You might not be feeling the effects of the infamous “sequester” that Congress has inflicted on us, but you will. The ham-handed budget cuts are already drawing blood and the worst is yet to come. Here’s how The Huffington Post described the situation earlier this month:
The grips of sequestration are just now beginning to be felt and the effects are already quite dramatic.
Organizations and companies have begun laying off workers, while many more have decided not to staff vacant positions. Schools on military bases are contemplating four-day weekly schedules. Food pantries have closed, as have centers that provide health services. Farmers have been forced to go without milk production information, causing alarm in the dairy industry and the potential of higher milk prices. Workers at missile-testing fields are facing job losses. Federal courts have closed on Fridays. Public Broadcasting transmitters have been shut down. Even luxury cruises are feeling the pinch, with passengers forced to wait hours before debarking because of delays at Customs and Immigration. Yes, sequestration is creating the possibility of another poop cruise.
We are told this kind of “austerity” is unavoidable because America is broke. And the right-wing politicians who brought us austerity – and are fighting tooth and nail to bring us more of it – blame social programs like food stamps, subsidized school lunches, Social Security and Medicare. I never hear them mention the billions squandered abroad in misguided and often corrupt programs.
In a detailed account this week, The New York Times tells of one such program – the CIA’s funneling of US dollars to Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the past decade. Suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags stuffed with “tens of millions in ghost money” were secretly delivered to Karzai’s office, according to the article.
The CIA’s motive was – of course – secret. But it is logical to assume the organization hoped to gain access to Karzai’s nefarious “inner circle.” The Times charges that “much of the money went to warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade and in some cases the Taliban.”
According to an unnamed US official, “the biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.”
As disheartening as this example of ineptitude and prodigality might be, it pales beside the billions squandered in Iraq in clandestine schemes and phony “rebuilding” contracts. But at least America was at war with Iraq and is still – inexplicably – at war with Afghanistan.
America is not at war with Honduras. Yet millions of US dollars were squandered on covert interference in that country’s politics. Honduras is not alone. The US is knee-deep in Mexico’s “drug war.” And, for at least a century and a half, Uncle Sam has financed coups and even “death squads” throughout Latin America.
You can bet the same kind of thing goes on all over the world. The CIA is a global – and virtually unsupervised – organization. Nobody knows what all those CIA agents are up to, and suspicion that some of them are involved in the drug trade and other illegal activities is widespread.
I do not know what the CIA’s budget is. That’s very hush-hush. But if it were up to me, that’s the first place I would look to find those savings the right wing is so obsessed with.