People Who Live In Glass Houses…

I was not upset that John Brennan’s security clearance was revoked. I was more confused as to why he still had it. It is highly unlikely that anyone in the Trump administration would seek his advice on anything. There is also the question as to whether or not John Brennan is working against the interests of a duly-elected President. The removal of the clearance was not political–it was practical. However, it seems that in the past there have been some instances when the revoking of a security clearance was questionable at best.

On Wednesday The Washington Times posted an article about Adam Lovinger, a Trump-supporting Pentagon analyst.

The article reports:

A Trump-supporting Pentagon analyst was stripped of his security clearance by Obama-appointed officials after he complained of questionable government contracts to Stefan Halper, the FBI informant who spied on the Trump presidential campaign.

Adam Lovinger, a 12-year strategist in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, complained to his bosses about Halper contracts in the fall of 2016, his attorney, Sean M. Bigley, told The Washington Times.

…“As it turns out, one of the two contractors Mr. Lovinger explicitly warned his ONA superiors about misusing in 2016 was none other than Mr. Halper,” Mr. Bigley wrote in his ethics complaint, which called the contracts “cronyism and corruption.”

Mr. Lovinger filed a whistleblower reprisal complaint in May with the Defense Department inspector general against James Baker, director of the Office of Net Assessment. The complaint also singles out Washington Headquarters Services, a Pentagon support agency that awarded the Halper contracts totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Every day, more of the witch hunt is being exposed.

Remembering The Purpose Of The Military

On Tuesday, The Daily Caller posted an article about a military policy recently ordered by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The article reports:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has ordered a full review of any military training not directly relevant to warfighting.

Mattis told the services to conduct a review of the “requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks,” according to a Friday memo obtained by Military Times.

In other words, Mattis wants a full examination of all the hours of burdensome, irrelevant training service members have to undergo before deployment.

“I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality,” Mattis said.

Mattis also asked for a review into what should be done about permanently non-deployable service members.

We are sending our soldiers into war. They need to have the best military training possible, but we need to remember that there are only so many bits of information that a brain can handle. It is time to reconsider our priorities in order to protect our national security.

The recommendations resulting from the review of current training are due by Dec. 1, 2018.

The military is not a social experiment. Any policy or training that interferes with the readiness or cohesiveness of a military unit needs to end quickly. This is a very definite step in the right direction.

 

A Valiant Marine Wins His Court Case

In December 2015, I wrote a story about Major Jason Brezler, a Marine reservist being discharged from the Marine Corps.

I quoted a Marine Corps Times article which reported:

A Marine veteran in Congress has called on the country’s top law enforcement agency to investigate a senior Navy official’s decision to force out a Marine officer who tried to warn his comrades in Afghanistan about a suspected Taliban conspirator.

In a Dec. 3 letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the FBI should look into the case involving Maj. Jason Brezler, a Reserve civil affairs officer who sent classified information from a personal email account in 2012.

Scott Lutterloh, the acting assistant Navy secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, recently upheld the decision that Brezler be honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. But Hunter said Brezler’s case received “inadequate attention by the Department of Defense Inspector General and Navy criminal investigators.”

In his letter, Hunter urged the Pentagon to take steps to launch an FBI investigation of the case, to include the U.S. military’s relationship with Sarwar Jan, a corrupt Afghan police chief and the man at the center of Brezler’s email warning.

Unfortunately, the American military has allowed the actions of sexual predators in Afghanistan to continue, turning a blind eye or accepting it as part of the culture. That was the system Major Brezler was fighting.

The Marine Times updated the story today.

The article reports:

A federal judge has overturned a Marine Corps decision to discharge Marine Maj. Jason Brezler, who was accused of mishandling classified information after he warned Marines in Afghanistan about an Afghan police chief days before a deadly insider attack in August 2012.

A board of inquiry recommended in December 2013 that Brezler be discharged for using his personal email account to send classified information to Marines in Afghanistan about an Afghan police chief accused of sexually assaulting young boys. Brezler was also accused of taking classified documents home from Afghanistan so he could write a book.

