Rockefeller's Mystery Defense Program

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Democratic Senators Jay Rockefeller and Ron Wyden raised eyebrows Wednesday when they denounced during an open session of Congress what Rockefeller described as a "major funding acquisition program that I believe is totally unjustified and very wasteful and dangerous to national security." More J-Rock, from the Congressional Record:

Because of the highly classified nature of the programs contained in the national intelligence budget, I cannot talk about them on the floor. But the Senate has voted for the past 2 years to terminate the program of which I speak, only to be overruled in the appropriations conference. The intelligence authorization conference report that I expect to be before the Senate later today fully authorizes funding for this unjustified and stunningly expensive acquisition.

My decision is shared by a number of my colleagues. Speaking for myself, if we are asked to fund this particular program next year, I will seriously consider and probably will ask the Senate to go into closed session so the Senators can understand, fully debate, become informed upon, and then vote on termination of this very wasteful acquisition program. […]

WYDEN: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has raised concerns about the need and costs of this program for the past 4 years and sought to cancel this program in each of the past 2 years. This has not been a political issue, a Democratic or Republican issue, nor should it be. The members of the Senate committee have supported these efforts in a nonpartisan way with unanimous votes each time.

Numerous independent reviews have concluded that the program does not fulfill a major intelligence gap or shortfall, and the original justification for developing this technology has eroded in importance due to the changed practices and capabilities of our adversaries. There are a number of other programs in existence and in development whose capabilities can match those envisioned for this program at far less cost and technological risk. Like almost all other acquisition programs of its size, initial budget estimates have drastically underestimated the true costs of this acquisition and independent cost estimates have shown that this program will exceed its proposed budgets by enormous amounts of money. The Senate Intelligence Committee has also in the past expressed its concern about how this program was to be awarded to the prime contractor.

I wish more of my colleagues knew of the details of this program and understood why we are so convinced that it should be canceled.

So what is this alleged boondoggle? The Chicago Sun-Times paraphrases "intelligence experts" as saying the program "was almost certainly a spy satellite system." Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, identifies the real villain as "a cabal of left-wing senators taking it upon themselves to draw attention to some secret program."

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  1. Didn’t they know that it’s unpatriotic to vote against anything that’s big and goes “boom”?

  2. And, just who are they spying on?

  3. The only thing Rush Limbaugh knows about this issue is that is was raised by two Democrats. Based on that fact, he feels comfortable asserting that the program needs to be saved.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say that his thought process doesn’t reflect the way the White House or Congressional majority approaches public policy?

  4. Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, identifies the real villain as “a cabal of left-wing senators taking it upon themselves to draw attention to some secret program.”

    The one lesson I learned from DARE is never trust the drug addict, they have no credibility. Don’t even turn your back on them. They may even kill you with an ax, even if its your own daughter or son.

  5. The only thing Rush Limbaugh knows about this issue is that is was raised by two Democrats

    Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, ladies and gentlemen — joe really *did* just criticize someone for deciding a person was wrong based purely on his party affiliation.

  6. Dan, you can knock me over with a feather.

    Besides, who cares what Limbaugh says?

  7. Todd,
    Re: Rush, one word: Ditto

    When a Senator says, “Program X is expensive, unjustified, and wasteful”. What he means is, “There is insufficient pork designated form my state in program X”. The Senator can be counted on to change his position by increasing the cost of the program.

  8. Dan,

    Joe makes comments like that all the time.

  9. Warren,

    Boy you sure are cynical. 🙂

  10. Although I would think that, given the public nature of it a while ago, the Crusader idea could not possibly still be being debated…

  11. I heard that some Senators were raising a stink about somethin (and aren’t the Democrats always?) but then I listened to Rush and learned there is nothing to worry about.

  12. We do live in a strange world when the conservative position on an issue is that it’s appropriate to spend sqlillions of dollars on a program sight unseen, strictly on the government’s say-so.

  13. Warren said:
    “When a Senator says, “Program X is expensive, unjustified, and wasteful”. What he means is, “There is insufficient pork designated form my state in program X”. The Senator can be counted on to change his position by increasing the cost of the program.”

    Here in Oregon, we have very little defense spending. We have no naval bases, no air force bases, and the only army facility stores nerve gas. An incinerator has been built to destroy the nerve gas, so soon we will have an army depot that stores *nothing*. Oregon must be far and away the least militarized state in the Union. Wyden isn’t looking to bring defense dollars to Oregon.

  14. Oregonite,
    Wyden is one of the Senators spewing “wasteful, expensive, etc”. That is to be expected considering the way your sparsely populated state has been getting screwed out of the military industrial pie.

    Let me see him vote against the Mt. Hood Spacecraft Landing Facility, and then I’ll believe he’s got a principled bone in his praetorian body.

  15. I’ll bet they’re talking about the Bush Administration’s secret program to acquire France.

    “There are a number of other programs in existence and in development whose capabilities can match those envisioned for this program at far less cost and technological risk”

    Like acquiring the Ukraine.

  16. Warren-

    Wyden would almost certainly vote against the Mt. Hood Landing Facility if it meant losing money for our precious light-rail projects and chinook salmon recovery facilities.

    dlc of oregon

  17. Obviously, the program in question is the world’s funniest joke. (“Wenn ist das Nunstuck git und Slotermeyer?”…)

  18. David T:

    I’m pasting that joke into a translator program, and…

    Oh, that’s funny. Hee. Ha, ha! MWAHAHAHAHA–

    *THUD*

  19. OH MY GOD! The Oregonian is dead! Now he’ll never get that grant to develop his funny walk. This must be the last thing he ever saw…

    {smirk} {giggle} tee hee hee HA HA HA MWAHAHAHA

    *THUD*

  20. This secret program sounds kinda spooky. Did anybody use the words “Black Mesa”?

  21. First Rockefeller says it’s “dangerous to national security” and then he clarifies (?) that remark by retracting it. Good work, Jay.

    The 4 senators may well be correct for all I know, but Rockefeller does their cause little good by spearheading it. Someone with more upstairs would do a better job.

  22. I hope it’s something really cool like Orbital Mind Control Lasers.

  23. If it’s something useful and wonderful…maybe it should remain “secret” from the Public for now. When baking bread, it’s best to leave the oven door shut…rather than opening it and peeking every ten-minutes. I’m sure that R. Lee Ermey or Hunter Elllis will give us the full briefing when it time to slice.

  24. It’s probably the nuclear-powered slingshot program. The superconducting catapult is much more efficient and has the all-important coolness factor.

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