The Building For No One: The Defense Department Set To Demolish Huge Facility That Was Unused And Unneeded

money_1As the federal and state governments continue to shutdown or curtail core educational, environmental, and scientific programs due to lack of money, the disclosures of unspeakable waste continue to mount in Afghanistan and Iraq with no appearance of accountability or abatement. Indeed, for years, the media has reported billions of lost or wasted funds, including money disappearing into the corrupt government circles of leaders in the countries. Yet, Congress would prefer to debate Planned Parenthood or global warming grants. Consider the latest outrage. The U.S. military spent $34 million to build a huge headquarters for the Marines in Afghanistan with a theater, special operations rooms and other amenities. The problem that various people including the Marine commander were saying that it was not needed and would not be used. Now it is likely to be demolished, unused and unoccupied. There was the bridge to nowhere and now we have the building for no one.

The building is larger than a football field and has state-of-the-art air conditioning and equipment. As usual, contractors made a mint on the building and people in the military made sure that its lack of need or likely use would not stop the money flowing to willing hands.

John F. Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, wrote about the building in a recent letter. The 64,000-square-foot facility in Camp Leatherneck has everyone, as usual, pointing fingers in every direction with the result that no one will be punished. Sopko wrote “The building will probably be demolished.”

The building continued despite a letter sent by the top commander at the base that the building would not be used and should not be built. Contract officers simply ignored the letter and kept the money and construction going.

Of course, the building is the perfect metaphor for our recent wars — throwing billions at operations and programs that showed little evidence of long-term impact. No one wanted to take responsibility to pull out of the wars so we just kept spending hundreds of billions and killing or wounding thousands of our personnel. The importance was the appearance that we remain firm and victorious like an empty building in the middle of the desert.

Yet the war was a tremendous success for contractors who have made these billions.

Source: Washington Post

49 thoughts on “The Building For No One: The Defense Department Set To Demolish Huge Facility That Was Unused And Unneeded

  1. contract officers work for the federal government.

    This was probably one of those “the money is allocated and we will lose it if we dont spend it.”

    They ought to change that and offer some small compensation to people who actually dont spend all of the allocated funds.

    Once the war is over we should be able to cut government spending by a hefty amount. But we wont and more money will be wasted on more stupid crap.

  2. So much about our present military and surveillance expenditures are more about maintaining Cold War subsidies to industry than anything else. Even the general mood of paranoia is the same.

    With empty bases like this, China’s ghost cities come to mind. They keep building empty cities to boost their GDP stats:

    For all the Cold War duck-and-cover drills, the only radioactivity Americans were ever exposed to came from our own government’s atmospheric testing. And now we have a War on Terror with a surveillance apparatus built atop financially compensated, complicit commercial telecommunications carriers, that seems to mostly just target Americans…

  3. The bigger the government, the bigger the waste of OUR money. It occurs in all branches of government. The military has always been the worst, but don’t kid yourself into thinking other branches are much better. It systemic, pernicious, and growing every day.

  4. “contract officers work for the federal government.

    This was probably one of those “the money is allocated and we will lose it if we dont spend it.””

    Yes, they work for the Federal Government, but they are controlled by politicians and political appointees. As we all know, very little oversight was allowed for expenditure in the War on Terror. And by ‘oversight’, I mean supervision by civil servants who don’t and can’t accept payment or donations from contractors.

    As we also know, more and more civil servants have been replaced by contractors. In the DoD there have been reports of contractors being put in charge of contracting. An investigation (none will be held, naturally) into this scandal may reveal that no civil servant was involved at all.

  5. @bron

    I usually vote “no confidence” by voting for Mickey Mouse.

    It’s really unfortunate how unwilling others are to change their voting behavior, even in such a modest way.

    Clearly, the two-party system isn’t working. Nobody is willing to change their voting behavior because they’re afraid of giving “the other side” an advantage. If “polarization” is a problem in American politics, buckling down and voting for more polarization is unlikely to help.

