"Nobody works here anymore" is a classic excuse used in information requests like this.
These letters the DoD sent back sound exactly like the letters I read every day as a civil litigator during discovery for cases. The DoD is basically telling this inspector to fuck off and stop bothering us.
That's not to say the Pentagon has no idea where the money went. They are just not cooperating with the investigation. The DoD is saying "we fired those guys, you go find them yourself."
And it sounds like the Special Inspector General has a pretty good idea why the natural gas station was so expensive. The organization in charge didn't do a feasibility study. Then spent millions of dollars building a station when it wasn't a good idea.
Nobody stole the money. They just squandered it on a gas station to nowhere.
Edit: Unsurprisingly both the inspector general and the DoD Deputy Under Secretary are both trained lawyers. The inspector general was even a civil litigator up until a few years ago.
The conspiracy theorist in me says the gas station was just a front to funnel the money somewhere else, somewhere with no governmental oversight.
But that person has no proof, of course.
If you want to conspiracy theorize, this fits with the classic gov't construction grift model. Gov't employee gets a huge bribe. Gov't employee gives a huge lucrative to the person who bribed them. They waste of a bunch of money on contractors who don't show up or show up and don't work. Years later its way over budget and the delivered project sucks. That's classic government corruption.
One telltale sign is the amount of overhead - 30 million - on a 42 million dollar project.
The military industrial complex is not that different in form from the massive public works jobs program many propose to replace it with, except that the latter would also have the side effect of good infrastructure.
And would happen at home in the open with competitors and political opponents keeping a watchful eye on things (in their own interest), not in some far off country hidden away from prying eyes.
I always think it's weird that we're so willing to spend tons of money building stuff in other countries, but not our own.
The sad thing is this is where about 90% of your taxes generally go - corruption, nepotism, bribery, private hands.
I've heard that once a contract is put up for bidding by the government, someone buys it out, and sub-contracts it out a step down the ladder. The sub-contractor sub-contracts it out again another step, and so on.
until eventually a local is taking a picture of some other well as proof and everyone gets paid and nothing gets done.
I couldn't comment on whether this has any truth to it, I've fortunately never been to Afghanistan and also I don't know anyone who's been.
after hearing it, it's hard to imagine things working any other way, looking at the fruit of the time and money.
If you want to take over a company, always keep the middle management! They know how everything works and who to ask when special issues might occur.
If you want to take over a country, always keep the government officials! They know who to work with, what to do, etc.
Firing all tax collectors just to hire them again is a stupid idea.
Even worse when you destabilize several countries, make sure all educated people have left the country, and then are left with a bunch of radicals.
(Compare: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan)
Yap pretty much. This happens with big and small stuff right here on US soil. There are bid requests that fit only one product, so there is just simply no way anything else would be picked. Product is not named by name, but if you look at list of features it describes it in a unique way. Or there are special handouts to small companies headed by vetereans or women, so people would put their Vietnam era uncle as CEO on paper so the company can get a special contract and so on.
They can own 100% of the company, they're usually controlled or trusted in some other way.
On the other hand, having lived in Northern Virginia over the last decade, I have noticed a lot more Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the roads. So, at least someone is benefiting.
They aren't "useful as a side effect" they are useful because no-one else is willing to spend the amount of money the military is. No-one else spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipping high school drop out employees.
That's not to say that military doesn't have its uses, but if public benefit is your main goal then it almost assuredly would be better to create some type of agency or organization that was explicitly tasked and organized in such a way to meet those goals.
Yes, the internet was technically a military project in that it came out of (D)ARPA, but they seem to work a lot on interesting civilian projects that might have military spinoffs rather than the other way around.
That's rich. I think any agency could do amazing things if they had the budget the size of the military budget. Their amazing things wouldn't be "blow shit up first, let people share cat pictures a distant second" though.
95%+ of the work done is thrown away. I'm not talking about cutting edge R&D projects that happened to not work out, but literally work will be done and then never evaluated and throw into the trash. Agencies have so much money that they need to spend that they will have no idea what they want and will just throw half a million at you to go do whatever you want for a year. Then they will look at a powerpoint of what you did for maybe 20 mins, nod their head and scratch their chin and then pretend the whole thing never happened.
The Phase I to Phase III ratio has go to me like 100:1
But, unfortunately, what too many of today's software engineers are working on are apps that hardly anyone needs. "It's tinder for cats". Stuff like that.
Of course, as I type that out it sounds like a load of baloney.
This has been happening to the US federal government an awful lot lately. This is rather disturbing, and appears to be specific to recent times and specific to the United States.
