One-fifth of Iraq’s population now lives in poverty, up since the 2003 invasion, according to an IMF/United Nations study.
Yesterday, former Defense Secretary William Perry released a study that found that “the strain of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan is endangering the nation.” A copy of the report is available here. The Perry study came on the heels of an official Pentagon study that came to a similar conclusion. Even the top U.S. commander in Iraq recognizes the military is overstretched.
Everyone seems to acknowledge the problem except Donald Rumsfeld. The Secretary of Defense defiantly claimed: “The force is not broken. “¦ I just can’t imagine someone looking at the United States armed forces today and suggesting that they’re close to breaking. That’s just not the case.”
Rumsfeld argues that the armed forces recruiting goals have been met for the past seven months. But that paints a very deceiving picture of what’s truly going on. Here’s a key statistic from the Perry report:
A year from now, the combination of fewer than needed recruits and fewer than needed reenlistments in the junior grades could result in a significant “hollowing” and imbalance in the Army, both active and reserve. Based on DoD’s monthly manpower report by grade, the Army already has a deficit of some 18,000 personnel in its junior enlisted grades (E1-E4). Even if it meets its recruiting and retention goals, the Army is projected to be short some 30,000 soldiers (not including stop loss) by the end of FY2006.
Junior enlisted officers, those who are taking on the brunt of the physical fighting, are not reenlisting at nearly the same rate as senior officers. This spells long-term trouble for the Army. What’s Rumsfeld’s response to this damaging information? Claim ignorance and blame Clinton. Rumsfeld, 1/25/06:
It’s interesting — I haven’t read the report. I’ll have to do that. Yeah, I mean, these are the people, basically — who did that report — who were here in the ’90s. And what we’re doing is trying to adjust what was left us to fit the 21st century.
Perhaps if Rumsfeld reads the report, he’ll realize the reenlistment problem is a result of Iraq, not Clinton. Sadly for our troops, they continue to go to war with the Secretary of Defense they have, not the Secretary of Defense they wish to have.
Today, the Congressional Budget Office issued its ten-year budget outlook. According to their report, the 2006 federal budget deficit will be at least $337 billion, and deficits from 2006-15 will total $1.2 trillion. If we continue with President Bush’s economic policies the actual deficits will be much, much higher.
First, the CBO numbers exclude tens of billions of dollars in expected spending for Iraq and Katrina. Second, the long-term figures assume President Bush’s tax cuts, which overwhelming benefited the wealthy, will expire at the end of the decade.
To understand how tax cut extensions would ruin our long-term budget picture, look no further than the CBO report. Below are three important points from the report:
1) CBO assumes Bush tax cuts will expire after 2010:“By statute, CBO’s baseline must project the future paths of federal spending and revenues under current laws and policies.”
2) Little chance of tax cuts expiring:“The assumption that tax provisions will expire as scheduled has a significant impact on CBO’s projections. Many of the expiring provisions were enacted many years ago but are routinely extended, and most reduce [tax] receipts.”
3) Effects on the budget would be severe:“[I]f all of the tax provisions that are set to expire over the next 10 years were extended, the budget outlook for 2016 would change from a surplus of $67 billion to a deficit of $584 billion“.
To learn more about budget issues check out the new Center for American Progress budget blog.
American Progress has released a progressive Quadrennial Defense Review, an assessment of national security threats over the next four years and a prescription for transforming the military to face those threats. The Pentagon will release its version in the next few weeks.
Today, President Bush confirmed that photos exist which document a relationship between him and Jack Abramoff. But Bush refused to release the photos. Instead, he engaged in a dizzying discourse about what the existence of those pictures mean. Watch the highlights:
Bush’s spin contradicts subtantial evidence indicating Bush knew Abramoff personally:
1) The Washingtonian reports that Abramoff knew Bush intimately. “[N]ot only did [Abramoff] know the President, but the President knew the names of Abramoff’s children and asked about them during their meetings. At one such photo session, Bush discussed the fact that both he and Abramoff were fathers of twins.”
2) Bush suggests he only met Abramoff at big holiday receptions. But we know he met privately with Abramoff and his client in May 2001 at the White House. TIME magazine has seen a photo of the meeting.
3) by virtue of raising more than $100,000, Abramoff obtained the title of Bush “Pioneer.” As a “Pioneer,” Abramoff was a member of an elite club of donors that received special treatment and access to many presidential events.
[Our guest blogger, Morton Halperin, was Director of Policy Planning Staff at the State Department and served on the National Security Council under President Clinton. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Johnson.]
The Bush administration has pulled out all the stops in attempting to defend the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying program. After speeches by President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales, Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former NSA Director General Michael Hayden took another crack at the defense in a speech on Monday. He’s not exactly the ideal choice to restore the administration’s credibility.
As Think Progress documented back in December, Hayden misled Congress. In his 10/17/02 testimony, he told a committee investigating the 9/11 attacks that any surveillance of persons in the United States was done consistent with FISA.
At the time of his statements, Hayden was fully aware of the presidential order to conduct warrantless domestic spying issued the previous year. But Hayden didn’t feel as though he needed to share that with Congress. Apparently, Hayden believed that he had been legally authorized to conduct the surveillance, but told Congress that he had no authority to do exactly what he was doing. The Fraud and False Statements statute (18 U.S.C. 1001) make Hayden’s misleading statements to Congress illegal.
Hayden’s fate lies with the tale of another spymaster, Nixon-era CIA Director Richard Helms.
Testifying under oath before a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1973, Richard Helms claimed that CIA was not involved in attempts to overthrow Salvador Allende of Chile:
SEN. SYMINGTON: Did you try in the Central Intelligence agency to overthrow the government of Chile?
MR. HELMS: No, sir.
SEN. SYMINGTON: Did you have any money passed to the opponents of Allende?
MR. HELMS: No, sir.
By the time Helms was called to testify again, CIA activities in Chile had become public knowledge. In 1977, Richard Helms pleaded no contest to charges of lying to Congress and served a suspended sentence.
Four years passed between Richard Helms’ false testimony before Congress and his guilty plea. Hayden’s congressional lying occurred in 2002. It’s now four years later. Time to fess up, General.
– Morton H. Halperin and Michael Fuchs
Is the dust-up between the Justice Department and Google news? Or just a PR stunt?
On this morning’s Today Show, Katie Couric falsely claimed that Democrats took money from Jack Abramoff. Howard Dean tried to set her straight, but she stuck to the right-wing talking points:
COURIC: Hey, wait a second. Democrats took — Democrats took money from Abramoff too, Mr. Dean.
DEAN: That is absolutely false. That did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time.
Full transcript below: Read more