Illegal & Secret Pentagon Actions

WASHINGTON -- Pentagon officials denied that they deliberately violated the law by spending hundreds of millions of dollars without authorization.

A report by the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee says the DOD defied congressional instructions and violated subcommittee regulations, possibly even the Constitution. The Constitution allows only the spending of authorized funds.

But sub-committee Chair Jerry Lewis charged in a report accompanying the military appropriations bill that Pentagon officials started one secret project without any congressional knowledge at all. In that case, National Public Radio said, "officials" even refused to describe the program, citing cold war rules that still give the military and the CIA freedom to spend billions without public debate.

When asked about the case, White House spokesman Ken Bacon claimed the Pentagon "forgot" to inform Congress and then apologized.

In another case, one of the dozens of controversial multi-billion-dollar Star Wars weapons under development was canceled by Congress. The Pentagon knew this missile system should be dead, the report says, then illegally diverted $2 million from another program and even awarded a contract for the program to Lockeed-Martin.

No criminal charges were mentioned.

--Steve Inskeep, NPR's All Things Considered, July 22, 1999.