The U.S. Department of State — mostly on Hillary Clinton’s watch — improperly monitored or completely lost an estimated $6 billion, which is nearly 12 percent of the department’s annual budget of $51 billion. That’s according to a recently-released report from the Office of the Inspector General.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know about that report because only a few news organizations, including The Washington Times, actually published a story about the investigation. The Washington Post ran a story that did not include Mrs. Clinton’s name; other major news outlets, from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, passed on the story entirely. Only Fox News aired a report among the major networks.
Following are a few pertinent details about the lost taxpayer money:
• The State Department could not find 33 of the 115 contracts for the U.S. mission in Iraq — files that totaled $2.1 billion. Another 48 contracts, worth another $2.1 billion, were significantly incomplete, IG auditors found.
• One contract failed to note that the spouse of a contract worker had received money from a $52 million payout, an apparent violation of the law.
• The Bureau of African Affairs found that administrators could not provide information on contracts worth $34.8 million.
“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the department’s contract actions,” the report stated. The oversight failure “creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior.”
Rather than being queried about this pertinent information about her apparent inability to manage a department, Mrs. Clinton was repeatedly asked in recent days whether she planned to run for the most important governing post in the world. At a conference last week in New York, you also heard her complaints that the media treated women in politics more harshly than men. That story hit almost every news outlet in the country.
What only a handful of journalists, mainly bloggers, took away from the latter appearance was Mrs. Clinton’s inability to list a concrete set of accomplishments during her four years as secretary of state.
“I’m very proud of the stabilization and the really solid leadership that the administration provided that, I think, now leads us to be able to deal with problems like Ukraine because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe and China — trying to figure out what to do with all their bond holdings and all the problems we were obsessed with. I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense,” she said.
Huh? It seems she’s a bit out of practice on her stump speech if she plans to run for president. Mrs. Clinton is writing a book about her time at the State Department, so perhaps we will have a better sense of her record when that tome arrives. I hope there’s a chapter about Benghazi, but I doubt that will be a major theme.
The conservative news website Power Line (http://www.powerlineblog.com) nicely underlined the weakness of Mrs. Clinton’s defense of her record running the State Department: “She claims as part of the legacy of her accomplishments our ability ‘to deal with problems like Ukraine because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe and China,’” Power Line’s Scott Johnson wrote. “Somebody cue the laugh track!”
The media need to take a closer look at Mrs. Clinton’s past record, particularly at the State Department. If she cannot run a single Cabinet department properly, how can she run the entire government? So far, the media don’t seem to care much about that.
• Christopher Harper is a professor at Temple University. He worked for more than 20 years at the Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20.” He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @charper51.