The Pentagon's Free Rides

| Wed Jun. 10, 2009 9:30 AM EDT

We gave the Pentagon more than $500 billion (PDF) last year, but, according to the Center for Public Integrity, that hasn't stopped defense officials from routinely accepting trips bankrolled by special interests.

Despite the Pentagon’s big budgets, DOD personnel routinely accept free flights, accommodations, and hospitality from outside interests, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of thousands of travel disclosure records. From 1998 through 2007, the analysis found, outside sources paid for more than 22,000 trips worth at least $26 million, sponsored by an array of foreign governments, private companies, and other groups which have business with the Pentagon.

The best (or most suspect) trip taken by an American official? A $24,000, Saudi-funded excursion—complete with a trip to a camel race as special guests of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz—taken by Richard Millies and his wife in 2005. Millies is one of the Pentagon's men in charge of selling advanced weapons to foreign governments.