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back to article US Forces 'black' budget = 2nd biggest military on Earth

There's controversy already in America regarding the first Obama administration detailed Defense budget plans, announced yesterday. Some are painting the plans as a cuts package, others disagree. What's clear is that the US military's top-secret (or "black") budget is now on the same level as the whole of UK defence spending - …

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Coat

It's obvious...

... running the Stargate program takes quite a chunk of money on it's own, let alone building Prometheus.

The one that doesn't say Colonel on it.

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Black Helicopters

Remember Ike's Sage Council..

Eisenhower's farewell address is as relevent now as it was in 1961..

http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y06NSBBRtY

"Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Maybe someone learned a lesson from this and decided that it was in their best interests to encourage a citizenry that is dumbed-down and ill-informed?

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Anonymous Coward

this is a title

First I'll start by being pedantic:

"armed Predator drones which it uses to eliminate people "

If these people are killed outside of war operations, and without due legal process, this is an assassination. Since the assassination is planned, legally it's murder. I know it sounds very Bourne identity to "eliminate", but it seems to me that it minimises the seriousness of what is being committed here: murder.

Secondly, it puts the US squeals about scary foreign weapons programs in perspective. Surely Iran and North Korea (or even more farcically, Venezuela) cannot match the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth military budgets in the world (considering all those countries are allies)? Even Russia, with all its Soviet know-how and war experience cannot match this!

It also makes me think that surely, among this vast amount of cash, they have managed to squirrel a few millions for research on banned nasties?

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neb
Go

great recruitment article

now where do i sign up?

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Stop

Not really so black.

May I be the first to...bow to our extremely rich stazi-like overlords. (Sorry, someone had to say it)

Seriously though, what the hell can they possibly need all that money for? I mean it's not as if anyone has tried to invade them in living memory.

Oh, yes. I know what it's for:

1. Little boards (that they can tie "rag heads" and other dusky-skinned undersirables to) and water bills (for same).

2. Funding illegal anti-government paramilitary groups in countries who have the cheek to accuse the USA of funding illegal anti-government paramilitary groups in countries who have oil/gas/drugs etc

3. Funding anti-government groups in countries that might one day decide the USA has used sneaky tactics once too often.

4. Funding illegal death squads to further destabilise governments that the US would dearly like to control.

5. Funding terrorists who will later turn on the US. Pol Pot, Taliban etc etc

6. Supporting states with dubious human rights records and who keep half the population in locked camps, entirely based upon their race and religion (I'm thinking of Israel here).

7+ lots of other ethically and morally dubious persuits the world over.

Oh and I nearly forgot the whole "wars based on lies" thing - eg. the Iraq war (based on lies about WMD) the war in Afghanistan (again based on lies - Bin Laden had been seen in Afghanistan, yes but 6 months before the invasion!). That's "intelligence" for you!

It's good to know that the money which the third would could use to dramatically increase life expenctancy, education and standards of living forever is being spent so well on pointless macho bullshit each year. It makes me ashamed.

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Black Helicopters

Scary stuff

Genuinely scary stuff, that there's a semi autonomous secret military in the US that's about as big as any other world power's. Who know what they could get up to?

Well, ok, we know they like torturing "terrorists" in other countries whilst staying outside the reach of their own or foreign law. The only shock here is the size of it.

A free country with a new president that promised a transparent government.... of course they need the biggest clandestine military organisation the world has ever seen. Of course....

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

I'm flabberghasted to learn that the UK's defence budget is bigger than China's. What are you spending it all on? (apart from guns that don't work, helicopters that can't fly, aircraft carriers that conventional aircraft can't land on, ...) Or is it the lower price of labour in China that makes them more cost-effective?

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Black Helicopters

I for one

welcome our CIA black ops overlords, and *their* gatling-cannon wielding fleshbag-killing predator drone overlords.

Whos idea was it to put the T-800 in charge of California? A few $billion of that total is probably the electric bill for recharging him every day.

and all those spy satellites...... Skynet, anyone?

/me hides from the CIA....

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Black Helicopters

Frightening

Simply frightening.

How much of these "Black Ops" are being conducted in our own countries in the name of "freedom"

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Thumb Down

@AC wondering what the UK spends it's defence money on

The UK armed forces are all pretty well equipped. They aren't as numerous as some others, but per capita they are some of the best equipped in the world.

RAF has Eurofighter, C-17 and is currently paying some of the bills for the F-35 to be developed.

Royal Navy has two new supercarriers on order, as well as a fleet of nuclear subs (nuclear armed, and nuclear driven subs).

