Pentagon fraud
July 27, 2001 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Pentagon fraud $9,000,000,000. I hope this is a misprint. More inside.
posted by rdr (35 comments total)
I don't understand how 500 cases of credit card fraud can add up to 9 billion dollars. That's an average transaction size of 18 million dollars.
posted by rdr at 9:37 PM on July 27, 2001

Did you include the interest?
posted by Dirjy at 9:42 PM on July 27, 2001

Oh, now I see. $9,000,000,000 is the total spent. 500 is the number of cases of fraud found so far. There's more here. This still seems problematic since there doesn't seem to much review of card usage.
posted by rdr at 9:43 PM on July 27, 2001

Look at me: Why don't I look terribly surprised?
posted by Wizzle at 9:47 PM on July 27, 2001

"... Congressmen are fuming."
"Congress is expected to take up the issue on Monday - when sparks are sure to fly."

Bah... They're just jealous.
posted by whatnotever at 10:37 PM on July 27, 2001

I blame Miss Cleo.
posted by dong_resin at 11:17 PM on July 27, 2001

this is almost as fun as congressmen who write bad cheques.
posted by bwg at 11:37 PM on July 27, 2001

Did you include the interest?

Okay, that's the funniest comment I've read this week... Nice.
posted by fooljay at 11:40 PM on July 27, 2001

By the way, I might point out that this sort of thing goes on all the time in corporate America.

As an aside, I like the picture at the top of the article. That's one expensive pizza, by the looks of it.
posted by fooljay at 11:42 PM on July 27, 2001

Not that the above comment excuses the actions, mind you
posted by fooljay at 11:43 PM on July 27, 2001

Actually the Gulf War was financed by Pentagon credit cards
posted by matteo at 3:23 AM on July 28, 2001

It'd be great if Scott Adams could pick this up and run this storyline on Dilbert for a few weeks.
posted by wackybrit at 3:37 AM on July 28, 2001

But there is this saving thought: the stolen money via credit cards theft is bi-partisan and has nothing to do with Clinton and/or Bush. Just your average American Joe (and Jill) doing the everyday thing.
posted by Postroad at 4:20 AM on July 28, 2001

> Just your average American Joe (and Jill) doing the
> everyday thing

G.I. Joe (and Jill).
posted by pracowity at 4:50 AM on July 28, 2001

Under its contract for travel cards, Bank of America isn't allowed to charge the government interest and must write off fraudulent purchases if it can't recover it from violators. The bank has written off $59 million in fraudulent debts involving more than 43,000 military travel credit cards.

How reassuring to see that there is no government monopoly on incompetence.
posted by anewc2 at 5:24 AM on July 28, 2001

Upon reading the going "tax rebate" thread, I'm left to ask the question:

Why do "we all" merely get $300 cold hard cash via the "relieving" taxation ideology of the republicans, when it would make more sense that we be issued, were we to follow the line "that the American knows best how to spend his money", credit cards billed directly to the US government? The whole thing's a sham. We're going to be taxed either way. Repubs (bought out dems too) don't give half a grunting turtle head that the "US taxpayer knows best" how to spend his money any more than they'd be apt to issue every one of the teeming populous of America limitless AMEX cards. They spend our money as they see it should be fit for them and their financial supporters to be spent. Only they carrot-on-a-stick our asses with immaterial hush money while they finance any and every inhumane, ecologically deleterious, freedom stealing, planet threatening measure they can find that they and their corporate coffers can profit from. Instead of, of course, funding viable social causes that would benefit those who don't rake in millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Who's paying that $9b bill? We are. And for what? 3 hundge is burning a whole in millions of pockets as we speak. It's all immaterial as long as we've been pacified--

Nobody high up knew this wasn't happening? Of fucking course they did. We still pay the bill. We still get our rebates. And I can't get preventative health insurance. What shit. < /soapbox>

I have no idea which thread this rant belongs. . .;)
posted by crasspastor at 5:32 AM on July 28, 2001

Not that the approved purchases are always better than the pizzas and nightclub visits.

