In a mind-boggling example of how the government blows—or perhaps steals—our tax dollars, billions vanished from the U.S. State Department mostly while Hillary Clinton ran it, according to a new alert issued by the agency’s inspector general.
Could the former Secretary of State be using the cash to fund an upcoming presidential campaign? In all, $6 billion are missing and it’s highly unlikely any of the money will ever be recovered. The cash was supposed to be used to pay contractors but it just disappeared and documents that could help track the dough cannot be located. How convenient! The paper trail, which federal law says must be maintained in the case of government contracts, has been destroyed or was never created to begin with.
How could this possibly happen? Like a lot of government agencies, outside contracts are a free-for-all at the State Department with virtually no oversight. Hundreds of millions of dollars are doled out annually for a variety of services and no one bothers to follow up on the deals. This “exposes the department to significant financial risk,” according to the State Department Inspector General, which issued a special management alert this month outlining the lost $6 billion. The watchdog further writes that “it creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file.”
Among the examples listed in the memo is a recent investigation of the closeout process for contracts involving the U.S. mission in Iraq. Investigators could not locate 33 of the 115 contract files totaling approximately $2.1 billion. Even of the files they found, more than half contained insufficient documents required by federal law. In one billion-dollar deal involving the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Afghanistan, the actual contract was determined to be “incomplete.”
In one alarming case a contract file conveniently omitted that a $52 million deal was awarded to a company owned by the spouse of another State Department contractor employee performing as a specialist. In other cited cases a contracting officer actually falsified government technical review information in a $100 million deal and a contracting officer’s representative allowed nearly $800,000 to be paid on a deal with no official documents to support the payment. It’s the free-flow of public funds under extremely suspicious circumstances.
At the very least the State Department is violating its own policy, according to the inspector general, which divulges that it’s found “repeated examples of poor contract file administration over the years.” The watchdog confirms that “it is the Department’s policy that all contracts, regardless of dollar value, be properly documented so as to provide complete record of: pre-solicitation activities; the solicitation, evaluation, and award process; and [sic] the administration of the contract through closeout.”
This unbelievable report documenting the mysterious disappearance of $6 billion from the coffers of a major government agency brings to mind a similar and equally enraging story reported by Judicial Watch a few years ago. The Pentagon somehow lost $6.6 billion sent to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction.”
The money was bundled in chunks of $100 bills and transported in turboprop military cargo planes known as C-130 Hercules. About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq. More than half the money has never been recovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
A year later nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army vanished. We will never know what happened because the Pentagon improperly shredded records that could have solved the mystery, according to a federal audit that exposed the fraud. The oil was part of a $1 billion fuel program largely funded by the U.S. government, which of course, means it was mostly Americans who saw their tax dollars blown in yet another government corruption scheme.
Waste and fraud are par for the course in most bloated government agencies and JW has exposed a number of alarming examples over the years, both domestically and internationally. They involve practically all agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) scandal-plagued food-stamp program, Medicare and Medicaid, the famously corrupt U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and President Obama’s fraud-infested $787 billion stimulus boondoggle, to name a few.
The State Department has long known that weak security at American embassies and consulates worldwide could result in a tragedy like Benghazi but warnings have been ignored and a former Clinton administration official runs the division behind the scandal.
Alarming details are laid out in a scathing new report put together by an independent panel of security and intelligence experts investigating the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the first diplomat to be killed overseas in decades, and three other Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists.
The report has not yet been released to the public but Al Jazeera America obtained a copy and it reveals government negligence that’s downright shocking. It shows that senior officials have stood by while some of the United States’ most dangerous diplomatic posts have for years been vulnerable to attacks like the one that occurred in Benghazi. The State Department has known about security problems but has failed to correct them, according to the panel’s findings.
In fact, Benghazi was simply the latest in a long string of security failures that date back more than a decade. From 1998 to 2012, there were more than 270 “significant attacks” against US diplomatic facilities and personnel, according to State Department data cited in the report. Bottom line, according to Al Jazeera’s analysis: “U.S. embassies and other missions have been under siege for decades.”
It’s only going to get worse, according to the security and intelligence experts that conducted the Benghazi investigation. They write that attacks on State Department facilities and diplomatic personnel overseas are likely to continue because “terrorists have proven to be determined over time and readily adapt to the environment to advance their causes.”
