Rumsfeld's $9 billion slush fund.

Military analysis.
Oct. 10 2003 5:42 PM

Rumsfeld's $9 Billion Slush Fund

Rummy's rainy day fund
Rummy's rainy day fund

For all the debate over President Bush's $87 billion supplemental request for military operations and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, no one seems to have noticed that the sum includes a slush fund of at least $9.3 billion, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld can spend pretty much as he pleases.

Last week, the congressional armed services committees—and this week the House Appropriations Committee—marked up the supplemental, excising a few hundred million that Bush had requested for new hospitals, housing, and sanitation. But the committees didn't touch a nickel of the slush fund—and there's a cravenly wink-and-nudge reason why they didn't.

Most of the supplemental request is fairly straightforward: $32 billion to maintain the tempo of military operations, $18 billion for military personnel, $5.1 billion for security and a new Iraqi army, $5.7 billion for electrical power, and so forth.

But deep within, the document proposes the following allowance:

Not less than $1.4 billion, to remain available until expended, may be used, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for payments to reimburse Pakistan, Jordan, and other key cooperating nations, for logistics, military and other support provided, or to be provided, to United States military operations.

Advertisement

First, look closely at those first three words: Not less than. In other words, Rumsfeld could transfer more than $1.4 billion for this purpose—how much more, who can say? The section goes on to say that Rumsfeld must notify the appropriate congressional committees whenever he uses any of this money, and that the payments must be made with the concurrence of the secretary of state. But otherwise, the bill emphasizes that he alone determines how to spend this money "and such determination is final and conclusive."

Another section, subtitled the "Iraq Freedom Fund," states that the secretary of defense can transfer $1,988,600,000 from one part of the overall $87 billion supplemental to any other part, again, as long as he notifies the committees when he does this. (As with the previous allowance, the committees appear to have no power to disapprove these transfers.)

Still another section reads:

Upon his determination that such action is necessary in the national interest, the Secretary of Defense may transfer between appropriations up to $5 billion of the funds made available in this title.

Again, he "shall notify the Congress promptly of each transfer."

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Learns That Breaking Up a Country Is Hard to Do

Are You Attending the People’s Climate March? Nine Reasons You Should.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 1:38 PM The Gaffe Police Are Back to Make Politics Glib and Boring
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.