Political Opportunism and
Wasteful Wartime Spending

Editor's Note:  There are a lot of people in the U.S. House and Senate who are using the War on Terrorism as an opportunity to engage in pork barrel spending.

Cost of U.S. War on Jihadists: $5.6 Trillion, 7,000 Deaths, 52,500 Injuries.  The United States is expected to spend nearly $6 trillion through 2018 on government-wide costs related to the wars waged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria since 2001, reveals a study by Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.  According to Brown University's Cost of War project analysis, authored by Neta Crawford, the total estimated cost of U.S. wars between 2001 and 2018 amounts to about $23,386 per individual American taxpayer, which is more than three times the amount ($7,740) calculated by the Pentagon.  The Pentagon's study, dubbed the "Estimated Cost to Each Taxpayer for the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria," places the total authorized war spending on those conflicts between 2001 and 2018 at $1.5 trillion.

US taxpayers made millionaires out of Afghan gangsters, warlords and connected class.  American taxpayers have spent more than $100 billion rebuilding Afghanistan, creating schools, hospitals and roads while making millionaires out of a rogue's gallery of warlords, gangsters and corrupt officials.  A total of $114 billion, which does not include even more spent on the military effort to oust the Taliban and stabilize the impoverished country, has been appropriated since 2002.  While it has likely improved conditions in the country, corrupt builders, security providers, mercenaries and even local bankers have all taken their cuts — and gotten rich in the process.

Pentagon Paid for Fake 'Al Qaeda' Videos.  The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.  Bell Pottinger's output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee.

The Editor says...
If it worked, I could almost applaud.  Except for the part about half a billion dollars.

Guns, Butter and Budgetary Baloney.  The budgetary device called the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or "war fund," started off as a supplemental appropriation to fund the military response after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  But it quickly became a slush fund that allows policymakers to spend gobs of money with little oversight and fatten the Pentagon's base budget when the spending caps are put into place, seeing as OCO funding is exempt.

Pentagon offers no answers on $43 million price tag for Afghan gas station.  The Defense Department spent $43 million on a compressed natural gas fueling station in Afghanistan, while a similar project in Pakistan cost just $300,000 — and now the Pentagon can't even account for who made the decisions behind the waste, according to an inspector general's report being released Monday [11/1/2015].  John F. Sopko, the inspector general who oversees U.S. spending on Afghanistan reconstruction, called the cost for the green energy project exorbitant and deemed the project ill-conceived.

An Affair of the Mind.  The controversy surrounding the F-35 is fundamentally an extension of the debate over what a future fighter should be.  Recently the aircraft made news when it was officially announced that the airframe couldn't dogfight [adequately].  The standard riposte is that dogfighting as a form of aerial combat, stopped being relevant a long time ago.  Perhaps the best advocate for dogfighting-is-dead point of view isn't a paper for the F-35 but a paper which argues that air combat is fundamentally changing.  Perhaps the F-35 is not the best tool for coming era, but neither is the super-dogfighter many in the public seem to crave.

The Staggering Cost Of A Largely Failed Fight Against ISIS.  President Barack Obama has presided over billions spent battling the Islamic State, despite, by his own admission, lacking a clear and complete strategy to defeat the terror group.  War against Islamic State has cost a total of $2.91 billion, averaging $9.2 million per day, according to the Pentagon.  More than 50 percent of the cost is directly tied to airstrikes, The Hill reports.  Republican Sen. John McCain has criticized the campaign against Islamic State as too weak, noting that 75 percent of airstrike missions return without firing a weapon.

Obama Is Spending $500 Million On Training Fewer Than 100 Syrian Rebels To fight ISIS.  We don't have the money to do this first off.  And training rebels has never worked.  This is not going to work and they know it.  It strikes me that someone is getting rich once again over a faux military program.  Someone might want to check where the bulk of that $500 million is actually going.  Probably to terrorists.  The military has trained less than 100 and 0 have graduated from the program.  Their goal is 3,000 by the year's end.  That's laughable.

