The Pentagon's war on financial accountability

"The United States is on track to spend more than $600 billion on the military this year ó more, that is, than wasspent at the height of President Ronald Reaganís Cold War military buildup, and more than the military budgets of at least the next seven nations in the world combined. And keep in mind that thatís just a partial total. As an analysis by the Straus Military Reform Project has shown, if we count related activities like homeland security, veteransí affairs, nuclear warhead production at the Department of Energy, military aid to other countries, and interest on the military-related national debt, that figure reaches a cool $1 trillion.

The more thatís spent on ďdefense,Ē however, the less the Pentagon wants us to know about how those mountains of money are actually being used. As the only major federal agency that canít pass an audit, the Department of Defense (DoD) is the poster child for irresponsible budgeting.

Itís not just that its books donít add up, however. The DoD is taking active measures to disguise how it is spending the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it receives every year ó from using the separate ďwar budgetĒ as a slush fund to pay for pet projects that have nothing to do with fighting wars to keeping the cost of its new nuclear bomber a secret. Add in dozens of other secret projects hidden in the departmentís budget and the Pentagonís poorly documented military aid programs, and itís clear that the DoD believes it has something to hide.

Donít for a moment imagine that the Pentagonís growing list of secret programs and evasive budgetary maneuvers is accidental or simply a matter of sloppy bookkeeping. Much of it is remarkably purposeful. By keeping us in the dark about how it spends our money, the Pentagon has made it virtually impossible for anyone to hold it accountable for just about anything. An entrenched bureaucracy is determined not to provide information that might be used to bring its sprawling budget ó and so the institution itself ó under control. Thatís why budgetary deception has become such a standard operating procedure at the Department of Defense."

tags: military,pentagon,fraud,audit