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Archive for March 13th, 2011|Daily archive page

Complete Coverage of WikiLeaks Cables on Nigeria

In Nigeria, WikiLeaks, World Revolution on March 13, 2011 at 11:32 PM

NEXT is the only organization in Nigeria with exclusive access to all of the Nigerian WikiLeaks cables.

The cables released so far show reveal:

CLICK HERE FOR WIKILEAKS NIGERIA CABLES UPDATES

White House Forces P.J. Crowley To Resign After Bradley Manning Statements

In Bradley Manning, Manning, News, WikiLeaks on March 13, 2011 at 9:14 PM

ThinkProgress:

Last week, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley criticized DOD for its treatment of Manning, calling it “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Barack Obama was later asked what he thought about Crowley’s comments, and replied saying that he trusts the Pentagon, and believes Manning’s confinement is “appropriate” and “meeting basic standards.”

CNN reported today that the White House has now forced Crowley to resign.

In his resignation statement, Crowley did not back down from his criticism:

The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law. My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values.

Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret.” “PJ has served our nation with distinction for more than three decades, in uniform and as a civilian,” she said. “His service to country is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.” He previously served as a spokesman for the National Security Council and the Defense Department during the Clinton administration.

Crowley resigned today due to reported White House pressure. FDL’s Michael Whitney writes that this means that White House now “owns the abuse” of Manning.

“Manning is alleged to have committed serious crimes,” Matt Yglesias writes, referring to Crowley’s abrupt resignation, adding, “The correct response would be to put him on trial. To hold a person without trial in solitary confinement under degrading conditions is a perversion of justice.”

Related Link: P.J. Crowley Talks About Bradley Manning Remarks

Bradley Manning’s Father Breaks His Silence

In Bradley Manning, Manning, WikiLeaks on March 13, 2011 at 8:10 PM

PBS FRONTLINE:

We first interviewed Mr. Brian Manning after he had come from a visit to the Quantico Brig where he says he had met twice with Bradley — for 90 minutes on Saturday, the 26th and three hours on Sunday, the 27th. The next day, he sat down with us for an on-camera interview.

At most, we expected to talk for a couple of hours. Instead, the interview spanned five hours, not including a short break for lunch. Throughout, Brian patiently answered any and all questions. There were no conditions or subject areas that were deemed off limits.

A week later, we received an email from Brian in which he expressed concern over a report posted by Bradley’s attorney about a change in the conditions of Bradley’s detention. Brian said he hadn’t spoken to the attorney, but wanted to go back on the record to lodge a public protest over the government’s actions. We told him we would help get his message out. We flew to Oklahoma City to do a second interview on March 7th.

We filmed for another two hours. Excerpts from that interview are posted below. Brian also drove us around the town of Crescent, where Bradley grew up, about an hour north of Oklahoma City. After his parents’ divorce, Bradley, then 12, moved back to his mother’s native home in Wales in the U.K. He returned to Oklahoma to live for a short time with Brian and his second wife before joining the Army.

We will be reporting extensively on Bradley Manning’s upbringing and young adulthood, as well as his alleged crimes, in two upcoming FRONTLINE reports.

This is Brian Manning’s first media appearance, a FRONTLINE exclusive.

In response to this interview, the Pentagon issued a statement disputing Brian Manning’s claims. In it they explain that they are keeping Bradley under what’s called a prevention of injury watch for his own good. Brian Manning told FRONTLINE that the last time he saw his son, he showed no signs of having suicidal intentions.

At another point in the interview Brian Manning discussed how he was himself once an intelligence analyst for the Navy. And, he said, like his son, he signed a contract promising never divulge classified information. While many have talked about Bradley as whistleblower, Brian Manning says violating the government’s trust is simply wrong.

Throughout our discussion Brian Manning says he doesn’t know who could have ever leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks. He says he certainly doesn’t believe it was Bradley.

In total, we interviewed Mr. Manning for over seven hours. He was open to answering our questions and very much wanted to set the record straight on all that’s been said elsewhere about his parenting and about Bradley’s upbringing. In all that time, he remained remarkably stoic.

COMING March 29th, on-air and online: FRONTLINE’s profile of Pfc. Bradley Manning

Related Links:

The Private Life of Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning Speaks Out In 11 Page Letter

Canada Government Underestimates Fighter Jet Costs by Over $10 Billion

In News, NWO on March 13, 2011 at 2:00 AM

CBC:

It will cost close to $30 billion to buy and maintain 65 F-35 fighter jets according to Parliament’s budget watchdog — billions more than estimates given by the Conservative government.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said in a report Thursday that his $29.3 billion estimate covers the purchase price and sustainment costs for the fleet over 30 years. The budget officer said the “total ownership” cost estimate from the department of national defence over the same period amounts to $17.6 billion based on his calculations.