Waste Watch.  [For example,] An Afghan Contractor Builds Walls that Melt in the Rain [$456,669]:  In 2012, U.S. military authorities paid an Afghan construction firm nearly half a million dollars to build a "dry fire range" (DFR) for the Afghan Special Police to use in training exercises.  "The DFR replicates a typical Afghan village and is used to conduct simulated police search and clearance exercises," according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).  The range is "dry fire," meaning it is not designed for use with live ammunition.  Only four months after completion, however, the walls of the DFR began to disintegrate.

51 Examples of Government Waste.  [#11] The Department of Defense spent nearly $500 million to purchase military transport planes for the Afghan Air Force, which have since been scrapped.  The planes did not meet operational requirements, and the maintenance of the planes was too expensive for the Afghan Air Force.  [#12] The Defense Department overpaid by $3.3 million for radios for the Afghan Army because the Defense Department did not follow contracting procedures, which would have prevented overpayment.

ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each.  Sunni radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) may have captured as many as 52 U.S.-made M198 howitzers in their march across Iraq in June.  "They shouldn't have too much trouble shelling large area targets like a city if they have sufficient ammo," Jeremy Binnie of the British military consultancy HIS Janes told McClatchy news service Monday [7/14/2014].

What did $7 billion spent on opium eradication in Afghanistan buy? More opium.  With the outcome of Afghanistan's controversial presidential election still in doubt, and uncertainty over Afghan forces' ability to stand against the Taliban after most US forces withdraw, it's hard to say with certainty what the US-led war there has accomplished, or failed to accomplish.  But one thing is clear, as shown by latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction:  The $7 billion US program to eradicate poppy cultivation there over the past decade has been a flop.

After troops leave, U.S. to lose access to Afghan reconstruction projects worth billions.  As coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan, U.S.-funded reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars in far-flung regions of the country will soon be impossible for American officials to safely visit and directly inspect.

Uncle Sam's Yard Sale: Gov't looks to unload Afghanistan war hardware.  After 12 years of war in Afghanistan, officials are now pondering what to do with $50 billion in equipment half a world away — including combat vehicles, dining rooms, gyms, clothing and more.  "A lot of this stuff, you're not really concerned about bringing it back," said Jim Hasik, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.  "I mean if a Coke machine falls into the hands of the Taliban, this is just not a big disaster."  But eventually, much of the gear will trickle down to the public.  With the click of a mouse the spoils of war can be yours on govliquidation.com.  Each day, new items appear on the site — as bases around the country release unneeded items — from rafts and trucks, to fire engines and pretzel stands.

The Editor says...
Material of this sort was called "Army Surplus" back in the 1950s and 60s.  I wouldn't mind having a fire truck, but I don't want to go to Afghanistan to pick it up.

Military dumps $34M into Afghanistan HQ that US forces won't use.  The U.S. military blew through $34 million on a hulking headquarters in southwestern Afghanistan that probably will never be used by U.S. forces, in an example of government waste that has military commanders fuming.

Why Call it Intelligence?  The American Intelligence Community (IC) is starting to resemble a large cast of delinquents, a Faustian opera where bad behavior seeks constant rationalization and confirmation.  And like most bad behavior, the real remedy might not be that complicated. [...] Ironically, the 9/11 attack in New York, the worst warning failure since Pearl Harbor, produced a knee-jerk windfall for American Intelligence.  Like public school systems, failure became a kind of fiscal stimulus.  Subsequently, government agencies that could embed "terrorism" in their mission statements were showered with tax dollars.

US to Spend $771M on Planes Afghans Can't Use.  The U.S. government is about to spend more than $771 million on military aircraft that the Afghan people "lack the capacity to operate," according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

How more than $8 billion in US taxpayers' money went to waste in Iraq.  During the course of the nine-year US presence in Iraq, at least $8 billion — or 13.3 percent of US reconstruction spending — was wasted, according to the final report released today by the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Whatever happened to that $6.6 billion in cash we sent to Iraq?  There will be those who defend the Bush administration by making the argument that there is waste in all wars and Iraq was no different.  That may be.  But it is also true that it is stupid, negligent, and outright crazy to send 20 C-130 planeloads of $100 bills in shrinkwrap to a country in chaos and not expect a good portion of that money to go missing.

