Should we reduce the temptation and control spending?
Corruption Touched CIA's Covert Operations
The US federal debt is titantic not so much because we need all that the government provides but mainly because huge organizations lacking in accountability waste enormous sums. This 2009 article is from ProPublica.
by Marcus Stern, February 25, 2009Paramilitary agents for the CIA's super-secret Special Activities Division, or SAD, perform raids, ambushes, abductions and other difficult chores overseas, including infiltrating countries to "light up" targets from the ground for air-to-ground missile strikes. This week the government acknowledged for the first time that some of SAD's sensitive air operations were caught in a fraud perpetrated by the CIA’s executive director that cost the government $40 million.
That information was contained in a series of court filings released in advance of the sentencing of Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, the former ED, the no. 3 post at the CIA.
One affidavit, from a leader of SAD, indicates that Foggo forced SAD to use a shell company set up by defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes to handle its sensitive air operations, even though Wilkes and his company had no experience in clandestine aviation operations.
Since 9/11, SAD has become more prominent. Its paramilitary operatives have been used to kidnap suspects from the streets of foreign countries for interrogation. When in other countries, the agents typically do not wear uniforms or carry items that connect them to the US government. If they are caught, the government may disavow any connection to them.
Wilkes was Foggo's boyhood friend and a co-conspirator in the bribery scandal that erupted around former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is serving more than eight years in federal prison. Foggo's sentencing will be the last of the ring of co-defendants in the case.
Foggo, 53, was running the CIA on a day-to-day basis until he resigned in 2006 after his name surfaced in the scandal. At first, Foggo sought to have the charges against him dismissed. When that failed, he argued that he would need to disclose classified information to defend himself. This practice, sometimes referred to as graymail, was rejected by the court, but led prosecutors to drop 27 of the 28 charges against him.
In September, Foggo pleaded guilty to a single count of defrauding the government by steering contracts to Wilkes. While his sentence could carry 20 years in prison, the plea agreement calls for 37 months behind bars. Foggo is seeking an even more lenient sentence from the judge.
To oppose a reduced sentence, prosecutors won release of transcripts from grand jury proceeding, including the affidavit that detailed the shell company of Wilkes and Foggo. Foggo had imposed a deadline on SAD that forced them to accept the only tendered proposal, the “wasteful, misguided, and contrived” one of Wilkes that cost the government $40 million. Wilkes' and Foggo's deals included markups of up to 60% on the goods and services they sold the CIA.
The documents also detailed Foggo's efforts to keep his mistress when he was promoted to ED in November 2004 and relocated from Europe to Langley. Foggo arranged for his family to remain in Europe at taxpayer expense. He and his mistress moved to Langley.
He then arranged a CIA job for his mistress, identified only by the initials ER. At first the CIA ruled that ER was ineligible because a background check found that she had an improper relationship with a superior in her previous government position and had destroyed evidence being sought by the inspector general of that agency. Foggo prevailed and ER was hired.
But her supervisor soon found her work unsatisfactory. Instead of accepting critiques and suggestions, ER made it clear that she had influence with Foggo. "Her supervisor had been an attorney with the (CIA's Office of General Counsel) for 20 years, during which time she received numerous performance awards and even the Career Intelligence Medal.” Within months of crossing ER, she was fired by Foggo.
JJS: Now we pay people -- overpay them -- to defeat our enemies. The incentives to do wrong are built in. One, these spies need enemies and feel disquiet over peace. Two, they operate in secret, never explaining what their costs are. After years of operating that way, one would need pretty strong scruples to not feather their own nest and cheat the public paying them.
Which shows the appeal of the idea of shifting discretionary spending from politicians to citizens. Limit government spending to defense of rights. But like Adam Smith said, perhaps make people pay for their military in real time -- no more borrowing from Chinese and making future generations pay.
Places that do have an income tax or citizenship dues would also have lower land rents, since taxes tend to lower site values. So if people had geonomics -- a system of land taxes or land dues, coupled with a rent share -- then their periodic “Citizens Dividend” would drop lower whenever the income tax rose higher, which would happen whenever their government got more belligerent and had to pay for more military. So by building in the correct incentives, we would save millions and still have the military we need, but no more.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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