This article is a good overview of how this disconnect has to come to pass:
Rest assured that as a French, I can confirm this is not specific at all to the US.
The US military budget is around 11x that of France.
And the GDP of the US about 6x that of France, so on that scale the amounts are roughly equivalent.
"The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a 1992 law that requires annual audits of all government departments. In 2009, Congress gave the department until 2017 to be audit-ready."
I mean we're talking about $600B/year un-auditable even in principle. Of course one can't say that DOD is negligent or non-responsive or not taking necessary actions - after all the DOD did create the "Office of Audit Readiness" which now manages the plans for achieving that readiness ... sometime after 2017 according to their recent updates.
for further amusement:
I like this one - "lack of ability to maintain documentation to support transactions." and their plans&promises to buy ERP. That really puts them on track for audit readiness ... in the next century. And after all of that you're asking about meager $800M :)
And of course it is hard not to laugh seeing the Congress trying to threaten the DOD with not letting the DOD buy new toys :
"For failing to obtain an audit for fiscal years after FY2017, the bill [...] prohibits DOD from using funds for certain weapons, weapons systems, or platforms being acquired as a major defense acquisition program."
It is so real and so scary! That should show them real good! :)
A quick video of Rumsfeld saying it reveals this was the case.
As mentioned, the entire US budget was less than 2 trillion dollars in 2001. That would be an awful lot of money to go missing and no one notice, 9/11 or not.
and how was the budget 2 trillion if they can't account for 2.3 trillion....?
And why is this being touted as the loss of $800 million?
When this question was being investigated, it turned out that the construction was managed by an agency that no longer exists (as of a year ago iirc), and that there were absolutely no records kept and no way to answer how the money was spent for this project, or for $750 million worth of other projects that they managed.
It's even more annoying when someone uses "k" and "mm" in the same post, since the whole idea of "mm" comes from repeating roman "M" (1,000). So why not stick to k/kk (WoW-style) or M/MM (almost-roman style)?
At least "k" and "M" are based on some kind of standard.
Also note that the only cited source additionally claims that "M" is often used to indicate one thousand, as in $60,000 = $60M, which for all I know may be true in the financial world but is definitely not true for anyone outside that world who wants to be understood.
It is commonly abbreviated as [...] mm, or mn in financial contexts.[better source needed]
Yes it's pedantry and yes I understand that 'mm' is in someways a convention but it's a terrible one.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbreviation (see especially the section on plural forms)
That's all I was stating.
This is patently false. We know where the money went. Toilet seats. Lots and lots of (very comfortable) toilet seats.
Saying the military paid $640 for the same kind of toilet seat you might put on your toilet at home is more than a little misleading.
I actually do have a similar type of toilet seat (as do most other people in Japan). Some optional extras you can get on toilet seats include a heated seat (highly recommended if you don't have heat in your house) and a fan that vents odours.
There are only 2 furnishings in my house that I wouldn't give up. One is the toilet seat and the other is a bath that pours itself and maintains a constant temperature with a recirculating pump. Worth every penny and more.
If they were made for the military, I can just about guarantee that they weren't at all comfortable no matter how much they cost.
"Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about TFBSO, an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago."
That's not a direct "money laundering" caper, but it's still an example that "high minded public servants" and other deep state folks can see their way clear to making a profit from a coup.
Catherine Austin Fitts lays it out right here:
She seems like a very competent auditor / investment banker / what have you, but frankly a link like that should be accompanied by a disclaimer. Fill a vat with all the salt you can find in your immediate and surrounding area and bathe in it while watching. That being said I don't doubt her numbers or her experience in government. I just wish she could present it without making me cringe at her delusions every 5 minutes.
But folks should not forget that the entire DoD spend in the 2015 federal budget was a mere $620.5b.
Compare that to Social Security + Medicare + Welfare. Those totaled $1,918.5b. That's 3x the entire Defense budget. That's where taxes are going.
At least DoD has to field tanks and submarines and carriers. The other guys? They move money around for a living. Be more worried about the size and propensity for graft there.
I'm not saying these programs are perfect (single payer and basic income would probably save lives and money), or that there is no need for millitary spending, but it's scary how out of touch you are to be incapable of realizing why people would be upset with 620 billion going towards killing people and not with 1,918 billion going towards saving and empowering them. Cutting defense spending in half, as unthinkable as that is in the current dominant neoconservative political climate, could free up money for rebuilding infrastructure, doubling the budgets of NSF, NIH, DOE, and NASA, and so on.