Don't Fall For The Bunkum of "Emergency Powers".  Constitutionally speaking, "emergency" has nether place nor meaning, and therefore by itself cannot serve as the justification for or measure of any power whatsoever.

U.S. Rebuilds Power Plant, Taliban Reap a Windfall.  The U.S. has poured more than $100 million into upgrading the Kajaki hydropower plant, the biggest source of electricity in south Afghanistan.  And it plans on spending much more, in an effort to woo local sympathies away from the Taliban insurgency.  Yet, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this American-taxpayer-financed project are the Taliban themselves.

It's Not Exactly a National Emergency.  The United States operated under a continuous state of emergency from 1933 until 1976, according to By Order Of The President by Phillip J. Cooper.  To correct this ridiculous situation Congress passed The National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601-1651) in 1976 to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize Congressional checks and balances on Preside ntial emergency powers. … [Even so,] There are currently fourteen (14) national emergencies in effect in the United States.

'Killing Terrorists-Gate' and Phony Outrage.  House Democrats are in (cynical, calculated) high dudgeon after a shocking "revelation" was made public this week.  Brace yourself, because this bombshell isn't for the faint of heart:  After 9/11, the Bush administration considered a CIA program designed to target and kill top al-Qaeda operatives.  Gasp.  It gets worse:  Some members of Congress now say they weren't sufficiently briefed on the then-nascent secret program (which was never actually implemented)...

Dems' Big Risk.  Congressional liberals must think Americans have very short memories.  For years the Left trashed the Bush administration for not capturing and killing Osama bin Laden.  Democrats claimed they could get the job done.  Campaigning for president, Barack Obama made "We will kill bin Laden" a regular part of his foreign policy stump speech.  But as the political winds have shifted, so has the nature of the Left's indictments.

Milking the Homeland Security Cow.  In a climate of continued fear over additional terrorist attacks by al Qaeda on the United States, it is no wonder that milking the homeland security cash cow continues unabated.  As Lew Rockwell observed last year following Congress's approval of a Homeland Security Department, lobbyists and contractors who specialize in extracting money from taxpayers were drooling at the prospect of making a big buck in this business.

Democrats aim to tack pet spending projects onto Iraq bill.  While Democrats try to restrict how President Bush can spend the $100 billion he wants for Iraq, they also hope to load his measure up with $10 billion in add-ons — from aid for Great Plains farmers to help for children lacking health insurance and better levees in New Orleans.

The toll for terrorism is too high.  The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the city is using $16,000,000 of "anti-terrorism" money to install faregates on their rail lines.

Delahunt's Zinger:  "You have to understand, guys like [William] Delahunt, really all of the Democrats here, don't care about winning the war against the terrorists, or keeping us safe.  They might have cared after 9/11, but now they are ruled by the radical left.…," says a former Department of Justice lawyer.  "And if the American people and Republicans understood this, the sooner we'd be seeing a different election."

War Justifies $23 Billion More in Domestic Spending, Dems Say.  Congressional Democrats' proposed increases in discretionary spending — $23 billion more than President Bush's request for the 2008 Fiscal Year — are justified by spending on the war in Iraq, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats. Bush asked for $933 billion in discretionary spending in his budget request.  The Democratic proposals would raise that figure to $956 billion.

Boosting Navy Bandwidth:  The idea of an "open" architecture based on commonly available software runs counter to a long-standing military mentality.  I am glad to see that Admiral Edwards is implementing reforms in the Navy, but I suspect it will be a long, costly process that is sure to be resisted by more than a few bureaucrats.

The $400 Million Helicopter:  After 9/11, the White House sought to build a new fleet of "Marine Ones" that would be able to withstand the rigors of a terrorism age, including missile jammers, sophisticated communications equipment, and even protection from a nuclear blast. … The cost of the 28 helicopter fleet was originally contracted out for $6.1 billion.  But today the Washington Post reports that the cost has jumped to $11.2 billion — or approximately $400 million per helicopter.  That's more expensive than the Boeing 747 jet that serves as Air Force One!

