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Dni john ratcliffe Elecion 2020 election interference Foreign Policy Intelwars Iran Russia US intelligence

DNI Ratcliffe says Iran sent fake emails to US voters; Democrats are skeptical

At a press conference Wednesday evening, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced the U.S. government believes Russia and Iran have acquired voter registration information and are attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. election.

Ratcliffe’s announcement followed reports that voters in Florida and Alaska received intimidating emails threatening them to support President Donald Trump.

“We have identified that two foreign actors, Iran and Russia, have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections,” Ratcliffe said at an abruptly scheduled press conference on election security with FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“First, we have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia. This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” he continued. “To that end, we have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump. You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours or you may have even been one of the recipients of those emails.”

Watch:


BREAKING: DNI John Ratcliffe WARNS that Iran and Russia are seeking to influence election

www.youtube.com

Ratcliffe also accused Iran of distributing a video with false information about fraudulent ballots.

“Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas. This video and any claims about such allegedly fraudulent ballots are not true,” he said.

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries. Even if the adversaries pursue further attempts to intimidate or attempt to undermine voter confidence, know that our election systems are resilient, and you can be confident your votes are secure. Although we have not seen the same actions from Russia, we are aware that they have obtained some voter information, just as they did in 2016. Rest assured that we are prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy.”

FBI Director Wray said the Bureau is taking the lead in investigating criminal activity threatening the election and assured Americans that they should be “confident” that their votes are counted.

“We’re not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election,” he said.

The press conference was held after voters in some states alerted election officials to efforts to intimidate them into supporting President Trump.

On Tuesday, election officials in Florida and Alaska contacted law enforcement after registered Democratic voters reported receiving threatening emails telling them to “Vote for Trump or else!” CNN reported that the emails appeared to be sent from addresses associated with the “alt-right” group the “Proud Boys.” The chairman of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, denied that his group sent the emails when contacted by CNN and said they were working with the FBI to identify who was impersonating them.

“We have spoken to the FBI and are working with them. I hope whoever did this is arrested for voter intimidation and for maliciously impersonating our group,” Tarrio said.

CNN obtained one of the emails and reached out to John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, to have it analyzed. According to Scott-Railton, the email was sent using foreign internet infrastructure.

“This isn’t someone with a fake email account sending messages. This is an operation. The questions will be: how big was it, how many were targeted, and how well were tracks covered,” he said.

“It appears that the operators likely leveraged multiple insecure servers that they probably didn’t own in different countries, including Saudi Arabia, to send messages.”

Democrats have received Ratcliffe’s conclusions with skepticism, accusing the former GOP congressman of trying to downplay evidence of Russian interference in the election on behalf of President Trump.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Russia, not Iran, was he real threat.

“Everything that we’ve seen here in the public domain does not justify the statements that we heard yesterday,” Pelosi said, according to Reuters.

“Russia is the villain here. From what we’ve seen in the public domain, Iran is a bad actor, but in no way equivalent,” she added.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, accused the Trump administration of “trying to bury” evidence of election interference by Russia.

“All year, the Trump administration has been desperately trying to bury information about Russian interference and overhype efforts by Iran and China. The truth is simple – only Russia has both the capability and intent to significantly disrupt our election,” he said in a statement. “If Director Ratcliffe is serious when he says we will not allow foreign interference in our elections, then this administration would actually do something to deter the Kremlin rather than withhold information about Russian interference and create false equivalences with other nation’s efforts.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told MSNBC Wednesday that the threatening emails “appear to be an effort to suppress the Democratic vote, or an effort to inflame the Democratic vote, or simply to sow chaos.”

He disputed Ratcliffe’s characterization of Iran’s efforts as damaging to Trump, claiming that the Iranian video spreading misinformation about fraudulent ballots sounded like a “Trump talking point.”

“It’s hard to see how that could be hurtful to the president,” Schiff said. “We don’t know if this is just Ratcliffe’s spin, or whether it is the assessment of the analysts.”

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Bill stepien Donald Trump Election 2020 Foreign Policy Intelwars presidential debate trump campaign

READ: Trump campaign shreds presidential debate commission for breaking tradition on foreign policy

President Donald Trump’s campaign wants the Commission on Presidential Debates to “recalibrate” the topics for the final presidential debate to include foreign policy, a topic that would allow Trump to pressure Vice President Joe Biden on his son’s foreign business dealings.