The State Department division responsible for the security lapses is headed by Patrick F. Kennedy, a career diplomat who served as Bill Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State from 1993 to 2001. In late 2007 Kennedy was named undersecretary for management at the State Department, which means he ranks quite high at the agency. The security experts blast Kennedy’s office in their report and suggest “as a matter of urgency” to establish a new undersecretary to address security.
Incredibly, investigators found that the State Department’s security structure has a serious lack of accountability and no review process to learn from previous security failures. Furthermore, diplomatic security training is inadequate, with no designated facility available to train agents to work at high-risk diplomatic posts. Even low-risk diplomatic posts are vulnerable, the panel found. It appears, however, that there were plenty of warnings in Benghazi.
Judicial Watch has been a leader in exposing the truth about Benghazi, filing a dozen public-records requests with various federal agencies. Just a few weeks ago JW obtained the first photos from the State Department depicting the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Libya. JW has also published a special report featuring an in-depth analysis of Benghazi conducted by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier.
The report examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials. It also looks at the Obama administration’s official claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18 Accountability Review Board report on the attack.
Hillary Clinton confidant Huma Abedin is making headlines lately for standing by her disgraced husband through a sexting scandal, but she’s also embroiled in her own controversy and months ago Judicial Watch launched an independent investigation with the State Department.
It involves Abedin raking in lucrative “consulting fees” while also working as a top Clinton aide at the State Department. The deadline for the State Department to provide the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has expired and Judicial Watch is preparing lawsuit since it’s unlikely the agency will provide the files without litigation. In correspondence dated June 5, 2013 the State Department acknowledged receiving JW’s FOIA request and the agency claims it’s processing it and has assigned it a case control number.
But, like most government agencies, the State Department is laying the groundwork to avoid providing the information. “Unusual circumstances (including the number and location of Department components involved in responding to your request, the volume of requested records, etc.) may arise that would require additional time to process your request,” the agency writes in its letter to JW.
Yesterday a U.S. Senator, who requested information about Abedin’s questionable arrangement weeks after JW filed its FOIA, revealed that the State Department has also blown him off. “So far, the State Department and Ms. Abedin haven’t provided a single document that I requested,” according to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who, like JW wants answers about the “Special Government Employee” status that allowed Abedin to make money as a private consultant while Uncle Sam paid her salary. “Putting up a stone wall raises a lot more questions about how the program is being used than it answers,” Grassley said.
The veteran lawmaker provides the laughable response that he received this month from the State Department regarding Abedin’s cushy little arrangement in her final months at the agency. It says that Abedin voluntarily ended her full-time employment at the State Department on June 3, 2012 and was retained as a “senior adviser/expert, for which she was compensated at and hourly rate” and designated as a “Special Government Employee (SGE).”
Senator Grassley also received a letter from Abedin, dated July 5, 2013, further explaining her deal. Abedin claims that she wanted to live in New York after the birth of her son in December 2013, so she became a consultant/SGE through the remaining six months of Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. She pats herself on the back for “voluntarily” disclosing six-figure income that she and her beloved hubby earned as “a result of consulting work.”
Details of Abedin’s arrangement are important for a variety of reasons. Among them is that one of the private clients she consulted while still at the State Department is Teneo Holdings, a firm run by a close Clinton pal. Senator Grassley believes Teneo may have been paying Abedin to gather information from government sources to help clients with investment decisions. This raises questions about whether her dual role was adequately disclosed to government officials, Grassley points out in his June letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Islamic terrorists had to murder a U.S. diplomat and three members of his staff in Libya for the Obama administration to finally acknowledge that it must dedicate adequate funding to secure American consulates abroad.
The State Department’s 2014 budget includes a much-needed $4 billion allocation for security programs, including security staff, construction and infrastructure upgrades. The money will allow a 5% increase in diplomatic security staff and upgrades at “critical locations that face heightened threats in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2012,” according to the funding highlights released by the White House.
Security lapses quickly became an issue when, on the 11th anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, heavily armed Islamist militia members ambushed our diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Christopher Stevens became the first U.S. Ambassador to be murdered in the line of duty since1988.Three other Americans working at the U.S. mission were also killed in the hours-long attack.
The Obama administration immediately came up with a ridiculous cover-up story, telling the American people that the deadly attack was provoked by a homemade anti-Islam internet video that supposedly sparked riots around the Arab world. The reality is that repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi were shunned by top officials in the Obama State Department, which at the time was run by none other than Hillary Clinton.
