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The Nation: How the Pentagon Engulfed the World [View All]

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-27-08 06:27 PM
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The Nation: How the Pentagon Engulfed the World
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How the Pentagon Engulfed the World
posted by Tom Engelhardt on 05/27/2008 @ 2:26pm



Here are words to pin to the Bush years like a wilting corsage: "We don't know what we paid for."

That's a quote from Mary Ugone, the Defense Department's deputy inspector general for auditing, concerning massive Pentagon payments made during the occupation and war in Iraq for which there is no existing (or grossly inadequate) documentation. In fact, according to the inspector general for the Defense Department, "the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort." An internal audit of $8 billion that the Pentagon paid out to US and Iraqi private contractors found that "nearly every transaction failed to comply with federal laws or regulations aimed at preventing fraud, in some cases lacking even basic invoices explaining how the money was spent."

This is, admittedly, chump change for the Pentagon in the age of Bush. And even when "reform" is attempted, the medicine is often worse than the disease. Congressional critics and others have, for instance, accused the Houston-based private contractor KBR, formerly a division of Halliburton, of "wasteful spending and mismanagement and of exploiting its political ties to Vice President Dick Cheney" in fulfilling enormous contracts to support US troops in Iraq. Now, the Pentagon is planning to make amends by dividing the latest contract for food, shelter, and basic services in Iraq between KBR and two other large contractors, Fluor Corporation and DynCorp International. According to the New York Times, "he new three-company deal could actually result in higher costs for American taxpayers and weak oversight by the military."

These telling details rose last week from the subterranean depths of a bloated Bush-era Pentagon. As Frida Berrigan, arms expert for the New America Foundation, indicates in "Entrenched, Embedded, and Here to Stay" at Tomdispatch.com, the Pentagon's massive expansion on just about every front during George W. Bush's two terms in office may be the greatest story never told of our time. It might, in fact, be the most important American story of the new century and, while you can find many of its disparate parts in your daily papers, the mainstream media has yet to offer a significant overview of the Pentagon in our time. This suggests a great deal about what isn't being dealt with in our world. How, for instance, is it possible to have a presidential election campaign that goes on for years in which the size of the Pentagon never comes up as an issue (unless the candidates are all plunking for an expansion of American troop strength)? ......(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/323852




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