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Sunday, May 25, 2008

"The Bush Administration's Teapot Dome"

Stan Collender says it's "hard to come to any conclusion other than that the spending of taxpayer funds in Iraq bordered on, or actually was, simple and straightforward corruption," and wonders if anyone will be prosecuted for their actions:

The Bush Administration's Teapot Dome, by Stan Collender: Discussions about the federal budget ... here at CG&G, typically focus on "formulation," that is, on the process and politics of putting the budget together and getting it enacted. That's the part we all generally agree is broken, not working properly, overly politicized, and...well...you get the picture.

But this story from Friday's Washington Post, which talks about $15 billion in spending on Iraq that can't be accounted for properly, or in some cases at all, shows that the other stage of federal budgeting -- implementation -- is similarly broken, not working properly, and...well...you certainly get this picture as well.

In fact, it appears as if virtually every procedure and law designed to prevent just this type of malfeasance was circumvented.

This spending was done in the midst of a national emergency and some of the usual safeguards couldn't be followed in the interest of national security and getting the job done quickly, right?

Nonsense. The Pentagon's own inspector general confirmed that this lack of concern for procedural safeguards was blatant and commonplace. That makes it hard to come to any conclusion other than that they were ignored rather than expedited or poorly executed.

It's also hard to come to any conclusion other than that the spending of taxpayer funds in Iraq bordered on, or actually was, simple and straightforward corruption.

Given the magnitude of the spending involved, Iraq may be the Bush administration's contribution to the biggest public corruption scandals of all time like Boss Tweed in New York, James Michael Curley in Boston, and Teapot Dome.

My question is whether any one, that is, any individual, will be prosecuted for their actions. ... [L]aws and spending rules were broken by individuals and there are three reasons why they should be criminally prosecuted.

First, we need to know whether they were ordered to ignore the laws and regulations. If they were ordered to break the law, we need to know who was pulling the strings. ...

Second, these individuals almost certainly broke a variety of laws. At least one of these, the Antideficiency Act, actually calls for civil penalties and jail time...

Third, not prosecuting the individuals and instead allowing this situation to be nothing more than a political scandal will encourage others to do this again, or keep doing it...

There would have been widespread outrage and anger if this were a domestic department or agency. The fact that this was the Pentagon and the spending was related to activities in Iraq doesn't make this more acceptable.

Update: Pete Davis follows-up.

    Posted by on Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 08:42 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (22)

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