December 31, 2021 by Dave Lindorff
That’s what should have been the biggest news of 2021.
Instead, the story, which broke on November 17, was largely ignored or buried.
The nation’s two main newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times, have simply ignored it.
Other news organizations stenographically quoted Pentagon officials as admitting that they “failed again” but saw “progress,” and as promising that they would achieve a “clean” audit by… get this … 2027.
The Pentagon, with some $3 trillion (give or take a trillion but who’s counting?) in assets and a record current 2021 budget of $738 billion, has for the third year in a row failed its audit.
An army of 1400 auditors hired by us taxpayers for $230 million and borrowed from some of the biggest auditing firms in the country, spent the past year poring through the books and visiting hundreds of operations of the government’s largest and geographically vastest single agency, and came back with word that they couldn’t give it a pass.
They couldn’t even figure it out.
Think about that for a minute. The US military, which each year sucks up close to half of the nation’s now $1.6-trillion discretionary budget, is a financial black hole!
Nobody in the White House Budget Office, the Congressional Armed Services or Budget Committees, the General Accounting Office, or in the Pentagon itself, can say with a straight face how much the Pentagon spends of all the funds it is allocated by Congress each year, where that money gets spent, of even where all the equipment it buys — planes, ammunition, bombs, ships, etc. — are currently.
Perhaps more important in the long term, nobody anywhere in the government can honestly say how much the Pentagon actually needs each year, even according to the trumped up claims made in each year’s proposed Pentagon budget.
That in itself explains why the Pentagon budget just keeps growing. Look at this year, for example, where Congress actually handed an extra $53 billion to the nation’s military, over and beyond the $715 billion that the Pentagon and the Biden Administration asked for.
The just adopted FY 2022 budget, called the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) is, incredibly, larger in constant dollars than any year since World War II.
That is to say, it is greater adjusted for inflation than it has been for any year during the Korean War, the entire Cold War, or the Vietnam War (when the US at one point had over 500,000 troops in battle, a huge US Navy Pacific fleet in the South China Sea and half the US Air Force, including a large portion of the Strategic Air Command’s B-52s, busy with carpet bombing and napalming attacks halfway around the globe).
Meanwhile, the US at present is not, in any significant way, involved in an actual war anywhere.
In 2019, when I exposed in a Nation MagazIne cover story the incredible $21-trillion fraud that has been going on at the Pentagon for over two decades of deliberate budget obfuscation, I wrote that if this kind of scandalous behavior were occurring in any other government department (with the possible
exception of the sacrosanct CIA and National Security Agency, which of course have actual “black” budgets not seen by either press or Congress), it would be huge news in the media, and would prompt angry hearings in Congress. Imagine, for example, if the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, or perhaps the Department of State couldn’t pass an audit!
Even though the amount of money at issue would be orders of magnitude lower, there’d be hell to pay. Department secretaries or agency directors would lose their posts and their reputations, and members of Congress would be demanding prime time opportunities denounce the scandal on the floor of the Capitol, and the media would be all over it.
But the fact that the Pentagon can’t explain what it is doing with the 50 cents on every dollar of taxes that American’s pay to the Treasury each year from their hard-earned paychecks, and has made it so that no government office can figure it out, either, and the reality that Congress keeps on shoveling more and more money into the five-sided black hole across the Potomac River, year after year, should have the whole nation up in arms.
Right now, the US is midway through spending $1.7 trillion buying and upgrading “on the fly” thousands of F-35A allegedly stealth fighter-bombers which can’t do what they’re supposed to do, aren’t needed for any kind of war that the US is likely to ever get involved in (that would be with Russia or China, the only countries with advanced aircraft, but which would both end up in an all-out nuclear war with the US if it ever came to direct combat), and which will probably end up being replaced with something more expensive and pointless before they’re all built.
The US is also well into another $1.5-trillion pointless and destabilizing program begun during the Obama administration to “upgrade” and “modernize” the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
That is, instead of sitting down with the world’s other eight nuclear powers and seriously negotiating a denuclearization of all our nuclear arsenals, and eventually signing on to the UN ban on nuclear weapons just approved a year ago by a huge majority of the nations of the world and made a part of the laws of war, the US is working on developing and pre-positioning around the globe bombs that are considered small enough to be “useable” in non-nuclear conflicts.
I’m talking about bombs that are downsized from megatons to anywhere from 0.3 kilotons (just 300 tons of dynamite equivalent) to 50 kilotons (about three times the size of the bomb that leveled Nagasaki).
“Useable” nukes they call them!
