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Loose Cannon Pentagon

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The Loose Cannon Pentagon is the source for any number of irregularities and abuses of power, a few of which are identified below.

The matter seems to be getting worse, rather than better, following the lines of .... Groupthink .... Bush regime .... incestuous amplification .... Donald Rumsfeld .... Abu Ghraib .... the Taguba Report .... deception .... secrecy .... treason?

"The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday." Sept.2005

"We are seeing a pattern in which we have never had realistic reporting to Congress. But this quarterly report has really failed to address the issues in ways which border on deception." says Anthony H. Cordesman in his "Fact, Fallacy, and an Overall Grade of "F", 8 June 2006 review of the Pentagon's "Quarterly Report on Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq." For example, "The economic analysis is flawed to the point of absurdity." "It essentially talks about an economy in Iraq which does not exist." [1]

The "New" Pentagon Papers

Karen Kwiatkowski's most recent treatise on the Pentagon--"The New Pentagon Papers"--was published in the March 10, 2004, edition of Salon. In her 4-page article, Kwiatkowski "reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war."

Fraud, Waste & Abuse and Audit-ory Delusions

  • Draining over a billion dollars a day from the nation's coffers, ...
"If you look at the weapons that we're buying, they're not for the war on terrorism. The best you can say about them is that they are not designed for the threats that we face. Some of them may not work at all." [2]
  • "But privatization also comes with risks. In particular are poor accounting and accountability, a now common thread in the conduct of both business and our government. The absence of oversight may make Iraq the ``Big Dig of the private military industry - a profit bonanza for the firms, but a loss on the public policy ledger."
"The same problems cross over into the Enron-like attitude toward financial costs. While one of the rationales for outsourcing military functions is cost savings, the evidence is either absent or limited. Even as we set greater goals for future outsourcing, we do not know if we are actually saving money.
... However, we do know that contracts have often been awarded with limited or no free-market competition, and frequently to politically connected firms."
"In sum, we have a distortion of the free market that would shock Adam Smith, an interface between business and government that would awe the Founding Fathers, and a shift in the military-industrial complex that must have President Eisenhower rolling in his grave. Without change, this is a recipe for bad policy, and bad business."
  • "But essentially if you try to understand what's going on in the Pentagon and this is the most important aspect, and it gets at the heart of our democracy. Is that we have an accounting system that is unauditable. Even by the generous auditing requirements of the federal government.
... Now under the CFO Act of 1990 (Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990) they have to do this audit annually. Well, every year they do an audit and the inspector general would issue a report saying we have to waive the audit requirements, because we can't balance the books. We can't tell you how the money got spent.
Now what they do is try to track transactions. And in one of the last audits that was done the transactions were like… there were like $7 trillion in transactions. And they couldn't account for about four trillion of those transactions. Two trillion were unaccountable and two trillion they didn't do, and they accounted for two trillion.
  • In October 2003, a new General Accounting Office report showed that the Pentagon sells its surplus to anybody, and at a substantial discount. Quotes from the article:
    Congress ordered the GAO -- its investigative arm -- to set up a phony company to see how easy it would be to buy surplus lab equipment from the Pentagon.
    Using fake names, GAO investigators went to a Web site that sells Pentagon surplus and ordered items needed to produce bacteriological weapons, including evaporators, centrifuges, bacteriological incubators amd protective clothing.
    In its report, the GAO found that the "Department of Defense has not attempted to determine who is buying excess biological equipment or how these items were being used."
  • They don't know where the money's going." [3][4]
  • "The fabrication at the Defense Contract Audit Agency 'certainly violates the spirit and intent' of government auditing standards and rules on ethical conduct, according to the inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press." [5]
  • "The AP reported in 2001 that the inspector general's office itself destroyed documents and replaced them with fakes to avoid embarrassment in a review of its work." [6]
  • In March 2004, reelected Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is still pressing for answers. [7]
  • Also in March,
  • "Both Republicans and Democrats appeared taken aback by the volume of cash sent to Iraq: nearly $12 billion over the course of the U.S. occupation from March 2003 to June 2004, said a report by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles)" [11]
  • "The Fourth Plague Hits the Pentagon, Generals as Private Contractors", William S. Lind, CounterPunch, 11 April 2006
    "The problem is that these contractors are businessmen, and business is a whore. The goal of business is profit, not truth. Profit requires getting the next contract. Getting the next contract means telling whomever gave you the current contract what he wants to hear. If what he wants to hear isn't true, so what? Just start the "study" by writing the desired conclusion, then bugger the evidence to fit. The result is endless intellectual corruption, billions of dollars wasted and military services that, as institutions, can no longer think."

Pentagon "Intelligence"

  • "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech...one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense." -- Former senior Pentagon Middle East specialist Air Force Lt Col Karen Kwiatkowski. [12], [13], [14], [15]
Reference also the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans

Mission Accomplished?

