The Missing Trillions
The 9/11 deniers, especially Uncle Fetzer, have made a big deal about the $2.3 trillion "missing" from the Pentagon, that Donald Rumsfeld announced the day before September 11th. The implication being that Rumfseld stole all the money and was using the attacks as a distraction to cover up this fact. To quote Fetzer:
This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary, Brown and Root, 400 million dollars to build detention centers in the United States for the purpose of unspecified programs. There are or will be anywhere from 40 to 400 of these camps. I have often wondered what Donald Rumsfeld was doing with the 2.3 trillion dollars he reported to congress was missing from the Pentagon's budget that he could not account for on.
This claim always seemed silly. For one thing, the 2001 defense budget was only $289 billion, so even if Rumsfeld had pulled off the incredible feat of stealing every last penny, we would barely be approaching $2.3 trillion. So I decided to look up the original source for this story. And found it here, in a speech that Rumsfeld gave at the "DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield ".
Was this some shocking revelation by Rumsfeld that trillions had been embezzled from the Pentagon budget (emphasis added)?
The technology revolution has transformed organizations across the private sector, but not ours, not fully, not yet. We are, as they say, tangled in our anchor chain. Our financial systems are decades old. According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. We cannot share information from floor to floor in this building because it's stored on dozens of technological systems that are inaccessible or incompatible.
We maintain 20 to 25 percent more base infrastructure than we need to support our forces, at an annual waste to taxpayers of some $3 billion to $4 billion. Fully half of our resources go to infrastructure and overhead, and in addition to draining resources from warfighting, these costly and outdated systems, procedures and programs stifle innovation as well. A new idea must often survive the gauntlet of some 17 levels of bureaucracy to make it from a line officer's to my desk. I have too much respect for a line officer to believe that we need 17 layers between us.
This wasn't some shocking revelation from Rumsfeld regarding money stolen from the budget, on the contrary, this was a reference in passing, in a speech to logisticians, regarding the fact that there were decades of data, which they are unable to efficiently access because of out-of-date computer systems. Once again, just like the PNAC "Transformation" they misrepresent a call for a technological change as some type of nefarious conspiracy.
Update: I forgot to mention, but Fetzer has not only argued that the attacks were a distraction from this announcement, but that a missile was fired at the Pentagon in an attempt to assassinate the accountants who were searching for this missing money.
The West Wing was a peculiar choice for a terrorist attack, since it was in the final stages of reconstruction and was largely bereft of personnel and records. But one team that occupied that space was a group of accountants, auditors, and budget experts who were, I would surmise, attempting to track that missing $2.3 trillion. The impact of the plane could not be guaranteed to kill them. Sending a missile would take them by surprise and could be more carefully targeted. So maybe there is a rational explanation, after all.
Kind of odd, considering Rumsfeld was the one complaining about the problem in the first place.