Annals of Outrage

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In 2004 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Inspector Generals (IG) in various departments of the federal government issued reports revealing fraud, mismanagement and corruption. Here is my list of the Bush Administration's Ten Most Outrageous Scandals thus far uncovered by government investigators:

1. Halliburton's Corruption. Nine different reports compiled by the GAO, the Coalition Provisional Authority's IG and the Defense Contract Audit Agency faulted Halliburton's performance in Iraq, where it has been awarded more than $10 billion in US contracts. The government investigators cited, among other things, significant cost overruns, the overcharging of the Defense Department (and taxpayers) by $61 million, illegal kickbacks, failure to police subcontractors' billing and unauthorized expenses at the Kuwait Hilton Hotel. The list of abuses will likely get longer in 2005, as multiple criminal investigations into Halliburton's work pick up steam.

2. Iraq's Decline. In June 2004 the GAO provided a bleak assessment of Iraq after fourteen months of US military occupation, documenting that in critical areas like security, electricity and the judicial system Iraq is worse off now than it was before the war.

3. Abu Ghraib Prison Torture. In late August Maj. Gen. George Fay released an official Army report charging that US military personnel committed torture and that civilian contractors and military intelligence interrogators played a greater role in abusing prisoners than previously thought. The Fay report blamed "a lack of discipline on the part of leaders and soldiers" and a "failure or lack of leadership" by senior military commanders in Iraq.

4. The CIA's Pre-9/11 Intelligence Failures. Early this month the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that the CIA's IG will soon release a report criticizing the CIA's senior leadership for failing to "direct more resources to counterterrorism and inadequately analyz[ing] the threat from Al Qaeda" before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For the first time, a government report will hold senior CIA officials accountable, singling out George Tenet and at least eleven others for "not liv[ing] up to the standards of professional conduct required of them," says the Post.

5. HHS's Deceptive Ad Campaign. In May the GAO concluded that the Health and Human Services Department conducted a secret propaganda campaign that illegally spent taxpayer money to produce and distribute videos touting the Administration's Medicare prescription drug law. And this January, the GAO said that the Office of National Drug Control Policy ads warning of the dangers of drug abuse (aired just before last year's Super Bowl) were a form of "covert propaganda" because they promoted their policies without identifying their origin. …