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Congress Set to Waste 57 Percent of Our Taxes

 

Congress will debate and vote on a bill -- the so-called "Defense Appropriations Act" -- that will make us less safe by dumping over $600 billion into preparations for war. Combined with military spending in other departments, this is 57% of all federal discretionary spending.

 

Included in the bill is $88 billion for continued war right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pretending those wars are over doesn't stop the flow of funds -- which are needed for such domestic human needs as education, healthcare, and clean energy.

 

Moving our representatives toward decent spending priorities is a long-term project. But should they pass this bill, we can at least force them to begin some military cuts. We can insist that they keep the bipartisan ban on military sponsorships of NASCAR and other sporting events -- and vote for budget-cutting amendments being proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee.

 

You’ll remember that Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress who voted against the Sept 14, 2001, blank check to George Bush for endless military adventure known as the “2001 Authorization to Use Military Force.”

Please forward to everyone you know this recent comment from Rep. John Lewis, the legendary civil rights activist:

 

"War is obsolete. It cannot be used as a tool of our foreign policy. It's barbaric. ... If I had to do it all over again, I would have voted with Barbara Lee. It was raw courage on her part. So, because of that, I don’t vote for funding for war. I vote against preparation for the military. I will never again go down that road."

Tell your Representative to support good amendments but reject the full bill.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins

 

AFRICAN AMERICA IS AT WAR

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICA

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

AMERICA'S RACISTS HAVE INFILTRATED AMERICAN POLICE FORCES TO WAGE A RACE WAR AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

THE BLACK RACE IS AT WAR

FIRST WORLD WAR:  THE APPROXIMATELY 6,000 YEAR WORLD WAR ON AFRICA AND THE BLACK RACE

Last edited by sunnubian
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Iraq war reconstruction: $6 billion to $8 billion wasted, US official says

 

AP file

The Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, about 12 miles northeast of Baghdad, is seen with unused building materials nearby. The site is a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million.

 

The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse.

 

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR) for the past eight years, gave that estimate in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity on Monday, shortly after releasing a new summary of his office’s many grim discoveries since it began work in in 2004.

 

In Friday’s report, Bowen said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 

According to the report, auditors repeatedly found that the State Department and Defense Department failed to properly review invoices from government contractors, often approving billions of dollars in services without checking if costs were accurate or efficient. “I think the consistent theme throughout our eight years of oversight work has been the inconsistent availability of records and information on contracts and costs,” said Bowen, a former Texas lawyer.

 

Bowen said his efforts were hampered from the outset by the ineffectiveness of a clearinghouse created in Iraq for government departments to submit reconstruction bills and contracts for review and oversight. Known as the Iraq Reconstruction Management System, the system was often ignored, with the result that nearly a third of all the contracts could not be monitored adequately. 

 

"Agencies often inconsistently used it -- such as USAID. Sometimes projects were put in there, sometimes they weren’t,” said Bowen. Aides said his $6 billion to $8 billion figure is based on his review of audits and reconstruction costs, as well of estimates of waste in programs where key data is missing.

 

Bowen’s deputy inspector general, Glenn Furbish, said separately in the interview that the cost of many contracts was steadily increased due to frequent modifications. “Once U.S. agencies started down this road, they rarely stopped and said, ‘This is getting out of hand,’” Furbish said.

 

He also noted that many agencies sometimes skipped appropriate review of their bills in an effort to spend money within a deadline, so they did not have to return it to the Treasury.

 

Since its founding in 2004, SIGIR has investigated $635 million in spending, resulting in $176 million in “fines, forfeitures, and other monetary results.” In total, the agency estimates it has saved around $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds.

 

Friday’s report mostly detailed the persistent poor handling of government contracts. “In some instances, invoices were reviewed months after they were paid,” according to the report. “Poor and/or delayed invoice reviews add risk that the government may overpay, or pay unallowable and unreasonable costs.”

 

The report lays much of the blame on a lack of manpower dedicated to reviewing and overseeing government contracts. The State Department enlisted a single contracting officer to handle a $2.5 billion deal with DynCorp International to train Iraqi police forces, for example. Auditors called this decision “especially disturbing" because of problems in earlier DynCorp contracts. According to Furbish, after SIGIR singled out the contract, the State Department reviewed its original agreement with DynCorp and recovered more than $60 million from the company.

 

DynCorp spokeswoman Ashley Burke confirmed that her company returned funds to the government but said it had not engaged in misconduct.

SIGIR’s investigation also uncovered instances of bid-rigging and bribe-taking by State and Pentagon officials.

 

Fraudulent activities uncovered by the special inspector general resulted in 87 indictments, according to the report. Of those cases, 61 involved contract kickbacks, 11 involved contract fraud and nine were related to embezzlement. Both military officers and defense contractors were frequently implicated.

 

The report details one such case, involving U.S. Army Major Roderick Sanchez, who served from 2004 to 2007 as a contracting officer in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. Sanchez used his authority to solicit cash payments, Rolex watches and other expensive gifts in exchange for steering Pentagon contracts to foreign companies, reaping benefits worth more than $200,000, according to the report. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of $15,000.

 

A Navy lieutenant commander named Frankie Hand, stationed at Camp Taji in Iraq as a contracting officer, entered into a secret agreement with two U.S. contractors — Michelle Adams and Peter Dunn — agreeing to rig government contracts to their benefit in exchange for a cut of the profits, the report said. The two contractors paid Hand $757,525 after obtaining two contracts improperly. An Air Force master sergeant received $50,000 in bribe money for “assistance” in the deal, the report said.

 

Hand received three years in prison and forfeited his share of contract profits, while Adams and Dunn received 15 and 14 months in prison, respectively.

 

Friday’s report, titled “Final Forensic Audit Report of Iraq Reconstruction Funds”, was wider in scope than most of SIGIR’s work, covering not just a specific project, but a broader picture of Iraq’s reconstruction. SIGIR spokesman Chris Griffith said, however, that Bowen' has one more major report to publish in January.

 

Many of the challenges described in the Iraq report mirror those depicted in similar reports by its cousin, the office of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. In a May report to Congress, for example, that office concluded that “corruption remains a major threat to the reconstruction effort” and said contractors were taking advantage of lax oversight in Afghanistan.

 

Yeah .... especially coupled with the other $6 billion in cash that the government had to admit just "went missing."

 

Which is why when the Republicans want to complain about "government waste," or the "exploding deficit" or that the President is "spending us into the poor house" .... it makes me wish that somebody would just punch them in the face and tell them to shut the hell up!! 

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