The finances of the US armed forces have been in a state of near-continuous audit for decades and despite spending billions of dollars and thousands of person-years trying to make sense of what the military spends, we're no closer to an answer, and no one disputes that there are trillions of dollars' worth of unaccountable transactions (but importantly, not trillions of dollars in spending) that make it impossible to figure out whether and when and how the Pentagon is being ripped off, or wasting money, or both.
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The Pentagon is seeking bids to improve its Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) so that it can "acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process."
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Last November, the Pentagon's Inspector General presented Congress with a "little-noticed" report on whistleblowing in the US military, revealing that those who come forward with claims of misconduct including sexual harassment and safety problems face a "culture of retaliation" including black marks on their service records, demotion, and suspension of security clearance; the IG also reported that in nearly every case, the officers who retaliated against whistleblowers faced no consequences for their actions.
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Well this is fun: The United States Government Accountability Office released a report today that explains, in no uncertain terms, that the majority of the nation's new-fangled, high-tech weapons systems are hilariously vulnerable to cyber attacks.
From the Washington Post:
The report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many of the weapons, or the systems that control them, could be neutralized within hours. In many cases, the military teams developing or testing the systems were oblivious to the hacking.
A public version of the study, published on Tuesday, deleted all names and descriptions of which systems were attacked so the report could be published without tipping off American adversaries about the vulnerabilities. Congress is receiving the classified version of the report, which specifies which among the $1.6 trillion in weapons systems that the Pentagon is acquiring from defense contractors were affected.
The Government Accountability Office used a team of hackers to see what sort of shenanigans could be caused with a little bit of access and a whole lot of digital kung-fu. The results aren't a good look for America's military. In one instance, the red team that the GOA used was pitted against Pentagon personnel tasked with holding the line against cyberintrusions. The security checks that the Pentagon were easily bypassed, thanks to the use of easy-to-crack passwords and "insiders" who were familiar with the program acting as meatspace backdoors to what would normally be secure systems. It gets worse: hackers working for the GAO reported being able to watch, in real time, a system operator's every move. Read the rest
Emperor Donald will be super bummed. His $92 million parade is not happening. Read the rest
While leaked memos show that Google execs perceived a real risk of internal backlash from their $9 million Pentagon contract to supply AI for US military drones, they were willing to risk it because they expected the business to quickly grow to $250,000,000.
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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis criticized officials at the Pentagon for spending $28 million on forest camouflage-patterned uniforms for Afghan National Army soldiers. Only 2.1% of Afghanistan is covered by forests. Read the rest
When USA Today began investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors, a bizarre harassment campaign commenced against reporter Tom Vanden Brooke and his editor. Websites and user accounts were registered in their names. A defamatory Wikipedia article was created. Bogus comments were posted to make them look bad.
The hare-brained misinformation efforts, directed against America's second-highest circulation daily newspaper, ended with a phone call.
"We're not aware of any participation in such activities, nor would it be acceptable," said Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman.
A Pentagon official confirmed that the military had made inquiries to information operations contractors to ask them about the Internet activity. All denied it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries were informal and did not amount to an official investigation.
The websites were taken down following those inquiries.
Ever wondered why U.S. propaganda efforts abroad are such a joke? Now you can stop wondering.
Update! Gawker (among others) figured it out: it's Leonie Industries. Get a load of these guys:
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It was founded in 2004 by a Lebanese-American brother and sister, Camille Chidiac and Rema Dupont, and has cobbled together $130 million in Pentagon contracts ... An Army colonel told the USA Today reporters that the stuff the Pentagon was paying Leonie to was "gimmicky" and "unserious." ...
According to a 2010 lawsuit filed ... the brother and sister had no experience at all in Middle East affairs when they founded the company, and in fact stole Leonie from their father after he asked them to establish it to house a family business.