Commentary from Jim Hightower

Spy Agency Loses Billions

Sunday, February 2, 1992   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Do you stash a little cash in various spots of your home -- a twenty in your tool chest or maybe a C-note in the bottom of your clothes hamper? "Rainy Day" money. But then the day comes when you need it . . . and you can't remember where you hid it! If this is you, you'll sympathize with our government's "National Reconnaisance Office." The NRO is an extra-superduper-secretive agency that manufactures expensive spy satellites for the CIA, the Navy, the IRS, the Republican National Committee, Arnold Schwarzenegger and God knows who else. It is also responsible for keeping track of all these satellites, spy missions and other important stuff. So, imagine the NRO's embarrassment to discover that it had lost track of more than TWO BILLION DOLLARS that Congress had previously appropriated to it. Now, two billion dollars is bigger than a bread basket, so it's not easy to just -- poof! -- lose it. But it's that "Rainy Day" thing -- NRO's top dogs stashed a million here, a hundred million there . . . and next thing you know, no one can remember where it is! A Senate staffer for the committee that supposedly oversees the NRO confesses that Congress doesn't really know what the NRO does with the $6 Billion a year it gets of our money. Just last year, for example, the congressional "oversight" committee was shocked to learn that the NRO had built a $300-million headquarters building for itself in the Washington suburbs. Now that's some oversight! If these splurging spooks can build a $300-million headquarters and simply "lose" $2 billion more through the bureaucratic cracks. . . don't you think they have too much of our money? I m Jim Hightower and that s my take.

A Secret Agency's Secret Budgets Yield 'Lost' Billions, Officials Say" by Tim Weiner. The New York Times, Jan. 30, 1996.

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