A Judicial Watch investigation on Benghazi conducted by a former State Department security specialist reveals that internal problems within the agency for years have left overseas diplomats without adequate security. Here’s the report. As part of an ongoing Benghazi probe, JW has also sued the State Department for records involving a $400,000 contract with a foreign firm that provided security guards and patrol services at the U.S. compound in Benghazi prior to the attack.
The State Department’s own investigation, conducted by a specially created Benghazi Accountability Review Board, concluded that “systematic failures” left the U.S. mission inadequately protected. The board also identified “leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus.” It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this before the administration decided to fund adequate protection for our foreign ambassadors while they represent their government in the world’s most dangerous regions.
Also of interesting note in the State Department’s new budget request is $580 million for a “Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Incentive Fund” to advance long-term political, economic and trade reforms in the region post “Arab Spring.” The money is the administration’s response to “continuing challenges to stability in the Middle East and North Africa.”
The Obama administration’s plan to honor an “Egyptian activist” at a State Department ceremony to celebrate International Women’s Day has been postponed since foreign media outlets exposed the honoree as an anti-American, anti-Semite who actually celebrated the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
How embarrassing for the administration that, up until a few hours ago, it was set to bestow a special award upon Egyptian “democracy activist” Samira Ibrahim for all her work on behalf of women’s rights. First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were going to present Ibrahim with the International Women of Courage award at a State Department ceremony this afternoon.
The event will go on and “9 extraordinary women” will still be commended, according to a State Department announcement, but Ibrahim was abruptly removed from the original list of 10. The annual International Women of Courage Award is supposed to recognize “women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.” Since its inception the U.S. has honored 66 women from 44 different countries.
It’s baffling that Ibrahim made the list in the first place, considering her history. Even her country’s English-language news website questioned the nomination earlier this week, pointing out that it was expected to fuel controversy after some foreign media outlets dug up some of Ibrahim’s anti-Semitic and anti-US statements. Also published in Arabic, the Egyptian news site offers some of the outrageous comments Ibrahim has posted on her social media sites.
On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a mob attacked the American embassy in Cairo and murdered the U.S. ambassador, Ibrahim posted this on her Twitter account: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May [we] every year see the US burning.” On July 18, 2012, after five Israeli tourists were murdered by a Hezbollah suicide bomber, Ibrahim tweeted: “An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is such a lovely day with a lot of lovely news.”
In separate August 2012 posts, Ibrahim described Saudi Arabia’s ruling family as “dirtier than the Jews” and she seemed to compliment Adolf Hitler: “I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler.”
With that said, why on earth would the United States even consider honoring this woman? Why didn’t someone in the Obama Administration—an intern or part-time aide, even—vet Ibrahim? Here is what a State Department spokeswoman told reporters this week as the agency scrambled to minimize the damage: “We, as a department, became aware very late in the process about Samira Ibrahim’s alleged public comments.”
The Obama administration is covertly recruiting Muslims to work at the State Department as Foreign Service officers representing the United States in one of 265 American embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide.
It appears to be part of the administration’s Muslim outreach effort, which includes a variety of controversial moves. Among them Homeland Security meetings with extremist Islamic organizations, sending an America-bashing mosque leader (Feisal Abdul Rauf) who blames U.S. foreign policy for the 9/11 attacks on a Middle Eastern outreach mission and revamping the way federal agents are trained to combat terrorism by eliminating all materials that shed a negative light on Muslims. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even signed a special order to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties long banned them from the U.S.
Now comes news of a secretive State Department campaign, discovered in the course of a Judicial Watch investigation, to add Muslims to its roster. Presumably, the new recruits will be deployed around the globe to help the agency fulfill its mission of promoting the country’s international relations. The campaign seems to be headed by Mark Ward, the Deputy Special Coordinator in the State Department’s Office of Middle East Transition.
Ward held a 90-minute seminar at a recent convention sponsored by two groups—Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)—with known ties to radical Islam. Both nonprofits are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is known as the parent organization of Hamas and al Qaeda. In fact, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that MAS was founded as the U.S. chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood which strives to indoctrinate the world with Islamic Sharia law.
Yet there was a U.S. State Department official, side by side at a radical Islamic powwow in Chicago with a number of speakers who advocate violent jihad. Among them was Kifah Mustapha, a fundraiser at terrorist organization (Holy Land Foundation) convicted of funneling millions to Hamas and Jamal Badawi, a MAS founder who praised the jihad of Gaza terrorists during a speech titled “Understanding Jihad and Martyrdom.”
