Defending Cleveland’s Federal Jobs
Throughout 2005, Congressman Kucinich actively engaged the Department of Defense as it worked through the Base Realignment and Closure process (BRAC). The Department of Defense recommended BRAC closure list inappropriately targeted the Cleveland area with over 1,000 jobs cuts. These potential job losses were unjust and unfair. After the initial announcement that the Cleveland Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) office was scheduled to close, the Cleveland area delegation vigorously challenged the basic assumptions of the closure.
On August 25, 2005 the BRAC Commission announced that it was recommending to keep the Cleveland DFAS office open. The result was 1025 federal jobs had been spared.
In December of 2005, DFAS announced that 600 to 700 additional jobs were being moved to the Cleveland DFAS office. Instead of losing over a thousand jobs, the Cleveland area has gained several hundred more jobs.Supporting the Troops
In a letter to President Bush, Congressman Kucinich and 19 other Members of Congress asked for a response regarding why our soldiers in Iraq are suffering from a lack of support in the key areas of essential equipment, access to healthcare, pay, and morale. Several reports suggest that the troops suffer from a lack of proper equipment including helicopter anti missile technology, Interceptor body armor, and defective and missing bio/chem protective suits. The Administration has suggested pay cuts for troops, while underfunding many of their needs including travel and schools for their kids. These issues are taking their toll on of defense needs as troop morale is dropping. Reforming the Military to Meet Real Threats
The military budget is half the discretionary federal budget, yet our troops do not get the support they deserve. By eliminating wasteful and unnecessary Pentagon spending, Congressman Kucinich believes we can have a better national defense.
Defense budgets must be based on the current realities of the world. To properly defend America, we must understand who our adversaries and potential adversaries are, and their strengths and weaknesses.
We now face the relatively new threat of terrorism. Because of the recent build up of cold war weapons we are forced to fight this new threat with cold war tactics and theories. However, ICBMs, missile defense, jet fighters, and battleships do not protect us from terrorists. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq proves that point as we did not disable Al Qaeda, not capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
Consider the weapons we are purchasing as compared to the threats we face:
- We are buying the F22, an expensive cold war jet fighter that is only a modest improvement over the F15. Yet, in every conflict since 1990 we have quickly achieved air superiority. Al Qaeda lacks hard targets and is not threatened by the F22.
- We are also buying a new destroyer, the DD(X) designed to attack land targets. In every major conflict since 1990, we have had limited use for such a system considering the availability of cruise missiles. Al Qaeda does not have a Navy and is not threatened by the DD(X).
- Finally, we are buying a national missile defense system that will cost a hundred billion dollars and won’t work. Al Qaeda has no ICBMs and is not deterred by the national missile defense system. In fact, by wasting so many resources on building this boondoggle system, we are underfunding important homeland security initiatives that could protect us for al Qaeda attacks.
Congressman Kucinich has proposed that we reform our defense programs to accurately reflect current threats. At least $60 billion in defense programs can be transferred to homeland security, education and health programs that do far more to meet the real threats Americans are facing today.Defense Department Fiscal Mismanagement
In his work as Ranking Democrat of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, Congressman Kucinich has emerged as a strong critic of the Pentagon's financial problems. In April, the Congressman wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, along with subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays (R-CT), suggesting that the Secretary make fixing the Pentagon’s books “nothing short of [his] number one mission.” In the letter, Reps. Kucinich and Shays highlighted evidence that the Department of Defense is unable to validate trillions of dollars in accounting entries, unable to account for billions of dollars in inventory, and unable to explain billions of dollars in unneeded equipment. “No major part of the Department of Defense has been able to pass the test of an independent audit,” wrote the representatives. This is in violation of both the Constitution’s Accountability Clause and the Anti-Deficiency Act, which require federal agencies to accurately report how they spend the money they are appropriated.
Congressman Kucinich has been similarly critical of the Defense Department’s acquisition strategy. In two different subcommittee hearings, Congressman Kucinich has expressed frustration with the Pentagon’s development of the F-22 fighter plane. Whereas the Air Force was initially supposed to spend $40 billion to acquire 888 planes, it will now spend $256 million per plane to buy just 188 planes. The result will be an older, less reliable force.
