MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

To Save the Republic, Abolish the Black Budget

Posted by M. C. on October 12, 2022

by Laurie Calhoun

The reasoning of opportunistic politicians appears to be that adding even more restrictions, filling the (feckless) defense department’s already overflowing coffers, and allowing off-the-leash bureaucrats to do whatever they may deem necessary in the name of national defense, will all be seen in a positive light by citizens who are counting on the government to serve as their protector. This fictional image is maintained, against all empirical evidence of the actual outcomes of every military intervention since World War II, because the populace is constantly “tutored” by the government-coopted mainstream media to support anything whatsoever labeled by anyone as “defense”.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/to-save-the-republic-abolish-the-black-budget/

george bush center for intelligence cia

I have been puzzling over the ever-augmenting Black Budget since about the time the U.S. government began openly assassinating suspects, including U.S. citizens, without indictment, much less conviction in a court of law, for capital crimes. Tim Weiner’s groundbreaking work Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget (1990) explains how the means to commit crimes under cover of state secrets privilege all began with the Manhattan Project. Like so many other aspects of the sprawling defense and security apparatus which continues to expand like an amoeba, engulfing nearly every aspect of American culture, the Black Budget took on a life of its on during the Cold War.

The stakes were admittedly high: freedom or slavery? Put that way, it seemed eminently reasonable to policymakers at the time to devise intricate mechanisms shrouded from public view in order to do whatever needed to be done to keep the inhabitants of the Western world both safe and free. In their view, it was strategic; it was tactical; and it had to be secret, in order to succeed. Beginning with the Manhattan Project, through which atomic bombs were developed for the first time in human history, the perceived need to keep newly developed weapons systems shrouded in secrecy, for fear that the enemy might develop the same, arose out of a recognition of just how devastating those weapons could be. Little Boy and Fat Man were notoriously tested on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945, and with the U.S. government’s demonstrated willingness to deploy such weapons, the nuclear arms race was on.

Once a chunk of the defense budget had been made black to keep new weapons technology secret, it did not take long for entire systems of clandestine operations, today known as “black ops,” to emerge and expand as well. Again, we have Tim Weiner to thank for having done us the service of documenting in his indispensable work Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007) at least some of what went on during the Cold War. Legacy of Ashes is based on a trove of some 50,000 CIA documents first declassified near the end of the twentieth century. But today, long after the Soviet Union collapsed, the secrecy apparatus put in place by well-meaning—if sometimes confused, inept, deluded and occasionally outright insane—bureaucrats has come to be a seemingly permanent fixture of our world. At more than $80 billion, the Black Budget now exceeds the entire military budget of nearly all other governments.

We may, if so inclined, most charitably explain the persistence of the Black Budget by appeal to bureaucratic habits (which do die hard…), even when the rational grounds for the secrecy no longer obtain. The strategic grounds originally used to justify the Black Budget disappeared with the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., but so did the tactical grounds, given that advanced nuclear weapons systems are already possessed by several governments, and the technology has been shared with others as well—whether by spies, defectors or simple mercenaries. The secrets, then, remain secrets, ironically enough, only to the very citizens who pay for the systems, including nearly all of their elected representatives.

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