The last few days before Congress’s summer vacation have brought a flood of earmarks in appropriations bills. Members of the House and Senate don’t seem to be in any particular rush to provide a serious response to restore the civil liberties Americans lost under George W. Bush, but they’re in a stampede to approve public money for pork barrel projects in their own district.
Military pork has been among the most fatty kinds of legislative flesh hurled around in the halls of Congress. The predominant philosophy in Congress these days when it comes to military projects seems to be to build whatever military contracting corporations want to build, just because the things can be built, regardless of whether they’re needed or not.
An example of this: Disposable drone submarines from Kentucky. No, the submarines won’t be deployed in Kentucky. They’ll be created there, though, right on the edge of the home district of U.S. Representative Harold Rogers, by a company called Boneal, Incorporated.
Not coincidentally, it’s Congressman Rogers who introduced the earmark to spend the money to make the first experimental round of these disposable submarines. His earmark explains,
“The funding of $5 million will be used for the development of experimental low cost, expendable autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). AUVs provide support for a variety of mission including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, deployment of mine counter measures, and assistance of anti-submarine warfare.”
Representative Rogers won’t support health care reform, or climate change legislation. He says they’ll be too expensive. But, when it comes to a pet project to make spy submarines that can be thrown away after a mission is done, Rogers is all to willing to toss big wads of money out the window.
Why? It isn’t because there’s a particular pressing need to have disposable submarines to aid in anti-submarine warfare. The last submarine battles in American history took place during World War II.
The surveillance functions of these unmanned underwater drones ought to give us pause as well. The mountainous 5th congressional district of Kentucky ought to be safe from their operations, but what about the rest of us?
Unmanned military drones in the sky have been used in recent years to engage in surveillance directed against Americans within the borders of the United States – conducted without obtaining a warrant showing proof of reasonable suspicion of any crime. Until Congress gets rid of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, laws that enable excessive, out of control government espionage against American citizens, no money should be approved to fund technology that can be used to spy against us more effectively, whether that technology is deployed in the sky, on the ground, or under the sea.