Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are You Making Money Off the Iraq War?

You should be - I mean really, who ISN'T making money off of this war. Ike's military industrial complex has gotten even more inclusive. Contractors in the state of Illinois are doing well. According to the Register-Mail, "Illinois firms selling goods and services won defense contracts totaling nearly $14 billion since September 2001, according to a GateHouse News Service analysis. Contract awards dropped slightly from $1.97 billion in 2000 to $1.95 billion in 2001, then climbed steadily as the war in Iraq and Afghanistan progressed to $3.6 billion in 2005." Of course, Illinois doesn't have the corner on Iraq/Afghanistan contracts.

The Wash. Post and a few other papers have noticed that two British security firms, Aegis Defence Services & Enrinys Iraq have received about $548 million since 2004 to protect US Army Corps of Engineers troops while their busy on those reconstruction projects (you remember, the projects that we turn over to Iraq and watch deteriorate into nothingness - talk about money for nothing!). Apparently the army is trying to cancel one of the contracts for massive cost overruns, but the firm is fighting it, so in the meantime, the army has had to - yes, this is true - extend the contract with the firm they're trying to dump!

Make it Stop! Make it Stop! readers know how fed up I am with the mess of private contract mercenaries in Iraq/Afghanistan. USA Today has an AP piece on the mess here. Noting the "gray legal area" the mercenaries operate in, and asking which laws apply to these non-troops and their actions.

US Army major John Cockerham was arrested along with his wife for accepting $9.5 million in bribes and kickbacks from contractors doing business with the Pentagon. According to the San Antonio Express, when arrested, Cockerham was expecting $5.4 million more. The charges are bribery, money laundering and conspiracy. Cockerham apparently received bribes in exchange for awarding contracts in Iraq and Kuwait. Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha said this case was the "tip of the iceberg" - no kidding.

Pennsylvania's Pocono Record notes that the rush by American & foreign business folk to line their pockets with American tax dollars hasn't done much to put services on the ground in Iraq - such as electricity.

USA Today
noted that the Pentagon has a record during this conflict of approving DISPUTED costs on Iraq contracts at an unusually high rate. They note that "through last October, almost two-thirds of costs challenged by Pentagon auditors as inflated, erroneous or otherwise improper — more than $1 billion — were eventually approved by project managers. That compares with 44% for all defense contracts in 2005. The low rate of withholding payments to Iraq contractors is evidence the Pentagon is turning a blind eye to waste and fraud, says Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, who has chaired several hearings into Iraq reconstruction problems for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee."

No doubt Cheney pushes as much as he can to Halliburton, but there's so much money to be made in the war on terror that billions and billions can be spread around to many other firms. KBR Inc. (Kellogg, Brown & Root - a former Halliburton subsidiary), for instance. USA Today reported last month that government auditors reviewing KBR's annual cost estimate for support services to US troops in Iraq included $110 million for housing, food, water, laundry and services on "bases that had been shut down." Yup, they wanted $110 million for non existent services. Do I hear any jaws dropping in shock out there? Of COURSE NOT! We've come to expect this kind of math from friends of Darth Cheney's. Oh yeah, there were also $50 million of "duplicate charges and math errors" in the KBR contract as well. That's a total of $160 million that the largest Iraq contractor was stealing from the American public.

Think that's outrageous? Wait, as they say on the infomercials, there's more. According to the Kansas City Star, KBR's $2.5 billion no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure (and you know how well THAT has gone), included a bonus structure that has given them $57 million in bonus payments for their work.

Are you still there? Or have you sputtered out your oatmeal or scrambled eggs and are hitting your head against the table?

I don't blame you.


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

I'm just barely still here...I'm suffering from heavy outrage fatigue. My typical response to the latest disaster is invariably "what else would you expect of THESE PEOPLE?"

Frederick the Great used to disparage Catherine the Great and the Russians in those terms...never thought I would have anything in common with him.

1:36 AM  

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