Nobody educated on the subject things we spend $620 billion just in case we need to beat the next 7 armies on the list. We do it because spending more than the next 7 armies on the list ensures that it is pointless for any other state to even try to challenge U.S. hegemony. Nobody knows what the world would look like if the U.S. abdicated its role as world police but a lot of people are willing to spend that money to not have to find out what happens.
And its not unreasonable to be afraid of that hypothetical. The western world spent hundreds of years at war with each other. That period culminated in Europeans killing tens of millions of each others' people. Today, instead of shooting each other in the face as their grandparents did, French and Germans hold hands in the EU. What the hell happened? A very plausible explanation is that when the U.S. became unchallengable after World War II, it became pointless for any European country to cultivate aspirations of global power. That dramatically reduced the geopolitical instability that comes with countries vying for regional or global dominance.
Unfortunately I have no references to prove the relative impact of these alternative explanations compared to rayiner's. Still I'd suggest that using the strength of USA's military force as a sole or even primary explanation of post-WW2 peace in Europe is an oversimplification.
Hmm, I think that's exactly what Vladimir Putin is doing right now. I mean he's pretty explicit about it. Xi's being a bit subtler about it, but he's kind of doing the same thing. Also, it seems like the US kind of lost the last couple of wars it got into, the ones in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, even though Daesh and Libya Dawn don't have US$610B/year budgets.
More to the point, though, when the US military spends US$43 million on a gas station that would cost anyone else US$½ million, it becomes plausible that someone could have a stronger military even head-to-head than your US$610B/year military, even if their budget is, say, US$8B/year. Like, say, Singapore or Algeria. All they'd have to do is be spending their money on things that actually work instead of corruption-driven boondoggles. Wasting money doesn't win wars.
Would the US really lose if it got into a war with Algeria or, more realistically, Iran (who's currently supporting Russia's attacks against Daesh, over US protest)? Hard to say. Depends in part on how much of that US$610B is getting squandered, in part on whether Iran has a plan for shooting down GPS†, stuff like that. Aircraft carriers versus supercavitating torpedoes is going to be an interesting experiment when it happens. I'm glad I won't be on the carrier.
(Might also depend on what happens if the US nukes Singapore, which is after all a mostly-not-subterranean city-state. Would it trigger a global thermonuclear war, obliterating the US?)
> A very plausible explanation is that when the U.S. became unchalleng[e]able after World War II, it became pointless for any European country to cultivate aspirations of global power.
I can't tell whether you haven't heard of the Cold War or you don't realize that Moscow is in Europe. Either way, maybe you shouldn't be starting sentences with "nobody educated on the subject thin[k]s".
† Does this sound implausible? It shouldn't. Iran has had Scuds for 30 years, and it's been making its own for more than 20 years. Iran has been able to launch things into orbit since 2008, and if my calculations are right, you only have to go half as fast as orbital velocity to reach a GPS satellite, and then Kessler Syndrome might take care of the rest. And don't forget, launching into orbit means they can get a radioactive dust cloud or ten thousand individually-guided tungsten lawn darts to a point of their choosing within the US within a few minutes of launch.
We're not not engaging ISIS because we can't. We certainly could beat them back into hiding. We just don't want to. (I'm glad of that.)
I'd prefer a lower cost, more effective military.
And there's evidence that these welfare programs you seem to like are far more inhumane than they are helpful. Remember: it isn't manna from heaven. It's money from income earners. (Not "the rich," remember: it's work that is taxed, not wealth.) And economies have overcome many revolutions, from iron to industrial, without these programs. Do you have a principled reason why the information age is any different?
To answer your question, we need these programs because just 100 years ago some people couldn't read and write. With public education K-12 and public universities, I'm much better off than my own family 100 years ago, before the gov't started these social programs.
I'm a product of public education all the way through, and I'm very thankful as it was subsidized by others. I know the program works, and I'm happy to support domestic spending.
I'm in agreement with the parent though that offensive military spending (which standing armies always leads to) is flat out a bad idea and wrong.
My great grandfather served in WW1 in the trenches of France, fighting our homeland (Germany). His son-in-law, my grandfather, was shot multiple times over Germany in WW2 by flak as a gunner in a B24 in the Army Air Corp. He flew enough missions that his chance of surviving the war was 10%. The other was a Marine in the Pacific. But we as a family 'serve' no longer. I changed my mind about going to Iraq when one of my grandfathers told me we had 'no business being over there'. And the other said flat out, if the military comes for me, that I'm to go to Canada.
I would never disobey those men which I respected so much.
So for me, the principled reason would be just looking at education alone, it makes a better world for all of us. Better quality of life, more opportunities, and an advanced economy.