The British Army doesn't have many flashy toys, but it's professional, non-conscript army and arguably spends the money it does get less on gizmoes and more on stuff that's grimy but useful.. ever heard of dorchester or chobham armour on tanks?

Thumb down because in gladiatorial combat it really meant "don't kill him, he fought well"...

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@AC Really?

Well the thing is, china just say "your in the army" rather than what we do, which is "come and join the army, we'll pay you lots of monies and u can has lolz".

And they don't spend anything on guns, all their soldiers are actually Tibetan monks with uber l33t ninja skills. they dont need guns. And they can fly.

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Black Helicopters

Spiders!

I'll tell you what they're spending it on, and it's not a black helicopter!

It's a humvee sized armour plated flesh eating arctic arachno kill-bot with a head mounted laser cannon!!!!

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Gold badge

Re: Really?

Umpty-something thousand quid a year * number of people in armed forces and associated roles beats out a pittance * number of people in Chinese armed forces and (etc) by a handy margin.

The payroll effect also has a knock-on effect in that British / US / European built planes, ships, tanks and such cost a sight more than Chinese equipment.

Add on the cost of the hand-wringing over and general avoidance of casualties as opposed to the "STFU, you're dead" approach that a totalitarian state can live with, ditto the "Elf 'n savedee" stuff.

The net effect is that a quids-worth of Chinese military is rather more significant than a quid's worth of British military.

Maybe we should outsource..........

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Boffin

CIA did not fly the SR-71

The CIA instead had Project Oxcart that resulted in the A-12. Looks very much like the SR-71 (which I believe was build afterwards for the military), but was a single seater as oppose to the dual seat SR-71. It reportedly was also faster than the SR-71 (which contradicts the "common fact" that the SR-71 was the fastest plane) and could also fly higher.

Many people will confuse the A-12 for a SR-71 though - they look very similar in design.

The A-12 was also declassified I think after the SR-71. And there's an interesting story somewhere on the web from a guy that searched for the site of a crashed A-12 in the Nevada desert (aka Area 51/Dreamlake) for a number of years before finding it.

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It must be...

Starkwood!

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Military-industrial complex

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

--President of the United States (and former General of the Army) Dwight D. Eisenhower Farewell Address to the Nation on January 17, 1961

The warning was and is still not being heeded!

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Unhappy

OMFG

$490bn xwastedx spent on US forces?!! ....I feel sick just thinking about it.

$60bn xwastedx spent on UK forces?!! ....WTF! Given our size as a nation, this confirms we must have a Little Napoleon complex.

Just think of all the far better, more worthy causes we could have spent our hard-earnt taxes on. We could have bailed out an incompetent, worthless bank with that sort of money. Oh no, wait, we already did that as well.

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What really bowled me over ..........

What really bowled me over is that the US budget (even excluding the black ops one) is 2 to 3 times the size of the combined budget of all the other countries in the top 5. Jayus that is alot of cheeseburgers.

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We're all safe

you can guarantee most of that 50bn is feeding various pigs with their snouts in various troughs. If its secret after all they can be more blatant about it than even the usual Corps with their heads in the pork barrel.

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Black Budget

The black budget doesn't have to be itemised & therefore they don't need to prove that at least some kind of tender process took place.

Makes it even easier to shovel cash into Chenyburton et al.

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It still amazes me

The US spend as much as they do on defence as it i, regardless of it been back door hand outs or in the lime light for all to see.

Even half of that budget put into usefulness such as space exploration would see us further ourselves.

Hey ho, nothing like having the biggest fucking gun in a firing squad ey, even if you are likely to shoot your ali.

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Anonymous Coward

Lose the $ and they lose their Army

US can only fund it's military as long as it can print the worlds reserve currency. So every dollar spent by the Chinese was first 'printed' by the Fed and pumped into the US economy.

The first attempt to turn that dollar into productive growth happened in the US economy.

The US has been running a huge military, and it can do that because it can make the military spending look like 'economy', well just as long as they don't fight anyone.

When it's government spending on the army, and they're shooting off weapons bought in the US, and eating food in the US, and paying rent in the US, that is the US economy! It's far far bigger than iPod sales, or sales of Windows Vista licenses.

So as long as they could fluff up their military (the latest attempt is all that cyber war drivel) and keep it basically a US industry consuming US resources, then that works. The military budget grows and the domestic economy appears to grow with it.

However, after 8 years of Cheney fungineering, the most likely outcome is that the Euro will become the worlds currency. Since it is the only major currency not 'eased', it is the only currency run as though it has value.*

What happens then? The US will be screwed. It will have to cut the army, which shrinks it's economy and it goes into a down spiral.