In a letter sent Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien wrote “with great concern” to the debate commission to object to the exclusion of foreign policy in the final debate. The current debate topics, announced last Friday, were selected by moderator Kristen Welker, a NBC News White House correspondent. They are: “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security” and “Leadership.”

“The topics announced by Kristen Welker … are serious and worthy of discussion, but only a few of them even touch on foreign policy,” Stepien wrote. “As is the longstanding custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate. We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed.”

“We understand that Joe Biden is desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record,” the letter continued, going on to tout Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments and criticize Biden’s record.

Stepien, referring to recent allegations made against Biden in reports published by the New York Post, accuses Biden of being a “financial beneficiary of a deal arranged by his son Hunter and a communist Chinese-related energy company.” He also accused the debate commission of protecting Biden from facing questions on his record.

“It is completely irresponsible for the Commission to alter the focus of this final debate just days before the event, solely to insulate Biden from his own history,” Stepien wrote.

He accused the CPD of engaging in other “pro-Biden antics.”

“The Commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost its faith in objectivity,” he said.

“For the good of campaign integrity, and for the benefit of the American people, we urge you to rethink and reissue a set of topics for the October 22 debate with an emphasis on foreign policy. This is what the campaigns had agreed to and it has been the tradition of past campaigns,” the letter concluded. “We await your immediate reply to these concerns. We further advise you that there is no reason to consult with the Biden campaign before replying because we all know what they think.”

The final presidential debate between Trump and Biden is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m. ET at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The debate will follow the format of the first debate, devoting 15 minutes to each topic and providing each candidate with two minutes to respond to prompts from the moderator.

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democratic party Election 2020 Foreign Policy Intelwars Joe Biden Russia Vladimir Putin

Russian President Putin favorably compares Biden and Democrats to Soviet Communists

Russian President Vladimir Putin favorably compared presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Democratic Party to Soviet communism in an interview with the Rossiya TV channel released Wednesday.

Putin once again denied that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and pledged to work with whomever wins the 2020 election, Newsweek reported. But he favorably remarked on the Democratic Party’s ideology, comparing it to the old Soviet Union’s Communist Party, and said those shared values may be a “basis for developing contacts” with Biden should he win the White House.

“The Democratic Party is traditionally closer to the so-called liberal values, closer to social democratic ideas,” Putin said. “And it was from the social democratic environment that the Communist Party evolved.”

“After all, I was a member of the Soviet Communist Party for nearly 20 years,” Putin added. “I was a rank-and-file member, but it can be said that I believed in the party’s ideas. I still like many of these left-wing values. Equality and fraternity. What is bad about them? In fact, they are akin to Christian values.

“Yes, they are difficult to implement, but they are very attractive, nevertheless,” he continued. “In other words, this can be seen as an ideological basis for developing contacts with the Democratic representative.”

Putin also noted the Soviet Union rhetorically supported the civil rights movement for black Americans and suggested this is another common value he shares with the American left-wing in the context of Black Lives Matter protests in the United States.

Black Americans “constitute a stable electorate” for Democrats, Putin said. “The Soviet Union also supported the African Americans’ movement for their legitimate rights.”

He also tied the civil rights movement to communist ideology.

“Back in the 1930s, Communist International leaders wrote that both black and white workers had a common enemy — imperialism and capitalism. They also wrote that these people could become the most effective group in the future revolutionary battle,” Putin said.

“So, this is something that can be seen, to a degree, as common values, if not a unifying agent for us,” he explained. “People of my generation remember a time when huge portraits of Angela Davis, a member of the U.S. Communist Party and an ardent fighter for the rights of African Americans, were on view around the Soviet Union.”

Although Putin noted Biden has used “sharp anti-Russia rhetoric” against Russian election meddling and Russia’s foreign policy, he specifically identified nuclear arms control as an area he’s ready to partner with Biden, should the Democratic candidate win.

“Candidate Biden has said openly that he was ready to extend the New START or to sign a new strategic offensive reductions treaty,” Putin said. “This is already a very significant element of our potential future cooperation.”

He reiterated his willingness to work with Trump or Biden, whomever wins.

“I would like to repeat what I have said more than once before. We will work with any future president of the United States, the one whom the American people give their vote of confidence,” Putin said.

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Abraham accords Bahrain Foreign Policy Intelwars ISRAEL MIDDLE EAST Peace agreement President Trump Terrorism United Arab Emirates WHITE HOUSE

Palestinian militants fire rockets at Israel as historic peace agreement is signed at White House

A rocket attack launched by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip wounded two people in Israel Tuesday as the Middle East’s lone Jewish state signed an agreement to normalize relations with two of its Arab neighbors at the White House. The attack was apparently coordinated to coincide with the signing of the agreement.

