Biden Admin Fights to Remove Ukraine Spending Oversight from Defense Bill

The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The proposed annual defense bill has all sorts of controversial nuggets in it, from requiring the Pentagon to cease paying for transgender medical care for soldiers to the expulsion of all diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives throughout the DOD. But the one morsel that has caught my attention has largely been ignored by the media.

The House bill provides funding for an independent Inspector General (IG) for aid sent to Ukraine. In other words, basic oversight of what happens to the money.

In and of itself, this shouldn’t make front-page news; what is interesting is the White House’s vehement opposition to the provision.

Earlier this week, the White House demanded that the language for the independent IG be removed from the bill. The question that requires answering is; Why?

What it is

On Monday, the White House said they oppose a Special Inspector General for Ukraine aid. With allocations for it in the House’s proposed bill, this position was modeled after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

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The argument from the Biden administration is that it is a redundant and thus unnecessary position, stating that the Pentagon Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are:

“…currently undertaking multiple investigations regarding every aspect of this assistance – from assessing the department’s processes for developing security assistance requirements to evaluating the end-use monitoring processes for delivered assistance – at the request of the Congress.”

On the flip side, the language in the draft bill says that the Special Inspector General would:

“…ensure that the funding sent to Ukraine for military, economy, and humanitarian aid receives independent and objective oversight and audits.”

Uncle Joe and the military establishment want you to trust that they are inspecting themselves appropriately; no need to verify that everything is on the up and up with an independent entity. After all, you can trust them…right?

Current report card

The truth is, even the Pentagon knows they aren’t doing a good job when it comes to accounting for aid to Ukraine. Last month the Pentagon found that they had “mistakenly” inflated the costs of equipment sent to Ukraine to the tune of $6.2 billion. 

Like usual, the spin was that this massive “accounting error” was a good thing because now we have that much more in equipment we can ship off to Eastern Europe to protect a border that isn’t ours. But wait, that hasn’t been going too well either.

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Last month the Department of Defense IG found that equipment transferred to Ukraine in Poland was not handled within proper procedures by military personnel.

The report stated that US soldiers:

“…did not fully implement their standard operating procedures to account for defense items and could not confirm the quantities of defense items received against the quantity of items shipped.”

All of that is a fancy way of saying our Pentagon has no concept of how much of we gave to Ukraine or even what we gave to Ukraine, but don’t worry, they are sure that none of these unaccounted-for items are on the black market. This same alarm rang earlier in a since-mysteriously retracted CBS News report that alleged only 30% of weapons sent to Ukraine had made it to the front lines.

It gets worse

If you thought the news surrounding equipment in Ukraine couldn’t get any worse, think again. The DOD IG, who reported on the slapdash equipment accounting in Poland, also discovered that equipment transferred from a US pre-positioned stockpile in Kuwait to Ukraine needed significant repairs and was downright dangerous for personnel to operate.

In that report, the DOD IG wrote:

“We identified issues that resulted in unanticipated maintenance, repairs, and extended lead times to ensure the readiness of the military equipment selected to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the civilian defense contractor responsible for the maintenance of the equipment hadn’t had the proper oversight from the US Army in over 19 months. To show you how bad this is, the pre-positioned stock locations we have scattered throughout the globe are meant to always be in pristine condition.

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The purpose of this equipment is to be mobilized and used at a moment’s notice in the event of an emergency, requiring the equipment to be at the highest level of reportable readiness. Now take in the fact that this equipment isn’t pre-staged for other countries to use but for our own troops to utilize. 

As the DOD IG accurately and chillingly explains:

“…if US forces needed this equipment, they would have encountered the same challenges.”

And all signs point to US forces needing said equipment.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant

In response to why a Special Inspector General is necessary, House Armed Services Committee vice chairman Representative Rob Wittman said:

“…we owe Americans peace of mind that their hardworking taxpayer dollars are being used in an efficient manner that prioritizes American interests.”

While it remains to be seen what exactly our interest is in funding and equipping this war between Russia and Ukraine, I agree with the congressman that Americans deserve to know the truth behind what their money is paying for. Suppose everything our government is doing is on the level. In that case, there should be no heartburn having an independent entity oversee and report on the aid provided.

The only reason there would be is if there is something to hide. The question is what the Biden administration and the defense lobbyists who are undoubtedly behind this recent request to remove the independent IG from the defense bill are trying to hide.

Are they trying to hide something nefarious, or are they trying to hide general incompetence? It’s a toss-up on which would be worse.

But with the Biden White House approving the delivery of cluster bombs banned in over 100 countries to Ukraine, known for sending small ball-bearing projectiles ripping indiscriminately through any bodies in their radius, one has to wonder who the good guys are in this fight. But don’t worry, I’m sure the Pentagon knows where each of those cluster bombs went, and I have no doubt Ukraine will keep their pinky promise to only use them against the enemy…whoever that might be.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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