“Why is the Pentagon proceeding on this course” asked Congressman Kucinich in his opening statement during an August hearing on the F-22. “If these purchases result in a fleet that breaks down more and flies less, shouldn’t we buy more aircraft that, although less sophisticated, may be more reliable? Currently defense spending is approaching the average levels of the Cold War in the 1970s. Yet, the Pentagon is seeking billions more. Congress deserves reassurance that this money is going toward a force that is more effective, not less so.”National Missile Defense
Congressman Kucinich opposes the deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD) system. The system is extremely expensive, has inherent technological flaws that will make it impossible to work as promised, would have a destructive impact on nuclear non proliferation and accompanying treaties, and would have a destabilizing effect on U.S. relations with allies world-wide.
Congressman Kucinich has been very active fighting missile defense. Kucinich challenged Pentagon claims about the July 2001 flight test of the ground-based missile defense system. In a statement issued immediately following the test, Kucinich called the test “flawed,” highlighting the Pentagon’s failure to include realistic countermeasures in the test. A day later, he sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld inquiring about reports that the test’s dummy warhead employed a Global Positioning System to help the intercepting missile track it.
In June, Congressman Kucinich introduced an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Bill to cut funding from the Airborne Laser (ABL) program and transfer the money to underfunded nuclear non-proliferation initiatives. The program seeks to put a laser on a 747 airplane in order to shoot down incoming missiles. Congress’ investigative agency has said that a realistic ABL design “may not be achievable using current technology.”
Congressman Kucinich also convened a National Missile Defense Strategy Summit in April to explore ways to challenge missile defense. Participants included Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Gordon Mitchell, Assistant Professor Communication at the University of Pittsburgh; Dr. Robert Bowman; and other Members of Congress.
These initiatives follow a host of actions taken on missile defense in the last Congress. In an effort to protect taxpayers, Congressman Kucinich led 52 other Congressional Democrats in June 2000 in demanding an FBI investigation of allegations of fraud and cover-up in the National Missile Defense program. These allegations were made by Dr. Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Postol’s review of the program proved that the $60 billion anti-missile system cannot tell the difference between a decoy and a warhead, totally nullifying its usefulness. Postol made public his conclusions in a letter he sent to the White House. After he sent the letter, the Department of Defense classified the letter and attachments. The congressional letter the Congressman initiated also requested that the FBI determine whether the classification of the scientist’s letter occurred in violation of Executive Order 12958, which prohibits the use of the classification system to hide fraud and other wrongdoing. According to the letter, the Executive Order at subsection 1.8(a) states: “In no case shall information be classified in order to: (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; (3) restrain competition; or (4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security.” Furthermore, the Executive Order states at 1.8 (c): “Information may not be reclassified after it has been declassified and released to the public under proper authority.”
Congressman Kucinich also introduced a motion to instruct conferees to the Defense Authorization bill to cut funding for the National Missile Defense program. Speaking on the floor on numerous occasions, Congressman Kucinich continued to point out that the National Missile Defense system is a flawed system that is neither economically nor technologically viable. In June 2000, Congress debated the Defense Appropriations bill which allotted more than $1.8 billion for the National Missile Defense program. Congressman Kucinich introduced an amendment to this bill which would have cut funding for the National Missile Defense program and re-allocate it to the Defense Health Program. The amendment failed. As with this year’s test, Congressman Kucinich was highly critical of last year’s failed attempt to demonstrate the ability of NMD to intercept a missile. In a letter to the Department of Defense Inspector General, the Congressman demanded that he review all technical data from this test relating to the failure of a balloon decoy accompanying the mock warhead to inflate. “It is more than passing strange that in yesterday’s failed test, the decoy balloon did not inflate. If it was programmed to not inflate, then a direct hit by the ‘kill vehicle’ could have been celebrated as ‘proof’ the system worked, much the same way that last October’s test was scored a success, though subsequent analysis showed its failure to distinguish between decoy and warhead. Is it really possible that the architects of the anti-missile system are reduced to such a pitiful condition that they cannot even inflate their own decoy?” Kucinich asked. Nuclear Arms Reduction
In the course of his work on missile defense, Congressman Kucinich has come out in strong support of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Following President Bush’s May 1st address signaling his intent to withdraw from the treaty in order to build NMD, the Congressman came to the treaty’s defense, and expressed concern over Bush’s plans to act unilaterally on nuclear issues. “The ABM Treaty has served the world well for thirty years. Scrapping it and building a missile defense system will only invite Russia and China to build up arsenals able to overcome our defenses,” Kucinich said. He added, “Unilateral nuclear reductions are no substitute for formal arms control agreements. What is unilaterally reduced can also be unilaterally increased.”