Objectives are one thing - how much effect they have is a quite different question. Historically there's a long-standing decline in violence; the fall of the Soviet Union, the decline of British dominance, or even the end of the Roman empire are barely a blip on the graph. Is the DoD actually helping, or are they just a rock that keeps tigers away?
> to condemn the DoD as "620 billion going towards killing people" is. . . dumb. Or unconsidered, to be more charitable.
Maybe. If the politicians screw up welfare, the worst that happens is some shysters get some money. The DoD is always going to involve killing people. Hopefully they're a tool that we can use to do more good than harm. But if you don't believe they're being effective - or being used effectively - then all that's left is the killing.
> Remember: it isn't manna from heaven. It's money from income earners.
True, but equally applicable to the DoD
> economies have overcome many revolutions, from iron to industrial, without these programs. Do you have a principled reason why the information age is any different?
Economies survived without these programs, and would do so today. But most people's lives were nasty, brutish, and short. It's worth spending money to improve on that.
I truly hope you are a billionaire, because once your Randian utopia comes to fruition, you will need private armies to protect you against their Blackwaters and Pinkertons. Because they'll come for your assets. Count on it.
Don't believe me? Look at Russia. See what happens when oligarchs challenge the supreme oligarch? Their assets get "nationalized", and they are imprisoned. That's best case. The less significant ones catch odd diseases strangely similar to polonium poisoning...
Social security was $857B, but is entirely self funded through the payroll tax, Medicare was $519B, and the rest of the social safety net programs were $370B.
Also, I would quibble about the defense number. Missing appear to be $151B for veterans affairs (part of the price tag for our wars), and the interest on debt from past wars makes up the bulk of our interest payments of $223B.
Yeah, those other guys just pay old people's pensions and health insurance (that they're been saving up for), with the occasional helping of folks who would go hungry otherwise.
Basic healthcare can not and must not be for profit. It's crazy that it's not considered important enough to be a basic human right in 2015. Better healthcare for all also means less emergency room visits etc.
Also, you aren't accounting for three letter agency spending...
I don't get to take advantage of the Double Dutch etc. like a corporation would to pay much lower effective taxes. Sure seems like corporate personhood is has all the upside and none of the downside.
It's all high and mighty to speak of taxes, but as the esteemed commenter above states, they mostly come from the wage slaves, not the capitaled elite.
The thoughts I expressed above seem logical and clear to me yet I've seen very little discussion around this subject. For some reason, it seems to me that people find it acceptable for corporations to use every means possible to pay less.
I sure would like the option of not paying taxes on overseas income. But yet the US government is intent on taxing all personal income regardless of locale. How is that fair or ok?
I don't see why they should be doubly taxed. If I go and perform a job, I will pay income taxes on it. If I go and hire a bunch of people, form a corporation, and perform a job, we will pay both corporate taxes and income taxes.
That doesn't make sense to me and I can understand why companies go to great lengths to avoid it.
I meant the taxation of dividends, which are doubly taxed.
Taxation of dividends is double taxed if you could once to the corporation and once to the individual.
Avoidance of taxation of dividends (which only a subset of companies do) is not why these corporations go to such lengths to avoid paying taxes. They do it because they don't want their profits taxed. That's my beef.
Or that paying people to build tools of destruction+pollution is better that paying people to do nothing?
I don't have any proof, but my guess as to why Kennedy was assassinated was because of his refusal to go into Cuba and Vietnam. I always saw him as the last 'real' President, the rest don't dare to seriously challenge the military-industrial complex. The message was clear enough with just a cursory investigation into his Presidency. I'd love to hear what high level, insider circles say and have said about it.
I've always convinced myself that if Bush didn't go into Iraq, he would've mysteriously met the same fate. Of course, he wasn't quite as insightful as JFK (to say the least), so there wasn't much chance he would put up a fight.
If I can't feasibly track down the $100 bill you lent me last week, then it's "missing" even if I know I did something with it sometime and I have a pretty good idea that it's at my house. Or at work. Or maybe in my car. Or maybe I buried in the sand in Iraq. Or maybe I spent it on a pizza party. Who knows? All I know is that I did something with it and it's somewhere.
It's perfectly feasible for the military to track every expenditure from the top all the way down - the Army has the largest budget in the military, but even their budget is only about half that of Walmart, yet Walmart can very accurately track where their money goes. The military already has a very accurate supplier tracking system that tracks the manufacturing of every part used in every piece of military equipment, so it's not like they have no experience running databases or keeping track of paperwork.
If the military doesn't know where trillions of dollars went, how does it know that it even needs those trillions and that the money wasn't just wasted on frivolous items (like contractor kickbacks?)