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I don't think the title is accurate. The report seems to know exactly where the the money went. They just don't know why stuff was so expensive.

"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.




>Nobody stole the money. They just squandered it on a gas station to nowhere.

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.


The DoD already has off the books budget stuff. If it was black budget this letter would have never happened.

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.


Or more optimistically, an unauthorized, unintentional welfare program.

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.


> 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.


but it wouldn't be "unpatriotic" or "weak on defence" for said political opponents to criticise it...


A lot of this military waste has the side effect of (some) good infrastructure too, it's just in other countries!

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.


Well, Devil's Advocate, we didn't literally bomb our own infrastructure. That does confer a moral responsibility to replace it.


That's a fair point, although I'd say it doesn't apply too much in a place like Afghanistan which was fairly thoroughly destroyed before we even got there.


One telltale sign of increased overhead: operating in warzone.


Sure and the inspector general is being purposely obtuse about factors like that.


Black projects are a way of life at the CIA, so it's really not that much of a stretch to suggest that the money went to to other projects. It's pretty much accepted that CIA budget reports sent to the GAO are basically farces.


The gas station is probably actually an elaborate listening station with... nah, they just pocketed the cash.

The sad thing is this is where about 90% of your taxes generally go - corruption, nepotism, bribery, private hands.


Sort of joking but what do you think happens in the private world with banks, hedge funds and other large financial institution/collectors. It seems wherever there is a lot of power/money there is a good ole boys club.


I guess the joke is that your logic is logic-free? or maybe where you live, banks, hedge funds, and other large financial institutions use their legal monopoly on violence to force you to pay for them.


The difference is that the money that banks, hedge funds waste isn't mine money. Tax payer money is.


I think this is a systemic problem in Afghanistan.

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.


And this is why, kids, you don't destabilize third-world government to fight the Communists. Or third world governments to fight for democracy. Or hell third world governments, don't destabilize them! It's a bad idea, sort of like humpty dumpty.


They put Humpty Dumpty back together but they got some of the parts a bit wrong, and he looks like the Halloween version, and it scares children and adults alike.


And they generated a hefty amount of "terror debt" along the way.


Or, in other words:

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)


> someone buys it out, and sub-contracts it out a step down the ladder.

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.


You would also have to give your Vietnam era uncle at least 51% ownership of the company you can't just appoint him to a position of management in name only. I'm not saying this provision of law has never been abused but it isn't the outright farce you are portraying it as. I also wouldn't call the contract awarded under this provision special handouts. federal regulations does give these companies preferred treatment though that can streamline a lot of read tape.


In Spanish this kind of thing is so common it has its own word: "testaferro" (would loosely translate as frontman or figurehead, but it has a lot more connotations)

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testaferro

They can own 100% of the company, they're usually controlled or trusted in some other way.


The private contractor(s) who built the station at exorbitantly high cost know exactly where the money went. It's in their various bank accounts and/or their new vacation homes.




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