The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act grants permission
for next year's wars. In this episode, we look at how the new law,
in partnership with a reckless Executive Order, will provide
weapons to terrorists and legalize American wars fought with
foreign humans. Also in this episode, learn about the new Ministry
of Propaganda (the "Global Engagement Center") that the United
States will open in July.
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Bill Highlighted in This Episode
Title III—Operation and Maintenance
Subtitle B—Energy and Environment
- “It is the sense of Congress that...
- "decisions relating to the funding of the Dept. of Defense …
should prioritize the support and enhancement of the combat
capabilities of the Dept"
- funds should be allocated among the programs of the Dept in the
manner that best serves the national security interests of the
- decisions relating to energy efficiency, energy use, and
climate change should adhere to the principles described above
Title VI—Compensation and Other Personnel
Subtitle A—Pay and Allowances
- Effective January 1, 2017, the rates of monthly basic pay for
military members is 2.1 percent
- Gives the Defense Dept one year to report to Congress on a new
pay structure: A “single salary
system,” which will take effect on January 1, 2018.
Subtitle E—Commissary and Nonappropriated Fund
Instrumentality Benefits and Operations
- They are going to test a "variable pricing program” which
would price commissary goods “in response to market conditions and
Subtitle F—Other Matters
Allows the Secretary of Defense is allowed to waive collections
of overpayments to military service members if the collection
starts over 10 years after the overpayment occurred.
- The Defense Department will conduct a review of the bonuses paid to
California National Guard members from 2004 - 2015, determine how
many bonuses were awarded improperly, and determine which ones will
be granted a repayment waiver.
- Waivers will be denied only
if the board can make an affirmative determination that the member
“knew or reasonably should have known that the member was
ineligible for the bonus pay”
Title VII—Health Care Provisions
Subtitle A—Reform of TRICARE and military health
- Creates TRICARE Select: “Eligible
beneficiaries will not have restrictions on the freedom of choice
of the beneficiary with respect to health care providers.”
- Cost sharing table
Title VIII—Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management,
and Related Matters
Subtitle F—Provisions Relating to Commercial
- Exempts the purchase of
“commercial items” from a bunch of procurement laws
- Prohibits defense agencies
from entering into contracts for services that are NOT commercial
services, unless it’s determined in writing that there are no
commercial services available.
Subtitle G—Industrial Base Matters
- Orders a written plan to be completed by
the end of 2017 to” reduce the barriers to the seamless integration
between the persons and organizations that comprise the national
technology and industrial base"
- Entities to be “integrated” include government entities,
universities, nonprofits, and private contractors (including
weapons manufacturers) operating in the United States, Canada and
(added) the UK, Northern Ireland,
Title IX—Department of Defense Organization and
Subtitle B—Organization and Management of the
Department of Defense Generally
- Repeals the requirement that the Secretary of Defense
have policies and procedures to determine the most appropriate cost
efficient mix of military, civilians, and contractor personnel to
perform the mission of the Dept. of Defense.
Title X—General Provisions
Subtitle B—Counterdrug Activities
- "The Secretary of Defense may provide support for the
counter drug activities… of any department or agency of the Federal
Government or of any State, local, tribal, or foreign law
enforcement agency for…:
- "Training of law enforcement personnel of the Federal
Government, of State, local, and tribal governments…"
- “Intelligence analysis services"
- “Aerial and ground reconnaissance”
Sec. 1032. Prohibition on use of
funds for transfer or release of individuals detained at United
States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cub, to the United
Sec. 1034. Prohibition on use of
funds for transfer or release to certain countries of individuals
detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sec. 1035. Prohibition on use of
funds for realignment of forces at or closure of United States
Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- Specifically prohibits transferring anyone to Libya, Somalia,
Syria, or Yemen.
Subtitle G—Other Matters
- Secretary of Defense needs to post the costs of each the
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria wars onto a public website. No due
date or web address.
Title XII—Matters relating to foreign
Subtitle A—Assistance and training
- Authorizes the amount of money appropriated to the fund to more
than double, from $1.07 billion to $2.5 billion.
