|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Department of Defense, already infamous for spending $640 for a toilet seat, once again finds itself under intense scrutiny, only this time because it couldn't account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention dozens of tanks, missiles and planes.
Though Defense has long been notorious for waste, recent government reports suggest the Pentagon's money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A study by the Defense Department's inspector general found that the Pentagon couldn't properly account for more than a trillion dollars in monies spent. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units.
And before the Iraq war, when military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet "for pennies on the dollar," a GAO official said.
.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace admitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday equipment will be a problem when U.S. forces in Iraq are increased.
During testimony over the $481.4 billion fiscal 2008 defense budget, Pace said the military has about 41,000 armored vehicles in Iraq -- fewer than will be needed "to cover all of the troops that are deploying."
Pace said it will be July before enough equipment is in place.
The U.S. Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
The money, which had been held by the United States, came from Iraqi oil exports, surplus dollars from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program and frozen assets belonging to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime.
Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.
On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members.
It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28.
Paul Bremer, who as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority ran Iraq after initial combat operations ended, said the enormous shipments were done at the request of the Iraqi minister of finance.