For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars
Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.
Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.
And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”
College students who cheated on a simple task were more likely to want government jobs, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania found in a study of hundreds of students in Bangalore, India.
Their results, recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggest that one of the contributing forces behind government corruption could be who gets into government work in the first place.
For instance, “if people have the view that jobs in government are corrupt, people who are honest might not want to get into that system,” said Rema Hanna, an associate professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. To combat that problem, governments may need to find new ways to screen people seeking jobs, she said.
“The bottom line is we’re not broke, there’s plenty of money, it’s just the government doesn’t have it,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), “The government has a right, the government and the people of the United States have a right to run the programs of the United States. Health, welfare, housing – all these things.”
Back in 1999, it was asserted that backdoors had been built into Windows:
A careless mistake by Microsoft programmers has revealed that special access codes prepared by the US National Security Agency have been secretly built into Windows. The NSA access system is built into every version of the Windows operating system now in use, except early releases of Windows 95 (and its predecessors). The discovery comes close on the heels of the revelations earlier this year that another US software giant, Lotus, had built an NSA “help information” trapdoor into its Notes system, and that security functions on other software systems had been deliberately crippled.
More recently, there has been concern about Skype, bought by Microsoft in May 2011. In 2012, there were discussions about whether Microsoft had changed Skype’s architecture in order to make snooping easier (the company even had a patent on the idea.) The recent leaks seems to confirm that those fears were well founded
Britain’s spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).
The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
One key innovation has been GCHQ’s ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.
…The minimization procedures say that the NSA has to destroy the communication it receives once it’s determined as domestic unless they can demonstrate a few facts about it. As part of this, the rules note:
In the context of a cryptanalytic effort, maintenance of technical data basesrequires retention of all communications that are enciphered or reasonably believed to contain secret meaning, and sufficient duration may consist of any period of time during which encrypted material is subject to, or of use in, cryptanalysis.
In other words, if your messages are encrypted, the NSA is keeping them until they can decrypt them. And, furthermore, as we noted earlier, the basic default is that if the NSA isn’t sure about anything, it can keep your data. And, if it discovers anything at all remotely potentially criminal about your data, it can keep it, even if it didn’t collect it for that purpose
“The President has put in place an organization with the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life,” Representative Maxine Waters told Roland Martin on Monday. “That’s going to be very, very powerful,” Waters said. “That database will have information about everything on every individual on ways that it’s never been done before and whoever runs for President on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They’re going to go down with that database and the concerns of those people because they can’t get around it. And he’s [President Obama] been very smart. It’s very powerful what he’s leaving in place.”
“I grew up in a socialist country and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement. The nation became poorer and poorer and that is what I see happening here. As a young boy I was fantasizing about one day going to America, making a success of myself – the American dream. America’s wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with badmouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us to take care of the needy. Yes, in socialism in the rich will be poorer – but the poor will also be poorer. People lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs. I think this is a very slippery slope. It seems like people don’t learn from the past. That is why I am voting Republican and putting this ad on television.
I am Thomas Peterffy and I am responsible for the content of this advertisement.”
I completely agree with the above. I immigrated in the USA 12 years ago. I came here legally to make my dreams reality as many other people did before me, caring a suitcase and 2000 dollars borrowed from friends and my parents . When I speak with immigrants they are just as stunned as I am, to see what is America becoming. We left a socialist utopias and for what? To see that someone here is promoting what our dear leaders back home couldn’t achieve in 45 years… free healthcare, free education, free this, free that, a month vacation for a year’s work, 3 years off if you give birth, guaranteed work, guaranteed salary, everyone is equal, so equal that the janitor had (almost) the same salary as the teacher……. at the end it all collapsed. Utopian societies are just that – utopias.