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Unless We're Being Deceived . . .

The boys will be home by October!

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Great news! The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be over in a few short months, evil will have been conquered, and our boys will all be home by October 1! Or so it seems, based on President Bush's recent budget request to Congress. Bush asked for $401.7 billion in military spending for fiscal year 2005, a 7 percent increase over 2004; noticeably absent from the request, however, is any money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning that the Pentagon will have no money to pay for ongoing operations beginning October 1. If you discount any intentional deceit, it can only mean that our Brave New Leadership figures it's all over over there, right? Mission accomplished!

Of course, up to this point, the war has been funded by emergency appropriations separate from the Pentagon's annual budget. The first Iraq supplement in March 2003 gave the Pentagon an extra $63 billion. The second supplement of $87 billion came in September 2003. Zero of those dollars were ever budgeted, and about $20 billion of it went to reconstruction efforts, mostly led by VP Dick Cheney's "former" company Halliburton.

It would be un-American to suggest that the President would attempt to deceive anyone with the most fiscally irresponsible budget since, well. . . last year, by using political sleight of hand. Of course, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did say last week that Bush won't ask Congress for a 2005 war supplement until December or January -- after the presidential elections. And Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim did mention last week that a three-month money gap could be covered by shifting funding around until the White House requests additional money. And neither offered a legitimate explanation of why the administration would allow a three-month funding gap in The War Against Terror, long billed as its top priority. Hmmmm...

Zakheim and Rumsfeld must both be confused since President Bush has always shown himself to be completely above reproach. After all, Bush promised to bring integrity back to the White House, right? And Bush is a Vietnam War-era veteran himself, proudly fulfilling his minimum National Guard requirements by going to the dentist in Alabama -- duty almost as dangerous as today's National Guard's extended tours of Iraq.

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