STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Will Pentagon Budget Demands Be Slowed by Multi-Trillion Dollar Scandal?
By Daily Bell Staff - September 08, 2016

As soon as I take office, I will ask Congress to fully eliminate the defense sequester and will submit a new budget to rebuild our military,” Trump said. “This will increase certainty in the defense community as to funding, and will allow military leaders to plan for our future defense needs.” -Politico

Donald Trump recently gave a speech that was well-received by the defense community in large part because he called for expanding the Pentagon’s budget.

This is somewhat disappointing to those who believe that America’s military is too large as it is and that its overseas involvement is counterproductive.

Trump himself has in the past voiced significant doubts about the Pentagon’s strategic involvements abroad, though he has been consistently sympathetic to certain, supposed Pentagon budget woes. Nonetheless, he had previously been a good deal more hawkish when it came to Pentagon spending.

Here, from the article:

In 2013, Trump applauded [military] cuts — and even said they didn’t go far enough to cut wasteful government spending.

No doubt, Trump’s evolving positions reflect the amount of pressure he’s come under from the military, which is gathering its forces on Capitol Hill to demand up to $1 trillion or more for an upgrade of the nation’s nuclear program.

Trumps’s changing position on military funding seems mostly to involve expansion of armed services to “rebuild” the military. The Pentagon lately has been putting a good deal of emphasis on nuclear spending.

Here, from Bloomberg:

 The U.S. Air Force’s program to develop and field a new intercontinental ballistic missile to replace the aging Minuteman III in the nuclear arsenal is now projected to cost at least $85 billion, about 36 percent more than a preliminary estimate by the service.

Even the $85 billion calculated by the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office is a placeholder number that’s at the low end of potential costs, according to an Aug. 23 memo from Pentagon weapons buyer Frank Kendall to Air Force Secretary Deborah James. It includes $22.6 billion for research and development, $61.5 billion for procurement and $718 million for related military construction.

We’ve written about these escalating demands and Antiwar.com recently commented (here) on them as well:

New US Nuclear Weapons Program to Cost “At Least” $85 Billion … Part of a massive multi-decade scheme of “modernization,” the US Air Force is planning a new ICBM nuclear weapons program to replace the Minuteman III.

The Pentagon’s latest projections are that this will cost “at least” $85 billion. That’s a huge increase, some 36% over the previous estimate they’d offered, but even this is being referred to by Pentagon officials as the “low end” of the potential cost.

Though many officials continue to insist the expense is “necessary,” there is no clear visibility on where the money is going to come from.

Usually, money is found for what the Pentagon wants in at least a piecemeal way. However, its demands may be complicated by its latest accounting scandal, which leaves some $6-$8 trillion unaccounted from a congressional reporting standpoint. We’ve reported on the accounting issues here and here.

In an article (here) entitled, “Ignoring the Pentagon’s Multi-Trillion-Dollar Accounting Error,” FAIR.com points out the following:

In 1996, Congress passed a law requiring all federal agencies to comply with federal accounting standards, to produce budgets that are auditable and to submit an audit each year. At this point, two decades later, the Pentagon has yet to comply with that law, and therefore cannot be audited. It is the only federal agency that is not complying or, the IG’s report suggests, even trying to comply.

One would think that would be newsworthy, but apparently for the major newsrooms of the US, not so much.

This last point is key. In a series of articles on the Pentagon’s nuclear program going back to its inception and beyond we’ve pointed out considerable fraud along with others, and even certain fundamental questions about nuclear weapons themselves.

There are certainly questions about exactly what was dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (here and here) but also about Pentagon nuclear weapons tests in general. Over and over, it is evident that footage of nuclear tests (especially those seen on YouTube) have been considerably doctored – faked – before release. The Pentagon’s Lookout Mountain was instrumental in this doctoring, see New York Times article here.

At the beginning of the year, the New York Times reported on clams that videos of North Korean missile tests were faked (here). The reports explained that the images were spliced together in obvious ways. In fact, the cutaways of the North Korean footage bear considerable resemblance to nuclear-test film presented by the Pentagon in the 1950s and 1960s (here).

Additionally, the Pentagon published footage in the 1960s (here) of a “nuclear test explosion” off the coast of Hawaii that was actually – as the Pentagon itself explained – created from massive amounts of dynamite.

The Pentagon has supported lies about the inception of the Vietnamese war, lies about wars in Iraq and Libya and is seemingly complicit in the creation of ISIS and its subsequent “confrontation” with the West. In its effort to first create and then prosecute “enemies,” the Pentagon misleads the media, Congress and the public on a regular basis.

Perhaps, given its current accounting problems, the Pentagon’s  latest budget demands, including at least $1 trillion for a nuclear weapons upgrade, will be subject to more media scrutiny. Hopefully if Donald Trump is elected president, he will rediscover his initial skepticism about Pentagon expenditures.