  • At least two Pentagon officials working for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith have held "several" meetings with Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Iranian middleman in U.S. arms-for-hostage shipments to Iran in the mid-1980s.
... "They [the Pentagon officials] were talking to him [Ghorbanifar] about stuff which they weren't officially authorized to do," said a senior administration official. "It was only accidentally that certain parts of our government learned about it."
... Secretary of State Colin L. Powell complained directly to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld several days ago about Feith's policy shop conducting missions that countered U.S. policy. [16]

Caught in the Chalabi-Gate?

  • Pentagon officials were completely duped by Ahmed Chalabi in the runup to 1993 Iraq invasion. [17], [18], and elsewhere
  • "We are heroes in error." ... "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants." [19]
  • The Pentagon and the Department of Defense completely discarded the accumulated value of the Future of Iraq Project:
"At least $1.2 billion worth of supplies got LOST[in Iraq'03], according to an audit by the General Accounting Office." due in part to Rumsfeld "gambling that the war would be over quickly enough that sustained resupply wouldn't be needed." The fix: a new communications and transportation system costing "$500 million a year -- for the next 20 years." [20] But who is going to wait 20 years until the next deployment??
"The Pentagon is paying $340,000 a month to the Iraqi political organization led by Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the interim Iraqi government who has close ties to the Bush administration, for 'intelligence collection' about Iraq, according to Defense Department officials. The classified program, run by the Defense Intelligence Agency since summer 2002, continues a long-standing partnership between the Pentagon and the organization, the Iraqi National Congress, even as the group jockeys for power in a future government.
Internal government reviews have found that much of the information generated by the program before the U.S. invasion last year was useless, misleading or even fabricated. Under the unusual arrangement, the CIA is required to get permission from the Pentagon before interviewing informants from the Iraqi National Congress, according to government officials." Chalabi and his INC helped provide Bush with the bill of goods that he used to con us into the War.

Personnel-ity Problems?

  • "Normally, the position of Chief of Staff of the Army is the ultimate brass ring an Army officer can hope to grab. There is no higher Army job, and merely holding it guarantees a man at least a small place in the history books -- though not necessarily a favorable one.
... It is therefore surprising that at present, no one seems willing to take the job, nor the position of Vice Chief. Both current incumbents leave this summer, and instead of the usual line of hopefuls standing hat in hand, the eligibles have headed for the hills. Rumor has it they may have to recruit the hall porter and the charwoman.
The interesting question is why. Part of the answer is Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. To put it plainly, Rumsfeld treats people like crap. Working for him is like working for Leona Helmsley, except that Leona is less self-centered. Unless you are one of his sycophants, equipped with a good set of knee-pads and plenty of lip balm, you can expect to be booted down the stairs on a regular basis.
Truth be told, some senior officers deserve to be treated that way, because that is how they always treated their subordinates. But Rummy does not discriminate between perfumed princes and the real thinkers and leaders. He has driven more than one of the latter to hang up his hat in disgust, to his service's and the nation's loss." [21]

Toxic Disconnect

  • "The Pentagon and the Department of Defense have worked diligently to maintain a disconnect between DU (Depleted Uranium) and the variety of maladies that plagued Gulf War veterans, not to mention tens of thousands of Iraqi and Kuwaiti citizens after the PGW. The Pentagon continues to consistently deny that DU poses any danger to civilians and has quoted several studies to support this contention." [22]
  • "Nearly 6,000 US soliders were exposed to chemical and biological weapons in a series of experiments code-named "Project 112," "Project SHAD," and "Project Folded Arrow." From 1931 to 1997, hundreds of thousands of US citizens have been subjected to government chemical and drug tests -- sometimes without their knowledge." --A Short History of Secret Government Experiments on US Citizens, from Health News

Still using Napalm

  • "30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 003" [23]

Guarding the Oil

  • "the American military is increasingly being converted into a global oil-protection service." [24] [25]

Consuming the Oil

  • "the Department of Defense (DoD) is, in fact, the world's leading consumer of petroleum. It can be difficult to obtain precise details on the DoD's daily oil hit, but an April 2007 report by a defense contractor, LMI Government Consulting, suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland."

[26]

Unsecured Munitions

  • "A GAO report blames "faulty war plans" and "insufficient troops" for "thousands and possibly millions of tons of conventional munitions unsecured or in the hands of insurgent groups," with some weapons sites vulnerable as recently as October 2006, but the Pentagon w/ won't talk to Congress about the problem." [Cursor.org, 23 March 2007]
  • "A new report on the military’s failure to secure vast munitions stocks of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — the source for most of the roadside bombs that have caused hundreds of U.S. war casualties — essentially lays at least some of those deaths at the feet of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his insistence on an invasion force far smaller than called for in original plans." "Air Force Times", 22 March 2007

Related SourceWatch Resources

Pentagon and White House "Loose Cannons"

Seven Ideas the Pentagon Wishes It Never Had

Entering the term loose cannon into a web search interestingly turns up a long line of Pentagon and White House alleged loose cannons:

External References