'Pork' still reigns on Capitol Hill.  After moving earlier this year to make the federal budget process more transparent to the public, Congress is falling short of its goal of full and timely disclosure of lawmakers' pet projects, or earmarks.  Despite lawmakers' promises to slash earmarks by half, the spending bills for this fiscal year — now wending their way through the appropriations process  — include at least 12,000 earmarks totaling more than $24.7 billion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

U.S. paid $32M for Iraqi base that wasn't built.  The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported.

Bush seeks dramatic cuts in homeland security grants.  The Department of Homeland Security has given $23 billion to states and local communities to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, but the administration is not convinced that the money has been well spent and thinks the nation's highest-risk cities have largely satisfied their security needs.

Murtha's defense of earmarks questioned.  Mr. Murtha, chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, bristled when questioned on the House floor last week about pricey research-and-development projects doled out to businesses in districts of top Democrats — including his in Pennsylvania.

Transfer of terrorist no-fly list 'earmarked'?  To secure congressional funding for a pet project, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., made a surprising claim:  The little-known National Drug Intelligence Center was about to take charge of the "vitally important" terrorist no-fly list.  Murtha's news, in a letter he sent to the House Intelligence Committee last month, came as a surprise to the nation's intelligence community.

Report Finds 'Pork' in Homeland Security Grants.  An analysis of the grants going to state and local governments suggests that some of them are pork barrel projects; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) apparently has failed to issue grants based entirely on need, and it has little oversight on how the grant money is used.  For example, some "homeland security" funding has been doled out for office space, a bus, a bingo hall, and limousine service, among other "projects."

Heavy on the congressional pork.  The Seattle Times detailed last month how Senator Patty Murray and Representatives Norm Dicks and Brian Baird, all Democrats, earmarked $17.65 million to a boat company for a vessel the Navy did not ask for and never used.  Murray also earmarked $6 million to a company for battle gear the Army rejected.  Representative David Wu, an Oregon Democrat, earmarked $2 million for combat T-shirts that were banned because their polyester was flammable.

Mueller Often Uses FBI Jet Bought for Counterterrorism.  When the FBI asked Congress this spring to provide $3.6 million in the war spending bill for its Gulfstream V jet, it said the money was needed to ensure that the aircraft, packed with state-of-the-art security and communications gear, could continue to fly counterterrorism agents on "crucial missions" into Iraq. ... But the jet that the FBI originally sold to lawmakers in the late 1990s as an essential tool for battling terrorism is now routinely used to ferry FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to speeches, public appearances and field office visits.

The Great D.C. Pig-Out!  Citizens Against Government Waste call the [Emergency War Funding Bill] "a blatant betrayal of the Democrats' campaign promise to restore fiscal accountability to Congress." ... How do these subsidies change things in Iraq?  $1.4 billion for ranchers' livestock lost in disasters; $283 million in milk subsidies, $74 million for peanut storage, $25 million in spinach subsidies; $400 million to continue funding for rural Northwest school districts facing cuts in federal compensation (they already get) because timber and salmon harvests declined.

Bush vows to veto hate-crime expansion for gays.  President Bush is committed to vetoing the latest effort to expand federal "hate crimes" laws to include sexual orientation, even if it means sending a defense authorization bill back to Congress, the White House said. … The legislation would make it easier for federal law enforcement to become involved in crimes against people based on their "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

[One might easily wonder why such a matter is included in a defense authorization bill.]

Analysis says war could cost $1 trillion.  The war in Iraq could ultimately cost well over a trillion dollars — at least double what has already been spent — including the long-term costs of replacing damaged equipment, caring for wounded troops, and aiding the Iraqi government, according to a new government analysis.

Maybe more...
The $3 Trillion War:  After wildly lowballing the cost of the Iraq conflict at a mere $50 to $60 billion, the Bush administration has been concealing the full economic toll.  The spending on military operations is merely the tip of a vast fiscal iceberg.