The FAIR article points out that the US media enjoys exposing “waste” in individual Pentagon programs. But when it comes to what the article describes as wholesale “looting” for decades, the mainstream media has little to say.

Marry this “looting” to special forces military activities in over 100 countries on a yearly basis and the it becomes clear the Dept. of Defense like the US intel agencies including the CIA, are at least partially unaccountable to either Congress or the public.

This time around, as they seek funds for what will probably be a multi-trillion dollar weapons upgrade, the Defense Department and especially the Pentagon should be subject to significant, additional scrutiny (here).

Conclusion: Surely, with so much money at stake, the US Congress should be more insistent than before. In fact, serious inquiries into the Pentagon’s behavior and bookkeeping might elevate Congress’s approval rating, currently in the single digits. Serious and considered explanations about the Pentagon’s nuclear program – and retractions of falsehoods already disseminated – would be a good beginning.

Updated

 

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  • rahrog

    SECEDE from the government that steals from its own citizens to fund its corrupt military/security industrial complex.

    • Lynn Carroll

      I like that: The military/security/industrial complex. I am a retired Marine and I have had it with the whole concept of financing our government. We need to revamp the entire process starting with banning “zero-balance” bookkeeping. Make the military, and all other government agencies accurately request and justify any monies they request each fiscal year. This is NOT their money, it is ours; we civilians who have put in the hours, who have sacrificed our time away from our families to earn a decent living in the vain hopes that the government will not rape us for too much our hard-earned money.

      • rahrog

        SECEDE. Form new societies that have decentralized governments that are constitutionally accountable for ALL of their actions.

      • esqualido

        Very well put. One of your fellow Marines, Gen. Smedley Butler (who won the Medal of Honor not once but twice, wrote that war was a racket, and he was talking about declared war, where Congress collectively debated the matter and decided if we should be at war, not the President, by Executive Order. Nor were the sons of the 1% exempt- those of both Theodore Roosevelt and Joseph Kennedy gave their lives, to mention a few. Furthermore, when war is formally declared, certain cost controls are also imposed on the defense industry, which is only proper: the American taxpayer should not be faced with an open-ended expense account. Pakistan, for example produces a modern fighter aircraft, the JF -17, for one-quarter the cost of a comparable American plane.

  • Lynn Carroll

    No, no, no!!! Trump isn’t facing pressure from the Pentagon; when did this idiocy come bubbling up from the primordial ooze known as liberalism? Trump is facing the realities that he never had to face as a civilian, but is now becoming only too aware of as he finds out more about what is really going on in this country via the Pentagon briefing that both he and Hillary are receiving on a regular basis now.
    The only real “looting” of our tax monies has come from our own Congress with their pork barrel projects for each of their states. The government has allowed the military and all government agencies to “loot” our money because of its insistence on a financial loophole called “zero balance” bookkeeping. That is, if you asked for ten million in the previous year and you don’t spend it all, then you only get what you spent in the previous year.
    If you actually saved a million dollars, you are screwing yourself out of a million dollars in the coming fiscal year. Who in their right mind would do that? There is no incentive to curtail spending, the only incentive is to spend what you were allotted and ask for more the next time.

  • Don Duncan

    I suspect DB is preaching to the choir. I hope DB readers would not stop with accountability to Congress, but would want govt. accountable to the public. This would require withdrawal of its moral excemption, e.g., its monopoly on violence. If judged by the same standards as the private sector the political and bureaucratic demagogues would be seen as the lying criminals they are.

  • esqualido

    If Trump thinks he wins brownie points by promising to expand defense spending, on the backs of an already burdened middle class, he is badly mistaken. Actual conservatives (there used to be a few in the GOP) are well-aware that the U.S. currently spends more than China, Russia, the U.K., France, Japan and India COMBINED( from the Peter J. Peterson Foundation). He should be calling for real investigation of military defense spending, a la the Truman Commission.

  • Earn nest

    I recall Trump stating that he wanted a military strong enough that no one could think of attacking us. And MAD seemed to work I believe. But recalling Eisenhower’s speech about the military industrial complex I feel we must focus on defense not strategic deployments and reflect that funding the prosperity of the nation is more valuable than the creation of destructive instruments that will not be used. Overpopulation issue aside it is a reflection on the failure of governments and the species generally that the human race still must war continuously.

  • Wrusssr

    Will Pentagon Budget Demands Be Slowed by Multi-Trillion Dollar Scandal?

    Never phased the budgeteers in the past. A trillion, a trillion there. Everyone loses a little pocket change now and then. They need to talk to their accounting department, though. Otherwise we could be talking some real losses down the road.

  • Sven

    I’m not really sure at this point that Congress is at all worried about their approval rating. What have they done to change it?

  • Stephen Persaud
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