Tuesday, May 10th, 2005 was an auspicious day for American taxpayers as the Senate unanimously passed a $82-billion "emergency" spending bill for the continuing "war on terror," following passage of the bill by the House of Representatives last week and President Bush praised Congress for its bipartisan support of the measure and said he was looking forward to signing it.
The $76 billion that is going to the Pentagon will supply armour for soldiers and combat vehicles, ammunition, missiles and other war materials will only carry combat operations through Sept. 30 per the Pentagon, and it has not said how much additional funds will be needed beyond that date.
Some of the funds will be used to increase death benefits for families of soldiers killed in combat.
$592 million is allocated to build a new embassy in Iraq, which will be the largest US compound in the world according to current plans.
This brings the costs of the war on terrorism up to the $300 Billion mark. As every American citizen is footing this bill, I think you should ask if you are getting your money's worth. Are you safer?
For $300 Billion dollars, Afghanistan ,by 2002,had regained it's pre-eminence as the world's leading supplier of opium. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, opium production in Afghanistan in 2003 amounted to about 3,600 tons, three-quarters of world production. Per a October 6, 2004 article in the Washington Post, "28 of the country's 32 provinces are apparently producing opium, and employing more than 1.7 million people at this work."
According to the Oct. 4, 2004, LA Times, "U.S., U.N. and Afghan officials believe that opium smuggling is a source of funding for Taliban insurgents, Al Qaeda terrorists and criminal gangs operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and that trafficking and use are rising in Iraq while under Saddam Hussein's rule Iraq is believed to have been relatively drug-free." It is also worth noting that under Taliban rule, opium cultivation was severely repressed, although they now appear to have no scruples about using drug funds to support their causes.
For $300 Billion dollars, the insurgency in Iraq continues to claim more lives; on Tuesday, May 10, 2005, two car bombs exploded in central Baghdad, killed eight people and wounded 26, including three policemen. On May 11, 2005, according to a BBC news alert, "A suicide car bomb explodes near an Iraqi police station in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, killing at least 24 and wounding many more." For the week ending May 6, 2005, the week's death toll due to insurgency attacks was nearly 300 (Fri, May. 06, 2005, Macon,GA. Telegraph). According to Iraq Body Count, a minimum of 21,523 Iraqi citizens have been killed since this war began.
For $300 Billion, plus the costs of Homeland Security, which is requesting $34.1 Billion in 2006 and to which the House bill is appropriating them $31.8 billion,the United States remains without secure borders as thousands of illegal immigrants of numerous nationalities pour unchecked over the southern border weekly.
A May 8, 2005 New York Times article entitled "U.S. to Spend Billions More to Alter Security Systems" states that "After spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation's ports, borders, airports, mail and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the antiterrorism equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable or too expensive to operate."
On May 10th,2005, for an additional $1 Billion, a new federal program goes into effect to help hospitals cover the cost of treating illegal immigrants while the Census Bureau reports that 45 million Americans lack health insurance.
According to the US Debt clock, "the US Federal (OUR) debt is $7,756,161,640,819.58 as of May 11,2005 and with the estimated population of the United States at 296,073,694 persons, that makes each citizen's share of this debt $26,196.73. The National Debt has continued to increase an average of$1.69 billion per day since September 30, 2004!" The US Debt Clock further states that "Seven generations from now we will all be owned by the banks and be impoverished if this continues." (it may be of interest to know that the primary holder of the US's IOU's is China.) And Bush's primary concern continues to be Social Security? America has a much more present and pressing issue with the National debt and it's implications- Let no American forget that Bush entered his presidency with a budget surplus!
Add up the figures,the costs and the debt, the unknown costs of maintaining prisons for alleged terrorist suspects, who are to be held indefinitely, the costs of incentives (as increased aid) paid to Coalition members to support the war, then add in the "1,785 coalition troop deaths in Iraq, the 220 coalition deaths in Afghanistan, the medical costs of the 12,243 U.S. troops who have been wounded in action according to the Pentagon (the Pentagon does not report the number of non-hostile wounded)" (per CNN), the deaths of contractors and journalists, plus the Iraqi civilian deaths, injuries, the destruction of a society and a country's infrastructure, and a growing insurgency toll now averaging 70 attacks per day in Iraq and ask, "With all these costs, am I safer now?"
President Bush says this is a new, on-going and indefinate war. But it is one that the US people realistically cannot indefinately fund. Maybe the President, Congress and Halliburton should be required to give uncompensated services to lessen the taxpayers' load - just in the same way the government requires hospitals to give uncompensated care?
Mocksville, North Carolina