Waste And Abuse at Homeland Security.  Following the spending on programs purportedly designed to make our commercial aviation system secure, one is startled by two facts:
  1. The staggering amount of money that has been spent to rebuild the nation's aviation security program after 9/11; and,
  2. How the enormous expenditures made in the attempt to hire effective federal workers to replace existing ineffective private sector workers, and to install new electronic equipment to protect the system from on-board weapons and explosives has failed to accomplish either.

Plain lies, war lies and partisanship.  Democrats are outraged over President Bush's new series of national security speeches.  There he goes again, politicizing the war.  The Democratic leadership obviously believes the president should muzzle himself so close to the November elections because what is important for national security might also help Republicans, and that must be avoided at all costs.

A culture of fear has entered American life.  Fear has become a winning formula politically, [and] a gold mine for business.  There is much money to be made from scaring Americans and very little to be made from telling them to relax … Books on terrorism warn of imminent destruction.  TV stations battle over ratings with ever more bizarre scare stories.  Fear is a commodity whose value increases exponentially.  Just look at the Department of Homeland Security. … It is already the third largest cabinet department and boasts 180,000 employees and a 2004 budget of $36.5 billion.

Homeland security unveils $835,000 RV.  The Indiana Department of Homeland Security revealed its newest tool for protecting Hoosiers today:  A brand new 53-foot mobile command center. … The command center's $835,000 price tag was covered by federal homeland security grants allotted to the Indiana over the last two years.  Although some counties have obtained their own vehicles, the state's command center is the most expensive in Indiana.

Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week:  $1 Million for the Griffith Observatory Planetarium.  Those eager to see what exactly their tax dollars are being spent on, however, are out of luck.  The Observatory is currently closed while it undergoes its first major renovation and expansion, making good use, no doubt, of its Department of Defense dollars.

The Security Pretext:  An Examination of the Growth of Federal Police Agencies.  Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, bureaucrats and special interest groups have been busy repackaging everything from peanut subsidies to steel protectionism under the rubric of "national security."  Federal law enforcement agencies have also been expanding their power in the name of combating terrorism, whether or not such expansion has anything to do with enhancing security.

Fear of responsibility.  Huge amounts of dollars are spent, and our civil liberties curtailed to protect politicians from both parties from the charge they "did not do enough to protect us."  Much of this new expenditure is not enhancing our protection, but only weakening us economically, and the never-ending restrictions on civil liberties undermine the freedoms we hold dear.

America's safety comes first.  Congress … loaded up the appropriations bill with $8.9 billion worth of amendments bankrolling pork projects around the country.  Consider a few that were deemed more important than combat readiness:  $25,000 for Las Vegas schools to study mariachi music.  $75,000 for Wisconsin's Paper Industry Hall of Fame.  $100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center Museum, home of the groundhog.  $1 million for brown tree snakes, found only in Guam and non life threatening to humans.  This sort of reckless spending is an embarrassment to our country and an affront to our troops.

The Hidden Cost of War:  The cost of war is always more than anticipated.  If all the costs were known prior to the beginning of a war, fewer wars would be fought.  At the beginning, optimism prevails.  Denial and deception override the concern for the pain and penalties yet to come. … In almost all wars, governments use deception about the enemy that needs to be vanquished to gain the support of the people.  In our recent history, just since 1941, our government has entirely ignored the requirement that war be fought only after a formal congressional declaration — further setting the stage for disenchantment once the war progresses poorly.  Respect for the truth is easily sacrificed in order to rally the people for the war effort.

The employee whose office let 9/11 hijackers into the US gets a bonus.  The State Department official who was forced to retire because her office allowed most of the September 11 hijackers into the United States has won an "outstanding performance" award of $15,000.

Why the 9/11 Fund was a mistake.  In many cases, the government ended up paying a fortune to people who had already collected a fortune from private donors.  USA Today reported in 2002 that relatives of New York police officers received an average of $929,000 in charitable funds.  The families of firefighters and ambulance crews got $1,037,000.

