The Pentagon is quietly working to set up an elaborate network of defenses to protect American cities from a barrage of Russian cruise missiles.
The plan calls for buying radars that would enable National Guard F-16 fighter jets to spot and shoot down fast and low-flying missiles. Top generals want to network those radars with sensor-laden aerostat balloons hovering over U.S. cities and with coastal warships equipped with sensors and interceptor missiles of their own.
One of those generals is Adm. William Gortney, who leads U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, and North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. Earlier this year, Gortney submitted an “urgent need” request to put those new radars on the F-16s that patrol the airspace around Washington. Such a request allows a project to circumvent the normal procurement process.
While no one will talk openly about the Pentagon’s overall cruise missile defense plans, much of which remains classified, senior military officials have provided clues in speeches, congressional hearings and other public forums over the past year. The statements reveal the Pentagon’s concern about advanced cruise missiles being developed by Russia.
“We’re devoting a good deal of attention to ensuring we’re properly configured against such an attack in the homeland, and we need to continue to do so,” Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a May 19 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington.
In recent years, the Pentagon has invested heavily, with mixed results, in ballistic missile defense: preparations to shoot down long-range rockets that touch the edge of space and then fall toward targets on Earth. Experts say North Korea and Iran are the countries most likely to strike the U.S. or its allies with such missiles, although neither arsenal has missiles of sufficient range so far.
The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.
The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.
This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade d
In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.
The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.
The problem lies in the Senate, which previously approved a package that included both bills.
If the two move separately, Republicans and the White House will have to convince Senate Democrats to back fast-track on the promise that TAA will move forward at a later time.
The president spoke with a group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday at the White House, and talks continued in the Senate on Thursday on a way to give the president trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track.
One possible solution would see the Senate vote first to pass a trade preferences bill, this time with the TAA program attached. It would then be sent to the House for a vote before the Senate considers fast-track.
This planned move angered members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who asked Senate leaders not to use the trade measure, which would provide preferential access to the U.S. market for African countries, as a bargaining chip to pass trade promotion authority.
Democrats opposed to the trade package expressed frustration that GOP leaders were bypassing them.
“Instead of cooperation, they’ve opted to use procedural tricks to pass the TPA,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).
As promised, all 28 pro-trade House Democrats supported the bill again.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said on Wednesday that those who backed the trade agenda are “really committed” to getting fast-track and TAA done.
“The tough vote has already been taken,” Kind said. “We’re on record; we supported TPA last week. We also supported TAA last week, too,” he said.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) warned that repeating last week's debacle would reflect badly on the international stage.
U.S. President Barack Obama has for years been negotiating with European and Asian nations — but excluding Russia and China, since he is aiming to defeat them in his war to extend the American empire (i.e, to extend the global control by America’s aristocracy) — three international ‘trade’ deals (TTP, TTIP, & TISA), each one of which contains a section (called ) that would end important aspects of the sovereignty of each signatory nation...by setting up an international panel composed solely of corporate lawyers to serve as ‘arbitrators’ deciding cases brought before this panel to hear lawsuits by international corporations accusing a given signatory nation of violating that corporation’s ‘rights’ by its trying to legislate regulations that are prohibited under the ’trade’ agreement, such as by increasing the given nation’s penalties for fraud, or by lowering the amount of a given toxic substance that the nation allows in its foods, or by increasing the percentage of the nation’s energy that comes from renewable sources, or by penalizing corporations for — i.e., by any regulatory change that benefits the public at the expense of the given corporations’ profits. (No similar and countervailing power for nations to sue international corporations is included in this: the ‘rights’ of ‘investors’ — but really of only the top stockholders in international corporations — are placed higher than the rights of any signatory nation.)
This provision, whose full name is “Investor State Dispute Resolution” grants a one-sided benefit to the controlling stockholders in international corporations, by enabling them to bring these lawsuits to this panel of lawyers, whose careers will consist of their serving international corporations, sometimes as ‘arbitrators’ in these panels, and sometimes as lawyers who more-overtly represent one or more of those corporations, but also serving these corporations in other capacities, such as via being appointed by them to head a tax-exempt foundation to which international corporations ‘donate’ and so to turn what would otherwise be PR expenses into corporate tax-deductions. In other words: to be an ‘arbitrator’ on these panels can produce an extremely lucrative career.
These are in no way democratic legal proceedings; they’re the exact opposite, an international conquest of democracy, by international corporations. This “ISDS” sounds deceptively non-partisan, but it’s really a grant to the controlling international investors giving them a ‘right’ against the taxpayers in each of the signatory nations, a ‘right’ to sue, essentially, those taxpayers; and ISDS includes no countervailing ‘right’ to those taxpayers, to sue those international corporations; it’s an entirely one-sided provision, and it even removes the authority of the democratically elected national government to adjudicate the matter. It even removes the appeals-court system: once a decision is reached by the ‘arbitrating’ panel, it is final, it cannot be appealed. And no nation may present a challenge to the constitutionality of the ‘arbitrators’ decision. These treaties, if signed, will override the signatory nation’s constitution, on those matters.