The Pentagon January 2008.jpg

Yesterday President Obama signed the $607 billion National Defense Authorization Act which was one of the last items completed by the Senate before they recessed. The bill is a massive spending program on the war economy with no justification in a time of austerity and limited security threats.

The obscene nature of the bill did not escape analysts attention as the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex was so greedy they included money in the bill the Department of Defense did not even request such as the $178 million for M-1 Abrams tanks the army doesn’t want.

“The passage of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that calls for $30 billion more for the Pentagon and allied agencies than is contained in the recent budget deal passed by both houses of Congress is just the latest indication that defense hawks continue to live in their own world, untroubled by fiscal constraints,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

The war economy is its own artificial world underwritten by massive taxpayer subsidies, seemingly free of influence of what the country wants or needs.

What did not make it into the bill were the sexual assault reforms Senator Gillibrand had asked for. Instead weaker versions were included that do little to nothing to prevent new assaults.

Such crimes have surged in recent years; the Pentagon estimates that 26,000 troops were assaulted or raped last year. But only a fraction of them, about 3,300, filed reports with military police or prosecutors in that time period.. the changes would stop short of what some advocates want. Gillibrand is pushing to remove military commanders from any involvement in assault and rape cases and have them instead assigned to specialized, independent military prosecutors. For months, she has met with nearly every other senator to lobby them to support her plan, which the Senate is expected to vote on next year.

So more money than the Pentagon even asked for and limited reform to sexual assault in the military.

Voltaire once said “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” A quick DC adaptation might be, if you want to learn who rules America find out whose budget can not be cut regardless of economic circumstances. In which case the Pentagon is firmly in control in DC.

Photo by Patrickneil under Creative Commons license.