The state department cannot account for $6 billion in paid bills. The contracts are missing. Did the contracts even exit? If not the money was stolen.

The US State Department is unable to explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.

“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”

State Department to spend $400,000 for Camel Statue in Pakistan

Meanwhile some of the things the state department is wasting taxpayer dollars on is simply absurd.

For example, please note that the State Department will Spend $400,000 for Camel Statue in Pakistan.

The State Department plans to spend $400,000 in taxpayer dollars to purchase a camel statue for the new American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The sculpture by artist John Baldessari depicts a fiberglass camel staring into the eye of an oversized needle in play on a passage from the New Testament about the difficulty the wealthy have in entering heaven, BuzzFeed reported. 

According to a procurement document, the 500-pound, fiberglass, aluminum, stainless-steel, acrylic and painted “Camel Contemplating a Needle” will be displayed at the new embassy compound in Islamabad, which is estimated to be fully completed by 2016.

“This artist’s product is uniquely qualified,” the document says. “Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country.”

The department came under scrutiny in December after commissioning a $1 million sculpture to be installed at new building at the American embassy in London in 2017. The purchase was defended as a “good use” of the agency’s resources.

Camel Contemplating Needle

The State Department says $400,000 for that statue is a “bargain”. I suggest the statue is clearly a waste of taxpayer money.

Can someone even tell me how a Christian biblical reference reflects values of a predominantly Islamist country? If it doesn’t, people in Pakistan will object, and the statue will be taken down.

Even if the statue does reflect Islamist values, should the state department be promoting Islam or any other religion?

Is the statue even religiously accurate?

There are some interesting answers in a discussion on the Camel and the Eye of the Needle on the Guardian.

Some suggest it’s possible there is a mistranslation of  similar sounding words, one meaning camel, the other rope. More likely the “needle” refers to a narrow gate in the walls of Jerusalem.

One person commented …

The “Eye of the Needle” was indeed a narrow gateway into Jerusalem. Since camels were heavily loaded with goods and riders, they would need to be un-loaded in order to pass through. Therefore, the analogy is that a rich man would have to similarly unload his material possessions in order to enter heaven.

Walls of Jerusalem

Here is an image of walking through security at the Needle Gate of the Wall of Old Jerusalem.

Religious debate aside, we waste money on absurd things.

Of course with trillions of dollars sloshing around, perhaps we should be grateful that only $6 billion in contracts is missing.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock