The Wandering Anti-Terrorist Funds

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner,

Eating a Christmas pie.

He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum

And said "What a good boy am I."
- Nursery Rhyme

of the purposes of anti-terrorism funds is to fight terrorism. There
is, of course, a lot of money available for that purpose, and sometimes
it is so tempting to use it for purposes other than those prescribed by
Congress, that the temptation cannot be resisted. That's what two
reports in July suggested happened with at least some of the funds.
Since the diverted funds were less than $300M they would not have been
enough to make a difference in the fight against terrorism.

of the diverted funds went to help out George Bush's great good friend,
Pervez Musharraf who, when the money was diverted, was still the
president of Pakistan. Although many terrorist groups are hiding out on
the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan thus making the border a
logical destination for those funds, they did not head for the border.
They headed for an airport. Mr. Bush decided that $230 million should
not be used in the border fight between Pakistani forces and the Taliban and al-Qaida, as dictated by Congress, but should be used to pay for, among other things upgrading Pakistan's F-16 airplanes' radar systems.
(A cynical observer might wonder whether the upgrades of the radar will
permit the planes to identify NATO aircraft, a feature that was not
allowed on the planes when originally sold to Pakistan.)

Congress is upset
with the diversion of funds. So is India. Congress is upset because
when it says funds are designated for anti-terrorism efforts it expects
them to be spent for anti-terrorism efforts. India is unhappy because
one of the more obvious uses for the F-16s is to fight India should war
erupt between those two countries. Mr. Bush called Manmohan Singh, the
Indian prime minister, to let him know of the diversion of the
anti-terrorist funds. Mr. Singh was reportedly, "disappointed."

other diverted anti-terrorist force funds found a use that has even
less to do with fighting terrorism than the use to which Mr. Bush put
his dollars. The Air Force diverted funds for the sake of comfort.

Washington Post reports that Air Force officials have been using
anti-terrorism funds to develop and install something initially called
a "Senior Leader Intransit Comfort Capsule." (The name was later
changed to call the capsules "conference" capsules rather than "comfort
capsules". One officer suggested that may have been done to avoid the
possibility that the word "comfort" would cause those loading the
capsules to confuse the capsules with the pallets of latrines that are
often loaded on military planes. It would for obvious reasons, be
disastrous if upon boarding the plane a high ranking officer found
himself seated in a latrine for a ride half way around the world
instead of the luxury capsule he had been led to believe would be his.)

The Air Force says that the new capsules are needed
so that important officers can "talk, work and rest comfortably in the
air." The folks who are actually going to go into combat do not need
such comfort while flying since it would simply remind them that, as
soon as they got off the plane and went into combat, there would be no
comfort capsules to protect them.

The Air Force has been
meticulous in its specifications for the capsules. The capsules must be
"aesthetically pleasing and furnished to reflect the rank of the senior
leaders using the capsule. " One of the ways this goal was achieved was
by spending $68,240 to change the seat color and pockets in the capsule
because the officers responsible for deciding on the colors concluded
that the colors originally supplied were not as practical as the colors
ultimately installed. The entire project is estimated to cost $7.6
million and the funds have come from funds that would otherwise have
been used in the anti-terrorism effort.

General Robert
McMahon who is overseeing the project explained that he wanted to
"create an environment that whoever was riding in that would be proud
of", the government would be proud of and "the people of the United
States would be proud of." He has certainly got that right. I can't
imagine anything that would make me prouder than knowing that
high-ranking officers were flying in ultimate luxury. Unless it was
knowing that funds were diverted from the anti-terrorism effort to give
returning troops the best possible medical care. There's no sense
spending time imagining that. It won't happen on George Bush's watch.

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