The conference that Ward conducted focused on career opportunities for Muslim youth. Here is how the event was billed: “Besides being a citizenship duty, there are benefits that Muslims can add to the American Muslim community and the global Muslim world by joining the US Foreign Services. This session will shed light on the different career opportunities for Muslim youth in the US Foreign Services Department. It will also clear any concerns that many people have feared about pursuing in this career.”
Joining Ward at the podium in the recruitment seminar were Ayman Hammous and Oussama Jammal. Hammous is the Executive Director of the New York chapter of MAS and Jammal is the president of the Mosque Foundation, a conservative mosque in Bridgeview, Illinois that gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Holy Land Foundation and other Islamic charities accused of financing terrorism.
A U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Libya because the State Department skimped on security yet the agency has enough cash to blow millions in one year on “pressing cultural preservation needs” in foreign countries.
News of the controversial allocation could not come at a worse time, on the heels of the brutal assassination of an American ambassador and his staff by al-Qaeda terrorists in Benghazi. It marked the first time in three and a half decades that a foreign ambassador got murdered abroad while representing the U.S. government.
The State Department deploys foreign diplomats and is responsible for their safety. In Libya the agency cut corners by hiring an unknown and inexperienced British firm rather than the larger, more reputable companies that are customarily used in overseas danger zones infested with hostile, anti-American Islamists. As a result, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on the mission are dead.
While the State Department saved money on security in Libya, it somehow managed to find $5.6 million in 2011 to support “pressing cultural preservation needs” in dozens of foreign countries. Here are some of the dire projects funded by U.S. tax dollars that perhaps could be better spent on securing U.S. embassies in hostile Arab countries.
Uncle Sam doled out $750,000 to restore a 16th-century tomb complex in India, $700,000 to conserve ruins in Tanzania, $600,000 for the “temple of the winged lions” in Jordan and $450,000 for the conservation of a 10th century temple in Cambodia. Those were just the big ticket projects. Hundreds of thousands more went to smaller causes throughout the world.
For instance, the restoration of a 16th century convent in Guatemala got $119,052 and an aqueduct in Mexico received $115,000 and the following three projects each got $100,000 from the State Department; a program to document endangered musical traditions in Mali, the restoration of a railroad station in Paraguay and a 19th-century log house museum in Russia. Here is the list of all the allocations for 2011.
This is all part of the administration’s international diplomacy efforts, a cornerstone of the Obama presidency. Just last month the State Department launched a first-of-its-kind Diplomatic Culinary Partnership to “elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts.” A new American Chef Corps has been created because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claims that “culinary engagement” can “further intercultural dialogue and strengthen bilateral relationship.”
In an example of diplomacy gone amok, the Obama Administration has launched a first-of-its-kind Diplomatic Culinary Partnership at the U.S. State Department, the executive agency responsible for the nation’s international relations.
The new State Department initiative “will elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts,” according to an agency announcement. This is taking international diplomacy efforts, a cornerstone of the Obama presidency, where they have never gone before; the kitchen.
In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged this week that food isn’t traditionally thought of as a diplomatic tool, though she pointed out that “sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can.” Then Clinton said that “culinary engagement” can “further intercultural dialogue and strengthen bilateral relationship.”
That’s why her agency created this innovative new tool. Chefs from across the country will be selected to participate in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the U.S. To accomplish this mission the State Department has created a new American Chef Corps that will compile a roster of cooks who will contribute their time and unique talents, not to mention their culturally diverse dishes.
This may seem like a bit much, even for a president who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Who could forget when Obama proudly presented the United Nations with his new international diplomacy model for the 21st century?
Then again, the president and his wife also seem to be obsessed with food. In 2010 Obama named the family’s personal Chicago cook, Sam Kass, “Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives.” That means Kass, an expert in healthy cuisine, is the White House food czar. First Lady Michelle Obama refers to Kass as a “partner in crime.”
The president has also spent record amounts of taxpayer dollars to eradicate “food insecure households” by promoting food stamps and getting a record number of people—46 million and growing—to depend on them. The commander-in-chief also signed his wife’s $4.5 billion signature law to control the American diet under the auspice of ending childhood hunger in low-income neighborhoods.