there, and soon you’re talking real money.”
Hey, writer. If you are going to paraphrase a great American, at least give him credit.
Antagonizing readers in your very first sentence is NOT a way to get them to lend credence to anything else you have to scribble.

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By jimmyjam, April 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

About time someone said that, trust me with the crap they say on this site, hating Jews is their form of racism, but to them its OK. dont ever say a negative about a black or an Arab though, especially if it might be true…..

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By Inherit The Wind, April 2, 2008 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

No, you’re not a Jew-hater…but somehow, for you, EVERYTHING is always the fault of….Jews!

Lying, neo-nazi sympathizer.  Don’t you know the nazis see YOU as an “inferior” race?

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By jimmyjam, April 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

Wrong and misleading facts the boat itself cost 2.0 Billion dollars,  still way too much, thanks to union labor,the yard rats make a great dime on these contracts, I bet the union workers will be pissed when the Obamabots cut those contracts up,and they become unemployed, and Electric boat still gets paid, after all a contract has been signed, and by the way the contract was for about sixty boats, was signed and put into effect by Mr. Bill Clinton, Not George Bush, and the first of the Seawolf Attack subs ,was named after Mr peace himself ,Jimmy Carter, and you wont believe how many poor people will be out of work If mr OB wins. and the best thing is they are very effective.Last time I was in Newport News and Groton, the yard rats were very happy to have these contracts.,but they dont need jobs, they can collect welfare and unemployment, I,m sure the couple a hundred a week will keep them happy, compared to the what they make now.. and they owe it to you peace lovers…..

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By dave montague, April 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t it “all of the above”???  That is, it’s the oil, and it’s the military/industrial complex, both.  They can’t be separated.
In any case, Robert Scheer has my thanks for reporting such obscenities.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 2, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

“...the $81-billion submarine pushed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, presumably to fight al-Qaida’s navy.”
Have you figured out why Lieberman wants an 81-billion submarine?! Well, being the loyal Zionist that he is, he wants the the U.S. to perpetually fight Israel’s wars of colonialism and terrorism.

It might sound like a joke that al-Qaida has or will ever have the potential of having a navy, but what’s not a joke is that politicians like Lieberman will continue to use their weapons of mass deception and their highly propaganda tools to continue to mislead the naive and frightened Americans into believing that al-Qaeda (translation: radical Muslims) will be perpetually our enemies, against which we cannot ever afford to let our guards down. This way Lieberman and his likes will perpetually serve the interests of his two most important clients: Zionism and the military-industrial complex.

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By SamSnedegar, April 2, 2008 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

“...I believe that the increase in profits for the arms industry was the real reason for the Iraq war, not oil…”

Just answer one question: would the USA BE in Iraq if there were no oil there?

A lot of parallel events HAPPEN along with our oil theft, but they cannot rightly be termed the “reason” for our Iraq adventure if we never would have invaded Iraq because it had no oil. The fact that Israel LOVES our Iraq adventure might lead some to believe we did it all for the Izzies, but that is foolish conjecture when it is plain that if there were no oil, there would be no boots on the ground in Iraq; indeed, why DO we have our soldiers and mercenaries there, surely not to restore power and water, nor just as surely to prevent a civil war; no, we HAVE to BE THERE to guard our stolen oil, or else we cannot control it. Everything else we have done could have been done with missiles and bombs—-including the ultimate death (if he really was hanged) of Saddam.

I guess people will do almost anything and subscribe to anything which keeps them from having to admit that we coveted, we lied, we murdered, and we stole.

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By DennisD, April 2, 2008 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After decades of being told that the MSM leans hard left it should be easy enough to see that the non-reporting of nearly any military expenditures just makes it another propaganda wing of whatever MIC administration is in the Out House.

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By Henk Middelraa, April 2, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our GNP (Gross National Product) hides an ever larger percentage of what I would call “negative” growth consisting of the many useless investments and unproductive services provided to our non existent National Security.

However, it serves the wannabe Admirals and Generals in the catacombs of the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has become a “shadow” government dictating its financial cravings to Congress and the taxpayers.

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By Paul_GA, April 2, 2008 at 6:11 am Link to this comment

...when I was younger, an article called “The Modern Romans.” (I regret I cannot remember the magazine I saw it in.) Anyway, the article pointed out five ways in which America was going the way of the old Roman Empire—-to eventual ruin. Number four was the build-up of massive armaments to fight external enemies while not knowing—-or not caring—-that the real danger to the empire was the rot from within (immorality, decadence, corruption, etc.).

