Unaccountable government awards obscene Iraq profits

Published 2:07 am Monday, September 17, 2007

By Staff
I've been reading a lot of nauseating pornography lately.
What else would you call the obscene gobs of American treasure flushed away without any accountability by an army of war profiteers the Bush administration turned loose to invade Iraq in the name of fighting terror?
The Bush administration literally shipped so much cash on pallets that contracting officials played football with $100,000 bundles of bills.
The U.S. flew $12 billion in U.S. currency directly from the Federal Reserve Bank.
That's 363 tons of greenbacks.
After seven years of this reckless nonsense, you already know the punchline – $8.8 billion is unaccounted for. That's 266 tons of missing money.
No private contractor has done better for itself at the expense of U.S. taxpayers than KBR, a spinoff from notorious Halliburton.
Vice President Dick Cheney's former company billed taxpayers $16 million for food never served to troops.
At one camp in Kuwait, KBR served 14,053 meals a day, but charged for 42,042, according to congressional testimony and federal audits quoted in an eight-page package in the Sept. 6 Rolling Stone.
Some food that was served was rotten, such as spoiled meat and canned goods a year past their expiration dates.
One former KBR manager testified the company dug shrapnel out of food supplies hit by insurgent attacks, then served the meals. So much for supporting the troops.
Water supplies were tainted with E. coli.
"They would have been better off being provided with water straight from the Euphrates River," Congress heard.
Have you heard of "cost-plus" contracts? They guarantee a base-line profit of 3 percent of total costs on deals.
In other words, the more you spend, the more you make.
The magazine illustrates the incredible situation with the tale of a former Air Force civil engineer who retired in 2003 and joined a private construction company given $72 million to build Baghdad Police College.
Shoddy work left it with some plumbing problems auditors detailed: "We witnessed a light fixture so full of diluted urine and feces that it would not operate. The urine was so pervasive that it had permanently stained the ceiling tiles. During our visit, a substance dripped from the ceiling onto an assessment team member's shirt."
Hauled before Congress, he, who now can afford a four-bathroom, $929,974 house, is the opposite of contrite. In fact, he testified his contracting firm would not return its profits.
"I don't know what I expected him to say," dumfounded Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen told the magazine. "It just shows the contempt they have for us, for the taxpayers, for everything."
Contempt pretty well sums up a lot of these obscenities, which are so pervasive anymore fatigue sets in trying to maintain outrage.
The war is the tip of the iceberg because their vision is a fully privatized federal government where private corporations feeding at the trough are guaranteed profits no matter how badly they screw up.
Or, as RS put it, "a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market, but by an unaccountable government bureaucracy."
Alongside a recent graduate of an evangelical university for home-schooled kids who had no accounting experience to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, up crops a familiar name – James K. Haveman.
Haveman, whom I met years ago in Cassopolis when he was Gov. John Engler's community health director, was put in charge of rehabilitating Iraq's health-care system "and decided that what this war-ravaged, malnourished, sanitation-deficient country most urgently needed was … an anti-smoking campaign."
I probably don't want to know the details of what that means.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: "You're right. We have sadly undercovered Britney Spears. You turn on your television anywhere now, you get so much pap that what I think people want is substance."
– John Micklethwait, editor in chief of The Economist, the 164-year-old, London-based newsweekly, in the Chicago Tribune Sept. 16.
The magazine is beginning a six-week, $1 million marketing push in Chicago, which accounts for 25,000 of almost 700,000 copies The Economist circulates in the United States and 1.26 million copies worldwide.
While it seems all news organizations are reducing resources and space for international coverage, The Economist U.S. circulation grew 12 percent in the last two years.
Apparently, people who listen to National Public Radio like to read, too, and they know a balanced news diet consists of vegetables as well as dessert.
Or, as Pink Floyd put it, how can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?
129: Number of members of Congress with military service, including in the reserves or National Guard. Only one – Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M. – the first Air Force Academy graduate to serve in Congress and a Rhodes Scholar – is female.
From 1951 to 1992, more than half of all members of Congress had military experience.
Osama bin Laden, 50, shows up in a darker beard than in his last video appearance in 2004.
Is he vain enough to resort to Just for Men hair coloring?
Or maybe it's a fake beard he wears when he leaves the batcave.
"Daily Show" star Jon Stewart hosts the Oscars in February.