The brain goes numb attempting to conceptualized how much waste and/or fraud can occur when the budgets are topping $400 billion. In a subcommittee hearing on June 13th, officials with the Dept. of Defense and State Dept. admitted they really could not say exactly how much money has been provided contractors and sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors for private security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor how many companies had contracts, nor how many of those private forces had been wounded or killed, or if any had faced disciplinary problems. The hearings I watched on C-SPAN 2 were most informative - if only for the lack of information available.
TN Congressman John Duncan, member of the committee, said his constituents would be horrified to learn of the high levels of waste occuring as corporate giants like Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, KBR, etc etc were simply supplying invoices for costs with little description.
Congressman Henry Waxman is prepping info about the vast sums of tax dollars getting Hoovered-up by private contractors, which you can access here.
I know - just because Halliburton's contracts with the Fed are up 600% doesn't mean anything is wrong. Except that Rep. Waxman's report identifies 118 Fed contracts worth $745 billion as qualified members of the fake it/waste it/overcharge it club. Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, Rita - all devour contracts worth billions.
Senator Byron Dorgan of N.D. attempted to add an ammendment to the current spending bill to require specifics on keeping contractors honest. Every Republican Senator voted against the bill which would halt any firm which:
" - Executes or attempts to execute a scheme or artifice to defraud the United States or the entity having jurisdiction over the area in which such activities occur.
- Falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact.
- Makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any materially false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.
- Materially overvalues any good or service with the specific intent to excessively profit from the war or military action."
Sen. Dorgan offered many examples, including:
"Brand new $85,000 trucks that were left on the side of the road because of a flat tire and then subsequently burned. 25 tons, 50,000 pounds, of nails ordered by Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), the wrong size, that are laying in the sands of Iraq. 42,000 meals a day charged to the taxpayers by Halliburton and only 14,000 are actually served."
After telling the amazing tale of the KBR Halliburton subsidiary ordering hand towels for soldiers embroidered with the "KBR" logo, to allow them to double the price of the towels, Dorgan told one Halliburton whistleblower's story of his company serving food date-stamped "expired" to American troops rather than throwing it away."[Halliburton was] serving food at a cafeteria in Iraq for the soldiers, and a man named Roy who was the supervisor in the food service kitchen said that the food was date-stamped 'expired,''' said Dorgan. "In other words, it had a date stamp, which meant the food wasn't good anymore, and he was told by superiors that it doesn't matter. Feed it to the troops. It doesn't matter that they had an expired date stamped -- feed it to the troops."
Sadly, the mass consumption of tax dollars battling a "last-throes" insurgency continues at astonishing rates, and oversight by Congress evaporates faster than a drop of water in a 5th-grade instructional movie about the cycle of condensation.