Instead of looking for ways to pull the US out of provocative locations around the globe where all it has been able to do since the end of WWII with its awesome weapons, enormous Navy and huge standing military is sow instability, support violent coups, invade countries that don’t do the US’s bidding and drop bombs, drone-fired rockets and send in Special Forces troops in countries that the US has no right to be in (think Syria, Somalia, Niger, Haiti, Yemen, Iraq, etc.)
President Joe Biden is now considering sending weapons and trainers to Ukraine, missile-carrying destroyers into the Black Sea off Russia’s coast, attacking Iran (or allowing Israel to do the dirty work), provoking China in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, and who knows what else.
Biden can do this because, for the Pentagon, money is no object. The Pentagon gets whatever it wants even though it cannot tell anyone, and probably doesn’t itself know, where the money all goes.
My computer screensaver image is a photo of a sea of young people, mostly young men, myself included, seated on the Mall of the Pentagon in October 1967, confronting a double line of rifle-toting federalized troops.
Back then we were demanding an end to what we in the US still call the Vietnam War (the Vietnamese call it the American War, which, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, they ultimately won).
That protest and others that followed it made a hell of a lot more sense and would be vastly more appropriate and important if reprised today, than the bunch of fascist yahoos who busted into Congress a year ago on January 6 trying to hang Vice President Mike Pence and install presidential election loser, Donald Trump, as the nation’s Major Domo.
I hope people will ponder this question.
Why are we allowing this outrage to continue?
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
Nearly 100,000 Pentagon whistleblower complaints have been silenced – Lee Camp
originally published by Truthdig. I don’t know if I’d have the nerve to be a whistleblower. I’d like to think I would. We all like to think we would, just like we all like to think we could catch the game-winning touchdown or fold a fitted sheet without cursing.
But to blow the whistle on a huge organization with a lot of power, likely drawing that power to come crashing down on your head – that takes some serious spine-age.
Now, imagine the organization you’re calling out is arguably the largest, most powerful, most secretive and most violent organization on planet Earth. I’m speaking, of course, of the US Department of Defense.
Yet thousands, even tens of thousands, of people have taken that step over the past five years. (More on this in a moment.)
All the while our organized human murder machine continues its work around the world. Every day. Every hour. Never a moment of rest. Never pausing to clip their toenails or scratch their ass. Bombs dropped. Buildings blown up. People killed or imprisoned. No end in sight.
By the way, that’s the term I like to use instead of “military” – Organized Human Murder Machine.
It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? “Mili-tary” sounds too boring, too banal. Sounds like a super-lame couple you met at a party. “Yeah, Millie and Terry over there are accountants. If I have to hear one more joke about capital gains taxes, I’m gonna kill myself.”
But that’s not what the military is. The military is a gigantic organized human murder machine, and even if you “support” every action our military has ever taken, you can still acknowledge it’s an organized human murder machine. (You would just bizarrely argue that all the murder has been just and sound and pure.)
Eleven months ago I covered $21 trillion of unaccounted-for adjustments at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. Don’t try to think about the number $21 trillion because you’ll pass out and hit your head on the desk. If your salary is $40,000 a year, in order to earn $21 trillion, it would take you 525 million years. (At which point you can’t even enjoy the new jet ski you just bought with all your money because you’re almost certainly a brain in a jar … though a nice embroidered jar that only the rich brains can afford.)
Over the past year there has been a little more coverage of the utterly preposterous amount of money unaccounted for at our human murder machine. The Nation magazine, Forbes and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all covered it. Then the white blood cells of the military-industrial complex kicked into action in order to destroy the “infection.” The New York Times and Vox both claimed the $21 trillion is merely the result of large-scale misdocumentation and therefore doesn’t matter at all. Of course, the idea that tens of TRILLIONS of dollars of unaccountable adjustments don’t matter and couldn’t mask any fraud, abuse or corruption is an assertion that makes Charlie Sheen’s statement that he runs on tiger blood seem downright levelheaded.
Probably the best article to date on the $21 trillion was written a few weeks ago by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.
Point is, even though most of the mainstream media won’t get near this subject (or worse yet—actively attack those who do), the word is getting out: There is a giant sucking sound in the center of the Pentagon, and whatever’s down there feeds on trillions of secretive dollars, then sh*ts out incalculable death and destruction. (It’s the Death Star if officials at the Death Star spent $10,000 on a toilet seat.)
A month ago the Government Accountability Office came out with a report showing the total number of whistleblower complaints over the past five years at the Department of Defense. It’s nearly 100,000. Here’s the only part of the report that references that number:
“The Department of Defense Inspector General identified 8 substantiated violations of whistleblower confidentiality between fiscal years 2013 and 2018, representing approximately .01 percent of the 95,613 contacts handled by the Inspector General during that time…”
95,613 whistleblower complaints over five years.
