While Social Security is Under Attack, Billions are Lost in Afghanistan

shrink wrapped dollars iraq
This is just an amazing insult to the U.S. middle class and tax payer. While our social security is being decimated under the Congressional and Administration made debt ceiling crisis, a new report shows the United States is losing billions in Afghanistan. Literally the money disappears.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released an audit that shows, literally, our U.S. tax dollars are disappearing and probably into the hands of those who are trying to kill us.

efforts to safeguard U.S. cash entering the Afghan economy and to develop the Afghan financial sector have been hampered by limited interagency coordination, inconsistent Afghan cooperation and insufficient cash controls.

SIGAR found that U.S. agencies have limited visibility over U.S. cash that enters the Afghan economy -- leaving it vulnerable to fraud and diversion to the insurgency. SIGAR also found that poor cooperation by the Afghan government has impeded U.S. efforts to help develop the Afghan financial sector.

"The United States has poured billions of aid dollars into a country plagued by corruption, insurgency and the narcotics trade. It is essential that we use all available tools to ensure that U.S. dollars are protected from fraud and diversion to the insurgency. We must also ensure that the Afghan government is a full partner in efforts to set a fledgling financial sector on sound footing,"said Herbert Richardson, acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

How much money is at risk? The press release quotes over $70 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds have been funneled to Afghanistan for security and other purposes since 2002. So, the amount is some percentage of these funds.

How did this happen? For one, U.S. contracting regulations do not prohibit prime contractors from using unlicensed hawalas to pay subcontractors. This is the same black market money system that funded the 9/11 hijackers. Even worse, Afghanistan is blocking audits and financial reforms.

If one recalls billions disappeared in Iraq as well. Literally $12 billion in shrink wrapped $100 bills disappeared. To this day they cannot account for at least $6.6 billion and admit it's probably stolen. $6.6 billion.

Nice work if you can get it huh?

The next time you hear we must force America's retired, aged, poor, sick and vulnerable into abject poverty in order to reduce the deficit, think of this. $100 billion of a debt ceiling increase would fund the government until September. Yet the cost of war since 2001 is hitting $4 trillion dollars.

If only the United States poured those funds into rebuilding America's infrastructure. Seems policy generally is anybody but American workers and citizens.

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Comments

Federal Reserve planning for a default

This is yet another shocker headline, so why I'm putting it in a comment.

Of course they are, since they need to be prepared if it happens, and it just might, but for a weak or two as these idiots with their game of chicken, target social security, don't raise the ceiling by August 2.

Once the consequences appear and people are about to riot, they will increase it.

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"War is a Racket"

This has been going on for a long time. A great book demonstrates this reality: War is a Racket by U.S. Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler.

It works like this: (1) we have a sacred cause, (2) no expense is too great when serving the sacred cause, and therefore, (3) it would be treasonous to demand an accounting of the expenditures incurred in serving the sacred cause.

The truth is the opposite, following either common sense or the advice of the classic Chinese military thinker, Sun Tzu:

(1) If we cannot win a war quickly, we should not get into it.

(2) Expenses must be carefully controlled or the nation will exhaust itself in the war effort, with the result that the nation will be conquered, sooner or later (whether it admits this reality to itself, or not).

(3) The more sacred the cause, the more treasonous NOT to demand an accounting of the expenditures.

Time after time since World War II, the U.S. has experienced ... well, let's just say the word 'victory' would not be indicated.

You might suppose that someone would conclude that war profiteering, aside from being bad for the U.S. Treasury, is also bad from the point of view of the military's mission -- assuming that the military's mission is to win wars.

During World War II, Senator Harry Truman held hundreds of hearings on war profiteering, saving taxpayers an estimated $15 billion (in 1940s dollars). There used to be laws specifically defining and directed at war profiteering.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abernathy (D-HI), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007, which passed (Oct. 9, 2007) 375 to 3 (53 abstaining). A similar bill (S.B. 119) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in 2007, but there was never a vote in the Senate despite strong support from Sen. Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (The Senate bill had 21 cosponsors, all Democrats and not including Senator Obama.) That was it for the first session of the 110th Congress.

The second session of the 110th Congress gets more complicated. Sen. Leahy and Sen. Grassly (R-IA) together introduced the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act (WEFA) which then became Leahy provisions in a defense authorization act and later, in a supplemental appropriations bill. It's one of those things that Robert Oak explains as requiring hours of research -- yes, it does. I am noting and quoting, below in a 'reply', sources for what was enacted in 2008 in the way of WEFA -- namely, closing a loophole that had allowed fraud connected with undeclared wars (wars under a War Powers Resolution). NProbably mainly thanks to the persisitence of Senator Leahy, the government can now prosecute fraud even in Iraq and Afghanistan! According to a PDF from Leahy's office:

The language adopted by the Appropriations Committee [later placed into the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009" or into the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008"] creates a new tool for federal prosecutors to combat war profiteering and provide clear authority to prosecute those who exploit times of war or national emergency to commit fraud. It would also, for the first time, make it a crime for contractors to materially overvalue goods and services with the specific intent to excessively profit from war, military actions or relief or reconstruction activities.

