The Pentagon Doesn’t Know What it Spent 8.5 Trillion Dollars on

June 8, 2015   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
June 8, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) When government is completely dysfunctional and seems not to serve the people’s interests, we have to wonder where our tax dollars are going. Thanks to a Reuters investigation by Scot Paltrow, we have an answer—or, rather, a non-answer. Apparently, the Pentagon has made use of $8.5 trillion of our tax money handed over by Congress since 1996—but don’t ask what was done with the money. The Department of Defense doesn’t have a clue.

Audits of all federal agencies were mandated by law beginning in 1996, but the Pentagon is unique in never having complied. In almost 20 years, the Pentagon has never accounted for trillions it spent, in part because “plugging”—fudging the numbers—is standard operating procedure.

According to the investigation, employees of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s primary accounting agency, were routinely told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions.” These plugs—which amounted to falsifying the books—were used to bring the military’s figures in line with the Treasury’s when discrepancies couldn’t be traced and accounted for. According to DFAS employee, Linda Woodford, “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate. We didn’t have the detail . . . for a lot of it.” This so-called plugging isn’t unique to DFAS—when it comes to resolving lost or missing information, it’s just business as usual in every branch of the service.

When it was announced that the military’s budget would be cut by $52 billion in 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had a fit, telling a defense conference: “[The cuts are] too deep, too steep, and too abrupt. This is an irresponsible way to govern and it forces the department into a very bad set of choices.” This is quite befuddling to the rest of us, as the $581 billion budget that year was more than the total of the next 10 biggest spenders combined—including Russia, China, and even Saudi Arabia (whose military budget made up 10.7% of their total GDP).  In fact, the US budget was a full one-third of the entire amount spent on defense worldwide. If the DoD is this concerned about losing money to budget cuts, perhaps it should consider tackling its own systemic irresponsibility and discern what, precisely, $8.5 trillion in taxpayer funds has already paid for.

Many of the problems occurred in simple bookkeeping errors rather than actual financial losses. This was the case of one Columbus, Ohio DFAS office whose duplicate entries across multiple ledgers led to errors in financial reports for the Air Force in 2009, totaling $1.59 trillion—trillion—including $538 billion for plugs, which amounts to roughly 8 times what was allotted for the entire Air Force budget that year.

But the errors and manipulated numbers, though obviously problems in their own right, simply compound the issue for a Defense Department that seemingly has no control over its excessive spending habits.

The Defense Logistics Agency is responsible for supplying just about everything imaginable for the DoD. As Paltrow puts it, “everything from airplane parts to zippers for uniforms.” Speaking in a meeting with aviation industry executives in 2013, DLA director and Navy Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek explained, “We have about $14 billion in inventory for lots of reasons, and probably half of that is excess to what we need.” But it keeps buying more—often adding to inventory of which there is already a surplus.

In one example, the DLA had stockpiled 15,000 Humvee front suspensions as of 2008, which is the equivalent of a 14 year supply. Yet somehow between 2010-2012, defying both logic and prudence entirely, the agency purchased 7,437 more of those same parts—at significantly higher cost than those already gathering dust on warehouse shelves—at a time when demand had been cut in half.

As of September 2012, the DLA and military had already ordered $733 million in duplicates of existing supernumerary supplies, which was a 21% increase from the $609 million it spent on the same asinine duplication the previous year. All this stuff makes a comprehensive inventory impossible, and a worker in the DLA’s largest warehouse explained there is no system for verifying  that items are stored correctly or even to track or estimate how much is lost to employee theft.

These examples only touch on the enormity of the Pentagon’s mystical record-keeping, poor decision-making, and insanely wasteful spending problems. Taken in another context, they represent an acute criticism of priorities.

As of 2013, there were 45.3 million people, including 14.7 million children, living in poverty in the US—14.5% of the population, which is the largest number in the 52 years such statistics have been kept. But instead of focusing sharp criticism on the causes for such an outrageous number, politicians target “wasteful” spending by food stamp recipients by passing into law prohibitions for purchasing items like steak. But if members of Congress find a steak wasteful, what about 22,437 superfluous Humvee front ends?

The Pentagon Doesn’t Know What it Spent 8.5 Trillion Dollars onWhat do you think the $8.5 trillion was spent on? Full story:

Posted by The Anti-Media on Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hey, government: you’re doing it wrong.

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Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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  1. Let us be short and sweet. This "sort" of American(psycopathic)knows there is nothing "normal" American's(honest)can or "will" do anything. I became aware during Nixon era. I personally believe now they should be hauled out into the street and shot. But, like all my friends say: you can't do that! That would be criminal. We do nothing and "these" folks don't give a shit whether we live or die. And I am the "sick" one for wanting to do away with them.

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  2. Ask HC about this; ask the Trumpet. It would be interesting. I already know what Bernie would say, but if there are already laws and they are worthless, what then?

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  3. And you have not even talked about the 9 billion in cash that "was distributed" during the Iraq war — I think Vanity Fair or Reuters covered that story, too, including trying to track down the personnel who at one point or another had custody of the "bales of cash:" as it was transported and delivered to a temporary headquarters for distribution to support the economy and local needs in the absence of infrastructure disrupted by the war activities. Big chunks went missing – millions and millions, and record keeping was apparently not complete. Fascinating story.

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  4. They getting ready for something big. I think those trillions went for deep underground military base… Guys better wake up an act before it's too late

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  5. How about the 2.3 trillion that went missing during Def Sec Donald Rumsfeld press conference on 9/10/01. Oh, not to forget either, the wing of the pentagon that got struck just happened to be the financial book keeping wing of the pentagon. How convenient.

