Missing Trillions

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Search online and you'll find many lists of supposedly suspicious "coincidences" relating to 9/11, and one common item amongst these is the story of what Donald Rumsfeld said on September 10th.

The significance, it's suggested, is that this timing was far too "convenient", as it allowed the news to be buried the following day:

And in fact others go further, pointing to the fact that "accountants, bookkeepers and budget analysts" were killed in the Pentagon attack, and suggesting this, along with the destruction of information, was a possible motive for the attack.

Summarising, then, the argument appears to run something like this.

Huge sums of defence budget money have gone missing.

Simply admitting this was not an option.

However, those pulling off the 9/11 "inside job" decided that if they crashed into just the right spot of the Pentagon, then they could kill many of those who might uncover the problem or tell the public about it, and perhaps also destroy vital documentary evidence.

What's more, it gave the opportunity for Rumsfeld to inform the public on September 10th, and have his bombshell ignored courtesy of the attacks on the very next day.

Makes sense? To some, apparently, based on the sites and forum posts we've seen, but if you take a closer look at the information they've left out then a very different picture emerges.

The first problem with some reports on this issue comes in how they describe the money. In extreme cases it's treated almost as though it's been "stolen", while other sites ambiguously say it's "missing". 911Research above are more accurate in saying it could not be accounted for, or tracked. Here's where Rumsfeld spoke about this on 9/10, with a little more context (our emphasis):

It's not that the money is "missing", then, at least according to Rumsfeld, more that incompatible and aging financial systems don't allow it to be tracked throughout the system. A DoD news document from April 2002 spelled this out even more clearly:

A 2003 Insight article also reports on the problem:

Such massive accounting problems are obviously a huge issue, but then Rumsfeld isn't trying to hide that, or other Defence Department problems -- he was broadcasting them, saying that change was essential.

And of course why shouldn't Rumsfeld admit this? How is it going to damage him, or Bush? After all, the above stories reference 1999 and 2000, therefore the problem was presumably ongoing throughout the Clinton administration. This continued into 2001 (CooperativeResearch point out that "auditors won’t even quantify how much money is missing from fiscal year 2001, causing “some [to] fear it’s worse” than 2000"), but this still looks to us like an issue for the department, more than the Government, and we really don't see why 9/11 would be required to hide it.

And there's another important point you're not being told. The language used in these claims, that Rumsfeld made an "admission" to or "announced" the missing $2.3 trllion on 9/10, along with the claim that the story disappeared as a result of the attacks, is designed to make you think that this information was only made public knowledge on September 10th. And that is utterly false. The report that uncovered the trillions appeared at the end of February 2000, before Bush had even been elected, and Rumsfeld and others had spoken about this before, on more than one occasion, and for months before the attacks:

As there were multiple reports of this issue prior to the attacks, then, it's hard to see any significance to Rumsfeld mentioning it again on 9/10. The news wasn’t concealed by what happened the next day, in any event: it was already firmly in the public domain.

We still have the supposed motive of "destroying information" and "killing personnel" with the Pentagon attack, though. As we were told above, "the impact area included both the Navy operations center and the office complex of the National Guard and Army Reserve. It was also the end of the fiscal year and important budget information was in the damaged area." CooperativeResearch report on the consequences of this:

What did the lack of "a stand-alone financial statement for 2001" mean? No need to guess, the military have already told us.

This, then, is the "benefit" of the Pentagon attack: Army financial statements for 2001 were only provided in an overall Department of Defence document, not stand-alone, and therefore they could not be audited. No reported impact on the $2.3 trillion, nothing more at all. We don't even know for sure if this information was released later, because the document only talks about a loss of personnel, not data: if so, the most effect (on the budget issue) the attacks had was to partially delay the production of one particular document from one part of the Department of Defence.

The conclusion of the above report is interesting, too. It raises the issue of "large, unsupported adjustments to correct discrepancies between status of appropriations data and general ledger data": that is, corrections they must make because money cannot be accounted for. And then they explain where they believe most of the problems lie:

General ledger accounting hasn't been implemented properly, then, but if it was than "up to 92%" of this example year balance adjustment would be unnecessary (that would leave an adjustment of $19 billion, still a big chunk of cash, but a significant improvement on $237 billion). We've no idea how this relates to the overall $2.3 trillion, but it does seem to fit with the overall talk of accounting issues.

And there's another point that you might consider relevant. While most people act like the talk of an unaccounted-for $2.3 trillion is still accurate, that's not actually true. A February 2002 story reported that more than two thirds of that expenditure had now been reconciled:

Now plainly the US Government saying this doesn't make it true, and we don't know what the real or current situation is. But equally, it's clear that the efforts to tie this in to 9/11 have major shortcomings. There's no clear reason given why the Bush adminstration would need to go to such efforts to conceal the problem, for instance. They didn't, either, and it was covered on several occasions before 9/11, so the fact that Rumsfeld mentioned the $2.3 trillion again on 9/10 seems to have no special importance. While the Pentagon attack did have an effect on the production of some DoD financial statements, it's not clear how significant this was, and another report suggests the DoD is reducing the “missing” amounts by taking steps to improve its accounting procedures. It's hard to see how any of this constitutes foreknowledge, or a motive for the 9/11 attacks.

NOTE: Kudos to a Screw Loose Change piece, and particularly some well-researched comments by manny, which revealed most of the links referenced here and so persuaded us that this topic deserved a page.