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Entire Manhattan Project History Declassified and Now Online

By Bob Brewin // August 21, 2014

This is an aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945.
This is an aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. // AP Photo

Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, the military chief of the organization charged with developing the atomic bomb during World War II – operating under the code name of Manhattan Engineer District – commissioned an internal and classified history of the project in 1944.

That entire history has now been declassified and posted online, according to Steven Aftergood, who writes the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog.

The history is arranged in 36 volumes posted on the Energy Department's OpenNet website. The final portions of the history -- dealing with intelligence and security and a supplement on foreign intelligence -- were posted in the past month.

The intelligence and security volume describes some 1,500 leaks between 1942 and 1946 at project sites scattered around the country from New Mexico to Washington State, California, Tennessee and Illinois.

Security was not to be achieved by the force of law or the threat of punishment, according to the history. Rather, "grounds for protecting information were largely patriotism, loyalty to the fighting men, and the reasoning that the less publicity given the project, the more difficult it would be for the enemy to acquire information about it and also, the greater would be the element of surprises ...

GSA Does Bombers Too

By Bob Brewin // August 20, 2014

A B-2 Spirit bomber soars during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
A B-2 Spirit bomber soars during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam // U.S. Air Force

It turns out, the federal government’s landlord and long-distance phone supplier, the General Services Administration, also supports the Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Services Division increased a task order contract held by URS Corporation by $1 million yesterday to support work on a Very Low Frequency receiver along with some hush-hush classified projects.

I wonder if GSA has also branched out into the aircraft carrier business. 

New VA Bill Chops Tuition Costs

By Bob Brewin // August 18, 2014

zimmytws/Shutterstock.com

While focused primarily on reform of the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 also provides good news for vets attending state-funded schools under the post-9/11 GI Bill.

Vets covered by that bill will qualify for lower in-state tuition, no matter their state of residence and school location, which works out to substantial savings. The University of New Mexico, for example, charges out-of-state students $11,568 vs. tuition for in-state students of $7,274 – a $4,298 difference.

Section 702 of the bill is written in confusing language and multiple clauses that say VA will not pay state schools if they charge out-of-state residents more than in-state residents.  

Ah Congress, why use one short sentence when hundreds of words with multiple clauses will suffice...

(Image via zimmytws/Shutterstock.com)

Here Comes the Pink Camo Food Truck

By Bob Brewin // August 15, 2014

Team Military Moms is comprised of Michele Bajakian, Carol Rosenberg and Wendy Newman, as seen on Food Network's, The Great Food Truck Race Season 5.
Team Military Moms is comprised of Michele Bajakian, Carol Rosenberg and Wendy Newman, as seen on Food Network's, The Great Food Truck Race Season 5. // U.S. Army

Three Army spouses from Ft. Drum, New York, will compete in the Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” at 9 p.m. EDT this Sunday with a vehicle that pays a nod to the military with its unique pink camouflage paint scheme.

Team Military Moms, which consists of Ft. Drum spouses Carol Rosenberg, Wendy Newman and Michele Bajakian, said the camo ties into their military background while the pink on the 24-foot-long, 8-foot-wide vehicle is empowering.  

And it’s a customer magnet. "People followed it just because it was pink camo," Newman said.

"All the little girls loved it. It was quite different. Everybody noticed us,” during a road trip for the contest, Rosenberg said.

The military theme extends to the food the trio serves, which includes Sgt. Cheesy, a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and spicy jam; the Pvt. Jelly, a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fresh berries; and the Charlie Foxtrot, a spicy version of a sloppy joe.

This truck would do real well parked near Veterans Affairs HQ on Vermont Ave in Washington.

New VA Chief Freezes Central Health Office Hiring

By Bob Brewin // August 14, 2014

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald // Rick Scuteri/AP

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said he has put a freeze on the hiring of personnel for the headquarters staff of the Veterans Health Administration in Washington and headquarters of the 21 regional Veterans Integrated Service Networks around the country.

Dr. Ken Kizer, who served as VA undersecretary for health in the 1990s, and Dr. Ashish K. Jha, who works in the Boston VA hospital, reported in a July article in the New England Journal of Medicine the size of the VHA headquarters staff had soared from about 800 in the late 1990s to nearly 11,000 in 2012.

McDonald, speaking at the AMVETS convention in Memphis yesterday, said VA needs to fix its antiquated and cumbersome computerized patient scheduling system, but did not provide a date for installation of a new system.