The Pentagon is required by Congress to report on its spending overseas.  Last year the Pentagon reported expenses of just over 22 billion. But a research project by David Vine of American University suggests that the total might be closer to 1.8 to 2.1 trillion. How on earth can you hide that much money from the American people? For one thing, according to Vine, the Pentagon also has a habit of forgetting things like the bases in at least 18 countries that were simply left off the list. They will also leave off little details like the cost of operations and maintenance. In addition the cost of maintaining US territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, etc. for some reason are not considered to be “overseas.”

The Pentagon does not consider health care costs, or cleanup of military pollution to be a part of reportable costs. Nor are the bribes necessary to keep foreign hosts friendly and co-operative. And, obviously, the Pentagon does not report on its secret activities like the growing CIA paramilitary role, the drone wars, spying and targeted assassinations.

Most incredibly, the Pentagon doesn’t count money spent on active wars like the one in Afghanistan. So when you take a look at the US budget, and are told we can only avoid the “fiscal cliff” by cutting programs for the poor, look again. It is the hidden crimes of Wall Street and the hidden costs of empire that are driving us into the ground.

To read David Vine’s article in Foreign Policy in Focus: