What happens to DoD money?

Over at TAPPED, Matthew Yglesias notes a recent report by the Congressional Research Service (covered in the Washington Post) analyzing spending for the Iraq war. Apparently it's a slow read until the end:

The report apparently contains such phrases as "These factors, however, are not enough to explain a 50-percent increase of over $20 billion in operating costs" and "These reasons are not sufficient, however, to explain the level of increases." Relatedly, the Post reports that "Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked. It did identify $2.5 billion diverted from other spending authorizations in 2001 and 2002 to prepare for the invasion."

I'm fairly sure you're not allowed to "divert" money from other spending authorizations, and you're certainly not supposed to lose $4 billion in untrackable spending. Nor does it sound entirely appropriate for the Pentagon to be running its operation in such a way that the CRS can't discern the causes of 50 percent spending increases.

Of course, this is par for the course. As embattled DoD chief Donald Rumseld himself admitted, the DoD literally cannot account for trillions in money it has been given. Not millions or billions -- trillions.

But it's the budgets for schools, health care and other social services that get scrutinized, and nickel and dimed.

Who is challenging such obscene DoD bloat? Not much of anybody, at least in Washington. As muckraker I.F. Stone said in the late 1960s, when it comes to military spending, the two parties aren't Democrats vs. Republicans -- there's a Pentagon Party vs. everybody else.

It remains true today. Most members of Congress and the Washington establishment are in the Pentagon Party, and we all suffer the consequences.