Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Catastrophically Awful Military Bill

Key Step to Clean Up Vieques Survives in Catastrophically Awful Military Bill
By David Swanson

First the good news.

If one of the worst pieces of legislation ever drafted becomes law, there is one small measure in it that we can be pleased with. and World BEYOND War and many other organizations and activists from Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States and beyond urged Congress through a petition and a variety of lobbying approaches to provide $10 million for the purchase of closed detonation chambers in the clean-up of military contamination in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

This was one of dozens of positive measures passed by the House of Representatives but not by the Senate. Unlike most such measures, this one survived the “compromise” between the two versions of the bill.

The bombing practices in Vieques ended in 2003. But this other “bombing,” open-air detonation under the guise of “cleanup,” has continued. We asked Congress to put an end to OB/OD (open burning/open detonation) of munitions, which releases toxins into the environment and sickens the local population. Led by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, members of Congress managed to make this one item stick.

For once Puerto Rico gets possibly the only thing good in a stinker of a potential law.

You won’t find the bit about this in the final text of the bill if you search for “Vieques,” but will if you search for “detonation” or any of the words in this section:

“SEC. 378. DETONATION CHAMBERS FOR EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL. (a) IN GENERAL. — The Secretary of the Navy shall purchase and operate a portable closed detonation chamber and water jet cutting system to be deployed at a former naval bombardment area located outside the continental United States that is part of an active remediation program using amounts made available for environmental restoration, Navy. Upon a determination by the Secretary of the Navy that the chamber has completed the mission of destroying appropriately sized munitions at such former naval bombardment area, the Secretary may deploy the chamber to another location. (b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There is authorized to be appropriated for fiscal year 2020 $10,000,000 to carry out subsection (a).”

Now for the bad news.

While $10 million sounds like a lot to you or me, it’s just a bit more than 0.001 percent of the $783 billion being thrown into wars and war preparations in this bill.

The budget President Trump proposed to Congress for 2020 included $718 billion for the U.S. military, not counting “Homeland Security,” nuclear weapons in the “Energy” Department, or the military expenses of other departments and agencies, totaling well over 60% of federal discretionary spending for wars and preparations for more wars.

Congress is about to vote on a bill to give the Pentagon even more than Trump proposed: $738 billion. And, while corporate media outlets are conspicuously not shouting “But how are you going to pay for it?” the trade-offs couldn’t be more stark. Tiny fractions of this funding could end starvation or the lack of clean water globally. A bit larger fraction could begin to address the real danger of climate collapse — a danger significantly exacerbated by militarism.

Not only is this bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a disaster, but virtually all of the positive measures that were in the version passed by the House have now been stripped out by a Conference Committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions.

The House version of the bill, passed earlier this year, contained the following measures now entirely removed (this is a very partial list):

• repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

• prohibition of military force in or against Iran.

• prohibition of giving support to or participating in the war on Yemen.

• prohibition of funding for missiles noncompliant with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

• support for extending the New START Treaty.

• requirement that the U.S. military provide Congress with the national security benefits of every foreign military base or foreign military operation.

• requirement for the EPA to designate all PFAS (chemicals with which military bases poison ground water) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

The House seems to have compromised with the Senate by surrendering virtually across the board.

This bill is unacceptable. It makes the chances of more wars and of nuclear war greater.

Click here to say No right now. It’s urgent!


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Help support,, and by clicking here:

Sign up for these emails at


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

Gregor Thompson: Don’t Be Too Pessimistic About New Zealand’s Future.

With the first hurdle hopped our Government will be turning its attention to trying to soften the economic damage this pandemic has on our little archipelago. More>>

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>