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How Foreign Companies Use Shell U.S. Firms to Steal Defense Secrets, Sell Weapons to the Pentagon

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Government Accountability Office Report Proves ‘America First’ Is Another Trump Fraud

David Cay Johnston

While Donald Trump declares his policy is “America First,” yet another government watchdog report shreds that claim.

Congress requires that all Defense Department work at home be done by American companies. After all, we wouldn’t want a Shanghai electronics maker, operating as a front for the Chinese military, to put even one transistor in America’s military command-and-control systems. We wouldn’t want a Kremlin front to secretly slip engine kill switches in our fighter-bombers.

But foreign firms often successfully pose as American-owned and -operated, according to a new report by the Government Accounting Office, the investigative arm of our Congress.

This is precisely the kind of policy failure that Trump told voters he would end. But he has not.

This week the GAO warned of “several types of financial and nonfinancial fraud and national security risks posed by contractors with opaque ownership.”

It examined  32 cases that have been settled. It found “price inflation through multiple companies owned by the same entity to falsely create the appearance of competition, contractors receiving contracts they were not eligible to receive, and a foreign manufacturer receiving sensitive information or producing faulty equipment through a U.S.-based company.”

You can read either the full GAO report or the GAO one-page summary.

Significantly the GAO limited its study to cases that have undergone thorough review so the facts are settled. It said nothing about how many cases are pending and whether any show attempts—or successes—by hostile foreign powers planting faulty or spy-worthy equipment in our military hardware and software.

Wall Street Fronts

We know that hostile foreign powers are doing all they can to use Wall Street fronts and other corporate guises to damage our military capacity.

The highest levels of the Chinese military, for example, used Wall Street fronts to acquire and then remove from America neodymium technology that is a necessary component of mobile phones, lightweight car engine starter motors, high tech headsets and many military applications including smart bomb guidance devices.

The failures of two administrations on neodymium were detailed in the chapter Chinese Magnetisism in my 2007 bestseller Free Lunch.  President Bill Clinton’s administration allowed the sale of the rare earth technology companies to a Wall Street firm that turned out to be a front for the Chinese military command. The George W. Bush administration then allowed the buyers, who by then had been unmasked, to remove this technology, making America vulnerable to Chinese control of neodymium supplies.

Since then, Congressional hearings showed, the Chinese have used their lock on s0-called rare earths to advance China’s interests at our expense. And they have wielded the threat of cutting us off in the gratuitous trade war Trump declared would be easy to win.

This is precisely the kind of policy failure that Trump told voters he would end. But he has not. And it’s not surprising given that Trump says that only Einsteins can understand digital technology.

The awful truth is that Trump knows less than most Army privates about geopolitical strategy, as documented here, here and here, among many other places. As Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman wrote in 2016, Trump’s ignorance is bottomless.

Plane Crash

The new GAO report cited the example of “an ineligible foreign manufacturer that illegally exported sensitive military data and provided defective and nonconforming parts that led to the grounding of at least 47 fighter aircraft.”

In fact that case resulted in the crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C Eagle jet fighter because a key airframe support failed during flight. The pilot escaped.

The graphic below explains how that scheme worked.

While the GAO does not identify the contractor, the only known case it fits involved the November 2007 crash of a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C Fighter jet. The pilot survived the failure of a key structural support part during flight.

In all 160 planes required rework at a cost of about $500,000 each. The grounding of those planes for repairs also reduced training and ready-to-fly alert team operations in case of a sneak attack.

Failure to Act

Boeing used the inferior foreign-made parts in maintaining aging F-15s. But there is no reason to believe that such abuses have ended based on the GAO report.

The problem of foreign contractors posing as American firms—and as multiple firms—is not new.

What makes the GAO report significant is that Trump, unlike George W. Bush and Barrack Obama, ran for office on an “America First” platform and a promise to end such abuses.

The GAO report makes clear that through budget year 2018, which ended last fall, nothing has been done to fulfill or even start work on his promise, at least when it comes to Pentagon contracting. That ending time period places the failure to properly safeguard our country squarely on Trump’s watch.

The Defense Department agreed with the GAO findings, the report shows. Most of its comments were withheld on national security grounds.

