Daily Revolt

December 15, 2007

Democrats in Congress Give in to Bush Again on Defense Spending

Democrats in Congress have once again betrayed the voters that put them in power last November. This from CNN:
President Bush is toning down his rhetoric as he gains the upper hand, at least for now, in his battle with the Congress over war funding. It's turning out to be a much happier holiday season over at the White House than many had expected only a few months ago.

[...]The president is making clear he will not stand for Congress leaving town without funding U.S. troops. And it appears Democrats are going to blink on war funding, because the president has a stronger hand in this budget battle.

[...]This may be as close to a victory lap as you'll see from President Bush. After weeks of bashing lawmakers, he actually had a few warm words for Congress finishing its work.

[...]HENRY: The shift in tone is a sign the president feels he's getting his way on key issues -- like securing tens of billions of dollars more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BUSH: I also understand that Congress may provide a downpayment on the war funding I requested without artificial timetables for withdrawal. These are encouraging signs.

HENRY: The downpayment comment was a nod to the fact the president was not getting all $200 billion in the war money that he wanted. But Democrats privately admit they're likely to give the president up to $70 billion for the wars -- just weeks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Mr. Bush would not get another dollar this year.

[...]the year began with people writing the president's political obituary, as Democrats swept into power.

[...]The year ends with a the president in a stronger political position thanks to his use of the veto pen and splits among the Democrats on the war and other issues.

And where is this money going? Certainly not to defend America:
A new Pentagon audit is uncovering stunning waste and fraud in Iraq -- with millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars simply going down the drain.

[...]JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, follow me here. Let's say you wanted to build a $30 million Army barracks in Iraq and then you decide, you know what, we don't want it after all.

You wouldn't pay the $30 million, would you?

Apparently, that's not the way it works in Iraq.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The U.S. Congress authorized more than $5 billion back in 2005 for the vital task of building the Iraqi Army. But millions of those U.S. tax dollars have been stolen or wasted, according to the latest report from the Pentagon's inspector general.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), POLICY COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT CHAIRMAN: Having been at this for about four years, I have not ever seen the waste, the fraud and the abuse that now exists. And I think it is shameful.

MCINTYRE: Take the case of Ellis World Alliance Corporation based in Gainesville, Florida, which was supposed to build Iraqi Army barracks in Ramadi. According to Pentagon auditors, the contractor did not renovate or build any new facilities, yet collected $31.9 million of the $34.2 million total. It turns out the project was canceled because the Iraqi Defense Ministry couldn't get rights to the land.

The Pentagon watchdog agency sharply criticized the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment, which administered the contract, for a lack of oversight.

But an Air Force spokesman insisted to CNN that taxpayers were not billed and for one thing, they did get $15 million worth of equipment and supplies. MICHAEL HAWKINS, SPOKESMAN, AIR FORCE CENTER FOR ENGINEERING AND THE ENVIRONMENT: Along the way, work was done. And materials and equipment were purchased. We have the materials and equipment in hand to be used down the road when they're needed. I believe that the business process that we have in place is working.

MCINTYRE: A spokesman for Ellis World Alliance did not return CNN's phone calls. The Pentagon I.G. did say the company operated a construction camp and procured raw materials, but that cost vouchers submitted did not support the claim. And it said it may require litigation to get some of the money back.

MCINTYRE: And, Wolf, in a separate development that's dripping with irony, some of the Pentagon's investors are themselves now under investigation. Law enforcement sources confirming to CNN that the FBI is looking to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, investigating allegations of possible wrongdoing or questionable practices involving finances and e-mail monitoring -- Wolf.

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