Archive | December 28, 2015

U.S. Wasted $231mn on Failed Missile Defence Program*

U.S. Wasted $231mn on Failed Missile Defence Program*

By Andrew Emett

Designed to intercept enemy ballistic missiles, the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS) would have cost taxpayers $28 billion instead of the original price tag estimate of $10 billion over 20 years. After a review of the proposal found major flaws that would have rendered the program useless, the government scrapped the project after wasting more than $230 million on false promises from the defence industry.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times investigation, the Obama administration and Congress began funding PTSS in 2009. The initial plan entailed launching nine to 12 satellites into orbit over the equator to detect missile launches and track warheads in flight. Intended to protect the U.S. from nuclear attacks, the program was shutdown four years later without sending a single satellite into orbit.

“It’s an example of what can go wrong in defence procurement: Huge amounts of money just pissed away on things that should never have advanced beyond a study,” said David Barton, a physicist and radar engineer who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed U.S. missile-defence programs, including PTSS.

Instead of guarding U.S. citizens against missile attacks from hostile countries including Iran and North Korea, PTSS would have been unable to detect Arctic flight path trajectories, which those countries would most likely deploy against the continental U.S. Initially intending to only launch nine to 12 satellites into orbit, PTSS would have required at least 24 satellites over the Northern Hemisphere to close those blindspots. Besides nearly tripling the cost of the initial estimate, advocates for PTSS falsely claimed that its advanced infrared sensors could continuously track ballistic missiles when in reality the satellites would have been unable to distinguish between decoys and live warheads.

Although Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, then-director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, had previously challenged impractical defence programs, O’Reilly sided with Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon to secure the contract and begin funding the ill-fated project. During a House Armed Services subcommittee on May 5, 2011, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger urged his fellow members not to eliminate funding for PTSS. Instead of bothering to test the competency of PTSS or the veracity of its far-fetched claims, Ruppersberger simply wanted to funnel the money into his home state of Maryland, where the John Hopkins lab and several defence contractors salivated over the concept of receiving billions of taxpayer dollars.

In 2011, a panel of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences determined that PTSS was largely redundant due to the fact that current satellites and tracking systems can already do most tasks that PTSS claimed it was capable of accomplishing. They also estimated the actual price of the program would have cost taxpayers between $24 billion and $28 billion, instead of the estimated price of $10 billion over 20 years. Compared to other alternative, PTSS was found both ridiculously expensive and ineffective.

Although Congress approved another year of funding, PTSS was officially killed off on October 1, 2013, after spending $231 million on the doomed program. Over the past decade, the U.S. Missile Defence Agency has wasted more than $10 billion in failed projects. The ill-fated Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX), Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, and Multiple Kill Vehicle cost the agency $2.2 billion, $5.3 billion, $1.7 billion, and $700 million respectively. Instead of blindly swallowing the empty promises of voracious defence contractors, perhaps Congress and the Obama administration should have vetted these programs before handing over taxpayer money.


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A Zionist to Head U.S.’s Economic Warfare Division*

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Interpol Reports 1 Percent of European Terrorism Was Carried Out by Muslims in 2014*

Interpol Reports 1 Percent of European Terrorism Was Carried Out by Muslims in 2014*

By Juan Cole

The Interpol report on European terrorism for 2014 would obviously look different for the horrible year of 2015.  So too was 2011 an outlier, when far right wing Islamophobe Anders Breivik killed 77 Norwegian leftists for being soft on Islam.

But it is worthwhile considering it, since you can’t judge trends on any one year, and 2014 was more typical of the past decade than 2015.