Featured image: Two Missouri Air National Guard F-15Cs in 2009. (Guard photo by Senior Airman Jessica Donnelly)


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6 days ago
It's complicated. Technically, he ought to be certified.
Central Pennsyltucky
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Seat belts

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Let's face it, seat belts are a good idea. This statement is in no way controversial, and all who try to argue against it aren't just "expressing an opinion" or "arguing the other side", they are just plain fucking wrong. Seat belts were designed to keep you safely in the car in the event of a crash rather than getting blasted through a window to land on a fence post, over a guardrail down an embankment, or into oncoming traffic. They are a Very Good Idea that have been implemented spectacularly well all over the world (mostly) (fuck you, New Hampshire).

As simple and effective as they are, I can not believe that there are people living and driving today who still don't put them on, but there are. And because these people exist, I get to take care of them.

And then I get to write about them when they are inevitably injured much more severely than they should have been.

Judy (not her real name™) and her husband Mickey (not his real name™) decided to take a break from their door-to-door Xanax business and take a little drive. Now before I continue, please go back and read that last sentence again. I'll wait right here.

*pleasing hold music, but not the boring twaddle you hear while on hold on the phone*

You're back? Excellent hold music, right? Anyway, I assume you read it back at least twice, because I know I sure did, and I wrote the damned thing. Yes, Judy and Mickey had a little neighbourhood benzodiazepine business. They literally went door to door asking their friends and neighbours if they wanted any pills. Where they got these pills is anyone's guess, but I have to assume business was booming because the police officer who came with them described their stash as a "large grocery bag full".

In case you thought that was stupid, what made it even stupider (yes, that's a word) is that they dipped into their own cache and then mixed the pills with alcohol.

And what made it even stupider is that on their break they decided to go for a little drive while drunk and stoned out of their minds.

And what made it even stupider was then choosing to engage in a street race while stoned out of their minds.

And then what made it the stupidest (yes, that's also actually a word) is that they failed to put on their seat belts.

Ironically I can't even fault them for not putting their seat belts on, because they were both too drunk/stoned to keep their eyes open let alone perform a complex task such as inserting tab A into slot B. How Mickey managed to navigate the controls of a motor vehicle is one of life's great mysteries. Regardless, engage in a street race they did, and I believe it is a safe assumption that they lost. Crashing into a bridge abutment at 120 kph (75 mph) in a 50 kph (30 mph) zone will usually lose you any race fairly instantaneously, unless the objective of the race was to see who dies the fastest (or tries, at least).

And because Judy and Mickey were not wearing their seat belts, both were ejected from the car, far, far away from all the various safety mechanisms that had been designed, extensively tested, and installed specifically to protect them. Mickey was thrown through the windscreen, presumably striking his head and/or neck on the bridge or the ground or a tree or it doesn't really fucking matter what. Judy was partially ejected through the passenger window, bending her lower spine at a rather awkward angle.

Both of them were awake when they arrived in the trauma bay. Neither was moving.

"Hey trauma team, this is Mickey and Judy. He's 50, she's 35. They were in a street race, high speed, struck a bridge. He was ejected, not moving anything below the neck. She was partially ejected, moving her arms but not her legs. Doesn't look good, Doc."

No, no it sure didn't.

Mickey had fractured his sixth cervical vertebra, and a portion of the fractured bone had been pushed into his spinal cord, paralysing him from that point down instantly. He also had a few broken ribs, but those would only pose minor problems (relatively speaking). Judy had fractured her first lumbar vertebra, also injuring her spinal cord at that location. Mickey had no motor or sensory function below his neck, and it was a minor miracle that he was still able to breath on his own, since the nerves that control the diaphragm come from just above that level (C3-5). Judy had no motor or sensory function below her waist in addition to a minor laceration of her spleen.

Both required major spine surgery. Both survived.

I had several opportunities to sit and chat with Judy during her two weeks with me. She was actually a reasonably intelligent woman, polite, appreciative, and apologetic (even though she hadn't been the one driving at the time). Mickey, on the other hand, remained recalcitrant despite his quadriplegia. Despite his horrific and life-changing injury, he was adamant that he had only survived because he had been "thrown clear of the wreck". Judy at least understood that remaining in the car with the seat belts and airbags would have been much less harsh on their bodies than, you know, hitting concrete at 1/10 the speed of sound (yes, really).

She too failed to convince him before she went to a spinal rehabilitation facility.