According to an Associated Press report, the Israeli military said two rockets were fired from Gaza and one was intercepted by air defenses. Israeli emergency services treated two people for minor injuries from broken glass.

Earlier, Israeli Defense Forces issued an alert for rocket sirens sounding in Ashdod and Ashkelon, cities in the southern region of Israel near the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians, ruled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, are opposed to the Israeli agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations without forcing Israel to cede its sovereignty over territory the Palestinians claim as their own. Historically, most Arab nations have sided with the Palestinians in this conflict, but the Trump administration managed to broker agreements that put aside the issue for now. The Palestinians consider this a betrayal.

The agreement signed at the White House, known as the “Abraham Accords” to honor the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, declares peace and formally normalizes diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.

While the text of the agreement has not been made public, Israeli officials reportedly told The Jerusalem Post it will not go into effect until the Israeli cabinet ratifies the agreement and UAE officials reportedly said there will be references to a two-state solution.

President Trump declared the agreement “the dawn of a new Middle East” in a speech delivered at the signing ceremony.

“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said.

“Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity,” he said.

The president said the accord “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this moment marked a “pivot of history” and a “new dawn of peace,” praising President Trump for his work on the agreement.

“To all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East, those who are with us today and those who will join us tomorrow, I say, ‘As-salamu alaykum.’ Peace unto thee. Shalom,” Netanyahu said.

“The blessings of peace that we make today will be enormous,” he continued, “first because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israel conflict once and for all.”

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan added more optimistic remarks, saying “We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a new path for the Middle East.”

But he also spoke to the Palestinian people, noting the Abraham Accords “will enable us to stand with the Palestinians and enable their hopes of establishing a Palestinian state” and thanking Netanyahu for “halting annexation of Palestinian territories.”

Those overtures to the Palestinians may fall on deaf ears. According to the AP, in addition to the rocket attacks Palestinians expressed their outrage in the West Bank and in Gaza by trampling on and setting fires to pictures of Trump, Netanyahu, and the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain.

The peace accords were not well-received in Bahrain either, where the AP reports the Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq released a statement condemning normalized relations with the “Zionist entity.”

Nevertheless, President Trump has promoted the deal as the first step in reaching a broad agreement to secure peace in the Middle East. In an interview with “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, Trump said his administration is negotiating with several other Arab states and predicted that Palestine “will come to the table” when everyone else is on board.

“They’re actually getting to a point where they’re going to want to make a deal. They won’t say that outwardly. They want to make a deal,” Trump said. “Otherwise, they will be left out in the cold.”

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Chris Murphy Congress defense Foreign Policy Intelwars Iran Iranian foreign minister Javad ziraf Logan Act meeting murphy secret secret meeting Soleimani trump United States Ziraf

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy admits to meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. His explanation raises more questions than answers.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), hoping to quell speculation of wrongdoing, has formally responded to reports that he held a secret meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Ziraf last week. But his explanation may raise more questions than it answers.

What’s the background?

The Federalist first reported Monday that Murphy and other Democratic senators held a “secret” meeting with Zarif last week at the annual Munich Security Conference. The news immediately began to circulate in the media and led to speculation as to whether Murphy had undermined U.S. foreign policy or even potentially violated the Logan Act by holding the meeting.

The Logan Act is a federal law that forbids unauthorized American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in a dispute with the United States.

Tuesday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the reports, seeming to scold Murphy and his Democratic colleagues for meeting with Zarif, who, Pompeo noted, is “the foreign minister of a country that killed an American on December 27” and “is the largest world sponsor of terror and the world’s largest sponsor of anti-Semitism.”

“If they met, I don’t know what they said. I hope they were reinforcing America’s foreign policy and not their own,” Pompeo added.

What is Sen. Murphy saying?

Murphy had not commented on the news until late Tuesday morning when he published a behind-the-scenes account of his trip on Medium, along with additional thoughts in a brief Twitter thread.

In the senator’s account, he said that he has “no delusions about Iran” and even characterizes Iran as an “enemy” and “adversary” of the United States. But he adds: “Discussions and negotiations are a way to ease tensions and reduce the chances for crisis,” before concluding that “Trump, of course, has no such interests.”