For twenty years, the Pentagon has maintained a top-secret team of U.S.-based psychics specializing in global "remote viewing". Cost: $20 million.
posted by pracowity at 5:49 AM on July 28, 2001

Pizza, drinks and dessert with friends: $42.50
Taxi rides: $35.00
Visits to "The MeatMarket" club: $154.75

Knowing that you've gotten away with this for 6 years:
posted by Grum at 6:21 AM on July 28, 2001

...Pentagon credit cards...
posted by clavdivs at 7:02 AM on July 28, 2001

The funny thing about those credit cards, when I was in the Army, my unit was trying to make everyone have one in case of army related emergencies. I knew one guy who fed his girlfriend and her kid with food bought on it for months. They caught him. He ran away. So much for security.
posted by Apoch at 7:55 AM on July 28, 2001

I don't get how the credit card company makes money. They can't charge interest and they have to eat the fraud. What exactly is their angle on this?
posted by NortonDC at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2001

Did the strippers have to meet the same rigorous standards as the $500 hammer?
posted by machaus at 9:12 AM on July 28, 2001

Do they have to endure the same pounding?
posted by NortonDC at 9:38 AM on July 28, 2001

[Do they have to endure the same pounding?]

Thankyou for that. You've officially made my afternoon.
posted by revbrian at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2001

Omg, nosecoke...

That was wonderful : )
posted by Ptrin at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2001

You know what I can't stand about politics? Rhetoric and the reduction of other points of view to pure evil

Maybe politicians (and people who talk about politics) would be better served by following some well-tested debate techniques of acknowleding the other sides entire point of view and refuting them point by point.

You know the best way to convince someone of that they are wrong? Acknowledge them consistently when they're right.
posted by fooljay at 1:58 PM on July 28, 2001

Or the tried and true method of Flame-As-Debate works wonders too.

(Reiterate)--If the clarion call of the republicans is "The American knows best how to spend his money". . .how is it, that something so patently of and by the republicans, namely the military, have such an ugly oversight of greedily misappropriated tax dollars? In other words, no matter which political affiliation you gravitate to, you will be taxed by those who you have voted for and there will invariably be some fraud. Granted there is a creeping off topic-ness by my bringing up the $300 tax rebate in this thread. Yet if we're talking frivolous government spending, taxes and what those taxes go to fund, why not interject that there are a-plenty social programs where that money (9b here. $300 rebates for everybody there) would have indeed worked wonders? Kinda like flaming I guess. Don't take your eye off the pea.
posted by crasspastor at 2:24 PM on July 28, 2001

crasspastor: I'm not sure that I even understand your posts. I'll echo (in principle) what fooljay said, though.

Let me address your military point. If I'm understanding you, you assert that "Republican's believe that American's know how to best spend their own money". You then assert (probably very correctly) that the military is extremely wasteful. What I'm missing is your conclusion. Should we make the military more efficient? Unless a senator is trying to fund his pork-barrel project (and Dem's do that too, both with the military and with other issues) nobody is ever going to disagree with you. Should we privatize the military? Obviously not. What, then, is your point? All politicians are self-serving; surely you didn't intend to imply that only Republicans violate their ideology for personal gain?

You try to exploit the inherent inefficiencies of the government in order to defame Republican's (I am not one of them, incidentally). But this lies at the very heart of Republican ideology... the government is inefficient and wasteful, so wherever possible the people should be allowed to spend the money themselves. That's why they push to privatize social security, etc. That's also why they're big military spenders; the military is one of the few legitimate functions of the government. Only the government adequately can provide for the common defense.

No offense, but your credit card analogy makes absolutely no sense to me. And your military argument is actually counter-productive to your cause. I'd appreciate it if you'd clear up this mess for me and explain your position a bit better.
posted by gd779 at 2:40 PM on July 28, 2001

Why does the military have to be run by the government? If we were to mass-produce them, small nuclear devices should be relatively easy to manufacture and procure the the populace at large for a relatively small fee. Every single person doesn't have to have one, but maybe every 50 or so would be good enough.

