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Think Again: Having the courage to speak out

November 17, 2010|By Zanku Armenian

Looking for violations of ethics and integrity in government always yields interesting results. Our federal government points fingers at developing countries for their crude corruption thousands of miles away. But they are slow to recognize the more sophisticated fraud in our country where the financial stakes are much higher. We often don't call it corruption because the actors wear expensive suits.

In Iraq, billions of tax dollars have flowed in for reconstruction, in pallet after pallet of $100 bills. The U.S. special inspector general for Iraq was asked to account for it but hasn't been able to track down more than $50 billion with reports of senior U.S. officials involved in large-scale corruption.

Billions more are going to "Beltway Bandit" subcontractors, many in no-bid contracts. Research the consulting firm Tetra Tech DPK and you'll find they were hired to implement "rule of law" programs in Afghanistan. Ironically, their consultants have been staying in a five-star hotel in Kabul for five months at $400 per night teaching Afghans how to fly kites, literally.

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Thankfully, one consultant blew the whistle on the scam and how 92% of their $35-million contract was paying for nothing more than six-figure salaries and expenses.

These wars are sucking taxpayer dollars into the abyss while millions of people at home have lost their jobs, our infrastructure is crumbling, and schools are laying teachers off.

Back home, billions were stolen from our middle class by the robber barons of Wall Street in sophisticated schemes to defraud investors. Goldman Sachs and other banks manipulated the mortgage system and, after having robbed us out of home and retirement savings, we bailed them out. They held a gun to our heads warning that if the financial system collapsed, we'd lose all of our savings.

Then there is the city of Bell scheme. This involves former Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams, who thus far has avoided the colorful prison jumpsuits that Bell City Council members are wearing. They're investigating his situation, but many may have known what he was doing, including in Glendale. But nobody said anything to avoid disturbing the status quo, and this has cost Glendale taxpayers.

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