The Pentagon Audit: Assets Gone Missing

The Pentagon – the U.S. “Defense” Department – was just audited for the fifth time. And they just announced they failed for the fifth time. If that’s not accountability, I don’t know what is!

When I say they “failed” their audit, I don’t mean they put a 9 instead of a 7 on one of the balance sheets, causing two soldiers to get accidentally left in Antarctica freezing their asses off. I mean, they really failed their audit. As The Hill put it, “The Defense Department has failed its fifth-ever audit, unable to account for more than half of its assets, but the—” Hold up. Hold up. Did ya catch that? They can’t account for over half their assets! This is the largest murder machine on the planet – nearly a trillion dollars spent every year – and they don’t know where half their shit is?! How is this not criminal?

If you worked at a shoe store, or a hardware store, or a daycare, and you couldn’t locate half your inventory, you’d be locked up right now! But apparently, if you’re simply responsible for more killing on the planet earth than any other modern organization, no one’s held accountable for anything.

Let’s get back to that quote, “The Defense Department has failed its fifth-ever audit, unable to account for more than half of its assets, but the effort is being viewed as a ‘teachable moment,’ according to its chief financial officer.” A teachable moment? It’s not like they left the gate open and their new puppy ran over to the neighbor’s yard and got all muddy. That’s a teachable moment! The U.S. military can’t account for trillions of dollars worth of killing devices.

But let me back up for a second. Federal law has required mandatory audits of all government agencies since 1990. The Pentagon simply ignored that requirement until 5 years ago. Why did no one in Congress demand they abide by federal law before that? Because it turns out – the Pentagon has all the things that go “bang-bang.” So they pretty much do whatever they want.

But even without that audit, the American people eventually found out that from 1998 to 2015, there were $21 Trillion of unaccounted-for financial adjustments on the Pentagon’s books. Believe it or not, I’m one of the few people who actually covered that story when it broke. (I would link to that video right now, except that YouTube has banned all my old videos around the world. Yay freedom of speech!) There was, however, one story in Forbes in which they asked if the government is hiding $21 Trillion in spending. And there was a great article about it in The Nation magazine. However, apparently the editors at The Nation realized they’d like to keep their legs below the knees so the article has since been wiped from The Nation’s website. Luckily, internet don’t forget so easily. And we found a web archive of Dave Lindorph’s article titled “The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed.”

To put the number 21 trillion into perspective, if you made $100,000 after taxes every year of your 70-year working life, you would have made $7 Million. In order to get $21 trillion, you’d have to live that same life 3 million times – which might not be too bad if your job is masseuse trainee test subject, but it would seem quite long if your job is cattle ranch diseased bull inseminator. (And then after the first million lifetimes, they finally reveal to you that bulls are male – so you haven’t been inseminating. You’ve been… Never mind.)

But the government and some of the mainstream media defended this mysterious $21 trillion by saying, “It’s not what you think. It doesn’t mean anything’s missing. It’s just financial discrepancies.” Yet Forbes, which is no lefty commie pinko rag, would disagree. They say, “…this is not simply a matter of boring accounting. Trillions in unaccounted outlays, if that’s what’s involved here, is trillions of our tax dollars being spent without our knowledge. If that’s the case, we’re talking about the biggest government financial deception in the history of the country. …Why is our government now systematically hiding these adjustments from public sight?”

Ah, you see, when something isn’t horrible, nasty, criminal corruption, you don’t take great pains to hide it, do you? If you’re collecting carrots from your neighbor’s garden in broad daylight, then it’s likely you have permission. If you’re doing it in the dead of night with a ski mask on and your smell cloaked in high-grade wolf piss, then it’s more likely you don’t have permission. (Also it was a dead giveaway that you were giggling and going, “Carrots! Carrots just for me!”)

As The Nation magazine put it (before they were somehow talked into deleting the article):

For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher… DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress – representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions… according to government records and interviews with current and former DoD officials, congressional sources, and independent experts.”

Deliberately cooking the books. Any chance we could make that the military’s slogan going forward? (I mean, “Army of one” has really been played out. Let’s switch to “Deliberately cookin’ the books and killin’ some folks.”)

Of the $21 trillion over 15 years, there was actually one year alone that had $6.5 Trillion unaccounted-for financial adjustments. In one year! If that’s not an enormous fraud, I don’t know what it is. We need to start using the word “fraud!” We can tell it’s fraud because people have tried to cover up the goddamn paper trail. Back to The Nation’s investigation — “Indeed, more than 16,000 records that might reveal either the source or the destination of some of that $6.5 Trillion, had been ‘removed’…” Sure, that sounds not great, but think of it this way — That’s actually only 2,600 missing records per trillion dollars unaccounted for. So that’s not that bad. I mean, you try to make $6.5 trillion disappear without at least a few thousand documents thrown in your fireplace. It’s not easy. Plus, this shows how hardworking our Pentagon is. Fraud of this size takes a real “can do” attitude, burning the candle at both ends, barely seein’ your family, not even callin’ your mistress back. Impressive stuff.

