The following are updates of prior posts, providing additional information or a new perspective.
The U.S. Empire of Bases
The material in this segment is extracted from an article written by Hugh Gusterson and appearing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
How many military bases does the United States have in other countries? The Pentagon’s most recent answer is 865 but that figure doesn’t include the bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. overseas bases constitute 95 percent of all the military bases in the world maintained by one country on another country’s territory. The historian Chalmers Johnson has called it an “empire of bases.”
Of the total number of U.S. overseas bases, 227 are in Germany and it makes little sense to keep them there, given Germany’s internal strength.
If the argument is made that the transplanted troops are getting exposure to another way of life, the counter-argument is that the Americans live in a little America, watching American TV, listening to American rap and heavy metal, and eating American fast food.
Military bases, by their very nature, discharge toxic waste into the local ecosystem. Two examples of this are the 19 superfund sites created in Guam and the exploded, unexploded ordinance and other residue from live-bombing practice conducted in Puerto Rico’s Visques region for 180 days a year until 2003.
The magnitude of crimes U.S. troops commit in overseas assignments is best illustrated by the 52,000 crimes that Korean activists claim U.S. troops committed in South Korea from 1967 to 2002.
A 2009 Proposal that President Obama Should Resurrect
Rep. David Price introduced the Interrogation and Detention Act three years ago, which would have repealed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and endorsed the existing civilian and military justice systems as the most appropriate venues for prosecuting terrorism. At the time of introduction, the military commissions system had achieved only three convictions in terrorism cases since 9/11, while civilian courts had convicted over 145 terrorists in the same span, although we too easily accept the definition of who is a terrorist. The legislation would have closed Guantanamo Bay detention facilities and established uniform, government-wide standards for interrogation that prohibit torture.
The bill would have stopped the practice of contracting out interrogations to countries that practice torture.
Price’s bill would have enacted forward-looking proposals designed to strengthen intelligence collection, including the creation of a center of excellence training and research, as recommended by the Intelligence Science Board, and the development of an expert cadre of career military interrogators.
Some Campaign Finance Percentages
The following campaign finance percentages are distilled from the January/February 2012 issue of Mother Jones.
Campaign spending by the finance, insurance and real estate sectors have grown about eight-fold since 1990 and reached $500 million for the 2008 election. Ninety percent of the outside money spent without disclosure in 2010 was from conservative groups. Forty-six percent of the outside groups active during the 2010 election did not disclose information about their funding.