Oh where, oh where has the American air base gone? Oh where or where can it be? With its 6,000 phantom troops and 32 million missing dollars, oh where, oh where can it be?
Madam Speaker, let me explain. Corruption has struck again, and just like times in the past, it's at the taxpayers' expense.
Government investigators recently uncovered the newest scam in contracting. This time it's a phantom air base in Iraq, purchased by the U.S. taxpayers at the tune of $32 million.
Madam Speaker, here it is, or here it's supposed to be. This is a photograph of the location in Iraq where the air base is, or where it was supposed to be built. But you can see that there is nothing to see because it was never built.
Last month the Inspector General at the Defense Department released a report about money spent to help train and equip Iraqi military and police forces. The contracting project in question was awarded to Ellis Environmental Group, a U.S. company based out of Florida, in 2006. The U.S. Air Force paid the company $32 million for this project, this air base in Iraq. The construction contract would have involved the creation of barracks and offices for 6,000 Iraqi troops in Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province.
But the project had to be abandoned before anything was ever built when the Iraqi Defense Ministry failed to obtain this desert land for the base.
So what happened to the $32 million the Air Force doled out to Ellis Environmental? The alarming answer is no one knows. And the company won't say.
An Air Force spokesman says the contractor set up a camp for construction workers and began design work for the headquarters before the project was halted. But nothing was ever built. All we know now is that none of the $32 million the U.S. paid out to these contractors was returned to U.S. taxpayers. The Air Force is set to begin an audit of the project, but no one knows how long that's going to take.
The Inspector General report documents more abuses. And USA Today Matt Keller, reporter, said the findings show "the military didn't keep adequate records of equipment for the Iraqis ranging from generators and garage trucks to thousands of guns and grenade launchers. Separately, the United States has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that weapons it bought for the Iraqi soldiers ended up in the hands of insurgent and terrorist groups."
Madam Speaker, this ought not to be.
In the meantime, Ellis Environmental Group has changed its name.
If a crime has been committed, these outlaws responsible need to be held accountable. Madam Speaker, war profiteers that make money off of war by building "phantom" military bases like this one should be prosecuted. This type of conduct fits the definition of war crimes. Maybe we should build a real prison for war criminals out in this desert in the sands of Iraq to house thieves that steal American money.
So, Madam Speaker, oh where, oh where has the American base gone? Oh where, oh where can it be? With its 6,000 phantom troops and 32 million missing dollars, it's where, oh where no one can see.
And that's just the way it is.
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