- $500 million must be to purchase precision guided munitions for
partner and allied forces
Subtitle B—Matters relating to Afghanistan and
- The United States can use $1.1 billion to pay any country that helps our
military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and the United
States can pay Pakistan for “activities
meant to enhance the security situation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan
border region and for counterterrorism"
Subtitle C—Matters relating to Syria, Iraq, and
- Extends the authority to “provide assistance to the vetted
Syrian opposition” until December 31, 2018.
- State Dept: “Countering the
proliferation of Man-Portable Air Defense Systems is a top U.S.
national security priority. In the hands of terrorists, criminals,
or other non-state actors, MANPADS - also known as shoulder-fired
anti-aircraft missiles - pose a serious threat to passenger air
travel, the commercial aviation industry, and military aircraft
around the world. The United States is working closely with
numerous countries and international organizations to keep the
skies safe for all."
- The 2015 NDAA authorized the transfer of “man-portable air
defense system” or “MANPADs” to the “vetted Syrian
- They are allowed to continue to do so
after a 30-day waiting period if a report is submitted to
Subtitle D—Matters relating to the Russian
- Increases the amount allowed to
be spent on “security assistance” to Ukraine by $50 million, up to
- A minimum of $50 million MUST be
spent on “Lethal assistance” including anti-armor weapon systems,
mortars, grenade launchers, small arms, and ammunition
- This NDAA adds equipment and
technical assistance for a border surveillance network for Ukraine
to the list of authorized uses of funding
- $175 million will be withheld
until the Secretary of State certifies that Ukraine has taken steps
towards reforms including civilian control of their military and
“potential opportunities for privatization in the defense
Subtitle E—Reform of Department of Defense Security
Subtitle H—Other matters
- The Secretaries of Defense and State can enter an agreement to swap “support” to
each other’s departments during and up to two years after any
- “Support” = food, transportation,
petroleum, oils, communication services, medical services,
ammunition, base operations support, use of facilities, spare
parts, and maintenance services.
- Prohibits any funds being used to implement the Arms Trade Treaty, which is a 2013 UN treaty
designed to regulate and limit the international weapons trade. We
signed it in September.
- By mid-June 2017, the Department of State will create a
Global Engagement Center
- Purpose: “To lead, synchronize,
and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize,
understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state
propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United
States national security interests”
- Track and evaluate stories abroad that threaten the interests
of the US and the US allies and partner nations.
- Support the creation and distribution of “fact-based
narratives” to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at
the United States, our allies, and partner nations.
- Promote “fact-based narratives” to audiences outside the United
- The head of the Global Engagement Center will be appointed by the President
- Any Federal Government employee may
be assigned to the Global Engagement Center for a maximum of
- The State Department can hire domestic and foreign
contractors to work for the Global Engagement Center for a
maximum of four years each, with a maximum of 50 employees
- The Global Engagement Center can pay (“provide grants”) to
“civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental
organizations, federally funded research and development centers,
private companies, or academic institutions” to:
- Collect and store examples in print, online, and on social
media of disinformation and propaganda directed at the US, its
allies, and partners.
- To “counter efforts” to use information to influence the
policies and stability of the United States, it’s allies and
- The Global Engagement Center will end in December 2024
(8 years after enactment)
The Broadcasting Board of Governors
is a global
media agency tasked with “informing” other countries in a way that
pursues US national interests (aka: our propaganda networks). BBG
Changes made by NDAA
- The 2016 NDAA authorized $150
million per year for each Jordan and Lebanon for border security
- This provision adds Egypt and Tunisia to the
list of counties eligible for “support” funding
- The money is authorized until the end of 2019
- Detailed procedures for court martial cases
- A list of all the offenses eligible for a court martial
Sound Clip Sources
U.S. Strategy and Policy in the Middle East, Senate
Armed Services Committee, January 20, 2016. -
Available on C-SPAN
Timestamps & Transcripts
- 27:30 General Jack Keane: Partnering
for training and military education is essential to raise the level
of operational competence. There is no substitute for an effective
ground force supported by air power. Air power is an enabler; it is
not a defeat mechanism. This is about alliance members providing
the predominant military response. It’s not the United States
military. The United States military would provide a certain level
U.S. Policy and Russian Involvement in Syria, House
Foreign Affairs Committee, November 4, 2015,
- Anne W.