Mickey had some respiratory complications and ended up needing a tracheostomy. He stayed with me for about a six weeks before going to the same spinal rehab facility, arguing the entire time that he still would never ever wear "that damned belt".

I saw Judy about a month later. She had finished her inpatient rehabilitation and was starting to regain some use of her legs. I saw Mickey about two weeks later, and owing only to the quick response of our neurosurgeon had regained near full use of his arms, though he will remain paralysed from the chest down for the rest of his life. But unfortunately that had only strengthened his bewildering belief that not wearing his seat belt had saved his arms. I again tried to explain that, had he stayed in the car and been buffered by the seat belt and airbag, his injuries would have been significantly less, and he may have literally walked away from the accident, but he only cut me off.

"I'll never wear that damned belt. It would have killed me."

I seldom give up, especially when it comes to something as important and life-saving (and simple) as using a seat belt. But after several attempts and an equal number of rude interruptions, I gave up.

And if you're wondering, I have no idea what happened to their Xanax business. I forgot to ask.
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7 days ago
I know people who say they survived a wreck because they were "thrown clear". I doubt it.
Central Pennsyltucky
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A Deal Between Devils: Racism, Corruption, and the “Authentic Appeal of the Flagrant Lying Demagogues

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Our era is a case study of how racism leads to authoritarianism.
Racism is the easiest quid pro quo between crook-demagogues and a racist base: The crook offers a racist agenda in return for carte-blanche for any crimes, election rigging & corruption. The deal between devils.
I know this may sound obvious. But this deal between devils helps us understand this week, when so many Republicans in Congress were so shameless in making statements that both they and their constituents know to be false. I’ve been thinking about this paper by Ezra Zuckerman Sivan, Oliver
Hahl, and Minjae Kim all week:


Here’s their huge question:
Why would a constituency of voters find a candidate “authentic” even though they know he is a “lying demagogue” (tells lies and appeals to bias/private prejudices)?
And here’s their big answer:
For voters who want to dramatically change norms and upend the establishment political system, lying is a feature, not a bug.
(1) “Common-knowledge” lies are flagrant violations of norms; and
(2) when a system is suffering from a “crisis of legitimacy” for a constituency, that constituency is motivated to see a flagrant violator as its authentic champion.
The constituency who sees a system as illegitimate wants a leader who will blow up those illegitimate norms. That constituency will see a leader who shares their values and also flagrantly lies as a more authentic norms-shredder.
The more willing that leader is to lie about basic facts for the cause, the more sincere that leader is willing to fight for their anti-establishment cause. Lying about basic facts signals a deeper commitment to the bigger agenda: blowing up an illegitimate system: Draining swamps. Building walls. #MAGA.
A racist base more than just tolerates lying. They reward it. The lies are signals of the leader’s commitment to overturning an “illegitimate” system (and fighting that system’s elites). As some leaders are rewarded for lying (Trump), others learn to follow.


Shocked by just how far Lindsey Graham, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik, Sen. John Kennedy, etc., would go to flagrantly lie?
They’ve learned not only that there is no cost to lying… They see huge rewards with their racist base. It’s a signal they authentically fight their fight.
Historical notes:
Highly recommended reading: Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, on the Nazis and Stalinist Soviets.
Some authoritarian regimes are more racist than others. The Italian Fascists were not as murderously racist as the Nazis, but racism played a signficant role in Mussolini’s rise and consolidation of power. Throughout the 1920s, Mussolini made racist claims about the global threat from non-whites to whites, and he dehumanized Slavs, Slovenes, and Croats. Before the outbreak of war, Mussolini endorsed the “Manifesto on Race,” which stated: “It is time that Italians proclaim themselves to be openly racist.”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat shows that anti-Semitism did not play a major role in Mussolini’s rise. Only after the Axis pact with Hitler did Mussolini openly champion anti-Semitism.

In 1919, Mussolini asserted that 80% of the Soviet leaders were Jews, and absurdly that Jewish bankers in London and New York City supported the rise of the Soviets. (See the flagrantly absurd lie as signal of authentic championing?) But these claims met with backlash among other Fascists, and Mussolini backed off. 


Racism played a significant role in Japanese imperialism, authoritarianism, and the build-up to World War II.

