Monday, February 12, 2007

Who Feeds at This Trough?

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, who is a Marine, apparently isn’t up to date with whoever the general is that currently heads up the Army. Schoomaker? Casey? Where the hell is the speed-dial when you need it?

Genpeterpace_1 The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, who is a Marine, apparently isn’t up to date with whoever the general is that currently heads up the Army. Schoomaker? Casey? Where the hell is the speed-dial when you need it?
That’s one of the difficulties with the largest office building in the world—which is the Pentagon—among its 3.7 million square feet and 23,000 employees, it’s sometimes hard to find a general when you need one. Clarification; generals are a dime a dozen inside, it’s specific generals that may have ducked down any one of the seventeen and a half miles of corridors.
The Chairman is quoted by Ann Scott Tyson in the Washington Post;
“Pace said last week that U.S. troops will face a gap of up-armored Humvees and other armored vehicles that will not be closed until July, and according to the Pentagon, commanders will be required to share 500 up-armored vehicles. But the Army said it is not short of up-armored Humvees in Iraq.”
Humveeboltonarmor Is? Is not? Who’s out of touch? Tyson’s piece opens with an unequivocal paragraph;
The Army is working to fill a shortfall in Iraq of thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs -- including a rising threat from particularly lethal weapons linked to Iran and known as "explosively formed penetrators" (EFP) -- that are now inflicting 70 percent of the American casualties in the country, according to U.S. military and civilian officials.
All of which might only be the business as usual screwups of an outsized bureaucracy, were it not for a number of dots that need to be connected;
  • Donald Rumsfeld’s September 10, 2001 statement that $2.3 trillion in Pentagon expenditures has gone missing.
  • The Pentagon consumes $440 billion annually, not including the hundreds of billions additionally allocated by the Congress for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • The Army-that-is-not-short of up-armored Humvees “lack(s) more than 4,000 of the latest Humvee armor kit, known as FRAG Kit 5, according to U.S. officials.”
  • The Army began the Iraq war with an estimated $56 billion equipment shortage.
So, it's apparent that a fairly solid case can be made for war-profiteering. Someone got all that loot. Long before (and leading up to the war) a rather severe infestation of peace-profiteering seems to have broken out as well.
Rumsfeld_4 It’s not enough to acknowledge--as secretary Rumsfeld did--that two-thousand, three hundred billion has gone missing from the military coffers. Acknowledging that the day after his announcement the Twin Towers came down, there has been plenty of other business at hand. That other business has more than occupied the day and a half a week that several convening congresses have devoted to it.
Congresses that, according to Senator Arlen Spector "(have) fallen into a routine . . . of starting our workweek Tuesday at 2:15 after we finish our caucus luncheons, and people start to get edgy and heading for the airports early on Thursday. So we might increase the workweek by 50 percent, say, to three days." 
Eisenhower’s exhortation to ‘beware the military industrial complex’ pales next to the devious activity of the ‘congressional-industrial complex.’ If you are not sufficiently angered by your young neighbor sent into battle unarmored, perhaps your wrath can be inspired by the anomaly of endless budgetary shortfall in the face of endlessly lacking oversight.
As a nation, we are much afflicted by the metaphor of fiscal water shortages, directly caused by leaky pipes under the congressional streets. There are surprisingly few Randy Cunninghams among our legislators, but there is an enormity of under-sight as it relates to expenditure. We don’t have money because we leak it at every possible juncture.
Stuff happens. Don Rumsfeld has certainly said some controversial things during his tenure, but he nailed the essence of Washington with those two words.
Stuff, on the scale of the stuff within the Pentagon, can no longer be allowed to happen by this or any succeeding congress. Starting a war with a $56 billion equipment shortage? At the same time, a $30 billion scandal was in the early stages of discovery concerning Boeing and Air Force tankers.  "We all know that this is a bailout for Boeing," Ronald G. Garant, an official of the Pentagon comptroller's office, said. All of that, after the missing trillions.
Thief Missing? Call it what it is--stolen, walked-off with, pilfered, purloined, burgled. No apparent gun involved, but an amount of money gone missing that is the equal of an entire yearly national budget.
No one is responsible for any of this.
Just ask them and you will find that congressional inquiries are in progress and that ‘appropriate investigations’ are underway. What is not happening, with few exceptions, is the handing down of criminal indictments and subsequent prison terms. In the stead of that logical sequence, it is far more likely that those in government, who appropriate the feed for the various troughs of government, go on to lucrative employment among the very hogs they have slopped.
Hog Is that too agrarian a term? Slopping the hogs is farm language. It means taking everything that’s availably edible, pouring it into a trough and letting the pigs have at it. The difference is, that the farmer eventually eats the pig and in the Congress, the pig eventually eats the Senator or Representative.
Inspectors general are our bullwark against this fraud and waste. But Inspectors general report to the Congress and have no independent civilian prosecutorial power--which, when things work properly, works just fine. But things are not working properly within the darker recesses of military procurement. Not when trillions are unaccounted for, soldiers are sent into battle unarmored and a pissant war like Iraq destroys our military capability.
It may be way past time to butcher and eat the hog.
______________________________________________________
Media comment;