Deadly Earmarks | Citizens Against Government Waste

Deadly Earmarks

The WasteWatcher

Earmarks can be deadly, according to Air Force Reserve Maj. Eric Egland.  Egland, a counter-terrorism operative, military intelligence officer and Iraq War veteran, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Times on July 2 asserting that national security earmarks are being abused, with disastrous consequences.

Egland was asked by generals in the Pentagon and Iraq to investigate the effectiveness of the Counter-IED Targeting Program, or CITP.  CITP was a much-needed tool to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which were taking a toll on U.S. armed forces in Iraq, but the program was failing.

According to Egland, “Congress used earmarks to ensure the lucrative, expedited, no-bid contract went straight to inexperienced contractors who, as federal prosecutors have shown, enriched the same elected officials with millions in bribes and hundreds of thousands in ‘legal’ political contributions.”

Through his investigation, England discovered that:

If CITP had been implemented through the normal merit-based wartime contracting process, our troops would have had what they needed. Instead, the IED networks run by al Qaeda in Iraq and Sunni insurgents, relatively free from being effectively targeted, increased their attacks several fold from 2004 to 2006. More U.S. casualties and deaths resulted, not to mention a dramatic decline in public support for the mission.

CITP was a classified program, making transparency and accountability for its earmarks nigh impossible.  Unfortunately this was not an isolated case.  Egland said agencies do not vet the companies that receive earmarks and do not oversee the money that goes to them, allowing these abuses to continue.

Egland proposed three modest reforms for classified or sensitive national-security projects:

  • Congress should not earmark classified or sensitive projects to specific companies, as those decisions should be left to the defense and intelligence communities;
  • Campaign contributions from contractor employees who are bidding on these projects must be publicized; and
  • Authorization for classified earmarks should be reviewed by “at least two cleared members from each political party on the appropriate intelligence or armed-services committee.”

Citizens Against Government Waste has been warning about the consequences of earmarks for decades and now Egland has proven just how dangerous they can really be.

Alexa Moutevelis