July 15, 2005

Politics: They Support the Troops! Really!

The war in Iraq isn't about money; it's about power.

Fortunately for those who are contesting for that power, there is a constant list of people who want money, so their manipulation comes very easily. In wartime, power can be bought with military contracts, and the promise of more: whatever government is in power at the time controls those contracts, which are much easier to grant than peace time ones. During peacetime, there is more likely to be investigations into the spending of government money, with some so-called "whistleblower" protection laws to encourage the detection of fraud.

And what ever you do, DON'T mention the Truman Committee.

But now, this doesn't apply to companies who are paid by "provisional governments". Any guess what Iraq was under for 13 months, spending billions of dollars? Bearing in mind that the oil flow was the first (and ONLY) thing protected when the invasion of Iraq occured, and that the oil production has been unmetered since, how much money do you think has gone to the Iraqi people? At a (very) conservative estimate, the oil production would be $50 million a day, or about $1.5 billion per month. It's been two years since the infamous "mission accomplished" aircraft carrier was kept circling at sea until president Bush could land on it. That's at least $35 billion dollars, and about half that amount has been spent on reconstruction projects, but a whole lot ($25 billion) has been spent by the U.S. in contracts to suppliers for its military, which hasn't come from Iraq oil, but rather from an increased deficit.

But no one seems to mind that too much. Wonder why not?

What would you do with a company about whom the person responsible for signing the army contracts (senior procurement executive Bunnatine Greenhouse) says:

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

KBR is a subsidiary of (surprise) Halliburton, for those who haven't heard.

Here's a little list of some incidents so far:

Billing the army for 20,000 meals a day, while serving 10,000;
Serving food that was sometimes one year past date;
Serving leftovers to foreign workers;
Over $1 billion in overcharges and questionable charges;
"Losing" housing for 6,600 soldiers;
Charging over $2.50 per gallon for fuel to local, when the next company to do so charged $0.18;
Sending any "whistleblowers" to high-risk regions like, say, Fallujah.

This same company drew up the plans for the reconstruction of Iraq, deciding what would be considered "reasonable expenses", then was handed the contract without any competing bids.

In the case of the U.S. government, what you do with this company is increase your business with them by $1 billion dollars.

For those yahoos that are somehow still opposed to the war, don't worry: these people know exactly what they're doing.

**Update, July 18 - One supoena later, the Pentagon finally releases some of the contracts given to KBR.


posted by Thursday at 10:45 am


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