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Secrecy Concerns in the Defense Bill

August 17, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Project on Government Oversight has flagged a potential government secrecy concern in the Defense Authorizations bill the Senate is expected to vote on when they come back from recess. The issue is a provision three-quarters of the way through the 539-page bill that would give the Department of Defense broad authority to exempt unclassified information from public disclosure via the Freedom of Information Act, including information that may be relevant to public health and safety.

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Last week, the House of Representatives and a key Senate committee cast historic votes in favor of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military. The repeal is included in the Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Department Authorization bill, which contains funding levels and policy directives that the military must follow. The Obama Administration supports Congress's actions on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," but they are dead set against another item that some members of Congress want to have included in the authorization bill, and if it is, the Administration says they will veto the whole bill, including the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal.

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One More War Supplemental, Please

March 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

A huge chunk of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been done outside of the regular congressional appropriations process through "supplemental" spending bills, which don't count on the budget and mask the actual impact the wars are having on the deficit.

This is something Obama vowed to change on the campaign trail. "As President, Obama will […] end the abuse of the supplemental budgets, where much of the money has been lost, by creating system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget," a campaign document (.pdf) on defense spending stated.

But, last Thursday, the Administration was back in front of Congress asking for another supplemental for the Afghanistan surge, his second since becoming President.

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Sen. Al Franken [D, MN] passed his first amendment by roll call on Tuesday to restrict funding to contractors that block their employees from pressing criminal charges for on-the-job sexual assaults. Thirty Republicans voted against the amendment citing opposition from a host of business interests.

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