But Brezler filed a lawsuit contesting the Marine’s decision, claiming the Corps wrongfully retaliated against him for contacting Capitol Hill about his concerns.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco in New York ruled that the government had not granted Brezler full access to records related to his claim. Brezler was referred to the board of inquiry, which adjudicates claims of officer misconduct, after a story published in Marine Corps Times reported that Brezler asked for help from Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

“For example, if communications prior to the Marine Corps Times article indicate that the Navy did not contemplate a BOI [board of inquiry] , or indicate an affirmative decision not to initiate a BOI, such communications would be highly relevant to Major Brezler’s claim that the BOI was retaliatory,” Bianco wrote in Tuesday’s decision.

Hopefully this is the end of the story. I will stay tuned in case it is not.

Why We Need Financial Accountability In Washington

On Monday, The Los Angeles Times posted an article about the Pentagon‘s request that California members of the National Guard pay back their re-enlistment bonuses.

The article reports:

The California National Guard told the state’s members of Congress two years ago that the Pentagon was trying to claw back reenlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers, and even offered a proposal to mitigate the problem, but Congress took no action, according to a senior National Guard official.

The official added that improper bonuses had been paid to National Guard members in every state, raising the possibility that many more soldiers may owe large debts to the Pentagon.

“This is a national issue and affects all states,” Andreas Mueller, the chief of federal policy for the California Guard, wrote in an email to the state’s congressional delegation Monday. Attention had focused on California because it was “the only state that audited” bonus payments at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.

In the email, Mueller reminded members of Congress that the Guard had informed them about the issue two years ago. Whether members of Congress understood the scope of the problem at the time is unclear.

Nothing like punishing the little people for the mistakes of the bureaucracy.

The article goes on to report the following:

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard’s incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three officers also pleaded guilty to fraud and were put on probation after paying restitution.

This is a disgrace. Promises were made, and even if those promises were made in error, they still need to be kept. To ask the members of the National Guard, who generally don’t earn much to begin with, to pay back thousands of dollars because the bureaucracy made a mistake is simply wrong. I also wonder why the California Congressional delegation chose to be quiet about the matter for two years.

Remembering Their Purpose

Yesterday CNS News posted an article featuring an interview with General Boykin on the subject of transgender integration in our military.

The article reports:

Commenting on the Defense Department‘s newly released handbook to train the military on how to integrate transgender people into the services, Lt. Gen. (ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin, former chief of U.S. Army Special Operations Command and a top member of Delta Force, said the primary question is how does this transgender social experiment enhance the ability of the U.S. military to fight and win wars?

“Again it comes back to what is the purpose of the military? What’s their mission? It’s to fight and win wars,” said Gen. Boykin in an Oct. 5 interview on Washington Watch with host Tony Perkins.  

“That’s what Douglas McArthur said at West Point in 1962,” said Boykin.  “‘Your mission remains determined, fixed, inviolable.’ It is to win the nation’s wars. Ask yourself how does this enhance the ability to win wars?” 

Aside from making drastic cuts to our military, the Obama Administration has somehow decided that the purpose of the military is to conduct social experiments. That has negatively impacted not only the morale of our troops, but also their readiness and ability to do their job. Our military is there to defend us. It is time to let them do their job without unnecessary distractions.

The article further reports:

Host Tony Perkins, who is president of the Family Research Council, then said, “I mean the Pentagon spokesperson, the spokesperson for the Pentagon says — notice they say spokesperson, not spokesman or woman because you just don’t know — is ‘designed to assist our transgender service members in their gender transitions, help commanders with their duties and responsibilities, and help all service members understand new policies enabling the open service of transgender service members.’”

Gen. Boykin replied, “Again it comes back to what is the purpose of the military? What’s their mission? It’s to fight and win wars. That’s what Douglas McArthur said at West Point in 1962. ‘Your mission remains determined, fixed, inviolable.’ It is to win the nation’s wars. Ask yourself how does this enhance the ability to win wars?” 

Have we forgotten the purpose of our military?

