The U.S. Army lied to Congress about ending a $725 million program that it never closed.
Rather than defend their program, the military lied and led Congress to believe the program had been terminated. Now, they are suddenly admitting it was never shut down and are trying to expand it.
USA Today reports:
The Army misled Congress and taxpayers when it said it had killed in 2014 a program that embedded social scientists with combat units, according to a congressman, a Defense official and Army documents.
Last year, the Army said it had terminated the controversial battlefield anthropology program, known as the Human Terrain System, which had been plagued by documented time sheet fraud, racism and sexual harassment. It is not clear why the Army said the program was dead, according to a Defense Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the program.
Not only is the Human Terrain System alive, the official said, but the Army could expand it if more money becomes available.
USA Today describes the program as having cost $725 million since 2007 and as rife with waste and fraud. Some civilians were paid a salary of $280 thousand for work that may have never been done.
But the real scandal here is that the military is supposed to be subject to Congress’ budgetary authority. When the Army lied to Congress they basically operated autonomously. So, in addition to Congress massively overspending, the Army is acting like a government unto itself with its own spending authority.
The article quotes Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA):
“It’s absolutely astonishing that the Army wants to convince itself that it never killed HTS after it was publicly acknowledged that the program was done,” Hunter said. “Even if true, that the program was never killed, the Army was happy with members of Congress and the scientific community thinking and believing it was killed. The Army is evidently OK with taking people for fools.”
But the truth is that the military in general has gotten away with taking people for fools for decades. It has been many years since the military could pass an audit.
How deep does the corruption go? Here’s Donald Rumsfeld in 2001 admitting that the military “lost” $2.3 TRILLION. He promised to account for it but he never did.
After that, not only was the missing money never accounted for, but Iraq and Afghanistan provided for new levels of waste. The Human Terrain Service was one aspect of the financial shenanigans in Afghanistan.
If Conservatives are going to fight big government, they need to be willing to deal with the military. A contractor getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for nothing while the VA lets our veterans die on secret, illegal waiting lists doesn’t support the troops or make America safer. When the Army lied to Congress, I doubt they were doing anything risky. I doubt anyone will have their pay reduced or get demoted, let alone serve prison time.
That needs to change.