Free Rein for Defense Spending Gives Rise to Wartime Waste and Fraud.  Billions of dollars are being spent with little or no public accounting.  And there is growing evidence that the Pentagon's bookkeeping systems — which critics call shaky at best — have been swamped by the tidal waves of new money justified by the war on terrorism.

"Pork-Hawks" are Turning the War on Terror into a Special-interest Bonanza.  Pressure from defense contractors hawking "legacy systems," the bureaucratic structure of the U.S. Department of Defense, and politicians beholden to the "military-industrial-congressional complex" is quickly transforming the conflict between the U.S. and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network into a more traditional exercise in pork-barrel politics.

What Has $300 Billion Bought?  On April 21, the Senate approved an emergency spending measure allotting $81 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A total of four emergency war appropriations have now been passed, bringing the overall costs of the "war on terrorism" to more than $300 billion.

Tax Dollars for Terrorists:  Recent reports have revealed that during the last term of the Clinton administration, U.S. taxpayers inadvertently helped fund some of the world's largest terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.  In October 2004, an FBI team procured documents of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a group suspected of having ties to terrorists.  The FBI team found evidence that at the same time the group was receiving millions of dollars from the U.S. Agency for International Development, its overseas partners were channeling a large chunk of funds directly to Osama bin Laden.

Sibel Edmonds at the FBI:  Sibel Edmonds, a Turkish-American, was hired by the FBI soon after Sept. 11 and given top-secret security clearance to translate some of the reams of documents seized by FBI agents who have been rounding up suspected terrorists across the United States and abroad.  Edmonds says that to her amazement, from the day she started the job, she was told repeatedly by one of her supervisors that there was no urgency - that she should take longer to translate documents so that the department would appear overworked and understaffed.  That way, it would receive a larger budget for the next year.

Whistleblower on FBI vindicated.  Accusations by an FBI contract linguist fired after complaining about suspected security breaches and misconduct in the bureau's post-September 11 foreign language translation program "had some basis in fact" and are supported by documents and other witnesses, a report said yesterday [1/14/2005].  The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General, in an unclassified summary of a secret, 100-page report issued in July, said the FBI should have "more thoroughly" investigated accusations by the linguist, Sibel Edmonds.

ACLU supports Sibel Edmonds in FBI case.  As a language specialist for the FBI, Edmonds was responsible for translating potential terrorist documents from Turkish to English.  She reported two categories of problems within the FBI, including what she said was incompetence and the more serious problem of intentional mistranslations.

Lost In Translation.  This is the story of hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign language documents that the FBI neglected to translate before and after the Sept. 11 attacks — documents that detailed what the FBI heard on wiretaps and learned during interrogations of suspected terrorists.  Sibel Edmonds, a translator who worked at the FBI's language division, says the documents weren't translated because the division was riddled with incompetence and corruption.

Who's paying for the war?  For all that the critics rail against the war in Iraq, surprisingly little time is given to decrying the sheer cost of it.

Our misspent tax dollars:  Defense and Homeland Security are attracting new pork projects that have nothing to do with fighting terrorists at home or abroad.  Included is $1 million added by the House for the Young Patriots Program.  According to the Defense Appropriations Conference Report, this money will help to "expand the Young Patriots Program to include a video which promotes the significance of National Patriotic Holidays."  When the federal government is involved, it's always about expansion, never reduction.

Spending Our Future Tax Cuts?  There has been little semblance of fiscal discipline since 9/11.  After the 2001 terror attacks, Congress rightly appropriated virtually unlimited sums for military action and homeland defense, but afterward, the Republican majority allowed the infection to spread through the entire budget.  We must find a way to stop it — and stop it very soon.

Spending goes on unabated.  House Republican leaders tucked a payoff into [a May 2002] emergency anti-terrorism spending bill:  $90 million in special Medicare reimbursements for hospitals in three congressional districts — two in Pennsylvania, the other in New York.  House Speaker Dennis Hastert, it turns out, ordered the payoff in exchange for the lawmakers' votes to give President Bush greater trade negotiating powers.