I don't see how Obama can fix it, Cheney did too much damage, but who knows, perhaps he can.

* The bank of England is most likely printing money because the treasury can't sell it's bonds and needs the BOE to buy them. IMHO. It says more about the credit worthiness of Brown's government than about the state of the UK economy.

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Alert

Good guys

So, at least it's the good guys who carry the biggest can of whoopass around. Oooh, and meet the evil twin brother who carries the second biggest can, but we don't like to talk about him too much.

1 board + 1 water cup = 15.99 $ at your trusty cornershop.

n boards + n cups = 50 billion; should do the job.

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Anonymous Coward

@ The Voice of Reason

lets see....

The USA has a (legal) population of @ 250m, the UK is roughtly 50m.

The US Offical defence budget is 4906n, the UK budget is 60bn (60x5 = 300bn) so in proportion it is less than US defence spending.

If we are going to get into proportions and percentages, yes the UK spends a higher percentage of its GDP on defence @6-7% opposed to the average EU nation circa 3-4%

the UK spends less than US, Russia, China or Saudi Arabia as a %GDP spending.

I recall that at the hieght of spending in teh 50s-60s UK defence spending peaked @ 27%

addtioanlly, only a small percentage of defence spending is spent on kit, as with most Uk organsiations these days its spent on paperwork, bean counters, and subsidies to inefficeient defence contractors to prop up local employment in the UK regions.

The book by Lewis Page is an interest read on UK defence spending and procurement

"Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military"

The CIA fact book has a list of defence spending by % of GDP and the UK is way down the list!

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2034rank.html

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UK at 2?

How can the French, with their truly independent nuclear deterrent and proper aircrft carriers spend so much less than UK. Is it all down to fighting unwinnable wars?

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@first Anon Coward

"it's not as if anyone has tried to invade them in living memory."

Au contraire, mon ami! Japs landed in Alaska and held their ground for months during WW2. It was kept quiet

Maybe they're still there :)

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Pirate

Damn straight!

The world has bad people. They need kept in line. Maybe some of the tree huggin' hippies above should be considered as drone targets.....

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Go

The bandwagon

Sorry, I'm not hopping on the 'hate the military spending' and hate the USA bandwagon.

There are indeed extremist elements in our nations that want to:

1) Blow us up

2) Force convert us to their religion

3) Damage our economy

3) Or perform all of the above

So in order to fight this we need to have covert ops in both our home nations and theirs.

Also, as the big kids on the block with the world's strongest economies we have to protect them. Doing this means that we have to make sure the other kids on the block keep giving us their lunch money (or their oil more specifically)

So what if we have to torture extremist to get intel? If I knew there was someone out there that wanted to kill, main or ruin my family - I'd be prepared to torture whomever it took to protect them.

So what if we blow the hell out their countries to make certain that down the road they don't blow the hell out of ours?

Practically every nation on earth wants to be number one. If the UK and USA want to stay there and our citizenry continue to enjoy that position (lots of toys to play with!) it's going to cost us lots of money and probably some lives.

It's called 'The Great Game' and it's been going on for a very long time and will continue to go on.

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Stop

The people in power have a lot to answer for...

So the UK is the 2nd largest military spender in the world!?! ... OMG!

So is all this money for defensive or offensive moves? ... Then again, even offensive moves are pre-emptive defensive moves against some perceived future threat. So in effect, an offensive move is a pre-emptive defensive move. So whichever way you look at it, ultimately it comes down to defensive moves. Therefore why do we need to spend so much money?. What is the UK government so fearful of that we need to be the 2nd largest military spender in the world!?! .. Ultimately this whole behaviour is being driven by fear!.

(But then as governments and military around the world both want to be seen as strong, they would never admit to it all being ultimately driven by fear. That's the last thing they would ever admit. Even the fact they want to be seen as strong and powerful, is in itself an admission that they don't want to be seen as fearful and weak).

In hindsight, its no wonder with so much fear driven military spending like this, its forcing other countries to update their technology fearful of what our lot are up to. Our fear (and the US fear) is driving the world to upgrade out of fear?! ... and our fear is due to their fear. Its a fear feedback loop!

The more I see, the more I'm convinced the world is run by fearful, self righteous, Narcissistic, power seekers. That means the route to world peace is to vote and throw the Narcissistic's out of their political jobs worldwide. Finally we could then work towards a more fair and less fearful world.

What a messed up world we currently have.

I still can't get over it, the UK is the 2nd largest military spender in the world!?! ... OMG! ... This is shockingly bad and we are all paying for it!

