The Pentagon’s Private Army


This seems like it should be bigger news. Congress has recently granted the Pentagon $200 million to aid foreign militaries, a sum which the executive branch can now spend without oversight from either the State Department or the legislature. That means the military can spend money training and equipping foreign armies without following constraints that require that the aid recipients meet certain standards, “including respect for human rights and protection of legitimate civilian authorities.” And military leaders will now be able to set a small but potentially important aspect of foreign policy without input from the State Department.

Perhaps there’s a case to be made that the old oversight rules were too byzantine, and, as administration officials argued to the Post, the old way of doing things was hindering U.S. attempts to provide security assistance in “crisis situations.” But the opportunities for abuse here are pretty self-evident. Among other things, the Pentagon wants to use the funds for “fighting terror and bolstering stability” in Africa. But we know that the United States has fostered a “close intelligence relationship” with, for instance, the regime in Sudan that’s currently responsible for genocide in Darfur, all in the interest of fighting terror. Is further assistance on the way? Is this really the sort of thing that demands less, rather than more, oversight?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate