Couple this news with fraud associated with programs like Medicare and the billions that disappear from foreign aid in Iraq and Afghanistan, and taxpayers must ask: “What the #%*& is going on?”
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. is under fire from Congress for permitting a “botched” gun tracking program run by the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agency. One of the guns was used to murder Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010, and more than 2,000 of the guns are still unaccounted for. Many have been linked to crimes in Mexico, where thousands have been killed in drug wars between Mexican drug cartels. Congress is so enraged by the ineptitude of the ATF and the stonewalling of the Dept. of Justice that by a voice vote it cut the salaries of DOJ officials by $1 million as a wakeup call.
In April, three Transportation Security Administration screeners at Los Angeles International Airport were arrested for taking bribes up to $2,400 from smugglers and allowing quantities of cocaine and other drugs to pass through X-ray machines. Over a six-month period last year, five incidents were uncovered. In another case, a TSA officer was arrested for taking $500 bribes on four occasions last year at the Palm Beach, Florida, airport from a smuggler of highly addictive painkiller prescription pills. In yet another case, a former New York police officer pleaded guilty in February to accepting payments to allow proceeds from the trafficking of prescription pills to pass through the Westchester County Airport.
In a report last month, the inspector general of the General Services Administration recommended a criminal probe into the $823,000 spent by the GSA on a regional conference in Las Vegas, as well as possible fraudulent travel expenses and kickbacks dating back to 2007. The report produced outrage on Capitol Hill, and the GSA’s top official, Martha Johnson, was subsequently ousted. This matter is doubly troublesome since the GSA is charged with procurement for the government to the tune of $66 billion annually and the management of more than $500 billion in federal buildings and property.
On May 8, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, said: “To date little has been done to ensure that tax refunds are directly deposited only into the taxpayer’s account.” He cited the case of $6.7 million in refunds for more than 300 taxpayers going into only 10 bank accounts. Part of the problem concerns the IRS program of refunds to prepaid debit cards. Identity thieves use stolen Social Security numbers to request multiple refunds and then use the debit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs and to purchase merchandise. Thus, billions of dollars are collected by gangsters nationwide.
Proceeding from the sublime to the ridiculous, a Colombian prostitute blew the whistle on a Secret Service agent who offered her $30 to settle an $800 tab. She has gone on Colombian TV to state that she could have stolen anything from the agents — including passwords and the president’s schedule.
Apologists for the agents say it was nothing but an “isolated incident” and nothing illegal happened since prostitution is legal in Colombia. They miss the point. Prostitutes are often used to compromise government officials, who can then be blackmailed. After Cartajena, the image of the Secret Service has been sullied. As singer/actress Bette Midler tweeted recently: “I preferred the good old days when the Secret Service was serviced secretly!”