Then Murphy confirmed that the meeting happened and commented at length about its subject matter:

I plan to meet Zarif Saturday night in his hotel suite, and I have several goals for the meeting. First, I want to gauge whether he thinks the reprisals for the Soleimani assassination are over, and I want to make sure it is 100 percent clear to him that if any groups in Iraq that are affiliated with Iran attack the United States’ forces in Iraq, this will be perceived as an unacceptable escalation. Zarif may not have control over Iran’s military decisions, but he is the country’s chief diplomat and I want him to know that our government is united on this point.

Second, I want his help in Yemen. I tell him that I know it is not a coincidence that the recent uptick in attacks from Iranian-aligned Houthis in Yemen started right after the Soleimani killing. I tell him that Iran shouldn’t let the Houthis waste an opportunity for peace. Of course, he predictably tells me that it’s the Saudis, not the Houthis, that are holding up progress on peace talks …

… Lastly, I raise the issue of American prisoners held in Iran. He is ready for this inquiry — he already knows how much I care about releasing innocent Americans from custody — and we spend a few minutes discussing how the situation could be resolved.

A regular reading of Murphy’s account could plausibly characterize the conversation as a negotiation. In a follow-up tweet, Murphy used words like “urged,” “pressed,” and “pushed” in describing his stance toward Zarif at the meeting.

“Congress is a co-equal branch to the executive. We set foreign policy too,” he added in the Twitter thread, before acknowledging that “no one in Congress can negotiate with Zarif or carry official U.S. government messages.”

In a concluding statement about the meeting in his account on Medium, Murphy seems to backpedal a bit, saying he’s “just a rank and file U.S. Senator.”

I don’t know whether my visit with Zarif will make a difference. I’m not the President or the Secretary of State — I’m just a rank and file U.S. Senator. I cannot conduct diplomacy on behalf of the whole of the U.S. government, and I don’t pretend to be in a position to do so. But if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should. And Congress is a co-equal branch of government, responsible along with the Executive for setting foreign policy. A lack of dialogue leaves nations guessing about their enemy’s intentions, and guessing wrong can lead to catastrophic mistakes.

Yet, one potentially troublesome line from the statement is Murphy’s assertion that “if Trump isn’t going to talk to Iran, then someone should.”

Anything else?

Perhaps none of this would be a problem had Murphy been more forthright about the meeting and his motivations for holding it before it took place. TheBlaze reached out to Sen. Murphy’s office, requesting comments regarding allegations that the meeting was conducted in secret and that it potentially violated federal law.

In an email response, the senator’s communications director, Lia Albini, directed us to the Medium publication and Twitter thread cited above, but did not address the specific requests for comment.

So, in a follow-up email, TheBlaze pressed again for specific responses to whether the meeting was intended to be secretive and if the senator had thoughts about allegations that he violated the Logan Act. In addition, TheBlaze sought to know if other congressional colleagues were present with Murphy at the meeting.

Murphy’s team did not respond to our request for comment in time for publication.

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Amy Klobuchar Foreign Policy Intelwars mexico Mexico president obrador Political gotcha Sen. amy klobuchar Telemundo

Amy Klobuchar embarrassed by foreign policy question from Telemundo interviewer

Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suffered an embarrassing moment when she was quizzed on the name of the president of Mexico during an interview with a Spanish language news network.

Klobuchar was unable to remember the president’s name, despite Mexico being the third largest trading partner to the United States.

“Can you tell me his name?” asked Guadalupe Venegas of Telemundo.

“No,” she responded simply.

California billionaire Tom Steyer also failed the global leader gotcha test, but South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg was able to recall Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s last name.

Obrador has also made headlines as the media in Mexico has painted him as the country’s version of President Donald Trump. While he has criticized Trump for comments he’s made about migrants, Obrador has also cooperated with demands from Trump that he pressure migrants from Central America to stay in Mexico.

Telemundo is an American Spanish language news network owned by Comcast through NBCUniversal.

Klobuchar’s campaign got a much-needed lifeline when she came in
third place in the New Hampshire primary, just behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Buttigieg.

ABC news campaign reporter Will Steakin
noted that Klobuchar had voted in favor of the United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but could not name the president.

Here’s the video of the exchange:



www.youtube.com

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Foreign Policy Intelwars militarism War

No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
-James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

Most recently, the Trump Administration signaled its willingness to put the lives of American troops on the line in order to guard Saudi Arabia’s oil resources. Roughly 200 American troops will join the 500 troops already stationed in Saudi Arabia. That’s in addition to the 60,000 U.S. troops that have been deployed throughout the Middle East for decades.

