“That’s f**king corruption!”: Jon Stewart corners top Pentagon official in epic confrontation

Comedian and talk show host Jon Stewart called out a top Pentagon official over “corruption” at the Department of Defense during an interview last week.

Stewart interviewed Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of Defense, at the War Horse Symposium at the University of Chicago on April 6, delving into intense questions about the military defense budget.

At one point in the discussion, titled “The Human Impact of Military Service,” Stewart underscored the Pentagon’s most recent audit, in which the chief comptroller determined that the military was unable to account for a whopping 60% of its assets. Stewart called the findings evidence of “waste, fraud and abuse.” 

Stewart also singled out the gaping dissonance between the DOD’s constantly expanding budget and its treatment of troops.

“We got out of 20 years of war and the Pentagon got a raise,” Stewart said. “I can’t figure out how $850 billion to a department means that the rank and file still have to be on food stamps. To me, that’s f***ing corruption.”

Hicks acknowledged that “we need to increase the spending that we are putting forward toward our service members and their families.”

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is in areas like child care … We do think we’re getting better on that,” Hicks said.

Hicks also tried to defer blame over funding issues to Congress.

“Part of what we’re recruiting individuals into is a lifetime of a social contract, and VA is at the other end of that,” she said. “So we work really closely with them, and they’re doing incredible work to advance … the quality of care for our veterans.”

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The Associated Press reported in November that as many as 160,000 active-duty military members were coping with food insecurity and struggling to feed their families. Task and Purpose reported that, in August, the U.S. Army introduced a Financial Readiness Program to mitigate the rising costs of inflation and assist soldiers in managing their finances. 

The Military Times reported that Biden’s administration has requested a staggering $842 billion in military spending as part of its federal budget for 2024, in addition to $325 billion for the Department of Veteran Affairs spending. Both sums are the largest totals in U.S. history.

Stewart is a longtime advocate for better benefits for veterans, specifically soldiers exposed to hazardous and toxic chemicals from burn pits. He has oft lobbied in Washington D.C. to advance the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, also known as the PACT Act.

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