Sadly, the Government Accountability Office was trying to brag in that sentence. They were proudly stating, “We only breached the confidentiality of .01 percent of our 95,000 whistleblower complaints. Aren’t we heroes?!”
It’s kind of like saying, “Of the 10,000 dolphins I’ve killed, not a single one has accidentally been a human.” The sane response is, “Well, I’m glad to hear that, but did you say you killed 10,000 dolphins?”
To try to get the 95,000 number to make a little more sense, that averages out to a whistleblower every six minutes of every weekday for five straight years. (That waiting room must be truly nuts. I bet all the good magazines were claimed years ago.)
But maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Perhaps the number 95,613 shouldn’t be all that shocking, and I need to roll my tongue back up and store it back within my mouth. When you have $21 trillion of unaccounted-for adjustments, it means a seizure-inducing amount of money, parts, pieces, bombs, missiles, manpower and devices are flying around with no accountability – likely creating loads of fraud, which would probably create loads of whistleblowers. Hence, maybe we all should have expected this number of whistleblowers rather than being shocked.
For example, there’s the time in 2003 when the US flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq and promptly lost track of it. As the Guardian makes clear in this article, this was not an instance of hackers on a computer system stealing a bunch of ones and zeroes. This was giant pallets of cash money vanishing without a trace. In fact, it was 281 million $100 bills, weighing in at 363 tons. That’s not really the type of thing you can just smuggle away in your sweatshirt while humming “She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain.”
Or here’s another example journalist David DeGraw highlights from the Government Accountability Report:
“… according to a Department of Defense official, during an initial audit, the Army found 39 Blackhawk helicopters that had not been recorded in the property system. [$819 million in value] Similarly, the Air Force identified 478 buildings and structures at 12 installations that were not in the real property systems.”
The Army lost and then found 39 helicopters.
The Air Force lost and then found 478 buildings.
How does one lose a goddamn building? Unless you just had a bad breakup with David Copperfield, there’s no explanation for losing a building. (Side note: It must suck divorcing David Copperfield. “Really, honey? You think you’re gonna take the house?? PAFOOMPF! What house?!”)
Ya see, this madness stems from the fact that the Pentagon has a standard operating procedure of simply making up numbers to fill their books – which, for normal human beings, is termed “fraud.” But in the case of the Pentagon, it’s termed, “We get to make sh*t up because … ummm… national security.”
Here’s more from a 2013 Reuters article:“Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the Department of Defense’s accounts … but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” – in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s.”
Have no fear, patriotic Americans, this is not “lying to the American people, stealing their money, and using it for war,” this is just “unsubstantiated change actions.” Try that on your next tax return. Put in $10,000 marked “Unsubstantiated change actions.” I’m sure they’ll love that.
So let’s sum this up, shall we? The Pentagon sucks up 55% of all the discretionary tax money we pay to our government (thanks to our bought-off Congress who receive more Christmas cards from weapons contractors than they do from relatives). Those who work at the Pentagon have no idea where or how the money is spent. They make up many of the numbers resulting in tens of trillions of dollars of unaccounted-for adjustments.Read more $21 trillion lost: Largest theft in history buried under guise of US national security – Lee Camp
They lose helicopters, buildings and, in a few instances, even nuclear warheads. There is an unimaginable amount of fraud and corruption at every level and literally thousands of whistleblowers have tried to come forward every single year – one every six minutes. When they do take that incredibly brave action, over 90% of the claims are dismissed without even being investigated.
You would think, in this topsy-turvy world, if there were one organization we could trust with a trillion dollars a year of our taxpayer money, it would be the Department of Unauthorized Highly Secretive Mass Human Murder.
By Lee Camp
Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and activist. Dubbed by Salon as the “John Oliver of Russia Today”, Camp is the host of RT America’s first comedy news show Redacted Tonight, which tackles the news agenda with a healthy dose of humor and satire. Lee’s writing credits are vast, having written for The Onion, Comedy Central and Huffington Post, as well as the acclaimed essay collections Moment of Clarity and Neither Sophisticated Nor Intelligent. Lee’s stand-up comedy has also been featured on Comedy Central, ABC’s Good Morning America, Showtime’s The Green Room with Paul Provenza, Al-Jazeera, BBC’s Newsnight, E!, MTV, and Spike TV.
This article was originally published by Truthdig.
This column is based on a monologue Lee Camp wrote and performed on his TV show “Redacted Tonight.”
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