“We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said following the first-ever audit of the Pentagon. If any corporate executive had uttered such words, he’d be preparing his legal defense, pronto. But because the biggest welfare queen in American history – our bloated, too-big-to-account-for military industrial complex – is the entity in question, Americans will just accept this shocking remark with a shrug. And our taxpayer dollars will continue to disappear into the black hole.
A new report reveals what most Americans have numbly assumed to be the case all along: The Pentagon has been committing massive fraud with our money. Left-leaning website The Nation has authored a thorough and convincing exposé of how the military bureaucracy at the world’s largest office building perpetrates its financial swindle. It should prove an outrage to all Americans, no matter how pro-military one is inclined to be. For this has nothing to do with the well-being of our service members and everything to do with parasites living large off of the U.S. taxpayer’s burden.
Gaming the System
“Plugs” and “nippering” are the Swamp lingo behind the bamboozle, author Dave Lindorff explains. The Pentagon routinely takes “one-year money” – funding that must be used in one fiscal year or be returned to the U.S. Treasury – and moves it to a “five-year money” pool that does not have to be returned. That is called a “plug.”
“Nippering” is the moving of cash from one authorized purpose to another. The money involved here can be moved so often that “the funds become virtually untraceable,” according to a veteran Pentagon lobbyist quoted anonymously by Lindorff.
And we’re not talking small potatoes. “In fiscal year 2015, for example, Congress appropriated $122 billion for the US Army,” Lindorff writes. “Yet DoD financial records for the Army’s 2015 budget included a whopping $6.5 trillion [yes, trillion] in plugs.”
No wonder Shanahan knew in advance what was coming. “Because of the plugs, there is no auditable way to track Pentagon funding and spending,” Asif Khan of the Government Accountability Office told Lindorff.
This disappearing money trail is a common way for the Pentagon to escape accountability. A February Politico article revealed that the Defense Logistics Agency, one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies, could not explain where $800 million in funding for construction projects went. “If you can’t follow the money, you aren’t going to be able to do an audit,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said at the time.
Swamp High Life
The plugs and the nippering are two key ways for the booming Washington, D.C. area to keep the good times rolling. While major swaths of America are abjectly suffering from an opioid crisis fueled by poverty and despair, the D.C. area is basking in financial largesse. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in Dec. 2017 that the five highest-earning counties in the nation were all in the sprawling D.C. metropolitan area. This D.C. high life is of course centered around the worship of the golden calf of federal taxpayer appropriations.
The constant threat of war that an overextended American Empire is obliged to prepare for serves to justify the pouring of ever more money into the Pentagon sinkhole. A growing parasitical bureaucracy in D.C. has fed off of this grotesque expenditure of taxpayer dollars ever since 9/11. If Americans truly want to “drain the Swamp,” sweeping reform of military spending must occur. How long can we allow this great swindle on the Potomac to continue?