Pay Now, War Later

The Congressional Research Service on Bush's war spending

Every junior high civics student hears that Congress holds "the power of the purse," but it turns out this is just another constitutional stop sign the Bush administration has blown past without even slowing down. Bob Woodward first reported in his book Plan of Attack that in the summer of 2002 President Bush took $700 million from funds appropriated for other military uses, including the war in Afghanistan, and spent it on preparations to invade Iraq. Now the Congressional Research Service has issued a report demonstrating that Woodward got it wrong—it wasn't $700 million the administration disbursed without authorization, but $2.5 billion. The report notes mournfully that Congress "could not obtain details on this spending."