COMMENTS: GAO Offers Goodies

The Government Accountability Office issued a couple of reports: Governmentwide Purchase Cards and Internet Sales. Wade through the bureaucratese and the former is an expose of the misuse of credit cards given to government officials to cut through requisition red tape when making petty cash purchases. ABC's David Kerley reported on that Tuesday; CBS' Chip Reid Wednesday: charges for lingerie, gambling debt, manicures and steak dinners were among the imaginative expenses. The latter report concerns military surplus goods, mostly stolen, that end up for sale on eBay and craigslist even though they are supposed to be used exclusively by US armed forces. ABC's Jonathan Karl listed infrared uniform tabs, components for Chinook helicopters, body armor, night vision gear, uniforms and spare parts for F-14 fighter jets: "The only country in the world still flying F-14s is Iran."

In an NBC Investigation Lisa Myers followed up on those infrared tabs, usually in the design of the Stars & Stripes flag. They are used to distinguish friend from foe during nighttime combat so the Pentagon should be eager for them not to fall into the wrong hands near Iraq. "We asked an NBC staffer with an Arab name living in the Middle East to see if he could buy these items. No problem." The patches were shipped to his hotel in Jordan. The patches are "widely available" in military surplus stores and online, Myers added, and the "transactions are legal."


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