    If our elections are settled by such close margins — margins so slight they are within the statistical margin of error — they might as well be settled by chance, meaning, voting doesn’t reflect voter preference anyway.

  6. Said “contract officers” and the contractors involved should be having their finances gone over with a fine tooth comb.

  7. Indigo:

    I am voting for Robert Sarvis for governor here in Virginia. He is the libertarian candidate and looks like he has the intellectual capacity to do it. Law degree, masters in economics and a math degree. This is a smart man.

    “He has earned degrees in mathematics from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, a J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law, and a Master’s in economics from George Mason University. He has a diverse professional background, with experience as an entrepreneur and small-business owner, a software engineer and mobile-app developer, a math teacher, and a lawyer.”

  8. Bron, Way to go! You know the mantra, “You’re wasting your vote.” My suggested response should be a substantive, but I would suggest, “Go shit in your hat!”

  9. @bron, nick

    If voting for third-party candidates is wasting your vote because they don’t win, it follows that anybody who votes for a losing candidate wastes their vote. That’s half of voters every season!

    That logic also doesn’t take into account the fact that a third-party candidacy can raise important issues that major party candidates won’t touch.

  10. This is a frequent event. The military states the building/aircraft/system is not needed or wanted and the powers to be arrange for it to be made anyway.

    I am beginning to believe this is more of a war of attrition, and the gov’t’s enemy is the savings of the American Public.

  11. Darren,

    Your comment made me think of something else: strategic tunnelvision.

    I wonder how much of the “spend ’em if you got ’em” mentality from the military/intelligence sector is rooted in the idea that any opponent can be “spent into submission” like the Soviets during the Cold War? While Ronnie Raygun gets a lot of (undeserved) credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, the truth of the matter is that was a victory by happenstance. The Soviets had plenty of resources (still do in the “Formers”) but their economy simply wasn’t robust enough to allow for the kind of gratuitous spending we engaged in and had engaged in for many many years prior to the Reagan administration. I suspect the Soviets knew they were in trouble when we beat them to the Moon. That they collapsed under Reagan’s watch was simply good political fortune for him. It could have just as easily happened on Carter’s watch or on some subsequent President’s watch.

    Unfortunately, the “new enemy” isn’t driven by the economic constraints of operating within a state bound framework. They don’t have to worry about balancing priorities in trying to create a stable and viable economy like job creation and the like. They are decentralized and fund themselves by illegal operations and donations from wealthy like-minded ideologues. That very flexibility makes the radicalists harder to fight with not only traditional military tactics but with economic tactics as well.

    Just a thought.

  12. Gene:

    I agree with what you are writing. And I would go a step further and say the comparative advantage in economic weaponry actually is presently with the terrorists.

    If you look at the cost of creating a terrorist act within the United States it is low. But the reaction by the US gov’t will be millions to one spent in addressing the action or in attempt to prevent it from happening again. When the US is already in a precarious position with regard to its debt, market forces might cause more damage to the gov’t’s ability to continue the status quo more than the terrorist ever could have.

    The tunnel vision is an accurate description. Old habits that worked well under certain conditions in the past often guide planning for today even when the situation is not the same.

  13. “Yet the war was a tremendous success for contractors who have made these billions.”

    Isn’t that the purpose of (pseudo) “war” . We haven’t had a true war since WW II. I am pretty sure the Constitution is clear on this point. Congress declares ware, the President prosecutes said war. I guess the quote above is the reason Congress would rather sit on their laurels and collect kickbacks in “campaign contributions”, rather tan debate real issues.

    Sickening, and among the reason my to Senators will never get my vote again.

  14. Here we go again:

    Another Catastrophic Success

    With their tails tucked proudly ‘tween their legs
    Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
    Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
    No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2011

  15. nick/Indigo:

    I have wasted my vote so many times in the past when my candidate won. This candidate may lose but I wont be wasting my vote.

