December 10, 2005

After all, It's Your Money

Editor and Publisher asks why the 9/11 Commission report card got so little media attention by the MSM. This is definitely a good question. But in E&P's report is another question for which I think I have an answer:

Does anyone know, for example, that the bi-partisan commission, led by Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, gave the Bush administration -- which launched a war on Iraq largely in the name of reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction -- a "D" on its efforts to secure WMD worldwide, calling this "the greatest threat" to America's security?

"If my children were to receive this report card they would have to repeat a year. We cannot afford to repeat this mistake," said Timothy J. Roemer, one of the commission members. His colleague on the panel, James Thompson, the former Illinois governor, asked: "Are we crazy? Why aren't our tax dollars being spent to protect our lives?"

Crazy? Well, not really. Because our government is run by good Republicans who are "better on national security" than Democrats, it seems that they are careful to see that our tax dollars are being spent on defense. The real question is: what are we getting with our tax dollars? It looks like we are getting this:

The invisible empire. I still have yet to discover any evidence that the other "defense-related" enterprises operating under the Wilkes[1] umbrella were genuine businesses.

"Group W Media," the advertising agency with no discernable clients, was a front for something -- I don't yet know what. "Group W Transportation" amounted to a time-share arrangement involving a Lear jet. "Al Dust Properties" and "Group W Holdings" supposedly owned properties -- but I can't trace any holdings beyond the impressive building which the Wilkes Corporation called home. (It's now up for auction, by the way.) MailSafe Inc. supposedly offers "mail decontamination, digital capture, and electronic distribution to government and commercial entities." But the web site has disappeared, and the company seems to have left zero imprint on corporate America. Where is the evidence that it actually provided any services to clients?

Our MSM seems to have been asleep on this story as well. Yet, by gosh, we do know that the frugal Republicans have once more found a way to spend our money wisely by giving more tax breaks to the truly deserving (aka their base) on the backs of ordinary Americans who seem to expect a safety net which is now so passé.

E&P continues on the 9/11 report card:

Edsall replied: “I was surprised to see this morning that our competitor, The New York Times, played the story inside. Insofar as the press drives a story, that will diminish public reaction. I only saw the beginning of CBS News last night and don't recall an early mention of the 911 commission findings, which would also weaken the lasting power. The NYT has a wider national distribution than the Post. We gave the story top of the front page story, which I think is the correct play. All this is to say -- I don't know if the issue has legs or not. It should.”

Has legs? What 9/11 wrought certainly does have legs -- from severe budget deficits to a stretched-thin military to a continuing war in Iraq. It's the height of hypocrisy for the administration to downplay the fresh concerns about readiness while declaring that we are in a worldwide and open-ended war on terror to allegedly make the homeland safe. Newspapers share in treating this as just another issue of-the-day.

The commissioners asked if maybe we need another wake-up call. Apparently, the answer is: yes.

Once upon a time the media was designated the fourth estate because it was critical that in a democracy citizens could make informed decisions based on solid data. I guess in our era what is really "quaint" is the idea of "the rule of law" or that habeas corpus or proscriptions against cruel and unusual punishment should be enshrined in a constitution. Or that a government was actually supposed to care about the governed.

Final questions. The Cunningham case was outrageous enough when it was about bribery. But the bribes to Cunningham cost each taxpayer less than a penny; the frauds committed by Brent Wilkes sucked dollars out of each and every wallet in this land. Personally, I would have considered my share of that money better spent on a nice chicken sandwich -- or on providing services to the needy. I bet you feel likewise.

So why won't the media pay more attention to Brent Wilkes?

And why couldn't the Pentagon double-check where the money went? Surely someone in that famous five-sided building could have pored through those websites and spotted the obvious clues indicating a sharpster at work. Why wasn't the public warned that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars went out to a con artist?

How many other crooks like Wilkes have helped to empty our national treasure-house? Why is there no money for armored Humvees in Iraq, but plenty of cash for right-wing Republicans with connections?

On the Republican watch, before this week's tax cuts, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the national debt for every man, woman and child would be close to $38,000 by 2010. Heck of a job, Bush. We appreciate the fact that you and your fellow Repubs are doing such a bang up job with "our money".

Glad to see the media is on top of that story.

[1] Wilkes is a defense contractor linked to Rep. "Duke" Cunningham, who recently pled guilty to taking bribes from defense contractors. Evidently in Cunningham's case, you didn't even need to bother to pretend to deliver something for the exchange of cash.

Posted by Mary at December 10, 2005 12:49 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |
Comments

The MSM does not want attention focused on any defense related work, because the light may shine on the work they are doing for the DOD.

Remember, Tom DeLay says the Republicans are so good because they have squeezed every bit of savings they could out of the government.

Posted by: Greg Hunter at December 11, 2005 07:23 AM

Where's more information on the Wilkes case?

Posted by: Crissa at December 11, 2005 07:36 AM

Okay, nevermind my question, that was just too easy.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/006299.php was very detailed, Wonkette has a whole page on him at http://www.wonkette.com/politics/brent-wilkes/index.php but that's mostly links...

I think the most hilarious link is the #1 hit on Google: http://www.chsd.org/11123.cfm

Posted by: Crissa at December 11, 2005 07:44 AM

Crissa, glad you asked, as I was working on pulling more of this story together for PV.

Posted by: Mary at December 11, 2005 02:07 PM