What would be wrong with that? Seriously?
posted by Ptrin at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2001

Or the tried and true method of Flame-As-Debate works wonders too

Yeah, it's satisfying to be sure, but it only succeeds in making the other person shut up. It doesn't change anyone's mind... It's kind of like the difference between violent and non-violent protest.

As far as your point, we all know that there is gross misappropriation of funds at worst and wasteful funding of a huge beaucracy at best (go to the DMV and see what I'm talking about). However, I think that you'll find that the wastefulness/fraud is not by any means limited to the military. The government is not an efficient beast as anyone can tell you.

Why does the military "get away" with this craziness? I have to assume that there is less oversight, or stricter controls on oversight (wolf guarding the henhouse) with the military because of the sensitive nature of "national security". That certainly doesn't make it right, but there's a balance that needs to be struck.

Furthermore, can you elaborate on your "military being patently of and by the Republicans"? I definitely think that both parties have done their fair share to make the military what it is today. I see some positive steps though, like the elimination of the two-front war policy (which I wrote about here) and the reduction of our aging nuclear arms stockpiles (if not our new ones).

That's not to say that either of these things can be directly attributed to Bush, because the motion towards such goals may have stated under Clinton, but they are still positive steps to reduction of military costs.

Of course, maybe that's just so they can afford better hookers...
posted by fooljay at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2001

Damn it, gd779. You said what I had in my brain, only much much better than I said it. I commend you on your post.
posted by fooljay at 2:48 PM on July 28, 2001

I guess I'm making connections that "all this money" has to come from somewhere and in turn it goes somewhere else. Who's getting it? Who's benefitting? The money we pay in taxes goes into a general pot, from which the government sees itself fit to spend. Fine, fair enough.

However when news breaks that Pentagon employees have spent $9 billion to have fun and George Bush initiates a measure for wholsale tax rebates, one must ask:

In what sense is anything (comprehensive health care for all for instance) too costly when such waste and cronyism runs rampant? Why is any of this "not connected" I'm asking. I happen to think that there is an intrinsic connection between taxes and the wishes and will of the people who are endlessly told there isn't enough money to fund that which would benefit our national community while others (individuals and bureaucracies) who have the means get what they want. We can't get that 9 billion dollars back. Yet, what safeguards exist that make such oversights impossible in the future? There are none, as we are no more privy to what money is being spent now as we write, any more than we were when the Pentagon fellas were throwing their bashes.

In what way is spending on the military one the few legitimate functions of the government? Granted, a military is neccessary, but in what regard shouldn't the same money be spent elsewhere? Unless we're looking to have a war. But where in that is the will of the people? Citizens don't start wars, though, would like to be protected. How much of what the US military does is to simply protect our borders? What slice of the military pie goes to protect "US interests"? What are those interests? Who's interests are they truly?

That, I guess, is what I'm saying (asking).

Military types tend to gravitate, vote for the good old provincialism of the right. It would follow that if "military types" by and large are republican we would expect to see an agreement on the platform of less taxes, less funding for flawed social programs yet static or increased funding for the all important military regardless of tax cuts or spending cuts in other areas.
posted by crasspastor at 5:09 PM on July 28, 2001

It's often a matter of presentation: "trimming government inefficiency" is usually taken to mean "sacking bureacrats in suits", which works well with the public even if it means cutting programmes to help those in need; "trimming defence inefficiency" can very easily be spun to mean "putting our country in danger" or "depriving our armed forces of their needs", even if those needs extend to nightclubs and expense accounts. And it's difficult to argue with generals.

After all, you're brought up to trust people in uniform...
posted by holgate at 6:32 PM on July 28, 2001

Actually, given that those credit cards were probably used almost exclusively as "free money" (i.e. pumped right back into the economy), they may have been even better for our nation's economy than giving the money back to the taxpayers would have been...

: )
posted by Ptrin at 6:42 PM on July 28, 2001

First there was Silver, Gold and Platinum...

I guess now we have the Depleted Uranium Mastercard.
posted by username at 10:53 AM on July 30, 2001

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