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  6. Doco is called iraq's missing billions. Great watch even 10 years on. Youtube it.

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    There are currently about 120 Deep Underground Military Bases (D.U.M.B.s for short) within the United States alone. Most of these bases are extremely large and very elaborate. A certain number of these deep underground military bases have existed for decades, as a way to protect and transfer our government leaders and certain military in the event of war or other threats. In fact, most countries throughout the world have a good number of these bases in place for the same reasons.

    The concerning thing to note about these deep underground military bases is the alarming number of them that have been built in the past few years. Just how many do we need and why has there been such a drastic increase in the number of them built recently? In addition, there is evidence to suggest that these underground bases have been heavily stocked with just about everything you can think of, including crops and even high speed railcars! Some of these facilities are quite elaborate and “plush”, but are designed mainly for certain “elite”.

    It’s mind-blowing to think of HOW MUCH MONEY has been spent on these underground facilities. Question is…where did they get all of this money from to build these? The nine trillion dollars that mysteriously went missing from the “Defense Budget” might explain it… Could the development of these underground facilities also be the cause of the loud “booming” sounds that Americans have been repeatedly hearing throughout the country recently?

    Here is a list that was compiled in 2012 of the U.S. underground military bases:

    (Additional bases have been added since 2012.)

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  8. Look up — "Greenbriar bunker"– interesting. The building of new bunkers is directly related to the media, they spill the beans (or location) of these bunkers enabeling the enemy to find them. Media says "Wow great story" the Government says "Ratz now we gotta build another one"

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  9. A BIG job for Jeff Bezos… His company probably handles and keeps track of as many THINGS – just lower value things…

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  10. Don't say "politicians"- tell us which politicians! Otherwise this is crappy journalism.

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  11. Interesting….in 1996 Bill Clinton was President until 2000, Bush from 2000 to 2008 and Obama from 2008 to present so is this a party issue?
    Also, when I put the title of this "The Pentagon Doesn't Know What it Spent 8.5 Trillion Dollars on" by Claire S Bernish at THEANTMEDIA.ORG or just "The Pentagon Doesn't Know What it Spent 8.5 Trillion Dollars on" to check it's accuracy neither FactCheck.ORG or Snopes have anything on this artilce. Both sites say…."did not match any documents". Wouldn't you would think one or both would have confirmed or denied it's accuracy? If you Google the above it just shows what you have sent with no support one way or the other.

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  12. This has been going on for over 14 years. Sept 10 2001, Rumsfeld announced that $2.3 trillion was unaccounted for. The next day, the financial offices were destroyed and the investigating team killed.

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  13. US Conservatives who rail against government waste and foam at the mouth at the idea of single payer Government provided health insurance support this kind of profligate idiocy without so much as a thought. I actually believe you need a strong military but the level of corruption and waste is insane.

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  14. The Reuters statements about falsifying the books were made many years ago by people who AT THE TIME were gone from the Defense Department for years, unaware of major improvements, and disgruntled to boot. The writer has made no attempt to corroborate or update. Not impressed.

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  16. wake up people! This is YOUR fault!. This is what happens when "average Joe Citizen" blindly votes, pays taxes, and allows others to run his/her life. The entire system is corrupt, 43 million living under the poverty line? Throw this bunch of theives out and replace the system, before it's too late.

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  17. They just don't want you to know where our money gets, they are planning not just for wars that we don't need or want but also because they know americans are sick of their shit it's scaring them……

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  18. And yet our representatives continually give them more than they ask for in their budget time after time after time.

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  19. To put things into proper perspective:

    $1.9 trillion: Total cash held by American companies in overseas accounts (to avoid paying US Tax and shareholder dividends)

    $1.2 trillion: the U.S. Military's budget for 30 Virginia Class nuclear submarines (10 times larger than China's annual military budget and more submarines than targets of any potential enemy navy)

    $612 billion: the US military's annual budget (larger than the next 14 largest military budgets in the world combined!)

    $456 billion: Total net worth of America's 10 richest people.

    $410 billion: total estimated value of the 35 largest not for profit philanthropy foundations (setup by America's rich to avoid paying taxes on their wealth)

    $145 billion: Total cash held by Apple Inc in offshore accounts (to avoid paying US taxes and shareholder dividends).

    $120 billion: China's annual military budget

    $108 billion: Money General Electric holds in overseas accounts to avoid paying U.S. Taxes and Shareholder dividends.

    $78 billion: Bill Gates net worth plus or minus $10 billion (Trump change)

    To put $78 Billion into the proper perspective, $78 billion is enough to feed every man, woman and child on the face of the earth (7 billion people) for one day.

    $42 billion: The value of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (a phony foundation setup by rich people to avoid paying US taxes)

    $10 billion: Donald Trump's estimated net worth.

    $3.3 billion: G.E. Savings by cutting retires benefits.

    $2.4 billion: Amtrak budget

    $700 million: Total cost of NASA New Horizons Pluto mission.

    $60 million: The Bush family entitlement aka net worth

    $20,000: average annual social security benefits paid an American retiree after working 47 years. (And Republicans want you to work longer hours to “save” the U.S. economy)

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  20. Funny, that's exactly how much the Starship Prometheus cost in the series StarGate SG1. Interesting….. Makes you wonder what's really going on at Michaels AAF.

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