Thanks to info provided by Edward Snowden, the WaPo builds on their earlier Top Secret America coverage with a first-ever detailed summary of the “Black Budget.” “The document describes a constellation of spy agencies that track millions of individual surveillance targets and carry out operations that include hundreds of lethal strikes.”
Among the revelations here: “Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency, which…has long been considered the behemoth of the community…The CIA’s dominant position will likely stun outside experts.”
Also of note: This multi-billion-dollar, post-9/11 technological terror we’ve constructed “remain[s] unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats..A chart outlining efforts to address key questions on biological and chemical weapons is particularly bleak…The intelligence community seems particularly daunted by the emergence of ‘home grown’ terrorists who plan attacks in the United States without direct support or instruction from abroad.”
In other words, what we have here is a resource-swallowing, clandestine intelligence-industrial bureaucracy that’s nonetheless incapable of actually doing what it’s ostensibly being funded to do. You can see why they’d want to keep this sort of thing secret.
Update: “Since 2007, we’ve known how much the total Black Budget is (before that, with some years excepted, we didn’t even know that), but not how much is spent on specific things. Now we know that too.” Eleven budget charts to help make sense of it all.
In keeping with recent trends, and in what Ryan Grim bills as “a historic step back from its long-running drug war,” AG Eric Holder announces that DOJ will not actively challenge state marijuana decriminalization laws in Washington and Colorado. “A Justice Department official said that Holder told the governors…that the department would take a ‘trust but verify approach’ to the state laws. DOJ is reserving its right to file a preemption lawsuit at a later date, since the states’ regulation of marijuana is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.”
Really, given that Obama himself was a documented bogarter-of-joints — Bad Form, Mr. President — any other policy towards Washington and Colorado would be extraordinarily hypocritical, even for this administration. And with that out of the way, may I offer some handy advice to my fellow Democrats, if we want to get to serious about this whole winning-elections thing? Take a page from Karl Rove’s old gay marriage playbook and get medicinal marijuana and marijuana decriminalization initiatives on as many state ballots as possible in 2014 and beyond — particularly in the midterm elections when youth turnout is low. It’s the right thing to do, and it’ll even further accelerate the ticking clock working against the GOP.
Remember the Heroes: After some kerfuffle, Detroit — where Superman and Batman will soon be duking it out — is on the verge of getting its Kickstarter-funded Robocop statue. “‘Robocop has become a very suitable icon to represent Detroit, and deserves a place in this city’s history,’ their Facebook event page, started over two years ago, still reads. ‘As Detroit continues to redefine itself into the 21st century—please help to truly make this the coolest city on earth.'”
“N***a, is you takin’ notes on a criminal f**king conspiracy?” Buzzfeed‘s Matthew Zeitlin explains what the banksters at J.P. Morgan could learn from Stringer Bell and the New Day-Co-Op. “[S]pelling out in a spreadsheet your exact intentions about hiring specific people for their parents’ help for specific deals is probably not considered best practices.”
As armed US intervention in Syria seemingly passes the point of fait accompli — despite the fact that, as usual, any desirable outcome is unlikely, and blowback almost inevitable, from such a campaign — veteran Mideast correspondent Roger Boyes voices his concerns about the imploding Middle East. (Paywall-free summary here.) “In August 1914 there was a lot of grouse shooting going on. In August 2013, politicians prefer to read doorstopper biographies in Tuscany and Cornwall. Yet the spreading Middle East crisis, its multiple flashpoints, is every bit as ominous as the prelude to war in 1914.”