OCTOBER 15, 2009
Billions of dollars designated to buy essential supplies for U.S. troops in the Middle East will instead finance controversial projects like an institute to honor a scandalous late senator who let his mistress drown in a car he recklessly drove off a bridge.
Indeed, $20 million in crucial defense money will be used to launch the Edward Kennedy Institute in Massachusetts. The money will come from a Pentagon account that largely pays for training, fuel and ammunition for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a news report published this week.
The shoddy Kennedy Institute deal is simply one of 778 such earmarks inserted by U.S. Senators in a defense spending bill loaded with questionable pet projects. In all, $2.6 billion were diverted to fund the deals that will largely benefit the financial supporters of the lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, who recently passed the $636 billion measure.
Twenty million dollars will go to a Hawaiian space system operated by a company that’s a major donor of the senator (Democrat Daniel Inouye) who requested the earmark and $25 million will go to a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans. President Obama supported the pork-infested legislation even though he repeatedly vowed to battle the special interests that have severely inflated military spending in the past. Remember his laughable “If Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork I will veto it” promise?
Popular as the late Kennedy remains among his party’s leaders, it’s tough to justify defense dollars for a so-called civic educational center in his name. Hawaii’s Inouye and veteran Massachusetts Senator John Kerry inserted the earmark for the Kennedy project, which they claim will showcase the “senator’s ability to make a difference.”
Kennedy certainly made a huge difference in Mary Jo Kopechne’s family. The 28-year-old Democratic campaign worker drowned in the back seat of Kennedy’s sinking car after he drove it off a bridge and into a pond in Chappaquiddick, east of Martha’s Vineyard. The two had been drinking at a party and Kennedy had an expired license so he fled the scene, escaping the tragic accident unscathed, and let his mistress drown. Incredibly, his political career subsequently flourished.
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