In April 2000, Congressman Kucinich, in a letter to President Clinton, asked him to reconsider attempting to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Congressman Kucinich’s call came in the wake of ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the START II Treaty by the Russian duma. Congressman Kucinich, in his letter, applauded efforts by Russia to make progress towards non proliferation by ratifying the START II and the CTBT. However, he warned that a move to amend the ABM Treaty would result in destabilization, sending us back into a Cold War. “Attempts to modify or change it to allow for a national missile defense would run counter to our interests, and the interests of Europe and Russia, and de-stabilize our relations with the region,” Kucinich stated in the letter. “Such efforts may be perceived as a threat by other nuclear countries, forcing them to reassess their own defense system and attempt to modernize their own nuclear arsenals.”
Congressman Kucinich also participated in a parallel conference on the opening day of the UN NPT 2000 Review entitled “April 24, 2010: Our Nuclear Future,” at the UN Plaza Hotel. The conference attempted to weigh two equally plausible scenarios for the future: one with weak treaties and rampant nuclear proliferation, and the other with a global disarmament treaty reached by 2010 in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Leading nuclear physicists, policy analysts, diplomats, scientists and weapons experts predicted how new technologies and policies will influence international arms control. On November 9, 1999, the 10th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Congressman Kucinich introduced H. Res 369, known as the Rapid Risk Reduction resolution. This resolution urged the President to engage in emergency negotiations with Russia on reciprocal arms reductions, encouraged a Congressional delegation to meet with members of the Russian Duma to discuss nuclear disarmament, and welcomed Rep. Woolsey's resolution, H.Res. 82, to promote measures through the United Nations on world-wide nuclear disarmament. Congressman Kucinich, in his continued effort to advocate peace and nuclear disarmament, participated in an event in front of the Capitol where a 200-foot replica of the Berlin Wall had been erected. Space Weapons Ban
On May 18, 2005, Congressman Kucinich introduced HR 2420 (first introduced in January 2002), banning the weaponization of space. This legislation would put a lid on weaponization by banning both weapons stationed in outer space and the targeting of any objects in space. (The use of space-based reconnaissance and intelligence equipment would be permitted.) Such a ban would prevent a destructive space arms race along the lines of the nuclear arms race that has placed Earth’s existence in jeopardy for over fifty years. Click here
to view a copy of the legislation.
A space weapons ban will also free up money to fund more important needs. The Department of Defense's Space Based Laser, just one of many different space-based weapons being contemplated, is expected to cost $70-80 billion to develop.Cluster Bombs
In 1999, Congressman Kucinich introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would eliminate the purchase of cluster bombs. Although the amendment was withdrawn, the leadership on the Appropriations committee agreed to hold hearings to investigate the use of these munitions. These weapons, dropped either by aircraft or rocket launchers, break open in mid-air and disperse hundreds of bomblets that saturate an area with flying shards of steel.
Cluster bombs turn into landmines when some of the bomblets fail to explode right away. According to the General Accounting Office, the failure rate of cluster weapons is extremely high -between 5% to 30%. Thus these unexploded bombs wreak havoc and kill civilians long after a war is over. More than 1.2 million of these bombs failed to explode during the Gulf War and are now killing people, ten years after the end of that conflict. An estimated 4 million cluster bomblets are still lying in rice fields, villages and on roadsides in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The United States spent more than $4.8 billion dollars between 1995 and 1999 buying cluster bombs.