- Assistant Secretary Department of State->Near Eastern
- Ambassador to Columbia during Bush years
- Ran the drug war for Bush in 2005
- Ambassador to Pakistan Bush/Obama
- Ambassador to Egypt right after the “uprising”
Timestamps & Transcripts
- 16:40 Anne Patterson: We are pursuing
four interlinked goals: (1) to defeat ISIS militarily in both Syria
and Iraq, (2) to develop a political transition that gives Syria a
future without Bashar al-Assad, (3) to ease the suffering of the
Syrian people, and (4) to stabilize our allies as they cope with
massive refugee outflows.
- 36:44 Anne Patterson: Patterson: The
idea is to have a transitional government, to work on a time table
for Assad’s departure—and let me be clear that that’s a critical
element of this policy—and then to work on constitutional review,
and, ultimately, an election in Syria. That’s the basic outlines of
Secretary Kerry’s strategy. Rep. Karen Bass: So, at this
point, if there were to be a transitional government, who do you
see composing that? Anne Patterson: Well, a number of
opposition figures and people already on the ground. It would be
key—and this was in the communiqué—that Syria’s institutions—the
military, intelligence, police, civil service—would remain intact,
so you wouldn’t have a total collapse of state authority. The idea
is just to remove Bashar Assad… Rep. Bass: Like that
happened in Iraq? Patterson: …and his cronies from
- 1:30:50 Anne Patterson: The president
and certainly the secretary has said many times that Assad’s
departure is absolutely critical to any future in Syria.
- 1:32:45 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Those
allies, do they see Assad’s removal from power as imperative to
deal with this situation? Anne Patterson: Currently, our
European allies, our Gulf allies, and Turkey do see that. They’re
absolutely determined that he will not remain in power.
- 1:47:30 Anne Patterson: There’s broad
consensus in the international community that these institutions in
Syria would remain intact—the intelligence; the military; the
police; the civil service; the ministerial structures, like health
structures; and that the goal is to remove Bashar al-Assad and his
closest advisors and have this political process that would lead to
a new government.
- 1:56:10 Anne Patterson: Let me stress
that that is our goal, to get Assad out.
Press Conference: Arms Trade
Treaty, US State Department, September 25, 2013
- Secretary of State John Kerry: What this treaty does
is simple: It helps lift other countries up to the highest
standards. It requires other countries to create and enforce the
kind of strict national export controls that the United States
already has in place.
Rex Tillerson's Company Exxon, Has Billions at Stake Over Sanctions
on Russia by Andrew Kramer and Clifford Krauss, New York Times,
December 12, 2016.
Adding 200 more troops to Syria, U.S. deepens involvement by
Robert Burns, Associated Press, December 10, 2016.
- Press Release:
Senate Passes Major Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Bill as Part
of NDAA, Senator Rob Portman, December 8, 2016.
Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste
by Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, December
Congress authorizes Trump to arm Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft
missiles by Julian Pecquet, Al-Monitor, December 2, 2016.
U.S. arms export boom under Obama seen continuing with Trump by
Mike Stone and patricia Zengerie, Reuters, November 9, 2016.
- Report: Armed Conflict in
Syria: Overview and U.S. Response by Carla E. Humud,
Christopher Blanchard, and Mary Beth Nikitin, Congressional
Research Service, September 28, 2016.
How Many Guns Did the U.S. Lose Track of in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Hundreds of Thousands. by C.J. Chivers, New York Times
Magazine, August 24, 2016.
- Blog Post:
Resurrecting the Special Defense Acquistition Fund (SDAF) and Why
It Matters to You by Todd Dudley, LinkedIn, February 23,
- State Department Cable:
"The best way to help Israel with Iran's growing nuclear capability
is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar
Assad", author unknown, November 30, 2015.
The Defense Business Board's 2015 study on how the Pentagon could
save $125 billion, January 22, 2015.
Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical
weapon concern by Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, August 30,
U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to
Americans by John Hudson, The Cable, July 14, 2013.
- Bill provision:
Section 1078: Dissemination abroad of information about the United
States, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
Iraq, Iran, Syria Sign $10 Billion Gas-Pipeline Dead by Hassan
Hafidh and Beniot Faucon, The Wall Street Journal, July 25,
- Article: The
Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our
enemies in the war on terrorism? by Seymour Hersh, The New
Yorker, March 5, 2007.
- Webpage: Arms Trade
Treaty, US Department of State
Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go, National Priorities
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