Apr 20, 2004

Woodward’s $700 Million

From CQ Today- Defense:

Appropriators Probing Report That Anti-Terror Funds Used for Iraq Invasion

By Andrew Taylor, CQ Staff

Lawmakers scrambled Monday to figure out if the White House adequately informed Congress of its spending decisions following a report that the Pentagon diverted $700 million from the war on terrorism to prepare for an invasion of Iraq.

According to Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post and author of “Plan of Attack,” the administration in July 2002 used funds appropriated to respond to the 2001 terrorist attacks to prepare for military operations in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army General Tommy R. Franks worked out “a deal essentially where Franks can spend any money he needs,” Woodward said Sunday on the CBS show “60 Minutes.” “And so he starts building runways and pipelines and doing all the preparations in Kuwait, specifically to make war possible.” Woodward added: “Congress was totally in the dark on this.”

A Defense Department official gave a different account, saying that while Defense officials prepared a $750 million cost estimate in July 2002, no money specifically dedicated to preparing for war in Iraq was allocated until after Congress passed the law (PL 107-243) in October authorizing the use of force. Instead, only $178 million of that amount was released in August and September, and the official said none was aimed specifically at preparing for war in Iraq. For example, expenditures included fuel and communications improvements, the official said.

A $40 billion supplemental appropriation (PL 107-38) enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks gave the president great flexibility in the use of half of that money.

“The administration and the Pentagon did keep Congress informed of the expenditures,” White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. “The budget office is working with the [Department of Defense] comptroller now to review everything in that context.”

Democrats countered they were unaware of Bush’s moves, described by Woodward as “upgrading airfields, bases, fuel pipelines and munitions storage depots to accommodate a massive U.S. troop deployment.”

“If Mr. Woodward’s book is accurate, it is clear that once again the Administration has declined to cooperate with those who are trying to cooperate with them,” said David R. Obey of Wisconsin, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “The Administration owes Congress a full, detailed and immediate accounting.”

Appropriations aides said the White House had legal authority to spend the money. But whether the administration fulfilled its duty to inform Congress will require additional investigation.

It is not clear from Woodward’s account whether the money to prepare for war in Iraq came from the 2001 supplemental or a $28.9 billion 2002 measure that Bush signed on August 2, 2002, right around the time Woodward says the diversion of funds began. That supplemental (PL 107-206) appropriated $13.4 billion to the Defense Emergency Response Fund, which operated under stricter reporting rules than the previous supplemental.

“Because of the lack of specificity in the Woodward account it is impossible to determine what specific funds he is alleging were spent without Congress’ knowledge,” said House Appropriations Chairman C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. Melanie Alvord, a spokeswoman for Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said the panel is examining the book’s claims. “Senator Stevens was in regular contact with General Franks during that time and was kept apprised of the ever-growing situation,” she added.


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