What Your Tax Dollars Are Paying For

More of what we’re paying for…

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan , pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since , Pentagon and congressional officials said .…

In making cost estimates for the supplemental budget request, Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from the Bush administration’s public optimism about trends in Iraq. Instead, they make the fairly pessimistic assumption that about as many troops will be needed there as are currently on the ground.…

Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus estimated that in inflation-adjusted terms, World War Ⅰ cost just under $200 billion for the United States. The Vietnam War cost about $500 billion , Nordhaus said. The cost of the Iraq war could reach nearly half that number by .

Anyone remember Abu Ghraib?

The devastating scandal of Abu Ghraib wasn’t a failure of implementation, as [National Security Adviser Condoleezza] Rice and other administration defenders have admitted. It was a direct — and predictable — consequence of a policy, hatched at the highest levels of the administration, by senior White House officials and lawyers, in the weeks and months after . Yet the administration has largely managed to escape responsibility for those decisions; a month from election day, almost no one in the press or the political class is talking about what is, without question, the worst scandal to emerge from President Bush’s in office.

Defenders of the administration have argued, of course, that there is no “smoking gun” — no chain of orders leading directly from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Pfc. Lynndie England and her co-conspirators. But that reasoning — now largely accepted within the Beltway — betrays a deliberate indifference to how large organizations such as the military actually work. In any war, civilian leaders set strategic aims, and it falls to commanders and planners at successively lower levels of command to refine that guidance into executable orders which can be handed down to subordinates. That process works whether the policy in question is a good one or a bad one. President Bush didn’t order the “thunder run” into Baghdad; he ordered Tommy Franks to win the war and the Third Infantry Division’s leaders figured out how to make it happen. Likewise, no order was given to shove light sticks into the rectums of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Nevertheless, the road to the abuses began with flawed administration policies that exalted expediency and necessity over the rule of law, eviscerated the military’s institutional constraints on the treatment of prisoners, commenced combat with insufficient planning, preparation and troop strength, and thereby set the conditions for the abuses that would later take place.

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