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By RyanHartman, April 2, 2008 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

Most people are not directly feeling this $1 trillion dollars and the ones who are are too afraid to speak out. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue, the war in Somalia will get bigger, the war in Iran will began and we’ll be too busy finding candles for the weekly vigil to do anything real about it.

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By thebeerdoctor, April 2, 2008 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

Thank you Robert Scheer for pointing out the permanent reality of government that is quite separate from the pageant. After all of these years in our locked down, national security state, it becomes obvious, no matter who gets elected, that the ravenous beast known quaintly as “the complex” has an appetite that can never be satisfied.

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By Purple Girl, April 2, 2008 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

I am not of the mind that Truman made the right decision Bombing the crap out of the japanese- Radioactive materials were released in to All our atmosphere- not to mention the innocent lives Taken and enormous numbers who suffered from the fallout- No Rational can be legitmate fro that action.
However- He had one clear moment- when he informed US of the “Military Industrial Complex”. I equate that insight, confession or Slip to H.W.‘s “New World Order”. We’ve been told Repeatedly about this Entity that has infiltrated and ,over the last 7 years, Reigned In this Country. 60 yrs ago the book 1984 was wriiten, and ‘The Complex’ (the Inc’s)have used it as the Text Book ever since.
We must not only demand this admin be Impeached- they must be Prosecuted- We have plenty of well documented Evidence to make it an Open & shut Case. WE can make AmericaNs the Jury like on Americna Idol- we could have them most Sentenced with in th eFirst Show. And there are So many on the List- ‘Public Servants’, CEO’s,CFO’s,Boardmembers…WE’d have a Great Reality Show for Decades to come

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By MainSpark, April 2, 2008 at 5:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“...there’s plenty good money to be made by
supplying the army with the tools of its trade.” - Country Joe & The Fish

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The above was true then and it’s true now.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, April 2, 2008 at 4:48 am Link to this comment

You’re right, SS, but it’s kind of moot now, IMO.

Bottom line is that this war is killing Americans in Iraq and “killing” them here, too.  It’s killing democracy, it’s killing hope, it’s killing trust.

I, for one, no longer care about why we’re there, I’m set in my own opinion.  What I care about is the lying.

Goddamn America???  Hell, no.  Goddamn the goddamn lying and bottom line is, that’s why we’re in Iraq and why, if there’s any reverence for truth left in this country, it’s imperative that we force the goddamn liars to answer for their goddamn lying.

Immpeach the goddamn liars!

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By RdV, April 2, 2008 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

sure looks like a “guy thing”.

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By SamSnedegar, April 2, 2008 at 4:15 am Link to this comment

You just never learn, do you Scheer? Your masters will have to slap you down for this one just like they did for the oil ones earlier on, and you will go back to “silent running” once more when they tell you that stuff like this will end your book contracts.

But of course, it’s really not a major piece in a major paper or on tv; it’s just a voice in the wilderness on an obscure blog that has yet to try to silence even me when I try to make people understand that it is and always will be about oil—-that oil is like Lombardi’s winning: it isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.

I wonder how Carlyle is doing these days. No one seems to want to talk about that either.

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By Joe Griffin, April 2, 2008 at 3:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who are the shareholders in these companies?  Who actually takes the profit? 

I believe that the increase in profits for the arms industry was the real reason for the Iraq war, not oil.

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By Pedro, April 2, 2008 at 2:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can you imagine if even a small portion of that money was spend investigating all the criminal acts of this administration with the same zeal of Kenneth Starr?  And then prosecuting these skunks?  Oh wait, that can’t happen, they already passed a law pardoning themselves.

Maybe a little investigating why they let 9-11 happen if it wasn’t an inside job?  But what good would that do?  It certainly won’t stop McBush from stealing 2 elections.

But I’m sorry to say guys, blog away your little hearts, it’s way too late.  The End of America is a lot closer than we are told.  At least someone was able to stop the Nazi’s.

I think the Chinese slave-labor prison camps will be a lot more accommodating than the alternative.  Hey, at least I’d be employed.

Maybe when Cheney gives away his 400,000 Halliburton stock options to charity like he says he will, we’ll all feel better.

Damn these 295 days are going to be tough.

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By cyrena, April 2, 2008 at 12:23 am Link to this comment

WOW!! Thanks again, for putting THIS piece of news right out front, where it belongs, and always remains HIDDEN from view.

A recent (and unscientific) survey…my own, indicates that those Americans employed in the Defense Industy, (like say those working for Lockheed Martin) are NOT among the ones standing in the food stamp line, or foreclosed out of their homes.

Just thought I’d mention that.

Meantime, can this PLEASE be yet another wake up call?

I swear, we have been hitting the snooze alarm for damn near 8 years, and it’s just not a good thing!!

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