Whistle Blowing and Pentagon Fat

Whistle Blowing and Pentagon Fat

The nation’s military might is never more impressive than when the Pentagon is battling against those who criticize its efforts to rid the defense budget of waste, fraud, and inefficiency. Though the budget is widely conceded to be riddled with fat, the Pentagon has always succeeded in defusing the issue by attacking the bearer of bad news, not the news itself.

Defense employees bent on blowing the whistle on abuses run up against stone walls of superiors, are intimidated, transferred, or even fired. Those who persist often find a Congress, and most newspapers, with little stomach for working through mazes of bureaucracy and highly technical weapons-system data to support the struggle of one lone voice, while a highly organized Defense Department public-affairs mill issues reams of rebuttal grist under the rubric of “national security.” Thus a limited amount of news gets out and less is done about it. Yet rising defense expenditures have brought a corresponding increase in the amount of money being thrown away. As a result, now the sound of whistles is more frequently heard above the Pentagon din. But to what end?

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