The difference in numbers prompted accusations from opposition parties that the Conservatives are being dishonest with Canadians about the fighter jet deal that was announced last summer.

The government, however, said it stands by its figures. It says it has committed $9-billion to buy the 65 planes and they will cost around $70 million each. It estimates they will cost between $250 million and $300 million to service per year.

“I’m not going to get into a lengthy debate on numbers,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at a news conference in Toronto. He said the F-35 is the “only option available” to replace the aging CF-18 fleet and to serve the purposes of the Canadian Forces.

“We’re following a long-term plan here and we’re purchasing at a time where we know the cost of production will be the lowest,” the prime minister said.

Page, who has cast doubt before on goverment estimates, was asked by the Liberals to provide an independent analysis of the jet purchase, which is being done through the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program with Canada’s allies.

In a memorandum of understanding, Canada has committed to buy 65 of the Lockheed Martin planes that are now in development and scheduled to be ready in 2016. Canada joined the JSF program in 1997 and in 2001 Lockheed Martin was chosen as the company that would manufacture the high-tech planes.

Thursday’s report puts Page at odds with the Conservatives and gives weight to opposition party arguments that the pricetag for the planes would be higher than the government has been saying. The opposition has also accused the Conservatives of being secretive about the deal and Page agreed Thursday that the government isn’t fully informing the public about the F-35s.

“I don’t think they have been transparent,” he told reporters. He said there’s “a lot more” the department of national defence could do to share information.

“It’s hard for me to understand how you stand by an acquistion cost of $70-million,” said Page. He said that figure is likely from Lockheed Martin and “it’s somewhat dated.”

Page cautions that any cost estimates, his own or those from other sources, should be viewed in the context of the methodology used and the data available. The budget officer said in his report that his office asked DND to explain the methodology behind its estimates.

“DND confirmed that such an analysis has not yet been undertaken,” the report says.

To arrive at his estimate of $29.3 billion, Page said he used a “top-down” model that considered historical trends on the cost of aircraft and key cost drivers. Page estimates the acquisition cost for the fleet at $9.7 billion and the ongoing sustainment cost for it at $19.6 billion.

The sustainment cost breaks down as follows:

  • initial logistics set-up cost: $1.7 billion;
  • operating and support cost: $14 billion;
  • overhaul and upgrade cost: $3.9 billion.

Page was asked to weigh in on whether a competitive bid would have saved money compared to the cost of the sole-sourced deal, but Thursday’s report doesn’t include an opinion. The budget officer said there is insufficient data available for him to make such an assessment.

The Liberals say they would cancel the memorandum of understanding and hold a new competitive bid for the plane contract if they win the next election. The NDP is also opposed to the purchase, and Thursday on CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, Bloc Québécois defence critic Claude Bachand said his party no longer supports the deal.

Possible Election Issue

An election may come this spring if the Conservatives are defeated on their March 22 budget or if the Liberals present a non-confidence motion and secure the support of the other parties for it.

The Liberals will make the F-35 deal a key line of attack against the government during a campaign, just as they have hammered the government over it in the House of Commons for weeks. They say the Conservatives are wasting millions of dollars on the planes.

The Conservatives respond that canceling the deal would kill jobs for Canadians and that the procurement is going to bring billions of dollars in economic benefits for the aerospace industry through maintenance and other contracts. It also argues that the F-35 is the best plane out there for the Canadian Forces and scrapping the deal would not only endanger their lives, but Canadian sovereignty.

Page warns that the total pricetag for the F-35s is subject to change due to a number of factors including: possible modifications to the technical specifications of the aircraft, any reductions in the number of planes countries participating in the Joint Strike Fighter program end up purchasing and the “circumstances prevailing” when the planes are due for a mid-life overhaul.

He also points out that his analysis is based largely on historical data and that the possibility exists that the F-35 deal won’t fit with historial cost trends. “This means that it is possible that the F-35 constitutes an outlier, in that its costs might be significantly different relative to what the historical trend would suggest,” the report states.

The JSF program has already been plagued by delays and cost overruns during the development phase of the aircraft. Page’s report says that of those problems translate into a higher purchase cost, “overall production volume may be threatened.”

READ FULL PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET WATCHDOG REPORT HERE

The Conservatives say new F-35 jets will cost $75 million each, but the budget watchdog, Liberals and NDP say they’ll cost close to $129 million, and just released yesterday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report estimating the F-35 jets at $133 million each.

Mike Sullivan, director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, comments on the accuracy of cost estimates for F-35 fighter jets in Canada.

READ FULL U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE (GAO) REPORT HERE

Related Links:

Harper Government Falls After Historic Contempt Vote

F-35: The Politics of Procurement

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