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Boffin

@Blitz

"It's called 'The Great Game' and it's been going on for a very long time and will continue to go on"

This wonderful 'The Great Game' has led in the past to WWI, the consequences of which built the resentment (amongst other things) in Germany that led to WWII, and it then led to the Cold War. Some of the "terrorist" issues of today have their roots in that game too (read up on Afghanistan). So sure, let's go on, two world wars and several nuclear disasters narrowly avoided in less than 100 years, who would want to stop playing???

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Anonymous Coward

So much money...

... and they can't locate a bloke with a beard hiding on the Afghan / Pakistan border ?

At least now they are recruiting fluent Dari / Farsi / Pasho speakers rather than just spending money on electronic toys.

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Unhappy

Dodgy Rankings

Your rankings of military spending seems to have missed Russia? Apparently they spend around $50bn

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081016/117784473.html

and that figure for Chinese spending seems awfully low. wiki says it's $70.3bn.

Anyhow, I think I'll put the headphones back on for some more "Masters of war" by Bob Dylan....

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Stop

@Blitz

Fine. But would they stop trting to pretned they're the worlds moral authority? If your willing to use torture and murder then stop trying to pretend your the worlds most free nation!

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Go

Actually it is fairly common over the centuries...

Have a look at the percentage that the Romans spent on their millitary vs the rest of the world at that time, same with England back in their glory day.

Millitary spending goes hand in hand with being the worlds biggest super-power, always has always will.

Whilst i may not agree with all of America's foregin policy it isn't new and one that is repeated time and time again throughout human history.

Nothing to see here, move along..

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Unhappy

Ferrari on the drive

Even with a Ferrari in the driveway, it's difficult to disguise that you're flat broke.

US military power (open or secret) will either be cut back in line with their inability to repay even existing debts or be used to seize resources overseas.

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Alert

@Blitz

"So what if we blow the hell out their countries to make certain that down the road they don't blow the hell out of ours?"

You sound quite like the American Taliban. So what if They blow the hell out of Your country to make sure you feel sorry about your bullying ways? Oh, that wouldn't be OK!

It doesn't take the worlds biggest military budget to make the world a nasty place. If you play the bully on the playground, don't act surprised if some other bully punches your nose. And if some dozen of other bullies have nuclear weapons it might be advisable to play nice with the other kids.

Remember, your mom told you to be nice!

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Anonymous Coward

Costs of waterboarding

Come on. Yeah, it may only cost $15.99 to waterboard someone. But that someone didn't just walk in and give himself up, it costs money to go out and bring them in. What's the tab now, $860 Billion for the GWoT?

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Anonymous Coward

Never been invaded???

Hey AC, read up on your history. The US has been invaded, and US soil occupied by the armed forces of a foreign power. In living memory.

Google Attu and Kisha.

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Ian

British defence budget

If people are wondering what the British defence budget is spent on apart from the obvious such as the wars we're fighting, the billions being spent on new warships, our nuclear deterrent, our state of the art spy satellites, our new aircraft (Chinooks, Eurofighters, Super lynxes, the new Nimrods etc.) then I can tell you.

It's spent defending our overseas territories such as the Falklands, the South Georgian islands, our Indian ocean islands and so on. If we did not maintain a prescience on the Falklands the Argentinians would've tried again by now and it's arguable if we just let the Falklands slip then places like Spain might think we don't care anymore and try and seize places like Gibraltar.

Britain has influence across the world thanks to it's overseas territories, and it's arguable that our military influence is all we have left allowing us to remain a major world player. Without it we'd be a piddly excuse for a country with no world standing, although some might argue that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Is it worth it? well, from a financial point of view yes, £60bn spent on the military each year puts us in a position where we can make far more than that back due to getting beneficial deals across the world both militarily (loaning islands like Diego Garcia to the US) and commercially in that we get favourable deals for helping foreign nations fight their evils whether it's piracy, drug runners or whatever. It also allows us to get favourable deals through force however, see Iraq for example.

So commercially, having the military we have is certainly not a bad thing financially even though the £60bn sounds bad up front, it's not when you consider the amount it nets us in return - our GDP for 2008 was about £1,800 billion, £60 bn pales in comparison really.

The only real question then is if it's morally a good idea, should we really be using force to get a strong economy and a strong position in the international community? Germany is a good example of a country that doesn't really make much use of force nowadays to be strong, so it's certainly possible.

One things for sure though, the £60 bn certainly isn't wasted, it's quite a good investment.

