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Jason Ditz

In Trump’s 2019 Budget, Lockheed Looms Almost as Large as State Dept


In great measure, the Pentagon runs on Lockheed Martin. The US armsmaker racked up $35.2 billion in sales to the US government last year, a preposterously large figure that positions them both as heavily reliant on the government for its profits, and gives them a level of influence unmatched.

Lockheed Martin, after all, gets nearly as much money from the US government as the State Department. CEO Marilyn Hewson is, by the reckoning of some analysts, as powerful as most US cabinet secretaries.
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US-Led Coalition Continues to Underreport Civilians Killed in Iraq, Syria Airstrikes

The US-led coalition has issued yet another report on the civilian death toll in their airstrikes against Iraq and Syria since 2014, and continues to dismiss the vast, vast majority of the civilian deaths as “not credible.”

Out of 27,500 coalition airstrikes in that period, 1,799 reports of civilian casualties have been issued, with thousands killed. The coalition, however, dismissed all but 208 of the reports, and put the figure at 817 dead.
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NSA Surveillance Reauthorization Stalls on Demands for New Debate

The House Republican leadership has been forced to abandon plans to reauthorize Section 702 FISA, which is soon to expire and has been used by the NSA for wholesale surveillance against the American public, because many are demanding time for debate.

Though the Section 702 reauthorization was long believed to rest on inserting something that gave the appearance of “reform” without angering the leadership by amounting to any actual reform, they appear to have been unable to thread that needle, and now it is expected that a short-term extension will be rushed through the delay expiration until January.
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44,000 US Troops on ‘Unknown’ Deployments Worldwide

When the Pentagon wants to mislead the public about where US troops are, generally speaking, they just lie. Yet sometimes the number of troops is just too big to claim as a rounding error, and questions start happening.

This week, the focus is on over 44,000 US military personnel deployed to “unknown,” which immediately raises red flags, because that’s not a place. Pentagon officials, however, say there is “no good way” to describe where they are.
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Pentagon to Admit to 2,000 Troops in Syria, Number Likely Far Higher

US officials said on Friday that the Pentagon is expected to concern confirm that there are “about 2,000” US ground troops in Syria, a major increase from the roughly 500 that they officially claim is the case.

The US has overtly lied about troop levels in Syria consistently throughout their deployment. Less than a month ago, Gen. James Jarrard told reporters the US had about 4,000 troops in the country, though the Pentagon at the time claimed he was wrong and the real number was only 503.
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Saudi Arabia Prevents Yemeni Govt Returning to South Yemen

Making it less and less clear what Saudi Arabia’s ultimate intentions in the Yemen War are at this point, reports out of Riyadh say that the “Saudi-backed” Yemeni government is effectively under house arrest within the Saudi capital, and being actively prevented from returning to southern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in 2015, vowing to reinstall President Hadi, who had previously resigned, and whose term in office had long since run out. After Saudi forces captured the southern coast of Yemen, they made a big show of sending Hadi and other officials from his “government-in-exile” to the port city of Aden, making it a “temporary capital” of Yemen.
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Niger Ambush Serves as Excuse for AFRICOM to Seek More Funds

The October 4 ambush in Niger that killed four US special forces members forced the Pentagon to admit that they had been routinely carrying out ground patrols inside Niger, but African command (AFRICOM) may be cashing in on the incident.

With the revelation that there are US military operations ongoing in Niger and countless other countries, AFRICOM is noting that they’d requested a lot more military equipment than they got, and some of that might conceivably have come in handy during the ambush.
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GOP Rep. Rohrabacher Sought Trump Deal With Assange

Last month, House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation chairman Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This meeting led to a potential deal being brought to the White House by Rohrabacher.

Under this deal, which was reported by the Wall Street Journal, Assange would provide conclusive proof that Russia was not the source of hacked emails WikiLeaks published. In return, he would be offered a pardon, or some other assurance that he wouldn’t be prosecuted by the US for involvement in WikiLeaks.
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White House Continues to Talk Up ‘Preventative War’ Against North Korea

While there has been a concerted effort from some members of the Trump Administration to downplay the risk of an imminent nuclear war with North Korea, the possibility of such a conflict is still palpable, with White House officials openly talking about launch a “preventative war” to resolve the situation.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is seen as one of the leading advocates of this idea, which seeks to avoid the question of how much of a threat North Korea will pose in the future by just attacking them outright now, consequences be damned.
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