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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About

This commentary post is by Mary Ellen Broderick. It encompasses material about military fraud and waste that is not being talked about, anywhere. 

The following press release was provided by the Whitehouse on 11/15/11: “We Can’t Wait: Agencies Cut Nearly $18 Billion in Improper Payments, Announce New Steps for Stopping Government Waste”.

The first two paragraphs of the report state the following: “Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today announced that the Administration cut wasteful improper payments by $17.6 billion dollars in 2011 as part of the Obama Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, fueled by decreases in payment errors in Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps.  Combined with the improper payment cuts in 2010, agencies have avoided making over $20 billion in improper payments in the two years since President Obama issued an Executive Order initiating an aggressive campaign against wasteful payment errors.

“When the President and I launched the Campaign to Cut Waste we knew success would be measured by results, not rhetoric,” said Vice President Biden. “The sharp reduction in payment errors announced today demonstrates this Administration is serious about cutting waste,” he added.

Although it is commendable to be finding fraud in the programs that serve the poorest and most in need in our nation -- Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and Food Stamps -- there is no mention in this release regarding the obscene Military Waste and Fraud. This report, “Wartime Contracting Commission releases final report to Congress” , starts out with these 4 bullets:

• Pegs waste, fraud in Iraq, Afghanistan at >$30 billion

• Sees threat of more waste in unsustainable projects

• Faults both government officials and contractors

• Offers 15 recommendations for contracting reform

This report was issued back on 8/31/11, and there has been no discussion of this fraud and waste anywhere. Here is the entire report, with great waste graphs and photos on everything, as well as who is doing the most stealing. I have not seen a single member of Congress comment on this report and its findings. None of our elected officials in NM have commented on this report.  Did our elected officials not see this report -- nor did any of their staff? Well, here it is and I am asking for more motivation from our elected officials to start pushing for this waste and fraud to be addressed. This whole website -- Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan--  is full of interesting maddening, information, yet no one is saying a word about it.

Occupy Congress
Remember this ticker many blogs had up when the Afghanistan and Iraq war started? Cost of War Ticker. Well, it is still ticking away -- to the tune of billions. Every minute of every day the people of this country are struggling while these billions go out into unknown places and pockets, with zero accountability. This link, Ten Years After 9/11: The Dollars and Sense of War, is also informative on where our tax dollars are going and what the funds could be doing if spent here in this country.

It is staggering that we have this amount of our tax dollars leaving our country not accounted for and with no one even mentioning it. We need some of our Senators and Representatives to start camping out on the floor of the people’s house. Camp out until someone listens.

Estimated War-Related Costs, Iraq and Afghanistan
According to the Center for Defense Information, the estimated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.29 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2011. The chart below shows yearly expenditures for the Iraq and Afghan wars. 

War spnding chart 001

1. Includes $5.5 billion of $7.1 billion appropriated in DOD's FY2003 Appropriations Act (P.L. 107-48) for the global war on terror that CRS cannot allocate and DOD cannot track.

2. Of the $25 billion provided in Title IX of the FY2005 DOD appropriation bill, CRS includes $2 billion in FY2004 when it was obligated and the remaining $23 billion in FY2005. Because Congress made the funds available in FY2004, CBO and OMB score all $25 billion in FY2004.

3. Includes funds in the FY2007 Supplemental (H.R. 2206/P.L. 110-28), Title IX, P.L. 109-289, FY2007 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 5631) designated for war and funds for other agencies in H.J. Res 20, P.L. 110-50, the year-long Continuing Resolution. VA Medical estimates reflect VA FY2008 budget materials and CRS estimates. Amounts for foreign and diplomatic operations reflects State Department figures.

Source: "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, RL33110, p. CRS-9).

Read more: Estimated War-Related Costs, Iraq and Afghanistan — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html#ixzz1dyw8JIFR.

Where is All This Money Going?
Besides the wartime contracting fraud report linked to above, I see no other place where these dollars are being accounted for. This report is just dealing with that one portion of war funding too -- needless to say the tip of the iceberg.

I am an architect and in my career I have worked on many public sector projects, many federal projects. And it is my experience that the contractor is held to high scrutiny when working for the federal government, both on ensuring accuracy within documentation and accountability in terms of actual production. I do not see how this Iraq-Afghan boondoggle is being managed at all, and yet just the pure volume of 2 bil a week leaving our country is a huge undertaking to account for. There should be scores of people tracking these monies -- and reporting on them in a timeless and honest manner. I like the saying I encountered recently: Let's invade the US so we can have massive Wartime Contracting Spending rebuilding this country.

Just remember, every week 2 bil dollars leaves this country that could be being used to put our people back to work. 

Defense Spending Cant' Be Immune
This article, "Dire warnings from Pentagon over potential defense cuts", reports what Defense Secretary Leon Pannetta said recently to the Super Committee about any cuts to defense spending.  Paraphrasing -- don't do it or we will not be prepared for the boggie men. Leon, my bad dreams are not about the boogiemen invading this country or the so-called freedom haters; my worries first thing in the morning are about jobs, money, healthcare.

Yet since September 11, 2001, the Military Industrial Complex has had free reign. A bonanza of fraud and waste. Sinful really. Read this report: The Military-Industrial Complex Revisited: Shifting Patterns of Military Contracting in the Post-9/11 Period. The companies listed should be prosecuted for treason. Not given more contracts. They are part of the problem. They and their investors are the controllers of that 1% of all the wealth in the nation. This is one of the major issues of the Occupy movement. How can we as the 99%'ers ever get our message heard as long as our elected officials refuse to face realities and talk about it.

To Remain Silent is to Condone This Waste and Fraud
The silence around this military spending matter is deafening. Why? Because the war profiteers and crooks own the elected officials. From Kucinich to Boehner. From McCain to Schumer. Bought, owned. The only elected official with a soul talking about these matters in depth seems to be Sen. Sanders. I challenge our Senators and Congressmen to break their silence on these outrages. Take action, and do not mention cutting the people's programs without -- in the same sentence -- talking about cutting the military programs that are draining our nation's treasury and enriching crooks. And that just might mean no more "Tacos" and other unnecessary and wasteful military and lab spending here in New Mexico. There is no more of a lot of what we used to have. Why should military spending be immune?

Lab Spending
One last point. It was reported in this morning's Albuquerque Journal that LANL has almost 50% of its funding going towards administration.  HALF!! You can’t tell me there isn't any fraud or waste in that bloat. I suggest our Congressional delegation and the rest of Congress set about finding it.

November 17, 2011 at 03:17 PM in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Military Affairs, Occupy Wall Street, Super Committee | Permalink

Comments

Excellent post MaryEllen! Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

Posted by: Jeannette | Nov 18, 2011 7:41:25 AM

x 2 MEB! Great call, No safety net for war, just the high wire act of drones and lies.

Yep, not a peep about THAT waste, but everyone knows children, the elderly, sick and poor are not worthy of expenditures, even w/o waste.

Posted by: bg | Nov 18, 2011 4:12:02 PM

depraved is what comes to mind tonight. and to think we are sending troops to australia.
WTF. more money gone.

Posted by: Mary Ellen | Nov 18, 2011 8:46:17 PM