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@Gary - Military-industrial complex

That speech led the CIA to assasinate the President, but like all their black projects it came in a couple of years behind schedule.

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Gold badge

Nothing to see here, move along...

"nobody except them (and perhaps a few politicians in Washington) has a good handle on what they're doing"

Based on the level of total and utter incompetence demonstrated in Iraq, and the intelligence fuck-ups that preceeded it, I'd say it was vanishingly unlikely that either they or their political masters have a clue what they're doing.

My guess is lots of dosh being spent on fun stuff like flying cars, lots more dosh being siphoned off to "preferred contractors", and the rest going on a vast population of little Hitlers running their own private empires. Other countries wouldn't bother with the flying cars, would find other ways of subsidizing their local industries, and would have the little Hitlers cluttering up prisons and asylums. There's probably far less harm being done here than you might think. Most of the real harm done by *any* nation's armed forces is done right out in the open, in front of TV journalists.

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@Blitz

>I'd be prepared to torture whomever it took to protect them.

The first thing that stood out about all this waterboarding was that Cheney claimed it was very effective. What I'd like explained is that if it was so effective then why was it necessary to use the method 183 times over the period of a month on one freedom fighter. That doesn't sound very effective to me unless the information sought was gained after the first go and the following 182 times was just for entertainment of the torturers.

The second was Obama saying that the torturers would not be legally liable for war crimes as they were working within military guidelines yet the US spends a fortune tracking down german ex-servicemen who were also working within military guidelines. Clearly the sort of double standard that gives the US administration a bad name throughout the civilised world.

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Silver badge

It's amazing.

It's amazing how many illiterate people these articles always draw out of the woodwork.

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Anonymous Coward

Eh who needs titles

The black budget here has been the source of speculation and awe for far to many years than are comfortable to admit. Does some of it go to slush funds, killing unfriendly dictators and installing friendly ones, used to fund new and creative means of torture, and get funneled off into various black ops operations around the world? Of course it does, it's an open secret and folks who deny it also tend to like being very delusional. Now does it also go to fund programs and activities which will go totally unnoticed for a great many reasons, but still are of tremendous benefit to our country, it's allies, and the military where ever they are fighting? Yes it does.

Should we be outraged by the atrocities? Of course we should. At the same time however we should be aware that it's a take the good with the bad kind of situation. No amount of whining is ever going to remove that fact. Do I wish the black budget wasn't so damn big? Yeah I really do because that is money that we need for things that I feel are a tad more vital right now. I'm also realistic enough to realize that those who know exactly what that money is going for, are in positions high enough and/or protected enough to be un-effected by the protestations of those of us who think they shouldn't be getting it.

@AC this is a title. Well bud there isn't a current government with a military operating on the world stage who hasn't "eliminated" people at some point in it's past. Quite a few actually still do it to this day. If you think the government you live under today hasn't then you're very delusional.

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Dead Vulture

Ian above

The reason England , France , China and India got Nuclear weapons was so that they would be listened to in places like the UN.

No nuclear bombs , not very important.

Pakistan got them because it couldn't trust India about fighting fair in the next round of wars between them.

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spending for military

I would suspect that Russian military has higher spending than UK or China.

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Flame

never mind our crazies

Not everyone in the US is a warmonger Bushtard type. Remember these fools just finished up with their "we're mad as hell" Tea bag partys and need something to do this month. Have no fear rest of the world, the Republican party is quickly becoming a minor regional party. They haven't yet learned you can't win elections only catering to redneck male WASPs (good thing too for everyone). Too bad any organized party is like an organized religion. Organized to benefit those at the top by making promises to the pawns that someone else has to honor.

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Gold badge

A curious thing...

The US believe that their economy is the world's strongest because poor performers have nowhere to hide. They believe their government is one of the most wasteful in the world because it isn't subject to the rigors (sic) of the free market. Then they allocate $60bn to be spent ... oh that's secret.

What are the chances of the US getting value for money there, then?

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Anonymous Coward

Wow...

Those MoD pen pushers must be paid a fortune, cos it's the only way I can explain that budget and the terrible lack of equipment our lads have to handle on a day to day basis.

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Jan

SR-71 / A-12

Actually it was the other way round:

The SR-71 came first for the CIA, and when the Air Force guys found out [1] they got the A-12, which was armed with AA[2] instead of cameras.

SR "Strategic Reconaissance"

A "Attack" - should have been an F. otoh the F-117 got an F when it was at least an A, if not a B...

[1] must have been something like: "Whats that sleek, black thingie which leaks on my apron and why can´t I get close to its hangar anymore?"

[2] iirc the genie, nuclear AA.

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