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Boston bombers

Food stamps arming terrorists? USDA food stamps routinely used to purchase weapons and drugs

Thursday, May 09, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Boston bombers, food stamps, welfare

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(NaturalNews) Shortly after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, a local newspaper - The Boston Herald - reported that the family of the alleged bombers, and the bombers themselves, had been receiving state and federal welfare benefits.

In its initial report within several days of the attacks, the paper reported that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the accused "mastermind" behind the twin bombings who was killed in a shoot-out with police, "was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism."

In addition, both of Tsarnaev's parents received benefits, and the brother bombers - Tamerlan and Dzhokhar - were benefit recipients through their parents when they were younger.

"The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money," the paper reported.

More people on rolls = more abuse, more fraud

The report that these anti-American extremists were on taxpayer-supported public assistance begs larger questions: How many others who are planning attacks against America are on U.S.-provided assistance, and how often is that assistance parlayed into weapons, drugs and other items that could be used to commit violence?

These and other questions are being loudly raised by Judicial Watch, a legal watchdog organization, citing government reports.

"While the Obama Administration promotes food stamps like there's no tomorrow, the rolls are already higher than ever and so is the sort of fraud and corruption that often accompanies an out-of-control government program," the group said in a short report posted on its website.

Judicial Watch noted that some 46.3 million people are now on some form of government-provided, taxpayer-supported food assistance (some of them illegal immigrants), at a cost of more than $76 billion annually, according to figures provided by the agency that manages the food stamp program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"This represents an increase of more than 16 million over the previous year, according to USDA figures. That's because the administration is on a mission to eradicate 'food insecure households,'" the group said.

Food stamp rolls have been increasing for each year President Obama has been in office. Initially supporters sought to blame the increased rolls only on the Great Recession of 2007-2009, but supposedly, if you listen to the administration, employment has been robust and the economy is much better, so shouldn't these rolls be falling now instead of continuing to rise? Yes, but besides abuse, there is a reason for that, which Judicial Watch cited and which we've covered here at NaturalNews:

The effort includes a multi-million-dollar federal initiative to recruit even more food-stamp participants and hefty cash rewards for states that sign up the most people. A few months ago Oregon officials bragged that the USDA gave the state $5 million in "performance bonuses" for ensuring that residents eligible for food benefits receive them and for its "swift processing of applications."

As frustrating as that is, the group notes, a recent report by the USDA Inspector General, the department's watchdog, has said a number of food-stamp recipients have parlayed their taxpayer benefit to purchase weapons, drugs and other contraband from shady characters. In addition, some recipients trade their stamps for reduced amounts of cold, hard cash, says USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong. And with the discovery that the Tsarnaevs were on taxpayer assistance too, we can add "terrorism" to this list.

The IG testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform that in the past five years 779 investigations have resulted in 1,356 indictments, 944 convictions and 792 sanctions against individual recipients and businesses that have gamed the system. Fong said that the corruption has cost taxpayers nearly $200 million - and these are only the cases that the USDA IG has discovered.

During her testimony Fong provided the Oversight panel with a number of examples, including that of an illegal immigrant store owner in Connecticut who was deported after being convicted of food-stamp trafficking [http://www.justice.gov/usao/ct/Press2013/20130426-1.html]. Fong said the defendant then reentered the U.S. and opened several stores using phony names.

In Florida, she said, a separate group of criminals defrauded the USDA program of about $6.2 million.

No more work requirement

Moreover, the IG said thousands of people are simply not eligible for food stamps are getting them by lying or by using Social Security numbers of deceased individuals, often relatives. In checking just five states, Fong said her department discovered 8,594 recipients who were receiving "improper payments."

Fong said when this sort of fraud occurs, "families do not receive the intended nutritional assistance and retailers profit at the expense of the American public." It also does nothing to help meet the president's goal of eradicating "food insecure households."

Part of the reason why the SNAP rolls - and the fraud - continue to grow can be blamed on Obama Administration policies. In July 2012, the White House released a policy directive from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rewriting the successful welfare reform law of 1996. The directive renamed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and removed the work requirement, "gutting the reform of its most critical element and bludgeoning the letter and intent of the law," the Heritage Foundation said in an analysis of the policy change.

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