Waste, Fraud and Abuse…

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Final report (but not final fraud)

That trio remains constant allies of the U.S. military whenever it goes into harm’s way. That’s because private contractors are hired to cook, clean and house the thousands of troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places the U.S. military needs to be on short notice. So it’s scant surprise that the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has concluded that “at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America‚Äôs contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan” in a report released Wednesday.

Stuff happens in war, and sometimes, like when fighting a fire, some of the water gets wasted. What’s more important, as Mike Kinsley pointed out years ago, is that it’s not what’s illegal in Washington that’s surprising, it’s what’s legal. For example (page 93), have to believe this was a legal bill, and so isn’t included among the waste:

The…prime contractor paid the Ugandan guards an average of $700 per month, but the government paid [the contractor] $1,700 per month for each guard. This $1,000 difference exceeds even the most generous indirect contract costs.

Such actions “bring discredit to the United States,” the report notes, “and act as a barrier to building good diplomatic relations.”