In 2009, Rep. Abernathy (clearly not satisfied with what had been signed by President Bush in 2008) reintroduced the bill as the War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2009, but it never made it out of the House Judiciary Committee. So much for the 111th Congress.

Now we have the wonderful 112th Congress, Tea Partiers and all ... so we're seeing real change now, aren't we?

Yeah, right. The new House leaders find it objectionable even to require military contractors to come clean about their donations to campaign funds of members of Congress ... that would be abridging the freedom of speech of war profiteers!

War is a racket. This doesn't mean that everyone involved in the military is a crook, or even that most involved in the military are crooks ... most people, even civilians, tend to be kind-hearted and well-intended ...  but in its totality, war is a racket.

"War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means."

Karl von Clausewitz ( brainyquote.com )

 

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Leahy provisions enacted

2nd session, 111th Congress

According to OpenCongress, WEFA was reported out of the Judiciary Committee, 25 July 2008. After that, OpenCongress under heading "Recent News Coverage" says, as follows:
 

Hmmmm, no news coverage found for this bill at this time.[Webpage is undated but is what appears now for WEFA .] This means that this this bill has not yet been mentioned on a publicly-searchable news website by either its official number  ...  or title  ...  As soon as that changes, our daily automated search across the Web will catch it and include it here.

A similar result for govtrack.us/congress. Nothing anywhere about that the idea went anywhere.

However, Sen. Leahy's website has a press release from 2008 --

 

September 27, 2008

A provision authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to suspend the statute of limitations for prosecuting wartime contracting fraud will become law when the President signs a continuing resolution that includes the fiscal year 2009 defense appropriations bill, which was passed by the Senate Saturday.
 
The language, introduced by Leahy in April as the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act (WEFA), has received bipartisan support.  The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, and Leahy successfully worked to adopt the bill as an amendment to the defense appropriations bill earlier this year.  The provisions will give the government the ability to prosecute cases of fraud during a time of war, and close a loophole in a World War II-era law that has prevented the government from seeking criminal prosecution for individuals and companies who have delivered defective products or overbilled for their services.
 
“With passage of this bill today, Congress has taken action, as it has in the past, to protect the American taxpayer and make sure the money spent to support the troops is not wasted by fraud and corruption,” said Leahy.  “The President should now sign this bill to show the American people that we will do all we can to investigate and prosecute those who would undermine our troops and steal from the taxpayer during times of war.”
 
Closing the loophole in the 1942 law will allow the government to prosecute wartime fraud in Congressional-authorized conflicts, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
 
Billions of dollars have been awarded to companies that failed to deliver satisfactory products in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, including faulty ammunition and unsafe bullet proof vests, potentially endangering the lives of American troops.  Leahy also added provisions of the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act in the National Defense Authorization Act.  The funding bill and the Leahy-authored extension on the statute of limitations for wartime fraud will now be sent to the President for signature.

 

Did President Bush sign the 'National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008' and the  'Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009'?

Yes, President Bush did sign those two acts, complete with "signing statements" (emphasis added) indicating that he did not consider his administration to be bound by the law. "You can't make the Decider prosecute fraud when he finds it to be in the national interest!" He also indicated his satisfaction with other provisions that somehow made their way into the legislation, lifting the  "legislative moratoria on oil and gas leasing on significant portions of the Outer Continental Shelf and the prohibition on the completion of regulations for commercial leasing of oil shale."

 

Signing statements are from CoherentBabble.com --

 

Statement by the President on H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009"

Today I have signed into law H.R. 2638, the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009." The Act, consisting of five divisions, consolidates into a single Act several appropriations bills. It provides through emergency supplemental appropriations additional Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 resources needed for relief and recovery from hurricanes, floods, and other disasters, and other supplemental appropriations.

The Act also includes full-year FY 2009 appropriations for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security and for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Furthermore, the Act provides FY 2009 appropriations to continue operations of the Federal Government through March 6, 2009, for projects and activities not otherwise covered in the full-year bills. This Act lifts the legislative moratoria on oil and gas leasing on significant portions of the Outer Continental Shelf and the prohibition on the completion of regulations for commercial leasing of oil shale, which will allow us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
 

I am disappointed that the Congress passed a long-term continuing resolution. There is much work to be done, and the Congress should not adjourn for the year without finishing important business on spending, taxes, and free trade agreements.
 