Our military also covers up this gigantic fraud with gibberish and nonsense. For example, because the Pentagon doesn’t want every news outlet quoting them as saying, “We failed our audit for the 5th time,” they use the word “disclaimer” to mean they don’t know what the fuck is going on. So rather than saying, “We couldn’t find out how much money the Navy spent,” they say, “That area had a disclaimer instead of a clean opinion.” See how much nicer that sounds? Here’s an actual quote from the press conference a few weeks ago by the Undersecretary of Defense Michael McCord: “So even if you haven’t yet got to the point where you’ve got — turned a disclaimer into a clean opinion. If you are going faster, that is still progress.”

Let me translate: “If one Pentagon department doesn’t know where the fuck the money’s going, and they haven’t been able to turn that into knowin’ where the fuck the money’s going, some of them are able to more quickly tell us they have no idea where the fuck the money’s going than they used to be. And that is called progress.” No it’s not! It’s not progress! Sucking quicker is not progress unless you’re on a porn set and lunch break is fast approaching.

One report described it this way: “What they found were several new weaknesses in how DOD accounted for its assets, which include nearly 2.9 million military personnel; equipment and weapons including 19,700 aircraft and more than 290 ships; and physical items including buildings, roads and fences on 4,860 sites worldwide.” Again, let me translate: “Weaknesses in how DOD accounts for assets” means they literally don’t know where a lot of this stuff is. And by “this stuff” I mean equipment, weapons, aircraft, ships and yes, even buildings! How do you idiots lose buildings?! 

“Well, sir, it was just here a minute ago. It was about 7 stories high, had windows and doors and the whole thing. …Do you happen to have a copy somewhere you can use instead?”

So, the Pentagon apparently has an $800-Billion Real Estate Problem. The Government Accountability Office euphemized this problem with a report titled, “DOD Needs to Improve Its Efforts to Identify Unutilized and Underutilized Facilities.” But it’s not just that they’re underutilized. The Pentagon has no idea what it owns, and when it does, it doesn’t know if those buildings are being used. Maybe that’s what happens when you have 30 Million acres spanning the globe in a disastrous global empire.

But it gets worse. How could it get worse than not knowing which buildings you own? How about not knowing what years you’re living in. “The Army also provided the GAO access to the Army’s own internal real estate database. Investigators noted that the Army’s database claimed that service officials reviewed facilities in the years 0012, 1776, 2201 and 3013.” Man, that is one advanced Pentagon inspection department. They’re already looking over facilities in the year 3000! Good for them. At least something at the DOD is advanced! Meanwhile, the trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet catches on fire whenever someone turns the seat warmers on.

But despite all of this dumpster fire, the Undersecretary of Defense sounded downright chipper in his briefing. For example, he noted that “Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia has offered DOD personnel ‘a very teachable moment for us on the audit,’ as it allows them to picture the critical nature of precise tracking of weapons and equipment in the event of a conflict.” Oh, so he’s saying sending weapons to the proxy war in Ukraine — trying to keep that war going as long as possible even as thousands of Ukrainians die — is a teachable moment because the DOD auditors can see in real-time where the weapons end up. Interesting.

Only one problem — they totally can’t. Even the mainstream media reported on it — before they were told to stop reporting on it. In August, CBS did an investigation on “Why military aid in Ukraine may not always get to the front lines.” According to the article, some responsible for delivering aid in Ukraine “…estimated that just ‘30-40%’ of the supplies coming across the border reached its final destination.” That’s right, even CBS and CNN reported that up to 70% of U.S. weaponry is not actually getting to the front lines.

After being pressured by the U.S. government, CBS and CNN have changed their reporting. But similarly, a Ukrainian veteran told The Grayzone, “The weapons are stolen, the humanitarian aid is stolen, and we have no idea where the billions sent to this country have gone.” A lot of the weaponry is simply being sold on the black market. (But there’s also the possibility that much of the U.S.-made arms were sent to the year 3000 — so the re-re-reanimated corpse of President Joe Biden can send it to the proxy war we’ll be fighting then in the Helix Nebula against an alien creature that looks a lot like a flying jellyfish but enjoys eating humans way more than our current jellyfish.)

So, let’s sum this horror show up — as The Nation magazine said, “…the Pentagon’s accounting fraud amounts to theft on a grand scale—theft not only from America’s taxpayers, but also from the nation’s well-being and its future.” And that is why the Pentagon just flunked their fifth-ever audit. They will never have a legit audit. Because if they did, the American people would realize we’ve been saluting and celebrating and glorifying the largest money-laundering operation in the history of humanity. Killing thousands of innocent people is almost an afterthought to our ruling elite. That’s just what they do when they’re bored. Their real love, their true passion, is theft and fraud.

Lee Camp is the host and head writer of the comedy news TV show “Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp.” This is a chapter from Camp’s new book “Bullet Points & Punch Lines,” which features an intro by Jimmy Dore and a foreword by Chris Hedges. Grab a copy at