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Eduardo Verdugo / AP

The Government Accountability Office, which audits other federal agencies to uncover instances of fraud and abuse of power, set up an undercover operation to determine whether the Department of Defense would sell military-grade equipment to unauthorized buyers, per The Marshall Project.

The GOA created a fake law enforcement agency — accompanied with a faux website claiming it did high-level security and counterterrorism work, and an address that led to an empty parking lot — and applied for the gear. Within a week the agency said in a report that its fake cops received $1.2 million worth of night vision goggles, simulated M-16A2 rifles, and pipe bomb equipment from the DoD's 1033 Clinton-era program.

"They never did any verification, like visit our 'location,' and most of it was by email," Zina Merritt, director of the GAO's defense capabilities team, told The Marshall Project. "It was like getting stuff off of eBay."

1033 program: The Clinton-era program enables local cops to obtain equipment not being used by the U.S. military. Following Ferguson, Barack Obama issued an executive order rolling back the scope of the program, and ordered law enforcement agencies requesting military gear to undergo training and agree to oversight procedures.

What's next: The GAO report says the DoD has vowed to crack down on its verification procedures, and will now try to visit the location of agencies that apply to the program. The department will also complete an internal fraud assessment by April 2018.

Go deeper

54 mins ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.