The House acquiesced to threats from President Bush, who said he would veto the bill if it contained provisions banning mercenaries from interrogating prisoners of war and giving Congress a role in the decision-making process about whether U.S. soldiers can be stationed in Iraq permanently.
While the nation remains fixated on the nearly $1 trillion Congress gave to criminal bankers and investment firms on Wall Street, the House and Senate quietly passed the largest military spending legislation to date loaded with pork and gifts for the military-industrial complex.
On September 24, the House passed the $612.5 billion fiscal year 2009 defense budget bill with no debate by a vote of 392 to 39. The massive measure had already passed the Senate on Sept. 17 by a vote of 88 to eight.
This unprecedented appropriations legislation breezed through Congress despite a bevy of earmarks because of pressure put on conservative Republicans and far-left Democrats to be “patriotic” and to “support the troops.” The White House had only asked for $611 billion, but Congress decided to sweeten the pot by adding an additional $1.5 billion in earmarks.
The measure includes standard funding to maintain military bases in 130 countries around the world, a modest pay raise for soldiers and nearly $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also mandates that the Pentagon keep Congress informed about future security pacts with Iraq and sets up a database to track mercenaries and other contractors found guilty of breaking laws.
The House acquiesced to threats from President Bush, who said he would veto the bill if it contained provisions banning mercenaries from interrogating prisoners of war and giving Congress a role in the decision-making process about whether U.S. soldiers can be stationed in Iraq permanently. A provision calling for a withdrawal from Iraq was discussed, but not voted on.
Nearly one-third of the current spending bill is expected to go to purchasing new weapons systems from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and other corporations in the military-industrial complex. This includes just under $200 billion appropriated for 16 new F-35 stealth fighters, a new anti-missile weapons system, one Navy destroyer and a new Virginia-class nuclear submarine.
The United States already spends more on its military annually than England, France, Japan, Russia and China—combined, but this latest military bill puts the Pentagon in a class all by itself.
The bill was sent to the White House in the last week of September, and Bush signed it on October 1.
“The time is long past for someone to stand up and say the obvious,” wrote David Isenberg on the web site Partnership for a Secure America, “that both military and associated ‘national security’ spending is out of control and continually getting more outrageous.”
AFP – October 20th issue source AmericanFreePress