The embarrassing GOP:  This Republican Congress, in addition to increasing spending on entitlements and expanding big government - like the Democrats they once criticized - also dished out $95 billion in tax breaks and pork-barrel projects.

The Cost of Safety:  The Washington Post took a look at where our "homeland security" spending over the last two years has gone.  Our tax dollars have bought:
  • A boat for a volunteer fire department in Virginia ($350,000)
  • A computerized car-towing system for Washington, D.C. ($300,000)
  • Eight large-screen plasma televisions for an emergency operations center in suburban Maryland ($160,000)
America is for aliens.  Sen. Robert Byrd's amendment to the homeland security appropriations to provide $125 million to put 1,300 customs inspectors to help patrol our borders was rejected by the Bush administration as "too expensive."  The same day, President Bush made an "emergency request" for $150 million to pay for "border inspections personnel" on Iraq's borders.

LaPierre:  9/11 Windfall for the Anti-Gun Lobby:  The anti-gun lobby wants you to surrender your freedoms in the name of security.  If Americans fall for it, they will get neither, a new book warns.  "Smoke was curling over the ruins of the World Trade Center when the gun-control lobby swung into action, seizing on that tragedy to score points in the political arena," National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and his predecessor James Jay Baker write in "Shooting Straight:  Telling the Truth About Guns in America."

Hillary says NYC needs more money:  New York's two senators sent a simple message to Congress yesterday:  Thanks for the $21.4 billion in Sept. 11-related help, but the city still needs more.

"War Profiteering" at the Port Authority:  CAGW casts doubt on the legitimacy of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority's request for $29.6 million in emergency relief to build additional exits on two transit stations in Greenwich Village.  The ensuing controversy sparked a grassroots campaign to stop the project, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency brought it to a standstill, saying the project may not be an appropriate use of emergency funds.

Politicians Use 9-11 to Justify Pork Spending, Watchdog Alleges:  House and Senate appropriators have gone on a spending spree, adding projects not requested by the Pentagon to the 2003 budget, a public spending watchdog group [CAGW] alleges.  Members of Congress are using the Sept. 11 attacks to justify the excesses it wants to add in military construction appropriations bills, the group alleges.

Lobbyists Use Tragedy to Raid American Taxpayers:  For all too many in the nation's capital, the country's renewed patriotism has encouraged a parade of special interests to wrap themselves in the flag and use the tragic events to link their causes to the U.S. Treasury and the $40 billion that Congress authorized for relief.  In contrast to the rest of the country, what passes for sacrifice among some in Washington is how much of somebody else's money--i.e., the taxpayer's--you are prepared to spend.

If Pork Had Wings:  Word has it that congressional offices are creating lists of lobbyists and corporations who have come knocking to use the Sept. 11 tragedies to cash in for their own narrow benefit.  Such profiteering is troubling, of course, and in this case achieves the amazing feat of setting a new low in the Washington world of brazen corporate welfare.

Don't Give a Penny to Amtrak:  Amtrak seized on the Sept. 11 calamities as a chance to lobby Congress for $3.2 billion in "disaster" aid -- even though it suffered no disaster.

HillaryCare for the airports:  Only liberals still associate the words "government employee" with "efficiency" and "competence."

Anti-Terror Bill:  A Missed Opportunity to Tighten Gun Laws?:  A leading gun control group said the anti-terrorism legislation signed into law Friday is good as far as it goes, but it should have done more to tighten the nation's gun laws.

Congresswoman Uses the Race Card To Ask for a Saudi Handout:  With the whole of the US population under attack, Rep. Cynthia McKinney could only see yet another opportunity to get another handout, no matter that it would come from a nation that has funded Islamic terrorism and was the site of a terrorist attack that killed US military personnel.

The new hawks:  Senator Lieberman, whose resume as a military strategist includes attending Yale during the Vietnam war, founding an anti-war Caucus of Connecticut Democrats, and serving on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, wants the United States to target Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

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Updated November 13, 2017.

©2017 by Andrew K. Dart