As The Washington Post points out, “The United States is now the world’s largest producer — and its reliance on Saudi imports has dropped dramatically, including by 50 percent in the past two years alone.”

So if we’re not protecting the oil for ourselves, whose interests are we protecting?

The military industrial complex is calling the shots, of course, and profit is its primary objective.

The military-industrial complex is also the world’s largest employer.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex.

Aided and abetted by the U.S government, the American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. Indeed, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

Unfortunately, this level of war-mongering doesn’t come cheap to the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

With more than 800 U.S. military bases in 80 countries, the U.S. is now operating in 40 percent of the world’s nations at a cost of $160 to $200 billion annually.

Despite the fact that Congress has only officially declared war eleven times in the nation’s short history, the last time being during World War II, the United States has been at war for all but 21 of the past 243 years.

It’s cost the American taxpayer more than $4.7 trillion since 2001 to fight the government’s so-called “war on terrorism.” That’s in addition to “$127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.” That does not include the cost of maintaining and staffing the 800-plus U.S. military bases spread around the globe.

The cost of perpetuating those endless wars and military exercises around the globe is expected to push the total bill upwards of $12 trillion by 2053.

The U.S. government is spending money it doesn’t have on a military empire it can’t afford.

As investigative journalist Uri Friedman puts it, for more than 15 years now, the United States has been fighting terrorism with a credit card, “essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

Consider that the government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors. With paid contractors often outnumbering enlisted combat troops, the American war effort dubbed as the “coalition of the willing” has quickly evolved into the “coalition of the billing,” with American taxpayers forced to cough up billions of dollars for cash bribes, luxury bases, a highway to nowhere, faulty equipment, salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” and overpriced anything and everything associated with the war effort, including a $640 toilet seat and a $7600 coffee pot.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government.

There’s a good reason why “bloated,” “corrupt” and “inefficient” are among the words most commonly applied to the government, especially the Department of Defense and its contractors. Price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire.

It’s not just the American economy that is being gouged, unfortunately.

Driven by a greedy defense sector, the American homeland has been transformed into a battlefield with militarized police and weapons better suited to a war zone. Trump, no different from his predecessors, has continued to expand America’s military empire abroad and domestically, calling on Congress to approve billions more to hire cops, build more prisons and wage more profit-driven war-on-drugs/war-on-terrorism/war-on-crime programs that pander to the powerful money interests (military, corporate and security) that run the Deep State and hold the government in its clutches.

Mind you, this isn’t just corrupt behavior. It’s deadly, downright immoral behavior.

Essentially, in order to fund this burgeoning military empire that polices the globe, the U.S. government is prepared to bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse.

Making matters worse, taxpayers are being forced to pay $1.4 million per hour to provide U.S. weapons to countries that can’t afford them. As Mother Jones reports, the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Finance program “opens the way for the US government to pay for weapons for other countries—only to ‘promote world peace,’ of course—using your tax dollars, which are then recycled into the hands of military-industrial-complex corporations.”

Clearly, our national priorities are in desperate need of an overhauling.

As Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez rightly asks:

Why throw money at defense when everything is falling down around us? Do we need to spend more money on our military (about $600 billion this year) than the next seven countries combined? Do we need 1.4 million active military personnel and 850,000 reserves when the enemy at the moment — ISIS — numbers in the low tens of thousands? If so, it seems there’s something radically wrong with our strategy. Should 55% of the federal government’s discretionary spending go to the military and only 3% to transportation when the toll in American lives is far greater from failing infrastructure than from terrorism? Does California need nearly as many active military bases (31, according to militarybases.com) as it has UC and state university campuses (33)? And does the state need more active duty military personnel (168,000, according to Governing magazine) than public elementary school teachers (139,000)?

The illicit merger of the global armaments industry and the Pentagon that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us against more than 50 years ago has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation’s fragile infrastructure today.

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

This is exactly the scenario Eisenhower warned against when he cautioned the citizenry not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today.

What we have is a confluence of factors and influences that go beyond mere comparisons to Rome. It is a union of Orwell’s 1984 with its shadowy, totalitarian government—i.e., fascism, the union of government and corporate powers—and a total surveillance state with a military empire extended throughout the world.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the growth of and reliance on militarism as the solution for our problems both domestically and abroad bodes ill for the constitutional principles which form the basis of the American experiment in freedom.

After all, a military empire ruled by martial law does not rely on principles of equality and justice for its authority but on the power of the sword. As author Aldous Huxley warned: “Liberty cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.”

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