  • 503,000,000:  Population of European Union
  • 28:  number of European Union states
  • 201:  Number of terrorist attacks carried out in the European Union in 2014.
  • 4:  Number of persons killed in EU terrorism that year.
  • 109:  Number of attacks in Britain in 2014.
  • 67:  Number of terrorist attacks carried out by ethno-nationalist or separatist groups (e.g. Basque ETA, Real IRA, Corsicans, etc.)
  • 12:  Attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups
  • 117:  Single-issue or unspecified attacks
  • 2: Number of religiously-inspired (i.e. jihadi) attacks in EU, 2014.
  • 34:  Number of arrests of extremist right wing persons for harassment of Jews, Muslims, etc. (not classified as “attacks”)

  • 774;  Number individuals arrested in the EU for terrorism related offences
  • 444: Court proceedings for terrorism charges concluded against 444 persons

The fact is that there isn’t much terrorism in Europe for its enormous population (it is much larger than the United States).  I figure about 5,500 murders a year in the EU, the equivalent of 3,400 a year in the United States given the EU population is 1.6 times that of the USA.  The US rate is more like 13,000, or nearly 4 times the European rate.  In any case, only 4 out of the 5,500 were killed for terrorist political motives in 2014 (though we must recognize that all life is precious and this was horrible for the relatives of the 4).  In 2015 unfortunately the 4 will have become a couple hundred.

The point is that for all their artificially contrived drama, terrorist attacks are a small part of deadly violence and the number of attacks launched by far rightwing Muslim groups has been a small proportion of the whole over the past decade.  We don’t know if 2015 is a turning point or an anomaly.  A dispassionate review of statistics is difficult in emotional times, but necessary if we aren’t to be overwhelmed by stereotypes and media sensationalism, such that we lose our sense of proportion.


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Israel Threatens Brazil Unless It Accepts Settler Ambassador*

Israel Threatens Brazil Unless It Accepts Settler Ambassador*

A West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim © Ammar Awad / Reuters


Israel has warned Brazil that relations will deteriorate unless it accepts the former Israeli head of the West Bank settlement program as ambassador. The appointment was made four months ago and has still not been approved by Brazil’s government.

The country has continuously failed to give in to diplomatic pressure, leading Israel to up the stakes and issue threats.

Brazilian refusals have gone on since August, when the political appointment was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The main sticking point for Brazilian opposition to the appointment is the fact that Dani Dayan – the nominee – lives in the occupied West Bank, as well as being the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.

Like most of the international community, Brazil’s leftist government believes the building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal. But condemnation at all levels has not resulted in any action on the part of Israel.

Reda Mansour, Israel’s previous ambassador, left Brasilia last week, and now the Israelis are warning that if Dayan does not replace him, there will be consequences for bilateral relations.

Dani Dayan

“The State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level if the appointment of Dani Dayan is not confirmed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in an interview to Israel’s Channel 10, according to Reuters. Israel has refused to nominate another candidate for the position.

Hotovely then said Israel would continue to press Brasilia through various means, including the Brazilian Jewish community, as well as direct appeals from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is one of the more outspoken defenders of Israel’s settlement-building in the West Bank.

According to Hotovely, as cited by the Jerusalem Post, this lobbying will take place with the aim of showing that Dayan is “a man who is respectable, worthy, and accepted across Israel’s political spectrum.”

Hotovely added that in the event of Brazil’s refusal, there will be “a crisis in relations between the two countries, and it is not worth going there.”

There has been no comment yet from President Dilma Roussef on whether Brasilia would cave to Israeli demands, but a senior source in the Foreign Ministry told Reuters they “do not see that happening.” And if Dayan is not, in fact, named the next ambassador, the only real alternative will be to have the next highest-ranking official acting in his stead.

Dayan for months remained silent, but on Saturday, in an interview to Channel 2, attributed Brazil’s refusal to “classic BDS” – or boycott, divestment and sanctions. He believes the entire situation owes itself to pressure from Israeli activists, Palestinians and select circles in Brazil.

Tensions between the two countries have been on the rise since the last administration, when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva worked to warm Brazilian ties with Iran. They rose further last year when an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman labeled Brazil “a diplomatic dwarf.” This was after Brasilia recalled its ambassador from Israel as a show of protest over the continuing military offensive in Gaza.


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