More reading:

Mark Neocleous, Fascism (1997), Aaron Gillette. Racial Theories in Fascist Italy (2002).

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7 days ago
One more reason why they support a lying scumbag...
Central Pennsyltucky
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Let’s Talk About You Know Who’s Deteriorating Mental Health

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A Yale Psychiatrist Warns Trump’s 53-Minute ‘Fox and Friends’ Rant Was Another Danger Sign Of His Worsening Condition

Bandy X. Lee, Yale doctor

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the White House doctor said of Donald Trump’s recent, sudden visit to Walter Reed Hospital: “Despite some speculation, the President … did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.”

You don’t have to be a medical professional to recognize that the patterns of the unscheduled visit, interrupting the weekend on a Saturday evening, conform more closely to a medical emergency than a routine check-up. Just as the reality of Trump’s corruption and criminality is catching up with him through the impeachment hearings, the reality of his mental and physical condition cannot help but catch up with him.

Some of this was on full display in his highly concerning, 53-minute breathless outpouring of grievances that his interview with Fox and Friends on Friday morning became. He reverted to unsubstantiated or debunked conspiracy theories—as he often does under stress—of Barack Obama’s wire surveillance of him, a coup in the works from the beginning and the claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election and had a secret DNC server.

These are the very self-defeating, blatantly abnormal signs that have raised alarms for psychiatrists and neurologists for years.

All of this came just a day after his former Russia expert warned that the Ukraine theory would bolster Russian, not American, interests. Finally, he added that he fired former FBI Director James Comey to stave off an investigation into him and that he was glad to have done so.

These are the very self-defeating, blatantly abnormal signs that have raised alarms for psychiatrists and neurologists for years. No “specialized … evaluations” on the White House physician’s part seems especially inappropriate in this context.

Declining Cognition

The president’s cognitive functioning alone, in terms of his ability to process information and thoughts, has deteriorated to the point where he has difficulty stringing together a single coherent sentence. His word-finding difficulties, repetitions and loose connections are only superficial indicators of a more serious, deeper process. He has additionally shown multiple neurological signs, including slurred speech, movement abnormalities and confabulations (filling in gaps of memory with fabricated stories).

The psychiatric signs of impulsivity, recklessness and erratic decision-making have been even more consequential. Earlier this year, preoccupied with his former fixer’s testimony to the special counsel, he walked away from a high-stakes nuclear talk with North Korea. The impeachment inquiry began because of a phone call he made over the summer to solicit Ukraine for election interference, the day after the special counsel’s testimony on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. More recently, as the impeachment proceedings unfolded, he gave permission, without consulting any of his advisers, for Turkey to massacre our Kurdish allies and together with Russia seize control of the region.

Irrational Behavior

These are not actions that are explainable as rational or political strategy, as much as a typical manifestation of the mental impairments we have been observing for a long time.

In January 2018, then-White House Physician Ronny Jackson, now discredited, administered to the president a screening test. An Alzheimer’s researcher consortium had specifically recommended against the test for ruling out serious conditions, given that full-blown Alzheimer patients and hospitalized schizophrenia patients were found to score in the normal range. It did not stop the rear admiral from using the results to declare his employer and commander-in-chief “fit for duty.”

Earlier this year, newly appointed White House doctor Sean Conley involved “11 different board-certified specialists” in evaluating the president as “very healthy,” without the mention of a psychiatrist or neurologist. Conley failed to give reasons for the unusual number of specialists for a healthy individual with allegedly no concerning signs, since excessive testing carries its own risks, such as false-positive findings. He also did not explain departing from his own prior practices to split a so-called routine check-up many months apart.

Physician Constrained

Neuropsychiatric matters may be beyond a White House-employed emergency physician’s repertoire. As a subordinate under the commander-in-chief, he may also feel constrained in issuing an accurate assessment, as did his predecessor.

Then he should delegate. A group of us has, for this very reason, devised over a year and a half a process for forming an independent, nongovernmental panel of specialists and have offered ourselves in the interim. This is even more appropriate when a president’s symptoms become more than just matters of his personal health but of national and international security.

White House physicians, historically, have not served the public’s interests when it comes to presidential debility. This is one of the reasons for our acting on our societal responsibility since the start of this presidency, as our medical code of ethics dictates.

