Major holes in accountability allow private contractors for the DEA and Defense Department to siphon millions into personal accounts. According to Washington, “that’s the only way we can do it.”
A week after an international panel came out saying the American Drug War has failed the United States Senate came to a similar conclusion. A commission headed up by Senator Claire McCaskill found that the level of drug war spending is unjustifiable. McCaskill said, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America […] have largely failed.”
The report discusses at length private contractors hired by the DEA and Defense Department. The U.S. has paid out over $3 billion to contractors for their work in Latin America between 2005 and 2009. Over this same period annual spending has increased 32% on contractors. Almost all of these contracts are going to just five companies: DynaCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheion, ITT, and ARINC. Of these five, DynaCorp received by far the largest portion of contracts. The largest area that the DEA and the Defense Department gave contracts for was intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The main part of the problem is that Defense Department and State Department have no idea if the money is being used effectively. The Defense Department describes its own accounting system as “error prone” and the State Department does not even keep track of such contracts. When the government wastes taxpayer money we should be upset. When they just give it away to their buddies in the military industrial complex, we should be furious.
Despite our anger and the obvious disapproval of the Senate sub-committee, there are no plans for change in Washington. The White House released a follow-up statement saying that they are expanding counter-narcotics efforts. The Brooking’s Institute, a policy organization, defended the use of contractors. While admitting that there were problems they claim, “unless we are able to resource our government properly, that is the only way we can do it.” Would not stopping the wasteful spending of money on contractors who provide no measureable services be resourcing our government properly?
This is another clear example of the abuses that are allowed by the war mentality. The military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about is here. Companies such as DynaCorp and Lockheed Martin exist solely on government contracts. When your chief consumer is the government, you replace your marketing department with a lobbying department. Our government now hands out no-bid contracts where they accept any offer regardless of price. Why does the American Public not care that these companies are stealing their money? The average American doesn’t feel the effects, because it is all paid for with debt and not taxes. The public feels that as long as it dos not affect my pocket, why should I care if the fat cats get fatter?