  16. The destruction of the white elephant facility will happen for public relations reasons. If the US government simply abandoned the building, the impoverished Afghans — like the Iraqis — would have it looted and stripped of anything valuable by sunrise the next day. Then someone would take a picture of the skeletal remains and this image would possibly make it back to the US where a few citizens might notice and complain. This would not make the US government — especially President Body-Count (or Peeping Tom) — happy. So, the additional costs of demolishing the place instead of just leaving it do have their bureaucratic rationale.

  17. LBJ said that “waste is the biggest problem in government”.

    The MAIN reason for payoffs to corrupt foreign officials to ensure that U.S.
    CORPORATE interests in those countries is protected.

    And whoever said the U.S put a man on the moon obviously is ignorant of
    the evidence that the Apollo Moon landings never happened. Sorry to have
    to burst your illusion, but it was all an outragiously expensive propaganda hoax. Probably the largest corporate welfare scheme in modern history.


  18. “When someone asked [President Lyndon Johnson] why he had not involved the public more in the question of Vietnam, he was told: ‘If you have a mother-in-law with only one eye and she has it in the center of her forehead, you don’t keep her in the living room.'” — David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest

    Speaking of more US government cyclops white elephants:

    Albino Pachyderms (lines 1051-1120)
    (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

    White elephants sit in the living room
    Like Johnson’s Cyclops mother of a wife,
    Inhibiting the conversation’s bloom

    Suggesting by their presence sordid strife:
    Returns upon investments others made,
    Supported troops supported out of life

    Supporting politicians in the shade
    Who can’t support enough to get their fill.
    Upon the treasury they make a raid

    To profit from supporting those who kill.
    With such support the troops deploy once more,
    Their stop-loss orders telling them they will:

    A back-door draft supporting troops galore,
    Their Raven contracts honored “Nevermore.”

    Supporters of the troops roll in the dough,
    Their carpetbagging no-bid contracts huge.
    It’s not the “what” but rather “whom “they know;

    Their lobby toilet swirl a centrifuge
    That separates no quo from any quid.
    They figure after them comes the deluge,

    So better get it now and get it hid;
    A last-chance grab at all the graft that spurts
    From under troop-supporting’s toilet lid.

    They chant their Mammon mantra till it hurts
    To grease the skids for their corrupt cohort.
    Out from their flapping lips their lying blurts:

    “Support! support! support! support! support!”
    For sport, for sport, for sport, for sport, for sport.

    A “higher” father George the Worst consults,
    Like Jesus putting Joseph in his place:
    A put-down of his dad that got results,

    Like Mama causin’ Joe to lose his face
    By fornicatin’ with a larger dude
    Who knocked her up and left Joe in disgrace,

    The butt of village jokes both lame and rude.
    A scarlet Hebrew letter marks his shame;
    A cuckold branded for ineptitude

    Whose ingrate stepson chooses to defame
    The carpenter whose work earned him release
    From doing business in the earthly game.

    Like Zeus seducing peasant girls in Greece,
    Old Yahweh came on down and got a piece.

    Thus satisfied in his own mind, George plays
    With legendary myths about his birth.
    His limited attention span betrays

    No grasp of any knowledge of the earth.
    But with the Big Spook coaching him at night
    He feels no consciousness of any dearth.

    So anything, he figures, adds up right
    As long as “up in heaven” Daddy grins
    And says to disregard the nation’s plight;

    For nothing that George does can count as sins
    To those who never think a dumb thing odd.
    For all the lies and bullshit that he spins

    They genuflect and kowtow to a fraud
    Who swears that late at night he talks to GAWD.

    White elephants mean waste on scales so vast
    That few can comprehend the sunken cost
    Or summon any samples from the past

    To illustrate just how much we have lost.
    But like the busted gambler who can’t quit,
    Dame Clinton hopes the sun will melt the frost.

    And so into the wringer goes her tit,
    While Betty Boops and pampered poops cavort;
    Like flies about an open wound, they flit.