Good News From The House Of Representatives

Stripes reported yesterday that the House of Representatives passed a bill that will allow a group of female World War II military pilots to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The article reports:

The Army sparked a growing controversy last year when it reinterpreted a law from the 1970’s to exclude the female veterans who trained pilots and ferried combat aircraft from 1942-1944 from the national cemetery, where space is increasingly limited.

The WASPs were not considered active-duty troops at the time but have since received the Congressional Gold Medal, veteran benefits and renown as role models for female troops serving today.

McSally (Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz), an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot who flew combat mission over Iraq, has said they “opened the door for people like me being able to serve.”

A military pilot is a military pilot. Hopefully the Senate will pass this law quickly.

The article concludes:

The acting secretary of the Army said earlier this month that not even President Barack Obama has the executive power to change the rule excluding WASPs and that only Congress can make a fix by passing a new law.

The service reversed a national cemetery policy in place since 2002 that allowed internment.

I am old-fashioned enough to believe that women do not belong in combat, but I do feel that if they take the risks that men take, they should also be eligible for the honors and rewards.

Closing Guantanamo–One Prisoner At A Time

The Washington Examiner reported today that Shaker Aamer was released Friday from Guantanamo Bay Prison and returned to London. That leaves the number of prisoners remaining at Guantanamo at 112.

The article reports:

Though his supporters claim he was cleared for release by the Bush administration eight years ago, a case file prepared in November 2007 classified him as a high risk, noting that he was captured in Jalalabad after fighting with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the group’s last Afghan stronghold of Tora Bora.

Detainee is a member of al Qaeda tied to the European support network. Detainee is a close associate of Osama bin Laden and has connections to several other senior extremist members. Detainee has traveled internationally on false documents and is associated with al Qaeda terrorist cells in the US. Detainee is a reported recruiter, financier and facilitator with a history of participating in jihadist combat,” the file said.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported today:

It was understood he (Shaker Aamer) would go through standard immigration checks but officials declined to say whether any further arrangements would be put in place.

Campaigners spoke of their concerns that the father of four will be tagged or monitored by security services upon his return.

Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Press Association: “The state cannot arbitrarily place restrictions upon him.

“It would be quite wrong to demonise him because there is no evidence to justify demonising him in 2015.

“I am sure there will be state authorities here who would like to interview him in the hope that he will provide them with some assistance in securing the safety of the public in this country.

Time will reveal the wisdom or folly of this policy. Frankly, I am not optimistic.

Congress Needs To Rethink Its Priorities

Politico posted an article today about the appointment of Joe Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The article reports:

The Obama administration is counting on Dunford to take the lead in pushing a series of proposals designed to shrink the pay and benefits of troops as the Pentagon wrestles with the need to rein in its personnel costs.

There was a related article in yesterday’s New Bern Sun Journal.

The article in the Sun Journal explains where some of the cuts will take place. Military personnel who retire after 20 years will receive 40 percent of their basic pay rather than the 50 percent they currently receive. Military personnel who serve for 12 years will also receive a retirement benefit. I don’t know whose idea this was, but they need to rethink it. First of all, does the person who came up with this plan understand the sacrifices a soldier and his family make during that twenty years? Do they understand that a 40-something year old man retiring from the military will begin his business career at the bottom of the ladder competing with much younger men? Why are they taking money away from people who serve twenty years and giving money to people who serve only twelve? There is also an alternative 401k-type retirement plan proposed for new military members. I am fine with that as long as the benefits for those currently serving are not altered. The government signed a contract with our current military that promised certain benefits during their service and afterwards. Congress does not have the right to viod that contract.

Politico reports some of the other changes:

An even more controversial proposal, put forward by an independent commission, would overhaul the military health care system, known as TRICARE, so that dependents and retirees would choose from private insurance options that would be subsidized, rather than have the care provided through a government-run system.

I don’t oppose taking the health care system away from the government–I do oppose increasing the cost to military members, retirees, and their families.

There are better places to cut the federal budget. We have an all volunteer military force that includes many very dedicated people. Cutting their benefits will impact the number and quality of the people who join the military in the future.