Finally, this legislation contains certain provisions similar to those found in prior appropriations bills passed by the Congress that might be construed to be inconsistent with my Constitutional responsibilities. To avoid such potential infirmities, the executive branch will interpret and construe such provisions in the same manner as I have previously stated in regard to similar provisions.

GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 30, 2008.

President Bush Signs H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into Law

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The Act authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, for military construction, and for national security-related energy programs.

Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.

GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 28, 2008.

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Growth industry: paper shredders

Yes, shredders are very useful after the money is gone. Unfortunately, shredders are probably all made in China, including those purchased by the Pentagon!

Well, now that the government CAN, at long last, prosecute fraud, where are the actual prosecutions? Back in early 2009, we had the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, led by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) which had no problem turning up all kinds of evidence of fraud. However, as noted by Robert Oak, there doesn't seem to be any paper trail!

The Commission found "buildings unfit for use ... weapons and money gone missing ... overuse of cost-plus contracts, high contractor overhead expenses, excessive contractor award fees ...  a skeletal, half-built shell ... even though the United States spent $40 million on the now-halted $73 million project" ... but no paper trail!

Meanwhile, Sen. Webb announced in May that he will not be running again in 2012. And, more recently, he has introduced legislation to allow oil and natural gas exploration and production off of the Virginia coast.

A billion here, a billion there ... pretty soon it adds up to real money.

 

Which is the worstest? -- the oil lobby, the FIRE lobby, the media lobby or the military-industrial complex?

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right no real investigation and the real Senators didn't run

There were a slew of Senators trying to do something, Bryon Dorgan, Jim Webb and they all didn't run.

It's such a pattern I think they bailed on running for office not because they might lose but because they had no choice in the Senate except to be swamped and overcome with corruption.

Dorgan was all over private contracts and lose money in the Iraq war, to no avail despite the billions and billions of dollars lost that he investigated.

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Stay and fight!

"I think they [Dorgan and Webb]  bailed on running for office not because they might lose but because they had no choice in the Senate except to be swamped and overcome with corruption."  Robert Oak

No doubt it's frustrating for an honorable person in the Congress these days, but that's always been the case. Still, I would prefer that they had stayed and continued the good fight, as Leahy does or as the late Robert Byrd did until his death.

Overturn of personnel in the Congress (or in the White House or in the courts), unless highly selective, accomplishes nothing. We badly need honorable politicians who can rise above the media circus non-issues and distractions -- populist politicians who can connect directly with the people. Otherwise, populism has no chance, and the alternative (corporatism) wins by default.

I think the the huge fund-raising effort required is a bigger factor in these decisions than is the difficulty of combating corrupting influence -- although of course these two factors are not unrelated.

As an example of the process, when Rep. Peter DeFaxio (D-OR 4) a few years back considered running for the Senate, he announced that he just did not want to spend almost all of his time, almost every day, for more than a year .... on the phone and in person begging for money to the point that he would have no time for anything else. He stated that he had investigated the situation and was dead certain that was what was required for a well-known (throughout Oregon) member of the U.S. House to run for the Senate -- total dedication to fund raising on a personal level. None of it would be easy for DeFazio, who was well known for his opposition to free trade deals since NAFTA and before and his criticism of inefficient military procurement. On the other hand, DeFazio has never been defeated in his 4th District, despite that the seat is targeted, year after year, by the Republican National Committee.

 

Of  course everything has been made that much worse by the Citizens United deciision.

Short of an effective third party, the one thing that voters can hope to do is to keep the ones who are proven true and throw our the ones who have been proven otherwise. Aside from voting, the big thing that voters actually can do is turn off the network teevee news and start searching out true journalism such as EP to understand what is going on. They won't miss anything, really, because they will soon hear it all from friends who still watch the junk. Amazing, how that opens up your understanding of the media brainwashing that runs the minds of so many Americans.

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Finally, voters can work within each state to assure a hard paper audit trail in elections, with automatic random sampling to be hand-counted in each election regardless of how close or far-apart the result is. Democracy: NOT a spectator sport!

BTW: I suspect that a factor for Webb must be that he decided to support off-shore oil for Virginia and knew he would lose the support of many voters and organizations for that reason. I am not second-guessing his decision, it may be in the best interests of Virginia, but I do know that it would have had a predictably negative affect on his chances for re-election as a Democrat in 2012, had he chosen to continue. He would have found himself in a squeeze between RNC $$$ and kneejerk environmentalists crimping his populist style with Democrat voters.

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