    In pain, the faces of our troops contort
    While she supports King George’s contract firms.
    Such rank ingratitude at their “support”!

    They only hope to finish out their terms,
    These asinine albino pachyderms.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010

  19. Emperical Data points: It takes great sophistication to bid and receive a government contract. If you get it from the start, do the steps and survive a couple of bid protest awards, you learn the game played. If you have big nads, you do an international project and survive, but all the while watching for the mistake that is invariably made on the part of the government so that you can get the change order you might need. Eventually, there is not a lot of competition, or you are so entrenched it doesn’t matter. I would love the to see the bidding record for the contract, and I bet it is largely available and would tell an interesting story, including who the subcontractors were. The contractors involved are a small group, and if pressed I could guess 3 of the top 10. So could others.

  20. “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.
    The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”- James Madison

  21. “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.” James Madison


    Linchpin for Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, isn’t likely to work, experts say

    WASHINGTON — In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

    The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

  23. Ike, on his last day. Military Industrial Complex. Watch out for it. No one heeded him. Now we are the Roman Empire and the Emperor himself is broke and has no clothes. Millions for defense, and not one cent tribute!

    Yeah. I say no money for defense and none for tribute. Especially to those Pirate Territories.

  24. Bill McWilliams,
    Yes I mean it. We cannot prevent terrorism by spending billions in conventional warfare and the loss of civil liberties in order to win the so called War on Terrorism is not worth what gains have been made. You cannot defeat a movement by killing kingpins and civilians. Time to leave Afghanistan and stop all payments of money to Karzai and his cronies and see how long he lasts. We need to stop wasting billions to hold up puppet governments that are not making us any safer.
    You don’t really think that the moon landings never happened, do you?

  25. Bill McWilliams/ George Mason and others:

    Just a reminder, we are watching you:

  26. The underlying phenomenon of such conduct by “government officials” was meticulously elaborated in the publications of C. Northcote Parkinson, starting with his, “Parkinson’s Law: And Other Studies in Administration,” Houghton Mifflin, 1957. Professor Parkinson was then Raffles Professor of History at the University of Malaya.

    Professor Parkinson described the mechanism of why work expands to consume all the time available for doing it, and why expenditures always increase so as to consume all available income.

    Professor Parkinson continued writing books on the historicity of the foibles of being human in a world society that is as though profoundly anti-human.

    While those phenomena have been rigorously studied and understood for more than half a century, no person who is in a position to do anything to change time and income allocations is in a position to do anything about them.

    Those phenomena may be given names such as,”double bind” or” Catch 22.”

  27. bill mcwilliams you beat me to it again. but you left out the fact that the elites have been living on mars for many years now. no one paid attention to neither the first nor the remake of “total recall” one thing they love to do is make a movie, or a book about whats really going on. especially if something is leaked out about it….

    its called mind control because some people once they see it in a movie swear to high heaven that could never happen in real life not realizing they are watching exactly that.. it amazes me that enemy of the state was a high grossing movie. and yet when the leaks about the nsa came out. they still yelled and hollered. same thing with deja vu and other movies like genre.. the military and corporation are at the least 40 yrs ahead of the people technology wise… we only receive the toys once they are finished with them. and that is only to keep us distracted from the truth of things like the above referenced article this is also in line with a article posted here a few months back. about the corporation demanding to build tanks for the army they have been told time and again are not wanted nor needed.. but the corporation is going to build them anyway

  28. It’s happening at home, too. My hometown is building a 350-slot, three-level parking ramp with an overwalk for pedestrians (complete with stairs and elevators) at a train station to replace a 150-space parking lot that is never more than half-full, which has sidewalk access to the platform on the other side. It’s gotta be a waste of multiple millions.

  29. […] bags of money to Karzai, buy Russian aircraft that Afghans can’t fly or maintain, or build huge buildings to be then torn down unused. Of course, no one is ever fired for constructing massive buildings that no one wants only to tear […]

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