Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Department of Defense –– no accountability necessary

By Terrie Albano

You know that saying about what a great day it will be when the Pentagon has to have a bake sale to raise money for a B1 bomber? Well, let's take it just one step further. What if the PTA's bake sale money was never accounted for? Or if high school fees were in such a disorganized state that there couldn't be proper accounting? Headlines would abound in the local press. TV and radio and blogs would abound with broadcasts about the corruption in our public schools.

Yet, not a peep about the recent Government Accountability Office recent press release that stated the Department of Defense has "serious financial management problems" and is one of three major impediments that prevents the GAO from being able to clearly audit government spending.

Comptroller General of the United States and head of GAO David Walker said yesterday at the National Press Club, "If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company's management and directors needed a major shake-up."

The GAO is a nonpartisan watchdog agency "that works for Congress and the American people" and "studies how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars."

I've been getting GAO reports for a while now. I look them over quickly. Once in a while one really catches my eye and I know it's going to wind up on the front page of the NY Times. Like, 'Government agency says 190,000 weapons shipped to Iraq disappeared.' Yeah, I saw that and thought – ohhhh that's a good one.

But this special press release sent out yesterday didn't garner the big headlines. Actually the headlines from it stated there had been "some progress" and the GAO was able to express "an unqualified opinion on the fiscal year 2007 Statement of Social Insurance, which includes the Social Security, Medicare, Railroad Retirement, and Black Lung programs."

But that Department of Defense is too opaque and an obstacle for any financial accountability!!!!

When right-wingers go on the rampage about government spending and fiscal accountability how come it never includes the Pentagon? This is a huge part of the budget. Let's see – the largest military spending budget ever just passed: some $500 billion, which doesn't even include the 100s of billions for the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq!

Where does this money go? We know it doesn't go to take care of soldiers and their families. It goes to arms and weapons contractors and related services. Billions of tax dollars goes to Halliburton, Blackwater, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and so forth. WITHOUT ANY OVERSIGHT!!!! Where is the accountability? How come they are getting away with this!

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