This Week in National Insecurity: Frequent Fliers Edition

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/soupcan/259118542/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Underexposed949</a>

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Welcome, insecure reader, to the friendly skies of national defense! In this weekly link dump: Air marshals are freeloaders; WikiLeaks Wiki-locks down on its public image; dirty subs, built dirt-cheap; Iranian arms dealers stop for cheesesteaks; your granddaddy’s Medal of Honor means bubkis at the White House; and a tea party Republican exaggerates just a teensy bit about his military experience.

The sitrep:

The United States government’s national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. You’re welcome.

  • Sky marshals, who fly with you (for free) to prevent a hijacking, sit in first class a lot. Which airline executives don’t like. Not because “a free ride in a fluffy seat” costs the airlines money, mind you, but because it’s less secure. Silly air executives: Protecting profits is a national security issue. Every good free-marketeer knows that.
  • What’s long, hard, and wrapped in a “Wal-Mart tarp”? The Navy’s new $2 billion submarines, whose super-stealth coating falls apart in the water. It turns out that cutting costs on the construction of nuclear vessels is not totally a good thing.
  • What’s the best investigative national security story you haven’t heard about? It’s this Philadelphia Inquirer series about how authorities used a storefront sting to ensnare an arms dealer for the Iranian government, operating in a Philly suburb. Wait, what?
  • We’ve said it before: If you’re a descendant of the last African American Medal of Honor recipient in World War II, who rallied his fellow black troops and took out a bunch of Nazi gunner’s nests after his white commander deserted, and you don’t want to be turned away from a tour of the White House…don’t wear shorts and a T-shirt bearing the likeness of your hero grandfather. It’s just disrespectful.

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

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