Before we cut the benefits we give to those who serve in our military, let’s take a really good look at the perks we provide to Congress.

This Does Nothing To Make The World Safer

President Obama’s dislike for Prime Minister Netanyahu is no secret, but some of the actions taken by the Obama Administration toward Israel are petty and dangerous to the world.

Yesterday IsraelNationalNews reported the following:

In a development that has largely been missed by mainstream media, the Pentagon early last month quietly declassified a Department of Defense top-secret document detailing Israel’s nuclear program, a highly covert topic that Israel has never formally announced to avoid a regional nuclear arms race, and which the US until now has respected by remaining silent.

But by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel’s nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.

America is supposed to be an ally of Israel. This is not something you do to a friend.

The article concludes:

Aside from nuclear capabilities, the report revealed Israel at the time had “a totally integrated effort in systems development throughout the nation,” with electronic combat all in one “integrated system, not separated systems for the Army, Navy and Air Force.” It even acknowledged that in some cases, Israeli military technology “is more advanced than in the U.S.”

Declassifying the report comes at a sensitive timing as noted above, and given that the process to have it published was started three years ago, that timing is seen as having been the choice of the American government.

US journalist Grant Smith petitioned to have the report published based on the Freedom of Information Act. Initially the Pentagon took its time answering, leading Smith to sue, and a District Court judge to order the Pentagon to respond to the request.

Smith, who heads the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, reportedly said he thinks this is the first time the US government has officially confirmed that Israel is a nuclear power, a status that Israel has long been widely known to have despite being undeclared.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. It is the only place where women have equal rights with men. It is one of the few places where all religions are free to practice their faith. It is the country in the Middle East most closely aligned with America in terms of values and form of government. Israel is an ally America needs, not the other way around. If President Obama continues down the road he is currently on, Israel will form alliances with other Middle Eastern countries and America will be shut out of the region. President Obama is building an alliance with Iran as the other countries in the area are feeling seriously threatened by Iran’s nuclear program. Diplomatically this will be a disaster for America.

Congress Needs To Cut Its Own Pay Before It Takes Benefits Away From Our Troops

Yesterday the Military Times posted an article about the changes Congress and the President are making to the benefits received by our active duty military. This is the same military that Congress and the President have been deploying overseas for the last thirteen plus years.

The article reports:

The lower pay raise will be the most obvious hit for troops, who would be in line for a 1.8 percent raise based on anticipated private-sector wage growth.

For an E-3 with three years of service, the lower raise is a loss of about $195 a year. For an E-7 with 10 years, it comes out to $356. For an O-5 with 12 years of service, it’s $667 in annual salary.

Pentagon planners noted that move alone will save them about $3.8 billion over the next five years. Opponents argued that it creates a new wage gap between troops and their civilian counterparts, giving them less disposable income.

In addition, lawmakers approved trimming back the housing allowances paid to troops who live off base. The Pentagon initially sought to reduce the tax-free housing benefit by 5 percent by reducing the 100 percent of troops’ estimated housing costs that are covered now down to an average of 95 percent — in effect making troops pay 5 percent of their housing with out-of-pocket cash.

The new deal allowing only a 1 percent reduction for one year pushes off future decisions for now.

This is not the way to save money in the defense budget. Note that the article reports that cutting the amount of pay raises will “create a new wage gap between troops and their civilian counterparts.” Our military is a volunteer force. You can only cut wages so much before people stop volunteering.

I have a few suggestions here. How much does a welfare family receive in benefits compared to how much an enlisted military family receives in wages? Can we cut the federal government’s contribution to welfare and let the states sort out welfare fraud? Why is it that welfare programs seem to be the one thing that never gets cut? Why is welfare not running out of money and Social Security (which people pay into) always cited as going broke?

If the Republicans who got elected to Congress in November want to respect the wishes of the voters who elected them, they will find another way to cut the spending. To accept the continued hollowing out of our military and the cutting of benefits paid to our soldiers is to tamper with the national security of America. The voters will hold them accountable.