Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Faith Sells. Who's Buying?

The NYT had a weird story on their site's front page late last night, but they seem to have buried it this morning. (Paranoid? Me?)

The lede:

In theory, it was simple: Congress gave two decommissioned Coast Guard cutters to a faith-based group in California, directing that the ships be used only to provide medical services to islands in the South Pacific.

Coast Guard records show that the ships have been providing those services in the South Pacific since the medical mission took possession of them in 1999.

In reality, the ships never got any closer to the South Pacific islands than the San Francisco Bay. The mission group quickly sold one to a maritime equipment company, which sold it for substantially more to a pig farmer who uses it as a commercial ferry off Nicaragua. The group sold the other ship to a Bay Area couple who rent it for eco-tours and marine research.

It comes as no surprise to me that a "faith-based" political group is no more holy than the usual feeders at the public trough, nor that national assets paid for by taxpayer dollars are handed, gratis, to well-connected players, nor that inadequate oversight of a group wrapping itself in the Bible should have occurred during the Bush tenure. But when outright thievery is combined with falsification of Coast Guard records, it strikes me as something worth keeping front and center in the news.

By the way, the group called Canvasback, who received the ships for free and sold them for cash, is still slurping. The last paragraph from the same story:

The tiny mission is now the lead contractor on a diabetes research program being financed through two $1 million Defense Department contracts. Those grants were directed to Canvasback by Congress through a pair of earmarks.

After looking around a little more, I found the story in, of all places, the Business section. I suppose it does qualify, at least, as business as usual.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rachael Maddow featured this story on her radio show on Air America today. Maybe she reads your blog, or more prosaicly maybe she reads the NY Times.