Further, the American Psychiatric Association’s code states, “Psychiatrists are encouraged to serve society by advising and consulting with the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of the government.”

Since Congress members who asked to meet with us ceded that there was not much they could do without public awareness, we embarked on educating the public, following the APA guideline that we contribute to activities that improve the community and better public health.

We agree on the importance of public awareness: Subtle signs for the untrained person can be blazing red lights to a specialist. Misconceptions surrounding psychiatric issues are particularly common, even though within medicine they are considered to be no different than physical ones: They are just as science-based, objectively observable and debilitating, with predictable courses and standardized protocols for management. Mental health is just as important, if not more so, when it comes to the office of the presidency. It should not be relegated to the realm of insults or partisan attacks. Healthy discussions are therefore necessary if we are to dispel secrecy and stigma, so that we might take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves safe, since, with the president’s diminishing political power, greater mental health challenges are sure to come.

Bandy X. Lee is a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, president of the World Mental Health Coalition and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.

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7 days ago
Really, he's right on the (golf) ball.
Central Pennsyltucky
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Barr doesn’t just believe in extreme executive power. He desperately depends upon it.

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My new piece in Slate:

…Barr warned, a “wrong-headed and atavistic” focus on legislative and judicial oversight has “smothered” the president’s traditional and proper authority. It is telling—and perhaps most significant—that Barr was particularly worried about subpoenas and oversight…

…When Barr argues for a maximalist, unaccountable unitary executive, he is not simply articulating a matter of theory or principle—he is defending himself from an investigation into his own work, especially his direct involvement in the Ukraine bribery-and-extortion plot.

In the July 25 call records with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump mentioned Barr five times, usually in tandem with Rudy Giuliani, as a key player in the president’s apparent bribery and extortion conspiracy. One particularly chilling passage: “Well, [Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is] going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it.”

Barr’s own potential criminal jeopardy deepens with each day of new testimony. The criticisms of his handling of the Mueller report—that the attorney general was acting as the president’s personal lawyer—were prelude, and mild compared to the allegations now. The powers and protections he claims for Trump, in the name of skewed history and partisan analysis, are the powers and protections he needs to justify his own actions.

The greatest hits from his speech were so ludicrous they amounted to a test of solidarity with the audience against the facts.

To attack the speech as a speech is to grant Barr the terms he would prefer. Barr’s words and theories are intellectually dishonest and inappropriate for any federal official, but the problem isn’t merely that his political self-expression is disagreeable. It’s that his remarks are the defensive tactics of an unindicted co-conspirator desperate for attention and clinging to power.

And so, as a politician in a political struggle, he sought to rally a gathering of his allies around their shared partisan mythology, or victimology. He is a criminal suspect, Trump’s fixer and enforcer, cloaking himself as both savior and martyr. Even though he probably sincerely believes in this Manichean culture war, he seems to have chosen the time, place, and vituperative manner to provoke an attack from “the Resistance” and “secularists” on his religio-political ideas. He is not only trying to distract. He also setting a trap to shift the debate from his alleged criminal involvement to his culture war terms.

But this trap can be flipped against him by emphasizing the speech’s legal content: His extreme-executive attack on congressional subpoenas clearly lines up with his conflict of interest as a likely criminal subject of those investigations…

More here.

Additional evidence of Barr’s involvement in the Whistleblower report here and here.




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11 days ago
They all think they have super powers.
Central Pennsyltucky
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Trump Is The Reason For The Season

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Okay, so you know how Republicans are all Super DeLux Brand Christians this time of year and pitch Holy Wars over the guaranteed fact that they can’t say Merry Christmas because we won’t let them?

And how they bemoan that Jesus is forgotten this time of year, especially on Starbucks cups?

Well, thanks to Donald Trump, that’s not true any longer.

They just changed Jesus’s name to …


Yep – Trump Christmas Wrapping Paper, complete with the name of their Lord and Savior.

You can go see it right here.  Or if you can’t bring yourself to do that, here’s a sneak peek.



This isn’t being done by some outlier Republican group. No sireeeeee. This is sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee.  Yeah, the big guys.

Their fundraising letter adds —



No, Honey, I suspect you’ll still be hawking this crap when Trump and everybody who had ever smiled at him is in prison.


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18 days ago
How not get me to throw a Christmas present in the trash, unopened.
Central Pennsyltucky
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