Things Like That Drive Me Out of My Mind

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Remember that secret defense-project boondoggle, which Sen. Jay Rockefeller described earlier this month as "totally unjustified and very wasteful and dangerous to national security"?

Turns out that A) it's probably a stealthy spy satellite program first dreamed up under Reagan; B) its cost has escalated from $5 billion to $9.5 billion over the life of the program, and (according to the Washington Post) "would probably become the largest single-item expenditure in the $40 billion intelligence budget, is to be launched in the next five years and is meant to replace an existing stealth satellite, according to officials"; and C) because of the revelations of A) and B), the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees satellite programs, wants the Justice Department to hunt down and prosecute these loose-lipped "officials." Because the less we know about $10 billion defense programs opposed by both parties in Congress, the safer we'll be.

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  1. I’m not going to defend this explicitly, but I will say that what happened to the last satellite is likely that parties found it and were able coordinate activities when it wasn’t overhead. See the Pakistan nuclear surprise for an example of what that can mean.

    It is tough to balance the undesirability of secret blank checks written to the intelligence community with the undesirability of very public programs that need to be secret from everyone else.

  2. After reading this post I went through the five stages of grief

    1)Denial – Who’s the source? Probably just more Washington hot air.

    2)Bargaining – How about we spend the 10 gigadollars on armored HUMVs, pay raises for enlisted men, or other projects subject to public oversight?

    3)Anger – FUCKING SELF-SERVING, POWER-LUSTING, THOROUGHLY CORRUPT WASHINGTON SCUM

    4)Despair – There’s nothing we can do. These assholes have all the power and they grow fatter every day.

    5)Acceptance – God I need a drink.

    Actually, I go through this every time I hear about how tax money is spent. I’ve gotten so accomplished at it, I skip right to stage three.

  3. i’ll quietly point out that the two essential powers of a sovereign remain control of the army and the power of the purse.

    congress sacrificed control of the army under fdr, and truman finalized their defeat with korea.

    it should be obvious by now to impartial observers that the legislative branch has been losing control of the purse as well, both monetarily (over time, but notably 1971) and fiscally (progressively since vietnam), and is well down the road to being no more than a rubber-stamp for the administration.

  4. Warren,

    When you’re my age you’ll go straight to stage 5 🙂

    Then you’ll go to stage 3, the hangover’s stage 4 🙁

  5. Totally off point (almost), I tip my hat to the Lou Reed reference in headline. What a great song, especially the live version on Take No Prisoners. The last time I saw Lou he closed with it–I think it is one of his favorites, too.

  6. Maybe it’s an underground satellinte. Bob and Ray had one orbiting at about six feet that they were selling advertising space on, which was the previous low altitude record.

  7. Say Ron, do you happen to know when the Monongahela Metal Foundry is going come out with their 2005 model year ingots? There was supposed to be a feature on CNN about them this morning, but it was preempted by an urgent report from Wally Ballou.

  8. Yeah, and I had the odd experience of Limbaugh frothing on this morning about how the Senators should be imprisoned for even discussing the program. Thus did the Republic end.

  9. Geez, guys… ‘Black’ programs have been around forever, and the Republic is still standing. Sometimes there is a very good reason to keep things secret. When the general knowledge of the existence of a program invalidates it, you have to keep it secret. That’s why the intelligence community has ‘black’ budgets in the first place.

  10. A cost overrun of less than 100% on an aerospace project? Give that Program Manager the Nobel Prize in Management! If that project involves ANY new software, he is now the greatest project manager in history! Even I can barely equal that awesome efficiency and I wield the Mystic Power of Excel Spreadsheets instead of relying on “gut instinct” like everybody else.

    BTW, every one of you guys are now forbidden to complain in any future war [e.g “Hillary’s Taiwan Debacle of 2012”] in which we lose our “overhead reconaissance assets” in the opening volley, that “the Pentagon was planning for the Last War”. You just panned the guys that were trying to prepare for the Next One!

    And worst of all, you are basing this entire thing on the “Sworn Word of a Unbiased Politician!” Holy Klono’s Gadolinium Guts, next you’ll be relying on the “Well-honed Instincts of a Seasoned Media Professional” or the “Stunning Insights of an Award-winning Hollywood Celebrity”

    “What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what ‘the stars foretell,’ avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable ‘verdict of history,’-what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your only clue. Get the facts!”-Lazarus Long

  11. Yes, of course there always have been and always will be secrets. It just gets my back up when I hear popular commentators calling for the prosecution of sitting U.S. senators for doing their jobs.

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