This week on NOW:
A patriot, former Air Force Captain and staunch supporter of strong defense, Chuck Spinney has spent 30 years inside the Pentagon standing up for the truth-the truth about defense spending, the truth about the failings of an extraordinary bureaucracy, and now the truth about whether America is prepared to face its current threat.
In a week where U.S. troops continued to be killed in Iraq, the government is warning that terrorists might be plotting suicide hijackings, and the Bush administration is considering its military options in Liberia, the full hour of NOW is dedicated to defense. In this time of war against a new kind of enemy who is unremitting, Spinney's analysis of America's defense system is startling.
As Spinney deconstructs what he calls the "military, industrial, Congressional complex," he reveals a self-perpetuating system that produces unneeded weapons and creates huge deficits. It is a system he says is "out of control." "Over in the Pentagon, we're not holding people accountable," Spinney says. "We are in effect undermining the Constitution because we won't address this issue of accountability."
The program also includes an examination of a pending defense deal that typifies the kind of waste Spinney says is rampant. The controversial proposal, which could be approved in Congress sometime in September, centers on an Air Force request to lease from Boeing 100 aerial tankers, which could cost tax payers as much as $900 million more than buying them outright.
Critics, like Senator John McCain (R-AZ), say that deal is simply a bailout for Boeing, which has been hit hard by the severe downturn in the airline industry since 9-11. "I've seen a lot of rip offs in my more than 20 years here," says McCain. "This is the most obscene."