Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Contracting business in Iraq is very lucrative"

While I haven't been working, I've been watching a consortium of Iraq War documentaries in an effort to be a proper citizen and weave past the pundits, the talking heads, the dumbass slogans and bumper stickers and the politics surrounding what I believe to be the most significant event this country is currently facing. So enough with the blathering and lets get this war justified (or not). doing a bag of laundry, running orientations at beachside 5-star hotels

Next up is Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, released in 2006 with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Right off the bat we get a price tag on engineering, construction, police training, reconstruction, troop support, private security, etc. paid to private contractors. The rest of the movie goes on to tell us how we're getting screwed.

A substantial amount of interrogators at Abu Ghraib were private contractors. What that boils down to is that the more information these private contractors can get out of a detainee, the more they would stand to gain. They're a business after all. On top of that, these contractors work under minimal supervision and without legal allegiance or accountability. Hmm. What does that spell? Torture.

Next up are the private security guards. Now when a US soldier hurts or kills an Iraqi and it becomes known, he/she goes through the court martial process. For Iraq, this puts a message out there that these crimes will be punished. When a contractor hurts or kills an Iraqi and it becomes known, he/she will be sent home (probably without dinner) and can wait a week or two before being hired by a different contractor. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

The people who run these contractor companies are senior military officers and capital hill staffers with connections needed to generate business contracts that range between a few million dollars to a few billion dollars. Some of these contracts dealing with logistics, repair, etc. take away jobs belonging to actual military personnel who work at a fraction of the cost.

Halliburton/KBR are the worst of the offenders, given either no-bid contracts or faced with no competition at all. One such contract gave Halliburton the responsibility of providing clean water to soldiers; in the end, the water was contaminated and soldiers were exposed to serious health risks. 63/67 facilities were shit.

A good chunk of these contracts are cost-plus contracts. Cost-plus is a type of contract where contractors will get a percentage of the money they spend on providing services. So the more money they can bill, the more they stand to make. That's why we have items that include $45 for a 6-pack of Coke packaged within the region and $100 for with full service, a fleet of Ford SUVs or pickups, H2s, or Cadillac Escalades complete with chrome rims and leather interior for staff that never leave the premises, wrong equipment which they burn in fire pits and claim it as a loss, running empty trucks on convoy at great risk to the drivers. Pentagon audits estimate that the total costs hovers around $1.4 billion and Halliburton's stock has quadrupled since the war began.

And that's the movie.

A few other articles I've run across just today deal with Cheney's stock in Halliburton and the government buying defective military helmets from a company fined for producing defective military helmets.

And just today, on top of it all, Bush has said that the war is actually helping the economy and definitely not a cause of a recession.

No comments: