Friday, May 23, 2008
Spending On Iraq Poorly Tracked
Audit Faults Accounting for $15 Billion in Work
By Dana HedgpethWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, May 23, 2008; D01
The inspector general for the Defense Department said yesterday that the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort.
The Pentagon did not have the proper documentation, including receipts, vouchers, signatures, invoices or other paperwork, for $7.8 billion that American and Iraqi contractors were paid for phones, folders, paint, blankets, Nissan trucks, laundry services and other items, according to a 69-page audit released to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
An earlier audit by the inspector general found deficiencies in accounting for $5.2 billion of U.S. payments to buy weapons, trucks, generators and other equipment for Iraq's security forces. In addition, the Defense Department spent $1.8 billion of seized Iraqi assets with "absolutely no accountability," according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who chairs the oversight committee. The Pentagon also kept poor records on $135 million that it paid to its partners in the multinational military force in Iraq, auditors said.
The Army disagreed with some of the auditors' findings, saying that it is difficult to maintain an adequate paper trail in a war zone and that it has improved its record-keeping and accountability efforts. Robert L. Wilkie, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, declined an invitation to testify before from Waxman's committee.
Of the $7.8 billion in payments detailed in the audit released yesterday, about $1.4 billion did not meet the most minimal requirements for documentation, making it highly possible that waste, fraud or abuse had occurred, according to auditors. In one case, there is a copy of a $5.6 million check from the U.S. Treasury paid to an Iraqi contractor but no documents saying what was purchased. In another, a South Carolina contractor was paid $11 million, according to a voucher, but auditors said they could not tell what goods or services were received.
"Without a receiving report and invoice, we don't know what we paid for," said Mary Ugone, the Defense Department's deputy inspector general for auditing. She said internal controls and paper trails were inadequate and that the Army's "finance personnel were not adequately trained" in overseeing the billions of dollars paid.
Auditors referred more than two dozen vouchers, totaling $35 million, to criminal investigators at the Pentagon.
Waxman said the poorly documented expenditures of seized Iraqi assets included a $320 million cash payment for employing 1,000 people that was handed over to the Iraqi Finance Ministry with "little more than a signature in exchange."
"Investigators looked at 53 payment vouchers and couldn't find even one that adequately explained where the money went," Waxman said.
The money paid to military coalition partners, including Britain, Poland and South Korea, was intended to help local reconstruction and humanitarian projects. Auditors said that none of the files reviewed "contained sufficient supporting documentation to provide reasonable assurance that these funds were used for their intended purpose." In one case, the Defense Department made an $8 million payment to Polish forces with minimal documentation, according to the audit.
An audit report issued in November found that $5.2 billion of U.S. payments to buy weapons, trucks, generators and other equipment to support Iraqi security forces had major deficiencies in how items were accounted for, saying that the Defense Department did not know "what equipment is due in, due out, issued and on hand." The inspector general found that the Defense Department could not account for 12,712 of 13,508 weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns and grenade launchers for Iraqi forces.
"When we turned them over to the Iraqis, they weren't properly accounted for," said Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Defense Department's inspector general, saying serial numbers were not consistently recorded. "The paper trail is not complete."
The November audit also described how the Pentagon paid $32 million for the construction of an Iraqi military facility in Anbar province that was never built. Defense Department officials told staff members of the oversight committee that "this is embarrassing" because "not a spade of dirt was turned."
Friday, May 16, 2008
Credit: anglican (whoever he or she is)
."... I am weary of this stay the course on the war stuff and how the Democrats are "The Party of Defeat", which sometimes they may be, but with Iraq that is not honest.
I was weary of the Iraq war from the get go, we are losing because it was an ill conceived, utopian act of idiocy; we are not losing because the Democrats aren't rallying hard enough around the flag. Wilsonian democracy crusades are crap, and the Repubs must renounce that crap. Yeah the surge may be working, but for how long and at what cost. We put out one fire in Iraq and another flares up. Nobody stops and looks at the big picture. Iraq is a nasty place and eventually is going to have a civil war that we can't stop....
"And as for the economy, I can't take another ******** lecture from Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved about hard work and how America is the greatest country on earth, blah-blah, and how people who whine about the economy are all just leeches who have been brain washed with liberal victimology, who need to suck it up and work harder.
The Democrats are going to destroy the Repubs over this. Rush's buddies have systematically looted the American economy and cut down a lot of the ladders for upward mobility. Yes hard work and responsibility is key, but all that doesn't really matter when there are few to no good-paying jobs or opportunities anymore for a lot of people. In this regard of destroying Middle Class America, McCain is merely Bush part deux.
Nothing like looter class millionaires exhorting the peasantry to work harder."
And that's where we are at. Note what Peggy Noonan predicts, here.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The Shiite militants are taking over Lebanon.
Violence and War are on the increase in the Middle East and Israel is rapidly in the process of isolation.
The world economy is collapsing.
We are one unforcastable EVENT away from the Tribulation.
It is looking more and more like we are on the doorstep of the arrival of The Beast.
He will come and temporarily seem to solve everyone's problems.
"... When he comes, he is not gonna be wearing horns, have a pointy tail and a pitch fork. He is going to be the prettiest thing this world has ever seen. Everyone will love him, as he will have almost everyone fooled."
He will bring a false hope.
You will take the Mark, or you will not be able to buy, sell, get healthcare or eat.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Person to person file sharing (p2p) patrons out there need to know that you are flat out STEALING. And it’s not just "information" on a file, it is the artist’s work, and in some cases, their livelihood.
This thievery has nothing to do with "freedom of speech". That file you download and copy is someone’s intellectual property that they created, spent thousands of dollars to produce and, more often than not, thousands more to market.
The artist is the supplier and the music is the product, not the file. Increasingly the artist and the distributor are the same, so if you up-load or down-load, you are not stealing from some faceless corporation, you are stealing from a musician who very likely maxed out his or her credit trying to maintain control of their product.
The artist or the company that contracts them pays to put the original creation into a format that can be distributed. Do you have any idea what a good producer is worth? How much they charge? How much mastering costs? Website SEO and Marketing costs?
And then you steal it. You don’t buy a CD before burning 20 copies for your friends (that’s a crime too), you just download the file and burn.
Music is intellectual property, and the recording industry is doing what they have to do in order to maintain protection of their copyrights. If they don't protect their rights to own intellectual property they lose the opportunity to both control dissemination and any possible chance to make a living from their work. That cuts the chances of the artist having the freedom to create more art.
So, here's hoping that the artist you steal from hunts you down and gives you an at-least-symbolic boot to the head.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Everybody knows someone who, etc....
With me it's a guy I used to be in a band with who is the cousin of a guy who spent 7 years in fed. pen for keeping books for that east coast biker gang, the Pagans.
The cousin knew a guy in Jersey who supplied pot to the guy in Connecticut who also worked for the Pagans and ran most of the ho's on the east coast.
The guy who ran the ho's knew a guy in Detroit who the Pagans used when they needed "some guy from out of town”.
The guy in D-town knew another guy who was “in” with a Canadian who smuggled Afghan smack that came thru LA on a freighter from Thailand.
The Canadian knew a guy from Cleveland who went to college in Buffalo with my girlfriend.
My girlfriend and I saw a John Prine concert not too long ago.
Everybody knows George Bush thinks John Prine is Un-American.
Yeah, that’s eight degrees counting the girlfriend.
Nine, if you count John Prine.
Don’t worry.The NSA will keep track.
The only thing about this little note that gives anybody any hope at all is that I won’t have access to computers at “The Camp”.
There's a difference - some may not think so - between our government (military or civilian) operating in our "best interest" beyond our borders during either peace or war and the government spying on its own citizens within our borders and without probable cause.Ooooh, and here I'm gonna get some flack: It's about as Constitutional as "sobriety checkpoints".Several similarities. Funny how the same people who hate one can put up with the other.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Christians and other (I hesitate to call belief systems religion; as most religions are simply the hijacking and watering down for popular consumption of a belief system) people with different belief systems and all citizens are welcome to participate in our representative Republic (it's not a true Democracy - thank God).
But (and a big but) any church (note the small "c") and other organization which uses its power and platform to give voice to a particular candidate should not be able to function as tax exempt and non-profit (and I am aware of the inequity that seems to be present between so-called conservative and liberal candidates and the treatment received from the Government of the groups and churches that give them voice).
The true Church would never think of presenting a political candidate as a speaker and thus attaching to said speaker the endorsement of the Church.
My Church has one objective: teaching and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This does not mean non-involvement from the individual members in the political process, but it does mean recognition of our representative Republic as a separate entity from the Church (big "C"). From my perspective, large churches tend to water their knowledge of the Gospel down with politics and involvements that detract from the true function of The Bride of Christ. The local Church should not exist as a social center and protective bubble that keeps away the World. It should be a place of worship and teaching that inspires its members to live their lives in the world as Jesus would; the effect hopefully being one of constant example.
Protest and picket all you want, but If you want to help change a life and influence the world, go work in a soup-kitchen; and when you spoon out that soup, accompany it with a simple "Jesus loves you, He died for you, and if you want to know how to live with Him forever, I'll be happy to tell you."